Monday, March 31, 2014

I feel really trusted by the Lord !

Hello Mother,

My week was good. It was a little slow, but it was okay. Yes! The thumb drive did work and I would love to have more. The people in my apartment love that song by Carrie Underwood (How Great Thou Art). Those talks are awesome! Could you send some Hinckley talks and some sound track music from some movies, like Lord of the Rings or other stuff that you find? I like music with bagpipes and fun stuff like that. Man General Conference came that quick again? Yeah, I wont see it for another month or so. Wow then Easter, then I get to call home for mother's day. I will mark my calendar. 

That's great for Grant Hiltbrand (someone from our stake who just got his mission call to Botswana, Africa, the country right above South Africa and this boys brother is currently serving in Kenya, Africa). I know a few Botswanians. He will like the Botswanians, they are really great people. Is Botswana its own mission now?  Africa is going to grow a lot, I think the first presidency doesn't know what to do with so many they send them to Africa... jk! This place is ready to grow (from our stake alone we currently have 6 missionaries called to Africa).

So here is a "THIS IS AFRICA" story for you. Recently there has been an out break in Guinea of something called the Ebola Virus. You can look up the Ebolavirus, but essentially there is no cure. Because Guinea is a neighboring country and everything that Sierra Leone has comes from Guinea. We as missionaries are having to be extra cautious not to get sick or to pass it along to people. The virus has not yet come in quantity to Salone but here are some things that we are having to do and not to do. We can only eat food that we prepare and has a seal, which means no free meals, no bread, and fruits must be washed in bleach. We are not allowed to shake hands with anyone, and we are not allowed to give sick people blessings. We had to go and buy food storage, just in case. So that is something interesting, I am pretty sure it will come here because there is no real sanitation here. So thank you for sending the hand sanitizer in great quantity, it should get me through this. I am not to worried, as long as I follow these things, its just to prevent, it isn't here yet. Don't worry, the mission wont let us be somewhere that is dangerous. In fact, it  was really cool to get the news of the virus before the public did. Just shows you who  our leaders are! I just hope that is doesn't disrupt my mission here, but I will be okay. Yes, I am still using a bucket to shower. In dry season it is hard to get water, so I use about 3 cereal bowls full of water in my bucket, and I use a rag to soak in the water and squeeze it over me so that the water will last. Most areas on the mission don't require that, but this one does. I am glad that rainy season is coming this month.

So we got transfer news on Saturday. Elder Bogh has left me and I am staying in this area. I am glad to stay in this area, but I am sad to see Elder Bogh go. He is an awesome missionary and has helped me to become the best I have been on my mission. I will miss him. I don't quite know who I will be receiving, because I will be training someone. So I  get to bring someone brand new into Sierra Leone. I hope I will be a good trainer, but just like that scripture you sent to me says (1 Nephi 7:12 - Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.") but it will be a great opportunity for me, it will just make me a better missionary. I feel really trusted by the Lord to lead this area and to train. It will be a great experience.

So here is just a great story I want to share. So last transfer we baptized a woman named Aminata. We have been able to work with her family and it has been going good. Last Monday we taught the family how to have a Family Home Evening. Wow... Family Home Evenings are awesome! I have never seen a family be so close here as when they are doing Family Home Evening. The pikin (children) just loved helping to teach, and I saw how happy this family was because of the gospel. I realized how much that I am grateful to have grown up having family home evening. I will definitely do it with my family. 

Anyway, I am the happiest I have ever been, liking the teaching of Christ is the best way to that happiness. I can't even say how true the Book of Mormon is, I love it so much. Keep it up, keep enduring and dig deeper.

I'll see you soon!

Elder Beckett

Monday, March 24, 2014

The missionary work is going!


My week has been really good and it has gone by really fast. I went on an exchanges and we had a zone conference.

Cody at Zone Conference this week

Well the missionary work is going, we have been able to find some new people through the recent converts in this area but this area is pretty tough. Although everyone is willing to sit down and listen to "the word of god", not to many people are ready to flip their live around to follow Christ. People here just think that any religion is okay, it doesn't matter how you worship, but rather that you do. We do have a few awesome people that we are teaching. First, Emanuel and second Brother Rogers. Emanuel is young, 24 or so. Usually we don't teach people that young, because they usually fall way pretty quick but this man is not from Sierra Leone and has a different mind set. He was really prepared and we haven't had to teach him to many new things, although our doctrine blew his mind and he got so excited. He will help build the church here. Brother Rogers has ended up to be a big pastor at his church but has so much interest in this gospel. He knows we have sound doctrine and he knows the Book of Mormon is true. He loves Thomas S. Monson and is really glad that we have a prophet today. He will just need the faith to leave his congregation and become a Latter-day Saint. 

Wellington has a good amount of hills and has too many people. We have local markets to shop for food and  a woman who sells half half things across the street from where we live, thats usually where I buy my eggs in the morning.

 I have two good "This is Africa" stories for the week. First is about a man digging a well in our compound. So all construction and well digging is done in the dry season, so the well can still be usable in the dry season (they only have two seasons in Africa-the wet season and the dry season) when the water table goes down. So a man is digging a well in this apartment so we can have water more accessible to us. He's so deep that we can't see him anymore. Anyways one day during our studies he knocks on our door and asks us to help him with his foot that he has just split open between his toes about 1 inch (construction workers don't wear shoes here and I cant figure out why) ... so we put some hydrogen peroxide in it and bandaged him up and he went back into the hole like nothing happened. So that was interesting!  Second story is about our landlord. He is Muslim and he just completed the upstairs part of the house, so I think he wanted to celebrate and give thanks, so they brought in a full sized bull into the compound gate and sacrificed it... it was pretty amusing to see a bunch of muslim men in their caps and gowns dividing and cleaning a bull. We did get some meat though, that was really nice.

 Most people here have cell phones, they just struggle to keep them charged because there is hardly ever light.

Man that is so good to hear about Zac pole vaulting at the invitational! Did he place? Tell him to keep it up, I enjoy hearing about that.

I don't like to hear that about Grandma Richins. I have been praying for her and grandpa. Tell her that I love her and I wrote her a letter last week.  I hope she can feel better soon. She sent me a brownie. When I got it it was a month old, but I ate it anyways, it tasted just as good.

I love you!
Elder Beckett

PS -I thought you might be interested to hear this story. Cody's Mission President, Pres. Ostler's nephew donated a football jersey to DI two years ago and recently it showed up on a person in Sierra Leone! What a small world!  Click on the link to watch a video interview.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life is very fragile, that is something that I have learned here

Sierra Leone is very different from the rest of Africa. Its quite a unique country.  Its actually insane, but we cope, its amusing. If you showed up right now and took a look around you would think every thing here is crazy. There is no structure or rules. Its just a free for all!

Occasionally we have some really good sacrament meetings but most are just planned last minute. We did have the best district conference I have been to. It was the first time I felt the spirit in a church meeting, if that tells you how the sacrament meetings are. 

Mom, to answer your question about the Relief Society women here, occasionally you see women who apply all of the purposes of RS, but for the most part not really. What I have learned is that people should study the doctrine of the church, the people who read the Book of Mormon understand all of that stuff. The church is new here, but its really not an excuse, the people just don't understand everything. So no, there isn't any visiting teaching going on yet. This branch and the past branches haven't really had great leadership, but we are working on it and improving. 

Wholly molly! I got the packages. So much stuff! Its like I have America in a package. I wont need one for a while but letters are really appreciated! Thank you so much for the pictures and all the fun stuff. Thank you to the Gold's and Sister T for all the great stuff in the package. I will write you guys a letter soon. My companion loves everything too! 

An average day for us starts at 6:30 am.  We prepare and study from 8-10am, then we spend the whole day proselytizing until 6 pm (because there are no street lights here ). Then we eat, plan, and sleep. 

Pretty much the people here just try to survive for the day. Most children go to school, but that doesn't mean they learn much. Most people here have food to eat and most people share their food. If we walk down the street, 4 or so people will invite us to eat with them. The biggest challenge for the people here is living the gospel and everyone is after money. Almost everything that happens here is for rice so they can eat. But they do need a good education. This place needs a lot of things, but small small the gospel will change them. 

For our monthly allotment we go to a bank to pick up our subsistence. There is no such thing as credit cards here. There is really no such thing as credit. I'm  really never in need of money because there is not much to buy here, at least in the east side. The country is very different as you travel. I don't know how some other places are, but this place is pretty deprived. 

I take a good amount of pictures and I will send an SD card home with a returning missionary, and he can mail it to you. I don't trust the internet cafe computers here.
I was sick earlier this week. I had a fever and flu symptoms so I couldn't go out one day, but I am good now. We had a sweet district conference on how to "Hasten the Work" and how to retain the members. I was impressed with the speakers gospel knowledge. I have a better hope for the people here now. 

I finished the Book of Mormon this week. Its so sweet! I'm already starting to re-read it. Back home I disliked reading and now I love it, as long as it affects me in a good way. The Book of Mormon has strengthened my testimony so much, especially in Jesus Christ. It really clarifies the bible and strengthens people. I really love it. I will try to finish it again before your seminary class :)

We had a super p-day and we watched the Prince of Egypt. Its really good, I remember watching it when I was little. 

Life is very fragile, that is something that I have learned here. 

I'll see you soon!

PS - Thank you dad for all you do for the family.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I am enjoying this crazy demanding opportunity as much as possible

So great to hear about Connor (his good friend who just received his call to the England, Manchester mission)! And Wholly Molly.. that is insane to hear about Baylor (a cousin who is serving in Peru and was in a car accident which rolled 3 times and he and his companion were completely fine even though another person in the car had died). 

 The best part of my week was working, although not much progress in this area, but we are going out and looking for the people who are ready for us. The hardest part really is finding people that will comprehend the message that we have. Most people don't have good educations. Its amazing to me that some people who graduate from the "highschool" here can hardly speak English but there are a select few that are great and as the gospel comes it will get better. I have really just noticed how unorganized and unplanned everything is, but thats why we are here, to clean it up with the gospel!   Its a good thing we have companions, so we can talk about stuff during the day instead of getting distracted with all the problems we face.

The people here have muscles you have never seen before. You can see every muscle in their body. Thats what it means to be "jacked".

Welp, Brad moving to Hawaii?! At least when I get back I will be with Brad in Hawaii. You can see us on Facebook I guess or come visit us! 

That's great to hear about Jana going to spring training in AZ. I saw someone with an Angels shirt on the other day. 

Dang, dang... Zac went 10 feet at his first meet?  That's what I got at my first meet when I started as a Junior. He's going to be a really good pole vaulter! Kushe Zac for clearing 10 feet!

I got a few packages today. Two from you, one that you sent with Ruth and one from Sue. I haven't gotten to look in them yet, they were delivered right before I left the apartment. Thank you so much!

We live a few hours from the mission office, so Ruth Ostler went home before I could get the things to her to take back to you, sorry. I will send the pictures home with an Elder who is going home soon.

If you look in the February Ensign, there is a talk by Richard G. Scott that talks about how we get direction and meaning in our lives. When I read it I felt the spirit witness to me so much that it was true. Everyone in the family should read it. If that was my one wish, it would be to have the family read that article (click  here to read/listen to it. Cody's wish don't skip it!!)

 I really am learning and growing, you may not even recognize me when I come home :) I am enjoying this crazy demanding opportunity as much as possible.

Thank you for all you do for me!
I will see you soon...

Elder Beckett

Monday, March 3, 2014

"This is Africa"

Good Afternoon Mom,

Wow seminary sounds so sweet. I want to join your class just to learn more. What age are you teaching again? Its pretty crazy some of the changes you see in people here, and I am sure all over the world.

The rice sickness has past, but these days I am not eating it all that often, because it is really unhealthy, and I want to get back in shape. I haven't met Ruth Ostler, I don't know if I will, but I am sure I will get whatever you sent me. Whoa you sent 4? Thats a lot! Packages are expensive, so you don't have to send them too often but if you love me that much its not bad :) If you do get the sd card, you can just put it in your camera or you can ask the Golds how, they know.

Family history is something that doesn't quite exist here yet. Sierra Leone is some how stuck in the 1830's. They are still using make shift hand carts and mixing mud and cement, with an addition of power occasionally and phone and cars. So family history is a little bit harder here, but the district here is doing a temple trip to Ghana in April, so they are collecting names. I miss the temple so much, I want to come back here when they get a temple. Save some family history for me!

Elder Bogh and I have been doing really good in our area. We are having to do a lot of finding, we are looking for serious investigators. My favorite people to teach are old men, because they are wise and they are sensible and for some reason more educated than the rest of the country. These old men usually take a while longer to convert, but thats okay because they stay once they are there. We have a miracle investigator, his name is Emanuel. He is 24 and he was so excited to meet LDS missionaries. He has been waiting for years to meet us. He has read the Bible 3 times and is going to be the next bishop in Wellington! He has been to church twice and on his second visit he was teaching the elders quorum about the priesthood. He seems to know more than most of the members. Its really amazing how people can be prepared for the gospel. I gave the CTR rings that Aunt Pam sent to me to the primary, they loved them! Its probably the nicest ring they will ever have. The city is unorganized and has lots of hills. There is lots of dust thrown in the air from motorcycles and everything is congested. This area is not like you would imagine Africa. There isn't really any bushes in this area and limited greenery. 

Its funny, people will actually tell me "This is Africa" when I learn something new or I see something as strange. All the South Africans don't like it when people here say that, because there home is very different, in most cases, more like home in America. Something I noticed this week that has been a trend since I have been here is that all the investigators who accept the gospel and are serious are people who live in quiet areas or are more secluded from the world. Everything here is loud, the music, the streets, and the peoples voices. Most people don't have time to even feel the spirit. Nothing is planned here, but the people who do seem organized seem to accept the gospel. So I have seen, those who are in the world but not of the world are more prepared and can feel the spirit more. This place has a lot of work to be done. We go do um small small! I have decided that Ugandan's are my favorite people here in Africa. I have met a few of them serving here and they are the nicest, funniest, most sincere people I have ever met but everyone is great here.

I am doing great! I run every morning, because I am trying to get rid of my rice gut, and its quite an adventure running here. We mostly worry about  dogs when we run, but grandmas dog tazzer works great!

 I'm always learning and having a great time. I always think of you guys back home and my friends on missions and what everyone is doing when I am laying in bed sweating to sleep. Its going really fast. Welp that's all about me.
I love you.... I'll be home soon.
Elder  Beckett