Monday, November 21, 2016

"What Week Are We On?" :)

Alrighty, another week in Mpraeso!

First, this week, we traveled from Monday to Thursday evening.  My companion and I traveled to Kumasi for a meeting for the trainers and trainees and it was sweet!  We got to stay at the mission home, which has air conditioning, so definitely no complaint there!  :)  I even got to see the Wardles' a few times which always makes my day better!  :)  We got back late Thursday night, I think we were opening our apartment door at 11:00pm, but everything went smoothly, we even had time to run by Palace and grab a few American goodies for Thanksgiving! :)

For Thanksgiving, we are planning on doing some mashed potatoes or french fries (or chips as they call them here) with some grilled chicken.  I hope all goes well, I grabbed some green beans and corn as well, so at least we will have a somewhat healthy meal.  :)  There aren't a lot of places to shop, but we do have a farmer's market.

I chopped my hair off this week, it was getting big again, so I cut it pretty low, and wow, it is nice to have a breeze on my head again! :)  Hahahaaa!

I grabbed a few pictures at the training and some funny ones of Sister Mpungose (South African and one of my favorite sisters here) when she caught a bird in the bathroom and she's wearing my crocs!  :)  She is hilarious, and about 5 feet tall, nothing more, so the shoes were huge on her! :)  It was fun to see a bunch of my buddies as well!  :)

This week, I have continued my study of the Sermon on the Mount.  This morning I spent a few hours on Matthew 6:1-4 talking about alms (or good deeds) and how much of a difference it makes when you do it for the right reason, or as Christ taught, not for the praise of man, but for the reward of our Father in Heaven. What a different place the world would be if everyone was less focused on themselves and the praise of man, and more concerned about doing good for others without anybody knowing!  I can't help but think of those families who are blessed with much more than some, and that family goes and pays for a Christmas for those who don't have as much.  It is great to do that and to have people know it was a specific person, but how much greater the blessing is when nobody knows who did it. I don't know how that makes sense to you guys in my broken English, but I hope the Spirit will clear up the rest. This week, try to do something for someone else without them knowing who did it.  Maybe pay for the guy behind you in the drive-thru, write a note of thanks for someone who needs some encouragement and don't put your name on it, move someone's trash bins in or an elderly person. If you need help, our Heavenly Father has plenty of children who can use a little service. We will be blessed for our actions, but how much more we will be blessed when we do it without the praise of man, and only the Praise of God.  Let me know how it goes! :)

Love you ALL,

Elder Wawro

On the topic of the Wardles, Sister Wardle printed me a beginners guide to the piano produced by the church, and she didn't charge me anything! Again, the Wardles are AWESOME! :)  SO I have been using the book and I am again the pianist for our Sacrament meeting!  :)  Piano is really improving!!!! Maybe when I get home, you will get to see! :)

While in Kumasi, I saw a PS4 for the first time in Ghana! We are a little behind technology-wise, but it was funny to see the time delay.  The only thing they aren't behind on is movies because they illegally record them and download them from the internet.... But either way, it was funny to see for sure!  :)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

From November 15th (Tuesday)

What a stressful week this has been.  Sorry I didn't get on yesterday...schedule change.

For our area, it is pretty tough. Most people are farmers here so they work early in the morning to about 6 when they come home to eat and sleep. The few members we had in our area moved out for school, so we are left with one older woman who only speaks Twi. It is really tough when we are closing our week and calculating our accountability for the week and have zero members taught, zero member present lessons, zero referrals, zero less active lesson, etc... I think we had in total 5 lessons in the course of 3.5 days.  It has really been stressful. Training gets a little tough when you don't have lessons to apply what you are learning, and it has become really stressful for me.  But we are working hard to find some people to teach.

We had a zone council today (Tuesday) and it was all on faith-based goals and about the Book of Mormon. That really hit me hard because it feels like our area is the dead weight of the zone numbers because we don't have much to bring to the table, and since we don't have the help of the members, it makes things worse, but it was a really sweet zone council. There were some powerful testimonies given and the Spirit was really strong. We had a quick "white board Decoration" while the zone leaders left, mainly Elder Stirling and I drawing a ton of Christmas stuff all over the board because hey, Christmas is right around the corner!

We had a little bit of a crazy week this week with our district conference Saturday and Sunday, but everything seemed to work out fine. The conference was sweet, we had 3 branches there and President Cosgrave came to preside over the meeting which was really sweet! They gave us food halfway through on Saturday, and we loved that for sure! I got to meet a bunch of sweet people and enjoyed getting to see some new faces.

We had a zone activity yesterday where we (not really we) cooked food and put on a movie. It wasn't the best planned activity and there was some contention about who was gonna cook the food, so it ended up being 4 people who cooked a bunch of chicken and rice and such for us, but at least they let me wash the dishes at the end.  It was fun to see a few from my MTC group there as well.  We have a ton of sister missionaries in our zone, so it was good to get to know them.  I think we have 4 companion-ships of sisters, in my last zones, we had 1 companionship in Sunyani and none in AsuoYeboah, so I got to know them a little better which was fun!

This week, I have been studying the Sermon on the Mount. It has been 3 days and I haven't finished just because there is so much to mark and so many scriptures that link together. I don't think I ever really studied the Sermon on the Mount in depth like I have this week. The one part that stuck out to me this week at least was about how Christ was teaching the higher law, or teaching some things that transcended the Law of Moses. Simply, the Law of Moses is a very strict law to live and is a little brutal, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But the law that Christ taught requires love, even to those who wrong you, patience with those that look to accuse you, and to pray for those who seek your downfall constantly.  It reminds me of a scripture in Jacob 3:1 (Book of Mormon) that talks about God sending justice upon those who seek your destruction, and how God will not let those who fight against you win. I can imagine the huge change they would have to make in their life. They had been raised under a somehow harsh law, and then had to change into a loving and patient people.  What a change they had to make. It really is impressive what the words of the Lord can do to someone's heart.  :)

So the weather here...I don't know about really cold, but it is MUCH cooler than Nkawkaw and MUCH MUCH cooler than Kumasi!  I sleep with a blanket at night, which seems weird, but I sleep great with it.  :) It probably gets to around 75 degrees at night, and it isn't as humid here. The weather is fantastic!  The dust still hits us, but it isn't a huge deal.  I have stuffy nose a lot and do plenty of sneezing, but as they say, "tis the season".  :)

I am taking tons of pictures and videos.  :)  We go to Kumasi this week for trainers and trainees, so that will be sweet!  I will give my camera to the office elders so they can upload pictures for me.  :)  If not, we go at the first of December I think, but we will have zone council, so it is not a huge issue.  They will drive the package up to me if it comes late, so I have something to open on Christmas.  :)

Well, my time is up!  I am going to get my first haircut from a Muslim guy down the road.  Wish me luck!  Hahahahaa! :)

Love all of you,

Elder Wawro

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

From November 7th, 2016

Oh yeah, I guess it is THAT day huh?  (Mom wished a happy "1/2 birthday" today!)  LOL

Well, my favorite thing this week was the miracle that happened, but you will see that in the weekly email.  :)

Training is good so far, Elder Oshilaja is still really quiet, but he is getting more talkative so that is nice.  We are really working hard, though every day we come in, close our day, and then he is asleep within the hour.  But everything is going well.  :)

He is a little homesick, but he doesn't talk about it much, so I don't really know, and I don't want to be the one who opens that door of sadness.

Best part of training, is that I have a little more control over what happens, we aren't late to anything because I have a little more control over our time and when we leave, and now, the ideas I have pull a little more weight, so I am loving it so far! :)

What an interesting week it has been!

To start, last week, right after we emailed, we bought a few items and began our journey home. There was this weird lady at the store that greeted us as normal, but then started to follow us. I noticed she was following us, but gave her the benefit of the doubt because maybe we had been walking the same way. We passed a few turn-off streets and then the red flags started to appear. We stopped at this truck and then she started to walk by the truck we had ducked beside, and when she saw us, she stopped and looked busy at a shop. Then I begin to play the games with her.  So, we walk quickly to a street we had passed and go down just 3 or 4 steps and hang by the corner. Next thing we know, she is walking back towards the street we were on and when she saw us, she did a quick double take and made herself look busy at another shop. So we walk to the same truck and she again comes to us and tries to act busy! At this point I was getting fed up, so we walk to the same street she had just followed us to and duck into the alleys walking rather quickly making what felt like 100 turns and walking through houses and such until we reach the main road again, and bada-bing-bada-boom, we lost her! It was rather a funny experience, and not one I wish to have again, but it was good for the memories.  :)

I found this place in our small town Mpraeso that sells the bigger size jars of JIF peanut butter for only 25 cedis (equivalent to 6 or 7 US Dollars) and a 10 lb. bag for 25 cedis as well! Needless to say, I have been enjoying pancakes and peanut butter frequently.  I knocked out half the jar just with a spoon the first few days, and now I slap it on all my pancakes and whatever else seems to go well with peanut butter.  :)))

Welp.  The Ghana heat has really taken a toll on my scriptures. Turns out, there is a layer of glue between the paper and the leather, but on mine, it has just separated and ripped the first weak page in my scriptures! I don't know how I will fix that, but somehow it will all work out!  :) My name is no longer in gold, there is just an imprint of my name on the front because it is so hot, the gold stuff came off!  :)

I used my first lawn mower in Ghana on Saturday!  Our chapel has a ton of grass, so they have a mower, and I got to use it!  :) Being a missionary here has totally changed me, every single week from here going forward, I will be the one mowing the lawn, and I am super excited! I love to mow and the smell of the cut grass!  Who'da thought that I would love to mow? Or even love to do the dishes? Something is definitely changing!  :)

I have once again become the piano player for our sacrament meeting which is tough. I have infinitely more respect for anyone who can play the piano!  I have been practicing a lot, and I am starting to see the progress from 6 months ago!  :)

I had a "Ghana Apple" this week. They have the normal apples everyone knows, but there is a kind that grows on a tree here that is different from the ones back home, tastes a little interesting, but it is not bad.  :)

Well I have had quite the faith-building experience this week. Since I got the call to come to Mpraeso and re-open the area, many missionaries were apologizing and wishing me good luck, which by the way, does not boost your spirits, but I had faith that all would go well.  This week, we have worked really, really hard trying to find people to teach, but most of them don't speak English here and they are all farmers, so they spend from 6am-3pm at their farms, cook, eat and sleep, so teaching is tough sometimes. Friday night, I had just about enough of no success, it was 6:30-7pm, we had an hour left, but I was ready to go home, but we ended up staying and trying to set appointments with some people. Then, Saturday came.  We had 2 appointments for 8 hours of proselyting, and I had lost my faith in the area. But, we went out, and everything seemed to fall into place. We have 3 members in our area, 2 left on Friday for school and the other doesn't speak any English, so it was not looking very good. But, randomly, our branch mission leader opened a shop in our area, so we have been getting some referrals from him which is a miracle in and of itself.  Then, all of Saturday, we had appointments. Every hour of the day, we were seeing someone, teaching, or setting an appointment for the coming week. Just as Ether 12:6 says, it is after the trial of our faith, that we get a little stronger. And I can testify it is true. We have had quite a few miracles this week, and I hope that it will continue to happen.  God truly is involved in the details of our lives.

Love you all, and have a fantastic week.

Elder Wawro

From October 31st, 2016

Catching up...

This cafe in the mountains is probably no pictures for a while unless I travel to Kumasi.  Sorry in advance if it seems to take forever for me to respond.  The internet today is decent, but the computer here doesn't recognize my USB or my cameera.  I will be in the mountains for a hile.  I will just try to send pictures and video from Kumasi or when we come down the mountain and email in town.

Mom, thanks for the Halloween candy pictures.  Aww man, I miss the Halloween rush.  Nothing like that in Ghana.  I miss handing out the candy to kids, because I usually ate all the good stuff before the trick or treaters got there.  Ha ha!  I definitely miss my sweets.  Just looking at the candy bowl makes me a little hungry for a sweet tooth!  :)

So, you asked about HOW I got to my new area in the mountains.  We took a tro for like 3 hours to Nkawkaw and then a taxi up the mountain.

I'm enjoying being a trainer, but it's also challenging.  I ask to become a better missionary and then get nervous about the challenges that I face and the responsibility I have been given.  But, this has really reminded me of how God gives us trials and challenges to make us better.

To start, this week's travel was insane! We left Wednesday morning from Sunyani to go to Kumasi and pick up our new companions. While on the way, they told us our companions were coming a day late, so Elder Fotu and I were put together and sent to Buokrom in UST Zone. It was his old area and they had extra mats for us to sleep on. I loved getting to know Elder Fotu, because he is AWESOME. Maybe someday I will get to serve with him, he is a powerful missionary! We spent Thursday proselyting in his old area which was cool to see how happy people were to see him!  Then Friday morning, we went to Kumasi to pick up our new companions.

At the Mission home, the MTC group I was in had 5 of us training which was sweet to get to see all my buddies.  It is strange to think that just a few months ago, I was the new missionary in the mission home. It was sweet, I got Elder Oshilaja from Nigeria. He is really quiet and I think he is just adjusting. I don't know a whole lot about him, but he is ready to work! Next week will be full of good things about him.

My apartment is sweet, we all get along and we each have our own bathroom which is nice for sure. The weather is awesome here. The clouds pass right at our level, so in the mornings, there is a ton of fog! It is really sweet to see :)

Our chapel is gorgeous and the view is super gorgeous! I am truly blessed.

This week I have focused on Ether 12:27 about how God can strengthen our weaknesses so that they can become our strengths. I really have studied this because I am super nervous about the responsibility to train!!!  Yikes! But I know that God will help me to overcome my weaknesses to become a better missionary!

A little about my new companion: Member since 8, his parents and brothers aren't members, but he and his sisters are.

My apartment is a little house in the woods.  It has 3 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms (2 full)

The branch building is split into 2 has the offices and the other has the chapel and the primary room below.  We live a 5 minutes walk away from the chapel

No shopping yet, the bread is freaking expensive here which is annoying, but we haven't done too much shopping yet, we will tomorrow when my companion gets his money from the mission.

The weather is amazing. It isn't very humid, the sun doesn't feel like fire when it is out, and I feel a little cold at night which is awesome!

Being the senior companion is sweet I guess. I haven't had a whole lot of chances at directing much, but it is nice to have a little more control of things!

Biggest challenge of training so far is either my companion being super quiet or not knowing the area very well at all... :)

Love you guys, more next week! :)