Bugs, Bread, and Believing

Something Has Got to Change

So here’s something crazy. The cockroach infestation turned out to be something so much bigger. We killed all the grandfather cockroaches (the really really big ones), almost a month and half to two months ago, but they must have had babies…. and their babies had babies… so we had a ton of smaller ones everywhere.

I knew it was too much when I left some food on the table when I went to go shower and when I came back there was a cockroach on it. Except, I didn’t realize it when I picked it up, nor did I realize it as I put the bit of bread in my mouth… I felt it crawling on my hand and down my arm and immediately slapped it off my arm, stomped on it, threw the bread back on to the plate, and pulled the bit of food out of my mouth. I was in shock and awe and my appetite had vanished.  Needless to say we’ve really been working hard to take care of the mess.

Progress Report

An update on the older man that we’ve been teaching: He told us that he just likes to think about what we write down and what we tell him. The last time we met he said, “You know, this just makes sense! I’ve been able to answer so many questions that I haven’t before, because it all makes sense!” I love to see how he applies studying and sincerely thinking about what we discuss; it’s amazing.

FYI- Elder Gbettie is from Tema, Ghana, the same as Elder Anderson. In fact, they knew each other before coming to the field.

Other than that, time is passing by both fast and slow and we’re trying to always be better and help others.

Love,

Elder Gilbert

The Real Elder Gbettie

Sorry, Wrong Photo

Sorry mom, I sent you the wrong photo last week. That was actually Elder Precious who is one of the other Elders in my apartment, but not my companion.

DSC04714
This is the real Elder Gbettie, Elder Gilbert’s new companion from Ghana. This photo was taken inside the Internet cafe where they go to use a computer once each week to write home.  It is also where all the youth go to play Grand Theft Auto after school. 

Another Week

So this week went by fast, but it was good. Training is going, and going. I think the hardest part is just having a new missionary who is still adjusting to missionary life/missionary work. But it’s still all good.  I’m still working hard on really getting and always being able to recognize the Spirit.

This week was pretty average. The whole experience of missionary work is getting to be more “normal” for me. For example, even yesterday, I was eating a dish called Cocontain (I think) which is pretty much like Fufu. I was thinking, This is all normal. It’s Africa, but it’s getting normal for me.

One other thing: I recently saw a picture of Amelia and holy moley! She’s toooo big!

Life is good, God is Great, and this work is sweet!

(I’m running short on time, so I’m very sorry that it isn’t longer)

Love,

Elder Gilbert

Transfers This Week

New Companion

As for this week, of course we had transfers and I’m staying in the same area. I’ll probably be in this area for this transfer and the next, because I am training a brand new Elder. My companion’s name is Elder Gbettie. He’s from Ghana, so I’m seriously hoping to learn more Twi from him. Honestly, he’s already really confident when it comes to teaching, so it makes it a lot easier. But I didn’t really realize how much I can do as the senior companion until I got to this point. I also didn’t realize some of my weaknesses. Which I’m now working on, which is a good thing! It’s always a good thing to progress and work on the things we aren’t so good at. It can be frustrating at times, but we need to always be working on the promised blessings. That way, we can truly be who our Heavenly Father wants us to be.

2016 4 4 Elder Gbettie
This is Elder Gilbert’s new companion from Ghana, Elder Gbettie.

Missed Sunday’s General Conference Broadcast

I unfortunately could not watch General Conference. They had it live stream for the Sunday Morning session, but due to a wedding being done right outside our front door, we could not go. We could not risk them pulling us into the festivities. We’ve even been warned by leaders to stay away from crowds especially this week due to possible demonstrations. I’m not really sure exactly what that entails, but it was very frustrating to have to miss conference and proselyting time.

Washing Clothes

Today I had a pretty cool experience. While I was hand washing my clothes, I just visualized God standing above watching down on me and others. I looked at my hands that I was using to wash the clothes and It kinda hit me… Heavenly Father seriously has a body. He has hands and he feels and he can grab things but he can’t feel pain or anything like that. I love it when that stuff happens. It was like reality seriously hit me.

This and That

I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting this past Easter. It was on Faith and I put a focus on Christ and Centering our faith in him. Elder Ripplinger gave a talk on the atonement. It was good. He has such a wonderful testimony.

I really miss running and because I’m the senior companion, I’ll try to take the new missionary on runs almost every day if I can.

As far as an update on our investigators: The mother is progressing and the drunk guy kinda vanished. We haven’t seen him for about 1.5 weeks.

Take care everyone,
Elder Gilbert

One Constant is Change

A Baptism

2016 3 27 Solomon, Elder Ripplinger, and Elder Gilbert
This is Elder Gilbert, Solomon, and Elder Ripplinger at Solomon’s baptism.

We had a baptism this week! His name is Solomon. Things are going super well here. In fact, President Cosgrave has called me to train a new missionary coming in this transfer. It’s going to be a new experience trying to build up his knowledge, teaching, and finding skills, but The Lord has called me and I know he’ll qualify me for this. I can do this.

A Sort of Sad Note

Elder Ripplinger is going home, and it honestly feels very sad. I have enjoyed my time with him and have learned a lot. I know the term “killing a missionary” is used when your companion is going home, but it seriously feels like he’s dying. It makes me sad. Because of this as well, I don’t get to enjoy his washing machine that I forgot to mention when he first got here. I’ll have to go back to hand washing my clothes. Yikes.

A Couple of Interesting Things

An odd thing, dogs and goats are so smart here. I have watched a dog jogging down a sidewalk next to a busy street and he was waiting and watching to cross the street when there were no cars. I guess it also has something to do with natural selection right? Hahaha thats not too funny but still….

On the plus side I am still improving at the keyboard/piano! It’s pretty rad that I’m learning; I can play “We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet” pretty well. But it can always be better!

My best,
Elder Gilbert

Being Where the Lord Needs Us

You Never Know Who You Will Touch

This week something really cool happened! We met a man who was flat out drunk and he was disturbing us in a lesson with his uncle. He just walked up to us and started asking us weird questions that he could hardly say, let alone understand when we gave him answers. As we came back later to meet again with his uncle, he was there, but this time he was sober and he listened. He wrote down questions that he had after we gave him a restoration pamphlet and even came to church the next Sunday! Turns out that he has close family members in the ward and they were VERY happy to see him. It just goes to show that the truth is for everyone and that it can change anyone. As long as they are willing to change for God and his son, Jesus Christ.

2016 3 21 High fives
Elder Gilbert high-fiving some children along the road.

I also have a progressing investigator who is a mother of 5 and she absolutely loves it when we visit her. Everytime she has more love for us and the feelings are mutual. Her name is Hannah; I showed her the small photo album of my family and she loved it. She’s very intelligent for the education she’s received, which is more education than most. I believe she graduated through senior high school.

2016 3 21 children
Posing for a photo with the same children.

We all Play a Part as God’s Hands

Hey! You said it’s Spring break there? I was in florida a year ago! Man, I didn’t think I’d be in Africa 300 days later, but the Lord takes us where he wants us, not always where we are expecting ourselves to go.

On that note, one thing I found interesting in my personal studies this morning is that everyone that has a calling was foreordained in the grand council in heaven. That means I was foreordained to come to Ghana. I’m where I need to be, whether mostly for my personal growth, or mostly for the people of Ghana, or both; I am not quite sure just yet.

Ghana is Beautiful

Also, I also found about some really nice national parks in Ghana, namely Mole (Moe-LAY) National park. There is also one in cape coast that is flipping fantastic, but if you’re scared of heights, it’s not ideal. You get to walk around in the canopy of the rain forest on rope bridges. Sounds sweet, yeah?

Other than that, this week was pretty normal. (As normal as missionary work in Africa can be) We’re still working hard and doing what we know we should. It feels good.

Love,

Elder Gilbert

Keeping Cool

The Bugs and the Beeping

So this week has been a little nuts. We finally got some insecticide to spray what we thought to be a small cockroach infestation, which turned into a much bigger cockroach infestation as we found out how many there really were. We didn’t even get all of them, we need to spray again today.

Also, because of that spray, it set off the smoke alarm somehow and we couldn’t turn it off. We tried all we could, but some part of it just wouldn’t switch off. In order to sleep, we put it between two pillows and put them as far away from us as possible and closed all the doors in between  and put the fans on high so that we couldn’t hear it. Eventually after about 36 hours of none-stop beeping, his little battery life gave up the ghost. Actually we’re not entirely sure if thats what happened, but it’s our best guess. We don’t want to try to set it off again so we have just kinda left it alone.

A Cool Experience

Also, due to another emergency transfer, we are back to a tri-companionship. We have two wards in Asuo Yeboah (ah-SUE-yeh-bo-ah), so we need to attend two sacrament meetings each Sunday. Imagine how surprised I was when they asked me before the meeting to say the closing prayer for ward 2 (I’m in ward 1) and then how much more I was surprised when they asked me to stand in the circle to confirm a member. Now imagine my shock when they told me I was going to be confirming the next new member when I wasn’t even apart of their ward! It was a wonderful experience though. It was the first time I have given someone the gift of the Holy Ghost. Those two small boys will be blessed for the rest of their lives because of what they have done and the ordinances performed this past week.

Soup Watcher
This is Elder Gilbert as the soup watcher or fanner at a Zone activity. If the soup was too hot, he would fan the top to cool it down. If the soup was cooling off, he would fan the bottom of the stove to heat it up. They call them “coal pots,” but we would call them a type of charcoal-burning stove. Hot soup on a hot day!

From Hot to Hotter

I must say a bit about the weather here in Ghana; it’s all about the humidity. We have now entered into the Rainy season (technically, there is hardly any rain yet).  At first I welcomed it because it was more of what I know (Iowa summer), but then it became the worst. It’s about a high of 100 degrees every day and the super high humidity just wears on you. Plus the sweat, the sweat is just uncomfortable.

Thats all for this week!

I love this work, I love these people and I love my savior Jesus Christ!

With Love,

Elder Gilbert

Internet Cafes and Grand Theft Auto

Oh, man! Sadly, Elder Ripplinger and I have had things come up that have caused us to email late in the day, so I don’t have much time today. One issue with this particular Internet cafe is that when it gets crowded (like after school), the connection slows way down. After school, the boys come and play a game called “Grand Theft Auto.” It is all that is played in this cafe, with 2-3 children at a computer just watching one play who had the money to pay for 30 minutes. Just imagine a dark computer lab from school with a bunch of small African children near two American missionaries. There you have it! And you know, it’s like home, even if you’re not using the Internet, you’re still taking your slice of the pie.

DSC00451
This is Elder Gilbert embracing life in Ghana.  

A Couple of Fun Things

I have been keeping a dream journal since I’ve been on my mission. It sits next to my bed. I don’t just write something important, I write every morning everything that I can remember from my dreams. It’s become a habit and I love it. It’s interesting to see how they come true later on. Most of the time they’re abstract.

I am still getting used to the food here in Ghana. Right now, my stomach is complaining. Some of this Ghanaian food just flies through your system and causes Diarrhea. Except here they call it “Runny Tummy.” Sounds like a better word for it, in my opinion. And I’m not exactly sure what I ate to cause it. It could have been the Ramen mixed with hot dog and onion (all fried) that I made myself last night, or the spicyness in the fried rice I ate the night before, or just some germ in the mix of it all.  But don’t worry mom, they say African germs don’t kill, so I’m not in any real danger.   😉

Getting My Mail

You asked about how I collect my mail. The mail goes to the mission home and is distributed from there. Whenever the opportunity arises to get it for whatever reason, that is when you get it. For example, President was doing some random interviews to see what we learned from a missionary broadcast and I got a letter from Kaitlin Zieser there! I got one from Abbie Kasner a couple months ago. It all depends. 😀

This Week Went by Really Fast

Shoot! I forgot my camera cord today. 😦    I will send more pictures next week. I promise. I also need to be taking more. I’ve been so focused on working hard that I forget to take out my camera.

Can’t Stop Sweating

This week was really really fast. The more I lose myself in the work, the faster time goes by. But I’m trying to savor every moment as well. I’m still eating well and taking care of myself. I’m missing track season, but thats the way it goes! Ghana is getting waaaay hot though. If you think you Iowans are suffering because of the cold, just keep me in your thoughts, because I can’t stop sweating, not when I’m indoors, not ever. But that’s Africa for ya!

Grateful for So Much

I am so grateful that I have this time in Ghana. I know I will be thinking and reminiscing about these 2 years for the rest of my life!  I can’t sleep them away, I can’t have any regrets or delayed blessings. I need to be constantly and consistently striving to be like Christ!

This week I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude for letters. I’ve only received a small number, but I cherish them. IF you haven’t received a response yet, perhaps it is in the stages of being written or sent. I do really like letters though, they’re pretty awesome.

Thats all for this week! Next week I’ll spend more time on the weekly report (hopefully)

With Love,

Elder Gilbert

New Companion and Renewed Energy

Everything is going great here in Ghana!

Now that I’m out of training, I feel like I can seriously be self-reliant and work together with my companions as an equal partner when we share the Gospel. My new companion is Elder Ripplinger and he’s American and awesome.  I’m staying in Asuo Yeboah and Elder Anderson has been Transferred to Obuasi. (So many fun names I get to talk to you about in 20 months or so!) I’m working harder than ever before and it’s very satisfying. I feel the Spirit in abundance and it’s wonderful.

faces3
Photo by Philippe J. Kradolfer from “Ghana Everyday Life.”

We’ve been finding more people prepared by the Lord to receive His gospel. Recently we started teaching a man who shared an experience he had had the week before where he was lying on his bed resting and a thought entered his head to “give the Book of Mormon a try.” His story is powerful.  We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he started reading on his own. I can tell he’s a faithful person and very motivated because he finished four chapters by himself!

This week we also experienced the sadness of having a progressing investigator have to tell us, against his will, to stop visiting him. His father told him he would have to leave the house if he continued meeting with us. This young man is under age, but he was growing in faith and testimony. It was very sad.

I will continue to work hard because I like the satisfaction that comes from it. Dad was right when he said the hard work and feeling the Spirit in greater degree go hand-in-hand. It’s a good feeling!

Still striving,

Elder Ben Gilbert

Cost of Living and Money in Ghana

I am sad to tell you that Ben’s Internet cafe was down last week, so there is no letter. In its place I am writing about Ghanaian money and their cost of living.

Ghana faces1
Photo by Philippe J. Kradolfer. “Ghana Everyday Life.”

Ghanaian Money:

The word cedi is the Fante word for cowry shell, which were formerly used as currency in what is now Ghana. The porcelain-like shells came to West Africa, beginning in the 14th century through trade with Arab merchants. The first modern coins exclusively used at the Gold Coast were produced in 1796 but cowries were used alongside coins and gold dust as currency until 1901. This currency is only used in Ghana and is difficult to exchange in the USA. Here are a few examples of the many coins and paper bills:

Ein-Cedi-Münze                            20_pesewas_(new_cedi)

             1 Cedi                                                   20 Pesewas                                         1_Ghana_Cedi                           2_Ghana_Cedis

                1 Cedi Paper                                        2 Cedi Paper

Exchange Rate:

1 USD = ¢3.89 GHS

Cost Comparison:

Milk, 1 gallon, regular                    $9.05

Loaf of Bread                                    $1.82

Eggs, 1 dozen                                    $2.32

Cheese, 1 pound                              $3.90

Coke/Pepsi, 0.33 liter bottle        $1.49

Sources: Wikipedia, TheMoneyConverter.com,and Philippe J. Kradolfer “Ghana Everyday Life”