Monday, October 21, 2013

Short and Sweet

21 October 1013

Dear Family,

Okay before I forget...because I have for like a month now, I was at the MTC one night and there was a group of new missionaries that were still in the MTC outside in front.  We went over to talk with them, see where they were going all that fun stuff.  As we were talking a missionary came out, looked at my tag and says, "ah man, Elder Bradshaw I LOVE your brother!!" Turns out his name was Elder Robb?  I don't know his first name or anything but he sure knew Zack!  He talked about how much he loved and respected Zack...and how good of a person he was.  I was very very proud to be Zack's brother.  Thank you Zack, for being the kind of guy that when a friend flies all the way to Africa, and sees your brother, he will thank him for having such an awesome brother that always made him feel important and loved.  You're awesome! 
Thank you all so much for the prayers, I really do appreciate them!   And...I really do feel them.  

So, I am about out of time, I wrote Zack a good one today and that took some time.  Sorry this one may be short.  I'll try and hit a few cool points though:). 

How about some questions...

-got a package from Victor and Viki!  Thank you!  I got a letter from Elli on her typewriter that I loved...and a letter from the Pace family.

-I'll try and get some, time is limited this week...

Most spiritual part of your week?
-This week I was so excited to go to the temple, I prepared probably like I had never prepared before to go to the temple, physically, and most important spiritually. I even made a list of everything I needed to do in the morning; deodorant, tooth brush, shoes, breakfast, everything! When we first entered the session we were a bit early, I had a few minutes to sit and admire the beauty of the temple and to enjoy the peace the prevails there. As I prayed, and pondered...I felt a closeness to the Savior and to my Heavenly Father that I had never felt before, I felt almost as if I could see them sitting there watching me as I sat in that holy room. I felt their love that they had for me somuch stronger than I have ever felt. I have always know there is a God...but the thought of a supreme being was always a bit weird to me.  Not that I ever questioned that He was there...but it was just something I had a hard time imagining. As I sat in the temple on Wednesday it just made sense.  It clicked.  I could process the idea of God clearly, and simply.  Now I can say that I know more than ever, that God lives.  He is there watching over us each and every step of this crazy two years. He knows my pains.  He knows my desires.  And he knows exactly how to help me. He knows when to step in, and he knows when to let me walk alone, or at least seem as if I'm alone, in order to learn a specific lesson. He loves me, and I know it. This experience isn't easy and some days I feel as if I'm done...but that's when he comforts me and gives me the strength I need to carry on.

Funniest thing that happened?
-remind me to tell you when I get home....its one of those...

What are you learning from Elder Benans? 
-Patience, gratitude.
Tell me something fun you did for pday...
-we were supposed to do something today in Batsonaa but then we got sick...  Next Monday we should be doing a Zone P-day though.
What are some of your favorite things in Ghana?
-the people are just absolutely amazing!  Greatest people in the world!

Are there things that we could be doing to help you?
-Take care of Zack...I'll do the same.

Okay, I love you all so so much!  You are such an amazing family and I am so grateful for each and everyone of you!  Be safe.
Love you all,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dear family,

Man time is flying by!  It feels almost like its almost just always Monday.  This week was the typical mission roller coaster, good for some of it...and then real 'not good' for others parts...ha ha.  That's about how it always seems to go isn't it? (my computer is in French today so sorry if it's a bit sloppy)

Good. I'm glad that you got my pictures that I sent!  
It was a bit of a process to get my camera hooked up, but I think it should just stay logged onto the network hopefully it will be easier from here on out.  If its may be a while before I can send more.  I still think that is crazy how I can take a picture of what I am doing right then and there...and then send it to the other side of the world and you can share that little experience with me. 
Sister Patricia's Baptism
 This...was the baptism for Sister Patricia, and it was awesome!  We started working with Sister Pat the week I came to Tema.  That was her first Sunday.  She had come to witness her boyfriend (Bro Evans) being baptized the week before and hasn't missed a beat since.  Both of them have taken to the church like crazy...and it has only been a few weeks!  They are a really cool couple. Rumor on the street is...that Evans is planning on proposing soon, don't tell Patricia though;).  I hope they get married, it would be sweet!  Anyway, Evans baptized Patricia and did it perfectly!  Him standing there in the font...all confident and bold...about made me cry!  
He was a big, somewhat shy, soft-spoken guy until they gave him the Priesthood.   You could literally see the change in him and it was amazing!  He is still quite shy but he speaks with conviction and...even more so you can just see his confidence!  The Priesthood really did change Brother Evans.  The first time I really saw and noticed it was when he stood there reverently in the baptismal front. He helped his soon-to-be fiance down into the water, raised his hand to the square (checking to make sure it was just right...which is not a quality of a typical Ghanaian) and performed the baptism perfectly!  It was awesome, I wish I had two pictures of him.  One before his baptism and Priesthood ordination...and one after, then you could see it!  

Okay...I'll tell you a bit about the pictures I sent:

What was that crazy banana-looking fruit thing?

 -thats a plantain, the staple food of Ghana.  I have eaten probably about a million of those things over the last year.  They cook them in about 20 different ways so that one was just a roasted one, I eat them for lunch with a pineapple a lot.  Ill make you all some when I get home:).

What is the pineapple cart?
-they are walking all around town.  Pineapple season is they are cheep-as-can-be and they are everywhere!  For 50 cents I can get a whole big pineapple,  and it kinda reminds me of Dad with the watermelon in Portugal, there are so many of them we only eat the middle, the best part, and it is awesome!!  They peel it all in one piece, that's what I'm holding.
What about the road with white walls/gates?
-this is how my entire area is....I think I sent a picture of a wall with about five doors on it in my last area?  Yeah thats what we knocked there and now we knock on these gates or I guess I should say push the telecom kinda stinks---not going to lie. beep....beep...beep.... "hello", "yeah we are the missionaries, from the Chur.....", "yeah I don't have time for that...bye."  Oh's frustrating! Some times I feel like just walking down the road the chucking pamphlets over the a news might be more effective!

What about the road with palm trees/nice houses:

-Just felt not like Ghana at all so I had to take a picture.

Is that a hamburger? may be heaven:)

Yeah just so you know who he is.  There was wifi there at that restaurant...and it was like my second day in Tema so I was going to try and send a picture home...but it didnt work.

Who is that large group of missionaries?
-that's our zone, 44 missionaries, one of the biggest in the world, stressful but sweet!

Who is the guy with crazy cart full of everything?

-a crazy guy (like literally crazy) and that was his bike.

Why the picture of the stream/ canal?
-the poop rivers, they are all over....and yes full of poop.


Best part of the week:
-Elder Bradley and Elder Shults came and stayed over the other night, that was fun!  Elder Bradley was with me in Teshie so it was fun to hang out with him again.

How are things with Robert?  
-dropped off the map :/

Any other investigators?
-not really ha ha.

How's the work in Tema?
-tough and hot.  We work like crazy...get sun burned...and have literally nothing in the world to show for it!

Do you ever feel nervous or in danger?
-not really, just a bit stressed, lot of annoying things going on with some of the missionaries, just a lot of problems to deal with.  Late nights and early mornings...but it's still fun:).  I'm learning a lot.

Do you ever speak in church?  You could be a cheerleader for ward members to invite their friends to church!
-ha ha I wish!  We could really use that chance to motivate people!

Are you still cooking for yourself?
-every night!  Elder Halavaka cooks a lot as its been awesome to be able to collaborate with him and see what we can come up with.  We can get some better stuff our latest concoction has been a sweet potato/pumpkin soup...and guess what?  It's awesome :).

okay well you didn't ask my most spiritual part of the week but this was it...
-Due to the baptism going a bit late we ended up having a double booked lesson with two people that we really needed to see.  The other Elders had brought some investigators to the baptism and ended up having their last appointments in the evening fall through.  We asked if they would be able to do an hour exchange to help us out and they were more than happy to do so.  Elder Halavaka and I went to visit a man named Felix, that Elder Bradley and I had contacted earlier in the week.  We talked and discussed The Book of Mormon, and the need that we have for it.  When Elder Bradley and I contacted him he asked a great question, "does the Bible have all that the information that I need to get to Heaven?"  He talked about how he thought that God wouldn't give us only a partial truth...and wouldn't leave us alone on this pathway back to heaven...but somehow still felt like The Bible wasn't complete.  It was a great 'gate' lesson that we had with Elder Bradley which ended up lasting about an hour and a half.  We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and scheduled a time to come back and discuss the many concerns that he had.  Elder Halavaka and I discussed the need for both The Book of Mormon and The Bible with him.  I really feel like we had a great lesson but we could not get him to realize how great The Book of Mormon is...and how essential it is in helping us on this pathway back to Heavenly Father.  In the end, we finally got him to commit to pray and ask God about it...but he would not read it.  I had about a thousand ideas of how to explain the need for reading before asking but just couldn't seem to put together a coherent sentence in my mind.  It was quite literally a "stupor of thought".  I was for a minute very frustrated and then I had an almost tangible thought, "pray and ask God if he needs to read it or if his prayer is enough?"  I said a simple prayer.  "God is his prayer enough" and then I had a feeling of peace come over me.  He proceeded to hand me back the copy of The Book of Mormon and told us that if he receives an answer...that we won't need to ask if he wants it back.  Rather, he would be on the front row of our church shouting that he needs his copy of The Book of Mormon back.  I was reluctant to accept the book...but again had that reassuring peace that his prayer would be enough, and that I shouldn't push him.  I accepted the book, we closed the lesson and we left.  
It was a great lesson but the best part was after the lesson talking with Elder Halavaka about what was going through our heads the entire time and realizing that out promptings had completely lined up.  It was awesome!!  I am finally learning to recognize promptings from the Holy Ghost...and learning to hold on to those promptings...and then to push those promptings to further knowledge. 
That lesson, I know, was absolutely guided by the spirit.  I don't know if I have ever felt that direct of promptings or ones I guess that I was able to understand so well and then be able to ask for further guidance and then receive it.  It was a powerful realization...and one moment that I really enjoyed this week.  Itreally is true...nothing feels better than the companionship of the Holy Ghost!  It was sweet! 
Elder Halavaka and I have become really really good friends, he is a great guy and one that I really enjoy! 

Well it sounds like you guys are really having a great time and I am so glad.  Don't worry about me.  I'm having a hard time, but a great time!  Thats just how a mission is.  Times are hard but the things I am learning and experiencing are totally worth every bit of pain that I will go through!  I would go through a whole lot...and some days I feel like I do right now.  I love you all, have a great week!  Be safe.

Love you all,


Monday, October 7, 2013

The climb is always bumpy!

October 7, 2013
Dear Family,
I am still not quite sure what I am going to write about this week so if this is lame...I'm sorry.  I kinda feel like Dad, teach, sleep, teach, sleep...what the heck? it's Monday again!  Time really is flying by!  
This week I was unbelievably tired.  We taught lessons like crazy, here and there, here and there, but I'm just still not happy with the work being done.  I think Elder Halavaka explained it pretty well when we were on an exchange this week...he said, "change is like taking off in an airplane.  The climb is always, always bumpy and rough but when you make it up there its smooth sailing."  I just gotta hold on for the ride, do my part, and one of these days, sooner of later I'll make it up to that smooth sailing ride:).  Really though, it hasn't been that bad, I had a thought the other day that its going to be like coming home... A/C, weird food, off your spiritual high, knowing you need to do something---but you can't really figure out how because its so different than what your used to, getting lost in random neighborhoods, new things to try and figure out, dealing with girls (sister missionaries).  Wow, when I think of it like that...I'm scared to come home!  Good thing I don't have to think about that one for a while.  Anyway I really don't have much to write about....  I am so glad that Zack is doing better though.  That is so good to hear! 
Man, I was so jealous of you all the entire time that conference was going!  I was looking at the Utah time on my watch and doing the count down until conference starts....well when I thought it started, its been a while so I kinda forgot.  Any cool announcements with conference this year?  New temples?  Anything new besides all the missionaries back home getting I-pads?  Ha ha yeah I think we are quite a ways a way from that.  Our phone has a 1 inch by 1 inch black and white screen ha ha.  I am excited to see Conference though...we should watch it in about a month or so.

Yeah Mom we have really been feeling the same thing as well...members truly are the key to missionary work!  We try and try but the members of Ghana kinda lack in motivation to do missionary work unfortunately...  We have found though, that one of our best resources is our recent converts, they still have that fire and are excited to bring their friends into the church, its been cool to see someone who goes from knowing someone who learns everything...and then is right there next to you sharing it.  It's really cool, and its been really successful so far.

Yeah, Elder B is doing well.  We get along well, no arguments, no fights.  He doesn't really have much of an opinion about really anything so its kind of like walking around talking to myself all day, having to figure everything out and then not having anyone to bounce your idea off of, but it's okay.  He just agrees with no matter what I say so I thought I would test it.  I told him that I would be going on an over night exchange with the sisters this week.  That one of them would come and stay in our apartment and I would go and stay in theirs.  He spent about 5 minutes telling me how good of an idea that was...ha ha.  HE is good though.

I have taken a few photos but I am scared to put my card in the computer, you usually always get a virus...  I think the chapel has wi-fi so Ill try and send some this week.  
Yeah, we stay in Community 9.  I would have to check the house number but it is right by the Bethel Hospital.  Its a nice place though, i really like it.  Tell me if you can find it on Google Earth.

We were actually talking about some sort of district P-day activity or even a zone activity, its just really hard to find something fun to do, there is not much in Ghana ha ha.  I think we may try and take a trip to the Art Market in Accra though so we will see. 

Lexi Congratulations on the awesome dance performance!!  That is awesome!!  I am so proud of you, keep it up!

And, yes,  I love the questions, it really helps when trying to think of things to write about.

Best Part of your week?
-we really started to get things rolling this week.  We have a few people that we are starting to prepare for baptism that I am excited about.  One lesson really wasn't the best...but we ended up in a discussion with a cultist....we got out of there real quick...  Oh, and then when I was on exchanges with Elder H (who I really like) we found a frozen yogurt place that was awesome!!  Its got pretty good prices even.  It's based in Australia so he went there all the time, it was just like orange leaf...but without all of the toppings.

New investigators?
-Robert is my favorite!  We have only met with him once so I'll get more info this week...but Im excited for him.  Each week we are contacting close to 150 new people to try and get this place going...and I wonder why I'm tired;)

How are things for Emmanuel, and Sarah?  How exciting to baptize a husband and wife!  You haven't said much about this.
-They are awesome!  I really like them!  They are doing great.  I taught Emmanuel how to tie a tie this week and he showed up with it looking great on Sunday :).  I didn't really prepare them, they were kinda ready when I got to this area, so they wern't a huge focus of my letters.
 Taylor at the baptism of Emmanuel, and Sarah last week.

Did you get to see any of conference?
Funniest part of the week?
-not really a fun week, just work...
-should get it tomorrow:)

Any thing interesting?
-nope sorry I'm so boring;)
Well sorry this was such a lame letter.  I feel like I'm going to pass out from exhaustion...  I love you all so so much!  You are the world's greatest family:).
Love you all,

Friday, October 4, 2013

Heaven and Hell

September 30, 2013

Dear Family,
To tell you all the truth this new area has been tough for me. 

There has been a few days where I even said that I hated it. 

It's just so different than the last nine months were in Koforidua. 

I honestly have almost the exact same feelings and emotions running through me as when I left Utah over a year ago.  It's almost like I started all over again but with a whole lot more experience and knowledge.  It has been very weird but also a good experience and a really good change. 

Elder Benans and I were discussing the area last night and we decided that the best reference to this area would be that of General Yamamoto in his remarks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tema is a sleeping giant and we just need to find a way to wake it up.  We constantly talk about how much potential this area has if we can just figure out how to access it.  This week after a few very long days of knocking gates with no success, we decided that we needed to sit down and discuss how we wanted to go about the next day and how we could improve our finding effort.  As we did, I had a very clear impression to begin contacting shops.  At first I brushed it off because that was something we avoided so much in the past but the thought persisted, I presented the idea to Elder Benans and we agreed to give it a try.  We spent a few hours this week contacting shops and even though it wasnt the ideal place to teach a lesson we were very pleased with the amount of people that we willing to sit down and talk with us compared to house contacting.

This week was a hard one for me, I kind of explained it but earlier but along with leaving my home again I just didn't feel that same peace and certainty that I had been feeling in my final weeks with Elder McDonald.  I began thinking about what I could have done to loose those feelings and that 'Rest of the Lord' that we discussed. I thought about my life now, my life past, and I began to worry.  I thought about past mistakes and if I had repented sufficiently but that didn't feel right.  I had been feeling the Spirit and the blessings of the atonement...and then the other night it hit me.  We were having a really tough day, we had come in for lunch and I was so tempted to just take the rest of the day off.  I knew it wasnt right but was not in the mood to be out in the hot sun knocking on doors.  I said a prayer, asked help, and opened my Book of Mormon. 

I'm not sure where I opened to but there was a note that I had written some months had stars aroud it and everything.  It read, "Taylor even though it's hard right now and you are struggling, don't be prideful and selfish and forget your duty."  After I read that, I had a response to an email that President had sent me, that said something along the lines of, "you will find the peace and rest you are looking for when you consecrate yourself and work as hard as you know how."  I had an instant realization that I had not been working as hard as I was with Elder McDonald, I wasn't as consecrated and focused and I wasnt satisfied with the work that I was doing and that is why I wasnt feeling the peace that I craved.  I'm emotional right now thinking about it.  I miss that rest, I miss that peace and I am so excited to get it back.  Change and lack of succes are hard, but they are not an excuse for slacking!  Now, don't worry...I wasn't slacking all that much, but just with the small things, the exact obedience wasn't completely exact and it was showing in how I felt.  It was such a big change and it really didn't seem like we were doing much.  For instance, I was tired and it got easy to tack on a 30 minute nap to lunch or to come in a few minutes early at night instead of pushing in one more lesson.  Things are good now though, and I am so excited to try and turn this area into something awesome as well.  As it stands now...we have two investigators... we have done nothing but contacting since I have been here and the number has stayed the exact same,  It's going to take some time to get it figured out but we will get there:).

Okay I'll do some question answering now,

-Do you not have investigators because there just aren't many interested in that area...or is it a new area?  Have there been missionaries there before?
I followed a missionary into the area that went home and he didnt really think much past his flight so this place is just in a slump I think.  It's known throughout the mission though to be a really tough area, so hopefully we can get it going.

-Is there a branch there?
It's actaully a ward, talk about a weird switch going back to a ward...I keep calling the Bishop 'President' ha ha.

-How are the house-mates going?

-both great and horrible, Elder B and Elder H are awesome, but Elder I is pretty tough to get along with.  I think things will get better though.

-Are you able to enjoy some benefits from being closer to the mission office like going to the temple or listening to Conference?

-nope ha ha, I think we may get mail a bit more often?  By the way I got a package from you guys at transfers, it was the one with the shoe polish things, sweedish fish and that stuff. 

-How far are you from the mission office?

-about an hour or an hour and a half

-Anything interesting for pday?
-nope :)

-Any investigators yet?  Do they not answer because more of them are working, or because they aren't as interested?
-No one!  It's so hard!  I'm gettting a taste of the normal missionary lifestyle I guess

-Best part of the week?
-We had a baptism for Emmanuel, and Sarah (husband and wife), and Kwabena on Saturday which was awesome!

-Funniest part of the week?
-I shouldn't laugh but Elder Benans dropped one of the people he was baptizing....twice.  Oh and we had a guy we were having a lesson with pray that "God will stop all of Stan's bull sh**", ha ha I about lost it with him!  It was hillarious.

-Thing you like best about your companion?
-very relaxed,  and down to work

-Activities with district or zone coming up?
-not that I know about, I think the stake has a cultural activity coming up soon, hopefully we can go.

-photos of the old area or the area this week?
-got them on drop box, the one where I am in the picture or the baptism is Daniel and the one with just Elder McDonald is the Ansah boys.

Taylor and Elder McDonald with Daniel

Elder McDonald and the Ansah boys...Blessed Jr.(17),  Adjuet (17), and Clinton (12)

I think I am too late but I thought I would share a quck note about my memory of great-grandpa.  The first one was when I first entered scouts Grandpa made me a terquoise and silver bolo tie thing, I was so proud of it and I absolutely loved it.  I was proud of that thing and wore it each week at scouts, one week we went to a fishing pond where, me being the patient fisherman that I am ran from shore to shore where someone had caught a fish.  At some point during the day I realized that my bolo tie was was just about the end of the world...  I remember running quicker and quicker with each pass over the beaches with no luck, I remember the notts in my stomach with how sad I was that I had lost it and then I remember the small voice that prompted me to pray, I remember just about giving up but offering a simple prayer that I would find my bolo tie from my Grandpa, I took maybe two steps and stepped right on it.  I HAD FOUND IT!!!  I had bent the crap out of it from stepping on it but I had found it!  I thought about bending it back but decided to leave it as a reminder of the first time I relied on the Lord through prayer.  I was young but it was stuck out as the first time I really can remember praying so earestly for something and then recieving an answer.  Come to learn later that faith in prayer would save my life in the mountains of Utah, and prayer would carry through my time in Africa.  I will always be grateful for Grandpa and that lesson he inadvertantly taught me.  Thanks Grandpa, I love you.

Well I have another one   But I'm about out of time so I'll save it.  Anyway have a great week, be safe, have fun, eat something awesome for me:)

Love you all,