Monday, October 28, 2013

Sowing and Reaping!

This is a picture of typical scence traveling from Freetown to Bo
This has been the fastest two months ever! I feel like I just left last week! Sorry that the time has been going so slow for you, as long as we are working hard the time goes fast. Dang we are already half way through this transfer! I slacked on the letters a few weeks ago so you wont get some for a few weeks, sorry! ...I did send one last week, so you will get that eventually. I have only received the post cards you sent, those come fast. I hope the others have not gotten lost! Anything I say in my written letters that you want to send to people on the blog you are welcome to share. 

Sorry to say ... but I am not home sick at all, I love being here. Not that I don't think of home, I don't think about home until I get to the apartment, usually when I am cooking dinner or breakfast. 

All the pens that you can buy here suck, can you send me some sweet "Boss" pens? And if you have any sweet seminary cards or study things  and some "17 points" cards.

 Its a bummer really, this week we found out that brother Conte (Abdul) is a polygamist. He wasn't progressing at all, so finally Isha Conte (his wife) told us. Its sad, brother Conte doesn't even care for her. He is always at his other wives house... so he will go and give him a big fat Law of Chastity lesson. Isha Conte is so sweet! She has 3 kids and they are so cool. Pray for them!

So pretty much everyone here has a problem with the Law of Chastity. Polygamy is normal here, and fornication isn't out of the normal. I met a 15 year old who was pregnant the other day. Its no big deal here. The girls that get pregnant here are taken in by the fathers family (father of the child) so hopefully they will get married. That is the biggest issue here. The gospel would help everyone here!

I read all of the letters you send in the Dear Elders (, they are so sweet! (We send him copies of all his missionary friends letters through that mail system). Send me everyones! Anyone's you can get your hands on. I love reading about others missions. So in Landon's letter he mentioned a family named the Mthembu family. Their son is in my mission! I will talk to him as soon as I see him, he is in Freetown. My companion is from South Africa and he enjoyed the letter also .. reading about the cities and the things there that he knows. The word that Sister Gold couldn't figure out was "BBQ" so you can let her know.

You can tell Kyle that my PR was 17.13 and my Mt. Sac time was 17.31 (Kyle Hess is a 14 yr. old friend of the family and a cross country runner for THHS and was asking us about Cody's running times so this was his reply to that question). Tell him to just keep running! Tell him to ask Max about his times, he was fast!

I hope Halloween is good, I'll let you know if they do anything here like that. There is a lot of witch craft stuff here, so hopefully I don't get attacked by a demon.... jk! I don't think that will happen, but there is a lot of scary stuff here.

So when I came to Bo, Elder Hales and I were put into an area that was white washed(we were both new to the area), basically we opened a new area, because the sisters before us didn't use their area book so we started fresh. So finally we have seen the work pay off. All the people we taught I have been with since the beginning of their time with missionaries. I have seen their testimonies grow and even some stop progressing. It is sweet to see someone progress all the way to baptism. Yep baptism! On Saturday I baptized Fatmata ("fatu" for short) Kpandayenge. She would have been baptized a few weeks ago, but she traveled to a village, so she was delayed. Its so sweet to see people come in and gain a sweet testimony. Elder Hales is missing out on some sweet people that we started teaching together, even whole families that will be baptized in the next two months. We have 4 whole families that will be baptized by December. One of them we would be baptized if they were married, but they are waiting until December to be married.

After the baptism on Saturday the branch had a party. The branch told us that it was to introduce investigators to the members. Good thing only one investigating family showed up (the ones that need to get married - and they already consider themselves to be members). The activity introduced home teaching and visiting teaching to the branch, this is good, because we have a lot of less actives. They said the activity started at 12:00 noon just after the baptism, but in Salone that meant 2:30. Its funny, in church every one gives "5 min" talks. Five minutes in Salone is 20 min. The people have a weird sense about time. Anyway, the home teaching lesson lasted a literal ten minutes and the rest was 2 hours of dancing and eating. There is a member in our branch who caters, so we ate well. We even got vegetables. So at this party, before you can get your food you must dance in front of the whole branch. If you don't dance, you don't get any food. Luckily they let us elders dance together. The ward parties here are sweet, its just eating and dancing, its pretty much a rave...haha!  They play techno party music, and everyone dances, even the old people! They love it. So that was a flipping sweet day! We had a child of God baptized and a rave in the same day.

Elder Manzini and I get along really well. He teaches me a lot about South Africa and he even teaches me some Africons and some other native language there. He has some sweet gospel music from South Africa even some sweet hymns with an African twist on them. Look for some South African gospel music to listen to.. You will like it!

Last week my companion had pink eye (appolo here) so we had to stay in two days. It stinks staying home! I love going out and teaching.

At the ward party my small hymn book got stolen. I think one of the youth took it so I ordered a regular sized one because it is only 5,000 leones compared to the 130,000 leone to buy the small one. My scriptures came out of their binding .. I think it was because of the humidity so I super glued them back in. The scriptures I bought were really cheap but they will last as long as I am fixing them. Its so humid that I can smear the words in my scriptures.

Well thats all from me. I have a lot of stories to tell actually, I just find it hard to fit all of them in while I am writing. I usually only take an hour to write, but this week I am taking two hours, because Elder Manzini and I love emailing.

 I hope I hear from a lot of people. I like dear elders and written letters because I can sit down and read them and I can write back. I will respond to more so if people want to talk to me that is the best way.

Love Elder Beckett!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The African lifestyle doesn't even make me think twice now!

Nengo ehh? (Sweet Huh?) This is Mende. 
(Mende is a major language of Sierra Leone. It is spoken by the Mende people and by other ethnic groups in southern Sierra Leone.)

Sierra Leone

Dad, what's up? How is surfing? Does Zac go with you?

Mom ... how do you make banana bread? Can you send me a cook book? I have stuff to make breads.

(In response to our questions to him about Christmas there) Yeah, a lot of missionaries wont be getting stuff for Christmas. Even letters are cool to send. You should send letters to Elder Hales and Elder Manzini, because they are my companion even Elder Buah who was my MTC companion and Elder Ameworlor, he's a good friend. Even the family can write to them. Yeah ties are sweet for Elders, and candy is great! I don't think they need anything else.

I have to worry about getting sick all the time! Last Sunday I was really sick. I threw up so much! So I have now gained back an appetite for the main things we eat here!

We mostly eat carbs. Rice, noodles, bread, and some veggies and some meat, usually chicken. When we go to peoples houses to eat, we usually get different meat, like cat, dog, maybe even monkey. I eat lots of bananas here, even oranges, and mangos are coming soon. You can buy 5 bananas for 25 cents here. Its so sweet. The fruit here doesn't change colors, it stays green all the time, even when it is ripe. No more yellow bananas, or orange oranges.

 Elder Hales left on Wednesday so we decided on Tuesday we would go and get some Niki soupwii (groundnut soup) its like a peanut paste, made into a soupy sauce and you add meat and spices, you put it on rice and eat it. It is really good. We went to a local shop that makes it really good, got a coke and sat down and talked until we got our food. Every time I have gone to this place I have had different meat. First, cat, then chicken, then mystery meat then a fish head. When you get your meal you get the rice with the plasauce on the side. When the bowl of Niki was placed before me, I couldn't tell what the meat was today. I poured some of the sauce on the rice to drain the bowl so I could recognize what meat I was going to eat. It was dark, black, and it was almost like a tube. I played around with it, using my spoon to flip it and flop it around in my oily brown soup. I thought for a time that it was some kind of intestine. I even poked it and a ball about the size of a quarter or soo came out. At this point I thought it was a goat leg, and a piece of meat popped out. It had skin and hairs on it, so I thought that I was eating goat. The ball that popped out seemed liked bone marrow, at least part of it tasted like it. I split the ball shaped meat in half, dipped it in the Niki and took a bite. It was salty and it was even airy. After I swallowed and re-examined the mystery casing I was eating from I knew what it was..... I had just removed one testicle from the scrotum of a goat and ate it. I re-examined and confirmed I just ate 'the goat"!

The infamous "Goat" mystery meal

Elder Hales knew the whole time what it was, and he never told me. Well I decided I had already eaten some, so Elder Hales and I made a bond of friendship and I ate the rest of the one I split in half and Elder Hales ate the other. The skin was very chewy and I didn't finish it, mostly because there were still hairs on it. Yep we eat it all here.. 

Walking down the side of the road, seeing the crazy African lifestyle doesn't even make me think twice now. Its not weird anymore. Everything seems normal....well except for going to the bathroom by an investigators house. The public bathrooms are  just a tarp made into a circle using sticks to hold it up. The tarp only reaches to my chest, so I can see everyone and they can see me.

I cant wait to see how big the church is in two years. They are sending so many missionaries here, we don't have anywhere to put them, so we split areas. There will be elders everywhere, everyone will know the church! We are definitely laying a foundation, at least in my area. On page 13 of Preach my Gospel are a ton of quotes about missionary work for the members!

I haven't seen General Conference yet, I will get the Ensign magazine before I'll get the dvd of conference. I can't wait to meet Elder Dube (one of the Seventy who oversees West Africa ). I will most likely get to meet him if he comes here!

Elder Dube

Well to all people reading this .... go find a missionary and ask him for a "Gospel of Jesus Christ" pamphlet. Read it and share it. Too many people don't even know what the Gospel is.  Everyone in the church knows about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but not everyone knows what was restored. Yeah the church and the priesthood were restored ... but what is the fulness of the gospel that others don't have?

Welp ... that is the only commitment I have for all of you today. I think I'll give commitments from now on... I guess I am a missionary!

 Elder Beckett

Monday, October 14, 2013

I can't balance things on my head yet, but I'm working on it!!

Whats up family! I love hearing about the family and what everyone is doing! Mom it sounds like seminary is going good! Yeah... Freshman are easy, they are so enthusiastic about seminary! 

Dang that is so sweet that Jared is going to Argentina! So cool that Ty and Jared most likely get to see each other in the MTC! Those pictures were sweet to get of the family and of all of my friends! I am trying to find a member with a computer so I can send you pictures! I bet the house is so quiet! None of my friends are there and Zac is basically the only one at home!

So this transfer is over. Elder Hales is going back to Kenema. I am going to miss him! We got along well and he taught me so much! My new companion is Elder Manzini from South Africa. He has been in my apartment for the past transfer and he is really cool! South Africans are very different from all other Africans! They are more like Americans. I can relate more to the South Africans than I can with all the others. Elder Manzini will be the district leader so I will get the chance to go on exchanges with the whole district again. District leaders go on exchanges with the entire district, and so does his companion.

In Bo there are about 50 different churches! Bo is about the size of Lake Forest. Everyone here either goes to church or is Muslim. All of the people that go to church, they sing and clap, but they don't even know who God is. They just go because it is a part of the culture. All of these people have no idea what they are even worshiping. I have been thinking lately, and I just don't understand why people aren't running to our church each Sunday, to grab a seat in the church before the chapel fills up. I don't understand why people aren't lined up at the baptismal font, ready to dive in! It is the church of Jesus Christ! Not the church of a living stone, not the church of a flaming bible, not the church of a pastor, not the church of a Pope, not the church of anything, or anyone except for the one and only begotten son of God. It is the same church that was created by Jesus Christ himself, brought back in these latter days! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! God has always revealed his gospel to the people, and he will continually reveal it forever! People have become so far from the gospel of Jesus Christ that they can't even recognize it. It all makes sense! Our purpose in life, why we need a redeemer, the blessings that come from it all! Why would you be apart of another church, or religion? How could you deny God? Everything in this life testifies of Him. I guess the people just don't have enough faith. They will just believe what there pastor tells them or they wont rely on the lords council. 

We focus a lot on families! We have much success, the hardest part is to have the people have faith enough to pray to know if it is true. We can claim whatever we want, but God can't lie. Ask and you shall receive. 

We have some routine maintenance we do here at our house like going outside to fill up buckets of water to bring inside. We put it in a barrel so we can filter it before we drink it. It takes about 5 or so buckets to fill the jug. Today we walked about 2 miles to fill our 5 gallon bottle with diesel fuel for our generator. I can't balance things on my head yet, but I'm working on it!! As I swept, mopped, did the dishes and studied today I realized how much you have helped me prepare for the real world when I would have to take care of myself. Thanks for supporting me on this mission. I am loving all of it!

Anyways, the computers here stink! I have been in this internet cafe for 4 hours waiting for this computer to load, and now I have to go!

I love you, see you soon!

Bo/Kenema Zone Conference
Elder Beckett is on the top row right, sixth guy in!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My faith is that God will make it right

This inspiring letter is from Cody's mission president in response to us contacting him to see if there was a way to reach out directly  to some of the people (not through the missionaries) in Sierra Leone that are suffering so much and have so many needs. This is his tender and inspiring message back to us. 

                                                                                            President and Sister Ostler
Hi Sister Beckett, 

Your son is a great missionary. Sister Ostler and I saw him last Sunday - and he looked well. He has a huge smile and 100% enthusiasm and energy. Its also nice to be called cool (something my children would never say) (We let him know that Elder Beckett said he was cool!) 

The poverty, disability, suffering, etc. of the people is heart wrenching. Any direction you go, there are hundreds, thousands of people with similar stories. Perhaps this has always been the condition of man (the poor you will always have with you), but the vastness of poverty here is  overwhelming - and very personal, like Abdul, like the nameless child, like the investigator whose wife died in childbirth the other day, like the district president's wife who just had her leg amputated (and it goes on). 

My faith is that God will make it right and that through a mortal experience (even though it is meager and difficult for most people) that we gain something that we couldn't have without it - the potential for exaltation and the universal gift of resurrection - and the promise of being made whole. 

Now as to being able to assist. There isn't a way for a missionary's family to donate money to Abdul or any specific person that the missionaries are involved with. We can't create a connection between missionary work and monetary charity. This has occurred in the past and has created long term problems for the recipients and the church. Our missionary's efforts are exclusively focused on spreading the gospel message - 'silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give you' (Acts 3:6).

It is heart wrenching to know a circumstance and be unable to help directly. And there are thousands and thousands of similar circumstances in Bo and other cities, towns and villages within Sierra Leone. 

We do have fast offerings, which are used by branch presidents to help the needy (usually in a very spartan and life sustaining way). Our LDS Charities (Humanitarian services) provide direct aid within Sierra Leone. They are not allowed to proselyte but conduct projects that fund clean water (increasing life expectancy), child birth, mobility for the disabled, immunizations, etc. We have a wonderful, full time couple in Sierra Leone that administers these programs. Our Perpetual Education Fund, creates educational and vocational opportunities for adults to be able to skills to provide self sufficiency - a real problem in Bo. 

Knowing that you can't reach Abdul directly, perhaps, your feelings are moved to donate to one of these funds, knowing that you are reaching someone like Abdul whose burdens are not known to us individually but are as great. 

I suspect this is an unsatisfying answer. We should not be satisfied while such suffering exists. Your son is one of the ways this all gets better, by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and by building a community of saints, even among the poorest people of the world, having faith that it is all made right through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and praying that even in our own fortunate circumstances we work to lift those around. 

You have a tender heart which shows through your note and through your son. I thank you for your expression of help. 

With Love, 

President Ostler

Monday, October 7, 2013

I don't think I have done anything so satisfying in my life!

Rice, rice, rice, rice, all we eat is rice ... with different sauces! For breakfast I will eat either pancakes, french toast or something called solution. Solution is a mixture of Cassava root smashed into flakes, water, milk powder and sugar. Its like African corn flakes and sometimes we will eat porridge. So that is about all we eat for two years! You can find chocolate here, but it isn't that good. In the supermarket you can buy American food, but it is kind of expensive so I just go with rice and the other things.

I have only had like 3 mosquito bites, they really aren't out too much. Its either too hot for them or too cold. So at sunset is usually when the bites come.

It wasn't me that got in the crash, it was my companion Elder Hales. He was on another motorcycle in front of me, we were going about 25 mph when another man T-boned him. Luckily Elder Hales has been riding mountain bikes for years so he knew how to fall. He just ended up with some road rash, no one was seriously hurt but I am scared to get on the motorcycles now, most of the guys here don't really know how to ride (Motorcycles are the taxi's in Sierra Leone). 

 I love my mission and love the people! Its so fun to be here sharing the gospel!  I am having so much fun here! I don't think I have done anything so satisfying in my life. I would strongly encourage everyone to go on a mission. If you struggle with knowing if the gospel is right or not, read the first 15 chapters of the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it testifies of Jesus Christ. Mom, tell your seminary students to listen up, and everyday they need to go and share what they learned with a friend. Tell them there is no shame in knowing that the gospel is true. I wish I payed more attention in seminary. Even when I was in seminary, Sister Ferrell said that her son, Elder Ferrell said the same thing about seminary, but I just ignored it.  Tell them if they don't I will come and beat them with a cane! 

I love packages and I do love hearing what the family is up too!!

 Okay for Christmas, can you tell Santa that all I want is a military issue of the standard works That is all of the scriptures made really small.  That is all I want, and if you want to send anything else its cool with me. I don't need more sandals and I can buy them here if I need them and there is no where to buy a nativity (mom's request to send one home). There are a few supermarkets in town but nothing where I could buy a nativity. If you are going to send money send it in bills over $20 because I exchange them on the street (black market) and they wont take small bills. Put the bills in some kind of church book, no one would steal that, or taped in between two pictures of the family. I haven't yet found a post office here, I am still looking. When I find one I will send something home. 

I haven't seen General Conference yet, it wont come for another month or so. They will send it over on a DVD or something for the branch to watch.  I can't wait to see it though. I really want a cinnamon roll (cinnamon rolls are a Beckett family tradition for conference weekend). That sounds so good, there is no such thing as a cinnamon roll here. Haha!

The African's lives here can be hard, but for the most part, they are fine. It is not like the commercials you see on TV, those are a bunch of crap! The thing you don't see in those commercials are the gardens they have here just out of shot of the TV cameras. Only a few live day to day.

I love you 
 Elder Beckett

PS - The Dear Elder letters take about a week to get to me! So keep sending them!

The Solution cereal that Cody eats is made from this Cassava Root 
Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people