Monday, January 30, 2017

Baptism, Broadcast, and Breaking Doors, 01-30-17

January 30th, 2017

This week has been really sweet and definitely full of its ups and downs, but all things have been for my good!

First off, I had my first District Council that I got to plan and instruct and I loved it! It went pretty well, mostly because the district members are awesome and have great ideas and insights, so it went smoothly. The other elders, Elder Boyce and Elder Kangwa are powerful missionaries as well. Our accountability has jumped CRAZY high. So life has been great! We also took some sweet pictures as a district so that we will never forget our time together! :)

We had the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast, and we missed the first hour or so because all of our mission didn’t have satellite connection, but we got to hear the last 45-60 minutes of the broadcast, and it was fantastic. They changed a few of the things we do as missionaries, but also gave us a little more freedom to plan our days than we used to, according to the culture and things like that.  Of course, it has been sweet so far as it has come from the Prophet and the Apostles.

Next in our week, we got to paint Sister Mavis’ house for her as she had a fire recently in her house which marked some of her walls black.  So she asked if we could help her paint, and we did! We painted for a few hours and it turned out really nice, which is also a miracle because I have no idea how to really paint, especially with the different kind of paint they use here for the cement walls. But it was great…. And then the night turned somehow sour. We got home to change and go to our meeting at he chapel and we didn’t bring the key because we changed our bags last minute and didn’t switch the key over. The other elders were an hour away with the Branch President so that also wasn’t an option… So I decided to rely on brute strength rather than think a little, and I kicked the door in because I was hungry and getting a little late to get to our meeting. Well, that caused a lot of problems, I bent the deadbolt and destroyed the wood keeping that side of the door on…. So as I tried to fix it, I cut my thumb and was getting angry,  and I couldn’t bend the deadbolt back, so I took the whole door handle off and put a new one on… It wasn’t that funny then, but now it is hilarious as I look at the pictures and recall the memory… But hey, we are safe, and the door is back to normal, just has a scar or two… :) Hahahhaa!

Shoutout to Grandma, who had 2 letters come through this week that were great as usual! :) Thank you for always writing me!!!! Love you Grandma :)

We had the baptism of Sister Mavis this week also which was great! SOOOOOO happy that finally we had some success in our area, and we are hoping for more soon! She has been taught for a while by missionaries, but as we taught Gospel Principles last week about baptism, she came up after and said she needed to be baptized. And so now she is! Life has been great! :)

Lastly, President Koomson, the District President told a great story at church on Sunday. It goes something like this:

There was a king of a town that lived some years ago. He looked out one day on his town and saw that it was pretty dirty with a lot of trash. So, he called all of his town members together and told them to clean the city, but that they had to bring their own tools to scoop the trash. Some brought big trucks, some brought cars, some bowls and pots, and some just brought a small spoon to help. They labored all day, those with trucks working very hard, and those with spoons, just goofing around and complaining about the work, and after the work was finished, they gathered to the King’s palace. The king simply said, "Thank you for helping me clean our city, but I am sorry, I don’t have any food for you after your day of work. Instead, I have the whole of the gold of our town, and to thank you, the room is down the hall, and whatever you brought to clean, you can fill with gold and take back to your home. Many trucks and cars were filled for those who worked hard, and some came away with just a small spoon of gold for them.

He related this story to our work in the kingdom of God. Those who truly give their all to build the kingdom,will one day receive their reward, whether here in this life or in the life to come, and to those who didn’t labor with their all, but rather spent their time complaining or goofing off, they also received their reward. I loved this story and thought I would share it with you. We should always give our best in the service of the Lord, no matter the work or how long the day is, because there is a reward in heaven after our days of labor is over. As we learn in Alma 34:32:

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

I know we can all serve God to the fullest, even in the roughest of times, in the name of Jeseu Christ, Amen.

Elder Wawro

Re: "PRIASE the Lord" Sincerely, -Ghana Trotro misspelling, 01-23-17

January 23rd, 2017

This week has been POWERFUL!

To start the week, we had our Wednesday of deep cleaning at the house as the other elders left without cleaning. I wasn't terribly happy about that one, but that is just how it goes sometimes! :)  Anyways, we cleaned every single room in the whole house, including sweeping the ceiling. Have you ever had to sweep the actual ceiling??? I have to say, it was a first for me here... Haahaha! But the apartment is spotless now, so everything is great!

Elder Boyce and Elder Kangwa came on Wednesday evening and we helped them settle in to prepare for our day on Thursday. Elder Boyce is from Montana, and he is really chill for sure. He is really obedient and a great missionary. We will get along really well! He loves fly fishing, which I have no idea about, except that I read "A Rive Runs Through it" or whatever the book is called. And now I will move on because that is all I know about fly fishing, and the book does 0.001% justice. Elder Kangwa is from Zambia, borders a part of Zimbabwe and he is really great. He is a brand new missionary and he is doing well so far. Still has to adjust to the food and the culture, but he is really great as well! :)

I took some funny pictures this week!

1-a picture of this ancient car that has been literally collecting dust for years named "Toyota Carina" !! :)  HAHAHAAA! Sorry, Carina, i just couldn't pass up that wonderful opportunity.

2-We were waiting at the Tro station which read, " Dunkirk to Konongo Nkawkaw station" Also a great picture I couldnt pass up, since that's the city dad grew up in

3-Saw my first legit school bus from back home, huge and yellow as always, but it was out of place on such a skinny street, but good memories from home! :)

4-Last, Mom's favorite, a tro that read "Priase the Lord" which I died laughing about!!! Almost got it dude, almost got it... :) Hahahahaa!

To close out this rather short email, we have been having some serious miracles around here lately. We have really been struggling for the past few weeks with nobody progressing for a while, and we had no idea what was going on. But, the office elders gave us a brand new map a few weeks ago which the other elders grabbed, and turns out, the other companionship had been proselyting in our area for the last 2 transfers (12 weeks)! AAHHHHH, I wish we would have gotten that map much earlier, but I don't have much control over that. Anyways, we spent this whole week learning our actual area and finding the members that live there, and wowowowoowoowow, we have had serious miracles. We had a powerful referral from one member, the other brought his friend to church and gave him some nice church clothes to wear, then after my companion and I finished teaching the Gospel Principles class, one of the investigators came up to me and said she needed to be baptized next week. SERIOUSLY AWESOME.  The  scripture that immediately came to my mind was in Ether 12:6 which reads:

6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

After these past few weeks, I would say our faith has been tried to the breaking point, but truly God does work miracles among us. It isn't every time we pray, we get what we want, most times, we have to be patient and show our faith. If you don't believe me, look at what you think a rich child is like when the parents give them everything every time they ask, and then one time they don't get it. It is similar to that. If God gave us everything we wanted every time we asked, we would have no patience, hope, or faith. and also in this chapter it reads,

28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.

We all can be more faithful and hopeful for God's promised blessings, and as we are faithful, have hope and trust in his promises, keep his commandments, and be patient always, we will become "the fountain of all righteousness". I can testify that God does work miracles among us, we just have to open our eyes and our mind to see them. I know that if we truly look for God;s hand in our own lives, we will see His miracles. This I know to be true as I have seen these miracles in my life this week, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

God bless all of you! Love you guys!  :)

Elder Wawro

Lost in the Mountains, 01-16-17

January 16th, 2017

Well, let's get to it!

The start of the week was great! We had a Zone Council which is always good because I get to see some of my friends that are in the zone and also, I just get to see more than the same 3 faces I see every day which is also a bonus!!  :) We had a great council about achieving goals, and now the mission standard is to have each companionship baptize one person a week. Well...this area has a ways to go.

We went to Obo this week, which is where "AirJays is located". Basically has a canopy walk in the mountains after you climb 877 steps to the top and a zipline halfway up the mountain. The canopy walk was super cool, but SUPER sketchy. Every time you walked, the trees would sway back and forth and the support didn't look that great. I took some videos, but they will come if I ever get to spend some time in Kumasi...  :) hahahah! Fun time with the apartment though and it was gorgeous up there!

I saw our old van from home...'Betsy', just in red this week. It was a funny experience because I recalled some good memories of the van dying in multiple locations, the final resting place being the garage, not mentioning the countless hours of work, cursing, sweat, and blood that kept her running all those years. Rest in Peace Betsy, I finally saw your cousin 'Bernice'.  ha ha

We had Fufu at a recent convert's house this week and it  was great!!!! No idea I would ever like fufu as much as I do. The progress really is amazing. The first time I ate fufu, I had 2 bites and called it a night, but over time, I now have fufu cravings throughout the week, one of those days being today!

Also this week, I bought one whole loaf of bread, the normal size, about a foot or so. I took it to the the egg and bread lady to see if she could cut it in half and I pay her to use the bread I brought. Somewhere along the line, I  missed the fact that she didn't speak any English except the 5 words that pertain to her work... SO she ended up making me egg and bread (called chi-boom) here with my whole loaf of bread and 3 eggs.... And I managed to eat the whole thing. I was honestly surprised as it looked huge, but you will have to see someday when the picture comes through. Just like Roosters and the Double grilled cheese burger back home.  Yikes!  Gotta cool it down here, I am drooling... :")

Lastly, we got transfer calls this week, and President Cosgrave threw a curve-ball just like a few transfers ago. First off, I have been called to be the district leader here in the mountains of just the 4 of us in the apartment, so that will be challenging and rewarding! :)  Secondly, I am staying with Elder Oshilaja who just finished his training with me which is also a little weird because normally he would have gone after his training. Also, President lost my number that I had, so I got the call 2 days late, and when he called he just apologized because my number was not in the mission paperwork. guess I got lost here in the mountains! :)  But, more news in the future!

My thought for this week is about the family name we have. Last night, I felt like I should read in Helaman 5 in the Book of Mormon, I didn't know why, but I just felt that way. So I started to read, and right off the bat, my eyes were opened to a lot of new perspectives and new ideas I hadn't thought of before, so I will share some with you.

 5 For they remembered the words which their father Helaman spake unto them. And these are the words which he spake:

 6 Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.

 7 Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.

 8 And now my sons, behold I have somewhat more to desire of you, which desire is, that ye may not do these things that ye may boast, but that ye may do these things to lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea, which is eternal, and which fadeth not away; yea, that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life, which we have reason to suppose hath been given to our fathers.

This really stuck out to me, talking about our family name that we bear, and also, for those who have been baptized, carrying the name of Jesus Christ. There was a conference we went to where someone shared a quote from a coach whose team had just lost, and he said something like, "the reason we lost is because they played for the name on the back and not the name on the front." This same counsel was given to the sons of Helaman, to remember the family name you carry, but not to boast in that name, but to do the work and give the glory to God. The longer I am here serving as a missionary, the more important the family name I carry for my earthly family and my spiritual family becomes. To think I carry the name of the Savior of the world and the name of my father and his father before him and going on my tag every single day. An eye opening experience for me for sure to take a step back and see that I am just a link in the chain, not the one who created the chain, or the one who started a new chain for himself. I reflect on my earthly father and the father of our spirits every single day, as does everyone on the earth. I don't know if this made sense to you, but it was a great thought I had last night as I studied. We carry a lot more upon our shoulders than we may think we do, so let us all be true to who we are and the family name we bear, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Wawro

Re: "Sick Dun Catch Me" -Pigeon English (courtesy of Elder Oshilaja), 01-09-17

January 9th, 2017

Another great week in the service of the Lord!

First off, this week has been a strange week food health-wise. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we went to town to buy KeleWele (fried plantain with some seasonings) and it definitely made me sick. Day one was good, the next day I felt iffy about it, and day 3 I had ZERO desire to eat it. Then I have not felt that great, been running a little fever and some stomach pains up until yesterday, and it almost came to the point of me going to get a malaria test, but today I felt great!! The Lord truly knows that I do not want to have my blood taken while in Ghana!:)

On a better note, I ate a lot of fufu this week! We went to the Chop bar (where you get food) to go and buy fufu, which was weird because this is the first time I have really craved Ghana food. I will miss my fufu when I go home for sure. Ghana food is really heavy sitting food so you stay full for a long time, and if it has been a along day, it helps you have a good nights sleep! :)

I bought some "Sumo" bleach which has a funny cartoon sumo wrestler guy on the front! Hahahaaa! And it is pine scented, so I couldn't help but make a 'shout-out' to the Pine Man, Brother Mike Turner!  :) That was my first thought when I saw it, and I needed bleach for my shirts, so I figured it was a win win! :)

I had my first FM (missionary lingo for free meal) with our investigator Sister Joyce. She has been dodging us a little these past 2 weeks, but likes us when we see her with her friends and this time she offered us food. And what kind of missionary would I be to turn down free food! :)  Hahahaa!

The Assistants came on exchanges with us this week, most likely to check up on our area to see how it has been progressing, and we really learned a lot from them! It is always sweet to have the big dogs come and help you with your work so you can learn a new style or try a new trick! :) Grateful for the learning for sure!

I got my shoes fixed this week. I didn't take a picture of them when they were broken... That was foolish.... But maybe there will be a screenshot from my family somewhere in the future. They sewed them back together, so they work good as new! :)

As always, let us close with something spiritual.

In my studies this week, I studied about Charity and Love. And who better to look to than the Savior.  In 1 Nephi 19:9 it reads:

9And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long -suffering towards the children...

If you have doubts about the Book of Mormon, I hope this scripture will spark some interest.

Anyways, when I read this, I feel something different inside. Something good. Something warm. Something bigger than myself.

There was only one who could had such love to be smitten and suffer it, to be scourged and suffer it, to be spit on and suffer it, all because he truly loves us. He suffered for all of our pains and afflictions and temptations and sufferings and sadness just so that we could have someone to lean on in our time of need (Alma 7:11-13). If you are sick, He knows. If you are hurt emotionally, He knows. If you are being mocked for what you believe, He knows. Let us all lean on the Savior because he has suffered for us, if we just seek him diligently and choose to follow him. He is calling us home with open arms, and we just have to listen. We can all learn and apply this attribute of Charity as we look to the Savior for help. We can pray, and as we study and apply, you will see the change in your own life. I testify that it happens, because I have used it this week especially. It is real. I testify of this pure love of Christ (Moroni 7:45-48) in the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Wawro

Re: Happy New Years! "Afinko beto ye" (A finko beh too yeh), 01-02-17

January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Years from Ghana!

Life is great, hot, but great! :)

Christmas was awesome, and I have been using the new camera a BUNCH! I love it and soon, maybe you will get to see some pictures if they send :)

Well. I lasted a good 5 days... But the 3 Snickers bars I got are completely finished... I really have a sweet tooth problem!  :)  Hahahaa!

I caught a tree frog this week at our branch party, and they are really cool and also really weird. Their legs are like 9 feet long compared to a normal toad back home! And when they walk on your hand, they are really sticky, and even hang on when they are upside down! I never have held a tree frog, but what better place to find one than in Ghana! :)

On the topic of Branch parties, our branch had a party on the 31st. It was great, but here, they run on GMT or Ghana mans time because GMT is +1 hour. The party was scheduled to go from 3-5. Me and my companion got there at 2:30...and not a soul was there. The first person to show up came at 4 and the rest came at 6!  :) OH MY GOODNESS I WAS GOING CRAZY. But, when they came, we had a bunch of fun, had some great food and played some games and talked. A pretty low key activity, and at the end, around 8:30, they had some roman candle fireworks they shot off which was a good end to the night! Me and my companion helped clean up while most everyone else went home except for 5 or 6, and we had some great memories made there!! :)

The other elders in our apartment baptized their referral from the Holy Ghost this week. (That's what President Cosgrave calls them when they just walk into the church and know it is true right away and stay)

We are going to talk to Joyce's husband tomorrow to see if he will let her be baptized after we have some discussion. We are praying hard that the Spirit will soften his heart to the message and maybe even come to learn for himself that what we share is true and correct.

This week, we have been focusing on those who still haven't gotten a testimony that what we share is true, and so I studied this scripture a lot this week. 1 Nephi 10:19:

'19For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.'

The course of the Lord is one eternal round. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. THat is why we have a living prophet today who still receives direction and counsel from God for our benefit and for the benefit of our families. We can actually hear the words of the prophets in our day. Amos 8:11-12 says:

'11Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God , that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord :
12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord , and shall not find it'

There was a time when there was a famine in the land of HEARING the words of the Lord through the Prophets (Amos 3:7), and that time has passed. We are all able to listen to the words of the prophet today and HEAR him. But we have to diligently seek, or in other words, to search under every stone before you make a final choice. So, if you have heard of the missionaries before and know a little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, do a little bit of seeking for the Lord. Listen to the words of the prophet today, Thomas S. Monson and God will surely show you the right path. I know this is true, or else I would not be here in Ghana. It is true. It just is. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Wawro

Monday, January 23, 2017

December 25th - Christmas in Mpraeso

Mom: The highlight of Christmas was for us and EVERY mission family, to be able to talk to our missionary.  We were expecting to just talk on the phone as we did last time, so that's what we did for a while, but then we were able to get Google Hangouts to work for a bit so we could visit with him.  It was WONDERFUL!!!  To see his face and hear his voice was just beautiful.  It's interesting how he's picked up so much of the lingo and native ways...he speaks a little choppy and his sentence structure was sometimes a little different.  It was just really amazing!  He was later able to send us video of him opening his Christmas presents, so that was fun too.  :)  We actually only sent one package for Christmas, but the two we'd sent previously took forever to get there from November, so he got those at Christmas too.  Ha ha!

 Merry Christmas to all those who are reading this!! :)

Anyways, I don't have a ton of things to write about this week as it was a relatively short and fast week!

First, On Thursday we had Zone Conference in Kumasi combined with UST Zone and Dichemso Zone and it was awesome! It was a really uplifting time as we focused on the true meaning of Christmas and read the accounts of the birth of Christ in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Then, we had an AMAZING Christmas lunch! Everyone got a sugar cookie shaped as a Christmas tree or as a star. Wow. It has been long since I have had a sugar cookie! Ahhhh!!!! :) It was wonderful. I got a T-Shirt from the mission, a bunch of stuff for hygiene, and a few treats. I finally received my ties which I have been waiting for and more importantly I FINALLY GOT MY PACKAGES from home!! :D They cost an arm and a leg, but that is the name of the game I suppose!

Then, we had our Christmas day. It was really great. It is really REALLY hard to get into the Christmas spirit here as it is 90-100 degrees everyday, and they don't celebrate Christmas as huge and grand as we do in the States, but when the morning came, I was super excited!!  :)

I got a bunch of sweet stuff from home, and even managed to pack a little box for my companion! :)  Thank you for everything you do, my beloved family :) Our branch President was going to feed us, but his wife wasn't well, so he cancelled late on us, so I had some Idahoan potatoes for Christmas dinner :)

Then, today, we went to Nkawkaw, to their soccer stadium to play the other 2 branches. Last year, Mpraeso branch lost both games in the tournament. 4-0 and 8-0 . We were determined to turn that around this year!  The activity started by the branches playing volleyball against each other which was hilarious! :)  Three was a lot of competition and it was intense! They love to play here, so we had our work cut out, but we lost by a few points which wasn't that sweet! Then, we got together to play soccer. I suited up to go and play and one guy said, no no, you can play in the second game. Well... I am practicing patience.... So I decided to shrug it off and do a little coaching. Then, 25 minutes into the game, I wanted to sub out some of the tired guys for a few of the fresh ones we had on the sidelines, but the players on the field openly said no, so I was angry and sat down to cool off.  Then, our branch clerk said, "well yeah, they won't come off.  This isn't just apartment ball that you play". Needless to say, that didn't help my patience... I told him to keep quiet because he had never seen me go and play.  Anyways, the Branch President overheard and barked at one of the guys to come off the field to rest. So they put me and 2 others in for the last 5 minutes. It was hilarious. One of the 2 was a small boy of about 13 years and he came to play striker with me. We had just been talking about passing around because our team wasn't doing that well because they weren't passing. So, we decided we would pass a ton in the front. So, a loose ball comes around, it gets passed to Joseph (the small boy) who taps it over to me and Ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, I sent the ball right into the net. Funny how teamwork really can change the whole situation! Anyways, everybody was really surprised because they didn't think that white people could come and play the rough African ball they play, but it was funny to see the branch clerks face after that! :) The next game we played we tied 1-1 so we definitely improved from last year!  :) Anyways, now I am really tired, a little sun burnt and psyched about the fun we had!  :)

Well, as we close the year, now is the time to reflect on how our year went. What we did well, what wasn't so great, the things we learned and the things we wished we woulda learned a little earlier, but most importantly, how many blessings God has given us. Maybe that is just being healthy all year and not having serious injuries or not having any sickness. Could be getting out some debts or coulda been getting to change someones life. But I promise as we reflect with an open heart, the Spirit will bear witness to us that God truly is involved in the details of our lives. He knows us personally and loves each one of us, no matter what we have done in the past. He has provided a way for us to be forgiven of those things we have done, and that was through his Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this time of year. This I know to be true as I have seen countless changes in my life because of my service to the Lord. He loves us and is watching over us always. This I know to be true and real, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Happy New Years everyone :)

Love you!

Elder Wawro


(click the link below; if troubles, open using Chrome as your browser.  Excuse the first few seconds of sideways video.  Gabe's companion is at 5:18)