Moroni 9: 6
And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
Family and Friends,
Na mi yequia ni. (I was a farmer.) Elder Ferrell and I are doing our best to learn Twi so I now say this when I am introducing myself! When I tell people here that I am 18 years old they think I am lying. Then I tell them that I was a farmer and they really don't believe me. Luckily I still have some calluses from using the shovel so I just show them my hands and they are amazed that a white man knows how to work. I've been very grateful that my parents taught me how to work hard because missionary work is not easy at all. Missionary work will never stop until every child of God has heard our message. It is a daunting task. But each day we wake up and do our best to do the work of the Lord.
On Monday last week the Ghana Accra Mission and the Ghana Accra West Mission had the opportunity of hearing from one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ in these latter-days. Elder Rasband from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles visited us and we were able to sit at his feet and learn through him what the Lord wanted us to know. I'll never forget the wonderful experience. We arrived early and we were sitting in our seats 30 minutes before he arrived. When Elder Rasband walked through the door we all stood. It was a special moment seeing a very humble servant of the Lord making his way to the front of the room. Honestly I was amazed at how normal he was. He is a little shorter than me, he likes smiling and I could tell that he was even a little nervous. Elder Rasband was a very normal man but I know that he has been called of God to do things that are miraculous. He is normal but he is also a special witness and friend with our Savior Jesus Christ. At the beginning we were able to shake his hand and after he told us that he had just shaken the prophets hand the Thursdaybefore. I didn't want to wash my hand. Then before he spoke he called on two missionaries to share their testimonies, and one of them was MY COMPANION! Elder Ferrell heard his name and he just looked at me and said, "Me?" I was laughing and he walked up and then they asked me to come up with him so that after he shared his testimony we could just stay on the stand with Elder Rasband. I was sitting right behind an Apostle of the Lord for 2 hours. And again I marveled at how normal he was. He was sweating! I don't know why this surprised me but I was happy to know that he was a lot like me. We have both been called by got to serve Him here on Earth. We have both been given power to help people as they journey back to their Father in Heaven. In many ways we are alike. I was very impressed with his testimony that he shared at the end. He closed by saying, "The Prophet and Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not strangers to the voice of the Lord." He spoke, doubting nothing. After being with Elder Rasband it gave me a lot of motivation to come closer to my Savior. I desire Him to know me and trust me, so that when He reaches out to me He will know that I am worthy and willing to do His will. Elder Rasband is a very ordinary man, but with God he is extraordinary.
We had quite an exciting week! In our apartment we had 4 Elders that serve in two different areas. One Elder in our apartment went home because he was very sick and needed more help than the mission could provide. And because of the short number of missionaries in our mission, the missionary that stayed was not able to get a new companion. For the past week Elder Ferrell, Elder Koronikalou, and I have been working together as a companionship in two different areas. And our areas are huge! It is about a 30 minute bike ride to the beginning of Elder Koronikalou's area and our area is just as far. We have been riding bikes. A lot! But on the plus side, my legs have never been stronger! :) The funny experience that we had this week was in Haatso, Elder Koronikalou's area. It was a little after 7:00 and we were walking in the area towards the last lesson we were to have that night. We noticed some lightning on the horizon but it looked pretty far so we weren't worried about it. We had our lesson which ended after 8:00 and then we went to Elder Koro's Branch President's house to pick up two bikes that he had left there. We came to his house and visited for a short time when it started pouring. Lightning, thunder and rain. The compound we were in was quickly filled with water up to our ankles. But we were safe inside, trying to wait out the storm. It was around 9:15 and the rain wasn't letting up so we started looking at options. We were going to walk the bikes back to the apartment but because of the rain we didn't want to be out there for that long, but we needed the bikes the next day. We decided that Elder Koro and I would ride the bikes back in the rain while Elder Ferrell would take a taxi and drive beside us, carrying our scriptures, phones, socks and shoes. We took off our shoes, grabbed the bikes and were off to find a taxi. We found one and then we took off pedaling barefoot as fast as we could in the pouring rain and the flying mud. I said earlier that Haatso is about a 30 minute ride on bikes and that is because of the many hills. Elder Koro and I had a blast though. I was just praying the whole time that I wouldn't hit a deep pot-hole and face plant on the road. I hit many potholes and power slid over many pools of water but thankfully we were protected and we made it back to the apartment soaked, covered in mud, but safe. And our shoes were dry so I was happy. :) We spent the night washing the mud out of our shirts.
This week I learned a lot about Diligence. As I said earlier, the missionary work is not easy. And it never was supposed to be. Your days are spent trying to find, and help, those who are prepared, come closer to Christ. You talk to many people and you come to love them as your brothers and sisters. You want them so badly to have the joy that you feel and yet they don't seem to care. You invite them to act on their faith and so many of them keep doing what is easy for them. You face many disappointments and it seems like what you are doing is all for nothing. As missionaries we have these feelings a lot. And I know that many of you have these feelings in your own lives. You work so hard, in school, work, family and activities. You do so much and you work harder than you ever have and it seems like nothing comes from it. The advice I give for each of us comes from a Book of Mormon prophet named Mormon. He says, "notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently." Whatever the hard circumstances that we are facing we I ask that we work diligently. Keep working and keep pushing because if we stop we will never reach the goals that we have for ourselves and the goals our Father in Heaven has for us. It is in the struggle that we become strong. It is in the hard times that we find that we are not alone and that we must do our part to receive the help our Savior is willing to give us. Whatever you are facing does what you can and stand with faith, knowing that God is with you to help you. Do your part and labor with all diligence and He will make up the rest. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father. He sent our Savior, Jesus Christ, so that we can live and return to Him again. He has provided us a way and we must be diligent as we work our way back to Him. Our Savior will help each of us, as He has many times, as we are diligent.
I love you all and ask for your prayers for the missionaries working diligently around the world.