Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 17: The Fever is Real

Yeah... [African] fever is real.

So to begin my email. I will tell about my extreme sickness this past week. So I went to bed feeling normal. I woke up at midnight and I wanted to die. I was freeeeeeeezing first of all.... like I was shaking because of how cold I was but it was still like 80 degrees so... and I felt like I got hit by a bus. My whole body just hurt like nothing I've ever felt. Man, so much pain. So then I got up and was shaking so bad that I couldn't even walk straight... yeah it was rough. So then I somehow went back to sleep and woke up again and was boiling lava hot, like a hot pocket that has been in the microwave too long... So I got up and drank a cold water bag and got so light headed that I couldn't hear anything so I went back to my bed and fell down on it before I could even lay down... yeah... wasn't able to go out proselyting that day... but now I'm better!

So this what life in Ghana is like:

Walk down the street. It's hot, I'm already sweating. It’s dirt roads. Everyone is black. I’m white. They all stare at you, young and old, and call out “Obruni, obruni!!!” (white english man). Like you could find any white person here easy, just follow the “obruni” sirens, haha. 

Sometimes, someone will come up to us and ask us to teach them so we will, but most of them are not serious at all. Or we will go talk to someone and they'll say “men ti brofu” I don't speak English...) Tracting is pretty hard here... 

I’ll buy a pure water bag from some shop "me to pure water baako..... yo me dase wai!" Bite off the corner and then think man, this is probably full of parasites...then I drink it, hahaha. So then we will sit and teach one of our investigators then walk to the next appointment. Maybe I'll buy a fan ice (ice cream thing) from a yogurt guy. These guys walk around all day with carts and horns selling cold ice cream things from their cart hahaha. It's awesome and cheap and refreshing. They also sell super sketchy bread cake stuff that I'll eat if I'm hungry. Yep. Then we walk more. My comp has a FitBit and we average about 10 miles a day of walking haha. It's a lot but I look at it as exercise and then I'm like, okay, cool. Haha.

Also, the pic of me and the kid in the tree is of me and K. He said when we were looking at the picture that this (pointing at me) is America and this (pointing at him) is Ghana haha hahahahahaha. It was hilarious.

Elder Janda

Monday, January 23, 2017

Week 16: Same Area, New Companion

Nsawam had no power in the whole city, so none of the Internet cafes had any power... Yeah, life is sometimes rough in Africa.

So a quick summary for the week was that my new companion came to Nsawam on Tuesday and I've been taking him around showing him the area small and stuff. Elder Bawden is a good missionary. He is really caring and lifts my spirits whenever I’m feeling down.

I was feeling pretty stressed to be leading the area and I got pretty overwhelmed with everything missionary work and also life in Ghana. My companion played a talk by Elder Holland and these were the things that I liked:

As a missionary you have to walk the lonely path that Christ walked. At least once in your mission, you will have to shed at least one tear like He shed.

You are not the first to ask why this isn't easy. Someone else far better asked it a long time ago.

The reason missions are so hard is because salvation is not a cheap experience! Salvation was never easy! It caused Christ to fall on his face, bleed from every pore, and cry out, “Isn't there any other way?”  Salvation was never easy, so little wonder it isn't easy for a missionary.

When you are cast out, spit upon, rejected, you stand shoulder to shoulder with Christ.

So these words have been playing through my head the past week and have really helped me to understand why missionary work is so dang hard sometimes.

We went around and visited the recent converts that were just baptized and I was so impressed at the change in them. These people before we met with them and before baptism looked different than they do now, they looked more weighed down than they do now. The change that the gospel brought to these people's lives is so amazing and it really boosted my love for them.

So we are out of time but to my family, I love you and I'm sorry we didn't get to talk very much today. I'll look forward to next Monday and hope that the circumstances will be right that I can email.

Elder Janda

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Week 15: Trials and Transfers

Man, this week was rough!!!!

I was sitting in our shack, washing some incredibly dirty white shirts in a bucket, listening to some solid motab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir music) and my companion came running in, knelt in front of the toilet and started barfing like crazy. I just looked around and was like, mission in Africa. Nowhere else I'd rather be (hint of sarcasam, but mostly true hahahaha).

So he got way sick and didn't even get out of bed or wake up all of the next day, so I studied my scriptures till my eyes couldn't focus and then found other things to do to pass the time. Fam, can you send me like a book of small games or something? Like a crossword puzzle book or mazes or something? I need someting to do on days like that, haha.

So then the next day, I got super sick too but something different than my companion. I woke up freezing (probably the only time that will  happen my whole mission!) and then started sweating and by then I wanted to die, hahaha. It was so rough, man. You just have to lay there and suffer. Like when you are sick at home it's nice cuz you can like watch movies and your mom makes you soup and stuff but here, man.... it is just pure suffering. President Hinkley talked about missionary work and said, "I can't promise you a peaceful easy two years...but I can promise hard times... and even sometimes downright misery. But I also can promise pure joy like you've never felt." Hahaha, I felt that misery this week, so I'm looking forward to the pure joy part haha.

So we saw a rat in our apartment. A live one this time... so we chased it down and beat it to death with a fufu pounding stick... yeesh, now we can add rats to our number of problems, hahaha! It was so nasty!

Had all our new members come to church this week! They all made it. I was really happy to see them all there! After her confirmation, she got up and started running down the isle in celebration, haha! She was so happy to be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church! I felt the spirit very strongly and it was really nice to see the fruit of our labors here in Nsawam.

So big news is that my companion is being transferred to the bush of our mission! And I'm getting a new companion named Elder Bawdin! He is from Utah and I hear that he is a really cool guy and a great missionary! So I'm so glad haha! It's really rare for someone to have this many American companions! I'm excited! Things are good here in Ghana!

So I was biking today and all of the sudden, my bike seat busted off and I had to bike the rest of the day without a seat... It was a serious adjustment. I shall compare it to leaving on mission. You feel so excited and ready to hit the field and then your bike seat falls off. The bike seat falling off can be compared to any number of struggles you face on mission. They just hurt hahaha but it forces you to work harder and you therefore get stronger.

Love you all and may God bless you!

Week 14: A Mission is a Complete Act of Faith

So the highlight for the week was seeing so many of the people we have been teaching the gospel progress in the relationship with Jesus Christ. We were blessed to have 5 of them be baptized and 11 people we have been teaching came to church on Sunday.

I met the first sister who was baptized during my first week here on mission. Her kids kept coming to church. We kept working with her and teaching her and her kids. She would always tell us that she was so excited to get baptized.  We were able to help her work through some problems and help her to realize the reality of the Atonement and that because of Christ, she could get through anything she faced. She came to finally be prepared to baptism. After her baptism, she was just so so so happy. She came running over and tried to give me a hug (totally dodged it like a pro, because missionaries don’t hug girls) and she was just so happy. She was baptized with her two kids.

Next brother who was baptized. The senior couple contacted him and wanted us to teach him. He just gobbled it all up. He loved the gospel so much. He works as a security guard so we could only meet with him once a week because of his job. After every lesson, he would go and teach all of the other guards the lessons. Man, the guy is just so solid. So solid. He had a hard time coming to church because of his job for a while, but he would always say that he knew God would provide a way for him to come to church. The guy is just so cool. He really loves the church and the gospel. A great convert.

The last brother who was baptized. He showed up at church one day just completely random. So we talked to him and met with him a bunch of times and taught him the lessons. As we taught him, he really opened up. He reads the Book of Mormon a ton and always writes down words that he doesn’t understand so that we can help him to know what they mean. He is a good guy and will be a faithful member. He even came to clean the chapel, the guy is awesome!

So those are the stories of the people who were baptized yesterday. We also had 11 investigators at church which was wild!!! What a day!

So for this week,
I was walking along the road on an exchange the other day and all of the sudden, Elder Finima (from Nigeria) starts yelling snake snake!!! I was like, what!? So i look up and there is a huge snake flying across the dirt road maybe 10 feet in front of me. I was so shocked. So i ran up to see it closer and the thing just slithered around so fast. It was so fast. So it was against this wall and Elder Finima tried to kill it by throwing a rock at it but he missed and the snake slithered back towards me and then into the bushes. Man it was crazy. Africa man.... Africa

I ordered a custom tailored suit from a member who is a sower guy (not sure what the title is... can’t remember proper English) I’m stoked for it to come. He said that he should have it done by the end of the week for us! I’m gonna be so fly.

Okay so here are some spiritual experiences and lessons:

I got emotional and sad when I was with a family we have been teaching. I thought that I might get transferred soon to another area. I was just like wow, you build such a connection with the people you teach and you want to be the one who is with them when they progress in the gospel. Man, it was emotional.

We were teaching this woman. She was really prepared for the message of the gospel and we have met with her as often as she could. So we were teaching her the Plan of Salvation and I felt prompted to get down on her level (she was sitting on the ground, we were on chairs). So I got off my chair and knelt before her. We were face to face. eye level. I testified powerfully of heaven and that she could make it there. I felt that I was looking into her soul. I could practically see her spirit as we spoke. It was powerful. I felt the spirit strongly.

Next we went and taught a lady who was recently baptized. We taught her about Doctrine and Covenants 131, 132:15-20. As we spoke, the spirit just distilled upon us. Everything just became quiet and calm.  It was a powerful experience as the spirit testified to all of us that the things we read were true. It was powerful.

I was reflecting on missions the other day. Actually every day. I’ve come to realize that a mission is a complete act of faith. You just say that you'll go and then everything else isn’t up to you. Where you'll go, who you'll live with, what language you'll speak, etc. Its like jumping off the diving board and not knowing if there is water underneath. It’s a complete act of faith. i believe that that is what life was like for us. Choosing God's plan must have felt similar. Before you come, you know you'll have struggles and that you'll also have great days, but you don’t really realize how it will actually feel. You can’t really comprehend it until you feel it. Same thing with life. We were probably told that we would have struggles and also awesome times, but we probably were not aware of how hard those struggles would be and also how choice those awesome times would be as well. Earth life and missions are so similar. They are refining in ways you never expect.

This past week was a good week. It went really fast. I can’t believe I’m already emailing again. Wow. I love you all so much and pray for you everyday.

It is so good to finally see the fruit of our labors and I feel very privileged to play a small part in the process of seeing these people come to Christ.


Elder Janda

Monday, January 2, 2017

Week 13: Cow Face for Dinner

Aficia paa!! *Happy New Year!

Wow, what a week!

So I'll start by saying that my Mission President is the coolest president of all time! He is from New Zealand and he is just so wise. Yeah, wise is the word. I had an interview with him this past week and I felt like i could have talked with him for hours... He is so cool! I'm so thankful that I have an awesome Mission President!

So missionary work wise:

We taught a lesson to this woman and her kids and two other guys that were there. It was so cool. I've been reading the New Testament and I felt like Christ giving a sermon when we were teaching. Just teaching lots of people at once is really cool. 

So that man who hated us a few weeks ago came out to us as we were walking to teaching his wife and he just chilled with us while we waited for her... He just lit up when he saw us and was just joking around small with us... We are just still in shock at the change that has come in him.

So one day we were teaching this woman, and a guy came and started Bible bashing us... So we couldn't just back down but we didnt want to be contentious either so we taught him using the Bible and then started testifying of the power of another book that could help us know Christ. We testified of the Book of Mormon and were trying to give it to him when he just walked away... Walking away from someone is like a super rude gesture here in Ghana and even back home too but really rude here. Man, the guy was stubborn and wouldn't even let us say anything about the Book of Mormon to him... It was a wild experience, haha, even the woman we were teaching started to testify with us of the true points of doctrine that we stated. Haha, it was so cool to see her pitching in.

So then we taught another woman. And oh man, the woman is so so so ready for the gospel. She just eats it up and actually remembers the stuff we teach when we come back which is super impressive! I think she will defintiely make it to baptism!

So we had several people planned to be baptized this next Sunday but one of them told us that they weren't married to their husband... Man, that is probably the biggest issue we face here is no official marriage. Traditional marriage is too expensive and legal marriage is really looked down on by everyone so people just say they are married and that's good enough for them... Yeesh.. It's such a problem but the others all should be able to make it without any unforseen problems arising! We will pray for the best but be ok with whatever happens! 

btw: my New Years resolution is to survive a full year in Ghana, hahaha!

So we went on a chicken hunt: ye che awoke (how you say it in Twi.) We were running through the forest with sticks tryin' to catch these chickens ahahaha. It was so fun, man! I was like, other missionaries may have warm showers but they don't get to hunt chickens on their missions!!! Hahaha man, it's primitive here...

So nasty food for the week was cow face... Yeah it was completely disgusting!!!! The eye brows were probably the nastiest part... oh my gosh I about threw up... it was so sick... can't even describe to you how nasty it was.

So that's pretty much it for the week! I'm feeling great and I am excited for what this year has to offer and the growth I'll continue to feel on mission. Hope you all are doing well!