Monday, July 25, 2016

week 41 & 42 (7/25/2016)

Hey everyone! 

Well, this is my third time throughout the week trying to figure out what to write in this in this stink-in thing.  But I've finally decided that the over arching theme of this weeks blog will be: "I'm good":

Things are going well here.  Actually, last Sunday was probably one of the hardest days at church I've had in a while simply because people really were not magnifying their callings.  One of the sister missionaries ended up speaking in Sacrament meeting and we (the 4 missionaries) taught all of the classes.  Naturally, one of my lessons ended up being on the importance of callings and how we need to magnify them.  I went to church that day planning to teach from the lesson manual but just before church started I felt like I should instead speak about magnifying callings.  The sister missionary who spoke received the same prompting and without planning it, she spoke during sacrament on the importance of callings. 
Since then things have gotten much better.  Our Branch Pres. is encouraging the members and working harder himself, more people came to church, more people came to chapel cleaning and when we stopped by our Sunday School teachers home he had actually already started preparing his lesson for the coming week.  It stinks that we all have the tendency of slowly letting things slip until we are in a position where the damage has been done that will be difficult, or even impossible to completely repair, but I am glad that rather than give up and leave things broken, the people have decided to pick up the pieces and try to start over.  The saying is still true; "it's better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent."
So things are improving!

We had a lot of investigators show up to church even if they were late, and the work is moving along.
This transfer ends this week!  We will see whether I stay or go!
Something I noticed last Sunday when I was brushing my teeth after lunch, is that I've been out here for over 10 months now!  Time really flies, but so much has happened.  I'm definitely glad I chose to come out here, even if it's the hardest thing I've done in my life. 

I hope everything is going well back home!  I would sure hope that someone would update me if world war 3 is approaching (; cause I know nothing!

I love and miss you all!  Take care of yourselves!

Elder Speakman

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

week 39 & week 40 (7/11/2017)

Happy Independence day!  I hope all of you enjoyed it!  Wow, time is really flying by.   It seems like not long ago that I was with my family celebrating this same day in Roosevelt, UTAH (one of the crown jewels of America (; but it was a whole year ago.  Crazy!  Time really is a precious resource, so make the most of it!  There's so much to do in a day, and so much that we can do, don't let a 5" screen keep you for realizing this fact.

I have to say this 4th of July was something I don't think I'll ever get the chance to repeat.  We had a sweet zone activity.  We all met up at a "filling station," piled into a hired Tro, and booked it off to a city called Paga.  Paga is a smaller city right on the Northern border of Ghana and Burkina Faso.
The Tro ride itself  was a large part of the adventure.  Most of it was either filled with talking, "sleeping," belting out primary songs and the National Anthem (our Nigerian Elder from the U.K. loved that, haha), trying not to die of heat and being arrested.

So, in Ghana, something you should know about the roads, is that there are the most randomly placed speed bumps all over the roads.  Even on the "highways."  As of now my little mind has not been able to understand why on earth those bumps are necessary... maybe one day I'll understand this great mystery.  But, anyway, also scattered along the roads are random police check  points.  As we were nearing Paga there was one check point that our driver failed to stop at.... So we got chased down by a corrupt police officer on a BMW motorcycle and we were sent back.  So we went back, our driver got out and they began their, "bargaining," haha.  After about an hour and a half of us sitting inside the hot trotro and calling the most powerful people we know, including the regional police commander, they let us go with only taking a 20 cedi bribe.
Finally, we reached our destination!  The Chief Crocodile Pond of Paga.  Basically, it is a huge pond filled with crocodiles that they believe are the spirits of their ancestors.   I got to hold one.  It was awesome!  They lured it out of the water with a chicken then, we all got the chance to go up and touch it.  Some people were too scared though, so they just hovered their hands over it, took a picture and then booked it haha.  They said our crocodile was the oldest in the pond.  It was missing an arm, and one of its eyes was messed up, but that just makes it even cooler because he had been fighting the other crocodiles to get those scars.  Another smaller crocodile wanted to come over and fight ours, so they just scared it away by slapping it nose with sticks... true bravery.  I FINALLY SAW AN EXOTIC ANIMAL!  It took  long enough (;

On a more important note, one of our investigators made the decision that he wanted to be baptized on Sunday!  We didn't have any white shirts in the chapel for him because I had already given my spare to the other person being baptized, so he and I ended up just wearing the shirts we had on and let the heat dry them off hahaha. It was fantastic (although at first it was very stressful).  Afterwards, he bore his testimony in his sopping wet shirt.  He said something that impressed me.  He said; "It's not that I didn't know about God, I did, but there's a difference between knowing about him and doing what he wants us to do."  How true that is! (Food for thought everyone).  He ended  his testimony quickly and afterwards he told me that he was just so happy he couldn't find the words to say... which of course made me more happy.
This gospel changes lives! It gave him the knowledge and motivation that he needed to overcome his smoking and drinking addictions, and now he's working to repair the family relationships that were damage because of it.  He said he had always wanted to quit and he had tried but he just hadn't been able to stop.  And he's so much happier now that he has.  The commandments of God aren't there as a barrier to keep us from, "surfing the big waves."  They are there to protect us from the, "sharks" that would otherwise devour us in deeper waters and they are there to bring us true joy, along with safety and PEACE.

I know this gospel is true! That Jesus Christ's Atonement is there not only to free us from sin, but also to strengthen us in our weaknesses, tempations and hurt.  I know His church has been restored!
Test it for yourself (:

I hope you all have a great week!  Sorry some of this letter is late (I forgot my camera last week that had the picture I had taken of my letter for my blog).

Elder Speakman