Monday, June 30, 2014

One Week

Dear family,

Time is running out..and I’m still unable to really put my thoughts together on how I really feel....  It’s kinda like two years ago leaving home all over again.  No idea what to expect, no idea what the future holds, no idea what is up next....  It’s hard to describe, and to think when I first started my mission all I wanted to do was finish it...and then this week...the most said sentence I have said is, “I just am so so so so glad that I came.  I can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t.” Coming to Ghana has been the best decision that I have ever made.  There is nothing in this world that should stop people from choosing to serve a mission.

(So...some background for this next paragraph.)  Someone visiting our ward last Sunday brought a guest with them.  It turns out that he serves in the Ghana Accra mission presidency and was here for some training.  He knew Taylor and told me that he would be at the Mission office next Tuesday to tell Taylor goodbye.  I so badly wanted to hand him something that was obviously from our house for him to give to Taylor as he was leaving to shock Taylor...but I couldn’t get him anything fast enough.  Good thought though!  So, I just sent Taylor this photo this morning.)

Mom with Brother Labinjo in Alpine!! Mom, that picture was crazy!  I can’t believe that you met him!  What are the chances?  I see him like every week, he lives down the road from us.  Anyway that’s really funny because that week we were in quite the predicament because of him.  Some things require an interview by the mission presidency before they can be baptized, so he was scheduled to do one for the sisters on Wednesday.....then we get a call from a 801 number.....”yeah I’m in America”....kinda funny...but I realized then that he was in Utah.  He is a cool guy:).


What are your plans for this week?
-well we didn’t get to go to the ‘art market’ last week because we had some people to go and visit, so we are going this week.  Other than that lots of finding, maybe some packing.  I don't know...try and make it as normal of a week as I can.

What happens when you go home? Do you go to the office for a night?
-well I have an interview with President Heid, we go to the temple, have a going home dinner/testimony meeting, then to the air port.  No over night unless you are in a far area, which I’m not.

How is the new President?
-never met him...I will just meet him for that interview and then tell him good bye.

How was it having President Judd leave?
-strange....  President Heid got in on Saturday afternoon, so President Judd was no longer the president. Sunday Pres. Judd came to our ward for sacrament meeting. That was cool and really pretty strange though.  Just a different feeling talking with him.  We keep telling ourselves that he liked us the thats why he came to  our ward ;)

Did you have a good time at the art market?
-didn’t go last week...going this week though.

Will you get a p-day next week?
-yeah, it will be the day before I go.  No real plans yet, hopefully something kinda fun though.  Met this guy that is super in to biking and wants me to come with him.  But where he wants to go is kinda far, so I don't think we can make it.

Taylor with Elder Clarke
Planning a dinner for you when you get home...any suggestions?  Zack told me that there better not be one piece of rice in the house when he gets home, so we will not be having rice.
-yeah no rice, anything else sounds fine.   I want a chocolate chip cookie though.  A soft one.

Is there food that you would like to have when you get here?  Anything you are craving?
- I have no idea.  Maybe you should just give me some money and the car keys and I’ll go shopping for food :)

How were you able to serve someone this week?
-well I fixed someones chairs...  They had a couple of rusty stools that they had found over the weeks so that was kinda fun.  They didn't think I could do it... totally proved them wrong.

Spiritual moments this week:
-kinda reflecting on my mission during study time.  Again I’m drawn to Ammon, and I think the way he closes his first mission is about as closely as I can relate about how I currently feel.....”Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land (you can say that again); yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.

Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

Funny stuff:
-I attached a picture that may make you laugh...I hope it’s ok...I don't know...

Well, I love you all so much.  It’s strange to be done.  It’s crazy and weird, but also pretty darn awesome!  I don’t really have the option of staying in Ghana and continuing to serve, but I do really look forward to returning to my home and striving to be a blessing to my family and to others by continuing to do all that I can to “bring the souls of men unto [Christ]” (3 Nephi 28:10).

I don’t want to return home and “rest.”  Rest is lame, rest is always for latter and I am excited to see whats next. 

Love you all so much,

Elder Bradshaw
Soon to be Taylor:)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Another week in Ghana

Dear Family,

It seems as if we are kind of in a pattern week of things to write and then the next week nothing....Sorry that we are on the off week this week.  Time seems to be blending together, and just flying by, and I don’t even know what to write about!  I still can’t believe that its coming to an end.  I feel like just last week I was sitting in the car sick from my doxy (Doxy is the malaria medicine he had to take before he left.) with no food on the way to the Salt Lake City three weeks from Wednesday I’ll be in the car on my way back from the Salt Lake airport...crazy! 

Yeah...I’m really not feeling the writing you will have to forgive me. 

Anyway, things are going well.  Kinda starting to slow down but it still going well.  I was sick a day this week, throwing up and all that good stuff.  Ghana couldn’t let me get out of here without one more go of it...ha ha.  But I’m good now, things are good, kinda been hard to realize I am going to be leaving all these awesome people here in this area.  I guess it happens every time you get transferred.  You just start to worry a bit about whether or not these people that you have come to love so much will be ok. It will be a bit scary to leave, because so many are so close...but I guess if the Lord wants these people in his church matter what they will get there.  It really isn’t us that do anything, so it doesn’t matter who is here, as long as they try their best, God can use whoever is here to do his work.  Like lets get real...He has used me for good.  If He can use me, then who can’t He use?!  That’s one thing I have really learned so much about since being here, really about my own nothingness.  We are nothing without the Lord.  He is our everything and nothing is done here without Him. 

Guess I’ll hit your questions....

How are things with K?
-still going well, kinda slow moving since we can only see him once a week.  Since out dinner lesson he really has had a lot more interest.  He can see us as who we really are, and now has a desire for himself to be as we are.  I think before he was like, “this church is crazy, I don’t want to be like that”, but now he can really see how the church and its members are.

Things with J./A.?
- James was out of town this week with some family meeting.  But, we talked with his cousin this week and he told us that he had spent a lot of time talking with J. after church last week and his words were, “he is finally coming home, he will definitely be baptized!”  So that was comforting!  We had a lesson with him earlier in the week though before he traveled, and we were able to get his wife involved in the lesson as well.  She is a bit more dedicated to their current church than J. is, but just judging how close their family is...I think there is no question that when J. comes, the wife and remainder of the family will soon follow.

You mentioned some new families last week...any thing great with them?
-nope, lots of finding this week....

World Cup stuff? What is the feeling like there?  Do you have mission rules?
-There is just more energy in the air, nothing heated at all.  Everyone watches every single match which is a downer for teaching, but nothing violent at all.  Ghana is like the worlds most peaceful country ever!  I don’t think there is anything that could get them fired up enough to actually do something, we’ll besides theft....The Ghana vs. US game doesn’t start until 10 so we will be long inside.  No rules though, nothing to be worried about.

What’s going on with campus?
-not much, it’s kinda dead.  It’s summer vacation so there isn’t much going on.

How have you seen the hand of the Lord in your work this week?
-he is still making me feel like I have a lot of time left in my mission so that I don't just die:).  I still feel like I am never coming home.

Getting good food?
-sometimes.  Lately I have started to eat more of the local food...the few things I actually enjoy at least.  Trying to get my last few tastes of Ghana food before its gone forever. 

You seemed excited about your haircut last week...was it everything you wanted it to be?
-half and half, ha ha, he used scissors, but kinda messed it up.  Its pretty uneven, but it’s not horrible.

Well I love you all so so much. you are one awesome family! 

Dad your an awesome Dad, happy late Father’s Day, we’ll do something for it in a few weeks, maybe some more fishing? 

Hope you all have an awesome week.  Be safe, love you all...


Monday, June 9, 2014

One More Month

Dear family,

Things this week are going pretty darn good, found some cool people, got them to church, healthy, so what is there to complain about? 

Well it rained a lot, that was kind of annoying...

Lake Powell sounds like a ton of fun though! 

Guess I’ll just get into the questions...

In what ways have you seen the Hand of the Lord in your work this week?
-kinda had two things this week.

First one was with Kay, that investigator that I told you about over the phone.  He and I are super similar in our personalities, but the tie and tag were speaking a bit too loud for him to see that I was a normal guy like he was.  Yes, I love God enough to leave everything and live in a crazy country for two years, but I still am not too crazy and I am a lot like him....  Anyway I was praying that he would be able to see how I was when I wasn't a missionary.  I wanted him to see that I am a religious guy, trying to do what is right, but that I am also “normal”.  I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying here... Nothing really was coming to me, and I was concerned.  But then we had an appointment with him scheduled for Saturday night, and he called and asked if we wanted to go get pizza with him for our lesson that night?  Of course...we said yes!  We went with him and with one of his best friends who was visiting from Canada and got some pizza at a restaurant in our area.  It was awesome!  We talked a lot about the gospel with him, but at the same time he was definitely able to see my true personality, it was sweet!  Super fun dinner, and a definite answer to my prayers.

-Second, had someone use a passage of scripture from the Bible that I wasn’t familiar with to shut me down this week... I was super lost.  I had no idea what to say at all!  I was totally stumped, just sat there for a second while my companion tried to talk about something.  I just continued to look down at the page again and it was almost as if there was a new word in the passage that was bolder than the rest, jumping off the page to me...and it literally just clicked. I felt like I knew everything that I needed to know about that passage of scripture to finish this conversation.  I found that I was able to teach this man for about ten minutes about this scripture that 30 seconds before, I had no idea about.  It was pretty sweet!

What is one way that you feel like you have changed while on your mission?
-I love God more than anything and I am giving my life to him.

Fun things for Pday this week?
-hair cut.  I finally found a place here that uses scissors and can cut a ‘white man’s’ hair.  They just usually have clippers with no change in length so they just try to wing it...and then your hair cut looks like some just winged-it with some clippers.  I’m actually pretty excited about this.  Silly.

How are you helping your companion this week?  How is he helping you?
-I have really tried to turn as much over to him that I can.  I have figured the more I can get him to do in the area now... the more that I will be able to leave in peace knowing that he knows what he is doing with these people that I love so much!  And...he is helping me to ‘keep going’ even though my time is short.

Something that you are learning.
-I did some study this week on ‘the immediate consequences of sin’ and I promise I now have a greater understanding of why sin is such a big deal.  I found so much that I didn’t comprehend before.  I have also been studying about “viewing His death” from Jacob 1:8.  From what I have been able to take from it is that I need to view the full spectrum of what His death made possible.  I never before realized the depth of the meaning of Christ’s death and all that it empowers us to be able to do.  Recently, the spirit has been with me more than I think I have ever before experienced, in guidance, in answers, everything.  And when this week I didn’t have it as much as I did last week... I really was able to better understand how much the spirit dwelling in us always (made possible by his death) really affects literally all aspects of our daily living.  I know sin, trials, afflictions, times of loneliness, etc are never desirable but I have learned so much from my falls, trials and troubles and I know that God really can, when we let him, consecrate our afflictions for our gain.

Some advice for us at home?
-Read your Book of Mormon every single day...not new advice...but just do it.

What are you excited about in your mission right now?
-right now I am super excited about a guy named James and his son Abraham.....This week we had one of the sweetest experiences I think of my entire mission.  We are currently teaching a man right now named James.  We contacted him some weeks back as were were doing some finding.  I think I have mentioned him before.  Turns out that when he came to church for the first time, he found that his long lost cousin/brother was a member and in the other ward that meets in our same building.  They grew up together as best friends but have not been in contact with each other for man years.  They didn’t even know where one another were.  Anyway, this week we had an incredibly spiritual lesson with both James and his son.  We were able to extend to them baptismal dates for the 6th of July, which just happens to be my last Sunday in Ghana and my Birthday so that would be pretty sweet. 

Anyway...Sunday rolled around, and we saw James brother from the other ward.  He came over to greet us and say hello.  We told him of our lesson that week and he threw his arms around me and just started crying.  It was so unexpected, but so sweet.  He just kept saying, “thank you, thank you, I have waited for this day for so long”, it was so awesome to be a part of that.  I know that it wasn’t anything we said in that lesson that touched the heart of our dear brother James, it wasn’t us that decided to continue finding on a street that for a whole week had not yielded any success, only to find him on our last hour proselyting on a Saturday evening, nothing we do is through our own strength, but it is such a blessing to be a part of it all. 

I sat pondering over the time that’s left here in Africa last night and it about killed me, it hurt so much to just see how useless I was back home.  I did a lot, but not for really anyone but myself.  I was never to concerned with helping others around me. I wasn’t a bad kid, I did good things most of the time, but I really didn’t ever do really great things.  Everyday that passes, I am reminded of how many more I don’t have as an official representative of the church and more especially the Lord Jesus Christ, how those feeling of overwhelming happiness realizing that you have been a tool that the Lord has been able to use for his purposes and I already miss it.  Something president said in our last zone conference really hit me, he said, “from the time I was first set apart to be a missionary, I never really stopped”  So, I am making that my goal, never stop being a missionary, never stop serving the Lord and his church.  Whatever I am  called to do, I will do.  Whatever I am blessed with to sacrifice...its already His.  Whatever it takes...I am ready to do it.  Whether as a full time missionary, or as a nursery leader...I will do all that I can to help the Lords kingdom to grow.  This week I was filled with so much desire to have my life never be what it never stop the good that the Lord has been able to use me for over the last two years, I want to continue to be a blessing unto others.  I want more than just to be happy, I want others to be happy as well. I know it will be difficult and not always fun, but it’s all I want.

Well I love you all so much. 

See you all so so soon.

Well...except Zack... but really...I’ll even see him relatively soon :). 

Well have a great week!

Love you all so much,

Elder Bradshaw

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One of those weeks that just 'Come and Go'

Dear family,

Not quite sure what to say this week.....  It was one of those weeks that kinda just come and go... 

Its crazy how some weeks you seem to have so much to say then the very next week it feels as if nothing has happened at all.  Honestly I have no idea what to sorry thing is so lame. 

Really nothing too interesting happened this week.  My companion was sick so we were in the house quite a bit this week which absolute kills me!  It actually got me in a really really bad mood this week, It took me lower than I have been in a while.  It was tough, but it was great to see that my foundation is beginning to change.  One of my favorite things that I have learned on my mission is about our spiritual foundations.....  Helaman 5:12

 "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

I didn't understand the scripture all that much, or I guess it didn't really mean all that much to me until I found a way to find out my spiritual foundation.....  When we really look at it we are all built upon a foundation, some it may be family, others food, money, sports, music whatever it is, we are all built on something, that something above all else is what brings us comfort and solace in our times of need.  President Judd once told me, "we can find out our spiritual foundations by when we are having a hard day, where we turn for peace." 

Over the last months and even getting to years now I have learned a lot of counterfeit foundations that I formerly been built on, things that took that precious spot of Christ in my life where I would turn on a hard day.  In my opinion one of the biggest reasons that we are asked to come on missions is to first learn our counterfeit foundations and then most importantly, learn to remove those foundations and replace them with the sure and flawless foundation of Christ.  I am where I am, doing what I am, to first learn how to rely on God and then to help others to do the same. 

There is nothing in life, no matter how good it is that can or ought to replace the foundation of Christ that we all so desperately need, not our families, even thought they are awesome, not our friends, not anything.  It took me a long time to figure out, and I am still not all that good with it, but Christ is the only thing that can fill that position at all times and in all things.  Friends change, money is lost or taken, family is on the other half of the world, food is turned into a gelatinous blob and named fu-fu, eventually there is nothing left but Christ.....but I know with all my heart that he is always there, and that he always will be there.  He helps in all aspects of everything we pass through, no matter the size.  This week I can't tell you why I was in a downer mood, I just was.  Nothing seemed to cheer me up....  No matter what I did, I still seemed under the weather.  The only that was there for me to turn to was my knees and my scriptures, as I did though...He built me up, He lifted me, He strengthened me, and He helped me to be happy.  I love my Heavenly Father. I know he is there, and everyday he gives and does all that he can to help me to make him more of what I am built upon.  

Transfers:  nothing really happened, still in Haatso, five more weeks to go....

 I think the funniest part of my week was getting his symptoms for his "sickness",
and I quote...

Me:  man how you feelin?
Elder:  you know in Terminator when he punches that guy so hard in the chest that his heart stops
Me: "well no",
Elder:  huhhhh, well he did, and it feels like he did the same to me only he missed my heart so it didn't kill me Me: okay, anything else?
Elder: yeah it feels like either a small snake slid down my throat and bit it or that someone slid a sword down there and cut the whole thing open   
me: Okay no problem, I'll report it then.
Man I about died!  That was the best way ever to call and describe how your companion is feeling sick ha ha. 

Well things are going well, next week should be a little more interesting of an email.

Love you all so so much, you're one awesome family!

Love you all,

Elder Bradshaw