Dear Family & Friends,
It sounds really cold there in Utah...I'm sweating sitting at the computer here. I washed my clothes, just cafeing now in Weija with Elder Perry so that's pretty cool.
Ya so Christmas has been fun, and it has really given me an opportunity to get to know my area really really well. I feel like I can confidently stand on the top of McCarthy Hill and say, "Yep, I really know this place" Sitting in church and looking around I could name most of the members sitting in the congregation and in my head could locate their houses.
This is quite a feat in Ghana because our entire area, (like every area in our mission) is a system of unmarked roads and trails. No addresses, no GPS, no map (it would change too fast and be incredibly inaccurate). Your area is contained entirely in the memories stored from walking places and visiting people’s homes. I’m grateful for running in this regard because that was one thing that I learned really well, how to memorize trails really fast. Going on varsity runs in the mountains and doing vita every Monday in retrospect really prepared me for this.
Throughout this week I read a lot of the New Testament. I'm in Luke now and I read his record of Christ's teaching of the parable of the talents. I have usually thought about this story as God gives some people more literal 'talents' like singing, or athletic ability or things like that and others less but it’s our responsibility to not 'bury' them... etc. you know how the primary lesson about the talents goes. As I was reading it this time thinking about people I have served with in different wards, different people I have taught, missionaries I have served with and around, I thought about how God blesses some of us with more of the Gospel right from the start of our lives, and others with less. I thought about my situation and the many gospel blessings (or talents) that I was born into. I was born basically in the headquarters of the church, both of my parents and their parents are members, I have been to conference, I have always had my own personal set of scriptures. Seminary class that gave me a strong understanding and knowledge of the scriptures. I went to primary ever since I was a little kid. I have had SO many blessings just handed to me. I thought about how most of the members here in Ghana have really had to struggle for their conversion. Many of the missionaries that I have served with and around have only been members of the Church for a few years. In the parable the one with only one talent buries his talent because he is afraid he will lose it. The master chastises the 'slothful' servant but I tried to put myself in his shoes. I thought about how much that one blessing meant to that servant, and though he didn't use it to gain more blessings, he was afraid he would lose it. Looking back on all the things I was blessed with prior to my mission, I thought about how I took so much of it for granted, I was never afraid that I would lose it, cuz I had no idea what life was like without it. One of the greatest blessings of coming on a mission is watching people who have very little gospel knowledge, most never got to go to seminary, primary, cherish the few embers of a testimony that they have. Looking through the list of my recent converts I saw that none of them will have the opportunity to go to primary, few will have the opportunity to serve a mission, some of them will struggle to even speak English for a LONG time. Those few gospel truths that they have learned and the small and simple experiences they have had with the gospel, they care for and keep special.
Today we took like 2 month’s worth of trash into the empty compound next door and burned it. That’s the cheapest and most time efficient way to dispose of trash here. It was pretty funny cuz all the neighbors in our compound came out and asked us to burn their trash too. This one lady brought out a little water bottle full of kerosene and insisted we douse all of the trash with it. Elder Tohouri and I were enjoying the fire until somebody's shaving cream bottle exploded. None of us were hurt but, ya a few more explosions followed, not big just small ones.
We are teaching a family that lives really far away from our apartment and area and it’s always a bit of a gamble going there because if they aren't home or they decide they are busy (even when we call them in the morning and they say they will be available) then we are way far away from anything else. We found a member of our bishopric and his wife that live somewhat in that area and so it’s been good because we have been able to start to build a relationship with them. They gave us a less-active family referral and the father is a taxi driver and has called the family we are teaching to pick them up for church these past two weeks.
I have been thinking about my mission and the upcoming year and have set some goals for how I want to complete my mission, the way I want to feel when I finish. I try not to think about it too much and just enjoy Ghana.
For New Year’s I visited some member families and had joined them for a few meals. Not nearly as many as Christmas. Ghana did A TON of fireworks, but mostly it was a pretty normal day.
Love you all!!! Elder Peters