Monday, December 30, 2013

Being in Africa is great and all but the gospel is much better!

Hello! Christmas was really good, mostly because I got to talk to you. I wish it could have been longer, it seemed like it was 20 minutes. After I hung up I kept wanting to call you back! I know I sound different, I can't really speak like I used too and it has gotten worse since I have been with Elder Flament, because he speaks with an English accent. Wow, how was your Christmas breakfast, and what did you eat? Wow, your Christmas seems so exciting, we did not do much, we just sat around all day and called our parents and stuff.  Although we did have a sweet dinner with some nice chicken. All the stuff you sent was great!  The Nerf guns never get old. At night and in the mornings before we go out we have intense Nerf. 

Did grandpa get the letter that I sent him? I hope so. Maybe you can give me his email address! Wow, you guys really had a good time going to Mexico. I could use a taco right about now!

I haven't been too home sick this Christmas season because we have been working really hard through it. Although, I miss all the lights and tree business, but I had one of the most enjoyable Christmas' in a while so it was nice. Our area is booming right now, we have found really prepared people in this transfer.  This week 3 people will be baptized. One is Musa, he is really sweet and we are trying to teach everyone that lives in his house. There is even a less active in that house  that wants to come back but we just need to help convert her husband so she can be allowed to come. The other two candidates are Mariatu and Abraham. They are married and have a 1 year old daughter. They have really seen how the gospel blesses families. They used to fight all the time and they couldn't seem to get along but since he stopped smoking and drinking and us helping them to have a christelike home they have become so happy. They have even overcome trials with members and they are making a covenent strictly because their faith in Christ.  

I have truly seen how the gospel has blessed my family. When I first got here I found it hard to teach that families are blessed by the gospel, but now I have a very strong testimony about it. Thanks mom and dad for raising me in the gospel. I really have not found a work so satisfying as this one and my life so happy. Thanks for everyone who encouraged me, you have helped me do something great! I can't decide if my investigators are more happy or I am, I love it. It really doesn't matter where you serve, even if its Provo Utah, you will have the time of your life. Being in Africa is great and all but the gospel is much better. 

Time is flying,
Elder Beckett

PS - can you give me that lemonade recipe? I have an oven so can you send me a Bell family cook book? and the German Apple Pancake recipe? Also, can you send me hand sanitizer? Oh and Elder Flament says Hi!

Monday, December 23, 2013

This Christmas feels more like Christmas than any in the past!

Zone Christmas Conference
Cody is top row right, fifth Elder in, holding a green sign  

I'm late emailing today because the district president treated us to lunchI can't wait to talk on Christmas!  Wow 80 degrees on Christmas, that will make the beach super nice for you guys! The weather is cold here in the mornings. Its called the "hamatan" it lasts for about a month in December.  Its the dry season, and I don't like it as much. I had to buy a hat because the sun was hurting my eyes so much. We are allowed to wear full brim hats, so I  bought a Billabong full brim hat for a dollar. 

That's okay that Trey lost his bowel (friend of our family who just had surgery this week to fix his sunken chest. Everyone loved the entertainment he gave using his chest as a cereal bowl), I still have Landon's! (another friend of ours who also has a sunken chest who eats cereal from his "chest bowl")  

I got Jake's email too. I wish I went to that MTC, my MTC in Ghana seems like a joke compared to Provo. At ours we would have times when we would just sit in a classroom for 2 hours with no teacher (Cody had a great experience in the Ghana MTC but hears about some of his friends experiences in the Provo MTC and gets a little jealous being that his MTC was not the traditional style. Here is a really nice article about the latest happenings in hastening the work in the Ghana MTC).

We have really sweet investigators right now. Freetown investigators are much more sweet. In Bo we were able to help convert 1 person in three months. Here we will have maybe 4  in 1 and a half months, depending if one lady keeps her commitments. The people here really
have been waiting for this to come to them. Although everyone is willing to listen to us, too many people are distracted with the things of the world to see how important this is for them. 

 I got the chance to go back to that members house and climb the palm tree. I spent an hour 20 feet up with a machete cutting down branches. The people here are not actually prejudice, they just have stereotypes. If people see a white man, they will simply say, "white
man" when they want to get your attention ... haha ... can you imagine calling out to get a black mans attention in America by yelling, "black man"! You would most likely get sucker punched! 

Yeah all is good. Its crazy how much I have learned about using the branch council. We have really put our effort in like Preach My Gospel prescribes, and it's paying off for our investigators. I got to go on an exchange with Elder Outubu, my zone leader, and I learned so much from him. He will go home next transfer but I wish I could have served with him. We have been struggling to have people at our appointments because Elder Flament lost the phone, but I think we will get one in week or two. So when I call Wednesday I will use another missionaries phone.

 We had our Christmas zone conference party this week and it really made it  feel like Christmas. We had a devotional about christ and we all ate lots of food and there was a
gift exchange and many people donated gifts for the Africans so that they could have a sweet Christmas. For some reason this Christmas feels more like Christmas than any Christmas in the past few years.  I think that is because I have grown so much closer to the one we celebrate that day for ...  I have just learned so much about christ. All of the African elders loved all the stuff that was donated for them. I got your gifts but I am waiting to open them on Wednesday. Here is a link to a video taken at his zone Christmas party. You can see Cody right in the middle waving.
Today marks 4 months of  eating rice. I haven't gone one day without eating rice. Wow 4 months has gone by fast! I'll be home soon! 

Christmas in Salone,
Elder Beckett

PS - Wow, thank you mom for helping me become Christ's missionary (referring to the poem below that mom sent him). I love you!

(author unknown)
I skipped the sales after Thanksgiving. The thrill just wasn't there.
No pictures taken with Santa Claus, my decorating has no flair.
His presents are shoes, shirts, and ties, two suits and fun. I've
bought him all white clothes because...
This year I'm giving Christ my son.

I've spent more time in the temple, my testimony stirred.
I've reread November's Ensign, Felt strength come from His words.
Our family prays more frequently. My tears are quick to run.
Abraham seems closer because,
This year I'm giving Christ my son.

I wonder how those Lamanite mothers, gave their sons to war?
Or how the pioneers chose Zion, their sacrifice was so much more.
My loss will be his presence, I'll miss his smile a ton for two years we
will pray for him,
I'm giving Christ my son.

I stare at his face when he's not looking. I memorize his eyes, their
He's always hungered for the part of him, that makes his soul divine.
The stories and lessons he always heard, His choice and mine are one. I'll
put my faith in God's hand, This year,
I'm giving Him my son.

Past gifts have lost their glitter; I think I finally understand Christ's
birth should be celebrated by giving Him a hand.
It's because I know Christ lives and reigns that all his packing's done. My
gift has taken years to make, This year...
I'm giving Christ my son.

I know there's One who understands, the sacrifice I'm making.
Who knows the gift I willingly give, The toll it will be taking.
For He has done it all before Greater love - there could be none. For years
ago God gave to me, His only begotten son.

The hands I washed, the hands I held, The hands I taught to pray; Now knock
on doors to find the ones Who will listen to what he'll say. Because I know
Christ needs him, Until all the gathering's done, My gift has taken years to
make. This year...
I'm giving Christ my son. —

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas in Salone is not really the same as at home

Wow Christmas is here!  Christmas in Salone is not really the same as at home. Its really hot during this time of the year. The people don't put up lights because there usually isn't power to light them, although I did see one house that hung shiny stuff around their house. From what Elders say,  on Christmas people just eat a lot of food, oh and the people party a lot. This week we saw a bunch of cars parading down the street with people hanging out the windows listening to loud music, not Christmas music but rap. There was a flat bed truck that only had speakers on it, playing so loud that Liberia could hear it! We asked someone what was going on and they said they were celebrating Christmas... so I guess that's how they do it. 

So the Christmas phone call.... They told us we only get money to call if we need it.... for those who can't afford it but otherwise I will give you my phone number, and the night before I'll text you so you can see the number. Then I will call you when I can talk, when you answer I will just hang up and you can call me back.  What phone do you want me to call?

My new area is sweet now, I didn't like it when I first came because it was very flat and full of houses, there was no food and no investigators but we have many investigators now and the branch is really sweet. The people here are much easier to teach than my last area. 
Although there isn't very many things to buy here we do have sweet missionary resources because we are so close to the mission office. The food is the same, but we don't get as much. Bo is in Mende land.  The Mende tribe is very giving and will always have you eat but I am now in Timinee territory, so I don't get as much but the food tastes the same. I like Elder Flament alot, we get along well. We enjoy ourselves. I just get small irritated when the room is messy but hey it's always a good time.

 I loved Elder Ogden and Hoffman. Elder Morgan is serving where Elder Hoffman lives .. haha... and Tyler Schoesow in Ghana has met him because Hoffman lived in Ghana right before he came on his mission so it's a weird circle of friends.

 Was fun for our family to get this post card in the mail this past week from Elders Hoffman and Ogden, two Elders that Cody served with in his last area.

So Patrick is back from Germany? Does he look the same? I know I wont. I can see my face getting fatter here. I am gaining fat, and I am stuggling to fight it off. I wish I was there for Jake's talk (Cody's cousin who is leaving this Wednesday to serve his mission in Calgary, Canada and spoke in church Sunday)

So we have appointments every hour of our day, there isn't a time on this mission when you wont find someone to teach.  We have to limit our teaching because of appointments and mission buisiness.

 To your question about getting money. For us to get money from the mission we have to travel 30 minutes to a bank and take money out of our accounts. I found a way to get money to me a safe way. There is something called moneygram...look it up online. Basicly, you transfer money to my bank (Rokel Bank) and we collect it. When I collect it I just have to give them a password that you will email me but it is nice to recieve money in letters or packages. I got 50 dollars from grandma and that was really sweet! I got 212,000 leone out of it. So that will be nice to buy some extras here. 

Yeah Dad, we will have to go to Buher beach surfing here in Africa  ...your the sweetest dad ever, thanks for the example and your inspiring letters. 

I have been reading the book of James and it's my favorite book in the bible. The messages are just so plain and if people were just to listen to James the world would be a better place. My favorite scripture in James is chapter 1 verse 8 - "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways"

 Anyway... I am doing good and we have sweet new investigators. I'm really trying to work with members and trying to gain their trust. So this week we taught this member and at the end we asked if he had anything for us to do so he told us he needs his palm tree cut down. So we started by cutting the palm frons off with a machete, while balancing on a rickidy ladder, we ran out of time so we will go back tomorrow to chop it down. The member, brother Williams wanted me to get the coconuts out of the tree, but if I were to climb up into the tree I would have gotten my shirt more dirty. I swear there is reverse racism here, his daughter said I couldn't climb the tree because I was white, so I will show her tomorrow! 

Life's good when you are busy!
Elder Beckett

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

They said that we were going to the beach!

Wow... this week has been full of so much excitement! On monday we had a super P-day. We are about 45 minutes away from the beach. So the zone leaders planned for the whole zone to go to the beach. So we met up and all 20 of shoved into a poda (an old old mini van modified to carry uncomfortable amounts of people) they are used as taxis. After getting lost small (a little), we found the beach! Wholly, the smell of the ocean, the sand, the warm water! the sun! So the beach is called Bureh beach, I can't send pictures yet, but look up the place on the internet. It's the most tropical beach. When they said that we were going to the beach I thought that it would be all trashy, but I guess not. We got to wade in the water and it was warm! Past Hawaii (more than)! You wouldn't believe it ... there were waves! and it gets even better, there is a surf organization there. This surf organization is just a bunch of African beach bums that play soccer when the tide is down and surf when the tide is up. I got to hold a surfboard and stand in water, you have no idea how tempting that was to jump in. I got some sweet pictures with the surfboard and with the surf guys. There was one guy there from Austria teaching kids how to surf. Thats good, because there is nothing else for them to for fun here besides soccer. They get surfboards from visitors, they just leave a board when they come. These guys could actually surf too. That was the best p-day so far. So when we come back here, we will have a place to go and surf, there is even a small hotel on the beach. 

Bureh Beach 

So on Tuesday it gets even better. You know Elder Flament and I are doing missionary stuff and minding our own business, actually we were waiting for a guy to meet us at a small junction. A man in a poda waves to me(to see if I want a ride somewhere) and I shake my head and look away. We are sitting there for about 3 minutes and this Poda has pulled over and this man keeps calling us so finally Elder Flament goes over to check it out and I follow. Ends up the guy that was waving to me was from America (he's black) and all the other people in the poda were from America too. The rest were white with Salone drivers. So I thought these Americans wanted to say hello to white men because they hadn't seen any in a while, so we greet them. We talk small and we find out that all of them are return missionaries from our church! It gets even better.... they are from California! Even two of them were from San Clemente! It was so sweet to talk to them, and talk about home and the people we know. I forgot the guys name, but he will email you a picture of all of us. They are here for a month, they are helping at some orphanage, and they were just on their way back from Bureh beach that I had been at the day before.!!! They surfed! Anyways, they are really cool guys. 

Found this in our yard and killed it

Missionary work is good and growing in our area. We have had some seriously sweet lessons. I am glad I went to brother Andre's mission prep classes, I can now apply what he was telling us all along. Its really fun sharing with people and even the occasional conversation with pastors. So last night we were opening our door ...we got through the first door, made of metal, then we had a problem with the second. Our key snapped off  inside the lock. The other elders in our apartment were not going to be home for another two hours and their phone was off, so we called a member, brother Obi, he owns a welding shop, and has built a few things in his life. Anyways, we called him and asked him to bring a simple screw driver, and he said he was on his way. After pacing back and forth, being bored for 10 minutes, 2 cars show up. Ends up he decided to go get all his workers. He came, used the screw driver to get that case off the door handle, examined it, then sent one of his men to get a hammer. He stripped the wood panel in the middle of the double doors. At this time were thinking ' the mission is going to kill us for breaking the door' but hey we are in Salone, let them work. Then we get more tense, because he calls his guys to get a generator and a grinder out. They fire up the gen., plug in the grinder, and grind into the thick deadbolt lock. after 20 seconds of a waterfall of sparks the door is kicked open and we were in. He packed up and was out. He said he would bring a new lock to pday! ahah so I guess thats one way to solve the problem of breaking a key. They put the door back together and the mission has no idea... its okay, we were going to need a new one anyways.

Till next week,
Elder Beckett  

PS - so I took the key board from the church so I could practice and eventually play in the church. It's going well!
Thank you Steven for showing me where middle C is!

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's flipping hotter than satan's steak house!

Hello Family!

I can't sleep right now so I thought that I would write a letter to you. I can't sleep because it's flipping hotter than satan's steak house in here! Also, it sounds like someone is firing a cannon outside my window. The rain and the thunder is crazy! I have never seen so much water being poured out of heaven. The thunder makes you jump and shake. It's so loud it shakes you and you can feel it in your heart. It's okay though. People here will wake up at 1or 2 am just to pray and read their bible. Sometimes I get up and do the same, you should try it, it's really nice and quiet well except when there is a cannon outside your compound!  My English is is degrading since I've starting speaking Krio and find it hard to say things properly though. People here sell fish and crab, they carry it around on a plate balanced on their heads. There is no such thing as refrigeration here so the crab and fish smell really nasty! Smells like nasty fish guts! I think the people here buy it and deep fry it and feed it to us. I'm doing well and I'm having such a good time out here sharing the best message ever! I'm glad I came out on a mission and I think everyone should go! There is nothing more satisfying or more fun than missionary work and the things you learn are incredible(this was a note he sent before he was moved out of Bo last week).

Skies of Bo

This week has been a lot different than the weeks past. On Tuesday I just sat around and prepared to leave to Freetown. The drive to Freetown from Bo was about a 4 hour drive. On the drive you pass a bunch of villages, that you would imagine in Africa. The road was really fun, dad would love to drive his car on this road, besides the occasional pothole. As soon as I was dropped off I could tell things were going to be a bit different. The streets are really busy here, there are more cars than in Bo so we aren't allowed to ride the motor bikes (taxi's) here.

Motor Taxi's
 There is no more supermarkets here to buy Oreos, or snacks anymore. So I will be eating a lot less and really only eating rice. The apartment I stay in now is nicer than the one in Bo, but it is super small. We only have 4 elders in this apartment, which makes the apartment very quiet. This new apartment may have nice tiles on the floor and nice painted walls, with no spiders or cockroaches and a real a toilet, but it is missing some things. We don't have a tank of water at this apartment. So we have to go to the well to get water for anything we do, including, showers, flushing the toilet and water to wash dishes and drink.  There is no light here for some reason, yet there are power lines everywhere and we have lightbulbs but we get at least 2 hours of light every night because we have a generator. Well with this new apartment I will get jacked from pulling water from a 30 foot well but will get sweet night vision and I will feel the spirit more. 

So my new companion is Elder Flament. He is from England, and he sure does sound like it. He doesn't even have to speak Krio because the people can understand the British accent here. He has been on his mission for 16 months and he is a really caring guy. We get along fine. At first it was hard to relate to him, I just didn't really know what to talk about with him, but I started asking questions and he is a cool guy. The only difference we really have is organization. I don't know if you will believe me but I am really organized here (YES! finally!! ....amazing what 3 months will do to an 18 year old boy in Africa!). I like to keep my things in their place and keep my area clean. Its not quite the same with Elder Flament, but we are getting the room cleaner, so there is progress made.  Anyway, we are good together, we really have the same teaching style, and we really yield to one another. 
Kossoh Town. Its much different than Bo. Everyone here has big compound walls, everyone has big houses  and there is no food. I was pretty disappointed at the beginning of the week because we only had about 10 progressing investigators and 3 of them were baptized on Saturday but we have really done a lot of contacting and it has payed off. We have found some sweet families in some weird ways. So our area is pretty big, and we were on the far end of Ourarea, by the mountains, and we were late for a lesson. The roads here are pretty rough so cars go pretty slow. A 4 runner comes cruising along, blasting some sweet beats, and as he passed I asked for a ride, hoping he would let us hang on the side but he said we would have to come inside, and I am glad we did. We got talking with him and he has lived in England, so Elder Flament and him went off on England, so we were really able to relate to this guy. Anyway, he has a sweet family so we will be teaching them.

 The branch here is so sweet. We have church service inside a remodeled house here, and we fill the chapel with people, I even had to stand outside it was so packed. Anyway, this branch actually works with the missionaries, we had a PEC meeting and we were able to talk about how the missionaries and the branch auxiliary leaders could work together, and how we can retain the recent converts. So that was really cool. The people here seem to grab onto the gospel more than in Bo. The people are really excited about the work! 
Today has been sweet and will get sweeter. I got a package from Grandma Neecie and I got sweet candies, Uno cards (we have already played it ..we were so stoked) and some Christmas presents that I am very tempted to open.

This week I have seen some pretty funny stuff. The people here wear really tight clothes and beanies. All the ocara drivers (motorcycle men) wear snow clothes as their bike gear, even though it is 1000 degrees here. I have seen a woman open a Coke bottle for me with her teeth. That was really cool and I am very tempted to try it.
Welp that's all folks!

I love my family, I love my God and I love my mission!

Love the African man,
Elder Beckett