Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Round of MTC Pictures

Yeah, so Africa is HOT. And it is at least 3 times as humid as Texas, so if I walk outside I sweat instantly, it is so weird!

Food and stuff is interesting, mostly rice and chicken which is getting a little old.  But I learn cool stuff here and there, but mostly just where scriptures are!  I ALSO NEED THESE MARKERS CALLED 'TEXTOS'. Elder Waihi has them and they are great for marking scriptures. I don't know the official name for them, but they are really fine-tipped markers, that are basically highlighters, but they draw very thin lines that don't bleed through paper so they are awesome! I bought a green hymn book today and a Book of Mormon in Twi (the last one was in Fante) and then rushed home from the temple so I could email as soon as possible!!!  Elder Waihi and I just got Books of Mormon in Twi so were gonna study together!!

We have a tie exchange on Monday next week before we leave, so i will inherently give more away than I take (especially after all the awesome ties given at the "Pies and Ties" going away party), but so far, the Barrientos ties is a hot ticket.  It is gorgeous. So, we'll see if I trade it and what I trade it for! :)  Actually, I don't think I will because I love wearing it.  I have 400,000,000 more to trade anyway.  Ha ha  :)

I leave the MTC next week on Tuesday, so I don't know if I'll get to email next week. Yikes. But I hope I have a good trainer - it seems like missionary work is super awesome here.  It's crazy though, they have thousands of churches all run by "prophets" which I think is hilarious. So that'll take some getting used to.

Turns out, using your left hand for stuff in Ghana is considered rude unless you're eating with your left hand. How Weird???!?!??!  Like, reaching, shaking, handing money, touching stuff, all bad with the left hand.  Good thing I am right-handed!  :)

Still learning the basics of speaking Twi like 'where are you from', 'how are you', 'what's up', 'goodnight', 'thank you', and a little more! 

So this past week has been dragging on in the MTC. We sit in our classrooms most of the day except for meals which makes it worse.  :) Our breakfast usually consists of 1 of 4 types of Oatmeal, homemade bread, oranges or bananas, and sometimes a drink like hot chocolate or fake milk 9which actually isn't half bad!)  Our teachers for our class are Brother Afful (ah fool) and Siter Nkansah (nn kahn sah). Brother Afful is a much better teacher, and he is crazy about moving to the States for college because he doesn't like it much here. He is really funny whether he tries to be or not, and he is a really great teacher overall.  Sister Nkansah is decent, but she has a temper which gets annoying sometimes. Elder Waihi and I try to lighten up the class with funny faces, jokes, doodles on the board, or just laughing at random things... :) She doesn't like that very much, and especially doesn't like when we laugh too much, but oh well, only 1 week to go!!!

Elder Waihi and I rock at teaching.  We know the material pretty well, but our biggest problem is not knowing where scripture references are or laughing during a lesson at something the investigator says... :)  But Elder Waihi and I are pretty good friends, he is super awesome, and I learn a lot from him for sure!!!

I tried this new drink called milo this week.  It is basically chocolate milk, but it doesn't have to be cold.  It's very chocolatey and quite delicious! They don't have many sweets at the MTC, so I cherish all the sweets we get like milo, chocolate muffins, or the locally made nutella spread which I LOVE. When we go to sleep at night, we have all the American guys in our room except Elder Dudley who is next door with Elder Ridell (rye dell), but he is from Sweden. Sometimes at night, we will all be singing a hymn while getting ready for bed, and sometimes we break out into the remix version with drumming, banging on the walls, and of course beatboxing with sweet harmonies! A little taste of home and memories of Brittan and I jammin' in the car or our jam sessions with my DHS homies in the dressing room.  So.  Good.  :)

All the American elders plus Elder Waihi and Ridell are basically famous around the MTC because we are the minority, which is pretty sweet because everybody knows our names.  :) 

I had 'Fufu' last Friday and what an adventure that was...yikes. It is like a doughy type stuff but it is SOOOOO STICKY.  You first start off by washing your hands in a bowl used by everyone else because you have to eat with your hands.  Then after washing, you have to grab your fufu with your hands and rip off little pieces. I emphasize little because you aren't supposed to chew it, just dip it in the soup of the day and down the hole.  It feels so weird and gross, almost like swallowing a hot ice cube that gets stuck sometimes which is horrifying!  :)  HAhahahahaaaaa!  It comes in balls about the size of a softball, and I ate half so I would say I did good for a first try for sure.  I'mma just have to warm up to it!  The texture is basically play-doh, and it has no flavor too.  What a strange food. Nothing like America.... but guess this is what I signed up for.   :)

I also am learning how to weave beads into stuff. I am learning at the moment, so I am not super good, but the end result is way cool!  I am planning on weaving a tie at some point on my mission and sending some home for you guys to wear for church maybe.  :)

I caught a lizard today in class and we named him Zoram. I thought nothing of it because it was only like 3 inches long, but of course, Elder Waihi and I came up with a great idea of scaring people with him!  :)  First, we scared our class, but the best part was scaring Elder Adeloye!  He is already a hilarious guy from Nigeria, but he screamed like a girl, jumped probably 5 feet in the air and ran back into his room and we were all dying laughing!  Then Sister Arthur put Zoram outside where she preceeded to knock him off the edge to his 15 foot death.  Sad day.

The hardest thing for me right now is music.  I always find myself whistling music from Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and How to Train your Dragon.  I don't sing much music, but I struggle with the film scores for sure!!!  Trying to get better about that.....yikes.

Elder Waihi got picked to give a talk on Sunday which was awesome.  He is gonna be an outstanding missionary.  He gave a talk about Faith which the mission president's wife mentioned later that night in our devotional.  The rest of Sunday was relaxing, we had time to do personal study, (AKA nap time for everybody... whoops....).  But anyway, we watched 'The Testaments' movie which had Elder Waihi and I crying by the end which was good bonding time for us both.  Super good message about Christ and is about the Nephites.  LOVED IT.  It was hard to watch with Africans though because they were loud and laughed too much, but it wasn't too bad.

Basic manners of the Americas are lost here.  It is wild. So we all form a line at dinner, but 90% cut right to the front and just step right in front of you which baffles me, but I'm getting used to it.  Also, cursing is not that uncommon here which is awkward at times.  Occasionally an Elder will walk in and when they walk out, they swear about something or give the bird, which makes all the Americans angry and such, but everyone else thinks it's natural which is worse!  Most times it is hilarious, but that will take some getting used to as well... :)

It rained on the 21st and it reminded me of good ole' Texas rain storms! There was tons of rain, but all the white guys had to get money out of the ATM for the Temple today, so we walked in the rain. We all got suited up and walked with our umbrellas, raincoats, crocs and all to the ATM and even grabbed food at the gas station next door.

Everything is much cheaper here.  I bought a can of milo, a snickers bar, and 2 pieces of Ghanaian chocolate and it only cost me 4 US dollars which was crazy! We came back, but nobody else wanted to play Futbol in the rain like I did, so we played ping pong which was absolutely hilarious!  Elder Waihi is really good and he played Brother Afful which was fun to watch!  Wish I had my camera for pictures.  We finished that day off by going to Elder Dudley's class and telling them about our lives before and after the mission which was really great to get to know everybody!

On a serious note, I was talking to everybody about college and I was really thinking about BYU Provo, so who knows, maybe I can get in if I register early enough.  Or if I am smart enough... LOL

I haven't missed a day of journal writing yet and it is a good way to get sleepy before bed for sure.  Yeah, now that I am here, I don't know how you can only write one page a day!!!!  THERE'S SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT.  Anyway, when I start sending journals home, if you guys wanna read a page every night at family prayer so you can get all the details and stuff, that would be better than emails, except you'll have to decipher my handwriting... ha ha.

Two nights ago Elder Adeloye had our room dying because this Elder Israel, who is kinda annoying and comes into our room at like midnight, came in and was loudly talking about his "doctorate".  Elder Adeloye had us rolling because Elder Isreal was there for a while and after 20 minutes of him talking, Adeloye says, 'Goodnight everybody, Oh Elder Israel, you're still here?'  HAHHAHAAA!  It was so funny, but I guess you just had to be there and be as tired as we were!

Elder Precious is Elder Ridells companion and he is pretty immature which is hilarious because Elder Ridell is 26, has been in the military, and keeps him in line which I think is hilarious!!!!! :)  Elder Precious went to draw on the white board with a highlighter, and Elder Ridell stood up and him being like 6 inches shorter than Elder Precious, stands up and tells him to stop which Elder Precious didn't like much, so he went to push past Elder Ridell and Ridell put him in a Guillotine headlock until he tapped! HHAHHAHAAAAAA!  It was perfect because Elder Ridell is very composed and mature, so he and his companion are polar opposites.  Elder Precious sometimes tries to slapbox with me, but never anything as bad as Elder Ridell has to deal with.  The only thing I ever have had to do with Elder Precious is squeeze his hand in a handshake competition and win, so that was good I guess.  :)  Elder Ridell is super relaxed like I am, but he has a degree in Physiotherapy or something like that, so he is pretty smart as well! I like the heck outta him too!  :)

The people who play futbol here have these soccer sandals which are so cool.  I will be purchasing some when I leave the MTC.  They are made to give you control and let your feet have air and let you grip the grass well.  They are sweet!!!

Basically everybody is ready to leave the MTC - we are itching to get out into the field. We having 19 missionaries going to the  Kumasi mission, and we will be flying, so I hope I get to sit by somebody I know.  That'll be a sad day saying goodbye to Elder Waihi and others for sure.  But it'll be so cool to see everyone at transfers!  Maybe at the end of the mission I'll get to serve with a buddy!

I am getting off now to go play some futbol!!  Love ya Mama!  :)  Love you guys and everyone please write!  Tell Derek I love him and miss him a bunch and to enjoy Lord of the Rings while I am gone.  Tell Brit I love her and miss her goofiness.  I sent dad an email and tell Carina I love her pics from home!  :) Catch ya in 2 weeks!  Luh you mama :))))))💙

Elder Wawro  :)


Closet space

Personal desk space

Family pic and nametag


MTC Group


Typical meal with chicken and rice


View from inside the MTC



Class time

More classroom time

With companion, Elder Waihi

White US adapters

 Sharing the American candy stash

Kit Kats - they were a hit!



 Sports time

Handwashing white dress shirts

 Tiny banana!

The other 'white guy' at the MT, Elder Ridell

Monday, March 21, 2016

Ghana MTC Visit with Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Gabe mentioned in his email last week that he had the pleasure of meeting Elder Ronald A. Rasband, one of our church apostles, and shake his hand.  Gabe also said he emailed some pictures, but they haven't come through yet.  So we were very happy to see the GHANA MTC BLOG updated with pictures, and to see him included in this awesome group photo.  I added some info to the picture to help spot him, but since he's one of apparently only two white elders serving there now, he's not hard to find.  Ha ha!


You can see the back of Gabe's head in this picture...left side, fifth row of tables, second seat in

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

First P-Day Email from the MTC

(Mom) I wasn't sure what day Gabe's "P-Day" would be (Preparation Day) at the MTC so I checked email Monday and Tuesday all throughout the day, because I definitely didn't want to miss him if he got on.  Thankfully, I finally tracked down a missionary mom's site for those serving in Ghana Kumasi mission and was able to ask said that Wednesday was the day they received email.  Today was the day!  Happy dance!  Gabe's email is below.  He said he sent a ton of photos, but unfortunately none of them came through so I'm not sure what happened there, but I'll definitely post them if and when they come through.  He sounds fantastic!  I told him multiple times before leaving "don't be a missionary that sends no pictures and writes home two sentences...we want lots of details!"  LOL!  He did a great job following those wishes - awesome first week email!  :)

I need some more email addresses of people I know because I have like four.  Anyway, I have so much to talk about.... Yikes!  So after the airport madness, I got some sleep and my missionary badge! I didn't sleep well most this week, but it is getting better! :)  The first couple of days were like drinking from a fire hose with info and sleep deprivation, trying to learn names, the heat, the food, the 3 rooms with good A/C, and so on! Where do i start???

The cafeteria serves very good food, but it is interesting to say the least! Most meals consist of some sort of chicken, rice with some type of beans, delicious pineapple and bread!  The weirdest so far was a "roast beef" with yem, which is almost like white playdoh with a gritty/slimy texture, not much flavor and its sticky, and I didn't have much of that. There are 2 main stand up AC units in the cafeteria and you guess where the Americans and Australian sit!  :)

Everything runs on celcius and the metric system, which is hard to convert since America has their own system. The money here is 4 "cities" to 1 US dollar, so everything is pretty cheap!  I bought 2 Books of Mormon for one US dollar at the temple which was crazy!

My room has 6 people in it and we are facing the soccer field. It's me, Elder Waihi, Elder Yates, Elder Agyemang, Elder Adeloye and Elder Akapo in a room and it is so so fun. Elder Adeloye is absolutely hilarious and his accent is even better.  He is a total crack-up and gets all of us balling laughing, especially when we teach him stuff about America and teach him that a "torch" is a flashlight! He sat on his bed and chanted flashlight like 1200 times to try and remember.  It was so funny!!!  Elder Adeloye and Elder Akapo are companions but they are never together and it is hysterical to hear his explanations why.  He knows he should probably be with him, but he comes up with some wild explanations just to get us to laugh!

I am super blessed in America and I never really realized that.  I felt bad using my electric razor in the bathroom, so now I use my regular razor so it's not like I'm the 'rich' American.  I also learned how to wash clothes which is a little tough!  It takes a lot of time just for like 2 pieces of clothing!  I think it took me 30 minutes the first time, but next time should be quicker because I won't have to be taught!  My razor burn isn't too bad since I've been using my Gillette razor and my shaving cream and stuff.  If you could slip Gillette a word, maybe they'll send me and my companion a bunch of free razor blades.  LOL!

I have a small little closet for my stuff, and a small desk for my journal, but I sleep on the top bunk by the window.  I have been doing super good writing in my journal and taking pictures which I am sure mom will appreciate!  Elder Waihi and I are trying to learn Twi from some of the natives here in the MTC which is a little difficult, but the language structure isn't too bad! 

ELDER RASBAND came on Monday for a quick 1-hour lesson which was pretty good!  It would have been better, but that day was rough dealing with homesickness and what not.  Either way, super cool to meet him. My MTC President is President Brubaker and he's pretty cool. I got called as a district leader of the Jarom district which is pretty good! We have weekly responsibilities of changing water and serving the snack at night periodically.

I play soccer on our field which is probably about 50ish yards, and all the Ghanains (gone-a-yins) were super surprised to see me play with them and do pretty well!  They grew up playing soccer and I guess they didn't think I could hang.  :)

We watched the Joseph Smith movie - the same one as in Nauvoo, and it was so good. The Spirit was so strong and totally strengthened my testimony of him.  I kept getting tingles up and down my back.  Joseph Smith was a prophet and I am 1000% sure of it.  Elder Yates is a big scripture buff and he asked what would happen if Joseph Smith walked in during a study session, and I can only imagine because the Spirit was just taking a baseball bat to my heart.  If I ever make it to heaven, I've definitely got to meet him!

We went to the Accra temple today which was fantastic! It's very clean and beautiful compared to the rest of Ghana, which is dirty, trash on the roads, and packed with people. Driving in Ghana is just like the Caribbean.  They drive by speeding and super crazy! :)  There are only stoplights in the main parts of the city and not much in Tema (where we live like 30 minutes away).

I've been sharing chocolate and different candies with my roommates like Kit-Kats , Snickers, and Skittles and Elder Agyemang (Ah-gee-mahn, from Kumasi) and Elder Adeloye (Adele-oye) love them all!  Elder Adeloye is hilarious and only gets funnier when he loses his companion, or when he tries to understand American inventions and such!  Hahahahhaahhahaahahaaaaa!

The people of Ghana and Nigeria are super nice, and me and the other American Elders are super famous around here because there are only three of us from America (Elder Wawro, Elder Yates from Hawaii & California, and Elder Dudley from Utah) and Elder Waihi (Y-hee) is from Australia and is my companion.  He has a hardcore accent and he plays rugby.  He is a great example to me because he's funny, very spiritual, and prays constantly, takes notes, and is the one who suggested we fast for Elder Rasband.  He is a great example and he'll be a fantastic missionary.

The swear words from America didn't really carry over to Ghana so sometimes a missionary will swear and I'll get googly-eyed.  :)  Although they aren't necessarily good words to say, they still shouldn't say them, but I don't imagine they get rebuked too much. So that'll take some getting used to.

We have 2 teachers for our district, Brother Afful (like apple with f's) and sister Appau-Nkansah (Appow-nnkan-sah).  These names are difficult to pronounce, sorry... LOL.   They both love to laugh which is good because Elder Waihi and I are notorious for being a little obnoxious and getting people to laugh, and so is Elder Osei-Kuffour (oh-say-koo-4) who also loves to take selfies on my camera!  :)

Life is so good! The showers have hot water, but after sports time I only want a cold shower, so either way it works out.  I miss chocolate, sweets, my bed, the fam, and grandma's cooking, but my life is so good.  The Gospel is so so so amazing and blesses those who come unto Christ. We read in D&C 109 about how cities and places are "prepared and ready" for the places we get called to, which I though was wayyyy cool!  I wish I knew the scriptures better and that I could know where to find all the cool scriptures I know.

Serving here is so much fun, it's crazy, and so so so hard.  It's hard knowing that I'm on the other half of the planet and that I am the 2nd whitest guy in the MTC (Elder Ridell is whiter than me and he's from Sweden) and soon to be in a community of all Africans, but the more I pray for the Spirit and for comfort, I feel much better.  I have a picture of my family on my desk to see while I write in my journal which is great.

Signing off!  Love you a whole ton! And mom, sorry for all the spelling errors you might have to correct, I think I almost caught the laptop on fire I was typing so fast!  Love you a lot.  Miss you a bunch.  Catch ya next week :)

Love you guys, and I hope to get more mail next week!

Elder Wawro

Friday, March 11, 2016

Arriving in Ghana, Safe & Sound

Gabe arrived in Ghana about 2:00am this morning Texas time (8am in Ghana - they are 6 hours ahead of us), and was able to send us a quick email.  I got to read it before I started my 5:50am seminary class, so it was fun to share some of this with my class.  He sounds great!!

I have finally arrived, hallelujah! It took 2 and a half days to get here, but i am alive and well. After the rain in Dallas, I was delayed for 1.5 hours, so i missed my Atlanta to Amsterdam flight by 15 minutes... Turns out, there were 3 missionaries there that i was supposed to meet up with, but oh well, it was a good journey! I flew from Atlanta to New York and met a very nice guy who I sat with before boarding (that flight was delayed too) and we just talked about everything and about my mission and such. From there, I flew from New York to Accra which was like 9 hours or so, and because I missed my flight in Atlanta, they gave me business class all the way to Accra. I sat in seat 1D and was spoiled rotten. I felt bad because another missionary who got sick and went home for his mission was flying back to Accra as well and walked past me.... Sorry Elder Holman... XD

Anyways, I was at the airport, luggage took forever to get to me, but i got both pieces, and shortly after almost got scammed, but I was smarter than that guy and the Lord was definitely telling me to just walk away, and eventually he left me alone! But I got here late, and so I'm a little behind in the check in process at the MTC, but its all good :)

I am in a companionship with Elder Waihi from Australia and his accent is AWESOME. Anyway, gotta sign off, but I love you and I am safe, and the Lord is looking out for me. Definitely answered my prayers of comfort and safe passage.


Elder Wawro :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gabe's Crazy Travel Day, 3-9-16

(Mom) Yesterday was just rough...harder than I expected it to be, and we've already sent off one missionary so we knew what to expect!  LOL!  After many tears and hugs, we let him go and I stayed and watched him go through security until I couldn't see him any longer.  I don't think that part of being a mom will ever change...being concerned and wanting to make sure your kids are safe and okay.

Gabe's initial travel plans were DFW to Atlanta; then Atlanta to Amsterdam; than Amsterdam to Accra, Ghana.  LOTS of hours of flying.  After we left the airport and were watching his flight on a flight tracking app, we saw that it had been delayed and that he was going to miss his connecting flight to Amsterdam.  Insert a teary mom here, who is now stressing about WHAT and WHERE her missionary is going to be and do in Atlanta at 9pm at night with no flight, no phone, and nothing else going to Amsterdam that night.  AAGH!  Called the mission travel office and after much back and forth, turned around, went back to the airport to see what we could arrange - do we figure out another flight, or do as the travel office recommended and pick him up and bring him home (and then do the goodbyes again the next day?).  After trying to page Gabe twice at the airport with no luck, Bill said we might as well go back home and work with the church office to get it figured out.  Insert round two of teary mom leaving the airport for a second time with no son, no plan, and worrying about what he would do all night.

Making a very long story short, everything worked out.  Since the travel delays were because of the airline, they put him up in a hotel in Atlanta, changed his flight and sent him to JFK and then a direct flight from JFK to Ghana, AND moved him to business class and more legroom.  Fantastic since it's almost a 10-hour flight!  After being able to finally talk to him, we found out he had a smooth night, good night sleep, good breakfast, and that everything was going great - no stress and he hadn't been nervous or worried about staying by himself in Atlanta.  He was very excited to have a direct flight to Ghana and to have the extra comfort in business class along with it.  So I'm breathing much easier.  Today is my birthday and I'm grateful not to be spending it on pins and needles hoping he arrives okay.

So grateful for this wonderful young man I'm blessed to call my son.  For his example, for his strength, for his kind heart, for his loving, generous nature, and for his willingness to serve God.  Though the goodbyes yesterday were hard, I know that wonderful things will come from his service.  We appreciate the notes, prayers, and messages being offered and sent on our family's behalf.  Big hugs to all of you!

Janene (Mom)

 Last hug for dad

Final shot through airport security

Gabe's Mission Plaque Photo

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Gabe Opening His Mission Call, 12-3-15

Today Gabe leaves our home to head to the Ghana MTC (Missionary Training Center), to prepare to serve a two-year, full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He has been called to serve in the Ghana, Kumasi mission and reports to the MTC tomorrow.  It is a bittersweet day - we're so proud of him and his choice to serve our Heavenly Father and bring others to Christ, yet also sad to say goodbye to someone we love so much for two years.  

On Sunday we were singing "Because I Have Been Given Much" in church and the first line hit me differently than it ever has before:  "Because I have been given much, I too must give".  My family and I have been richly blessed in so many ways, and I can give up my son for a couple of years so that he can teach others and bring them joy like we've felt.  So we can do it, and are grateful for God's tender mercies in watching over us this far.

I thought it would be appropriate in starting Gabe's blog, to have the first post be the video we took of him opening his mission call on Thursday, Dec. 3rd, 2015.  The beginning is a little blurry, so I apologize.  The dim room took a bit for my camera to adjust.  :)

Janene (Mom)