Monday, August 22, 2016

"What is your quest? What is your favorite color?" - Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

Dear Family & Friends, 

On Friday our shop woman's daughter was getting married over in Korle-bu area. We see her everyday, help her move things in her shop and even use her washing machine on P-days. She is really awesome and she invited us to attend her daughters ICGC (International Central Gospel Church) wedding.
She assured us it wouldn't take more than 2 hours and so I decided that it would be OK for our district to participate and attend. On part of the journey there we had to cross this bridge over a stinky garbage filled river. It was made out of two planks of wood and the bank on the other side was really steep. I followed Elder Fryar over, behind me Elder Pohlsander, then Elder Christopherson. Upon reaching the other side of the bridge we discovered that we had to pay 30 Peswes (about 10 cents) to cross. Elder Fryar argued with the guy a little, thinking he was just trying to get money out of us until he pointed at a sign that said; "All who cross pay 30 peswes." So we knew it was legit and everyone paid that price to cross, not just “obrunis”. But after I stepped off the plank of the bridge I heard, "What is your quest?" rattled off behind me and turned around to find Elder Pohlsander, with his bike planted in front of him as a gate reciting the scene from Monty Python to Elder Christopherson who was just laughing the whole time. Elder Pohlsander has a really good sense of humor and can make a lot of rather depressing or irritating circumstances funny. Following the Monty Python quiz, a gate opened right in front of us and like 15 giant bulls started pouring through the gate one by one and around the corner. It was crazy! I keep running into these flabby male cows, there are a lot of them around I guess...

The wedding itself was really interesting, the man who created ICGC has a masters degree from BYU and he will quote the Book of Mormon in his sermons, but he wont say what book it comes from. It was cool to see our entire neighborhood there, the woman who sells us fruit at night, Stella the Indomie woman and her 3-year-old son Gerard. 

"The temple isn't a burden, but a blessing"
On the subject of marriage, we are teaching two YSA's in our ward who will be baptized soon. Rita and Eva. Eva will be baptized this Sunday and Rita will be baptized on Sept. 11 (I was really looking forward to Thomas coming on those days cuz I will probably have a big slug of baptisms on that Sunday, but its OK at least I’m lucky enough to have someone coming) It has been cool to teach and to learn more about marriage this past week. Rita asked me a question that went something like this: "So what if I marry someone who isn't a member of Latter-Days? How can we have our family sealed?" I told her, "Well, really the only way for you to enjoy the blessings of the temple is to have your marriage in the temple" I used the example of a dress because she is a seamstress. I created a scenario of her buying a dress for a party that she didn't really like, but had the money for right then, or waiting to find a dress that she really liked, but had to save some money for. She said she would much rather save the money for the dress she liked. I used it to teach her about how the temple isn't a burden, but a blessing. The fact that God allows us to have families that can be together forever is so awesome of Him, what incredible trust He has placed in us. 

Another funny story. There was a big Ga “mame” (“mame” sounds really terrible, but that is how they refer to women in Ghana) on the front porch of one of the compounds of our investigators. She had a propane tank with a stove on the top of it and a box of matches. She turned on the gas and pulled a match out of the box, jabbed it at the stove, jabbed it again. Then threw her head back a little and blinked and you could see the wheels turning, "Oh ya! I’ve gotta light the match...” Elder Pohlsander and I got a good laugh out of that. 

This past week I had to interview this woman who speaks very little English, only French. At first Elder Ngoy thought that she would be able to understand me, and she would be able to do the interview in English because she has been learning a lot as she has been here. So I gave it a shot. I had her hold my planner with the baptismal interview questions in it and I would say them to her as she would follow along and then she would talk as best she could and then write her answer to the question on a piece of paper in English. She could write more than she could speak. Through this I was able to get a good understanding that she knew the commandments, she had a sincere desire to be baptized, but I wasn't sure that she understood that being baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints meant that when she goes back to Togo, she would need to do everything possible to find the missionaries, and the church there. Baptism didn't just save her, and that was it. So I counseled with Elder Ngoy and Elder McFarland about it, together we decided that we would get the member fellowshipper for her to accompany me to another interview with her later in the week, this way we would be able to explain our concerns with her and help her understand the gravity of the commitment she was making, and help her decide if it would be better for her to be baptized when she finds the missionaries in Togo, or here in Ghana. She shared with me her story (through the translation of the member). She had come to Ghana earlier this year and attended church with her cousin, she knew something was different and really liked whatever that was. She vowed that if she ever came to stay with her cousin again she would join the church her cousin attends. So upon her return to Ghana she immediately sought out the missionaries and was blessed to have Elder Ngoy (a French speaking elder from DRC) there to teach her. After explaining to her that she had to find the church in Togo, I asked her, "Do you feel it would be easier for you to keep the covenant of baptism after you make it in Togo? Or do you feel like you would be able to keep that covenant know, and after you return to Togo?" She insisted she be baptized here in Ghana, so Elder Ombaka and I said, "All right! Go for it!" It was one of the coolest interview experiences I have had.

Elder Peters and Elder Ngoy with one of the primary kids.

This past week we were planning to have Eva’s baptism but our chapel didn't have any water. In my meeting with the stake president tomorrow I think I am going to talk with him about it. It was crazy stressful because our bishopric wasn't aware of it because they just barely called a new ward mission leader who is a relatively new member to the church. I took him aside this past Wednesday and gave him a sheet for the baptismal program and wrote out word for word what he needed to say as he conducted the baptism. I informed him that it was his responsibility as the ward mission leader to arrange the program and contact the bishopric to arrange for one of them to preside, yet he was intimidated and feels that he can't call them yet. I told him that we will be there and can help him with anything he needs help with. I’m trying to get him a Preach My Gospel and we will start training him from that so that he will be the best ward mission leader in all of Ghana! 

Oh ya I got my birthday package at the zone conference that we had this past week. That was really awesome by the way. Sister Simpson taught us about how our bodies are temple's and not visitors centers and had me draw a big picture of the temple up on the whiteboard and a little visitor’s center next to it. She also taught us this really fun version of head shoulders knees and toes. She reminds me a lot of mom; she would make an awesome primary teacher. 

On Saturday morning we did the “All-Africa Service” project (Helping Hands). We went to some of the poorer areas of our ward Chokor and Sukura to teach people about how to avoid and the steps to treat Cholera because there was a recent outbreak. I thought that people would be kinda offended by it, but turns out they were actually super pumped to learn about it, they really wanted to share it with their friends. I was kinda thinking to myself, "What is it the yellow vest? Why can't people be this excited about the gospel when we come to share it?" I realized it was because Elder Fryar and I took one 14 year old and one 13 year old with our group and were planning to have them hold the posters while we talked about Cholera, but it turned into we held the posters while they spoke Ga and taught about Cholera. It reiterated to me how important teaching with a member is, even if it’s a young member.

In my study this week I was reading in Jesus the Christ and I learned that Peter was probably a man who had a pretty good life as far as earthly possessions go. He most likely owned the fishing business he was a part of. It's cool to think that he was a lot more like Amulek than we realize. I also, on a challenge from Pres. Simpson, have started the Book of Mormon over and am trying to read it by the end of the year. This morning I read through the first 6 chapters of Nephi and I realized that Nephi must have had to teach Zoram something about the gospel in order to get him to see why they are leaving and he needs to come with them willingly, not as a prisoner. Nephi doesn't really address teaching Zoram, but it’s pretty cool to imagine that someone who was probably perceived as an enemy was so in tune with the spirit that it still was able to testify to the frightened heart of Zoram and he knew that he needed to come with Nephi and his family. 

Congratulations to Jared Ward in the marathon! Good luck at Grass Relays this weekend (DXC). I know the boys are gunning for the victory, how is the girl’s team doing this year? 

I love serving the Lord, and serving the people of Ghana! 

-Elder Peters

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