Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Malaria - July 29, 2013

So there is no email from Elder Ray this week - we found out through another missionary that Elder Ray was sick in bed on P-Day with what they think is malaria :(
Elder Ray was pretty happy because in his 8 months in Ghana he had not been sick at all, in fact he told us that he had used most of the medicine we had sent with him for other missionaries.
So please keep him in your prayers this week as well as all of the missionaries, near and far away, as they serve the Lord.

These are some pictures that we had previously but had not posted:
LtoR: Elder Bay, Elder ?, Elder Moyer, Elder Smith, Elder ?, Elder Ray

Elder Moyer and Elder Ray with their new companions: Elder Paletaoga and Elder Lilo

First zone conference as the new Ghana Accra West Mission

Zone conference : Elder Ray is second from the right

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monkeys, Microwaves, and Missionaries - July 22, 2013

Dear Mom and everyone else,

  We had planned to baptize that family this week, but due to a few little concerns we had to move it to this week so I could teach them a little more and prepare them better. They are still awesome and I can see a really improvement on the family ever sense we began teaching them at the first of the month. We passed their house early this morning after an early morning picking fruit and hunting crocodiles in vain. We brought them some papaya and oranges and had a nice spontaneous meeting with them.
   As I said, we got up early for the croc hunt and didn't see anything for a few hours, not even a turtle. While we visited the Messahs family they told us about a guy who has a welding shop with a monkey on a rope out front. So we rode to the place and sure enough, though I had passed the place before without seeing it, it was there. Monkeys are creepy and very sketchy animals. I don't think I like them, but it was very exciting to see it. We had some bread we were feeding it and Elder Lilo started teasing it by taking its food. Well the monkey didn't like that of course so it slapped him and jumped at him. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. 
   Things are still moving along sweetly here. Had a great number of investigators at church on Sunday and even picked up 3 or 4 solid referrals or at least we’ll see how solid they are. ;)
August is looking good as we have found lots of good people to teach and baptize for that month. We are now just focusing on getting people for September and finishing up our current ones. One such is a man that was born and raised Methodist. He is a great man, very kind and loves us and the Church. He is still worried about leaving his church and the affect it may have on a few friends but we are dealing with him.
   Mid-week we got a call saying the mission had ordered every apartment a microwave. Lots of the African missionaries have never used one so they are taking great care on educating everyone how to use them without burning down a few houses. So if you ever want to send something microwavable you can now.
   I really do love my investigators, companion, recent converts, and ward members. Every week I get to meet with different members and I am working on establishing a better friendship with them. This week it was the Obeng family. Bro Obeng is a big guy and super quiet and nice. He was recently made the young men's president, so I have been working a lot with him this last week on activities to teaching. Sunday me and my companion went to the young men's class to help support the lesson, it was really fun and they seemed to enjoy it as much as we did too.
  Well that's the jest of things happening on this side of the world. Lots of hard work that is washed down with a good amount of fun and adventure, that's how to describe my proselytizing time. This week if we keep the spirits as high as it is and keep up the work it should be just as awesome. Thanks for everything and I love all you guys.
    With love-
Elder S T Ray

PS- Hmmm I still really want that model airplane, which I'm not sure why but it would really make my day. Besides that I really just miss chocolate, the suburban, Moab and Lumberjacks. So if there is anything in those categories you can find, throw them in. Anything else I'll let you know ';)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cocodiles, Turtles, and Blessings-July 15, 2013

Dear Mom,
First of all congratulations on the call! That is really quite a calling to have in the church and now I'll be able to brag to all my mormon friends that my Mom is the Relief Society President hahaha. I'm really happy to hear that, probably the best news this week. . I don't think I can offer much advice for you in that field, except try to work with the missionaries and less actives. I know world wide the First Presidency has really been stressing to the missionaries about less actives. "Off to the Rescue" I think Pres. Monson says to bring those lost sheep back to the fold. Here we have countless less active people because of missionaries just trying to hit high numbers of baptisms( so they can go back to BYU and tell everyone they baptized 80 people, then they become the QP is the 189th ward there.) Anyways I have found some of my best workings have been with less actives and I have found them through the RS president. So just something to think about in your new calling, Good Luck!
 I kept the high spirits we left off on last week and this week I was met with similar success. I was a little worried that after all the great blessings I had with the ward and area last week I would have ran the place dry. Tis not so for there were more hidden treasures to be found this week and even more for the future. So the internet has be giving us fits all day so I'll make this fast.
  Immediately after writing last week we headed back to the Jei River Farms to go on the tour of the area. The man gave a really nice tour; I learned how pineapples grow and how Ghanians build dams without any permits. The dam which holds the river for irrigation to the farm was built in the 70's and is just a big dirt pile with water leaking out of under it. The Sierra and SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) would have a lot more fun complaining about Ghana's engineering then they do with Lake Powell’s. They were so happy how they stopped a river completely and it was funny because I know John Muir is rolling in his grave about this place hahaha. Anyways it was a very beautiful place and in the lake we found out they have large crocodiles!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was late so they were all in the water but you can be sure will be coming back in the morning to see them one day.
  During our normal finding in the week we were able to meet and teach a lot of new people. One family we taught, the mother makes ice cream (frozen milk powder, sugar, and cocoa) and every time we go there she "dashes" us some. Didn't see her at church but her son came and he seemed to enjoy it. Another man we encountered was a richer older man that seemed too happy to see us. Usually the wealthier folks are a lot more stubborn, but this guy is very interested in our church despite being born and raised Methodist. In follow up visits he had really good questions about the Priesthood and Book of Mormon. Hopefully all goes well with this people.
  Friday we had a lot of free time during the evening before Larbie's so I climbed a giant rock/mountain and on the top there were lots of little puddles. In one pool I found a tiny little turtle. Long story short he is now living in a pot at the apartment and we are thinking of a good name for it.....any ideas? I heard a story of some missionaries in S. Africa who baptized a turtle after teaching it the lessons and carried him around for member present lessons. I'm pretty sure they got some heat for that, but it is really funny to think about.
   Anyways I have a lot more to write about because the week was freakin awesome, but I 'm worried the internet will crash (it already has for a few hours.) So just know I'm doing better than ever here in Africa. The new President is a great guy (not that Pres. Judd was not, because he was amazing.) My ward loves me and I love them too and the area is hard, but that just comes with the job. Friends are getting ready to go home and that is sad (Smith, Littlefield, Graff plus and Hurley is away in the old mission) but that just means I'm getting older on a mission and moving up. Things are simply great here in Ghana right now and I'm loving it!
From a very happy missionary-
Elder Steven T Ray
P.S I love the pictures and I read the critics didn't like the Lone Ranger, but many people were saying not to listen to them on this one. I hope you saw we do have a new mission address I sent in last week’s letter. Putting money in the account is the best idea because I can easily get one here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pineapple farms and blessings - July 8, 2013

Dear Mom,
  Well I think I have had some of the best days on my mission and the very best Sunday at least. We didn't baptize anyone this week( that won't come until next 2 weeks) but it was sure full of a lot powerful experiences.
  So last Monday when we finished emailing- Me, Lilo, Moyer, And Palentonga all went on a nice evening bike ride( because when you are with me you just can't get enough biking in the week.) We went riding in the bush and found ourselves going to the pineapple farm. By the time we got there they had closed, but the few workers that remained gave us each a pineapple and talked with us for a little while. A few questions about the church came up and they told us to come back this week and they would give us a tour of the facilities. So when I am finished emailing I'll be heading back up there.
  Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursdays were the average days of going tracking and finding in my area. I went a lot of places I have not been before with either Moyer or Osur and Hurley. It was some how productive and will be doing it again this week. Tuesday evening we went to Bro Larbies as we do every Tuesday and Friday night. Though he doesn't have much he always wants to feed us because he recognizes the blessings it brings. He has begun to gear up to become a rabbit farmer. It was an interesting idea, but he is moving along with the project pretty well. We have helped a little bit in building a rabbit hutch that is about 14 feet high with several levels for the rabbits. Crazy idea but he is excited and I hope it all goes well for him.
   Friday- We traveled to a place called Kaneshine, to the stake center for our first mission Conference as the Ghana Accra West Mission. Here we met everyone serving in the new mission( except for one zone that is far out in the bush, which included Bay.) Smeltzer and a few of my other buddies have stayed in this mission and I was glad to see them. I met for the first time President and Sister Hill. He is  taller and older man then Pres. Judd and is from Texas but back in the 1990s he lived in Nigeria for almost 5 years. So he is pretty familiar with West Africa. I really look forward to serving with him and Sister Hill. The new office couple Elder and Sister Wall are really cool as well.
Later when we got home we cooked a Mango pie in the Mtn man oven and it was delicious after which we then went to the normal dinner at Larbies. Saturday I went to teach this awesome family we found at the end of last transfer. The Mensiah family lives far away from the church but every week they make the sacrifice to pay for transport to church.  The father Sammy, his wife Mondy, and the 8 yr old daughter will hopefully be baptized at the end of the month. There are two other children one 2 and the other 10 months. I really love this family and we have really bonded with them. Saturday I spent most of the time there helping de-cobb corn so it could be ground into flour, acts of service like that really make the time we spend together even more meaningful.
  Sunday is the day that really hit me hard with a spiritual feeling. We were able to confirm not only the 2 girls baptized last week but just before the sacrament meeting closed we had a boy baptized a while ago show up and get confirmed. His aunt hates the church and always keeps him from coming but this week he either snuck out or finally broke her and made it. I was asked to do the confirmations and the first one I missed up on because I was called on spot, never having done a confirmation before. Then we all 4 missionaries bore our testimonies and I really felt the ward as my family. Even some of the members mentioned me in their testimonies. The best part was that we finally had a couple members bring us referrals to church, it was beautiful.
   We had a few Fms after church because the ward loves me! :) One was at our recently called mission leaders house were we watched the story of the church coming to Ghana, mostly by the work of J.W. Billy Johnson. I think it was called Our testimony or something so if you can you should watch it. Anyways I know I have complained a lot about my area and its true this area is hard, but I will be so heart-broken when I'm transferred because I love the members so much and they really have made my mission a lot easier. I know my purpose here now and I hope to continue working in this place for the rest of my mission - haha :) Thanks for the love and support, I miss my family back home, but the family here is helping.
Loving the work in Ghana, Your Son,
    Elder Steven T. Ray
If you are planning to send a large box anytime soon it might be wise to send me a new camera. I'm doing my best with this one, but its fading fast and I'll soon have it die on me completely. Also new Mission address is
                                           Ghana Accra West Mission
                                           PO Box 12741
                                           Accra North
                                           Accra Ghana
So I think that is all for this week.

Monday, July 1, 2013

New mission, new companion, new apartment!-July1, 2013

Dear Mom,
   Well some of the not so good news is hearing kids spreading my legend around by chasing fables and nearly destroying themselves in the process! Ah foolish kids, can't say that though the shock of hearing that I was laughing. I can't remember when I told them about the lake, but truth is I still haven't even found it. I really wonder where they were even going to start looking for it? Supposedly you have to crawl into a small cave high up in the mountains, only problem is I don't have a clue where that is. Big mountain makes small cave hard to find.  I'm glad they are ok now and tell them to wait until after we are all home and I'll take them to where I think it might be.
   Its official today we start the Ghana Accra West Mission! I'm sad to leave my friends behind in the old mission such as Hurley, Hutchinson, and Probst to name a few. But it is really exciting to start a fresh place in the world for missionary work, though it is just a cut from the old mission many new places will start to open up around here. Me and Bay will still be here and you'll most likely see us both walk off the airplane together. I have a lot of other friends still around and plenty of new people to meet.
  New Companion is Elder Lilo, and last week I said he was from ivory coast, well he is actually from Tonga, closes right? hahaha. He is a really cool guy and I'm enjoying him a lot so far. Also an Elder Paletonga joined us and is now with Moyer. He is from Samoa and is equally as cool. They are small guys from the islands, not the type I'm normally used to. We just moved to an apartment which is closer to our working area. its a very nice apartment and in the second story of a building. Regarding a new address I have not been informed on a new mission address so it should be safe to send it to the old one and they will sort it out from there. All the mail for West Africa come through here anyways.

  We had a Baptism this last Sunday, 2 actually. It made me happy to finally witness that happen again. July is looking good and there might be some more people on the way. We are teaching a family right now that is pretty sweet and also a man name Barnabas, cool name right? Well my baptisms are now at 18, not a horrible number and there is still time to get more.
   That's the fun news from this week, mostly people still just getting adjusted to the new mission and assignments. The work is not easy here, but I'm still always glad to be here doing it, no matter how rough it is. I'm doing well here and I wish and pray for all the best back home. I love my family and all they do for me, thanks to everyone.
  Love always,
    Elder Ray

   P.S. Be sure to tell me how the movie goes. Remember I'll be close to the locomotive moving equipment around (most likely rails) also a scene were the Calvary rides into the railroad camp, I'm sitting at the edge of the camp on a box sharping a pick ax. I do stand up and run to the side.
  P.P.S. Are you going to send any SD cards with talks on them? I could really use some :) Anything thing from Elders Maxwell, Haight, Mconkie, Ashton, Faust, Peterson would be great! Also any of your favorites too. I read parts of a book from another Elder. It was "The Unknown God" by Mark E Peterson. Probably one of the best books I have read, If you could send me one I would love it. Thank you.