Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving WAS great!

Dear Family,

So my computer is again in, please,  bear with me....

This week was hard.  And it was good.  At the same time.  Missionary work will never get easy, Satan hates it way too much to let it get easy, haha.  It's like...once you figure out his tactics, he has already planned the next one...and he is going to try and bring you down.  One of these days though he is going to run out of ideas...and I'll have all of them figured out!:).  That's going to be a sweet day. 
It is absolutely crazy to me that I have been here 16 months!  The time seriously is flying by!  Elder Larsen (Taylor's awesome 2nd companion) goes home in two weeks!  It feels like just yesterday I was picking him up at the mission home, crazy!  Anyway funny thing is, when you have been here 16 months...some weeks you just really don't have anything to say....?  I am sitting here just trying to think of what to write about and I am drawing a big blank...  It was a fine week, but there just wasn't anything that crazy or awesome. 

We had a baptism for P, that was great.  He is the grandson of the Stake Patriarch.  We didn't really have to work all that much to get it.  I don't know...some of your investigators you just have an awesome connection to, you delight in seeing them grow and are overjoyed when they reach the waters of baptism. teach them, they progress and they are baptized but for some don't have that special connection that you sometimes have.  I think with P., he just didn't really appreciate or understand what was happening all that much?  He comes to church each week, but I don't know if it's him or his grandparents making that decision.  He is great and I love him, it just wasn't as spiritual as some of my other baptisms have been.  Elder Nondala did the baptism and he did an awesome job! 

Ha ha! I was sad to hear that the psychedelic Christmas tree has flashed its last flash...haha that thing was sweet!  I'll be excited to see the new one sounds awesome:).

To answer Mom's 'standing up for what I believe' wasn't ever a huge challenge for me.  I made mistakes and I know I still do. I think honestly the reason it wasn't ever that difficult for me to stand for what was right because I had made that decision when I was so young.  I decided when I was fairly young that there was certain things I just wouldn't matter what.  That way...when those hard times came...the decision was already made.  Yes, I grew up in Alpine Utah...the safest place in the world...but no matter where you are, even in still need to stand up for what you believe.  When I went to college, I stayed true instead of wavering like some did because they hadn't made that decision. Then, when decision time was too late...and they were gone.  It's almost like being inoculated...given a small experience of bad so that when the real bad comes you know how to fight back.  I would just challenge each of them to set their own rules: places that they will never go and things they will never do.  Draw a line and never cross it.  No one needs to just sit in a house and never go into the real world because that's not what our life is meant to be...eventually they will need to venture out...and if they have never had opportunities to make decisions...they won't know how to handle a lot of freedom.  At least, those are my thoughts!
So...for the weekly questions!!

Most Spiritual part of the week?
-This week I again realized what makes me happy in life.... Last year for Thanksgiving we did an amazing dinner! It was just like home!  But, not going to lie, we didn't do what we were supposed to.  Instead of being out teaching all that day, we were in the house cooking. The dinner came and it went. I was happy, but there was something missing.  I didn't realize what that was until almost exactly a year later, which was this Thursday, Thanksgiving. We did make an amazing dinner this year...but we started cooking when we came in after a full days work at 9pm.  And then, we were done and in bed before we knew it.  I was happier than I was the year was a joy that is hard to explain. I sat there eating and realized what was missing the year before.  Last year...we had not done anything close to what we should have been doing.  We had wasted an entire day of the Lords time to celebrate a stupid holiday of a country that was miles away.  We thought we were happy but we were missing the spirit in our apartment...and that is why we couldnt truly be happy. This year I felt that true joy and I know that its not the food or the money, the cars or the snowboarding, that make me happy but the Spirit of the Lord.

-So confession time...I just realized something really funny.  I thought Thanksgiving was last we already had our Thanksgiving...ha ha.  It was good though, we all really enjoyed it.  I am the only American in the apartment, so I was the only one who knew what Thanksgiving was, but the others thoroughly enjoyed it:). 
K sorry, about out of time.  Love you all so so much.  Can't tell you that enough!  You are all amazing:).  Thanks for all the help on your end.   I'll tell you the same thing you tell safe, work hard.

Love you,
P.S.- If you could send some insoles to my Eccos that would be great, not dead yet but close;). size 44

Taylor trying to prove that he really does need some new in-soles for his shoes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

At that moment of great alarm...

18 November 2013

Dear Family,

This week was pretty darn awesome! 

It was hard at first and is getting hard right now but, to put it in the terms of moms analogy, I definitely hit that wake during the middle of the week and had some great experiences. 

If there is something that I have learned on my is that God usually waits until that last minute of hope before he saves you.  Maybe it's that whole, "saved by grace, after all that we can do" concept.  Or maybe it's just like working out...those first few reps get you tired but don't make you's the last two after you don't think you can even do one more that breaks that muscle down so it can build back stronger.  Whatever the analogy...I have noticed that God will hold off on his "noticeable" divine help until you can't go any further, until you are just about done, until you just about can't take it any more...then there is always "subtle" divine help along the way, as we have been promised his constant companionship.  It always makes me think about the experience of Joseph Smith and the story of the first vision.  We all know what leads up to this story but this is something that I really feel is a principle of how God operates...   "at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

I have always been fascinated with this part of the story.  I think its amazing that one of the greatest events that has ever taken place on this earth, was preceded by an experience that had Joseph Smith inches from despair.  "At the very moment", "just at this moment", right when all else seemed lost is when that pillar of light (Heavenly Father) entered into young Josephs life and changed him forever. 
I have experienced this SO many times over the course of my mission, its crazy!  I realized this a long time ago, and sometimes it's frustrating to realize that you are struggling but you still have some time to go, some more effort to give, to get to that absolute last minute before His help comes. I hit that point this week.  It wasn't all that bad of a hard time but one that I was just tired working through. I hit that point this week, and then had some of the most spiritual experiences of my mission.  That light came into my view and I enjoyed it so so much!  Anyway...just a cool little thing I have learned over the course of my time in Ghana:), and something that I definitely experienced again this week. 

Mom, I don't think that I overlooked my answer to prayer in Koforidua.  It was more like I didn't really want to admit it that it was an answer because I didn't want to leave that place at all!  That answer helped me know it was coming but just didnt want it to admit it.  I realize now, that that answer was just like you said...was there to comfort me at a different time, which was now.

Things with Elder Nondala are going well.  We got into our first little argument the other night over some small misunderstanding.  Nothing too big, but we were both a little fired up. We got in the house and he sat down to plan and the only thing I could think in my head was, "there is no way that I am going to plan with him right now!" As I put something away in my closet, I had a little vision.  Earlier that same day...we had an amazing lesson.  The spirit was there, we were able to keep that spirit present through the entire lesson and really help our new friend, Cecilia, to come closer to Christ.  We were so happy!  The spirit was so strong!  And, after the lesson we just walked down the street together overjoyed. In my little vision...I saw us leaving our lesson that we had scheduled with that same woman the next day.  The spirit wasn't there. We were not happy.  The concerns that she had were not resolved.  And as we walked away, one of us was ahead of the other...and we were not happy in the slightest. At that moment...I almost began to cry.  I was so sad that all this had happened.  We were just starting to get things figured out and now things just wouldn't be the same.  But then it came to me... "just say sorry."  I paused for a minute, because I really felt that I hadn't done anything wrong.  I felt that I was actually the one that deserved an apology. But, because of this 'little vision'...I went back and sat down to plan.  As we did, I was filled with a love for Elder Nondala that I hadn't felt before.  It was infectious and it filled my entire body.  I knew that...yes, I was wrong for how I had handled the situation and I apologized. It wasn't something big or grand but I felt a burden relieved as I knew that our relationship had been saved and that we were back on that great path that we had been earlier that day.

The next day, we were walking down the road around that same area that we had contacted Cecilia and we got a phone call. 

It was Cecilia and she told us, "I have something I need to ask you, can you come to my house right now?"

Just by the tone in her voice, I knew something was wrong. 

As we arrived at her house, she was waiting outside holding the Restoration pamphlet that we had given her the day before.

She gave us a chair and we sat down.  She said, "Are you the Mormons?"

We told her that we were and she just said, "why? Why do you have to use this other book, why?!"

She continued to tell us that she had heard we were this and that and that she loved us...but hated our church.

We talked with her about her concerns.  As we did...that familiar spirit came into the lesson that we had felt the day before.  We, as missionaries, were guided by it.  Cecilia as a concerned investigator, was taught and comforted by it.

We left that lesson as happy as we had been the day before.  With one less Book of Mormon...and baptismal date for my new favorite investigator, Cecilia.

I am so grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, I have learned to use it more and more over the last few months than I have in my entire life! For not only the major wrong doings...but even for the small little arguments and mistakes of our day to day life. I know that the Atonement is there for us...and WILL take away the effects of sin.  We had contention in our companionship, and we were able to avoid the consequences of the next day by partaking of the great gift of the Atonement today. It filled each of us with a greater love for one another and healed that wound that we had caused.  I know the atonement works and that it is real. I love, appreciate, and understand it more and more each day. 

Ha ha yeah my companion does kind of have a fun name to say...Nondala. When he first got him, I had a hard time remembering it...but I realized it sounded kinda like Mandela, Nelson Mandela.  So that was my little story that I used to remember his name.  It kinda backfired on me during our second day.  It was one of our first lessons, and I introduced him as, "my new brother, Nelson Mandela..."  Man...I was so embarrassed, but it was hilarious!  His name is way fun to say when you add his first name...which is Bubele...Bubele Nondala...he's a great guy.

I loved the analogy of water skiing!  I was going to relate mission to water skiing this week as well....  Every year at Lake Powell, Dad will come up to the top of the house boat on about on the third day...early the morning and ask if I am ready to go out for the morning ski run.  And I will always reply, "I hurt too much."   And without fail...his reply is, "the best way to not be sore is to do it again!"  And it's true!  It works!  When you are sore and you keep going, you push through it, it gets easier and it doesn't hurt as much.  This week I was hurting spiritually.  I was on a high, physically...I was just tired of working!  I wanted to sleep in, I wanted to take a rest, my mind was so tired of thinking and worrying about this and that I just wanted a break.... But I thought of the water skiing, "the best way to not be sore is to do it again."  That's what I am doing, and as I push really does get better:).  Thanks Dad for teaching me lessons that you never even knew you were teaching:).

K...and now for some questions...

Most spiritual part of the week?
-Had an awesome lesson with Cecilia!  I'm about out of time but so I won't get into too much detail, but it was just one that I felt very close to the spirit and very guided by it

New contacting tactics?  Ward member relationships?
-just talk to as many people as possible!  We only got to watch 45 minutes of General Conference but I heard someone say, "Elders and Sisters, if you want more people to teach, you must talk to more people" so we are just going to contact like crazy this week and talk to everyone!

-I got one from Little Lexi, who is no longer so little, and holy let her drive!? 
Things with companion?  Roommates?
-things are good!
Funniest thing?
-there was a baptism for a man named Evans this week.  The bishop was giving a talk and he told him that he was reading about Nephi being asked to build a boat...and Evans, under his breath, goes, "actually that was Noah, but its okay!"  Totally serious.  It was hilarious! 

Also, we extended a baptismal date to a man named Eugene and his response was, "well I don't want to go to Hell, so yeah!  I'll be baptized!"  Well, may not too funny...but I got a kick out of it.

Pday fun?
- I went for a run this morning, that was kinda nice.
What are you grateful for this week?
-the companionship of the spirit and the Atonement

Dad you asked how many people we have in the district, We have four sisters and four elders.  It's going pretty well.  Our district is in a bit of a slump right now in terms of numbers...but we are climbing :).

Well, I love you all so much.  Take care of yourself, keep reading The Book of's awesome!  Zack enjoy the new companion...I am praying for ya like crazy!

Love you all.  Thinking about you like crazy.  Praying for you constantly,


PS...(from Kim)...Here is the analogy that we sent both our missionaries this seemed to fit!

Here's a fun analogy for you...
This mission can be related to a water skier...actually more like Grandpa Bradshaw water skiing, you'll see what I mean here in a minute.  When you was like when you jump into the cold water at Lake takes a minute to be able to breathe (in my case) and you move around and warm-up and soon your are comfortable...that was you at the MTC.  Little bit of a shock...but you adapted and were comfortable. 

When you left for the 'real' was like when you say "hit it!" when you are holding on to the end of the rope behind the boat.  First thing that happens after that is that you get pulled under water and have to fight it for a while, water going up your nose...getting sprayed and pulling with all the strength that you have...and then finally coming up out of the water, still a little unstable and shaky...and then finally, you begin to plane...and you begin to look around and see the scenery and it becomes a little easier just staying behind the boat.  Now...I'm going to add here that there will be times when you make a deep cut and have to hold on tighter because there will be more pressure and more resistance, but then will come out of that deep cut and fly again.  And that, my my analogy of your far.  You are up and behind the are just in a really deep cut right out...the wake is coming up!

Monday, November 11, 2013

I've left one foot in Koforidua

Dear Family,

I am not quite sure where to start this usual.  It was an okay week, a bit of a hard one...but also one where I finally started to get some things figured out.  Lately the work in Tema has been, really suffering.  I don't know what it is.  We try new tactics each week,but it just doesn't seem to pick up.  I can't say that Tema is a bad area, because its's just one that I am having a hard time figuring out how to keep moving.  It is a tough area I will give myself that much, its different than any other area in Ghana in terms of the way that you will do contacting, the way you will teach, the way you work with members and honestly...I really am struggling with figuring it out.  I can't really say that I like the area all that much to be honest with you but I think even that is starting to change.  This week...even just this morning I had the realization that one of my feet was left in Koforidua.

I don't know if I ever told you this...but when I was in Koforidua I was praying once for some answers and comfort as to where I would be in the coming transfer.  I was a bit nervous and reluctant to leave what was then my new home. As I prayed, I opened my scriptures and it fell to a place in the D&C.  It said something along the lines of, "your work in the eastern regions is finished, nevertheless, you are called to continue your labor in the southern regions." I read that and knew immediately that I would be transferred back to Accra.  Not going to lie, I was a bit bummed.  It's pretty obvious how much I loved serving in Kofoidua. When I first had this experience I never really thought all that much about it.  It was something that I kinda just brushed off and took as a little warning as to where I was going.  But this morning, as I was washing my clothes, it was called again to my memory and a feeling of peace washed over me (no pun) that truly it was divinely inspired that I was supposed to be in Tema. I may not love it as much as my past place of service...YET...but I know its where I am supposed to be and where the Lord would have me. I also know that as I work as hard as I can and put as much of my heart, soul and energy into the work here that love for this area will come just as strongly as it did in Koforidua. Yes Koforidua was awesome and I love it so so much, but Tema can also be awesome.  I think that Koforidua was so awesome because of how I learned to work in that area.  The work wasn't easy, but I enjoyed it because of the spirit that I felt doing it.  I knew the importance of the work that I had been called to do there and was happy as I saw it grow.  Koforidua was the same when I started my time there, the work was hard, I was down on myself and not feeling the spirit like I wanted to.  Even when I first started with Elder McDonald, I wasnt happy and hit probably one of my lowest lows, but that lowest low was followed by my highest high. Each area comes with its own set of challenges, I just need to figure out how to overcome them here.  Right now...I'm about dying, but I know that just before I die is when God steps in and we get things done. 
Elder Nondala is doing well.  He got some blisters on his feet but who didn't when they first got here?  ha ha.  He and I get along very well. He is getting a bit discouraged with the slump in the area but he will get it.  Elder Halavaka is doing well and said to tell everyone hello.  He and I have become pretty good friends over the last few months, he is a great guy.  Yeah we all four work in the same ward, Tema ward 2.  Its a pretty sweet ward.  Probably my favorite ward out of all my areas, they are pretty eager to do the work when you push them a bit.  Ha ha I don't know what else to say about Elder Nondala, he really is a cool guy.  He liked body-building back home...whenever he tells people that they say, "you don't look like you are very good at it though!" (he really isn't big at all), so he stopped telling people that ha ha.  He is really humble though.  He has desire to work hard, a little more so when people actually want to talk to us ha ha.  Training him and Elder McDonald is so different!  I love them both and love different things about each of them.  And even though South Africa is so much different than the rest of's still Africa, so he is a little more used to the living style, the washing the clothes in a bucket, the way the transportation is, things  like that.  But that is also kinda nice. Elder McDonald was a blank slate and anything I said he followed...wanting to learn, he is like a little copy of me. Elder Nondala has his own way of doing things, he had an idea of what missionary work was and yes, he does take my advice but mostly does what he wants.  He just came with more experience.  Elder McDonald was on a quest with me to be obedient, Elder Nondala is a little more on the side of obedience being a hindrance still.  He's an awesome guy and willing to obey when I ask him...but sometimes I just get tired of being the Nazi missionary.  I said something about home the other day and Elder Mabizela let out a sigh and said, "ah I'm glad that you are somewhat human and not just this super missionary all the time, telling us about this rule or that rule, or talking about investigators or the work all the time".  K...I'm not saying I'm a super missionary, but I just realized how much I truly have turned into a missionary since being here. Of course I think of home...but its almost just like sweet memories.  I almost feel like I'm not going to come home some days and that this is just my new life.  Today we went to the market, which is in the bad part of town and I felt more at home there than when I was in the nice part of town.  It was weird that speaking Twi, being around small shacks, in the busy, unorganized streets of Ghana felt better than the A/C, nice homes, hamburgers, and proper roads of my new area.  I just can't imagine the shock of coming home. 

Anyway I am about of time :/  I love you all so much.  I probably seem a bit down but honestly I am doing well today, we went and explored the market and I had a great day.  I really felt the spirit today, chills and all!  I have such a desire building inside me to just kill it this week and I am. So. Excited!

Love you all,


Monday, November 4, 2013

South Africans are my Favorite

Dear Family,

Everyone seems pretty anxious about transfers so maybe we will start there ha ha.  I am now with Elder Nondala from South Africa!  He is a really great guy, and he and I are already getting along great!  I am training him but I feel almost more like he is training me, he was baptized about two years ago but is very ready and prepared to be a missionary and its been an honor to work with him for even the few days that I have.  Ha ha he talks a bit fast for the Ghanaians to keep up but he is great.  Elder Halavaka is training another South African, Elder Mabizela.  It's a pretty sweet apartment full of missionaries.  South Africans are just like Americans which makes them some of my favorite people to be companions with, you get the relativity of an American but the adventure and experience of an African.  I think my favorite thing is that they just grew up so differently than we did in the gospel.  We all know the same doctrines and principles but we were all taught them in a different way.  It's just cool to see the different approach they have on missionary work.  I really like Elder Nondala though, we are going to have a great time together.  
Thank you very much for the Thanksgiving package!  I really do appreciate that!  We are really looking forward to thanksgiving, I am the only Elder in the apartment that celebrates it...but Elder Nondala's birthday is around the same time so we are going to do it right :).

Yeah, apparently Elder Gann's family is totally willing to bring over stuff for me!  Since you sound like you are getting close to starting on some caramels...could you plan on a few boxes for me?  There are some people that I want to give them out to here, President and Sister Judd, some of the Sr. Couples, Elder McDonald, people like that.  I think they would really appreciate and enjoy it, I know I would:).  And I would love some as well if you can:).  Ill get a list together of some other things that I could use.

I really appreciate all the prayers and fasting!  I really can feel it, missionary work will never get easy....never ever!  I struggle almost every day with X, Y, or Z, obviously you get more accustomed to the work and all that it requires but its never easy.  Satan always find new and cunning ways to drag you down and try and ruin the work.  He is pretty good at what he does, especially with missionaries, sickness, home sadness, no success, rejection, worry, doubt, fear, stress, the list goes on forever. Missionary work is hard so I appreciate all the help that everyone is sending, it does not go unnoticed :).

- I really enjoy training!  Its a great experience.
A couple of nights ago we had a few appointments fall through, we sat down to look at our planners and decide who we could go see for the last appointment of the night and no one was really coming to mind.  It was getting to just about that time where we could almost start walking home but I just didn't feel like the night was over.  I knew that we still had someone we were supposed to see. As we sat thinking, it only took a couple of seconds and I had a very clear thought to go and see Emmanuel and Sarah who were recently baptized.  They have been having some pretty rough financial problems which is causing a lot of marital problems which has been so hard to see.  We had just seen them the day before, and had ruled them out earlier in the day that we didn't need to visit them again, but I knew we needed to, so we started walking to their home. As we passed a fruit stand, I again had a prompting to buy them a little something and take it to them that evening.  I bought them a 1 cedi pineapple and we were on our way. As we approached the road their small house is on there was a woman sitting on the curb with her head down, we nearly passed her by but then I realized that it was Sarah. She, in previous visits had been very sad reserved and blocked off and really hadn't wanted to talk with us about what was bothering her...but as we sat down with her that night she just opened up. She told us all that was bothering her, and we had one of the most spiritually led lessons that I have had since coming to Tema. We were able to offer some small advice and let her know that her Heavenly Father is aware of her situation and has promised her help through the Holy Ghost...if she asked for it. We had a solemn but spiritual lesson with her that night and then were able to give her a pineapple to finish it off.  Totally lame, but was something that really meant a lot to her. I was so grateful for the guidance that the spirit offered that night so that were able to be in the right place at the right time, and to do our little bit to lift someones hands that hung helplessly down. 

-We walked past a car wash the other day and Elder Nondala asked howw much it cost to wash OUR car, I just laughed.....he totally thought we had a car ha ha.  

-apartment inspections by the office couple!


-To tell you the truth its horrible going to the mission home!  I hate it!  It's quite the process and it just makes you so tired.  It was nice picking him up though, a bit nerve-racking but fun.  They all sit on one side of the room and trainers on the other then they calll two names they stand up...and thats your next three months ha ha.

(From Kim:  A few months ago...the church sent a photographer to Ghana who met up with Taylor and followed him for a whole day in Koforidua---his last area)  The MTC President complimented Taylor on his Modeling career the other day...and Taylor was confused...the MTC President told him that these pictures had been used as part of a recent Mission President Training...and then sent them to Taylor...who sent them to us.  Since then, one of these photos showed up on the Church's Facebook page...Apparently there are some pictures with the Sisters in his mission and one of his great friends in July New Era Magazine...One of the Elders on the cover of that magazine is one of Taylor's good friends from Utah State.  I'll attach a few here.)

-I got a big envelope filled with small envelopes from Jeff and Courtney and fam!  And two letters from Elli that were from forever ago but seem like they got forgotten for a bit ha ha:). Thank you...thank you very much!

Okay about out of time :(.  Love you all so much!  Stay strong, be safe.

Love you all so much,