Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 7: The Book of Mammon

Dear Family and Friends,

Man, I'm really growing to love it here in Ghana. Sure, I have to wash my clothes in a bucket and swallow dough balls whole but I'm actually growing to love it!

So something really funny that I wasn't expecting about Ghana was that we have to teach people that the pictures of Christ on the pamphlets aren't actually pictures of him, they are just paintings... Elder Stilson was telling me that people who don't like the church spread a lot of funny rumors like that hahaha, so funny! Another rumor that we hear a lot is that the Book of Mormon is a devil book. hahahah. In the bible it says you cannot serve God and mammon so people think that the Book of Mormon is the book of "mammon." hahaha. It's soo funny!

So our water pump broke this week so I've had to take bucket showers all week. A bucket shower is...not as good as a regular shower... I'll just say it like that and you can imagine the rest. It's so primitive hahahaha.

So this week was amazing for me. I had a lot of spiritual experience and I'll share a few, just like in the Book of Mormon how a lot of the prophets say that, "I can only write but a few of the things"...etc. I feel like in these emails I can only write but a few of the powerful things that I get to witness as a servant of Christ. So I'll do my best.

First off, we taught Kwarteng again this week and I cried again. Man, I try not to but when I testify of Christ I can't help it. We taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and when we were teaching about repentance, Elder Stilson pulled out Isaiah 1:18 and read it to him. The spirit came so powerfully into the room as we all thought about the Atonement's power to wash the red of sin away from our lives. While Elder Stilson was talking, I started to get really emotional and I hadn't even said anything yet... so when I started talking, man i just lost it... It was so powerful and it was the first lesson in Ghana that I've felt that extreme of a spirit. I testified with all of my heart and tears in my eyes that the Lord will work with us. He says, "Come now and let us reason together..." He wants to work WITH us when we go through hard times. He wants us to become happy! Repentance isn't a bad medicine we have to take to get better, it is a joyous thing that we should be happy to do! It relieves so much off our shoulders to give our struggles and sins to Christ. It was so powerful. He is so ready to be baptized and he has such a desire to be part of the Lord's army.

We followed up later in the week with a woman named Dorris that we contacted the week before. As we were getting to know her and introducing ourselves (small small in Twi :) ) she didn't seem very interested but I heard the spirit tell me, "Just wait until the lesson starts, she'll be engaged." So we after we told her that God was her loving Heavenly Father, she cut in and said (in twi, she only speaks twi and english small small), "I feel like none of the churches are true on the earth because none of them teach what Christ did in the Bible." We were just blown away... I thought of the scripture in the Book of Mormon that says that angels are in the land preparing the hearts of the people to hear the gospel. Man, this woman was a testimony of that scripture. She was so ready to hear the message of the gospel! It was so awesome to see that we are lead to those who are ready and have been prepared by the Lord for His message of happiness. What a sweet experience :) So fun to really see that we are out here as missionaries to reap the field that is ready to harvest (Doctrine and Covenants 4).

So some tid bits:
I never knew how much I'd miss couches. We sat on a couch for the first time the other day and man..... it was so so soft... wow. I also can't remember what it feels like to not sweat, I've only been here for 5 weeks and I have already forgotten what that feels like...

One thing I know I'll miss when I go home in 22 months is buying stuff (food or snacks) from outside the window of a taxi or tro. The people they carry these big bowls of snacks and stuff on their heads and walk around the roads selling them to people in vehicles. I love calling them over and buying some dried plantain or something from them. It's so fun haha.

Until next week my friends,

Elder Janda

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 6: First Baptism and Eating Cow Ear

Dear Friends and Family,

So, first crazy unexpected experience for this week:

We were driving in a members car Sunday night last week and all the sudden, I hear Iz's voice. “I know that voice from anywhere" I tell myself and man alive it was him! I was like what the heck! I’m in Ghana, on a mission, and I hear Iz singing Hawaiian music. It was a special moment for me because it reminded me of all the vacations we went on as a family. I got misty eyed (didn’t cry:) ) when I thought about our special memories. The member saw that I loved it so much and so he played it twice for me. Great moment.

Next experience:

I was just chillin, sucking down some fufu and then I began to eat the meat that it came with... I couldn’t even chew it it was so hard. I asked what it was and they said it was cow ear... SICK! yeah, I didn’t eat anymore of that hahaha so gross

So when we bike to appointments, its pretty much mountain biking. like hardcore stuff man. we're jumping across ravines, biking through rivers, etc. it’s gnarly man. So fun haha

So I haven’t explained what a tro tro is yet. allow me to enlighten you. A tro tro is the most popular form of transportation out here. It is basically one of those 8 person buses that people have in the ward except they cram like 20 people into it haha its so crazy. I’ll send a pic of me in one. The roads are just a madhouse. It’s a miracle we haven’t gotten in any accidents yet. If I was in a tro and we got hit, man, everyone would die. It’s so unsafe but its so awesome hahaha

So we were called over by a group of a bunch of rowdy guys the other day and we were talking to them. So we get their info but really they just wanted to be crazy. The one guy (the ring leader of them) told us that he was going to hook us up with some girls cuz he told us that you can’t go two years without...yeah... so Elder Stilson and I walked back to the apartment, got a chastity pamphlet and went back and gave it to them hahahahahahahahhahah it was sooooooo funny!!! Later that day, we passed by again and they called us over to teach them. They were still being rowdy so we didn’t get a very good lesson with them but there was one guy in the group that seemed like he was more interested so I hope that we can teach him so that that meeting wasn’t a complete waste of time. Okay it wasn’t a complete waste of time cuz it was funny, but yeah...

So again, another wild experience:

We were walking along and this old man calls us over to teach him. so we are introducing ourselves and then he starts and says, in a weird Yoda Gollum mix voice, “I went to Ethiopia, then I went back and met a man on a horse. So I’m wondering, why are you guys walking around here all the time? " At this point I’m like still wondering what the whole horse thing is about... so we start telling him that we are here to help people overcome sin and return to live with God again. Then he says, "so you’re saying I’m a sinner?" Then we say, well the Bible says we are all sinners. And he says, "no, me I’m perfect. I’ve been perfect since I was 17." We were so in shock that we didn’t even know what to say to the guy. We pulled out scriptures, did everything we could to show him that no one was perfect except Christ but man, he wouldn’t believe it hahaha! The man was just crazy hahaha so funny! Highlight of the week hahha

SO FAMILY: I’m grateful for the chew chew swallow technique that we learned because it comes in handy out here. everyone swallows their food whole. so sometimes my throat rejects the fufu or baanko and because of my chew chew swallow background, I know how to suck it down hahaha, so thanks family :)

Okay, spiritual:

Taught Kwarteng again today and he committed to baptism! So exciting because the guy is gonna be like Stake President one day, he is so awesome! We taught him the Plan of Salvation and when we taught the Celestial Kingdom, I felt prompted to open Doctrine and Covenants 137 and read it with him. The spirit was so strong in the room as he realized what God had in store for him. After we finished I felt prompted to ask him about baptism again (we challenged a couple weeks ago and he didn’t accept). I told him that that was why we challenged him to baptism, because we wanted him to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. After I did that, Kwarteng said that he wanted to be baptized in a month. He said Dec 11. I hope he makes it to that date! The spirit was so strong. It was so cool! I thought to myself after we left, man. This is why im out here.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned on mission is that Joseph’s own words of his vision are so powerful. They are beautifully simple words that testify of so many things in the gospel, light comes, God knows us by name, we can receive answers to our prayers, God loves us, Christ and God are two separate beings, etc. So many messages. its so powerful and I always love to recite his words.

We had a baptism yesterday! her name was Gloria Shine Edufia. It was awesome and I had the privilege of baptizing her! I also got to baptize two children from the ward! it was so cool to see the fruits of the work we have been doing. I can’t wait to find more of those that have been prepared! In the scriptures it says the these people have been prepared by angels, it is so true  out here. the Ghanaian people are so humble and by being so, they are able to have some amazing experiences that help convert them. God loves all his children. I testify of God's individual love and care for all of us. it is real.

Great things are to come, I can feel it.

Love you all,

Elder Max Janda

Baptism of Gloria Shine Edufia

The Elder's Apartment in Nsawam

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 5: Settling in to Missionary Life and Living in Ghana

Note from Dad: We were able to exchange some correspondence with Max today while we were online at the same time. He is doing MUCH better than last week. He had some sweet spiritual experiences that he shared with his family that helped him know that the Lord is there supporting him and sustaining him in his efforts to share the gospel. We are so relieved that his adjustment period is nearing an end and he is beginning to settle into missionary life and living in Africa.


Dear Family and Friends,

So week 2 in Ghana.


  • its hot and humid
  • i sweat a ton...buckets of water
  • ive lost a ton of weight already
  • i already have a bad farmers tan
  • no one speaks english...


  • i am not very hungry ever...
  • there is no animal life here... like i was expecting to see like cool stuff like elephants and stuff, but there seriously is like nothing.
  • not very many mosquitos (still taking doxy though just to be safe)
  • at night, its not that hot in our apartment (more like a shack) its a nice like 80 degrees
  • some people cant even read their own language... hmmm its hard to teach them

So my companion is Elder Stilson, he is from usa, from utah too! Emry county, he is from the bush of utah hahaha he is a total like hillbillie haha but we totally get along well. he is really funny and we joke about what we would do if there was a zombie apocolypse in the world right now. If that happened, write a note in our house of where youre going so that we will know where to find you. We are gouing to fly a [plane from ghana to NYC then from there to Utah and jump out over our house cuz we dont kknow how to land. our plan is money and we'd totally survive and be able to make it back home to america. :)

So here in Ghana, lots of people are religious. Actually, thats an understatement, everyone is religous. Its like Jospeh Smith's time. its really cool to compare that time to ghana when we teach. We teach a ton! But its very hard because most people dont speak english or cant even read... so we have to teach like we are teaching to 5 year olds sometimes... But its really fun!

We are teaching this guy named kwarteng. He is super intelligent so its really fun to teach him. I really hope he gets baptized because he would be a really great additton to the branch. When we were teaching him, I recited Joseph's account of when God and Jesus Christ came to him. While i was speaking those powerful words, i began to have tears in my eyes as the spirit enterd the room. After i finished and bore testimony of the experience, he said, this must be true, i can see it in your eyes that it is. I want and hope that I can gain that knowledge just like you.  It was so cool. the spirit is what teaches them and converts these people. We are 18 year old kids and people still join! that itself is a testimony of the truth of this gospel. I know this with all my heart.

On another day, we were teaching a group of school teachers in a big room. there were 4 teachers. they were priobably like 30-45 years old and here are these two white 18 and 19 year olds ministering to and teaching them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. these are teachers and very scholarly in the bible, thankfully so is my companion, so we were able to answer all of their questions with scriptures. I thought of Jesus when he teaches the people in the temple when he is only a little boy. thats what i felt like. we are just 2 little boys teaching these people but we represent Jesus Christ and are doing as he would.

I went through a pretty rough time the first week here in Ghana. Homesickness, culture shock, missionary life, all of these things are bearable when they are by themselves, but man, that first day here in Nsawam they just all combined on me and i was overcome so so deeply. I really struggled emotionally. But through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, i have been able to overcome them and get through the hard time i was going through. The Atonement is real and has real power. I am a witness of that and will declare that truth for the rest of my life. No matter what we struggle with in life, Christ can help us get through it through the Atonement if we let Him. ive listened to the song, You Know Better Than I- from the movie Prince of Egypt.  Man, that songs lyircs touched my soul. Sometimes, you dont know the reason for a trial, and thats part of the trial. that is one of the factors that refines you and pushes you to rely on Jesus Christ more fully. Ive really come to know for myself that Christ will come and succor us in our struggles. The Lord knows better than I and sometimes, thats all you can hold on to, i know thats all i had when i was struggling, but because he knows better, he can lift us to places we never thought we could go. I trust Him and rely on Him every day and i kneel much longer now that the light has come.

So about life in Ghana:

Man, the food here is crazy!!! I help pound fufu when we are at peoples houses and man, is that a lot of work. they put plantain and casava (a potato like root) into a wooden bowl and then you use a big stick to pound it into a dough ball which you then cover with soup and meat or crab or someting and you pick a peice out with your fingers and swallow it whole. I can usually eat it and it doesnt taste that bad at all, but man sometimes my throat just rejects swallowing it whole but man, you just gotta push through and shove it down. Ha ha. Oh yeah and they load it up with pepe, it is so spicy siometimes that your fingers burn for a while after... its like dipping your hands in fire. :)

Ghana is a very religious place, there is a big speaker that goes off every morning that is some dude yelling in twi about his church hahaha it is so funny tio listen to hahaha (even though i can't really understand most of it haha)

We hiked a nearby mountain today in search for monkeys. this small boy named david was our guide and altough we didn't see any monkeys, we found a popo forest and we picked popos in the jungle, then went to a bush villiage to get a knife and cut and ate them. it was a pretty wild experience ill admit. Oh also, we saw this millipede and it was only like 3 inches long but its the biggest bug we've seen... there arent many big bugs here in Ghana which i was very suprised about but also very thankful. No monster spiders or anything like that. they have tarantulas but they are very rare to actually see. Luckily there arent any mosquitos around either, especially in our apartment. we have a bit of a roach problem but its not too bad and we are getting poison for them. My shack that we are living in is pretty grimy not gonna lie, but im used to it. But hey! we have a shower spicket! It hangs from the ceiling so sometimes, when im in the shower, i close my eyes and pretend im in a rain shower at a really nice hotel somewhere... mmmm those are nice thoughts, then I open my eyes and realize that I'm in a shack in africa. But i somehow am still super happy about it hahahahahahahha good stuff :)

Till next week folks!


(Above: Max, in the background, helping make fufu in a bucket, pounding it with a big stick.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Week 4: Adjusting to Ghana and Life as a Missionary

Note from Dad: We heard from Max on Monday when we had an opportunity to communicate with him while he was on a computer at the same time as us. He had a rough few days adjusting to Ghana and the mission, but said he was "pulling out of it." It isn't easy to leave family, friends and country behind, a lesson he is learning first hand. We are very anxious to hear from him this coming Monday and have been praying for him to have a better week as he settles into these dramatic changes in his life.


Dear Family,

Man, what a crazy week! First off, that was the longest flight I've ever been on. 27 hours of straight traveling... 27 hours!!! I timed it on my watch, ha ha. On our flight, we flew over Iceland and Greenland area and we saw the Northern Lights out of the window. It was cool and I just watched them for hours ha ha (I couldn't do anythng else ha ha ha no movies...)

Ghana is nuts. It's way hot and humid so you sweat all the time, but I don't really care, ha. NO one speaks English here. And if they do, it's their second language so its not very good English. Trying my best to learn the language Twi. That's what most people speak here.

My apartment is so bad. It would not pass health code regualtions anywhere in the world but here, ha ha. Ghana is straight up survival.

Washed my clothes in a bucket today... man, I miss washing machines...

The stuff we eat and the way we eat it.... I'm shocked I haven't gotten sick yet... You eat everything with your hands and you just swallow it whole... no chewing... it's actually not bad though. tbh.

I love the people here! They are so humble and they literally just walk up to you and ask you about the Church. One of the few places in the world that that happens I think. We've committed a few people to baptism already...

Man, the mission field is not what I expected. But I'm getting the hang of it I think.

Love you all and am so thankful for your support!

Mada wase papaa