Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Little Bit of Everything - May 26, 2014

This Monday was much like last Monday. Sat around doing nothing most of the morning, cleaned the house by myself until a few took the hint they should maybe help. You may not have realized it by my efforts all the time at home but you and Dad did ingrain in me a very strong desire to clean. I can find a lot of joy in doing it, especially on Mondays when I can just hit a good vibe and clean everything, but I do get a bit miffed when everyone else just watches (maybe they are dazed by my show?) Anyway this apartment has always had problems with mice and that is one reason I have emphasized cleaning so much. If small things were dealt with we could conquer much of the problem. I also Googled some homemade mouse traps today(shhh) and I'll see what ones work.

   Any-who The Week was rather average in many ways such as the routines of missionary life. Tuesday I gave my first instruction to the district at our chapel (because we have sisters we can't do it at the apartment.) We, the 4 elders and 2 sisters had a good time and I think I got them from the first with some fun scriptures and analogies in my opening, like the general authorities try for, right?  The mission is implementing a new study program and that took most of the time anyways. 
  Later in the evening around 5 (we have to be in still at 7) we saw a black maw of clouds rising on the horizon. It was hauling so we got doing the same but by time we made it to the taxi stops the Deluge hit. As we later had to run up a small dirt road to our apartment we found it was a river and had no choice but to swim.....or get our feet wet. The rest of the night we just sat warm and humid in the apartment. Oh the Rains of Africa.
   Wednesday/ Thursday....teaching and preaching and sweating :)
 Friday we left for the mission home/office for a "special" interview for our baptismal candidate. While it was going on I passed time with the Office Elders (special place in my heart for OEs) and the new Office Couple the Kanzlers, plus Sister Barney our mission nurse. The interview went great and I was also finally able to get my bank card. So when we got back to our area I went to the bank to pull out the district funds (money I can use for apartment needs: generator fuel, water, repairs, etc.) Well I did everything right but I believe they gave me 3 times the normal amount so we are working that out.
   Saturday, after the normal scares of no water, no program, and no presiding member of the bishopric, the baptism got under way. I just gave an impromptu conduction and presided until some bishopric arrived. The baptism happened, it was great, and everyone was happy, including M who was baptized. He was already being taught when I arrived in the area and I have enjoyed teaching him since. He lives close to the chapel, is around 24 and after the baptism sent us a very nice text about how happy he felt that day.
  Sunday, Sacrament filled up and we were pushed down stairs but we saw M confirmed and after church we went and met with him and some of his investigator friends then went back and called it a week. 
   Well that's all folks for this week, it’s been a very hard, but such a worthwhile week. Life is good, though I haven't seen any packages but I’ll hold out hope. Thanks for the wishes! Keep on truckin'
         Elder Steven T Ray
 One thing I thought you could send me, though it may not ever come! Is some stickers for the back of my name tag, you know the old tradition. Now I don't know what ones to ask you to send, but you know what I like trains, lumberjacks whatever funny thing or church or historic stuff I enjoy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sitting by the Docks of the Bay - May 19, 2014

My last Monday in Bo we rode out to a school in northern Bo because it supposedly had a caged crocodile. We got there and found the pen holding him and he was huge! I have pictures but I worried about plugging it into this computers because of viruses. Anyway I'm sure the condition of his pen would have gotten any activists hair to curl. He was over 50 years old and was missing most his teeth but still a fearsome fellow. They say people just drop cats and small dogs into his cage and that's how he is fed.
   Tuesday I left my apartment early in the morning and spent a few hours at the Sewa Road apartment with others being moved around. I had just been at that apartment on exchange with Elder Allen (my great friend who is well cultured in good music) and so we and other played rook (a card game I learned here.) Me and Elder Jest( from England) went to a nice super market in town while our ride was fueling up. There they had a sale on Ben & Jerrys ice cream (the small bowls) they were old and a bit freezer burnt but we feasted on them anyways. We soon left and traveled for 4 hours or so to Freetown. I arrived somehow late so not much time to do anything, but I met up with my new companion Elder Hofman. We spent the rest of the night talking about the good ol' days in Ghana and Kasoa.
   So the area of Congo Cross is wedged right between the mountains of Freetown and the Atlantic Ocean. It so strange how they built Freetown in, on and around the mountains here. There are not many mountains in West Africa, but somehow an entire capitol city ended up on one. It makes me miss the flatness of Bo but my legs are getting toned. It's nice to be on the ocean again and feel the nice saline breeze it brings. With Freetown harbor right next to us I get to see huge tankers and freight ships prowling the waters all the time. It makes me curious, almost enough  to want to work on one for some time, another one of my fantasies. We have a lot of really good people to work with in this area, including some sweet families. Congo Cross is a ward in the only stake in Sierra Leone. That Stake was created by Elder Holland around the time I was in the MTC and was the Church's 3,000th. I'm happy to be serving here and enjoying the few comforts of Freetown (More ice cream and the occasional cheeseburger.)
    I haven't received either yours or Grandma's package but I did get a letter from her. I'm going to be working hard not only in the area this week but also in improving the apartment I'm in. It has been known to be a hole and everyone hates it. Really it just needs to be cleaned and maintained. But I may do one or two other things to bring it up, like plant a garden. We will see though. I'm extremely happy to be here and I'm still finding joy in serving. I'm getting close to 18 months and doing my best to not think of too many things of home, but I'd be lying if I wasn't a bit excited....though don't worry I am still focused. So there's Elder Ray's life of the last week. not to bad and the best is yet to come.
       Elder Ray
Picture of the medical conference they just recently had attended. Elder Ray is on the 2nd row, 4th from the right.

Monday, May 5, 2014

And the Rains Came Down - May 5, 2014

  This week has been a wet one, but despite the showers the work went
  on swimmingly( I make myself laugh.) So yes the rainy season is fast
  upon the country which is good news because the heat and dryness are
  becoming serious problems. Farmers’ crops were starting to fail and our
  well is dry despite construction to deepen it. We have had to order
  water trucks for everything from drinking and bathing to baptisms.
  This rain is beautiful.
  Wednesday I had a chance to go on an exchange in an area that is
  been doing pretty rough. The companions have been trying to kill each
  other or run away and there is nothing happening in the actual area.
  Good Elders but sometimes two people just can't mix and get things
  together. Even after reading in the eternal marriage handbook didn't
  quench the situation. Well transfer news comes this Saturday and will
  happen next Tuesday so it may bring change. I have a feeling I may
  leave, but where I may go I haven't a clue.
  In my own area we have been seeing some great conversion with the
  investigators there. Despite the distance to travel to the chapel we
  still have a good turn out on Sunday notwithstanding the rain as well,
  which can make all but the stalwart members flee away at a dark cloud.
  One man, M walked 40mins to service after the rain. This man
  about 35 has given up smoking and come unto Christ since we started
  teaching him. We had a special fast with him on Sunday and he was so
  amazing in keeping it. When teaching him yesterday he started stopping
  all his friends and making them listen to us, telling them to leave
  their "lie,lie" church.
  His father-in-law is the area Chief and has been making steady
  progress in his conversion. He is a Seventh Day Adventist but has
  accepted The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith; just needs to come to
  church which he knows is true. Funny man reminds me of Anthony Hopkins
  in the way he ponders on things and speaks, he even might look a bit
  like him too.
  At another appointment in the week we were with a families kids
  waiting for the parents and the kids wanted a story. After a while I
  gave in and told them a summary of True Grit (I did this a few times
  in Ghana) and the message about not seeking revenge, because it comes
  back to "bite" you too and in the end nobody is happy.
  That was the big events beside today we had "Super P-Day!" We played
  some fun games with zone members and then ate food while watching
  "Ephraim's Rescue" which was really beautiful. Makes me think about
  always being ready to be called upon and if you will take the call.
  Watching I couldn't help but want a movie about Porter Rockwell’s life
  because besides the gun-slinging he is a great example of loyalty and
  self-sacrifice. I guess Rooster Cogburn is the closest thing we have
  so far.
  Well thanks for everything, glad to hear about all the fun things
  and service the family is enjoying back home. I look forward to Sunday
  afternoon or morning to you. I'll talk more then. In the censored
  words of David Farragut,
  Darn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!

  That's what I have decided to do, more on it later.
  Take care and be safe,
  Elder Ray