Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake - July 29, 2014

From that deep and searching title you may be thinking what awesome event could have be the cause of such a title as that well...
  First of all I'm writing this one Tuesday because it is our Pday this week. Yesterday was a big holiday for the Muslims. It was the day of prayer to end their month of fasting. The zone leaders told us all the cafes and stores would be closed. So it was a normal day for us and turns out...for everyone else in this country. The prayers ended by 10am and most stores and shops were open as normal. Even other zones still had Pday yesterday, so we are a little lost on it as well.
  The biggest event last week would have to be the baptism of David. I got to baptize him at the mission office on Saturday (Emma's Bday), and despite the rain and against all odds everything went great. He has been taught for about a month before I entered the area and has really fought hard for an answer to his life.
  He is very well versed in the bible, he was afraid of the Book of Mormon until he actually started reading it and saw the way it compared to the bible, which was the turning point in his conversion. Funny how what some may attack the book on can be such a foundation builder for another. President Packer has a beautiful talk on such things which was included in the card you sent me.
   Which brings me to the Package! I got it after the baptism on Saturday (it came in Friday, props to DHL!!) Elder Evans, now AP, wanted me to open it there with him and others gathered around so it was great when the first thing to come out was 2 black barbies! Ha-ha we laughed at that. Thank you soooo very much for all those wonderful things. I loved the card with all those talks, the hat and the Rat Fink pins, and the wonderful dried food.
   In other news as you have heard on the news Ebola is raging in Salone. One problem why it’s not getting better is that people think it’s a lie from the government to get foreign aid, or cholera outbreak, or many other conspiracy theories. They think if they go to the hospital the doctors will kill them so they don't go and visit witch doctors instead - they’ll kill you a lot sooner than Ebola. Anyway many areas have closed, including an entire city which a week later one of the branch president there died of the virus.
  The Church and Mission is motioning it very closely and has us in strict cautions, not shaking hands, visits to sick, or anything like so. So not too worried but rather excited if we are transferred out of the country I'll get my 5th mission transfer, hopefully to Accra West...or Switzerland -haha
 To close this, on Sunday when we got home I had a banana cake mix a bought on sale so I cooked it up and with some bananas and chocolate syrup we and a lovely dinner.
   That is Sierra Leone for you, baptisms, Ebola, and banana cakes. Just remember we can look at these things as problems, concerns, or faith shakers, but with righteous living and enduring well that which shakes our faith may one day hold our faith, I know that from events on my mission and see it happening continually.
      Elder Ray, Sierra Leone Freetown

Monday, July 21, 2014


On Friday I opened my email and had a nice little surprise - pictures!!  This was a total gift and blessing because Elder Ray has not been able to send many pictures, especially since going to Sierra Leone.  The computers are not reliable and a lot of missionaries have lost pictures when they put their SD card in the computers.  Elder Ray has a camera that has wi-fi capability and we made sure before we sent it that we had programmed our email address in it so if he ever was near wi-fi he could just hit the button and it would upload pictures......we are happy to report that it works! He was at a restaurant that said it had wi-fi so he tried it and MIRACULOUSLY it worked!!!
Elder Ray and Elder L (from Cote d'Ivoire)



Elder Ray and ?

These are recent coverts who just moved away, the far one I baptized and is still here

Elder Ray's garden of tomatoes and peppers - he is fierce defender of his garden!

Lunch at the restaurant with wi-fi

This is the investigator that unexpectedly passed away unfortunately due to policies in place with Ebola the missionaries were unable to attend her funeral.

View from the apartment in Congo Cross, Freetown

If That's What It Takes - July 21, 2014

As we have really cracked down on cleanliness in apartments due to the current health concerns our apartment has been subjected to some deep cleaning. I think it’s starting to make sense to the others what I was going for last transfer. We have also had some good mouse hunts these last few weeks. Last Sunday we had a good battle with one little guy for a good half hour. At first it was one elder chasing the mouse, but soon all 4 of us were trying to stomp it, smash it with pots, brooms and eventually it went down. We got the mouse traps out again and now we wait.
    So the rain has continued as usual, washing out roads and making a mess, but we have just pressed on. This past week is what they call Affliction week or the last week before we get our monthly allowance. I did well and with a tight budget I didn't have to worry. Though I still have most of the money I had wired from you, but I'm saving that.
  Thursday we had interviews with President Ostler and it was a great time with him. He was worried I'd taken offensive to this last transfer assignments, but I reassured him I was “loyal to his government"- a common saying in the mission. We both laughed over it and I told him that with malaria it’s "once bitten twice shy" or for me twice bitten. He asked me what I wanted to do or go for my last 3 transfers and I have pondered it so we'll see what happens. Anyways it was a great time and I enjoy President Ostler. Went home that night and my companion helped me learn a bit of French.
   This was on Friday and after chatting with the other missionaries at the bank we decided on the best way to use our restored funds by going out for hamburgers! Our district went to a new restaurant or at least new to us and it was there I saw they had free Wi-Fi (something you don't see a lot of in Salone) I remembered the emailing ability on the camera so I put it to the test. I'm glad to hear it worked and happy to finally get you guys some pictures. I'll try to find some reasons to go back so I can take my other memory cards that have most my pictures from the last 6 months.
   D is in line and on track for baptism this week, so it will be a big day here for us as well as for Emma. One man named K, we have been teaching, had a powerful experience this past week. He is half Lebanese/ half Sierra Leonean and 74 years old. He is a lifelong Muslim but like he tells us each visit he lost faith in it and now looks to Christianity. He is a very smart older man, knows the bible, and is very concerned about the gathering of Israel, plus he talks a lot. He hasn't come to church though, but this Sunday he came and it was a surprise to all, even himself. He told us how he did not want to come that morning and prayed and asked if it was right for him to go then the rain should stop (the rain never stops) well it did and didn't come back until late in the night. He was happy to tell everyone at church this testimony.
  Well that was the highlights from the week. As "power missionaries" we are just working hard to find and teach families right now. The efforts and prayers are paying off little by little the sweat and the tears make the vision clearer.
      Elder Ray

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reap What You Sow continued - July 14, 2014

From the SL Freetown Mission Facebook page - We could spot Elder Ray right away....back row, middle, bright orange shirt - We were relieved to see he looked happy and healthy :) 

Last week as I closed down from the cafe I realized I had titled my email "reap what you sow" but gave no reason behind that. I totally failed to mention how my garden was doing! :) Last week we enjoyed the first fruits or peppers grown in there. This past week though I was fearing the tomatoes were smothering each other so I spaced them out a bit more and they didn't like that at all. A few wilted and leaves turned brown, but are doing better now and the flowers are closing up.
      That was my vineyard, how about the other vineyard I labor in, Congo Cross. It was a full week with a lot of success, meetings and one very sad moment all in one. It was funny because last week I talked about how it doesn't stop raining, well this week it did! After a nonstop shower all Monday night to Tuesday afternoon the skies cleared up and the wonderful African sun came out to scorch us. A small thunderstorm came in Thursday, but nothing else until Sunday, and then the heavens opened once more and drove away investigators from Church! Despite the weather we still had David, our man for the 26th push through and made it.
  Absent from Church was one lady, Sister V. I don't think I have mentioned her before but she was one interesting investigator of ours, who sadly passed away Thursday morning. She was 51 and quite a large lady who loved praise and worship style religion.  She has had a few different missionaries teaching her off and on for some months now. With all respect she was a little crazy and didn't make things easy for us. She would come to testimony meeting and would keep shouting praises and amens...or asked doing the sacrament why they had to make the bread so small. She continued to reject parts of our message but wanted us to come over all the time, because I think we were really some of her closest friends. The last 3 weeks she came every Sunday and would tell me she didn't feel well and I guess it was true. Sad thing with all the Ebola regulations in place by the mission we are not allowed to attend funerals.
  I realized these last week that two of my former mission presidents are home now (Judd and Crawford) and that I have been on mission longer than the other 2 (Hill and Ostler) kind of a funny thing.
   Well we are healthy and doing good in Sierra Leone. I told president if we have to leave Salone because of Ebola (not likely) that he should send me to Switzerland so I can get my 5th mission in, he laughed. More like Accra west I think :) Anyway that’s all this week.
   Elder Ray