Monday, November 30, 2015

week 9 (11/30/2015)

It's, "Hamma time!"  The first time I heard that I thought the person was just being funny or quoting a song, but no, "Hamma time," is an actual time of the year haha.  I thought it was hilarious when I first found this out.  It 's basically the summer (during the U.S. winter).  So there is very little/no rain, which means MUCH fewer clouds, which means I'm cooking over here.  But thank-goodness this means less humidity!  Although, when Elder Ulu and I are walking down the street, the dust from the cars is a bit overwhelming.

Something that has confused me since day 1 is that in the market I see people selling winter gloves.  And on top of that I see people walking around in winter vests... and hoodies!!  You know, I still don't really understand why they wear them in the middle of the day, that's a mystery, but apparently part of, "Hamma time," is having cold nights and cold mornings.  Needless to say, I'M PUMPED!

The other day we were passing by this old man whose job is to sit on a little wooden stool and shuck/remove the kernels from dried corn.  He sits outside to work, and behind him is a room filled with corn.  So Elder Ulu and I convinced him to let us sit and work with him.  At first he didn't want us to because he didn't want our clothes to get dirty, but eventually we convinced him to let us help. We removed the dried kernels until we filled a big black tub.  I began wondering how anybody can be happy doing this day in and day out, and I wondered if I would be able to do it if I were in his position?  I also wondered what was keeping him going, what could motivate somebody to do something so monotonous, all day every day?  Then I looked up from my corn and saw him smiling at something behind me.  I turned to look and saw little children playing and laughing with each other.  I asked him if they were his children?  He said, "yes."  Then I realized what it was that kept him going, what gave him hope in a life that seems so bleak, Family!
I'm sure I could have written this all much more eloquently, but it's really is as simple as that.  The most important thing in this life, and what we should all be striving for is family.  Not just to "have" a family.  We should strive for family.  I think that removing the word "have" makes the sentence much more meaningful and profound.  I encourage everyone to think about what that means to them?  What can you do better?
The family is one of God's greatest gifts to us, His children.  Through the priesthood and temple marriage He has provided a way for us, that our families can be Eternal, Families can be together Forever!  I'm thankful for my parents for their amazing examples in following the commandments of God and making it possible for our family to be eternal.  And I'm thankful to them for always teaching me and showing me the right way since I was a child.

"None of us were pre-destined to receive anything less than all The Father hath."  I like this quote. It reminds us that, "decisions determine destiny." Let's all make choices that will benefit us in an eternal perspective.  Not choices that bring us momentary and counterfeit pleasures.

I love and miss you all!
Make good choices!

Elder Storm Speakman

Monday, November 23, 2015

week 7 (11/9/2015)

"Ey Masta (s)"! That is probably my companions favorite thing to say.  Along with "what ting dey worry you?" and "masta forget."
But hey, things are good.  I'm getting much clear to my Nigerian (Elder Ulu)  We both swap stories and compare our countires as we are walking around, but I'd say a majority of that walking time is "pondering time." (;
Oy, I'm getting tired lately.  For example today (which was Sunday when he wrote this), I fell asleep for a minute in the church until the earth started dropping around me and I almost jumped out of my chair.  But it was a good day.  We had 4 of our investigators come to church (1 brought her family), and afterwards we went out with my good ole friend Bro. Ernest.
But in case you were worried I had lunch first; a delicious Egg, Cabbage, Margarire, onion sandwich.  I can cook "Papaaa" (very well in Twi).  Seriously it was delicious! 
Also, if all goes well with the baptismal interview, I'll more than likely be baptizing someone this Saturday!  We've been meeting almost all of our goals lately, especially as a district.  We have really been working hard.
I have been meeting a lot of my personal goals as well; one that I'm most excited about is working out morning and night. It's stinking hard!  I've never been closer to inhaling my own sweat, swimming in it or going blind from it in my life (you can always count on me to talk about gym"ing."  Speaking of the gym! We may have found a g that we can go to and lift some rusty gears every morning!  Brother Richard will be taking us there tomorrow to check it out. 
Also, I did get my first haircut last Monday. It was less than glorious. A patch of my hair did somehow go missing and is no where to be found. You can be assured there was much bobbing and weaving of the head.  I felt like I was boxing someone while sitting Ina chair, adrenaline was pumping. Sorry no pictures.

For us the sun sets and rises at 6 all year round. Its nice to be able to watch the sunsets though, but we don't get to stay out too late, usually we are home around 8 because you can't really contact at night. But one night I climbed up on the roof and just looked at our sparse stars. it was nice though. We also have fireflies. Especially on the path that leads to the church. They are a different kind of firefly's though, they're interesting. They're more of an orangish color and they glow for much longer, even as they are flying they continue to glow.
On Friday people were "singing" and speaking " in tongues" all through the night until 5 in the morning in the "infant Jesus school" across the street from us, that's always fun. There always seems to be some kind of chanting when we are walking around at night.

I've made it through 1 transfer!! It did fly by I must say, I cant believe its already almost been 2 months. One of the elders in the apartment is going to be training and its very likely that he will be training an American because that's what a majority of the new elders are. It seems we were the beginning of a wave of Americans coming to this mission.
This branch has some leadership issues but other than that its fantastic.

Well, anyway, I said a whole lot with out really saying to much at all, sorry.  But, I hope you are all well and making good choices. 
I love and miss you all!

Happy birthday dad and Isaak. I hope you both had good birthdays. 
We, I'll see you all soon (;
Elder Speakman. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

week 8 (11/16/2015)

Hey everyone!  I hope you are all well.  And if not, then just start talking, I'll strain to listen (;  But as for me, thing are going pretty well, I'd say.
The work is just as hot and sweat as before, but that's not such a bad thing.
 I was listening to a talk, I'm not sure who gave it, but he said something that I like quite a bit.  He said, "To sweat is as much a divine command as it is to pray."  We're here (on the earth and on this mission) to work, as scary as that is haha.  "Idleness creates a vacancy of worth (same guy)."
I've noticed that when we are truly giving our all to something, we feel much better about ourselves.  We all know that we have great potential (just think about it).
And for myself, I've noticed that the only time I feel okay with not living up to that potential is when I create within myself feelings of "passiveness."  The only way to feel comfortable or even "content" with my "under-achieving self" is when I simply stop caring or ignore the fact that I could be so much more, or so much better, if I just worked (something that was much easier to do back home with 1,000 distractions surrounding me).
Sometimes just the prospect of work can make me sweat.  And it can be scary!
Looking at what I want to be, and what God has made it possible or me to be, the work that it will take to get me there is frightening.  And you know what?  None of us even knows our own potential!
None of us know just how great we could be. And if it seems our time here on earth may even be insufficient to accomplish all that we hope for.  We won't always have tomorrow.  We won't always have tomorrow to say sorry, to learn more, to get better, to grow.  We won't always have tomorrow to change.
 A saying that I have come to despise is, "next-time."  What a short-sighted statement.  "Next-time" won't always some.  In fact, most of the time, as soon as you've said those 2 words, "next-time" never comes.
I could keep going forever because I'm writing this as much for me as for anyone else.  Believe me, I've got work to do.  And it's not easy o'.
I'll leave you with one last quote:  "Procrastination is the thief of salvation."

I love and miss you all!
Elder Speakman

p.s. Happy Birthday Mom!  And also Miriam and Jaelle!  And Happy anniversary to Uncle Mitch and Aunt Jamie

Monday, November 2, 2015

week 6 (11/1/2015)

Oh geez, what to write, what to write.
Well, things have been very busy I can say that much.  It usually rains about every other day, sometimes we're lucky and we don't get caught in it haha.
Going along with this "business" comes a lot of walking.  It's funny how those two things go hand in hand here.  Back here being busy usually brings about a lot of sitting.  And we do get to sit, don't worry haha.  70% of the time it's outside on a tiny wooden stool that we're doing it but hey, sitting is sitting.
Halloween is/was not Halloween haha. Honestly, I forgot it was until the end of the day which was probably a good thing.  It ended up being a great day though and before we had remembered it was Halloween we had gone to the night market and bought some fufu ( I never thought I'd ever be doing that either for all of you who are surprised haha).  I also bough some bananas and Elder Ulu bought some popcorn.  So when we got home I ate all of these delicious foods as a tribute to Halloween.  I even ate a few of my M&M's.
I am actually getting a pretty good hang (what an odd phrase) of the food here.  And judging from my skewed standards, I'm actually getting pretty good at it.  There's this one Elder, Elder Tushabe, who eats beans and rice almost every meal of his own choice.   That ... I don't understand. My meal changes every meal.  Also, mom you would be proud, I mix my cereals in the morning (mostly because I don't want to use all of my good cereal in one meal aka. the granola).  The biggest problem with the food is that I'm eating too much and working out too little.  I refuse to get fat again haha.  The awesome people need to stop feeding me so much.  Unless it's koko (baked-ripe plantain).  I'll take as much of that as they want to give.  It's hard not to waste all of my money on that every time we pass a stand.
Tonight I did 2 new things.  The first one was, I ate Sugar Cane.  Dang! That stuff is amazing.  It's literally pure sugar.  I've got a bit in the fridge for when I read (see what I'm talking about?).  The second thing was, that I took my first bucket shower. But! this was speical.  It was heavenly because I heated my water.  That was my first hot shower in about a month.  But apart from the very un-necessary but enjoyable heat, there was another reason for the bucket shower.  I got this sweet infection under my nose and on my hand that came out of no-where.  I've been putting Neosporin on it so it's going away but it was no fun.  I decide that it came from the water that we aren't suppose to drink and yet we run all over our bodies.  So I heated some filter water instead.
All in all, I would say that things are going pretty well for me.  It's obviously hard and a big adjustment, but I know it's what I should be doing and after all, "No Regrets!" I always say.
 I love and miss you all!
 I hope you are all well and make good choices.
 See you soon!
Elder Storm Speakman

ps- I watched General Conference! Here are 3 quotes of the many I wrote.

"The Power of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive." Pres. Eyring

"We must recognize who people are, where they come from and where they are going" Pres. Eyring

"We need to see people through a parents eyes, God's eyes."  Elder Renlund

5 weeks (10/25/2015)

Hey Everyone!

It has been a long while! I've been having troubles sending my blog but hopefully as you read this it means I have found a solution.
This past Monday, we had a little zone activity at our apartment.  Each of us pitchted in 12 cedis to buy a sheep, leusava and Plantain.  That's right, we were feasting.  Fufu and sheep meat all the way. Killing that sheep wasn't something fun. But let me tell you this... actually never mind, but even a "clean slaughter" was still grody.  So, after skinning it and sending the meat to the kitchen to be added to the groundnut soup, we began punding the fufu.  It's a process and I'm not sure the fufu makes up for all of the calories expended in making it. But how it works is you have the "driver," the person who places the leusava/plantain and risks his/her hand moving the fufu, and the pounder.  Ther person who lifts and slams the log to crush the leusava and Plantain until thy become on big , play-dough-like mass.  It's magical I'll tell you what.  But, I'm not even kiddnig that was the best fufu and Groundnut soup (right after Mama Mary's) that I've had since coming here.  I was super suprised.  These Elders have some cooking talent. 
Yesterday, we went to do service on a guys farm.  What we did was cut the grass in this big area with cutlasses so eventually he will be able to burn it and plant some leusava.  People here made it pretty clear that they don't think white people can work so when I got my run to cut I wasn't too keen to stop until Elder Ulu forced me to give him the cutlass.  Blisters and all, I didn't like being told I don't have heart.  But 1 serious word of advice.  If you live in Africa, and you walk many miles in 1 day, don't ever, ever, ever work out your legs unless you plan to take a trotro or taxi everywhere.  Midnight calf cramps are real.  I've woken up on numerous occasions on the verge of screaming because my calf was tearing its self apart. 
Last thing.  Tomorrow, Elders Ulu, Crerd, Wilson and I are going to this hotel to Email and get this, eat PIZZA! You people have no idea.  Food has become my life.  And there's never enough of it it seems (but there is) there's never enough variety (which there isn't).
I hope you are all doing well.
I miss everyone back home but I'll be seeing you soon.
Elder Speakman

10/18/2015 (1 month)

I'm very sorry I forgot to send in my blog to the editor (mom) last week.  I know I probably have  a lot of avid followers who were very disappointed.
 Man I don't even know what to talk about a lot has been happening. 

As I'm sure you can imagine we walk...everywhere... all, the time.  Honestly it stopped bothering me after the first week haha.  I feel like I could walk forever, not even kidding.
 Sometimes the heat really gets to a person though.  For example, yesterday, we were walking home from buying power (by the way the power goes out all the time here. Apparently the gov. sells it to other countries and let me tell you, without the fans it gets hotter than Hades in the apartment), and we weren't even in our church clothes because we had just cleaned the church and our house was being fumigated to kill the Satan-spawn cockroaches.   That walk, in my shorts and t-shrit, was the hottest that I have been since coming here.  Sweat was free-flowing, the dust from the traffic was blowing, and I was just munching on my 1 cedi bread trying not to drown in my own sweat.  Eventually I gave up on wiping away the sweat and just decided to go with the flow *quite literally.  Elder Ulu and I just laughed at our pain.  I was honestly just happy not to be one of the guys swinging pick-axes to fix the road.  Although it did look like a pretty good workout. 

The people here are awesome.  They are so nice, and I'd say we get fed an average of 1 meal a day. But some days it's even more.  Take today for  example. I made myself a big lunch of noodles, carrots plantain and bread, then we went out and got fed 2 dinners haha.  I'll work that off tomorrow.
Speaking of the food, I'm beginning to like a lot of it!  Rice and noodles are still my safe foods, but I really like the fufu with ground-nut-soup.  I like the yams, and I like the lcoho (baked Plantain with nuts). The 1 thing I don't like is Banku.  That stuff likes to stick in the throat. 
I've actually gotten to pound fufu 4 times now.  I might buy a "pistol" (the pounding stick) and just go pound over rocks in the morning for my workout.  It seems to work for the people here haha. 
But in conclusion, this was a much better week with too many stories to tell .  I''m finding members/investigators that I can talk to which is always nice and things are getting better.  Reading and writing have become my forms of entertainment at this point.  It's something new.
 I love and miss you all!
Make good Choices!
Elder Storm Speakman

And Happy birthday to Gentry, Grandma, Parker and Brinday!  Sorry I'm late!
p.s Yesterday, was my 1 month makr. It has gone by fast but slow.
p.s.s Tomorrow we are buying a sheep as a zone and cook it together... so we'll see how that goes.