December 1, 2013

Dear Family and Friends!!

So this week was a very successful week as far as teaching and such goes. Lots of good moments. Lots of tough ones. But all our dates fell through because nobody comes to church. It’s the worst. So ya. that’s discouraging but this week me and Elder West are going to figure out if there is something we can do better to get them to church. It’s so discouraging though, cause literally everyone will say “I’ll be there, I’ll be there!!” We’ll even call people an hour before church and they’ll say that they are getting ready, and then they don’t come. I think we will try dropping y to pick them on the way this week.
So I am following what my companion does and wrote down significant events that happened in the last week. So starting with tuesday:
We have district council meeting every tuesday morning. I gave instruction on D&C 4:6. It was super good, at least as far as learning about it for myself. After that, we had lunch and we saw a preacher. Th preachers here get paid to go to peoples houses or shops and preach/pray. But when they do it, they shout almost in anger, like louder than a Kamiakin Basketball game. It put this dark feeling in my heart, it’s so wrong to get paid to shout at people.
Another day (Wednesday) we sat down with a man. he is very involved in his church, but loves to joke and is very good friends with us, and loves hearing about the church. We sat down with him, and it had been a super long day, me and Elder West had both been feeling the stress of knowing that Ashaiman is literally our responsibility and like Jacob 1:19, the people’s blood is on us until we do everything we can do to teach them. So we were feeling this stress when we sat down and the man joked “I have already been bathed, I do not need Bathed Again.” Talking about how he already had the word of god so he did not need more, but he was joking when he said it. Either way, Elder West snapped. He said “then I’m done trying to Bathe you” and walked off. We walked for a good half a while, when we stopped and looked at each other. We weren’t going to go back, because of his attitude and we had other places to go. But i turned to Elder West and said “We need to go back.” I felt it so strong from the Holy Ghost. He said “ok but your talking, cause Im to frustrated to talk to him.” when we went back, the man was SOOOO sorry. because we are truly his friends, and he loves the message. He apologized and we had probably the best lesson we’ve ha with him since we’ve been here. As we left, I told Elder West thank you for letting us go back. He said “I didn’t really have a choice, cause god told us to.” Pretty cool experience.
So there was a crazy drunk man who sniffs tobacco who stands on the street and yells in the morning. If I took a video, it’s so comical you would say we staged it. The main targets of his yelling include himself, the tree he sits under, or random passing goats/chickens. Me and Elder West were laughing so hard.
Saturday it rained SO HARD. Except this time we got  caught in the rain. I might as well have showered in my church clothes. We got to an investigators house and took shelter. But the rain doesn’t cool anything down inside houses, so it was hot, so we tried to turn an old fan on. The thing with the wires here, It’s no guarantee that the have protection on the outside. So i went for the button and accidentally touched the wire. I don’t think being wet helped. I yelped. That is the only word to describe it. Yelped. Elder west busted up laughing, Until he tried to turn the fan on and got shocked too. Then it was my turn to laugh.  It was so great. And the electrical currents here are 220, not 110 which is America.
In church, A lady sang her testimony. That was interesting.
And finally, another man we are teaching makes money in a very interesting way. He acts like a woman on social networking sites, talks to lonely American men, tells them that he loves them (actin like a girl) but that he lives in Ghana, and then gets them to send him money. He makes thousands each month doing that. It’s bad, but it’s SOOO funny. He even has a voice changer on his phone so he can call them and it sounds like a girl.
I saved Thanksgiving for last, cause it was hard. Remember prayer, always. I got out of bed and honestly felt like crap. I cried. I’ll be honest. It sucked Cause I woke up and new that at 6:30, it was still10:30 Wednesday night in Sequim. Pie night. I knew exactly what was going to happen, had the whole schedule back at home figured out, and it was the worst, because I wasn’t a part of it. To make things worse, we had no water and no power. We didn’t have water or power the day before either, which means no fan at night, which means a sweaty pillow in the morning. I honestly just prayed and cried. Than I thought about how it was Thanksgiving and what it really meant. I have so much to be thankful for. I got this really warm peaceful feeling, and I know it was the Holy Ghost. The rest of the day was amazing, cause I just continued to look for things that I could be grateful for. It helps so much. Not to sound like a lecture but people in America have SOOOO much to be grateful for, and most of it for stuff that they don’t realize they should be grateful for. Like clean water. Washing machines. hot shower. Liquid soap. Flush toilets. Grass. A/C. Simple things like that.Anyways. I love you all so much! 
Lots of love
Elder Despain
 

November 11, 2013 and November 17, 2013 letters from Devin…all caught up for now!!! :) and We had a little instant email chat on Monday…soooo great!!!!!

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Nov 11
Dear family!!

This week has been really good!! So to answer the questions
The floor of the apartment is old tile and cement. the trash run down the gutter, sometimes gets burned, or just blows away I guess
The only thing we have to cook with is a stove with 4 gas burners. No microwave, no oven, and one o the burners is broken. We have a fridge and a freezer, but each missionary in our apartment cooks for themselves, so the fridge isn’t that big and is rather crowded sometimes.
I have lost a little weight, but eat enough to keep energized and healthy. The thing with the food over here is it is super heavy starch, so you have to work out, cause even if you loose weight, you will get kind of a belly. Since my companion is a body builder and we get designated time to work out each morning for thirty minutes, I do a good job at running stairs, doing abs, and doing other bodyweight workouts each morning!! So I am getting strong!! And extra body fat kinda disappears.
That is so funny about the fish head!! I don’t mind fish head anymore. My most recent new thing was cow skin… It is like chewing on a piece of fatty leather with seasoning on it. But it’s actually not to bad. I am so grateful for my strong stomach.
When people ask about the world not being fair, we express the differences between here and America/England. How the people are rich but don’t have God in their lives, because the people in England and America are turning into a secular people. We then express how they face different  challenges. And finally, we teach them the plan of salvation, and that through god, all things will be made equal in the life after this. That lesson is an amazing lesson, the spirit is so strong when we teach people the plan of salvation, because it makes so much sense to them, they understand it no other church teaches it, and I can testify that it truly is God’s plan of Happiness made specifically for us, his children, Because he loves us.
I’m glad to hear everyone else Is doing great!! Tell Brendon to keep working hard!! Let me know how the Boys sports continue to Go, Nice Job to Nathan!!
I’m looking forward to the package!! But I in the next one, Soap, peanut butter, root beer barrels (the little candy) like a lot of those, and fruit leather!! It’s amazing how priorities change out here.
I love you all!! I haven’t played the piano yet, and the Church building is nice but only has an electric piano, but I am thinking of ways to keep myself musically inclined.
Send my love to Everyone!!
Love-
Elder Despain
 
 
 
NOVEMBER 17, 2013
 Dear Family and Friends!!

This week has honestly been extremely difficult. But I am learning that the more difficult things are, the greater the reward will be if you accomplish what you are trying to do, and if you continue to just Endure. That has become a key word on the mission, Endure. The more you Endure, the greater the blessings will be, not just for yourself, but more importantly, the people you are serving.
We have 7 people committed to baptism, and 2 more people that had dates but missed church, so their dates will be pushed back two weeks. so 9 People. 2 of those people are getting baptized this weekend, and will be my first two baptisms!! I am so beyond excited. Next week, I will write more about the people getting baptized!
The weather is consistently around 95 or higher. I sweat so much. But it’s ok. I drink plenty of water.
4 elders live in my Apartment, and we all get along great!! I didn’t try any new food this week, just more bonku, hot pepe and fish heads. I have taken pictures when I have time but I am mostly just focussed on working, we aren’t supposed to look like a tourist.
I Almost got hit by a motorcycle this week. 3 times. It’s not really a big deal anymore.
I also took more first bucket shower. And have taken 2 more after that. So it’s not to bad. The pump shuts off al the time so we just use buckets to shower.
Today I cooked a HUGE stew, It will get me through a week or so with rice.
Other than that, the mission is the same!! I can’t believe that I have already been out for ONE MONTH!! It has gone by so fast. Right now, I have 23 months left, but before you know it, I’ll have been out 23 months!!
Last thing. Church services are probably the hardest part of the week. Weird right?? But It’s because it is disappointing when some of your serious investigators tell you they will come to church and then never show up. Plus the people do the lessons and even some of sacrament meeting in Twi. I have picked up a little bit of the Twi, but I will never use it in a lesson. Pres. Judd says, the people speak english, and English is the language of the restoration, so speak english.
Anyways!! I am doing amazing!! It was a hard week but incredibly rewarding!! Pray for the people I’m teaching!! That’s all I ask! I love you all so much!
Elder Despain
 
I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING ONLINE AT THE SAME TIME AS DEVIN AND SO WE “CHATTED” VIA EMAIL WHILE HE HAD HIS LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME.  THAT WAS A WONDERFUL “GIFT” TO be able to email back and forth.   I ask him why he felt so discouraged this week.  His response was:  “cause half the time investigators will tell you to come, then they won’t show up.  It was hot and one of our best prospects for baptism wasn’t around all week, even though every single day we would talk to him and he would tell us we could meet.  And then he wouldn’t turn up.  Here you have to really learn patience.  We have literally waited for an hour and a half for some people.  But the lessons make it worth it.  Oh and it rained one day.  And it was just a weird week.  LIke, we would have a really good lesson, followed by waiting for someone, followed by getting some really good contacts, followed by getting into a discussion with a really tough investigator who just really doesn’t want to listen, she was just wanting to teach us why we are wrong.  But the good has and always will outweigh the bad.  I was walking down the street a few nights ago thinking about how hard the week had been.  And I started to cry and then I just smiled.  I’M IN GHANA!  I love the people, I get to experience something almost nobody else does, and I’m on a mission.  I have no reason to be unhappy.  Like, other emotions will come, like sadness and frustration, but I still get to choose how I handle it, and I still get to decide to be happy.  So it’s been a good week.
 
Next I ask about his hands and if they were healing ok.  It takes him 3 hours each week to wash his clothes by hand.  He has worn sores in his hands and last week cut his finger on a bucket and proceeded to make the two fingers next to that finger bleed from using them.  So he switched hands and rubbed sores into his left hand.  His response to this was:  My hands heal up just enough that I can wash the next week then they bleed again.    He said the African’s have really good calluses on their hands and they are hard workers!  
 
He told me how he makes his stew!  “We don’t really eat much real meat.  the only meat I have had so far is fish and cow skin…I put eggs in my stew. cabbage, carrots, onions, tomatoes, peppers, pepe, and garden egg with tomato paste and oil and water.  It’s pretty good!  And the fish we buy off the street and HOPE it’s cooked right, it is cooked right 99% of the time.  Actually, it’s sometimes burnt.  I eat lots of Bread too, they call it sugar bread, it is really sweet.  He said they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving there, but Christmas is a huge holiday and they kill lots of animals and have a feast.
 
I asked him if he is wearing sunscreen…(ok…that is the mom in me!  ha ha) He said NO!  He says he’s got a really good tan on his face, neck and arms.  He sweats all the time, but he is getting used to it.  I told him he needs to throw a set of scriptures to anyone who tries to run him over…his response was ” I will run out of proselyting books if I did that!”  
 
THEN THAT WAS IT…HE SAID “MOM I HAVE 3 MIN. LEFT !  HE TOLD ME HE LOVED ME AND HE WAS GONE!  I SCREAMED AT MY COMPUTER….NO!  I LOVE my Monday mornings and his emails bring so much joy! It is bitter sweet.  I see so much growth in him in such a short time.  He has 23 months left…I don’t want to waste those months wishing he were home either or I would miss out on my other wonderful kids.  I’m truly grateful for his light and example to me. His acceptance of ALL GOD’S children.    I’m sure he would love a letter from friends and family especially around the holidays.  Love and gratitude to each of you and wishing you the best Thanksgiving Holiday with your loved ones.  

November 4, 2013

Dear Family,

I am in the field!!  It is so incredible, I don’t even know where to start!!  So I’ll start with my first companion, my trainer!  His name is elder West!  He is from England, used to be a body builder, and is an amazing missioonary.  Very obedient, very kind, very patient, and works hard.  He is a year older than me.  He  has been out for 6 months and is like a big brother.  It is funny because he is the youngest of 5 and I am the oldest, but now he is like the older Brother.  I really enjoy working with him.  Next: the area.  I am in a place called Ashaiman (Aw-shaw-man).  Elder West says it is known as the roughest part of Ghana.  It is super crowded and has tons of people.  I am not sure what will pop up, but look it uup on google!!  It is actually very sad.  All the roads are dirt, the poeple live in brick homes the size of our living room, they do not have much at all, work hard every day, and consequiently are asome of the happiest and most humble people I have ever met in my life.  I do not know them or look like them, but I love them.  The kids, this is all thye know so they learn to enjoy it.  Also, chickens, dogs roosters and cats walk around the streets and are almost more common than people.  They is trash everywhere because the people don’t have a waste program.  And sometimes poeple will just go to the bathroom in the gutters, which are open.  it smells really bad but I have gotten used to it.  It is incredibly crowded, imagine New york city without being developed.  That is what it feels like.  there is not another white person in all of Ashaiman, just me and my companion, so the people think it is funny.  The little kids will yell at us “Abruni, Abruni” while we are walking, which means white man!  But they say it kindly, and they love to come up and play with us, which I absolutely Love!!  The kids are probably the best part ha ha they are all like my little siblings now. 

Now for my living conditions.  We live of of 6 cidis a day.  That is approxaimately three dollars.  Ya It is nuts, but it gets us by, kinda.  We do have clean running water, and everybody can buy pure water on the streets for 10 pasewas (a nickel).  But we Only have running water when the power is on.  We have been lucky so far, the power has not shut off on us, but I know some of the kids in  my MTC have already gone 4 days without running water.  So they bucket shower with pure water from the street.  so today we washed clothes by hand.  My knuckles are rubbed raw, as well as a spot oon my wrist.  Mom, thank you so much for doing my laundry at home.  I can now truly appreicate it.  It takes about 3 hours to wash clothes.  Other than that, there is the food.  the food in Ghana is interesting.  Good, but interesting.  Elder West is teaching me how to make the stew he likes and rice (surprise, surprise) but I have had a few of the native dishes.  They are called wache (watch-aye) kenekw, and bonku.  Look them up on the interenet.  Basically it is a starchy dough that you eat with your hands.  It has no flavor, so you dip it iin really spicy sauce, which is called pepe, which is peppers.  It is honestly incredibly hot, but I have started to get used to it.  I have also had small tiny fish where you eat the whole thing, they are about an inch long, you eat the head, tail, eyes,a nd bones.  I also had a big whole tilapia.  And when you eat the fish head.  It tastes just like the fish, except you have to kind of chew the skull and suck the meat out, and you can feel the eye balls.  so everything is super spicy and I have already had a fish head.  I’m sure stranger food is going to come.  Now for the poeple.  I love the investigators.  I will focus on a couple of investigators and a couple of the experiences.  We have already challenged two people to get baptized, and both accepted for the 30th of November.  We also have a scheduled date for the 23rd.  The two that I got to challenge were Armstrong, who was my very first lesson, and Koby.  Armstrong is a very particular, clever man and when teaching him, I could feel the spirit so strong.  But the lesson with Koby, that was something else.  He is 21 and has a problem with smoking weed, but loves the lessons and the missionaries so much.  He has a incredible heart.  He has a problem with why the world isn’t fair.  That is a huge question lots of people have here, since it is so hard to get by.  But we taught him about the premortal life.  The spirit was so strong, I could feel it, Elder West said he could feel it and I know Koby could feel it.  I asked Koby if he knew what he was feeling.  He said no, and we explained to him what it was.  I know for a fact that if the Holy Ghost had a body, he would have been right there, sitting next to Koby with an arm around him telling him that what we had taught him was true.  That is one of the most spiritual experiences I have had in my life.  One thing that me and Elder West have to work on is contacting.  We have lots of lessons to teach, so we have to get to those lessons, but there are so many people on the streets just walking around and such, I prayed and asked that if we tried to contract more, He would help us.  I brought up my concern to Elder West, and he kinda just went with it.  But the Lord answered my prayer!  When we were walking last night, we got 8 new contacts!!  That is incredible, like, I can’t describe how much of a testimony builder that was.  One of the contacts was a boy of around 16 that I had met three days ago.  He was walking on the street with a basketball.  Nobody plays basketball here, so I was super excited.  We passed the ball back and forth once, but we were heading to the bank, so I did not have time to get his name or number, or tell him who we were.  I was really dissapointed.  but he came up to me last night!!  I was so overwhelmed with happiness when I saw him!  His name is Razak.  His family is muslim, so we will have to get permision to teach him, but I know the Lord wants me to teach him.  Out of the other 7 contact, 5 were druk…But here is the thing about Alcohol.  It is a truth syrum.  The people literally came up amd tp;d is about their problems, how they knew that they needed to change, and they wanted us to teach them.  We got their contacts,a nd we will call them throughout the week.  One particular is called Isaac, I feel a strong connection with him, he is special for some reason. 

Well that is the work for this week.  Dad and Mom, thanks for everything you have ever done or taught me!  And mom, don’t worry, I am keeping my room clean, and I am safe.  I love you!

Elder Despain

First Email from Devin

I’m already behind on keeping Devin’s blog up-to-date!  Ha Ha…But since I am going to be updating it for him I will sometimes put our feelings in here.  This is Devin’s first Email and when I received it I literally jumped for joy!  It was like Christmas morning.

Oct.  21, 2013

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m glad everyone is doing great!! I love and miss you guys a lot!  I have connected really well with this missionary named Elder Kidd!!  He actually went to impact training and took the whole course, How cool is that???  so I have spent a lot of time with him today since we were companions at the temple and today is sort of Pday for my district.

Let everyone know I’m so happy they are doing well in sports, tell Dallin that I know it is tough being on bad teams, I’ve had my fair share of disappointing sports teams!  And let Nathan know Great Job!!!  Please update me on the sports scores.  The other elders are requesting scores for NCAA football, NFL, world series, Basketball if it has started, and BYU.  Thanks!

I will pray for Brendon, to be healthy and can run like he knows he can!  Tell Lilly I’m glad she’s not getting married yet. ha ha

In Ghana, you sweat all the time, unless you are in a classroom, chapel, or cafeteria, cause they are only rooms with A/C and you can’t help it.  You just naturally sweat, cause it is so humid and hot all the time.  Even at night, so when you sleep, you don’t use blankets and you try not to sweat too much, but it doesn’t help.  And this is just the dry season…

the food is the same every day.  some sort of porridge, green oranges, bread, and a boiled egg.  Lunch is rice, chicken or fish, chopped salad with mayo, and spicy red sauce and chicken sauce.  Then dinner is the same thing, sometimes with pasta on the side and a fruit.  And then snacks at 9:15 is just fruit, there is white pineapple or papoe (papaya), which is really really good.  but we eat SOOO much rice.  Like I have eaten more rice in the last 5 days than I have in the last two years before my mission.  I am so glad I have brought snacks, the cheese-its and the beef jerky make me feel like I’m home, and the two African elders I room with love the American snacks.  ha ha

Speaking of rooming, my district is incredible!!  There are 8, and my companion Elder Aheebwa is district leader.  Then there is me, and then Elder Hatch From Kennewick, 6’4.  So all the Africans love him because no one is big in Africa, so when they see a huge guy that is white, they all want to take pictures with him.  He is good and has a great testimony.  Elder Nondala: From South AFrica, strong testimony, lifted weights for fun, quiet and funny, great personality, easy to get along with!  Love Him!

Elder Kidd: planning on playing basketball in college, is really good!!! Went to Impact, went without the church for a year, but came back and prepared to serve a mission, missed his family a lot at first but has come to love the studying.  Probably my best friend so far.

Elder Eshun: from Ghana, very strong testimony, tells us about Ghana, says we are funny people, is very humble, and I hope to get to know him better.

Elder Vernon: short Kid with the most focused mind and the biggest faith of us all.  Watch the Best two Years.  He’s like the shorter guy in the movie.  I love him…he is awesome.

Elder Quio (pronounced Quay): don’t know him as well, from Liberia, seems very intelligent but is quieter and reserved-we got him to smile and laugh though!!!

So hmmm.  Today I become extremely grateful for physical activity.   We have only had two days that we have been able to have physical activity, but Monday was very short.  today we played football and it was SO FUN! I missed it so much and I played well!

Also the Temple is beautiful.  the city is busy and dirty and chaotic, but the temple is truly polar opposites, it is a very literal contrast and symbol of the Lord’s house and kingdom compared to the world around.  So the Book of Mormon’s here (the hard cover ones) are only 40 pesewas (cents), which is 20 cents in America, so I bought three to study in and mark with different topics, like read one and only mark things pertaining to the atonement, then take another and do the same thing but with the plan of salvation, and so forth.  It will be very good!

How is Joey?  Tell him I love Ghana and that I have listened to his advice on everything, and that he should of told me how crazy the drivers are!!  The roads are bumpy, if not just dirt, and there are basically no traffic laws.  People swerve off the road to pass, through gas stations and parking lots, go around on dirt roads to get ahead.  They don’t use blinkers, and honk.  A Lot.  lIke if you go 10 seconds without hearing a horn honk, you think that something is wrong because everybody just honks all the time.  And people stand in the middle selling food, water, Dora the explorer books, bread, soda, popoe, and all sorts of other things like magazines and DVD”s.  I am truly surprised they don’t get into more accidents.  They would be really good at rally car racing.

So I just want to bear my testimony to everyone that this is truly the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you All!

Love,

Elder Despain

Right before I leave…

This is my only post before I leave! After this, my mom will be posting my emails from each week onto this blog!! This Blog will Also have my email address, letter mailing address, and package mailing address on it. I’m so grateful that I have this opportunity to go and serve the Lord and the People of Ghana for the next two years. I have a testimony of this gospel and testify that Christ is our Savior.Image