This last week I received my transfer news. Well, my reign as an office elder has come to an end. President told me last week that I would be transferred eight and a half hours away. [The area] is newly opened with crazy amounts of success, but needs to be nurtured with great care, due to its newness. When President informed me that I would be transferred, he told me he needs some of his most trusted missionaries in [the area]. Now, I do not want to add that last part to brag. I am no better than any other missionary in the world, but it made me feel good to know that I am trusted.
Having to say goodbye to everyone here was really hard. I love the members and investigators so much. I will miss one of my baptisms this coming Sunday, because I will leave for [my new area] early Wednesday morning. The woman I was going to baptize is named Elizabeth. She wanted no one but me to baptize her, but finally agreed to let my friend named Ernest baptize her. I will also miss the baptisms of Kojo, Esther, Thomas, and Joyce the following couple of weeks. Even though I will not be there for their baptisms, I am happy I have been a part of helping them come closer to Christ. I will still keep in contact with them.
I don’t have a lot to say this week, but I hope all of you know that I love you.
With great love for all,
P.S. [new area] is the hottest place in all of Ghana… And… The “winter” months are the hottest months here in Ghana. Pray. Pray hard. 🙂
This week I have one story of a young woman named Esther and an explanation of our branch here.
Esther is 19, super sweet, intelligent, and wants to be a high quality food cater (by high quality food cater, I mean she wants to be able to cook really nice dishes to western standards). Esther was recently hired to work as a maid/intern for a woman in our branch named Veronica who is a high quality food cater and at the same time a mother of VERY troublesome twins. Esther took the job as a house maid, but is at the same time learning the cooking trade from sister Veronica.
When Esther started working for Veronica, Veronica didn’t want to take away Esther’s agency by forcing Esther to come to church with her. So, Veronica told Esther that she was always welcome to accompany her to church. After just a few weeks of working for Veronica, Esther decided she would like to visit our church and learn for herself what we believe.
We went to visit Esther in the evening after church to follow up on her first experience at church. When we met with her, she was very happy! She told us all about how she has been taught throughout her life that there is no life after this life, but in church that day she had been taught about living with our families forever. She loved that doctrine so much, because her father had recently died and she thought she would never see him again. After she explained all of that, we went ahead and taught the plan of salvation. She is so prepared. She wants to know the truth and I am happy that I get to be a part of her learning the truth.
The branch here is turning into a powerful branch! A new branch president was called recently and he has a burning desire to learn and do what is right. His name is president Bonsu. He is a father of a young family and he is extremely intelligent. He reads the church administration book like crazy, so that he can know how to best lead this growing branch.
The members of [this] branch are great as well! If any young men or young women do not show up at church, the youth in this branch go and visit those other young people to find out how they are doing. They don’t even have cars to go and visit the other youth! They walk long distances to see their fellow youth. The members have a great love for each other and I love that.
If all branches and wards could set aside one day in their week to just love, visit, and serve each other… Oh how lovely would that be? And if we could love and serve every day? The family like unity in our wards would grow, pride would be a thing of naught, and the Lord would be pleased. It just takes love. Try reading Moroni 7:45 until you really understand it. We need to not only read that scripture, but we need to apply it. The scriptures we read, the talks we listen to in church, and the personal revelation we receive each day means nothing if we don’t apply what we are being taught. There are so many things I wish I could say about the pure love of Christ, but let this be enough… Learn to love like Jesus Christ and all will be well.
As a younger child, Christmas always felt like it would never come, but the last few months I haven’t even really thought about Christmas that much…
Because I have the spirit of Christ(mas) in my heart always as a missionary. Everyday feels like Christmas. Except for the fact I got to watch the movie Elf with my zone and then call home this Christmas. Calling home was magical. To hear voices I recognize and love was a breath of fresh air. Especially after 3 months of talking to a strange new people. I have been blessed with a talent of quick adjustment to new things, but it’s nice to to actually talk to family.
As well as Christmas this last week, my zone got together to play some good old fashion soccer! It was all fun and games until… So we were taking penalty kicks at the goalie and when it was my turn I was goofing around, which was an extremely bad idea because the ground was not very flat… I wasn’t paying any attention, so when I ran up to kick the ball all I kicked was solid rock. It was like a hundred fireworks all going off in my foot at once… At the time of impact and even several hours after, I was pretty sure I had broken my toe. After many prayers, a good night’s rest, and a whole lot of proselyting later… I am proud to report my toe is not broken! I can still move it. Blessing counted.
Another blessing this week was the free food! If you want tons of free food, then come to Ghana the day after Christmas.
It’s Boxing day and here in Ghana it’s a big deal for eating food. All my companion and I did that day was go from one house to the other, eating food.
Along with Christmas, tons of food, a baptism, and an almost broken toe… I found out this last week that one of the members living in my area makes pure silver and gold rings. And he told me that he will make me a pure silver ring with any design and writing on it for super cheap! Uh, yes please. I’ve seen his work and know that he is very good at what he does.
I love all of you and wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! This coming week I can officially say “I’ll be home next year for Christmas.” Crazy.
May the force be with you… But more especially the spirit of God.
Since we get to eat lots of rice here I have been getting creative. The other day I decided to take the bold step of recreating mom’s rice pudding.
I will have you know that not only can I improvise on stage, but in the kitchen as well. The rice pudding turned out to be way better then expected. In fact, it turned out so well that my companion wants me to cook it more often. Cooking, another buried talent found! Mom, I even remembered to temper the egg.
We had our zone conference this last week and it was great! The conference was centered on Neal A. Maxwell’s talk “Swallowed up in the will of the Father.” Also, I had one of the best meals since I’ve come to Ghana… Real BBQ chicken and rice! Blessing counted.
Along with success, there must be opposition. One of my worst nightmares as come to pass… The spiders here are huge. I was moving my suitcase on Thursday and while doing so a massive spider came out from under my bag.
And it came to pass, that I fled quickly after its emergence from the cavity of my bag. But behold, wo be unto the spider! For I returned to the place of my bag with a mighty vengeance and the spider perished in the blink of an eye. It’s a shame really… I liked that suitcase. Too bad I have to burn it now.
Sorry I didn’t take a photo for the records… But I have been keeping other records. As well as writing in a journal, I have been making lists that I write in almost everyday.
Here are a few of those lists:
Things I will continue after my mission.
How can I apply the things I am learning now to member missionary work?
What new thing have I learned today?
What am I grateful for today?
How can I apply this to marriage and family?
That’s just a few lists… It’s helps me keep track of what I am learning and how to liken it unto myself.
I know I am where I am supposed to be and I know Jesus Christ is my savior.
Remember, “Adversity is mandatory, but misery is optional.”
Sorry for a short weekly letter this week… Longer letter and photos to come next week!
Also, I received my first letters from home on Tuesday! I will get the packages when the zone leaders go to the mission home the first week on January.
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.