Time Passes By So Quickly

 

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This is Elder Gilbert with a family from the branch.

(Original emails dated November – December, 2016 as noted with entry. SG)

Busy Times and Short Emails

The work is going! We are working with a few people, Regina, Steven, Stephen, and Stephen. I’m literally teaching 3 people named Stephen. Another man named Kofinti who boldly declared today that he would be baptized before Christmas, and I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure he does. 11-21

This week was rather quick and boring. I got sick wednesday night, I was just sneezing like crazy unexpectedly, and then my throat started to burn. The next morning I was just sick, sick, sick. I worked hard to prepare in the morning and do some good studies, but after companion study I just laid down for 3 hours. Then all my symptoms were things like small malaria or a sinus infection. I had body aches in my muscles and joints, burning throat, exhaustion, ear ache, stuffy nose, cloudy mucus, basically everything was wrong with me. But I’m better now. I was just down for about 3 days, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but I was able to do small small things. For example, we visited one person on Friday and did baptismal interviews on Saturday. I didn’t want to push myself and make it worse, but I didn’t want to shrink either. I think all in all, it was good. Being out in the hot sun just kills my brain and makes symptoms worse.

In addition, this coming week will be crazy as well. On Tuesday we have plenty of meetings in Obuasi, Wednesday we travel to Kumasi again for a meeting on Thursday that will take the whole day, and Friday is weekly planning and some more meetings. After that, we’re changing things up here in Ghana Kumasi mission, P day will be on Saturday with transfers next monday (one week from today). So email me on Friday and I’ll email back on Saturday!   I’m still doing well and everything is great! 😀  11-28 

This week’s report is going to be kinda short…more like really short, know why? cuz I’ve been busy like crazy and nothing really happened except traveling and meetings and handling people in the Zone. We haven’t even planned like we shoulda for next week cuz we were out visiting the Elder’s apartments and stuff. We even took one companionship to the hospital because there is some bad stuff going down with this one sister. They can’t figure out her sickness.

As far as Transfers are concerned, there will be nothing for me this time. I’m still in Obuasi. So, that makes it 5 transfers in Asuoyeboah and 5 transfers in Obuasi (each transfer is six weeks). Dad- go and tell that to the Elder’s quorum and let me know what they say. xD  But anything can happen next transfer and stuff. I honestly think that I’m gonna stay in leadership for a while because President has been holding onto his leaders for a long time, especially because Obuasi has improved a lot since me coming here.

That’s about it for this week! Love you! 12-4

We recently split the area and are coping with losing every investigator. It’s not easy, but it just gets me more motivated to get the work moving again! This is awesome! I love it!  12-12

This and That…

Man, How is Grandpa doing? Was Grandpa happy that the Cubs won the world series?

Yay, Judy! I’m so happy for her! How is she doing as well? She’ll love the temple so much.

What?! Spencer’s getting married?! Thats Crazy!  He’s only been home for about a year, right? I already told Scott that he’s the best man at my wedding, he would be totally bummed if he couldn’t make it because of his mission.

I’m still doing well and everything is great! 😀
I’m doing well, sorry for bad emailing this past few weeks. Everything is going great! 😀

I will do all in my power to be the best that I can be.

With all my heart,

Elder Gilbert

Teaching, Traveling, and Tender Mercies

Editor’s note: Sorry for the delays in posts. We have had sickness, holiday visitors, a few weeks of very short emails, and a new living arrangement. I will catch you up in the next couple of posts. SG

The Work is Progressing

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This is a photo of all the missionaries in my zone.

This week we had a broadcast from Utah to the Africa West Area. It was very powerful, The people in the broadcast were: Elder Gary Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (he presided), Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Edward Dube (from Zimbabwe) of the Seventy, and Sister Carol Stephens, First counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency.  They all talked on a variety of topics, relating things about living the gospel and the atonement, but I feel that the main purpose of the broadcast was in Elder Dube’s remarks regarding a tradition that is not only in West Africa but all over Africa, which is the “Bride Price” or the tradition that you have to pay a very high amount for a bride in order to get married.  Sometimes that take years to accumulate. It was a very powerful conference broadcast. One thing that I gained from it is that I’m now trying to smile all the time.

Later on, I was teaching this older woman who has gone less active in the Church. I got into that lesson and she was seriously doubting the Book of Mormon. The points I was making and the things I was saying were not mine own. I was learning as I was speaking. I felt the Spirit so strong.  I love this work.

Other than that, our week was very productive even though we didn’t have any investigators at church on Sunday and we went to Kumasi for more meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. But we still taught 20 lessons across 30 hours of proselyting. I’d count that as a win for not being able to work those two days that are usually filled with nine hours proselyting each. Yay, missionary work!

I’ve been seriously seriously bold recently. I keep in mind to not be overbearing, but I’m definitely more bold. Yeah, missionary work! I’ve been learning how to conquer fear. Not that my fears have vanished, but I’m overcoming them. Remember that goat from a few weeks back? I was scared to death to use that kitchen knife on him! But I got over it and did it. When I think about it – it’s still crazy…

Honestly, I have never been so happy, so consistently in my life before. It’s a huge blessing. I can’t even really remember the bad parts back when I was struggling with training a new missionary; I just look forward with eyes filled with faith. This truly is a joyful work. You know what tender mercy I’ve seen on my mission? I feel the Spirit so strongly, even when washing my clothes. Sounds weird, right? But it’s so cool! It’s like God is approving of the cleanliness of my missionary attire. I often think of Gospel subjects and just ponder as I vigorously rub and scrub the cloth together. As I do this, I’m just filled with the Spirit. I don’t know why, but I love it. God blesses us in little ways all the time. I appreciate it greatly.

 

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My new friend, King.

November 21 – Thanksgiving and Misc.

When asked if he missed Thanksgiving and told about the super moon event, Emma’s progress in school, and the presidential election. These are his responses:  I wish I had thanksgiving… that’s like my 3rd favorite holiday just gone. Man, oh well. I miss fall, too. And the weather changing with the seasons. Plus, a super moon? Astronomical stuff?! I want that! I wonder if it will be in Ghana as well, we will see! I’ll be looking out tonight. Sometimes I just like to look at the moon and the stars. I really love it. I’ve always liked star gazing, but theres not always time. Tonight though, I will take time at about 9:30 my time to just look at the moon for 5-10 minutes. I’ll take a break from making my stew for the week to eat with rice and just go outside. It will be nice! 🙂

I’m super duper happy for Emma’s success in learning.  I knew that other people advancing in age and maturity would probably be the weirdest thing to me, turns out it’s true. I don’t even know what is going to happen when I get back, but I can’t wait to see all the little ones, especially Andrew and Aiden. They will all receive my love in abundance from random visits my first couple weeks back, trips to the park, and video games. All will take part, for all are invited. 😀 I’ve honestly missed being called “Uncle Ben” for a long time now. That responsibility isn’t there and neither is the joy from it. I’m coming soon my nieces and nephews! Don’t you worry!

Oh wow, the elections! Yeah, even my Mission President’s wife showed me a small clip of Trump’s speech. It was only long enough to see him and the fact that he’s been elected. I hope this means that we won’t have any more Clintons back up for election. Seriously, that woman scares me ka kra. But that’s as much time for politics that I have. I received my absentee ballot on Nov. 9th (too late to send in), filled it out, and am keeping it, because I want to be a good citizen as much as possible! Yeah, even on Nov. 8th there were plenty of people who were asking me who I was voting for because they see me as an American; I just kept my mouth shut and waited for it to be all over.

In comparison, Ghana seems normal. The elections for Ghana will be December 7th though, so I’m not sure how it will be then… politics is a hot button here as well. I see the advertisements everywhere. I won’t talk too much on the subject though, for obvious reasons until I get back.

Thanks for the Birthday Letters and Wishes

Life in Ghana is just going, we’re doing well and in general, life is so sweet. I finally received all my birthday letters and my wall is now decorated with pictures and papers, letters and drawings. I love it! I love to feel the love and see the love that home has sent to me.

Again, just as we say in times past, time is going fast and slow at the same time.

I love this work and I love my friends and family so much.

Sincerely,

Elder Gilbert

Being Led by the Spirit and Celebrating My Birthday in Ghana

Teaching by The Spirit

I was thinking back on when we were getting ready to move to Mount Vernon and my parents wanted me to pick where I wanted to go to school, CR or MtV.  Katie chose CR Kennedy.  I thank the Lord, God Almighty, for confirming to me against my own thoughts and reasoning that Mount Vernon was the school for me. I credit that instance in 8th grade as being one of the first times I can not deny that God spoke directly to me and I use it all the time in teaching. I’m just finding out why, more and more all the time.

The main theme of my email to you is that teaching by the Spirit took some time for me to learn, but is one of the coolest things I think I experience as a missionary. I walked into a lesson yesterday planning on teaching the second half of the plan of salvation. (We had previously covered “Where did we come from before this life?” and “Why are we here, what is the purpose of life?” and was planning on discussing with him about “Where will we go after this life?”) All that changed however, in the blink of an eye by following subtle impressions and we ended up teaching about Christ’s atoning sacrifice for all men and related it to how he needed to ask Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon is true and if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church. The question that I’ve been pondering and that I asked him during the lesson was, “If we worship God, and we see differences in churches and their doctrines, shouldn’t we ask the Lord himself which is His? Doesn’t His opinion matter the most in deciding where we worship Him?” And his response was simple, but incredible.  He asked me how God wants us to ask Him. I know that he will read and pray over the Book of Mormon; it was powerful and I’m grateful to Heavenly Father for that experience.

The other thing I wanted to tell you is that we did some serious service just today. We helped this woman move who literally lives at the top of a very steep hill. I won’t call it a mountain, but it felt like it. The road itself is more of just a rocky path and was very easy to slip on. I took turns carrying things on my head and in my arms. It was rough. Sweat was just pouring down my face and down my arms. Streams were just pooling in the palms of my hands. Man, hard work and hot weather….. It felt gooooooood.

I’m enjoying the service more than ever! Still working hard! Here are a couple of photos from that day.

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Here is the view of the house from the bottom of the hill.
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And this was our pathway to walk while carrying belongings.

Birthday Number 20!

Guess what I learned is a Ghana tradition? When it’s your birthday, you get water poured all over you. My branch Mission Leader (who is a returned missionary) took it upon himself to do it after we finished proselyting on Sunday. We toasted with some Mango juice and it was all fun. Then I took a shower, got changed into some nice fresh dry clothes, and then guess what happened next? When another missionary in the apartment got back from his proselyting, he decided to do it again! There you have it, two sets of sopping wet clothes. I just accepted it all in fun because it’s not my culture, but I plan on having it be apart of my birthday ritual when I get home! Beware if you tell me it’s your birthday and I have a bottle of water! Ha ha     It was very, very fun. Even with all the water.

You’ll get to see all of the pictures and stuff of it when I send this SD card home (it’s almost finished). However, I couldn’t toast with soy milk like we planned. I ran out, but I got some sparkling non-alcoholic juice! Mango and Apple to be precise!   I also got some letters just before my birthday and that felt great. I love the love that gets sent to me in a small envelope!   But yeah! No more teenager! Woo hoo! No cake, but a celebration none the less. Enjoyment!

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My first birthday drowning with a bucket.
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Here I am, happy and wet with sparkling mango juice!
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All nice and dry, but yet another celebration.  Why not?!   After all, you only turn 20 once. 🙂
This past week was grand. So let’s keep up the happy!
Love,

Elder Gilbert

Sweet is the Work, One Year in Ghana 10/31

*Editor’s Note –  This post is late, sorry for that. The original date of the email is in the title.

The Work is Progressing

Oh, how I wish I didn’t forget my card reader today! Luckily, another Elder in the internet cafe had one. Yay!  The first picture is with Elder Wanadi. The other is of the food I ate in celebration of my 1 year on mission! Woo hoo!

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Elder Wanadi, my new companion.

Elder Wanadi is from DRC Or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His national language is French and Lingala. But he speaks fluent English and he understands some swahili and another language as well. But in DRC they try to speak an “American” English, so his accent is different than that of Ghana. Sometimes I’ll propose we go to see one investigator and he’ll say “Okay, Leggo.” It’s funny when he does that actually. My last companion, Elder Nuamah, went to a mountain called Nkawkaw (EN-co-co) and he is still a zone leader there.

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American food is a special treat to celebrate my one year mark on my mission.

The Work is Progressing

This last week was busy; one day we only taught one lesson.  The rest of the day was spent helping with transfers to make sure that everyone got to their apartments safe and stuff. Some of the Elders who are training are still a bit new on their missions. I think even the new missionaries that are American are ready to adjust and get working. It’s pretty awesome. I was a bit nervous when first thinking about the responsibilities, but I’ve been thinking so much more about the welfare of my Zone members. It still feels good!

I can tell you that when Elder Wanadi and I have been teaching recently, I’ve really been feeling the Spirit. I’ve gotten a lot better at being friendly to Ghanaians in a way that they’ll open up, then from that I listen to the Spirit and discern what they need to hear and teach it to them. Elder Wanadi also knows the scriptures very well and asks great questions to help the investigators think. We’re a good companionship I can feel it.

Like today for instance, we did our bit of proselyting and we found this guy near his house sweeping. We helped him sweep his porch and he gave us a seat. We talked to him and he told us that he feels bad that he hasn’t been praying. So we taught him about repentance and he was yearning for more. By the end he was asking where we worship because he hasn’t been to church in a long time. We then turned the lesson into teaching about what makes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints different from all the other churches and taught him about Priesthood and he was seriously understanding it. Bismark is his name and he’s just an all around really great guy that I already care so much about.

The only unfortunate thing is that we ran out of copies of the Book of Mormon last week and we won’t get any til November 10th…. I don’t like proselyting without the Book of Mormon to hand out. It makes me feel like something is missing.

Some Answers to Some Questions

Am I looking forward to my twentieth birthday?  Who knew that my birthday would come up so fast? I’ll have to get a bottle of Soymilk and toast with you to the same on Sunday night! I’ll get all the Elders in the apartment to join in as well. Yeah, It will be a nice birthday. 🙂

Do we eat an American breakfast? I get to make french toast every now and again here in Ghana because we can buy syrup, but other than that I seriously miss breakfast for dinner at home on Sundays. I promise the first Sunday when I’m back I’ll help with as many things as I possibly can. I might even throw in as much Ghanaian twist as I can…. 😉

How are the running shoes working out with my nasty Ghanaian athlete’s foot?  The running shoes are great! My athlete’s foot is still hanging on somehow. It’s getting better due to some medicine that President Cosgrave gave me, (stronger than the powder you sent to me).  But I proselyte in my flip flops. I’ve been doing this for at least 3 weeks now. It feels good and weird at the same time… Ah well it’s all apart of the experience!

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A look at my “tank” sandles from my perspective. They are really great and standing up well to the constant use!
All in all, I’m just absolutely loving it!

Happy 1 year, and here’s to another year of hard work in the Service of the Lord!

I love life, I love God, and I love Ghana!

Love forever,

Elder Gilbert

Transfers Again 10/24

 * Editor’s Note – This post is late; sorry for the delay. The date is added in the title to show the original date of the email.

Hey Guess what?!

New Transfers are this week! I’ll give you a picture of my new companion next week. His name is Elder Wanadi, We’ll meet each other on Wednesday (I am staying in Obuasi).
The most interesting thing is that, like me, he’ll be going from one of the smallest areas in the mission to one of the biggest. Seriously, my area here is huge. I can’t even get to all the places. I spend a lot of time traveling around the zone. The geographical size is big, and also the density of population.

Yeah Obuasi!

I’m now a ‘Senior Companion Zone Leader’ so I have more responsibility. On top of that, almost the entire zone is training new missionaries so I’ll be in close contact with all our missionaries in the zone. Responsibility and being an example. Gotta love the work, right? I’ll keep fighting the good fight, Mom.

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This is me as I send this email. I cut my own hair again.

Somethings New

Hey guess what! On top of everything else I’ve eaten, we can add snake and octopus to the list as well! I love the adventure this world brings. I love being able to share the Gospel here in Ghana, I absolutely love it.

And I also got new running shoes! They cost 190 Cedis (around 45-50 Dollars) and he said they come from Italy and I trust this guy, so I think I got some that will last (there are a lot of products that are knockoffs here). They were the most comfortable shoes that that guy had so we’re making do with what we got, right?  That’s not the only thing I got from Italy! A recent convert gave us some super nice mineral water from Italy as well. Man, people are so nice!

Another thing, because I’m still striving to learn the piano and my companion writes songs on the guitar, I too have started trying to write a song. It’s not easy, I don’t really spend a lot of time doing it, being busy proselyting and such, but it is fun! I’m not sure if I mentioned this last week but we’re teaching a guy who basically lives in his studio and it’s awesome. I definitely want to look into sound engineering as a hobby when I get back.

More News and African Culture

To state some wordly news as well, the illegal miners called Galimse (ga-limb-say) miners are getting moved out. They’re called that because they were known as gather and sell miners, but for the uneducated that couldn’t speak english well, it became a word on its own, thus Galimse.  I think the government recently found out about them because some soldiers had to come to Obuasi because of some small gang violence. Two small suburbs are fighting, Tutuka and Kofikrom. The reason the soldiers had to come was because one from Tutuka was brutally murdered. One of my members showed me a picture with no warning. It looked like at least 20 cuts across the back and neck and head with a cutlass. It was bloody and I hated it.  I really don’t understand gang violence. There are probably a lot of underlying factors that I don’t see, but I’d rather spend my time thinking about The Gospel of Jesus Christ, so I won’t go any deeper on that.

So that’s what happened and stuff this week!  Love you so much, Pops!

Elder Gilbert

Of Rain and Snails and Incredible Tales

Life is going at a hectic pace! Man, this week went so quick! I can’t believe how fast things are approaching and ahh! I’m almost 20!

Another Baptism

This week we had another baptism. This man is named Joseph Yankey. (YANK-ee). He is a very powerful man. He called us over to him as we were out and invited us in to hear what we had to say. You know, there would’ve been no way we would’ve gotten past his security guard if we tried to knock on his gate, so this was the only way we could’ve met with him, on top of the fact that he’s a super busy man.

He asked me to do the baptism and I happily accepted. There was rain that was trying to stop us from coming to church and even the baptismal font only filled half-way because we ran out of water, but no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. He had to sit down in the water and I immersed him with the small water we had as he leaned back and laid down in the font. It was awesome, he says he feels like a new man and he feels like Romans 6:2-3 really applies to him because the baptism is helping him walk “in newness of life” now that he has made that sacred covenant with God.

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This is Brother Yankey at his baptism. Elder Gilbert is also there with his companion, Elder Nuamah.

The baptismal font is in our chapel. Our main source of water went dry or something. We have plenty at our apartment, but for whatever reason it stopped at the chapel. We think that the pump might be spoiled or something. The electrical power in Obuasi is amazingly good for Ghana. Dom-so (off-on or power outages) only comes every once in a while. The rain threatened to hold up the baptism because, to be honest, Ghanafo-o suro nsuo. Or in other words, Ghanaians are afraid of rain. When it’s raining you see them running! They put plastic grocery bags on their heads or just a handkerchief, if they have one. Literally everything stops except church and sacrament meeting when it’s raining. People prefer to wait and do nothing. It’s possible to see a couple of choice people during the rain, but for the most part no one really listens to you when you try to teach while it’s raining.

Also, I’ve been proselyting in my slippers (flip flops) because of some nasty athlete’s foot. I’m getting it taken care of by my Mission President, but it sure is a nuisance. I don’t want to send pictures of that one, It’s pretty gross. It’s a good thing I got some “tanks” for flip flops, because I can walk for miles without even feeling it.

More Service

We did a service project at a nearby hospital, grounds keeping and such. They said their lawnmower was broken, so guess what we did? Yep, they gave us some more cutlasses and said, “Have at it!” We whacked those weeds. I put in so much gumption that my blisters have returned.

We are wearing the yellow “Helping Hands” vests in this photo.

Another thing that happened this week is that an Elder in the apartment has taking a liking to the snails that will sometimes be around the apartment after a rain. This American from Georgia gathers as many as he can and eats them for breakfast. He’ll eat about 10 and give me 4. I also happily eat the free food. It’s almost like gathering manna, right? or something like that…     I let one crawl all over my hand and it was awesome. I will tell you, I’m not a picky eater anymore. I can eat just about anything now.   But you do know, Dad, I’d kill another goat and give it away to join you for some roast beef, potatoes and lemon bars. I miss mom’s cooking so much. I’ll have to make sure I stay close all my years so that I don’t have to go without it. Haha! 😀

I’m actually weighing about 145-150lbs now and I don’t have a lot of fat on me. It’s kinda strange Dad, I’ve never weighed this much before. I have been working out and doing some running.

Ghanaian Culture

Ghana has some chiefs and kings, but unless you know the culture super well, it’s hard to tell who they are. A lot of the time Ghanaians have an attitude of “I don’t want to trouble you and because I know how to do it, I’ll just do it” kind of a thing. It makes it really hard to learn new skills, like making FuFu. Thankfully, I squeezed myself in to a couple really nice situations so now I know! I can drive FuFu from A-Z! I can pick the soft Cassava to start, make it into a nice consistency, combine it with some plantain as well as shape the FuFu into nice balls to serve. All I need now is just a mortar and a pestle to wait for me back home! Seriously, I want to be able to make my family FuFu the traditional way. I’ve heard there is a colony of Ghanaians in New York and I’m guessing they make their own mortars and pestles there. By the way, Mom, what is the update on you coming to Ghana? 😉

I want to finish by saying that I really know for myself that a mission is irreplaceable and that the work is incredible! I have a great testimony of the Savior and the purpose of life. I can’t believe how much I’ve grown. There is a difference, a big difference in who I was and who I am. I can’t wait to share with you all the things that I’ve seen and done.

And for those of you who have read clear to the end, I’ll include a picture of my city view in Ghana.

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Keep fighting the good fight,
Elder Gilbert

General Conference Week

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Here is a nice photo of a beautiful sunset in Ghana.

We Got to Watch Conference

This past week we had General Conference! Yay! I actually did get to watch three sessions, one of which was live. The Sunday morning session- which I watched from 4pm-6pm, was wonderful. Although, I really missed the potluck we would have at home between the sessions. I also got to watch the Priesthood session and the Saturday afternoon session.

In the Priesthood session, Elder LeGrand Curtis talked about the Book of Mormon and some experiences in Ghana. What he said about President Owusu Hini was true, how he overcame severe prejudices to accept the Book of Mormon. In fact, all throughout Ghana it is commonly preached that The Book of Mormon is evil. They call it the ‘Book of Mammon’ claiming that we worship spirits of ancestors and we call them in our church meetings. Sometimes, when I have been out teaching someone and pull out a Book of Mormon, they won’t even touch it because of what they have heard about it. One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon was the one talked about in that conference talk.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)

The saddest part about this is that people trust what they have heard more than their own experience or seeking for their own experience. I more often hear, “I won’t because my pastor told me not to read it” rather than, “I’ve heard something bad, but let me see if it’s true.”

The Promise made in Moroni 10:3-5 is real. Those who sincerely read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it’s true, will gain a witness by the Holy Ghost that indeed it is true. There are no ifs, buts, or ands about it. It sometimes varies exactly how and when God answers, but He answers. And remember what Elder Oaks has said. Revelation is most often received when we are on the move. Most people gain their witness as they are talking about it after they have been on their knees sincerely praying about it. That one for me is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true and as I seriously study it, I feel the Spirit of The Lord. I know it and I can’t deny it.

Another Goat

Switching gears- something interesting happened today. We were asked to help an investigator to slaughter a goat, but there was one condition, I had to hold the knife and kill the goat…… So I did.

To be honest, it was the first animal that I have ever killed and I was shaking before and after. My heart was pounding and the adrenaline was going. One of the main reasons why I said yes is because when I get back home I will be interested in doing some hunting during deer season. So I figured this is a good way to jump in head first. Afterwards, they cooked and served it to us, but it wasn’t as good as the one before. But hey, I was the one that killed it this time.

Thats basically my report for this week!

With all my love,

Elder Gilbert

P.S. Here is the quote from Moroni:

 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
 PPS  I have recently found out that it is against mission rules to slaughter any animals, so I won’t be doing that anymore, even if it is a common practice and way of life here in Ghana.

Helping Hands

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This is Ben with some children from the branch before a baptism.

This Week in Obuasi

This week we had another baptism. Her name is Sister Vivian. She was a referral given to us by her friend that is kinda struggling with being active. Since Vivian started coming to church and now that she is baptized, she might be the one to help the person who referred her to us. Funny how things like that work. This time, Elder Nuamah did the baptism and we have another one planned for next week.

Also, I’ve been playing the piano for my branch for the past 3-4 weeks now. I’m not perfect, in fact sometimes I fumble hardcore, but I try my best and the congregation appreciates it. I’m working my way up from the Simplified Hymnal to the real deal hymnal. It feels really, really good to contribute like this.

Another really cool thing that happened this week is that I actually drove fufu. That means that I was the one who was sitting down and I was pushing the fufu around to make sure that it’s all evenly pounded. If you watch a video it looks kinda scary, but I was a natural so it was really easy for me. You just make sure it stays in the middle of the mortar and stay in between the beats of the pestle.

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Do you remember several months ago Ben tried pounding the fufu? Well, now he is the one moving it around in the bowl. It’s a much harder job. 

To answer your question dad, transfers were two weeks ago. The next one will be four weeks from now.

Update On My Blisters

My hand is doing well, or pretty well, all things considered. I had to wash clothes with my feet a couple times because my hands were paining me. I had to just deal with it as we went out and around. The funny part is, I write and greet people a lot and because of where my biggest blister is on my pointer finger, both of these actions were very hard on it. I had to put on bandages only to take them off a couple hours later because of eating, drinking, washing, or other things with water. It was kinda funny, but I was also worried that I bled on some people after we slapped hands in salutations.

The Seasons Change Here, Too…Well Sort Of.

After hearing about autumn coming to Iowa, man, I wish seasons would change here. They kinda do. There’s the rainy season, the mango season, and the dry season, but it’s always so hot that it’s hard to tell when they change. I can’t tell if it makes the time go faster or slower, but it’s all the same two years, right? I really can’t wait until next mango season though.

An Interesting Thought

To contribute to what you said about Christ, dad,  Elder Bednar wrote a song called “One by One” and it is about how Jesus Christ personally suffered for us one by one. How Elder Bednar said that he is convinced that each one of us spiritually stood next to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane as he suffered for our sins. That really puts a different perspective on things for me.

Some More Shout Outs

 I love you with all my heart, Dad. I can’t wait until we meet again. Send my greetings and love to Grandpa, okay? I love him. BE SURE to tell him that I’m working hard and that I owe a lot of thanks to him for engraining this quality deep within me. Both you and he did that for me. Thank you. It was from your example and your instruction that I learned how to work.

I also heard about the MVLXC filling up sand bags for the flood. That’s flipping awesome that they did that!  I know Jack was enjoying it. Not that he got a thrill from filling bags with sand, but that he would feel good knowing it was the best thing to do. Man, I would’ve loved to have been a part of that service.

Until next week!
Elder Gilbert

Service with a Smile and a Cutlass

A District Activity with Service

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Ben with a young member of the branch named Emanuel, Emma for short (EE-ma), after cleaning the chapel. 
Time has been flying. Like seriously. I can’t believe that I’ve already spent one full transfer as a zone leader. This past week has been pretty normal missionary work, but today we had a district activity.

It started out well. We had a service project where I got another cutlass and started to whack at some weeds… again. I felt kinda studly, until I realized that my hand had like six blisters, four of which opened. I switched to my left and got another blister, so I decided it was time for me to stop and save it for another day. I don’t even think I’ll be able to wash my clothes tonight, my hand is paining me too much, but I’ll be okay!

Then we watched Legacy, which is a powerful movie, and we ate Ampesi, which is basically boiled yam and plantain with stew. It was really yummy. On top of that, I made fruit smoothies for all the missionaries. Sadly, they were without strawberries and we all know that no smoothie can reach perfection unless it has some strawberries.

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This is an Internet photo of ampesi.

I’m still working hard, I’m still helping people to progress in the Gospel and enjoying the warmth of the Spirit every single day. It feels awesome, I must tell you.

Some Shout Outs

To those that have written me and I haven’t written you back: I’m on it. I found the letters after I went on transfer, so I’m doing it now!

Thanks to Scott for sending me a copy of your farewell talk. I can’t believe how much you have grown in the gospel. It is so wonderful to me to see that growth. I really am impressed. Now I just need to keep up the good work on my end and keep progressing in the gospel as well!

Thanks Mom for always being there for me. I love you so much. I Did get the letter from you! I loved it. Thank you so much. I nearly started to tear up when I saw the picture of Aric and me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve wanted that picture so much.

Stay strong,
Elder Gilbert

Baptisms and a Goat

Two Baptisms This Week

Things are going well!  We had two baptisms this past week. We weren’t even sure when they would come on, and I’ll explain why. For Both Isaac and Thomas, they needed very special interviews with our mission president to be forwarded on to the area office and eventually the First Presidency of the Church. This is because they were born into polygamous families. (News flash to everyone that thinks we still practice polygamy. If you are in a polygamous marriage, you aren’t even allowed to be taught, if you come from one, such as born into it but not practicing it, or previously practicing it, you need to be reviewed by higher authorities in order to be baptized.) So thats what happened. But because it is so common for people to be born into polygamous families, but not practice it here in west Africa, the area office in Accra, Ghana can approve the minor cases.  Their testimonies were amazing and very powerful. These are truly converted men. I don’t know what to say about them besides they both should’ve been baptized weeks if not months ago. They are so powerful.

Zone News

Our zone is doing alright! There’s some responsibilities to be taken care of and it’s not easy, but I’m learning and trying to improve in leadership. This past week we did travel to Kumasi, and we’ll do it again this week. I’m getting sick of that bumpy, pothole-filled road. I try to sleep the whole way but I always get motion sick. We have a total of 5 Americans in the zone. There are 4 Ghanaians, 1 from Nigeria, 1 from Zambia, and 1 from Zimbabwe.  I love how diverse this mission is, I get to meet people from all over Africa: Liberia to Malowie, South Africa to Kenya, and then to D.R. Congo. I get to meet them all.

Another thing that happened just today is that we had an activity where we got the whole Zone of Obuasi together and we contributed some money, bought a live goat, which we killed, butchered, cooked, and ate all by ourselves right outside a missionary apartment (with the help of some neighbors) As we ate we enjoyed rice ball with groundnut soup and a movie. The Princess Bride! Been a long time since I’ve really seen any movies, and don’t worry, mom. Mission President approved everything before we did it even it is his copy of the Princess Bride.  Here are some photos of the goat. Man, I sure did love that goat until we had to dress him.

It is seriously such a blessing to be here in Ghana and I love every second of it. I’m learning lots and growing as an individual disciple of Jesus Christ. I love missionary work so much.

Take care,

Elder Gilbert

 

One last thing….Another thing that I feel like I should talk about: Public Urination in Ghana. It’s not illegal at all. In fact, my Ghanaian companion told me “The General law is ‘if only you don’t feel shy,'” So you see it everywhere, men and women alike. Most adult women will conceal themselves behind buildings and stuff. It’s especially awkward when you take a shortcut and basically “walk in” on a person urinating. But younger women will do it in public as well. Most homes don’t have a place to urinate in the home, so they have to go to public facilities and pay some small fee to use the toilet. It isn’t good, because people just going anywhere they feel. But it’s all part of the experience.