Monday, February 19, 2018

01-01-18 "2018 Baby!"

Well, Christmas wasn't too eventful, nothing crazy after our family phone call, we were fed rice by a member, and then went home to sleep! New Year's is so crazy tough, they do huge parties and things, seems more crazy than I remember the US being. Sounds like you had a great night, we went to our ward party, which was approved by the stake I guess, and there was food and some skits, but we were told not to be out past 9pm, so we missed the majority of the party. And nobody is out today, like seriously, 98% of shops are closed today! It is so weird, but everybody was out partying last night, so I guess that is expected.  :)

Well, time to recount the last 3 weeks of my life because I have been busy doing college applications and Skyping home and other wonderful things!  :)

I am staying in Kwamo for another 6 weeks which is a miracle because I have been here for 6 months already, so this will make 7.5 months in one area, but if there is any area too stay this long, it would be Kwamo.  I love it. After this transfer I have 6 weeks, so maybe I would get to stay a little longer and finish out here. How crazy to think about that!

A few weeks back we were rejected by one of our investigators who seemed so promising. That was rough, but we are still on good terms I guess. It is really odd for people to just send you away after so long of visiting them, she blames it on her mother, but I am not terribly sure about that. Her mom is a leader in another church, but there were some other red flags that were not from her mother. Well, it was sad, but that is missionary work. Some days are good, and others not so good! But we learn from them all the same.  :)

For Christmas, we were invited to the Dearing's (a senior couple missionary) for lunch. Wow.  It was wonderful!   We had lasagna and garlic bread with cookies that were almost  like American cookies.  Oh how I have missed American food, that was so delicious! :) We went with the assistants and the office elders there to eat, so we were blessed to be with good company!

I also went on exchanges with elder Dudley, the new assistant.  He is a great missionary, I really love him, he is awesome.  He is also in my MTC group and we will go home together, so that is equally as cool. He is really loving and listens really well to his investigators which I think I can do a little better at.  All in all, it was  wonderful exchange to get to know him and learn from him.

We got to fix our beds this week with real power tools, that was different. Elder Dearing showed up because I haven't been getting great sleep since I came to Kwamo, so they decided to get me a new mattress which was needed.  Well, they brought it and sacked the cheapy mattress I was on, but then, he said we ought to strengthen the bed frames, and whipped out some power tools from the US.  Interesting that power tools made me a littlr homesick. It was so fun to get to use a screw gun and a drillbit, and had wood glue too? What a great day!  :)

I also got to ride a bike for my first time in Ghana. We went up to Mampong to visit Elder Oshilaja (my 'son') and Elder Cunningham to do a baptismal interview. We had to grab some things from their apartment, and I got to ride their bike to go to their apartment. It was awesome and I felt like a true missionary as I rode, it was awesome!  :)

We were asked to prepare talks this Sunday as some did not show up to talk. Well, I spaced for a few minutes thinking about what to share and this is the scripture that came to my head:

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I was really enlightened by this scripture. This is the time of year where we all make resolutions to be better than we were and to do more than we did. There is no better way to start of the year, than by lighting up another's life through our actions. We can bless so many by doing simple things to let our light shine. Smiling, doing a small act, or even just reaching out to someone who looks sad can change their life, and ours as well.

Love you, Elder Wawro

12-18-17 No Big Email Today

Mom:  No big email came through today - I believe there were some technical issues on Gabe's end.  However, we did get to chat about his phone call home for Christmas.  Missionaries have time to email every Monday, and get to call or Skype home on Christmas and Mother's Day each year, so those two holidays become even more special than ever before.

Gabe has been given some time to work on his college applications and essays, as he's coming home in a few months and deadlines will pass before he gets here, so we've been proofing the essays he sends and cleaning them up to submit, since the keyboards and technology he has access to are sometimes lacking in Ghana.  :)  The final deadline is February 1st but we're going to have them in before the end of the year.

Gabe will be calling us at 6pm his time on Christmas, so we'll get to talk with him that morning and there won't be a weekly email that day.  WONDERFUL!!!

12-11-17 "Harmattan aba biem - Harmattan has come again!"

Wow, this week was really, really crazy.  Wonderful, and crazy!

To start the week, we had our Christmas Zone Conference with the Kwamo, UST, Dichemso, and Konongo zones. It was a wonderful conference, my favorite part was when they invited all of us to write on a slip of paper what we would give to the Savior this year. As I thought about what I could give, I knew that anything that was temporal, I couldn't give. It really caused me to think about what I would give to the Savior, and really all that I can give to Him is my heart and my determination to follow Him. Really a tender moment to stop and think about what I would give to the Savior this time of year. Most Christmas', I never really focused on the true meaning of Christmas, but this year has really touched my heart as I continually come to know the Savior.

We ran up to Efidaue to do an interview in the bush. I loved it - it totally reminded me of Mpraeso walking on dirt paths in the jungle almost. I love it!  I interviewed a young boy named Wisdom, and it was so wonderful to hear about his testimony and all that he believes in.  Little children have a sweet spot in my heart and I was grateful to get to know him on a personal and spiritual level.  :)

Wednesday, we had our interview with the mission President for our investigator Omar. He was formerly a Muslim, but chose to be a Christian.  He is a really cool story, I mentioned a little bit last 2 weeks, but this week, he passed his interview and was baptized on Sunday.  As we completed the baptism, he had a huge grin in his face, and truly the Spirit was present as we performed that sacred saving ordinance for Omar.  :)

HARMATTAN has officially begun. We had some huge rain in Thursday, and then Friday, the dust from the Sahara came.  It almost looks like fog, can't see more than 300-400 yards in the distance.  The bonuses are that it is a lot cooler, a little dryer, but it does make your clothes a bit more dirty, and makes you sneeze a ton! :)  hahahahaaa! Oh, how I love my Ghana!  :) 

I bought my first Christmas tie, cost me the equivalent of 50 cents, and is in good shape!  It has the 3 wise men on it, so it has a good message for Christmas.  :)  I love it! :)

My thought this week comes from the story of Alma the Younger.  He has a wonderful conversion story I think. He went from being super wicked to being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I will attach some of the highlights from the chapter in case you have never heard his story before, and then talk about what is special to me in this story.

8 Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he ledmany of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.

9 And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them.

11 And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood;

13 Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God?

14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heardthe prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.

16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.

19 And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb, that he could not open his mouth; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands;

23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort:

24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.

29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was rackedwith eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.

32 And now it came to pass that Alma began from this time forward to teach the people, and those who were with Alma at the time the angel appeared unto them, traveling round about through all the land, publishing to all the people the things which they had heard and seen,

35 And they traveled throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church, confessing all their sins, and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them.

36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.

37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

Isn't the Atonement of Jesus Christ wonderful?  Alma, who was once so wicked and idolatrous, could become a mighty instrument in the hands of the Lord. This has great meaning to me because although I was not so much a wicked and idolatrous man, I didn't always make great decisions, but through our Savior, I have been made clean, and am free from those heavy burdens of sin, and I am able to be used as an instrument in the Lord's hands to preach His gospel, with His power, and His authority.  No matter how bad we have become or what we have done in the past, as we follow the counsel of Jesus Christ, to have faith and repent, and make covenants with Him, than we too can become instruments in the hands of the Lord. The Atonement of Jesus Christ really can strengthen us and make us better than we could become on our own, as I have seen it in my life and have felt its cleansing power. This I know to be true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you all, have a great week.

Elder Wawro

12-04-17 "Bibiaa bocco - eveything is good"

Well, nothing too crazy this week, relatively normal for us.

We started the week on exchanges in Mampong with Elder Cunningham and Elder Okananwa. I went with Elder Okananwa, and it was really great!  Mampong is up in the mountains and it reminds me a little bit of Mpraeso. Windy, a little cooler, the sun not being as hot, it was wonderful. We found a few people as we proselyted, one being a one-man-church pastor. He like arguing, so we bore our testimony and hit the road!  :)

Then, on Wednesday, I went on another exchange with Elder Zoh from Cote Divoire. We got to talk, and he has been on his mission for about 7 months or so, and his English is getting pretty good! It was wonderful to talk with him and learn from him as well.  :)

We planned a family history activity this Friday as well which was awesome. We helped a few members find their family names as they prepare to go to the temple next week on Wednesday. I am so jealous of them!!! It is so wonderful to see members get so excited about finding their ancestors and wanting to help them receive the ordinances of the gospel.  Love it!

They repainted our chapel this week also, and now it looks so fresh and so beautiful. Smells a little like home too, remind me of doing trim jobs and having the painters there. :)

Last, we are planning to have the baptism of Bro. Omar this week Saturday. He is so sweet, and has had a lot of challenges in his life, and he has latched onto the Restored Gospel and it has done so much for him :)  He is so excited to be baptized and become a member, it is wonderful.

Transfers are in 2 weeks, the week before Christmas, which will definitely be sad for me to leave after being here for 6 months and to leave 4 days before Christmas. Guess that is what I signed up for, although it will be really rough.  :/

My though this week comes from the Book of Mormon about becoming stronger in Christ through His grace:

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God (Moroni 10:32).

I love this scripture so much, it is one of my favorites, and has had a special meaning to my life. We are not always perfect, and we sin every day. Sometimes, those sins pile up on our shoulders and we feel burdened because of what we have done. But as we come unto Christ and try our best to be perfect in Him, meaning that we must be giving our all to be obedient, then His grace is sufficient for us so that we can be made clean and pure before our Heavenly Father. What a wonderful gift that we can partake of, that because of the love of our Savior, we can be strengthened so that we might overcome all those sins that so easily beset us.

Love, Elder Wawro

11-27-17 "Medawaase Paa - I thank you very much"

Happy thanksgiving to all! :) Thank you for reading this and for putting up with my interesting grammar and english for all these emails! :)

This week had some good and had some not so good. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Feast! We bought, killed and cleande a turkey ourseleves (thank oyu Elder Erickson for te knowlede about cleaning animals). We ran it over to our members bakery on Wednesday morning and cooke it for about 5 hours. Bought it home, cut it up, stred the meat for the next day. Then Thursday, we made mashed potatoes and fried ripe plantain (that's te Ghana twist of our Thanksgiving) and wow, it was delicious. Cant believe i missed the smeel of turkey so much util we brouht it home from the bakery. Wow. Thanksgiving is wonderful :)

We got to watch  the Face2Face with ELder Oaks and Elder Ballard on SUnday, and wow, it was so wonderful. The Spirit is so strong in those meetings, and i love hearing the experiences of the Apostles, because seriously they are so wise. :)

We played soccer against the Ejisu branch on Saturday, and they even let me play for the beginning! It was a ton of fun, but wow, i am out of shape running wise, and thew sun here is so hot, i thoihgt i was going to cook!!! XD ahhahaa It wasa ton of fun, and we ened eup winning 6-3 to take back the vicotry from them from last year. IT was a ton of fun! :)

I got to do a baptismal interview this week too in Asamang, about 45 minutes away from us. Always love doing those interviews, love getting to know how people came to know what we share is true and how thy are practicing it in their lives, and the blessings that they see!  :)

Well, we had 2 baptisms this week also, they were both part-member families, TWI speaking also. We had a little bit of stress trying to meet with them and coordinate members to help us translate, but it all worked out!  Both were baptized, and we have another baptism service coming up on the 9th, so we are pumped for that! :)

Anyways, my thought this week comes from John 21:15-17 which reads :

15 ¶ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

I take away 2 lessons that work together from this passage. The first, are we so preoccupied with our own lives that we forget to do our part in the Lord's work? Are we too busy to reach out and to lift another? We can all do our part to reach out and lift another, to share with them something as simple as a smile or a small act of service. As a missionary, we look for any and every opportunity to serve or help wherever we can, but I know that I can definitely be more spirtually sensitive to those opportunities as they come.

The next lesson is directed toward home teaching. Home teaching is a struggle here, but this passage really hit me this week of how important home teaching is. The Lord's authorized servants have prayed for and selected families for each of us to visit, to lift and to bless. The Lord pleaded with Peter to "Feed my sheep" and He too asks us to do the same. He has trusted us with His work, even to help our fellow brothers and sisters. All of us go through tough times of distress, failure, disappointment, worry, and need someone to talk to about it and to help us. Those would be our home teachers or visiting teachers. There are many miracles to be had as we feed His sheep. For those who are not yet home teachers or visiting teachers, or are not members of the church, any act of service to another is an act of service to the Lord.  Please, if you have not watched this video about Christlike service and looking for opportunities to lift and bless, please go and watch this video produced by the Church.

Video: A Good Samaritan

Elder Wawro

11-20-17 "Osofodee tumi - the Priesthood"

Well, not a lot to write about this week, a pretty normal week for us.

Our guy Emmanuel who was baptized last week ended up staying another week, so that has been awesome for us, he is a great missionary in his house and helps us a lot! He will be going soon, so that will be sad, we're just waiting for his mom to call him to go to Accra and then he will go.  :/

I was able to meet some of the new missionaries in our zone, Elder Mbambu from DR-Congo, Elder Carlson from California, and Elder Andreasen from Texas (like an hour away from Denton or so - Mesquite area?- HECK YES). We visited them after they had someone break into their house, they had a rough week, but they were all in good spirits! Great missionaries.

Found someone this week who had a Book of Mormon signed by Elder Brown and Elder Nathan, that was sweet! What are the odds!

We have been getting to know Elder Zoh this past week and he is so cool! A lot less stressful than the other missionaries who have come and gone from our apartment, he has a great desire to work and we are seriously blessed to have him with us.  HE is a French man from the Ivory Coast, so he is adjusting to the English, and he is doing really well!!

There as some crazy rain this week also, we didn’t get beat by it too bad, so we are grateful! Reminds me of Texas or sure!

We are hoping to have 4 baptisms this coming week. One is Sammy, and his parents aren’t very on board with him following his sister to be baptized, so we have some work to do there. Then we have Maakwia who has come to church tons, and Nana Ama and Junior who are a member's children. We should have another, but his landlord also is not happy with him attending church with us. Life is good and the work is going great!  :)

We had a powerful experience this week. We were going to an appointment and on the way, a man stopped us. We talked a bit and he said he had a friend that lived in Euless, Texas and invited us over on Sunday. We came to see him, and he warmly welcomed us in. We had a great lesson to start, he was really understanding what we had to share. Then, he got a call from his brother who is a pastor here, and then his brother popped into the lesson. Well, that was where it got interesting. He was not a fan of Joseph Smith and believed that he saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but not in the words that Jesus Christ said about none of the churches being correct. We began to explain about the apostasy and he wasn’t letting us get our message across. I said a quick prayer so that I could be in tune with the Spirit, and began. As I explained the priesthood and the loss thereof because of the death of the Apostles, I felt the Spirit so strongly as I bore my testimony of its loss and Restoration many hundreds of years later.  This is where we read to help explain (Acts 8:14-20):

14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Simply, the Apostles had authority given them directly from the Savior to do His work, His way. That authority was lost after the death of the Apostles and has been restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith in our time. As I bore my testimony of the priesthood being restored, I was filled with the Spirit and truly felt the strength of the Lord as we left his house. His brother never accepted our message, but we left on a good note and have another appointment to see him this week. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord's kingdom on the earth today because God has chosen His prophet and given him the priesthood authority to act in His name.

Elder Wawro

11-13-17 "Re: cata kye me rof - the cold has catch me serious"

Alrighty.  This week has its ups and downs. I had CATA again this week, it seems like I get it every few months, but man, it is annoying! It is like a cold back home, but a little different, body chills, a massive headache, tons of blowing the nose and sneezing. Yikes.

Ma Blessings place caught fire this week also. She has had some serious miracles in her life. Last month, 3 of the rooms in her compound caught fire but not hers. Then this week, the other 3 caught fire, but not hers again! Her room is safe and sound, not a single thing burned at all. Nobody was hurt, but really a miracle that her room wasn't burned.

I WATCHED A DRAGONFLY EAT A HOUSEFLY!  I thought dragon flies were peaceful insects always hovering by the water, but dang, that dragonfly was hungry! I have the video, maybe someday I will get to send it.

We had a ton of investigators at Sacrament this week. among them was our miracle man from Liberia, Emmanuel. He was baptized this week which was awesome, and he wants to stay another week to receive the priesthood before he goes to Accra. Truly a miraculous experience! :) We also had our Muslim guy Omar come this week. He has been so nervous to come to church with us even though he really likes the teachings. His family is half Muslim half Christian, and he has chosen to be a Christian. What a miracle there too.  :)

Also, paved roads are coming to Kwamo! :)  Blessings seriously, walking on dirt a lot is fun, but paved roads are so sweet to walk on!  :D  We are upgrading for sure.  :)

I studied in the book of Mormon in Jacob this week about the death of Nephi. So sad to read because he is one of my all-time favorites in the Book of Mormon. What I read taught me about the example that we set as leaders and as people in general. This is chapter 1 verse 10-11:

10 The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the sword of Laban in their defense, and having labored in all his days for their welfare—

11 Wherefore, the people were desirous to retain in remembrance his name. And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever name they would.

These people of Nephi loved him so much that they named their ruler after Nephi. He loved his people and served them all the days of his life, and this service had such an impact on them that even after his death, the people still wanted to remember him. We are all examples, and our example can bless those around us. Service and good works to others also show our love for others, and can truly change someone's life as we do these things for them. I am amazed at the love the people had for Nephi and it came because of his love and service on their behalf. Nephi is a great example to us and how we should love ans serve others, and i hope to be like him someday.

Elder Wawro

Picture with Elder Erickson