Monday, September 23, 2013

Alma 48:17 - September 23, 2013

Dear Mom & Family,
    There always seems to be an interesting day or event going on in Ashtown and this week didn't disappoint. I really liked those pictures of you with the Schoessow family- it surprised me when I was training to realize who they were. He is doing great and we get along really well.

  During Confederation Council I taught and we discussed about how the gaining both the "Word" and Spirit= power. Something Elder C Scott Grow talked about last in January when he visited. It was a good meeting and there were no flare ups from anything said this time...a calm before the storm.
   We had problems teaching in the mornings though-out the week. Nobody was home and all of our main investigators were in the evening times. This gave us lots of time to go tracking and exploring for those people in need of the good word. It’s an easy thing to do when you have been doing this in the same area for nearly 8 months. You feel like you have tried this area or that road already too many times. So things were pretty dull in the morning and early afternoon hours.
    Thursday however I went to the far-side of my area, far west, to a few places I had never even passed close to. Well there was a reason to not going there first, nobody lives in the bush and swamps there. Second, anyone there lives way too far to come to church and I get a little worried we are leaving the mission into the Cape Coast mission....Though what they don't know won’t hurt them. haha. Well it turned into more of an adventure traveling around the Ghanaian country side. 
    We picked up Bro Dadzie( our ward mission leader. who is way cool) for a few member present lessons. On our way to one such lesson we witnessed a pretty graphic motorcycle crash. A man on a bicycle with a propane tank cut in front of a motorcycle on the road and both of them went flying and skidding across the pavement, with the propane tank bouncing and sparking the whole way (luckily it was empty.) Lots blood and carnage, mostly from cuts to the motorcyclist head. The man from the bike didn't do much after they put him in a taxi bound for the hospital; he was not in good shape after the event.
      Besides that everything else went well. Taught a few families we hope on baptizing next month. Had lots of help and some fun time from the Dadzie's and the Okeryre families as well as the Obengs. I was happy to still be serving in Ashtown/Kasoa and I worry that this coming transfer might take me away from confirmation on that.
   Big Event happened Sunday while I was sitting in Sacrament. President Hill called me and said he was on his way to my ward building. He came and went straight to Elder J. ( Thomas's companion) After their Interview it sounded like he was being transferred and Thomas would be with me. Well that was confirmed when he packed his bags and the AP's came to take him away. Don't know his fate and sounds like he may have had a few issues with President.
    Now for the next week and half I have two junior companions, I'll also be working in Thomas's area as well as my own so now I have something to fill in the mornings with. Transfers will be next week on Wednesday. Things are looking good for the Confederation as we clean ourselves up and prepare for what’s new to come.
Here is my scripture for the week:  Alma 48:17
  With much love from Africa,

  Elder Steven T Ray
 I have been thinking on what you could send me and I have a list of suggestions.
   Green Chili
   More White gravy( plenty of it) 
   Biscuit mix
   BBQ sauce
   and maybe some of your homemade salsa. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ashtown, Where Angels Fly - Sept 16, 2013

Well, last week may have been my birthday but we had continued celebrations throughout this last week. One such was the rest of my packages arriving and enjoying all their contents. Sadly the matchstick glider did not survive the flight over here, though everything else made it safe and sound...including the glow in the dark ax. Also Thanks to Breanna I also have a steady, unending supply of letters coming in from all over the country side.
   Monday as I was saying last week we went into Accra to some government buildings to pick up our National ID cards. The only reason we see the Govt forcing us to get these are to charge the Church more money, although now I have a cool little souvenir with my face on it. They had us go do finger printing and I once read about a way to smudge your print at the last second it scans. I don't know if it works but I tried it, lest some foreign nation steal my prints!
  Tuesday we traveled to the neighboring town, Odokor, for Zone Training. Nice time to see some good friends like Elder Schmeltzer (he and I have served here in our Kasoa zone the same time-7 months) Elder Robertson, my district leader from UK* also the same time as me and Schmeltzer. On the way back I stopped by the African Wal-mart to pick up some birthday steak, I still have one for tonight's dinner. Got back through traffic late and stopped at Bro. Larbie’s for the usual Tuesday dinner. His daughter Karen turned 7 on Sept 6th so we planned a late birthday for the both of us.
  Wednesday was a good "normal" day of teaching and proselytizing. Found a few new investigators. Passed by a few former less-active to see if there was any embers glowing since the last time they had the fire burning. I think we are going to need a good amount of "boy scout" water to light a few back to activity. We'll supply that though and let the Spirit spark it.
  Thursday went the way of the previous day but in the evening we encountered a whole gaggle of drunken men one after another. All wanted a miracle or blessing and just a little food or money. Two lead us to their family and wanted them baptized right then, we'll see about some follow up lessons, but in every case I\m always happy to leave our  contact info on the back of a Words of Wisdom pamphlet and tell them, Jack Daniels is no friend of theirs. All of these encounters provided some amusement for us, though it did make us late for another lesson.
  Friday we traveled to Kanishie stake center, it’s in Accra, for Mission tour!  We were the very first companionship to get there (though there is no medal for that) and so we had a little bit of time to walk around the area. Saw I few sites, got bored and went back. Soon most of the mission was there, except for a 2 zones far away in the wilderness. Elder Vinson from the Area presidency came and spoke to us. He with his awesome Australian accent was amazing! Very smart man (Degrees in mathematics) and powerful testimony of his conversion. I think he was a bit impressed with my knowledge and insight on the Old Testament. He used lots of stories and scriptures from that part of the scripture canon. I gave a pretty good recount of the tale of Samson and I was happy I have studied the OT, though most find it long and boring I enjoy it.....though it is definitely full of some "less valiant" books and scriptures. I picked up my mail from the OE's after the meeting I went home to celebrate a good day.
   Saturday woke up and went to chapel cleaning as normal, though our main effort was cleaning the font for the baptism that day. We baptized the Obengs daughter Comfort, and the other Elders all had a baptism for themselves as well. I was "John the Baptist" for all the candidates though. Later that day I took the cake mix you sent me and built it at Bro Larbies* luckily he had an oven and mixer in his little place.) Every one sung happy birthday and enjoyed American B-day cake. Bro Larbie was very happy we did it there and I was too. He doesn't have much and it meant a lot to help him with everything there. It feels good to give back to the members, even if it’s just as simple as making a cake for them and celebrating a birthday party.
  Sunday lots of investigators came to church, including Joseph(Hosa) and the other boys came. They also brought their father and sister who we have never taught. That was very beautiful and they all enjoyed the service. Should have a splash down with them at the end of the month.
So about our taxi run in last week:  I have gotten pretty good at reading the crazy drivers here. The problems is that with crazy there comes unstable pattern(chaos theory, thank you Jeff Goldblum.) And this day the pattern was broken but no bones were! Taxi just tapped my back tire and knocked down my comp, no blood or I would have demanded money. Everything is well now.

Fun Scripture I have come upon Proverbs 25v 25
and of course the food fight in Zec. 5v1.
   Thanks for all the love and support, I sure have felt it in these past few weeks and days. It helps me know I have the strength from so many, including those on high.
   With great happiness and joy.....
  Elder Steven Ray
Elder Ray was very happy to spend his bday $$ on some pizza!!
Baptism Day: Elder T., Elder Ray, Elder S., and Elder P

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Amazing Week - Sept 9, 2013


It’s been an amazing week here in Ghana as events throughout the week led up to the big celebration on the weekend. Even now as I compose this mail, I sit with a belly full of pizza and I can say that never happens. Let me Explain.
   Tuesday- We had our 2nd weekly gathering of the confederation (district meeting) and during the meeting we discussed the assigned topic from our ZL’s on "opposite sex." Something the missions have been having a problem with. Well 2 elders got a little rallied up about it and we had a fight with words between everyone. Luckily I learned a few things in Speech & Debate on channeling arguments -plus me and Thomas out size everyone so the disputes end there.
    Wednesday- Taught our little group of boys that stay by the chapel. These kids range from 13 to 15, but ask some of the best questions on the gospel and its teachings of any investigator I know. I have given them the name of “Hosa & the News” because I give everyone random names in my planner. I'm always trying to keep up with them and sometimes get a little stumped in the lessons. We are now focusing on the parents and families of these boys this week and by His grace will get them all out to church on Sunday.
    Thursday- Me and my comp took a lady in our ward out to see the home of my recent convert family- the M. family, baptized in July. The woman was Sisiter OK whose son left on a mission the same time as I did. Very sweet woman who along with her Husband have adopted me as their new son. They are an older couple and active in the church. I'm having her reduce and fit my shirts for me since I have lost soooo much weight and nothing fits anymore.
    Friday- Was packed full of lessons and contacting! We had some fun people who asked us to come back for more lesson....and actually sounded interested in what we taught and not us. Went to teach the O’s little girl whose baptism is Saturday, though she is pretty much a child of record, ate some more food there. Then went to Bro Larbies for the weekly FM( Free Meal.) Passed by a few members and investigators to round off the night. I'm very grateful for the Missionary Pal booklet Dad gave me before I came. I can't tell you how many times I have pulled it out to teach a lesson when other books and hand outs were not available. It’s got everything to teach faith to destroy the Catholic church( thank you James E Talmage.) Though I'm a missionary and don't use that, though it is all very true. The only things is that book brings the sin of covet with it as many missionaries are giving me offers for it, though no price could take that beauty from me.
     Saturday- So though I have often been depressed sitting in my area for so long I realized a blessing with it -this week will celebrating the birthday. A few Members called and wished me the best, a few more invited me over for a good meal of baku or Fufu, and they even announced it at church. It’s good to be so close to the ward and it paid off this week on my birthday. Everyone's friend Joseph called and invited me to a big dinner for the evening, it was a lot of fun and he is a very sweet guy. I hope one day he makes it to BYU Provo so we can all meet him. Opened my gifts too and have really enjoyed them as well.
     Sunday- and a few investigators show up, I few I have never met until that morning so it made the class all the more interesting. I was invited to a big birthday dinner by a Sister J that evening which included 10 missionaries. Elder Moyer, Lilo, and there comps come up to celebrate and it was nice to see them again. I still have most of my former comps around so we stay close. Sis. J. bought sparkling cider and made a ton of Fufu with pepper soup. She also played Celine Dion for me, that was kinda nice.
    Well thanks to everyone I wish I could say more but the internet is about to go so I'll finish next week.
   Love you all
   Elder Ray
  PS I need a new ball speaker and 2 memory cards one to use and the other to copy the old one and send back home.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Engines, lessons,& Investigators - Sept 2, 2013

Dear Family,

Week 2 of the Ashtown Confederation was a success. Tuesday we had our first District meeting and it came off without a problem. Talked about tracting and using referrals. Most baptisms come from referrals, so we are trying to improve the quality of our finding to increase the work when we aren't getting referrals. I drew a nice diagram of an engine and used the idea of the combustion as missionary work. Gas represented referrals and airs is finding; gas is good but without good quality air it doesn't have the same effect on the engine. I guess you could say the spark plug is the Holy Ghost- the fire that really makes things happen- haha.
   Wednesday we did lots of finding, as I practice what I preach. We contacted a bunch of small boys who have now turned out to be some serious investigators, asking inspired questions, bringing friends, and reading the Book of Mormon. Now we just need to get them to church and we will have filled a second quorum for the deacons and teachers. After every lesson we seem to get roped into a football game, we lose pretty fast so not sure why they enjoy playing us.
    Thursday- not a lot of anything happened most of the day due to a Supreme Court case here. Ever since the President was voted in at the end of November they have been arguing on stolen votes and misrepresented regions. So finally this week on Thursday the court ruled in favor of the current president to hold the office. No uprisings, seeing how Ghana is the most peaceful West African country. I did an interview that night for Palentaoga and his comp.
    Saturday- We had baptisms, my candidate was one who was to baptize in April, but due to her traveling for school she was unable. Well she returned 2 weeks ago and I got to see her go into the water. I was happy it finally worked out, but she missed church the next day and was not confirmed, though it has been addressed and next week by all means. After the baptism we helped the Obengs with a youth activity and they fed us some really good food afterwards. Taught some lessons and went home to find a giant party outside our apartment. It wasn't a birthday party for me, but the grand opening for a barber shop underneath our house. They man invited us to come eat, but we could only see beer, cigarettes. and women so we opted on not going. Finally the music stopped rattling the books from the shelf at 11:00 and we got some rest. We passed by the next day to look and it is probably one of the nicest shops I have seen in Ghana- though the sign said 10 gh for a white man cut. I usually only have to pay 2 or the most 3.
   Sunday- We had 7 investigators show up for church, which was awesome considering 5 were brand new random people we hadn't met before. Two kids were sent by their less active mother who stays about an hour away in a village by the jungle. I'm excited to go meet with them this week.
  Today- I got mail from home, 2 packages from mom & dad, 1 from Lisa & Rod, and a lot of fan mail from all over the countryside thanks to Bree.:) People from Florida, Iowa, to Colorado and California. I few of them were actually pretty funny. Can't wait until Saturday to open some of these packages, though I can hear there are no Legos. No baptisms for Saturday, but next week I should have 2 or 3 and I'm excited for these one, not that I'm never excited for a baptism. Thanks for all the wishes and greetings. I'm enjoying being the Supreme Master & Commander of the far side of Kasoa, in our Confederation we have going now (don't worry power is not gone to the head, just having fun with names. We each have our own respected name here.) The work is sweet and the Lord has opened the windows of heaven with blessings on us, so whatever we are doing we'll keep it up and do better.
  Elder Steven Taylor Ray