“When we do what is right, increased faith always follows.” This is one of the messages elder Vinson shared with our mission during his time in Ghana. This principle of increased faith caused by action can be found in the thirty second chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon. In this chapter, Alma uses the same teaching mode as the Savior to help us understand and see the simplicity of a topic that often seems like such a mystery to many people. That topic is faith.
By using something that we can relate to, Alma teaches that faith is like a seed. Once we take action, plant the seed of faith, and then continue to nurture that seed, our faith will grow. How hard is that? Well, when you have Satan lying to you, things can be pretty hard. Far too often, we as God’s children let Satan’s lies into our minds. We give up. Why?! Why do we give up on the brightly lit path that leads back to our Father in Heaven and everything we have and ever will hope for? Our Heavenly Father has given us everything we need to return to Him. He has given us a scripture for all of our problems. He has given us prophets that speak His words directly to us. He listens to and answers our every prayer (even when you feel like He is not answering you, He is. Sometimes we just don’t listen back or when we do get His answer, we don’t like it). He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die (and live again) for us.
Yes, we mess up. No, it is not the end of everything when we do go astray, because unlike us, our Father never gives up on us. That’s why I love this scripture on faith and the principle of light and truth. God has told us that “when we do what is right, increased faith follows.” When we choose the right, our light grows which also increases the amount of truth within us to expand. When we fully understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will have an increased desire to be like the Savior, take His name upon us each week, and never give up. It all starts with a decision to act. “Decisions determine destiny.”
This topic has occupied my thoughts this last week, so I thought I would share some of what I have gained from my studies. This week has been a pretty chill week. Nothing overly exciting. One of the only exciting things from this week was transfers. I and my companion will be staying in the office together, so that’s good.
Whelp, I hope everyone has a most excellent time this coming week.
Remember this, “When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer no matter how eloquent the oration.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Another incredible, memory filled week. Monday was a chaotic day of preparing for the mission tour. My companion and I stayed up waaaaay past our bedtime, because we had to pull mission supplies for each zone in the mission, finish prepping the mother’s day calling credit, and washing/packing for our week long trip.
Elder Vinson and his wife arrived on Tuesday morning in Kumasi to begin their tour of our mission. All of Tuesday morning was almost a disaster.
People were showing up late, people were not following clear instructions, food for all of the missionaries showed up super late, and the chapel that the Vinson’s were to speak in was not set up right… So it was a mad dash to make everything right before the devotional was to begin. By time the meeting started, the chapel wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.
The Vinson’s are powerful teachers! Sister Vinson taught that no effort is ever wasted and elder Vinson taught all about prayer, scripture study, church attendance, member missionary work, the Atonement, repentance, the Holy Ghost, and many other things that he was able to put all together into one message.
Tuesday night the assistants, my companion, and I finished pulling orders and packing our truck for the week long adventure. The next morning we hit the road for Techiman, my “birth place”. It was really cool to be able to see my old area again and I was even privileged to meet some of the members of Krobo branch.
The devotional in Techiman went super smoothly. I am extremely grateful I got to follow the Vinson’s to Techiman, because they gave an entirely different message then they had in Kumasi. Their messages sank deeply into my heart in Techiman. I would share my notes with all of you, but I forgot my notes in the apartment… So, I will just have to add my notes to next week’s email. Right after the devotional in Techiman concluded, we were on the road again!
The trip to Tamale went by so quickly, because we all talked and laughed the whole way. When we arrived in Tamale we had to drop something off with President Cosgrave and it turns out he was eating dinner with elder Vinson, so he invited us to join them. For the first time in 6 months, I ate lasagna. It had real cheese on it!!! Milk products are a luxury here in the Ghana Kumasi mission…
Thursday was kind of a repeat of the previous day, which was nice because it was another spiritually uplifting day. Friday we had the pleasure of traveling all the way to Bolgatanga! Bolga is such a wonderful place. Sweltering hot, but oh so sweet. The people in Bolga speak perfect English and are some of the most humble people on this earth. The gospel is spreading so quickly there! Missionaries just went to Bolga 6 weeks ago and already they have 50+ members and investigators attending church. That’s progress.
We were only in Bolga long enough for President Cosgrave, sister Cosgrave, sister Vinson, and elder Vinson to give short talks. During elder Vinson’s talk, he said that the West Africa area is on the verge of exploding with success. I am thankful I get to be a part of this great work here in Africa.
After the short little devotional we had in Bolga, our mission tour came to a peaceful halt. Before the Vinson’s departed back to Australia, they spoke to a small group of missionaries consisting of myself and 7 other missionaries. He told us that we were model missionaries, that we would be blessed for our service, and that our parents should be proud of us. It felt good to hear that from a general authority.
And… That was my week! To add some icing to the cake, I got to Skype home to my family! Ah, I was so happy all last night! In fact, I’m still happy. To see familiar faces and hear familiar voices… 40 minutes went by too quickly! I can’t wait until I can just talk to my family and loved ones without having to worry about a timer telling me I have 5 minutes left. One day…
Well, that’s all I have for y’all this week! Until next time.
As my first item of business, I am well. Secondly, missions are sweet. This week my companion and I have been extremely busy trying to make up for last week’s lost time. We are trying to prepare a woman for baptism as well as spending time in the office filling out reports for this week and reports that should have been done last week. On top of teaching lessons and making reports, mother’s day is coming up and my companion and I are in charge of buying phone credit and sim cards for missionaries to call home.
It sounds easy, but we have missionaries from all around the world in this mission and each country has a different cost on their calling tariffs. There’s more, but I will just leave it at, we were/are busy.
Staying busy is way better than being lazy. I can’t stand laziness here on a mission. It drives me crazy. When we stop and just sit around, it eats at me. That’s why I am glad I have the companion I have.
Elder Lawson cannot stand laziness either. He just doesn’t stop moving. He is such a great companion. Not only does he work hard, but he constantly tries to be better then he currently is. He is kind, funny, and loves the same things as me. He lifts me up all the time by telling me how well I am doing. He told me the other day that he loved my teaching and couldn’t believe that I have only been on a mission 6 months. It felt so nice to hear something like that.
He also makes me laugh. Like, really laugh. Most of the time I have been out here, I haven’t laughed out loud very often, but since I have been with elder Lawson I laugh out loud at least once a day. Laughing makes everything better.
Since I’m already on the topic of making things better, this month is about to get better. Mother’s day is this Sunday and because it’s mother’s day, I get to call home!!!!! To make that better, I will be able to Skype home to the family!! I am so excited!!!!!! This will be my second of four calls home. Time has flown has it not? I think it has. (Dad, you should probably download Skype…)
Well, that is pretty much all I have for you this week. No incredibly interesting story that I can take and mold into an amazing adventure for you to read this week. Sorry. I will have plenty to tell this coming week! We have elder Vinson of the seventy coming to our mission to do a mission tour.
President Cosgrave has given my companion and I permission to travel with the AP’s up to my old area of Techiman! After Techiman we will be traveling to Tamale and then Bolgatanga, which is as far north as you can go in our mission. Elder Lawson and I are pretty stoked about our road trip! I’m telling you, the diversities of being an office elder are sweet.
Anyways, tootles! Write me your own adventures. I enjoy to hear what is going on in your part of the world.
I know I wasn’t very good at responding to emails the last 6 months, now that I am in the office I can write longer emails in a Word document during my lunch hour and then paste them over to my email on Monday…
So you can write me now and get an answer, I promise.
There isn’t much to report on this week. I became really sick all week, so no stories this week. Just know that I am always well taken care of during my illnesses (This one makes number three). It was not malaria though. Just some crazy stomach virus that had me down from Monday to Saturday last week.
Yeah, not fun.
Koko, if you want to send “EmerGen-C” immune boost that would be great. One of the main difficulties is that buying healthy food in Africa is way too expensive for what we receive as missionaries, so I can’t do it as often… Most of what I eat comes from vendors off the streets.
After this last week, I will be spending a little extra money for nice food until my courage builds up again.
I am just racking up the sweetly awesome, sometimes painful, stories! This week was one of those really painful stories…
Beginning sometime last week, I started to feel small pain in the back of my mouth, which terrified me! I have always brushed my teeth 2 or 3 times a day, flossed, and never had a cavity in my life! I guess it was just my luck to end up in Africa when dental care was needed. I even dragged out not going to the dentist office for a week, because I kept telling myself I could wait another 18 months until I could receive excellent treatment. The pain increased after a week though, so I decided to suck it up and face the Ghanaian dentist.
On Wednesday, I showed up on time for my appointment at the headquarters of all ghetto dentist offices in the world (AKA one of the nicest dentist offices in Kumasi) and walked up to the nice receptionist who took my name and then directed me to sit in a plastic chair outside, because there was no room in the tiny, crowded office. After an hour of breathing in the fine Ghanaian breeze, I was called back into the office where I was then taken into an even smaller back room with the type dentist equipment you could imagine in Africa. The dentist came into the room, talked to me a little bit (He was a nice guy), hit my teeth, poked my gums, and then told me I didn’t have a cavity! Apparently I just had a rouge piece of food deep in my gums that had caused bad swelling? I thought, “Sweet mercy! Whew, that was close.” I hadn’t cleared the storm yet though.
The dentist told me to wait outside for a bit, so they could prep the death machine for destruction of my mouth. Only a small spit of time latter, once again, I entered the wee dentist office broom closet/teeth cleaning room. Every memory that proceeded entering the torture room is painfully seared into my brain. I sat down into the very used looking dentist chair and patiently awaited dooms day. When the dentist (A different one then the one who had taken a look at my teeth the first time) came in, I am pretty sure he was wearing a “Got pain?” shirt… He pulled out an extremely sharp electric implement, walked over to me, told me to open my mouth, stuck it inside, and began turning the inside of my mouth into a sliced thanksgiving turkey. Immediately, he started jamming whatever he was holding deep in my gums causing probably some of the worst pain I have ever had the pleasure of bearing. I was death gripping my thighs, so I wouldn’t punch the man that was mutilating my mouth. All I could hear was him continually telling me to open my mouth wider and the woman standing next to him saying “sorry elder…” over and over again. That’s the closest I hope I will ever get to torture in my life. I felt tears running down my face, but could do nothing about it.
Finally, after what felt like waiting in traffic during rush hour in Dallas, he stopped and told me to spit into the bowl next to me. All that came out of my mouth when I spat out was dark blood. He quickly finished shining my teeth and let me go. As I walked out of the *Hanoi Hilton, I could feel a flap of flesh hanging loosely from the top of my mouth… But it was done. I had emerged victorious and alive! How blessed am I? Very, very blessed to be alive.
On a more upbeat note, the assistants to the president are the coolest! I love having them in my apartment! One is an American from Wyoming and the other is a Nigerian. They are both super funny and great to talk to. Since they stay in my apartment and my companion and I are office elders, we spend a ton of time together. They are both consecrated missionaries, but they have a playful side too. This last week we had an apartment pillow fight, because we’re awesome.
In my scripture studies this week I have come across a number of scriptures that talk about repentance. How we as humans sin so often and forget our loving Heavenly Father frequently, but He is always reaching out to us. His hand is stretched out 24/7.
In the book of Alma when Alma the younger is speaking to one of his sons on the subject of repentance, he says how he was “racked with torment”, because of the many sins he committed. He continues though and explains how he cried within his heart saying “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me…” After he had had a mighty change of heart and cried unto the Lord, he began immediately to share the gospel and try to be a better person.
Another favorite scripture of mine is that in Matthew 14:28-31. This is the story of Jesus walking on water. As cool as it was that Jesus was walking on water, that is not my favorite part. My favorite part is when Peter desires to be like Christ and follow His example of walking on the water. Peter even has the privilege to stand with Jesus on the water for a small time, but because “he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him…” Peter was the chief apostle. He had such faith that he was able to walk on water. But even he, Peter, became afraid, lost the necessary faith to stand with Christ on the water, and began to sink. We too can stand on the “water” with Christ. We too will fear at times and sink. That is why we too must call out and say “Lord, save me.” Only Jesus Christ walked this earth in perfection. Only through Him can we be saved.
*What I went through was in no way close to the torture our soldiers had to go through in that evil place.
I know that we are children of Heavenly Father. One of the many things we inherited from Him was our sense of humor…
He is perfect in every way, even His sense of humor. I enjoy camping, but only when I can retreat to the cleanliness of my shower/home after I have accomplished my adventure. That luxury often escapes me here in Kumasi. The power in my last area was one of the two areas in the whole mission that never had “light off”, so I was spoiled my first five months on mission. Many nights since coming to Kumasi the power has shut off right as we are heading home after a long day of work with an expectation of a shower. And… When the power is off in this apartment, then the water shuts off too. Most nights I just come home, close my day, wash my face with the water I have in my bottle, and then go straight to sleep in my sweat. Let’s just say that I have come a long way from the clean freak that I once was.
I have no problem eating food of the streets (probably not a good idea, but there is some good food to find there…), sleeping in my sweat, having the dirtiest children climb all over me, and wearing the same pair of pants for a week straight because I don’t have time to wash a million pieces of clothing… Heavenly Father really wanted me to learn many lessons from coming out here on my mission, spiritual and temporal.
My district (made up of the six elders that stay in my apartment) is the BOMB.com! We have such unity in everything we do. I love all of them. All of us bring something to the table of talents and gifts. As a district, we have our own soccer team sponsored by the Cosgraves. Sister Cosgrave gave all of us matching jerseys so we look unified. We are going to start playing all of the other districts in the Kumasi area every other Monday. This Monday we played what we thought would be the hardest district and won… So… Daban FC is looking like a undefeated team.
Office Elder work is still just as busy as always. My companion and I work so hard. We never take a full hour for lunch or dinner and we usually work until 9:30 every night. Sometimes on crazy days, like Mission leadership council, transfer days, etc… We don’t close our day until 10:30. As well as working in the office, my companion and I have taught some of the most powerful lessons I have since I came here to Ghana. The branch I am in right now has some super powerful members in it who like to work with missionaries, so that’s cool. The problem with this branch is they all like to speak Twi, so I miss most, if not all, of what they are saying. So, most of the time I just read my scriptures. I am so blessed.
I have been able to eat really well since coming to the office too! I was afraid I might get fat since I was going to do a lot of sitting, but ‘tis not so!
Every morning I work out and eat oatmeal and raisins. When I am working in the office, I take a short break every two hours to work out small. For lunch, I eat rice and beans and then for dinner I eat fruit or veggies. I am pretty happy with my health right now. The Ghanaians love to eat/drink oil, so I haven’t felt this healthy since coming to Ghana.
Now, I should probably close my email with something a little more spiritual. I know Heavenly Father lives and loves us, His children. There is no doubt in my mind of that. Neither is there an inkling of a doubt of His plan for me and all those around me. I know Jesus Christ died for me. For you. For all of us. It wasn’t just a mass Atonement either. He felt each and every one of my pains and yours. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and was called by God. I know that we still have a prophet on this earth today and he holds all of the priesthood keys. I also know that he speaks the words God would have us hear. I know God has given us scriptures for our learning, growth, and guidance back to Him. Follow God’s commandments and endure to the end.
P.S. “To be worthy does not mean to be perfect.”
By the way, since I have come to the office my companion and I are going to start emailing at the same time everyday… So next Monday, if you would like to chat with me or read my emails right away, we should be getting on around 7:30 p.m. our time (Sorry I changed the time mom…). Just so you know.