Tuesday, May 28, 2013

End of the washing machine - May 27, 2013

Dear Mom and Family,
At first when I read this I missed the part where you said Dad ended up staying home, I thought he was in Oklahoma already haha. I hadn't heard anything about those tornadoes, but it sounds like it was pretty awful, though that would have been cool for Dad to get to travel there. Maybe he should get into the talks with AAA and try moving some branches of the company out here to Ghana?
  Last week I had talked about how the power to our house had been out for the weekend and it should have been getting fixed while we were emailing. Ends up it hadn't been and we spent two more nights with no power, bringing the whole affair of light off to 6 days! Not quite enough to beat my record back in LA, though it was very miserable for those couple of nights. So that Tuesday we didn't really go out since everyone was defeated by the power. With no power not only did we lose our sleep( no fans) but also our water, which meant it was  hard to shower and wash clothes......yeah I'm sure the place smelled great.
 Then on Wednesday when they electric company finally got around to fixing the meter box we hurry and ran the washer non-stop to finally get our clothes clean. We had also found out the lady who we rented the washing machine from had returned and needed the machine to return to her. So on Friday we departed with heavy hearts from that beautiful creation. The woman did tell us we can come over to her house and use it whenever we'd like, the problem is the house is far and I really just want to walk down the hall to wash my clothes. Though I'm sure we will be taking the journey to her place very soon. Thursday we did a lot of contacting in the far end of my area. It’s a richer area of Kasoa which means the people are usually a lot more stubborn   and unwilling to listen. Getting gates closed on us makes me think of what it must be like to serve in anywhere else but Africa( maybe South America is good too.) You still get a few people who'll accept you and at least take a first lesson.  I try to go out of my way and hit the larger and nicer home because when you can convert them they'll stay for a life time,  as opposed to the "easier" baptisms of people who'll after finding the church want the church to give them money soon fall away. That night one of our ZLs(Elder Robertson)  came over for splits. He is from the UK and is way cool. Friday we spent a good portion of the day returning that washing machine. Taught some good lessons and then that was the day of Friday. Oh and this whole day I was wearing Elder Bay's name tag.
  Saturday we went to a big FM far out in Elder Bay's area. All six of us met at this family's super nice home and we got to know them a little better then enjoyed a massive feast, probably the biggest meal I have eaten in Ghana. Then had testimony meeting with the parents and kids, afterwards the father wanted us to play him in some table tennis since he never gets a chance to play in a home with small children. He kicked our butts and that's all there is to say about that. We caught a free ride home in the back of a truck - last time we went to this family's house we also had gotten a free ride home in the back of a truck. The ride took us back towards the apartment though we got out early and went to another Fm. This one with a Liberian woman named Sis. Helen who feeds us once a week. She is one of the kindest little old woman ever, who has a strange liking for big 90's action movies. By the time we finished eating and teaching her it was late and we headed home.
  Sunday was freckin' awesome! Got up to a normal Sunday morning and got ready for church. When we went out to catch a taxi we noticed that there were some pretty dark clouds above us. We got a taxi right as the heavens opened up on us and started to really pound Kasoa. The driver took us on some really weird back roads towards our chapel. One road that climbed a hill had turned into a river, but the taxi driver still tried to climb it. Half way up the car died and we were stuck for a few minutes( I told him his battery was spoiled because the car acted a lot like my suburban did when it had the battery problems, remember that? :) ) We got it started again and I told the man not to take this one road because there is always a huge puddle in the middle( usually I avoid it when I'm biking) and figured in the rain it would be a lake. Well it was worse, it was two lakes and the taxi went right into the first and promptly died again. Now we were really stuck, because water was already seeping in and if we opened the doors more water just poured into the car. We were in the middle of a pond with an intense rainstorm sitting in a died car, not to mention we were late to church. After maybe 10 minutes a couple of guys came and pushed us onto higher ground. Then we caught a working taxi to get us the rest of the way, only about 40 minutes late. Turns out everyone from the stake were at sacrament because surprise, they split the ward. Now I'm Ash town ward and Elders Smith & Thomas Kasoa 2. Just because we didn't have enough fun a crazy( literally crazy) man showed up and started disturbing the peace, and guess who had the fun of taking care of him, yup this guy. :) Everything turned out well and we had a good evening at the apartment....just to get a call we were having apartment inspection today! That means no sleeping and a whole lot of cleaning. I'm pretty confident that we won though. :)
I'm not really sure what to say about getting this award. I know that is really something special for him to give to me and I kinda feel very unfit for this, like I didn't know I had such an influence on him. Though I am still very, very honored to receive it( or at least in 18 months.)
I'd like to hear from him or maybe you can give me a contact for him. It’s made me a little bit emotional over here right now.
Love you guys and hope all is well
   Elder Steven T Ray
PS I got Bree's graduation announcements, Some good looking pictures in there.

Just to clarify some of Elder Ray's comments:  His dad was called up by his company (AAA Insurance) to go with the CAT (catastrophe team) Team to help with the tornado damage in OK. He later was put on "stand-by" which was a relief to us because we had a daughter that was graduating from HS that week too.
The award that he refers to is the Eagle "Mentor" pin - there was a young man in our old ward who received his Eagle and wanted to give his mentor pin to Elder Ray - he feels very honored but also a bit inadequate for the honor. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pictures!! - May 21, 2013

This is Emmanuel's baptism - Elder Moyer, Emmanuel, Elder Ray

Elder Ray hanging with the kids.

A sunset in Kasoa

Reunited!!  Elder Bay, Elder Hurley, Elder Ray

The elders light fires to get rid of the weeds in their yard and I'm pretty sure Elder Ray is the first to light them up!

They arrived early for Zone Conference so they had some drinks.

Ride in a tro-tro

This family is from ID and runs an orphanage - their son leaves in 4 months for his mission to Sierra Leone.

L to R: Elder Moyer, Elder Dranikamaate, Elder Ray, Elder Ewudzie (his last day), Elder Smith, Elder Bay.     

Monday, May 20, 2013

Armies of Elder Ray- May 20, 2013

Dear Mom,
I guess I was a really lucky person because I heard a lot of kids who tried skype had problems either with the sound or with the video. Luckily we were able to have both work! I was a bit worried there might be some homesickness but so far I have been just fine and haven't felt the slightest bit of homesickness yet. I think because of skype it makes things not seem so far away and distant.
  Well Transfers went like these: Draniikamate was transferred far away in Oda( it’s very remote.) I will miss that kid a lot and one day I hope to see him again. In his place we got a brand new missionary, Elder Thomas. He is from New Mexico and a freckin awesome kid as well. He played football at a school a little bigger then Manti and likes to do outdoor adventures. We are planning some expeditions already for when we return home. Elder Ewudize went home to Cape Coast and in his place Elder Bay got a new senior named Elder Egege from Nigeria. He is pretty cool, but stays by himself. The apartment has gotten a lot quieter without Ewudize blasting his music and yelling about going home as well as I don't have my partner in crime Drani to help set pranks in the house. I'm thinking just give it time and things will return to normal.
  Our meter box spoiled on our house so we haven't had light or power since Friday. Yea it seems like whatever house I go to ends up having this problem. So Saturday night we all slept on the roof( except Moyer and Egege stayed in.) At about 2:30 in the morning we woke to not only some very frightening thunder and intense lightning but a man who walks the road near our house at that time yelling, HOLY GHOST FIRE! We are not sure why he does it or why he chose that time and place but its been getting really annoying these past few nights. We found some water balloons and if he comes tonight he is getting a lesson on the baptism of water before fire. Another fun story that happened with our light off problem came on Saturday we waited all morning for an electrician to come. As we all sat around the house not really wanting to go out, a group of boys showed up on our porch and said they were from the local ward and had just finished with a meeting in the chapel next door. They wanted me to give them water and I told them not now( we had none at the time and we don't take free loaders.) They swept a little as I was saying this so I had revelation. I told them to sweep our whole porch and pick up garbage from the yard and then I'd bring them water. They did all this plus find our many cutlasses and began to trim our trees and weeds. The started doing the whole house( which is huge) and I brought them water because I was very happy with the work. Then they found a snake and chased it into our coconut tree. While the kid climbed it looking for the snake he trimmed out dead branches and knocked us down some coconuts, which I gave to the group of boys for their efforts. The leader/less active boys’( we found by talking to him) name was Michael. I got him talking about crocodile ponds and he said he would show us after stake conference the next day. Cool - we were getting chores done at the house, activating a less active, getting coconuts, and finding crocodiles. Stake conference the next day was pretty fun and in the morning Michael come over before it started to tell us he brought clothes to find crocodiles in. The meetings went well. Got to see My Friend Elder Smeltzer from Georgia and during the prayer we learned Thomas S Monson's wife had passed away. We were kinda sad about that but nothing a little croc hunt wouldn't fix. We got to the house to find Michael had brought even more friends over. We were really hungry and still had no water or electricity. So we made a shopping list and gave it and 17 GCHs to the small boys( because in Ghana small children are taught to do whatever an elder(age) tells them to do.) they did this and we made a big noodle/egg/pepper/chicken/cabbage/ onion hash. IT was really good and makes me hungry to think about it. The Boys were renamed the Armies of Elder Ray and they continued cutting our dead weeds and cleaning trash up. The next thing I knew they had found matches and had lit a massive bonfire in the front yard( yeah my kids.) They had also found our Book of Mormon stories book and were reading it out loud to each other, mind you not all were LDS, but I can happily report that they all left that night knowing Joseph Smith was a Prophet, I think I may count that as a lesson – haha. Before they had left more kids had joined and I believe there were 9 total. They all address me as Papa or Ray or Kemosabie( I can't let that one die.) Well they will be back again to take us hunting and move a huge pile of dirt for my landscaping project.
  So it’s been an awesome week once again in Kasoa and we are having some great times whether it be teaching or chasing kids off our bikes in the front yard. Anyway I can't wait to hear how graduation goes and the Eagle court of honor. Tell them I all send my greetings and would love to hear from them. Have a great week and enjoy Memorial Day weekend!
   Elder Steven Taylor Ray :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day - May 13, 2013

Since Elder Ray doesn't send many pictures we took some while we were skyping!  He looks great! We were very happy that he looks so healthy and very happy :)
So there is no email from Elder Ray today because we got to skype instead!!  Can I just say how very thankful our family is for technology.  I am amazed at how clear our call was and it only dropped us once and we were able to get back on. Elder Ray was happy and loving life and seemed very excited to  be serving in Ghana.  He isn't sure if he will be in the new mission or old.  He loves Pres. Judd and would love to stay with him but he is willing to go wherever they need him.  I was worried that I would be sad when we were done talking but I just felt very relieved and really just incredibly blessed that my son is serving the Lord.

This is Elder Ray with a ward member who recently returned from his mission in October and let him use his laptop so he could skype - so thankful for members!

Waving good-bye!!!
This is from a baptism that they had after church on Mother's Day- what a great day for the Church in Ghana!

I know 2 of these young men are brothers but I am not sure about the others.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 6, 2013

Dear Mom,
It seems as the weather improves in Utah it also improves here in Africa. This past week we once again were blessed with another intense rainstorm. We woke up and it was a little over cast with some clouds, not to unusual in the morning, the clouds tend to burn away as the day really heats up. But then out of nowhere it got super dark and the wind come blowing in real strong. the next thing we knew there was an intense rainstorm flooding our yard. This time we were prepared and avoided our rooms flooding again. I'm not sure if it can be called a blessing because it did stop us from working that day and I don't think that really counts, but we still were happy with the storm.
   I am doing a lot better. The was one of the more happier weeks since the last transfer and things might finally be looking good for the next little while. We have 3 baptisms planned for this upcoming Sunday. That will make four in the last 3 weeks which is awesome! Not much help from the ward still but we do have some good people we are working with, the only hard thing about a few of them is getting them to come to church. This is probably one of the hardest things when getting someone ready for baptisms, even more challenging then helping them understand Kolob. Elder Moyer is still learning - he is a very good kid and I'm happy to be training him.
  I was reading a history of Elder Bay's Great grandfather who at the age of 17 or 18 ran away from home and worked from a railroad-man, miner, river-man, logger(lumberjack), and rancher in Canada. It sounded so awesome and fun and made me wish I'd been born a hundred years earlier. And it really inspired me to think about doing this. Also I was thinking a lot on some things grandpa said before I left. He was talking about extended family in Montana and how he might be able to get me a job up there....maybe with the forest service. I could go and live up there during the summer after I got back. So maybe next time you see him or grandma, test out how possible that would be.
  You guys just barley put gas in the black Suburban? Man it sat there for a long time (almost 6 months.) Kierra did tell me she doesn't want to drive it, which I'm fine with. How is the new garden space going in the backyard? I have been thinking of putting in a garden here at the apartment as well. We have a ton of room for it, the only problem would be by the time it would start to grow I'd be transferred.
Well I guess I'll be talking a lot with you this Sunday and then even more on Monday. What time did we decide for on Sunday? Anyways I'll save the rest for Mother’s day. In the meantime I hope all is well and let it be known that I'm not doing too bad myself. :)