Monday, August 10, 2015

"Live in a mudhut, wipe yourself with a leaf type wild? HAHA!! WHO WIPES??!!" - Madagascar

So I think that a lot of people when they heard that I was going to Africa thought that I would be living in a mud hut, surrounded by people only wearing loincloths (though I have seen a lot of stark naked little kids, and an old man taking a poop on the beach, he had a newspaper and everything just no toilet or walls, that’s pretty normal by the way if you’ve gotta go then just go anywhere. we don't do that as missionaries though don't worry). I don't live in a mud hut, but I don't have a bed frame just a mattress on the floor and a mosquito net, but our apartment is pretty nice. I am in a town called Mamponse in the Kanishie Zone. It is right next to the ocean, and I go to the beach to get to investigators houses a lot. The beaches aren't that nice here. They are covered with trash and other gross stuff. I will try to send pictures. Since I am right next to the ocean there isn't much vegetation either. The weather has been nice. And that’s a summary of my area and where I will be for the next 12 weeks at least.
This is a Map of Elder Peters mission.  The red arrow shows where he has been assigned.
Close up of the area where Elder Peters will be working.

My trainer is Elder Liera. He is from Baja California and speaks Spanish, small Twi, small-small French and good English. (In Ghana "small" or "small-small" means a little or a little bit) he is really cool, I like him. I talk with him about Mexico a lot because dad served his mission there. He was training to be a boxer before he came on his mission and joined the church. He is doing a good job of training me. He has been taking me around to help me meet our ward members and current investigators. Our mission has this thing called 2-fers. It’s a goal as a mission that every companionship has 2 investigator baptisms, 2 members to the temple for the first time, and 2 less actives to church. Its cool because it helps those we baptize remain faithful in the church. We had a baptism this past Sunday in our ward; it was the sisters in our area's investigator though. He has been teaching me Twi, which is cool, and we say stuff in Spanish too. (Turns out 2 years of Spanish class came in handy after all) he has been trying to show me how to teach the people here. Its hard because you can't use very big words at all, its kind of like teaching small children, we use a lot of object lessons and these little white boards and markers. It is also difficult because here people speak Twi, Gha, Ewe, and pigeon English. Sometimes people will say things to me and I will turn to elder Liera cause I don't understand and he will say, uhh he said it in English. But then he will help me. The other challenge is that most people can't read. I don't know if it’s just our area or what but it seems like there are lots of people who can't read. It’s kinda hard to know the church is true if you don't know that the book of Mormon is true, and you can't know that the book of Mormon is true it you can't read it.

We are teaching a lot of different people. One is this 80 year old man. He was baptized 2 months ago but he is so determined to get to the temple. He is literally counting down the days and we see him every Sunday and it gets him so excited. I’ve never seen some one that old skip and jump around like he does. It’s super cool. His name is Brother Botchey, pray for him.

Since Elder Liera can’t speak Gha, which is really common around here, we bring along this priest in our ward named George Armah (pronounced ama) because he can speak Gha. He is super nice and shows up at 10 AM everyday as we finish our companion study and goes out and proselytes with us until dark. The other day his mom made bankuu for us. I took a picture cause it was my first time eating it. It’s basically maize and plantain smashed unto a mush and cooked in a pot, then they make soup and put fish in it (like the whole fish, not cut up, bones and all) and TONS of pepper. You take the bankuu and dip it in the soup and eat with your right hand. It was actually really good. Oh and this will explain the quote for this week. In Ghana you don't do anything with your left hand because traditionally (before toilet paper) that’s what you wiped with. So if you point at someone or wave your hand at somebody, make sure it’s your right hand.

We contacted 5 member referrals this week, which is good. We have a member named Richard who lives in Palmrose, pretty much on the beach, who has been working really hard to spread the gospel in his area. Palmrose is about 2 miles away from our meeting house and since it’s not a very nice town it’s rare for trotros or taxis to go through there and even if they did most people couldn't afford them. (It costs 1 cedi for a trotro, 1 cedi is about 33 cents right now) but that’s really how poor they are. So Richard has been working really hard to try to get enough to start a branch out in Palmrose and we have been going there pretty much everyday. Pray for them they need your prayers.

My first time at church in Ghana was interesting. It is different from church at home for sure, but it’s also very cool because the things that are important are the same. The sacrament is still blessed and passed the same way, they have gospel doctrine class, there is a really loud, tone deaf conductor. Ya know the same. It’s different because if you want your kids’ attention you smack them in the back of the head. One thing that is different, not only at church, but in the entire country is the concept of personal space. In America it seems everyone has got a bit of a personal bubble, but here everything is packed as close together as possible. In sacrament meeting all of the chairs were as close together as they could possibly be and they were the same chairs we used in primary at home. I sat next to elder Liera and a woman who is one of those people who should pay for 2 seats at the jazz game. And we were all on primary chairs, well she was on most of my chair too I guess. When you are walking down the road taxi mirrors will bush your shirt as they zip by. Houses are built far enough apart for people to walk through with their shoulders touching each wall. It’s not bad it’s just different, it’s just the way life is here, and it works.

I have strayed from the topic. The best part of church was the baptism and priest quorum. After gospel doctrine we went to priest quorum because they wanted to meet me. It was really cool. the priest quorum advisor asked at the beginning of class, “Since the purpose of priest quorum is to prepare you to serve missions, who has their duty to god book?" there are 5 priests in their quorum and 5 hands shot in the air with the dirtiest most used duty to god books I have ever seen. The advisor went on to right one of the requirement questions on the board and they spent priest quorum meeting fulfilling that requirement and were expected to show up next week with completed goals and something to share. I was floored. 

After church one of the priests (his name is Joseph Smith and he is a convert, really he was named Joseph Smith before he joined the church weird but cool huh?) baptized the lady the sisters have been working with. It was cool, I should have taken pictures. Church was also kind of a bummer because we thought that we would have several investigators come to church but they all were no shows! grrr. But the good news is that the sisters met this guy on the street and invited him to church, but he lives in our area and he came! How do they do that? One contact, maybe 2 minutes max and he shows up to church. we have been teaching a bunch of people everyday for hours this week that say, "oh ya I will for sure be at church on Sunday, and then they don't show up!" ahh its frustrating sometimes. We went to this referrals house and it turns out he has met with the missionaries before when he was living in England. He speaks really good English and is very well off (compared to the other people around anyway). He is progressing really well and we are hoping to baptize him by the end of this month. If all goes well elder Liera and I could have 4 baptisms this month.

Answer questions for mom:

My substance is 300 cedis this month which is pretty good

I eat eggs and bread for breakfast and rice for lunch and dinner unless a member feeds us which is good and bad. It’s good because its real Ghanaian food like bankuu or fufu. It’s bad because sometimes the soup is hard to get down because it’s really spicy, and it probably means that that family won't eat dinner tonight. We are always really hesitant to accept dinner invitations for that reason.

I am still trying to figure out what I want for my birthday, I don't really know. I got grandpa’s letter that he sent on July 20th about 3 days ago so the mail is really slow. I never did get whatever you sent to the mtc.

I have been surrounded by a bunch of little kids, in fact I started playing football (soccer) with a bunch of them and it made them so happy. I was no longer obruni cocoa but elder peters to that particular group. Obruni cocoa means white red headed man and everywhere I go little kids yell and chant that. cocoa means red. so my companion is just obruni. sometimes it’s really annoying other times it’s really funny. the benefit of being an obruni in Ghana is that you get attention and it’s really easy to share the gospel. the bad thing is that everyone thinks you have money. everyone I talk with even members ask me if I will take them home to America with me when I go home. it also creates another problem teaching, people say they are interested you sit down start teaching and ask if they have a question and they say," ya, will your church pay for _______ for me? no, oh well then I’m not interested." they see me and think $, which is sad.

The spirit has been really strong as I open my mouth to teach people and things come to mind what to say that I never would have thought of. it’s incredible to experience. we are teaching a man named Richard who will most likely be baptized soon. and I man named Emmanuel, he just needs more of the missionary lessons. we will go to see him later today.

I am excited to hear that James got his bobcat that’s awesome. Alexa good luck with dance and junior high, Mrs. Mccarey isn't that bad. just do your homework thoroughly and check to make sure you are doing it fast and correctly and you will go far in math. mom and dad way to keep up with the mowing, it ain’t easy huh? now imagine you ran 10 miles at 6:30 pace that morning before going out. just kidding thank you a bunch. mom good luck in preschool and dad thanks for going to high altitude camp with josh and James. it was good to hear about that. I think of you often. its weird I haven't really felt homesick. even in the mtc when everyone just wanted to be home I didn't feel that way. its not that I don't miss you guys or not love you or anything. I just know that you are ok there and the best place I can be, even for our family is here in Africa. I love hearing from all of you and I have a lot more time now to email so I can send better responses to more of you now so if you want to email me feel free.

-Love, Elder Peters

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