Is everyone excited for Christmas?!? I know I am! And it’s not because of how much snow has fallen here in Africa… It’s because I get to call home! So get to my parents house and wait for the call! They said we would be able to skype home, but the internet cafes here are terrible. Either way, I’m happy. So, my companion and I have our side of the apartment all decked out for Christmas decorations and we are ready to start filling the stockings with candies and other goodies… I’ve been collecting Christmas gifts the last few weeks. Too bad y’all have to wait a few years to get them…
Most days fly by here, because we are busy most of the time. There are quite a few slow days though. I really dislike slow days… Usually it means bad planning, but sometimes it’s God testing to see if we are willing to push harder.
One thing I have seen for myself now is how living with someone , not family, 24/7 can bring out true personality. It’s weird. I expected things to be different living with another 18-26 year old who hadn’t been raised in the same house hold, but I had to experience it to actually know. If you want to know all the personality types and which you work better with, go on a mission.
Not only will you learn that, but you will learn a billion other things. Things like, “Does chocolate spread taste good with rice and banana? Because I don’t have a lot of money for nicer treats…” To really feasting on the scriptures.
It’s so dry and dusty here. The weather gets harder each passing day. My companion coughed up dust the other night… Gross. This season they call hammerton.
It’s caused by the winds blowing the sand and heat from the Sahara. The weather will be like this until March. It has started to get cooler at night though. I can’t stand taking showers in the morning, because the water is so cold. So I bathe by heating water on the camp stove we use to cook with. Then it’s a rag bath for me…
Mission life baby. Nothing like it. Especially the GKM life… Because our mission is the best.
Haha, I was talking to one of the zone leaders last night about the GKM and while we were talking the subject of “things we are grateful for in America” came up…
The zone leader (Elder Madsen) brought up the scripture that talks about opposition in all things and said that the GKM is that opposition to first world mentality.
And when we get home we shall have a fullness of joy and gratitude for first world things…
You really don’t know what you have, until you don’t have it. Or in other words, you can’t know true joy without opposition.
Some things I learned or relearned this week are… You don’t realize how “hungry” for the scriptures you are, until you actually start feasting upon the word instead of snacking.
There is so much to learn. Don’t waste the time you have. If nothing else, pick up a book and read.
No matter what we sacrifice for the Lord, He will repay a hundred fold.
Time with family is gold. Spend it wisely.
When you don’t have money to blow on food… Rice, chocolate, and banana make a delicious treat.
Also, in order for me to be exactly obedient to the 1 hour emailing rule, I must cut my time and emails even shorter than they were… Sorry.
My mornings almost always start the same way. At about 4:30 a.m. I wake up because of loud chickens and Muslims praying (I think?) And then after a little bit I fall back to sleep until 6:30 when I am jarred awake by the annoying sounds of my alarm clock… I work out, shower, eat, and then study for several hours. Every morning is like that and it flies by.
I always talk with the zone leaders who share our apartment. Both are white guys. One is from South Africa and the other is from the U.S. They are super awesome. I am blessed to have them in the same apartment. Whenever I have had a rough day, I just talk to them for awhile about their day and I feel better.
The one from America hooked me up with a member who knows how to make/get Kente clothes, scripture cases, and ties. Let’s just say I now have a bunch of Kente stuff…
The U.S. dollar is so powerful here. 100 dollars equals just under 400 Ghana cedi, which is a lot of money here. A person here can live a month on that kind of money. Even though I have personal money I could use for nicer foods, I have decided I am only going to use the money the mission has given me. Gotta prepare for college… and life.
There are a few things I wouldn’t mind getting from home though. Like, Slap ya mama, Luna rich pills, Gatorade powder, letters I can hold, more Gatorade… And my companion would like lots of MM’s… That’s just to name a few.
Packages take a minimum of three weeks to get here… Just so ya know.
Update on third world living! Our apartment is first class compared to most of the people here in [this town], but it isn’t much like living in America. You know you are adapting to things though when a live bug runs out of your kenka and when you find out it isn’t a dangerous bug, you eat the kenka anyways.
[Kenka/kenkey – usually made from ground corn]
Or the power goes out for more than 24 hours and the milk you have in the fridge gets warm. And then 3 days later you remember you have milk in the fridge, but forgot the power was out… So you pour it on your oatmeal… I just dumped the milk out and finished my oatmeal. I am also grateful for ice cold showers, because it means I have running water in my house that I don’t have to walk a mile for. I have to constantly look for the good or the bad will beat me up.
Here are some things I have learned or relearned this week. Exact obedience is hard when not everyone is in the same boat. Living in the now is better than the “What if’s.” Adjusting to something new is difficult, but if we ask God for help, He will answer. Having a strong testimony as a parent and sharing it with your kids is extremely important. Because your children need something to build on until they find Jesus for themselves and can build on His rock. Everything denotes there is a God if you look for it. Our faith will be manifest through our work and diligence. Unity and the spirit is better than perfection without the spirit in a companionship.
I love all of you and am praying for you.
By the way, I got beat up by a monkey this week and called by the mission president to the branch presidency.
Stay sweetly awesome! (Pictures to come next week)
Packages – are always nice – if you send one:
Dear Parents [family and friends] of Missionaries;
Sending boxes or envelopes (other than the one included in this email) results in Customs charges that are prohibitively expensive. Your missionary may not be able to afford the customs fees, which can range as high as two weeks of a missionaries subsistence.
Many times these packages sit for weeks while the missionary saves up a few extra Cedi’s to pay for them. In addition customs opens every single package that they quarantine, and any wrapped packages inside as well.
The preferred packages are flat rate padded white USPS plastic padded envelopes that you can stuff as full as you can for a flat rate and the bonus…. they are not stopped and opened in customs and charged horrendous fees, (and your missionary gets ALL the goodies immediately).
Click on the following link, or copy this link to your browser address bar and you will see exactly how to get these envelopes. Please click on the attached picture as well.
[Elder Whipple’s sister running the blog recently had a baby…sorry for the blogging interruption. :p]
Nov 16, 2015 New Obroni in Town
And it came to pass, in the year 2015 Elder Whipple did go forth and invite all to come unto Christ. I’m here, for reals… The MTC was a dream land compared to actually being here.
Here is a little on my journal entry the first night in the field. “I don’t even know what to think right now. Today I got my first companion at the mission home. His name is Elder Ambanya. He is my mission father, since he is my trainer.
After I found out who was to be my trainer I had about 2 hours to pack and relax before I headed to my first area.
Once the 2 hours were up, I loaded my gear into one of the mission cars and took off. The drive took about 10 minutes, then we pulled off the road, they took my stuff out of the car and load it into a taxi which took us another 10 minutes away to a tro-tro parking area.
As soon as we unloaded everything from the taxi we were surrounded by 8 Ghanaian’s all speaking Twi. 20 minutes later, we finally packed our gear into the tro-tro and got into that packed car. The reason it took so long is because of my white skin… My trainer says because I’m white they try to charge more.
By the way, when I say we packed into the tro-tro, I mean sardines have more room then we did… We were stuffed like that for 3 hours. The first thing I noticed about our apartment is it’s huge!!
Like, 10 missionaries could live there huge! Only 4 of us do though. Now I am just sitting at my desk, mind blown. It’s hard to take in right now. While I was taking a shower I thought, ‘What am I doing?!? It’s so third world here.
The bathroom is one you would expect in Africa and I’m forever away from home!’ I then thought, ‘But what about all the good things? Think about Christ. You are here for Him.’ I may be scared, but I can do this.”
The next day. “I woke up this morning feeling much better then last night, took a freezing shower, and ate porridge for the first time. Side note, Ghanaian’s put pepper in everything, even porridge. After breakfast I studied the scriptures for an hour, which was wonderful! Then Elder Ambanya and I studied and trained for another 2 hours. We headed out into my first area!! It was awesome and crazy at the same time… I loved teaching people and getting to meet everyone. But at the same time it’s crazy!” My companion said I am a natural teacher, but I think it’s just the spirit…
Nothing I read or watched could have prepared me for this… Trash is a normal thing. It’s everywhere. People pee wherever they want. Yesterday 3 people peed behind a person we were teaching… 3 in such a short time!! During a lesson on Friday a sweet woman started breastfeeding her child while we were teaching her… Just keep eye contact. Haha, I’m pretty sure I was looking into her soul. All of the kids and people yell “Obroni” as I walk by…
Since I arrived I have had my mind on how I can magnify my calling as a missionary… I’m trying as hard as I can. Because of the area, we come back to our apartment around 7 something, eat dinner, and then I spend all the rest of the night feasting on the scriptures. I read how Ammon and his brethren were mighty missionaries of faith, because they had a sound understanding, for they had searched the scriptures diligently. I read and I read… I have learned so much in so short a time. There is power in the scriptures. Both in the standard works and the modern prophets words.
This is hard work. Every night I am so tired it’s hard to move. It takes all the strength I have left to eat, write in my journal, and read the scriptures. This work is worth it though. I have already changed so much. I can feel the spirit testify through me. I am so very blessed. Even though the sun burns me alive everyday – I already have a tan – and I walk everywhere I go. Easily 15-20 miles a day. I keep counting my blessings, for they are many when I look for them. The Lord is truly a God of blessings.
Just being here a few days I have been truly humbled. These people have nothing, and yet, they have everything. No showers in their homes, no kitchens, no cars, nothing… But they have family and God, so they are happy. If you think you have nothing, come here and spend 5 days in the heart of true poverty.
I love all of you so very much. I love your emails!!!!! They make me so happy! Even if I can’t email back, I read every email.
Keep strong. Feast on the scriptures and watch your life change.
Jesus Christ is my savior. I know it. I will not deny it.
Nov. 23, 2015 Hail from Africa
Life in Africa can be hard at times, but at the same time it’s good!
Really good! I’m learning more from the scriptures then I ever have
before. I am also learning tons of life skills along with expanding my
mind. I actually had to go to the market and buy my own food! You may
think that’s silly, but this is a third world country we are talking
about here… It’s not like buying everything at Walmart. Mom, You
will be happy to know that I bought bulk oats, rice, noodles, and some
other things. I’ve been eating well. I’m gonna live! Oh yeah, I ate
fufu awhile ago… It wasn’t bad at all! I actually liked it and now I
eat it most nights. Cooking here isn’t bad. The handles on the pans we
have are really loose, but once you learn the secret everything is all
good. Washing clothes by hand is nice in all… But next week I’m
buying a small washer/dryer. Just about anywhere we go is a 20-30
minute walk… Singing hymns keeps me alive with all the walking.
I guess I forgot to tell you where I am last email… We only get an
hour to email everyone and read emails.
It’s dry here, thank goodness, so we only sweat a normal amount and
get really tan. I’ve only been in Africa for a little bit and I
already have the darkest tan I have ever had… I’m starting to love
my area and the people more and more. The people are loving and
lovely. One of the only difficulties here is because there are so many
churches and everyone talks about Jesus and God, that it’s hard to get
people to focus… They think we are just another church. At times I
feel like a salesman trying to share with them why our “product” is
better… If only they could focus long enough to know that what we
are sharing isn’t just better, it’s the only one that works.
I’ve been learning a little Twi. I am still really rough… I need to
learn it though… The people in my area struggle to speak English…
The branch here is tiny, but the members are kind.
I was able to play some footie ball with some young boys while waiting
to pound fufu at a members home. Playing soccer with them made me so
happy! Pounding fufu was pretty fun. The Africans thought it was the
funniest thing they had ever seen, a white guy ponding fufu. They
didn’t want me to stop, because they wanted videos and photos of me…
I’m famous here in Ghana!
It’s always a surprise to see myself in the mirror. It’s weird to see
a white guy… The two other elders living with my companion and I are
white zone leaders. Sweetly awesome guys. The people here love my
white skin and most of the people I talk to want me to bring them home
with me to America.
The people here are hard to teach in their own way. Most of them are
not intellectuals, so we have to spend a really long time explaining
and simplifying things.
Could y’all send me music [note from older sister: Missionaries can only listen to certain music, church hymns, classical, or other music deemed ‘okay; by mission president.] on USB’s and SD card’s? Just get them to my
parents and they will send them. Thanks!
I love all of you.
Until next time.
Nov. 30, 2015 Dusty roads and Orange shirts
I will use this email to fill any gaps that I have left open in past emails. My companion is Elder Ambanya from Kenya.
He is my mission father since he is training me. He’s really sweet and humble. If I feel we need to try something different he will change the ways he has been doing things even though he has been out for a year.
Sometimes it’s weird, because there are things we can’t relate to and our humor is different… The important part is we get along.
Our part of [the town we are in] is mostly poor villiage and really kind, humble people. The people can be stubborn sometimes though… They do know the bible really well, or at least scriptures in it… They may not understand the scriptures, but the learn a few things from their church and hold tightly to them. One of the many pluses of this mission is hopefully I’ll be a master of the bible and a great teacher, because a great teacher knows how to put a difficult message in a simple way.
It is so hot and dusty here, I forgot Christmas is even coming up. Thanksgiving went well… I just ate oatmeal breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yay!!
Since we walk along the roads everyday here and cars throw dust everywhere, my shirts already have a orange tint to them.
I adjusted to the food quickly and now I love it!! I have actually had to stop eating some of the foods, because I’m pretty sure I put on some weight… The dust here doesn’t taste too bad either.
The Lord is blessing my companion and I everyday! Even though it’s hard work, it’s worth it. Elder Ambanya and I are doubling most of our weekly goals! The Lord has a work in Africa and I am glad I’m apart of it! The harder we work the faster the days fly by! It feels just like yesterday I was emailing my weekly latter…
I’ve been here in Africa for a month now and I finally got to wear my jeans and do some service! My companion and I were walking down a little dirt path and we passed a man clearing a huge wooded area… After we passed him, I asked my companion if we could go back and help. Once we asked him if we could help, and he aid yes, we ranback to our apartment to change. We came back with our own machetes and helped clear for awhile.
After a long while in the sun, we thanked the man and headed home. On the way home though, another man stopped us because he saw a white kid carrying a machete…
Long story short, he was a cocoa farmer and was looking for help when he saw us. He wants us to come help him as often as we can! Potential baptism… I like service.
Oh yeah, I had my first baptism last Sunday!!!!! Actually, two baptisms. The sisters had me baptize one of their investigators. Pretty sweet. I have another baptism the Sunday after this Sunday.
I have been blessed with an area that has light every night, but last night the power went out… So I wrote last nights journal entry in the dark with a flashlight… Cool beans.
Because the work is so important I can barely rest… Even if I finish a meal early, I feel bad if I just sit down and do nothing… So I read. I can’t even put into one email how much I’ve learned… A lot.
The work is going forth unto every nation. Flooding the world with the Book of Mormon.