Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 53- Officially one year!!!


Hey family!! It sounded like you had a pretty normal week! I am thankful you are all happy and healthy, it helps me out here.  I am doing great, everything in Ghana is normal, hot, humid and a ton of fun!!!:) Dad Its true, soon enough I will be home and continuing my life, I actually want time to slow down because I’m nervous for that, I feel different, look different and I’m nervous but I’m excited to start.  It reminds me of the sign mom put in my letters before I left, "Strength doesn’t come from things you have done it comes from accomplishing things you thought you couldn’t," or something along those lines, I really love that saying.  Dad I am glad work is going good and you and Colby were able to go on a ride, I sure miss those rides but I am glad you guys get to do that.  I bet it was so dang pretty up there.  Colby's bike is good now too which is good, should have got a Honda haha.  Mom happy Bday again, I sure miss ya but I will be home guaranteed for your next one:) I love that you were able to get together and have a good time.  The package is here so I will get it next week Wednesday.  

I can’t believe one year ago I was at home preparing to come.  I feel like a lot has changed and I have grown so much in this past year than I have my whole life.  It’s truly amazing how serving a mission grows you from a small boy into a man.  I have learned so many life lessons and attributes to help me have a successful and happy life.  I have also learned the importance of being Grateful in whatever circumstance you find yourself in.   You know Heavenly Father loves us so much and wants us to be true disciples of his son so he does things to make us stronger (Ether 12:27)  I have learned that I have been so blessed in my life and the importance of always being grateful for those blessing.  Another thing I have learned is the importance of service.  I have found that when you are in the service of your fellow being you are serving your Heavenly Father.  When you do this with a humble heart you are so dang happy, you forget about how you look, things at home, what others think, you are just focused on serving your Heavenly Father, as you do this you literally are so happy.  I have made one goal that when I go home I always want this happiness, so I decided I would visit an old folks home 1 to 2 times a month and visit the widows in my ward.  Can you imagine how they feel??  I just want to help people always.   I have learned the importance of keeping my covenants.  Do we realize when we are baptized, go to the temple and perform these ordinances we are making a promise with God?? For me I have to keep that promise because he has blessed me so much in my life and all I can do is keep that covenant.  As I have kept these covenants I have grown so close to my Heavenly Father.  I trust him with all my heart and know that he will guide me as long as I am worthy of that guidance, what a great blessing.  The power of prayer is simply what has saved me on my mission and in my life.  I remember when I wanted to do what is right always I made a goal to pray to my Heavenly Father every night.  At first it wasn’t easy,  I felt I wasn’t worthy to even mention his name but as I communicated with him night after night  I felt his love for me and for my loved ones.  I know Heavenly Father loves us so much and wants us to pray to him every single second we can, I love my God so much!!   This new year I want to just be the best missionary I can be, I thank everyone for their prayers and support, I couldn’t be here without the examples and support of my family, the blessings I have received from missionary work are also bestowed upon you as well. 
This week was a great week, very very fast.  Well on Tuesday we had District Council, after Jensen challenged me to some ping pong so we played.  We then had a great Family Home Evening for Elder Valdez's bday.  The member fed us legit Spaghetti and marinated spicy chicken.  It was so dang good, my best meal in Ghana by far.  The following day we did another one for his bday as well.  We played games with Elder Valdez's recent converts and my investigators and we were all laughing so hard.  We reenacted a joke Elder Jensen told and Elder Bangi my comp was so funny I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time, we were all very happy.   M our baptismal candidate is progressing very well, this week is her baptism she is so happy.  Also she has been bringing a friend and that friend wants to be baptized as well, but we are taking it slow so she gets a strong testimony first.  J and all of are other investigators didn't come to church we were so sad.  We decided for this week we have to find some more people so we will see!!  We found an old less active though which was way cool!!! We had contacted this woman a long time ago and we were riding by her house and she told us to come tomorrow to teach her.  We did that and met her Grandfather and he was like I’m a pioneer to the church.  We chatted and in Ghana a while ago there was something that happened called the freeze.  Ghana thought the Church was a secret organization spying on them so they stopped our church here and investigated all our buildings; it was very wicked, well when that happened he left.  It was so cool though we mentioned the book of Mormon and asked him if he had one and the next day we were there he said I found the book of Mormon and hadn’t read it so I decided to read...he was almost done with first Ghana that is a miracle...we are so happy for this man.  Also while we were teaching him his grandson came out and was so interested in the church and the man was just teaching the boy about the book of Mormon and the church and he was like yeah the church is true...powerful dang cool!! What was funny though as we were teaching him we asked him to pray...most of the time Ghanaians pray in their local language so he started to pray in twi, as he prayed he said amen so my companion said amen but the man wasn’t finished so Elder Bangi said oh sorry then bowed his head again.  After we finished he was blaming it on me and was like pure wickedness haha, we had this happen to a french speaker just the week before and we laughed about it for a long time.  
Family I am doing so well, as I write my weekly email I realize how much the lord has blessed me throughout the week.  I am so grateful for all of you, next milestone is Christmas:)  I love you all very much, again thank you for the emails, and more importantly the prayers!!!:) 

I love you all tons!!

Elder Duke

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 52-What day is it????? HUMP DAY!!!!!:)

What day is it????? HUMP DAY!!!!!:)                                                          9/15/2014 10:53 AM

Hey Family!! Well I’m listening to some 2pac in the cafe right now while emailing haha, only in GH its awesome here you never know what to expect when you walk out the door every day, it makes missionary work a blast!! It sounded like you all had a great week.  I was so glad that Grandma is okay, Elder Valdez our District leader thought he was getting one so we bought some ORS lemon which is medicine here just pure lemon and had him chug a bunch of it, so even me I have started drinking a ton.  It sounded like you had a great weekend with the family!! Grandma told me about the poop haha that is funny right there, gosh we are redneck I was just laughing while reading Grandma's email that is funny.  Boy soon enough I will be home don’t worry it will go by fast:)  You got my letters and things, you will have to let me know on what you think next email:)  Colby man that tag is yours boss, soon enough little brother.  Colby send me a picture of your truck with the gauges and things, also let me know how your bike is coming along!  Dad glad work is going well, seems just normal stuff!  Don’t worry about this Ebola thing, we just have to kind of leave it up to God.  If it comes it comes and they get us out of here.  President updates us every single week.  My only fear is it comes and doctors run, already we had a suspected case in a hospital just close to me and all the doctors ran.  My only fear is that Ghana won’t report any cases until it is too late.  Elder Curtis the general authority is here in Ghana and they are working on things, President Hill said he has been working on it and doing mock scenarios if it does comes what happens, I know President is prepared, that man is very very smart and I trust him, he won’t let us get hurt here.  They have billboards up here so I think Ghana is trying we will see though!! Don’t worry though all is well here, just got to get through one more year:)  

This week was so dang good!!!  I have learned so many things serving as a missionary for my Heavenly Father.  It’s amazing how serving a mission changes you from a boy into a man, it truly is a university for life. I was talking with President on Wednesday and we were discussing how far I have come.  It’s amazing when I first came I was kind of stubborn about some wearing a helmet but I realized the importance of exact obedience. I have changed in so many things and I am so grateful for the decision of serving a mission.  Even if I was offered a 10 million dollar baseball contract to the Angels or serving a mission I would choose a mission.  Anyone that is deciding to serve or contemplating it, turn to your heavenly father first for help, but you won’t regret serving that I can promise you!  This week was great for Elder Bangi and I.  We had Zone Training Meeting on Wednesday at the Temple which was awesome!! We didn't go through a session but just being there with a lot of the missionaries was a blast!  Then throughout the week we just had a great week!  I can’t believe it has been a year...time flies, just got to get to December and then from there it’s a new year.  I am sad and happy about getting to my one year.  I want to time to slow down a little, chii it is going very fast, but I want to see my family!  For my next year I have made some resolutions and set some new goals for my missionary efforts.  I also wanted to talk to the family about setting goals.  Don’t think that I have forgotten about going to the temple as a family!  I would love to go to the temple with my whole family and would love you all to set goals so we can achieve that through this next year!!!  We are working with a lot of people!  We had a very good week, we had 7 investigators at church this week was awesome!!  We had been teaching this older women A, but she moved to Volta region, well she came back to Accra and called us to come see her, she loves the church, reads the book of Mormon and came to church for the first time on Sunday it was awesome!! We were going to have baptisms this week but we ran into some complications with the parents of the candidate. In Ghana you have to be very careful because it is such a Christian country that they refer to everyone as brother and sister so we had a recent convert who wanted us to baptize all these girls and she was like they are my junior sisters, well thank goodness for bishop interviewing them a little found out that they are just friends living together so we are going to make sure they are super prepared first.  The one was devastated when I told her that we are going to push it back a week, we will see though, we will do a lot of praying about it!  As well we are teaching this girl J  Well she is awesome, we usually don’t stick to an investigator this long but something is pushing us to just stick with her.  She is our hardest investigator right now!  She has prayed and has received her answer but is just really scared and doesn't like how slow the church is, she loves drums and dancing, so we are just trying to help her.  She opened up to us her concern this week and came to church, and loved church so we will continue to work with her, I think she will just take time!  Elder Bangi and I are getting along very well, I am always nervous for a new companion but we are always laughing and joking with each other, I love this guy very much, he has such a big heart and is always ready to give.  I love Africans, our culture here is when you have food you always invite whoever is around to come eat, here they really mean it and he is so kind and always wants to give I love this guy!  We are still eating the same thing here except no bush meat and we don’t really eat on the road anymore due to Cholera, it is very bad here people are dying so we have to be very careful, two missionaries in the other mission got it, so we are just being super clean.

Well Family!! This church is so dang true!!  I know without a doubt that this is the Savior Jesus Christ’s church on the earth today. This church is not a church formed by a man but it is literally Jesus Christ Church, I am so honored to be a part of it!!! I know that the book of Mormon is the work of god and is another testament of Jesus Christ.  I have read it, studied it and have felt the spirit countless amount of times witness that it is true.  Family Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us so dang much.  Put your trust in him and allow him to direct your life, and you will feel his hand and love directing you!!  I love my heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ and I love you guys so dang much!! Thank you for everything.  I think for my one year we will go get a cheeseburger and I will get my companion one too!! I love you all so dang much!!!! I miss you like crazy but soon enough!!!

I love you all tons!!!

Elder T-Cars

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 51- Chopping until we feel sick

9/8/2014 11:03 AM

Hey you guys!!!!:)  Well Family this week was dang slow, we had transfers on Wednesday and that was nice I was able to see a lot of my friends and I was able to see Dranni, he is ready for home. The Recent Convert loves the church and always says how much it has blessed her life so she just wants her sisters to be blessed so they are just jumping right on that and wanting to become members, you should see their smiles at church!!  On Friday the Relief Society President invited us over for a visit so our whole district went there, we are now Elder Bangi my companion, Elder Jensen and Akpossu, Elder Valdez and Elder Miller from the U.K.  well we had just taken lunch then went there and I chopped 3 top o ramons and then we went there and she fed us all nice rice and chicken and fish...then she brought out watermelon....then bananas....then oranges, like literally I thought I was going to throw up it was a good experience.  We also are teaching these people from the Congo not the DRC but another Congo and they love us, there is a boy and a girl they are boyfriend and girlfriend and are 19 and 20.  They are so cool they invited us over on Saturday and we chopped very nice beans and rice.  They are doing so good, they came to church too.  They both loved the church and they are learning English right now so the church teaches English so they are just soaking it in,  the members there some of them speak French so they were just speaking French to them and they were just laughing a lot and asking a lot of questions, we are praying they will continue to progress.  What’s cool is I don’t know if the church or the gospel is there so I think this is the first time they have heard it, so that is pretty cool.  Well Ghana is still normal and everything is cool!  I am happy and moving on so I can’t complain!!  I know this church is true and know this is where I am supposed to be, I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve my Heavenly Father!! 
Mom, Dad, Colby, I love you each so dang much and think of you every day.  Soon enough I will be home don’t worry just a couple more months and we talk then by that point its home time.  I love you guys tons!!!!!

Love you guys very much!!!!!:) 

I loved this!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 50- September, Time Flies!!!!

Hey family!! Mom, Dad and Colby, I sure miss you guys a ton!!  I think of you all every single day and always pray for you.  I can’t believe school is starting up again. This time last year I was preparing to leave and now in just about a year I will be preparing to come home.  It truly has taught me how fast time flies and how you just have to enjoy every single day and take life day by day.  It sounded like you all had a great week.  The ride to Jack Pot is such a beautiful ride.  I can’t wait to do that again.  I think the next day after I get home we are just going to get in the jeep, get some dews, some weiners...fufu and go to the hills haha.  This Ebola thing has died down a little bit, I told everyone that the end of last month would determine how it would go.  There are actually bill boards here that say stop Ebola so that is good they are really keeping the public aware. I am safe and doing well.  Everything is just about normal.  

So I have to take it day by day as I write an email because if not I have realized that it’s all sketchy and doesn't have flow.  Tuesday was a weird day.  We had a great District Council meeting, the spirit was really strong.  Well we were going to go to this restaurant called Zoo Zoo's and get a cheeseburger and then it started to rain.  Well we stayed at the church and played table tennis for a couple hours which has been keeping us really busy haha, and then it died up so went there.  Well we got our cheeseburger and it started to rain again and it rained all day.  As we were leaving the restaurant though there is a big hill and there was a lot of cars that had stalled and people were pushing them up this hill really close to our Chapel. So we all started pushing cars up this hill it was a lot of fun.  Well in Ghana you can drive however you like it seems haha so at the top of the hill at this traffic light it was really congested and everyone was trying to go, it was bad.  Well we were pushing a car and I got a little riled up haha and decided to start directing traffic.  Well I walked out there, insulted a couple people, got some others laughing and then literally directed traffic at this intersection.  It was so dang funny, I would tell them to stop, they would stop, tell others to go, they would go.  People were recording me on the streets so don’t be surprised if this ends up on youtube...a white boy/missionary, directing traffic in Africa haha Jensen recorded it but the file is corrupt.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were normal days.  We contacted some really sweet people though that I am excited to teach.  We contacted a very wealthy woman who had just given birth and is at home.  She is so kind her name is B.  She invited us in and we really just clicked.   We introduced the Restoration and really got her thinking about her family and other things.  We planted a very deep seed and as we were leaving she wanted us to come back the next day and asked us to write down the quotations we used in the Bible.  As well we have a recent convert who wants her sister to be baptized.  So we taught her this week and she came to church as well.  Her name is M and she loves the church.  She is going to be baptized on the 20th my one year mark.  We as well got some referrals from a member in London and we taught their whole family.  They seem to love the message but they didn't come to church, I was sad for them but we will still work with them.   
The highlight of my week though had to have been Saturday.  A, T, and Al all were baptized and then confirmed the following day.  They looked so dang Beautiful in the baptismal clothing and in the water.  The members did a great job and we had a great turn out.  All the girls were just shining with the spirit.  It was such a rewarding experience.  I had the opportunity to Baptize A she was just glowing, she looked so pretty.  When we finished the baptisms A told me "wow that was nice" It made me really happy then when I talked to T she said I just feel relieved and no stress.  I was so happy for them.  It was like a double bonus as well, because their father is less active and he came to watch them get baptized, his first time in the church for 20 years.  He was actually a seminary teacher and a young men president.  Well our second counselor was actually taught by him, and a person he was baptized with was there as well so they just reminisced about old times and it was really good for Brother S.  As well we asked him to bear his testimony for his daughter and he gave such a great testimony on how he knows the church is true and to not be like him but to not worry because he will come back soon.   It was a very special day.  After that we got transfer news and my companion Elder Luvhengo is going to my birthplace...Oda.  He is super excited and I will be getting Elder Bangi from Uganda.  I am excited to serve with Bangi we will do work in this area.  
Everything is great family.  I am doing really well.  I am happy and moving forward small small every single day. I love your letters and emails thank you so much for sending them.  I always love hand written letters too;) wink wink nod nod haha:)   Truly though I am so thankful for my family, I have been blessed with such great parents, and a little brother.  I love you three so much and can’t wait to see you again.  I am so thankful for my family; Heavenly Father has really blessed us!! 

I love you guys so much!!

Elder Duke