Monday, February 24, 2014

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Tender Mercies

So in order to dispel all rumors I (Elder Ray's mom) am going to explain briefly what has happened in the past few weeks:
Elder Ray and his comp were out proselyting on a Friday, they were witness to an accident and were being blamed for it - they had nothing to do with it but because the Church is extremely careful where missionaries are concerned the missionary dept, area presidency, and Elder Bednar (who was visiting Ghana) decided to get these two out of the country.  They were sent to the Houston East mission where they enjoyed ice cream, hot showers, and American food for 2 1/2 weeks.  They have both been re-assigned to the Sierra Leone Freetown mission (still in West Africa)and just arrived yesterday, Feb 23rd.  I am including an email from Elder Ray while in Houston and the email we just got this morning from him in Sierra Leone.  It has been quite an adventure but throughout all of this Elder Ray has been so positive and upbeat.  We are very proud of his grace under pressure.
I do want to thank all of our friends and family whose prayers were very appreciated during these past crazy weeks.

Elder Ray with Pres and Sis Crawford of the Houston East mission

Elder Ray at a member's home in Texas
Week in Texas,
       Monday morning we went to the Art market with sister Hill and had a few missionaries departing. Its a really awesome place were you can get all the cool art and cultural things Ghana. I wish I would have bought some items during this run. We got back to the Office at noon because President wanted a meeting( we thought it was about transfers that week) instead we sat down and we dropped it on us we were reassigned to the Texas Houston East Mission and we would be leaving that night. I understood that it was to protect us. After a teary goodbye to the Office Couple, The Walls, We went home and packed quickly.
   We then had dinner and a departing farewell with President and Sister Hill. It was super weird as we weighed our bags and checked in the airport( we normally have been doing this for everyone else.) Everything was happening so fast it didn't even seem real. Well We finally flew out of Accra and bid the lights of Ghana farewell. Had a 5 hr flight over the Sahara and the Mediterranean and landed early in Amsterdam. Enjoyed some waffles there and tried not to look shocked by so many white people walking around. Picked up some Euros there as well. 
    We then had a nearly 10hr flight across Scotland and Greenland, down Canada to Houston flight. We landed here in a nice winter rain and were picked up and set free in our new areas. First thing I did was get an nice coat that a missionary had left, it is cold in Texas. I'm serving in a nice part of Houston called Kingwood. It is quite a shock from Ghana. My companions are Elder Carlton and Case, cool guys we are great friends and I'm really enjoying my time with them. 
  One of the first investigators I met here was a Nigerian women( she has lived here for years), so we had a lot to talk about. A ward family( the Dobsens) had us over for malts and have really been some of the best people I've met here. Me and Bro Dobsen talked a lot about Geology( his profession) and West Africa. Maybe what also made them so great is they were some of the few that did not ask how many people I killed or wanted the scoop on the whole ordeal.
  Another awesome family is the Tates, Sister Tate's first question to me was what was my favorite music, I mentioned a few rock bands, she asked about Van Halen. I said it was a favorite, but she stopped me there and asked 'Hagar or Roth" Well due to a father who taught me well I answered correctly and soon she was telling me all about here love  for Sammy and the trip she wanted to take to his cantina in Mexico. 
   Despite the whirlwinds and the snarls of the advents in my life lately the Lord sure has shown mercy and with hand in presevering me and my well being. I'm emotional ok, though I'm heartbroken to leave Ghana, but besides that emotionally, physically, and over course spiritually I'm doing just fine. I realize I'm called on a mission, but then I'm assigned to an area. I'm still keeping the faith! 
   -Elder Ray
Sounds like soon I'll be headed to Sierra Leon!
And this one today:

So Monday I found out from President Crawford (Houston East Mission President) that sometime I'd be leaving that week for Sierra Leone. Well the week went by and I enjoyed some good times in Kingwood with my companions. Wednesday I found I was leaving Friday which was good because Thursday was the temple trip, but bad news because I was only to take one suitcase at 66 lbs and my backpack.( I had bought a lot of food and it was a struggle to make it fit.)
     The Temple was great in Houston and because our first session was full me and my companions got to do sealings as we waited for the next one to start. I said goodbyes to some really great members in Texas( I would love to visit a few places there one day.) President took us to the airport and expressed his gratitude for our service and told us we are always missionaries of Texas.
   I flew from Houston to Atlanta( where we were delayed but got ice cream from a member.) then on to New York (with bad weather we were delayed again.) Then to Accra and by time we reached there our flight had left and the next one wouldn't be until the next day. So we promptly called up Accra West Mission and soon Sister Hill was there, telling us she had prayed for this to happen! It was perfect because she brought the Office van and I was driving again! We saw the Walls and looked at the new Office, then ate dinner with them and Sister Hill( President Hill was out of town, but we talked on the phone.) 
    The rest of the night we( with sister Hill) drove around saying goodbye to the Missionaries nearby( which was most of them.) I saw Schoessow, Bay, and then spent the night with my old district( we didn't sleep much though.)    Sunday I went to my old ward and bid them goodbye as well which was really great( Joseph B was gone but I called him.) Lots of excited members and a few tears later I was driving to the airport and headed for Sierra Leone.
   The airport is across the ocean and we took a water taxi to get to Freetown( hover craft is broken for over a year) so we were in a boat and it was quite a little ride, but everything was ok. President & Sister Ostler picked us at the harbor and took us to the mission home. He briefed us a bit about the mission and him and then we spent the night there. I guess they are a very young mission in age of missionaries so he has been looking for leaders. He immediately made me a Zone Leader and sent me to a city named Bo to be with Elder Simmions? I just got here from a 5hr bus ride.
He goes home next transfer in March, he is from Kansas, seems very nice and really happy( he is going home, right? haha) 
    So this place is much more remote then Accra or Ghana or even Texas! But it is West Africa and I'm happy and ready for the new experience of serving in Sierra Leone.
    With much love,
              Elder Ray

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