Monday, August 31, 2015

Journal Entries...

August 22, 2015

I believe in miracles.  Today I witnessed a miracle that prior to my mission I would have never categorized as a miracle.  It was ward temple day today and everyone was planning on going to do baptisms or a session.  We were involved in helping some recent converts prepare to go.  Josephine, one of our recent converts, had never been so we really wanted to get her there.  We went to pick her up and found she wasn't ready.  She rushed to get herself and her 2 children ready.  She had no one to watch them and we aren't allowed to babysit for anyone.  As we traveled to the church we made many phone calls and offered many prayers.  Just before Josephine and the other members had to leave we found out the primary president was just at home and willing to watch the kids.  It was incredible to see that when faith is exercised, God will open up paths for you and give you opportunities to do his work.  I hope to stress the importance of recognizing miracles and God's hand in everything to my future and present families.  That is something I lacked before I left, the vision to see how blessed I really was and how much I rely on God in my daily life.

August 27, 2015

Each Day in Ghana brings something new and unexpected to us as missionaries.  Today brought us a slow morning but an exciting afternoon and evening.  We went to see a recent convert of ours who had traveled to Kumasi.  We found out that while there he had been in a motorcycle accident and that just a few days later he came home and immediately went to the temple and did baptisms for the first time.  You could see something in him had changed after going to the temple and he even showed us his journal entry about the visit.  After him we went to see an investigator of ours who at first seemed only politely interested but is becoming more serious.  We ended up teaching a different lesson than we had planned because of his questions.  Our next stop was a 16 year old boy named Albert.  We caught him as he was leaving for an activity at his church but he stopped to learn with us instead.  He is training to be a pastor and when he didn't come tonight his senior pastor came looking for him.  When he found us he had many questions and Albert ended up testifying to him about the truth of the Book of Mormon and our teachings.  The spirit was very strong and you could see it working in Albert.  After the lesson his mother was very sick and we gave her a blessing to help her feel better.

Week 4 in the field

 After we emailed home, on Monday, we had to rush back to the apartment so that we could shower before we had to be at bishop's house. We had FHE scheduled with him and his wife for the evening. Sister Danso fed us some wonderful stew and rice and all the elders ended up taking multiple helpings of food. Unfortunately the lesson wasn't spiritual at all and ended up turning into a debate/bash on the US by bishop. It was discouraging to have gone with such high hopes and then to experience such a nonspiritual FHE. Afterwards, Elder Kamisese and his companion, Brother Okine, stayed the night at our apartment. 

Kamisese and Okine stayed over so that McConkie and Kamisese could leave early in the morning for MLC, Mission Leadership Conference, at the temple site. That left me with Brother Okine for the day. We went to his area and taught all morning long. We took lunch around 1:00 and then went back to their apartment. We went back out and saw a few more people before going to meet McConkie and Kamisese back at our apartment. By that time is was late and so we stayed in and did some studying.  

 We have District Meeting every Wednesday morning at 10:00. President has challenged us to make these meetings more fun and interactive instead of people just talking at each other. He also asked us to shorten them because as of now they are taking up a lot of time during the day. We did both of those things fairly successfully and kept the meeting to one hour. Afterwards we spent the afternoon trying to find the house of a referral we received. Here in Ghana there are no addresses on any house so it's really hard to find where people live unless you meet them at their house. It took us a while but we found him. He doesn't live in our area so we had to refer him to the other elders in our apartment. After that we contacted the rest of the day and saw one of our investigators in the evening. 

Thursday morning we decided to take the morning and contact a portion of our area that we didn't know very well. We found some people who were home and seemed to be interested in what we had to say. It's hard to tell with some of the people here because the culture is to please as much as you can. After that we went and saw a recent convert who just got home from traveling. He went to Kumasi to see his family and had been gone for a few weeks so we felt like we needed to go see him. After that we decided it was time to chop (eat). We got some fresh mango and then went out to see more of our investigators. We got in couple good lessons before it got really late and we had to turn in for the night. 

We planned to go out teaching on Friday but it turned into a logistics day. Our apartment had gotten to be ridiculously dirty and almost unlivable. What started out as just cleaning quickly turned into a complete room renovation for us. We took everything out of the room and even dismantled the bunk bed to get it out. We then ripped up all of the old flooring and cleaned the cement underneath as best as we could. After a trip to the shop for some new flooring we were able to put all of our stuff back into the room. We made sure to rearrange everything to get the most use out of the space we have in there.  In a way it was a really relaxing day even though it was full of work.
the room remodel

Saturday was a big day for me. The other elders in the apartment have been bugging me because the shirts I came with are the American style and really large. Here in Ghana everything is fitted and tailored to the max. I finally gave in and took one of my shirts to the tailor. When he was done the results were absolutely astounding. I never realized how much of a difference it would make to have a slimmer shirt. I felt better and so much better dressed. I plan on taking the rest of my shirts back to have them tailored as well. We also got in some good time with a recent convert and a few of our better investigators. 
The slimmer shirt model!

It was a tough Sunday for us. We only had one investigator attend church and on top of that we got chastised by the bishop for things that were completely out of our control. It was hard not to fight back and defend myself because I was being wrongly accused. However I knew that the spirit of contention was not something that my companion or I needed at that moment so we just sat and took the chastisement. After church we left our bikes there at the chapel and went to see our investigators. We were able to teach one and greet another before going and contacting the whole day. President has asked that we make Sunday a full proselyting day instead of planning during the evening. It really made a difference to contact all day because we were able to meet people who would normally not be at their house during the day. We even met two guys from Bangladesh. We were surprised when the person who answered the door wasn't African. It was hard to teach them because we are now so used to teaching to the mindset of a Ghanaian person. We struggled through a lesson and despite our struggles they seemed really interested in what we had to share and wanted us to come back and discuss with them again. After teaching them we went back to the church so that Elder McConkie could practice the piano. He has been asked to play at some of the big mission meetings.  I even tried to play a few hymns and after an hour I could almost play Brightly Beams Our Fathers Mercy. We had a great time playing and singing and making up our own songs. We took some cool pictures off of the overpass by our chapel on our way back to the apartment and then settled in for the night. 

the city of Accra
Monday we got up early so that we could make a trip from Akweteman to Nsawam to visit another elder. Here in the field your trainer is referred to as your father. Likewise, if your trainer's trainer is still around he is known as your grandpa. The elder we went to visit is my grandpa, Elder Peterson. He goes home in 2 weeks so it was awesome to get to see him before he leaves. While we were there we visited to market and bought me a few pairs of trousers. I spent less than $30 on 3 pairs of pants. It's ridiculous how expensive everything seems to me here but how inexpensive it really is. After visiting and buying trousers we went back to our chapel for the multizone activity that was happening there. We ate some delicious fried chicken (Ghanaian people know how to fry some good chicken) and then played a little basketball with Kamisese and Okine. After that we went to the internet cafe to email and that is my week here in Ghana. 
multi-zone activity

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week Three

Monday: On Monday after emailing we just went straight home. We were supposed to go to FHE with Bishop Danso and his wife but it was too late for that. I started to get a headache towards the end of the emailing so I felt it was best to get some medicine and go straight to bed for the night. 

Tuesday: My night sleep was almost non existent because of the horrible migraine that I had and by morning I was also suffering a horrible fever. I took a malaria test which came up negative and then when we took my temperature it came up at 101.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire day was then spent dying in bed while my companion would fetch food and water for me. It was brutal and hard to not be in the field working. The day seemed to crawl by so slowly. Finally it came to an end and I again set out to sleep. 

Wednesday:   By morning my fever had broken and I had actually slept through the night. The only problem remaining was the grueling migraine that kept me from moving my head at all. Again it was decided that I shouldn't be out doing things and I needed to be resting in bed. I was able to go out to get food with my companion but to be on my feet for more than 30 minutes at a time was near impossible. Again the day just crawled by and I felt like a worthless missionary just lying in bed. I thought I was never going to get better and that the day would never end. 

Thursday:  After sleeping from 7:00 the night before to 8:00 in the morning I was feeling much better. My headache had almost diminished and I was able to go out around the apartment to teach a little bit. We didn't bike at all, we just walked and stayed close. It was a day of contacting only and we were able to contact 11 people. Bishop has challenged us to contact 20 a day and it is possible but we wouldn't be able to teach a single lesson all day. We were able to meet a few cool investigators that day that definitely deserved a return visit. Our favorite was Albert and he is 16 years old. He seemed to really embrace what we taught him and wanted to know more. That evening we had to turn in a little early for a district check-in since my companion is the district leader. Still, in my crippled state and with us having to turn in early, we got some good work in for the day and saw a lot of success.

Friday:  With that high on Thursday came a low on Friday. Not a lot happening and not many people wanting to talk with us. We exhausted our list of people to call and then when we went to contact no one wanted to talk to us or they were too busy for us to sit down and teach them right then. It's hard to see the rejection side of being a missionary when the whole time I've been here I have seen nothing but success. Hard as it was, when you are working the days are shorter and time flies by so I have nothing to complain about.

Saturday: It was temple day for the ward. We really wanted to get one of our recent converts, Josephine, to the temple for the first time so that she could experience it. When we went to pick her up to take her to the church she wasn't ready because she didn't know what time they were leaving. She was able to get ready extremely quickly but she had to bring her kids because she had no one to watch them for her. We brought them and prayed that we could find someone to watch them. When we started calling, we found that the primary president wasn't going to the temple with the ward. She was just at home for the day and would be willing to watch the children for us. It was definitely a miracle and something that back home I would have completely overlooked. Never overlook anything that happens to you in your life or you will miss so many miracles. We made an interesting discovery on Saturday. There was a family that we had been teaching and when we first taught them the mother told all of the kids to pay attention to us but then left. Upon one of our return visits the boy in the family brought forth a gospel principles book that was missing both covers but was from when Ezra Taft Benson was president of the church. We asked where he had gotten it but he said it was just somewhere in the house. When we returned on Saturday we asked if we could see the mom and when we talked to her we found that she had been less active for over 20 years. She didn't seem interested in what we had to teach anymore but the kids sure wanted to know more about our message. 

Sunday: It was busy but no more than a Sunday back home would have been. We got to the church around 8:30 but we didn't leave until after 2:00. That happens to us every single week and we can never figure out why we just sit at the church for so long. Again we didn't start up the ward choir that we are wanting to because again bishop forgot to announce it so no one knew to come to practice after church. We did some good contacting that afternoon and then decided we should get our weekly planning done that evening. We decided to weekly plan at a place we have started to call The Castle. It is basically half construction and half ancient ruin and all sketchy. We climbed to the top floor which also happens to be the fourth floor and took some cool pictures of the city, but as soon as it got somewhat dark we got freaked out and decided to plan back at the apartment. After planning we just crashed and went to bed early because we were so tired. 

Monday:  It was time for us to head back to the mall to pick up glasses for Elder McConkie. While there we enjoyed an early lunch of Chicken Inn and got a candy bar at Shoprite. I had a Mars bar which I remember hearing of back home but I've never actually tried one before. It was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my entire life only because I ate it here in Africa. After that we played soccer or futbol with a bunch of the other elders and a ton of little kids off the street who basically wrecked our trash even though they are half our size. It is demoralizing to get creamed by kids under the age of 10.  Now we are here at the Internet Cafe emailing home so you're caught up on my life here in Africa. 

"The Castle"

Elder Goodrich and McConkie

view from "the castle"

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week Whatever it is...

Monday evening everyone in the apartment totally spaced on getting a FHE with a member or recent convert so we had apartment family home evening. Basically that means we give a lesson and then we play games and have treats of fresh pineapple juice which can be purchased about 30 feet from our front door for all of $0.30 a bottle. We played memory and yes I won every single game of memory we played. After that it was off to bed for what little sleep we had left.

 We were really quite busy on Tuesday. We taught 7 lessons and 6 of them were to new people. Contacting here basically consists of you walking in to somebody's home, sitting down, and asking for water all without ever knocking on the door. Grandpa talked about how hard it was for missionaries in England to get inside but here if you wanted you could sit down with 15 new people a day. One man that we taught is named Edmond. This was our first visit to him and he offered us fufu once we were done. He was really impressed that I didn't chew the fufu like Elder McConkie does because I've only been here for a little while. Edmond is really good and we have now taught him a few times. He asks a lot of questions which is unusual for people here. We also met a few other good investigators that day including Stella and Davis. Davis is 9 but he is the most spiritual person that my companion and I have ever met in our lives. He came up to us and asked for a Book of Mormon without us doing anything. After that lesson we went and got pizza at a great pizza place by us. I don't even like pizza but here it is the most beautiful food ever. 
Real Fufu (hands and all!)
Wednesday is the day we have district council meeting and my companion is the district leader. That was in the morning and then we went out proselyting that afternoon. We taught a few cool people but we didn't have much time. Coordination was early that evening and it went for a very long time. It's supposed to last for 30 minutes but we were there for almost 3 hours because the ward missionaries are not serious at all. We missed all of our evening appointments and had to reschedule them for Thursday evening. 

Thursday right as we got ready to leave the apartment after all of our studying, the plumber showed up. He was there to work on a few things that were wrong with the filter and with the toilet. He was there for over 3 hours and we didn't get to go out teaching until 2:30. It's weird how I used to think that the missionary schedule could be followed eactly but I'm slowly learning that there is no possible way for that to happen any day. We taught an investigator of ours who is a young man and he had a gospel doctrine manual that is 20 years old. We think that someone in that family is a less active member from a long long time ago. After that we had some good luck with people keeping their appointments and we were able to see 8 people. The last one we saw is a member named Ken. He bought us food that reminded me of top ramen and he bought us drinks. Elder McConkie told him to get me a malt drink which come to find out is non-alcoholic beer made by Guinness. It was so nasty. Don't ever drink even fake beer. 

Friday started a tough stretch of days for us where we didn't see many people and we were unable to contact effectively. We were also approached by some people who had received a good education and had also received a little too much to drink. That resulted in a bashing of the church and the offering of beer to us afterwards as a show of friendship. When we refused, they became angry and we quickly left the situation. Not a very good day so I'll just move on. 

Saturday started out with cleaning the nastiest gutters you could ever imagine. I'm pretty sure I lost about 10 years of my life in the half hour we were there. The whole ward was involved and we had a good time interacting with all of them. Afterward we taught a bunch of our new investigators that we have and they all seem to be progressing fairly well. The only problem we have is that half the people we are teaching are leaving for school in Kumasi this week. We keep trying to get lessons lined up with our french speaking investigators but they all fall through and they fell through again. It's hard to get people to keep their appointments when no one here is worried about time. I'm not one to usually worry about time but here it is driving me crazy to not have a plan.

Ward Service project

 The Sabbath day is the busiest day for a missionary. We were supposed to pick up 3 different people for church and so we had to go on exchanges to do so. Only one ended up coming and he is a less active member. Elder Kabwika and I got to his house around 8:30 to find him in just his boxers still and it wasn't until 9:30 that he was ready to leave. We got to church at 9:45 and Kabwika missed giving the talk he was assigned for that day. Even though we were so late it was good to bring the less active man back because he had such a wonderful experience that he wants us to pick him up to come again next week. We were supposed to start a choir after church but the bishop didn't announce it. We, the missionaries, are going to start and run a ward choir to get the recent converts and investigators more involved. We had it all ready to go but no one knew about it so we had to set it for next week. We fasted for 24 hours because the bishop asked and it was brutal. By the time we were ready to eat food we didn't even want anything. After that every appointment we had fell through and we had to send numbers in. Once numbers were done it was too late to contact so we ended up staying at the apartment all afternoon and all night. we got a good jump on planning, took warm bucket showers, and caught up on sleep. 

Monday is still the greatest day known to man even though most people would disagree. We went to the mall early today to get Elder McConkie new glasses only to find that they weren't open yet. We ended up going all the way back to our area to play basketball and soccer and then again making the trip to the mall. We had some awesome yet expensive Chinese food for lunch at the mall. There are so many white people at the mall that it was unnerving. White people are extremely scary to me now. We got back to our area to email to find that our internet cafe is down right now and that we needed to find a new one. And that brings you all up to date on what I am doing right here in Ghana.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week one: Akwetaman Area

Well the first week has been very interesting. I'll start with my first day and go from there. On Tuesday we got up early to leave the Mtc. We left around 7:30 and drove to the mission offices with the office elders. Once at the mission offices we had an orientation thing that was really nice and helpful. The office couple told us about the day to day workings of the mission what we should and shouldn't do. After that we were able to have a devotional of sorts with the mission president and his wife. President Hill is not at all what I expected him to be. He is a really loud character and actually kind of fun to be around. After we talked with him and Sister Hill we played a Book of Mormon pictionary game with the office elders, Elders Van de Graf, McCoullough, and Snyder. The AP's joined us too, Elders Jones and Santho. We ended up hanging out with them for a few hours that night while president did interviews. They told us what really goes on in the mission and basically contridicted everything that any of the people at the mtc said. After that they disappeared for about an hour and showed up again with pizza and donuts. We stayed the night at presidents house on these mats on the floor.

Wednesday we left presidents at about 12:00 to go to transfers. We beat everyone there by about half an hour so we had a mini devotional while we waited for our trainers to show up. Not even the trainers knew which companions they were going to get so we all just sat there when they showed up and guessed who was going with who. I felt for sure that I was going to end up with one specific elder that was there. His name is Elder McConkie and I was right, he is my trainer. He took me back to the apartment which also houses Elders Kabwika from the DR Congo and Bwambale from Uganda. Before even unpacking we went out and worked that night. We taught 2 lessons and made multiple contacts in 3 or 4 hours. You can ask anyone here if you can just sit down and talk and everyone will say yes. That night I unpacked and got ready for the next day. 

Thursday was a blur and I honestly can't remember much of what we did. We started with a book of mormon devotional which wasn't supposed to be very long but ended up lasting multiple hours. After that we did a lot of contacting and then taught Kofi Asare and Josephine. Kofi is an investigator committed to baptism in two weeks. Josephine is a recent convert. After that we contacted some more and then we got some dinner of bread and egg which is delicious. We got back to the apartment late and went straight to bed.

Friday was a fun day. We were preparing for a baptism for saturday so we were going to fill the font that morning. When we got there the font was half full of water from the baptism two weeks before. Elder McConkie and I had to drain the font, clean it, and then let it dry and air out so that the horrible smell went away. We decided to leave it empty and fill it on saturday morning. After that we did a little contacting on our way to visit a recent convert, Mamion. She speaks french so we were going to take her to see a couple french investigators that we have but none of them were available at the time so we just taught her a small lesson. After that we did some more contacting and met a man named Micheal who seemed really interested in what we had to say. We taught him right then for about an hour and a half and committed him to reading the Book of Mormon. After that it was dark and we had no one else lined up so we are required to be back at our apartments. 

Saturday we again had to go check on the font and found that some of the Accra Mission elders were having a baptism that morning and that they would just leave the water. At that point we had to go on exchanges so that McConkie, who is district leader, could do a baptisimal interview and I could still teach one of our investigators. I took Kabwika with me because he speaks french and so does the investigator. We ended up teaching her and her neighbor for almost 2 hours. It was a great lesson and Kabwika and I both felt good about it. We then met the other elders and had lunch. After that we went to the church for the Book of Mormon class we teach and for the baptism. On the way there my bike tire exploded and we had to walk half of the way to the church which is by no means close. We made it just in time for the baptism which was great. Two guys were baptized and the spirit was so strong in that meeting. We went home that night and ended up going straight to bed because it was such a long day. 

Sunday is a very busy day. I found out I was giving a talk in sacrament meeting when bishop announced it over the pulpit and I totally butchered it. After church McConkie and Kabwika followed home a contact to see where she lived while Bwambale and I met with one of the newly baptized members and also had a meeting with the bishop. Church is at 9:00 and we didn't leave the building until 2:30. We then tried to contact some referrals we had and only got in contact with one. We went to teach him and found out that he doesn't live in our area and that he was also very drunk. After that we just went home and hung out for a couple hours and ate mango and pineapple. We went to bed early because of how tired we were. 

Monday is the greatest day known to man. We got an awesome breakfast sandwich on our way to play basketball at a church by the stake center. We played with 16 different elders today, most of them were american and Elders Barr and Jolley from my MTC group were there! We had a blast and then got to go to the mall. We at a chicken restaurant that had some awesome sandwiches. Then we got to come to the internet cafe and email. Time is absolutely flying by right now and all the days are bluring together. I can't imagine what it must be like for these guys with only 5 weeks left. Well that is my week. Hope you all enjoy reading about it even though it isn't too exciting so far. 
Love Elder Goodrich

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fast Sunday

Today we were fortunate enough to email with Kaden for a few hours this morning.  We were really happy because he thought he wouldn't get to email for another week because he leaves the MTC tuesday morning!  
I just wanted to recap some of the information he shared with us today.  He said that the MTC has typically seen 4-5 North American missionaries in an MTC group.  His group arrived with 19 American elders.  The title of the email from the MTC president was "The Americans have landed!"  Kaden said that one of the upcoming MTC groups is expecting 40 North American missionaries!!  There are about 60 missionaries in the MTC at a time.  They are mainly from Africa and America and a few of them are serving French speaking missions.  
Kaden has made some awesome friends with some of the American Elders in his district.  The majority of the Elders in his district are also called to the Accra West mission, so he will possibly serve with them again.  They have been a great support to one another during their time at the MTC.
He told us about the food and has gotten the opportunity to eat Fu Fu which is a native dish.  He described it as eating uncooked bread dough with very little taste.  Fortunately they eat it in a soup, probably like a dumpling.  He said the food is good but sits really heavy on your stomach.
He said the weather isn't too hot but very wet.  It is built into their schedule to shower twice a day.  Thank heaven the MTC has been doing their laundry.  Too bad he is on his own starting next week.  
We have been blessed to receive Kaden's journal entry every evening.  He has a wifi camera that allows him to email pictures from the camera to us when he has access to wifi.  This has been a tender mercy while he has been in the MTC but will end when he leaves on Tuesday.  I wanted to share part of his journal entry with you from today August 2, 2015.

A few of us got permission to email around 1:30 and we got over three hours to chat online with our families.  This was such a needed and special time.  Hearing of what was going on with my family was so great.  I miss them everyday here but it makes me think of a quote that is framed in my parent's room.  the quote says, "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it."  This quote along with 1Nephi3:5 have strengthened me and given me the drive to finish what I started.  Enduring to the end has taken on a new meaning to me as well.  There are so many comforts that I lack here and its hard to deal with stuff like that but I will be blessed for my long suffering and obedience while here in Africa.  I'm scared to take the next step into the field and away from the comfort I have found here at the MTC, but I cannot progress and grow without being under strain.  
Elder Goodrich & Wallin (from enterprise, utah) 


Even catching lizards in Ghana!

Elder Jolley and their Fu Fu snowman made from lunch