Monday, June 30, 2014

Content with that Allotted Unto‏ - June 29, 2014

It has been an extraordinary week here in Salone, not just for me but the Sierra Leone Freetown mission as well.
  I was still feeling horrible Tuesday but I got myself to District meeting, I was in a trio with Elder Hofman and Ifenyi. Afterwards we went and taught one lesson before I couldn't take it anymore. So we went home and called the mission nurse Sister Barney. She and her husband came and picked us up in their nice FJ Cruiser and we went to the hospital. They did a quick blood work test on me and I had malaria. The Barneys told me how to take the medicine each apartment is stocked with for the home treatment. My case was not as severe as in Ghana but nevertheless malaria.
  Meanwhile within the mission even as transfers started on Monday many additional unannounced transfers started to take place. Some were because of problems between missionaries and others just because things were over looked. Well due to this and my illness I got a call from President that my call had been changed and I would not be training anymore. Instead I'd receive Elder Lokpo a Zone Leader and we would be "power missionaries." This is a new thing President is trying, putting two old experienced missionaries together for the purpose of being examples in teaching families and kingdom builders. I was a bit sad not to train, but saw it so because I had gotten sick (was my fault, but I am up on my meds now.)
   Thursday afternoon Elder Lokpo arrived and we started our companionship. He is from Ivory Coast and at 27 is my oldest companion (funny Elder Hofman was my youngest.) He goes home in September (actually came on Sept 7th) his MTC group included lots of my buddies from Ghana such as Elder Paleatonga. Here is some proof of the gifts of tongues, right from when he entered the MTC he spoke only French not a bit of English, now he is totally fluent in English and sounds like he has used it his whole life. I'm really enjoying my time with him and we are doing great.
  Well the rest of the week was some of the best work I feel I have done on my mission. Maybe because we taught 22 lessons in 4 days of rain and the fact I was recovering from Malaria! Now it’s not about numbers, I know that, but this was the fruits of us working strong in the area and meeting with some great people. We were able to contact a few families, as well as a hand full of "kingdom builders" or people of mature ages that will help the Church grow here.
   Sad news though is on Friday after a sweet lesson to one of our investigators, R, there was a large commotion about beach. Later we found there had been a drowning and it was her nephew. Sounds like at low tide the boys waded to a sunken boat in the small harbor which can be seen easily at low tide. They played inside until the tide rose, but the one boy couldn't swim so he was stuck there and his friends weren't fast enough to get help. It was terrible news and I really felt for the boy and family. It was something I know I would have done back home, we didn't have sunken boats but I had mines and ghost towns. Shows how such innocent fun can quickly turn tragic so fast. The family is Muslim so Sunday after Church we stopped by and sat with R, I shared a lesson on resurrection, how all mankind receive this gift and then a wonderful quote by Neal A Maxwell  (I could live off his quotes and talks, hence the title of this week’s letter.) It said: “Death is not the period of life, but the comma". I sure felt of the Spirit there and it was a wonderful moment.
    I'm glad to have the knowledge we do in the Church and with the Gospel. It’s a comfort to me in hard times and Elder Maxwell as one who went through so much in the end  also realized this. I’m grateful for his words and the spirit it brings.
   Elder Ray

Monday, June 23, 2014

Transfer News - June 23, 2014

It has just been one of those weeks, let me tell you.....
  Monday morning the mission sent 2 men to build a small shed for our generator, I told them to mind the garden. When we got home a found they had just trampled through it like horses. I got a bit angry with them and had them fix the plants they smashed. They worked on the shed 2 more days and have not since returned to finish it or retrieve their tools. And the generator sits exposed to the beating of the sun and rains.
   Tuesday was the last District Meeting we had together and I decided to talk about and share Hugh B Brown’s story of the currant bush. We then took pictures as a District and went to work. That afternoon my companion and I had a memorable encounter with a drunk man. He was one of the craziest I have met on mission so far. We were trying to start a lesson and he kept calling my companion and would repeat his name over and over. Getting annoyed I started asking his name which he would repeat again and again. I probably heard it over 60 times but I have forgotten it already.
     Wednesday we got our monthly substance from the bank and just taught the rest of the day.
    Thursday- Had Zone conference at the Belliar Park (mission HQ) President and Sister Ostler were there and we sat through 4hrs of the leaders talking about teaching families. I realize its importance more than I ever have. They did give us hamburgers and fries for lunch so that was fun too :)
   Friday and Saturday I got sick and and by Sunday it started to feel a bit like malaria. Luckily we have a wonderful mission nurse and I have been down that road before. Today I have a small fever and am tired but doing a lot better.
   Friday night was a busy time because it was transfer news. Our apartment changes were, Elder Hofman was room transferred to the other area here and is now DL and I was called as a Trainer.  This will be my 4th time of training - I don't feel all that confident to train in this mission as I am still fresh as well. The area is good though so with some faith it should work out ok. I’ll miss Elder Hofman, I enjoyed being his companion, we've enjoyed some good times together.
   I was sorry to hear about Joseph, I hope to hear from him soon. It was nice to hear the mention of the Manti Pageant, can't wait to see that again one day. Sorry for the unexciting letter this week, sickness doesn't write fun or adventurous memories. Next week should be better. Thanks to everyone though for the love and support.
         Elder Ray
PS still no packages at all, don't know what to do because I haven't had this problem on mission before. Anyway you guys could track it?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I am the Gardner - June 16, 2014

First things first, I'd like to wish Dad a Happy Father’s Day! Sadly it’s not recognized at all in Sierra Leone. Hope Dad had a fun time in Oakland or flying home.
   Last Monday while on our way to the internet cafe as I was crossing the street I was looking if it was clear while moving into the road. As I did so I ran into/was struck by a man pushing a wagon of frozen chicken. I knocked it over and fell a bit with it as well. I helped the man pick it up and apologized though he was at fault as well (I feel he did it on purpose.) I thought there was no harm, mostly worried I'd damaged my pants which I don't want to have to worry about right now.
    My left thigh was paining me quite badly but I carried on and later we went and got our hair cut. I asked to have mine a "little" longer in the back and the man gave me a nice mullet, so I had him trim it down as well. Not going for a Billy Ray thing here or now. Walking with a good limp, the other elders called and said they had locked themselves out so our night was cut short and we came home.
    Wednesday morning with the help of a member who hauls us water and helps with general errands, I began landscaping the front yard for my garden. The member finished it while after I went for the morning studies and I set him to find us plants to put in the next day. Later we finished preparing our baptismal candidate for Saturday. He name is H and this woman is smart! She attends a theology college and has really taken conversion step by step, logically. I have really enjoyed teaching her and loved seeing her grow in the Church. By this time my leg began to heal, Tuesday I had it rough limping up and down, but it was only a flesh wound.
    Thursday early early, we planted a lot of tomatoes and pepper plants on one side of the yard and some native shrubs with flowers on the other side. We then excavated the old stepping stones and porch long overgrown to make a better walkway. To think all that was done before 8 am is quiet a miracle and good time management –haha! At first the other elders thought it was a bit foolish to worry about a garden, but as work progressed throughout the week I aligned them to my vision. We made our wild and desolate front yard (only about 10 feet wide and 30 feet long) blossom as a rose. Though we have no roses, some of the pepper plants have started to flower! The tomatoes took the transplant rough, 2 plants died, but the others are enduring. That night I left to go on exchange with the ZLs.
    Friday I was in an area called George Brook with Elder Manizina (from S. Africa.) Their apartment is above the mission office with the OEs and next door to the APs. Had a great time with everyone that night and slept well in the AC. The area is plastered right on the side of a mountain so we walked up and down some, then up higher and higher, straight up we climbed. Pretty good day for an exchange, though it was humid like all get out. I did get a stunning view of Freetown and the ocean from the top. These mountains are the namesake of Sierra Leone, its Portuguese for "Lion Mountain" and these things are lions, but as David we conquered them.
   Saturday we went back to Bellair Park (the name for the mission home and office) to use their baptismal font. I got to be the baptist for not only our candidate, but the sisters as well. It was a beautiful baptism and a lot more spiritual then the last thanks to the good missionaries who helped the event come off. Sunday they were all confirmed and we ended the week with that.
   I chose the title for my letter this week not just because of the garden planted at the apartment but also in the spirit of the famous talk by Hugh B Brown (his middle name is Brown as well, creative!) when he talked about his farm in Canada, the current bush he cut down and scolded saying "I know best, what you are, because I'm the gardner." years later he heard those same words during his disappointment when he was refused a high rank in the Canadian army because he was a Mormon. Like President Brown I have realized again on my mission that God is the Gardner (John 15:1) and knows what he is doing with us. I have seen His hand in my life so much in the last 8 months and I for one am extremely grateful for it. I'll leave you with this...I love you all too.
      Elder Ray

P.S.  Still no packages, I got the money no problem, and my leg is good as normal with a gnarly bruise with every color of the rainbow.

I don't care of football/soccer but everyone else in the world does and Ghana and America play tonight. There are some "friendly fights" in the mission right now. Born in the USA! hahaha