30 September 2013

Ghana Temple

Rain visited the Ghana LDS Temple on Wednesday. It's about 18 miles from the MTC (of course I Google mapped it here). He didn't have much time for email afterwards, but said this about his visit to the temple:

"It was really weird not to do the session with you [we had been going to the temple together weekly for the two months before he left]. But, I was able to do two sessions, right in a row, and they showed both movies, old for the first and new for the second! It was kinda neat to see the differences side by side. Also, the celestial room's furniture all has animal paws for the wooden legs of the couches, chairs, etc.! It was interesting."

After reading his email, I looked for more information about the Ghana temple and found this interesting article about the construction of that temple and the materials and workmanship that went into it. Today we received these photos from him.

Elder Vandy and Elder Price at the Ghana LDS Temple


Click here for more information about LDS Temples (they are different than the regular chapels or meetinghouses we attend for weekly services).

MTC Photos and a few quick updates

[Questions from Mom:
-Did you lose any money to the “baggage handlers” at the airport?
-Any other Liberian bound elders in your district? If so, who?
-Did you start the Doxy there in the MTC? (doxy is short for doxycycline, which is an antibiotic used to prevent malaria)
You may also notice that Rain has a love for exclamation marks. I suppose it's just his enthusiastic nature.]

I didn't lose any money from them! Because I kept my bags close to me and told the guys who asked for "tips" that I only had a credit card. I was able to keep all my cash! I do know several people got raided pretty big though. 

There aren't any other Liberia bound elders in my district, sadly.

They did start the Doxy! Yep.
In the MTC
Elder Vandy and Elder Price
This is Rain's "dead moose" face. It's kind of a family joke, but we once saw a dead moose in the back of a pickup, cruising down a Utah highway. Its tongue was hanging out like this. Now it's a common photo pose for Rain.
Local wildlife

25 September 2013

Week 1 - Ghana MTC

Hello!
I'll start with the questions you asked:

[I had asked the following questions:
Are you getting much exercise? That usually helps you feel happier.
Who’s your companion and where is he from?
How’s the food?
How’s the heat?
Are you able to sleep okay?]


We've had two days of physical activity, just for an hour each time. We usually play football (soccer ;)), and I'm still sore from yesterday's. The African guys say I'm pretty good! :D Seems like your money put with the soccer camps paid off a little bit. ;) It does make me feel a little bit happier, but not a whole ton.

My companion is Elder Vandy. He's from Sierra Leone, which is pretty cool because besides the missionary from Liberia, he is the closest one of most of the people to Liberia, and he has been telling me about it a little bit. He's 22, and he worked at the embassy. He's been trained by a US Marine. Butttt, we clash a bit on stuff, so that's difficult.

The food isn't bad! There's just a LOT of it. So much rice that I can't finish my plate. It's spicy, as expected, and usually we have chicken with it. Their chicken is way better than KFC, so that's alright. Some of the stuff is REALLY good. Like the pineapple. It's white. O_O but it tastes, shamed to say it, better than Hawaii's. At least, it's right there with it. It's AMAZING pineapple.

The heat isn't too bad. I can sleep just fine, and I haven't had to pull out the fan yet. I've been getting adjusted to being hot and sweaty pretty well too, but I think it's helped that I usually felt hot and sweaty at home. It's really humid, like, you can rub your fingers together and feel the moisture. But it's not a muggy humid like California or Hawaii seemed to be like (to me). The smells are pretty weird. Definitely African.

Whoops, already answered the question! I sleep well. The first night... I was up past 2, probably even further, and I couldn't sleep. I just layed there. I even took a Nyquil, and it didn't work. The rest of the nights have been better. I always get homesick at night though... especially when I'm laying in bed trying to sleep. I'm just waiting for the homesickness to ease away... One day it might be okay.

Ooooh! I do Doodle! As for laughing at myself, I try! And the language: I can already do the snapping handshake! booyah! It's pretty complicated. Instead of using your own thumb to push your finger on, you use the other person's finger to snap it off and hit your hand (the hitting makes the noise). The accent is pretty thick, and sounds unintelligent, although it has really formal words in it, and I know that it's not an intelligence factor. It's pretty weird. I'll probably have it soonish, but my accent isn't really changing at all right now.

Some of the African elders have different cultural acceptances than us... For one, Bullsh** isn't seen as a swear word, and neither is da**. But one of my roommates is really inconsiderate. He's harasses, and all the other Africans think it's funny while all the Americans think it's just rude... He's sorta the reason I lock up my suitcases all the time. Some of the Africans are really cool though, like Elder Okoro and some others! Elder Okoro is Elder Davis' companion, and he wants to go into music. I talk to Elder Davis a bit more than some others...

That's a bummer on the biopsy! Keep letting me know. [his sister went in for a biopsy on a large thyroid nodule the day he left for Africa. The results were inconclusive so we're going to see another specialist.]

I love hearing about Ryatt and what's happening at home. Tell the little boy that he's awesome, and his brother in Africa is thinking about him.

I like how you asked a list of questions, keep doing that! It makes it easier to form a response quickly. I meant to upload some photos, but I forgot the cord for it in my room, so... yeah. I'll try to get some of those to you. I don't really have any super great pictures yet, anyway. They limit our picture taking a lot here in the MTC.

Oh, the instructors here: natives. It's odd. The teaching is with the accent and the weird phrases they do, and it seems to be a lot harder to teach than it was back in the states. I'm trying though!

Until next week, my awesome family!

Love,
Elder Price

[Click here for more information about the Ghana Missionary Training Center]

20 September 2013

Arrived In Africa

Hi! I'm in the Ghana MTC now! I made it safe and stuffs. :) So, from the beginning. In the SLC airport, we met a really anti-mormon guy. It was an interesting first experience as he was trying to convince us that the church is a cult and that we aren't Christians. Oh well! He wasn't going to change any of our minds.

Next: The flight to JFK. I sat in the last row of the plane with Elder Robb, and we were pretty quiet the whole time. Kinda boring. In the layover, we rode a bus to different gates, because JFK is really big. We eventually found payphones, and I called you guys! Sorry for the bad connection... When we were in the airport we ate at Buffulo Wild Wings, and I bought a Toblerone with my credit card!

Then we all boarded the plane from JFK to Accra! There were ladies with the cool hats! And cute little kiddies. The flight got boring, and I played a couple games of sudoku that Elder Robb let me have. The dinner was super weird looking. I'll send pictures when I'm more comfortable with the whole set up and have my cords and stuffs...  I learned that I'm pretty comfortable in the middle seat! It wasn't too bad. The flight was full...  I managed to sleep off and on for most of the flight. A sore bum and oddly achy teeth (I think my jaw was clenched, and I fell asleep) was mostly what I got.

I'm here! It's way different. Just getting off the airplane, whooosh, a wave of humidity and heat. It's not like Hawaii or California humidity... Less... Muggy? It doesn't feel very bad. Anyway, the schedule looks busy (and stressful). I love you all lots! Bye!

Love,
Elder Price

19 September 2013

Goodbyes

The goodbyes seemed to go on forever. They started in July with a Norton family reunion where Rain said goodbye to both sets of grandparents in San Diego and many cousins and aunts and uncles. Rain said goodbye to a few close friends throughout the summer as they left on their missions. We had a little open house for family and friends earlier in September (another goodbye to Grandma Norton who flew in for the occasion), followed a few days later with a "Hawaii-side" ohana reunion. Followed by a farewell for his cousin, Leif, who left for his mission to Portugal the day before Rain (yes, feel free to laugh--cousins names are Leif and Rain). Rain said goodbye to his work friends and his crossfit friends. He said goodbye to Emma.

Then the day was upon us and it was time to take him to the airport. We loaded his bags in the car and were just about ready to go when Rain looked at the piano, looked at me, and asked, "Is there time for me to play a song?" This was the result. A quick version of "Redeemer." I pulled out my phone to record it after he'd already started. There may be some sniffling going on in the background. It may have been a tearful morning.

We had a family prayer. More tears. More hugs. Family hugs. Then we loaded into the car for the drive to the airport. We managed to be upbeat and cheerful for the drive. Dale's good at distracting us by pointing out funny things ("look at that crazy jacked up van!").
We met up with two other Liberia-bound missionaries at the airport, Elders Robb and Witehira, and their families. Rain's airplane seat was next to Elder Robb.
Elder Witehira, Elder Robb, and Elder Price
We got to the airport with plenty of time for photos and chatting, as we postponed the inevitable tearful goodbyes. We all stood around and watched as they went through security and out of sight. 
Price Family 19 Sept 2013
He can do hard things.
Tears allowed
Elder Price and Elder Robb heading to security
Rain's waving back. It's his turn.
One last face shot.

May God be with you till we meet again, Rain.

08 September 2013

Humility

"Farewell" Talk given by Rain in the Spring Hollow Ward Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, September 8th, 2013:

Hey. You know something big is going on when my parents aren't sitting on the metal chairs in the back.

A couple years ago, when I was in the Priest quorum with Brother Kandell as a leader, we went up to Salt Lake City to give food to the homeless. We did this a few times, usually bringing tacos to give to those hungry people. We would just buy a bunch of tacos and take them up there. It wasn't a complex activity, it wasn't an activity that took a ton of planning like a backpacking trip. It didn't take a lot of physical exertion, but it was an activity that I remember. I remember the talking we did on the way up. I remember sitting in the back of Kandell's car with Jacob Whitchurch and Adam Bigler, messing around the entire time joking and just hanging out. I then remember how small of a deal it felt to have all of those tacos--and we had a ton of them—we were just joking about how many we had and we didn't really think about it. It just seemed really funny looking at how many we had. And then I remember how it felt to walk up to those homeless people. How humble they were. How grateful they were to receive such a small thing, even something so small as a taco. I remember feeling how happy they were every single time I would give them one. We went around and handed them out for a while. I remember the drive home. It wasn't like the drive up there. The drive home was quiet. Not the same joking. I was thinking. Thinking about gratitude and how we don't realize what we have. Gratitude and humility changed the spirit of the whole night. I began thinking, "Does this mean I need to be homeless to be humble?" Or is it because I have been given much, I too must give?

I truly have been given much. I have been blessed in more ways than I can count. I have grown up in this wonderful ward for thirteen years. And I have an awesome and crazy family, who do weird things that I don’t do. I have amazing friends and I have had them my entire life. I have been able to go to a great school. I have been able to receive an education that so many people cannot. I have been able to be a member of the American Fork Band program. The band especially has been a big blessing in my life. I have been able to go to California and march in the 2012 Rose Parade, and I have been able to perform beautiful pieces with some of my best friends. As my fellow band members know, it’s not all fun and games in band. There's a lot of stress. One of the most stressful times was always the auditions for chair placements. We would audition in front of the director and he marked your mistakes and gave you a chair assignment. Each of us had worked really, really hard to do the best we could, but the part we ended up playing was what our director chose for us. Playing a full piece with our band after being placed in our chairs, or what parts we had been assigned, let us perform to a higher level than we could have otherwise. He placed us in a position where our talents would serve the entire band the most and make the music we play beautiful.

Just as our director placed us where we could serve according to our abilities, so did Heavenly Father do for us. President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, . . . lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace." In this we see that in turning our lives over to the Lord and humbly serving Him, we lose nothing, and we gain everything, for "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."

As Richard C. Edgley tells us, "[The power of humility] is the power to meet life's adversities, the power of peace, the power of hope, the power of a heart throbbing with a love for and testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, even the power of redemption. To this end, the Savior is our supreme example of the power of humility and submissiveness. After all, His submitting His will to the Father brought about the greatest, and even the most powerful, event in all of history. Perhaps some of the most sacred words in all the scriptures are simply, 'Not my will, but thine, be done.'"

"Humility," President Uchtdorf teaches us, "does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don't discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman." We limit ourselves from serving God and others through our pride. Pride pulls us away from the Lord and into ourselves. In the same talk from President Uchtdorf, we learn, "[Pride] is for so many a personal Rameumptom, a holy stand that justifies envy, greed, and vanity."

The Rameumptom is seen in scriptures as Alma goes amongst the Zoramites to teach. The Zoramites used the Rameumptom each week to worship with ritual, insincere, and prideful prayers. They would stand upon the Rameumptom and repeat the same prayer each week, then return home and never speak of their God again until the next week. Alma discovered that the Zoramites wouldn't allow the poor of to worship because of the lower quality of their clothing. Alma taught them that they were more able to receive the blessings of heaven because they were more able to be humble. Alma 32:3 says, "Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness; therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as dross; therefore they were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart," and a few verses later Alma says, "I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye." When he says they are lowly in heart, he tells us not that they think less of themselves, but that they are not puffed up with pride and are humble before the Lord.

Even Christ, the great Redeemer, the Only Begotten, our Savior, gave the glory of His works and life not to himself, but to God, saying, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." His entire ministry on the Earth, every miracle He performed, was to glorify Heavenly Father. I know that as we turn our lives over to the Father and away from ourselves, we will receive those promised blessings. I know that He knows where we belong in the symphony of our lives and what part we must play to fulfill His plans. I am devoting the next two years of my life to my Father's work. I will be serving in Liberia, West Africa, to a people who live in some of the most humble circumstances on this Earth. I am so excited to see the joy in their eyes as the Gospel changes their lives, as it has mine. I know that He lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that He has a plan for us and that as we lose ourselves to Him and we serve others and don't focus on ourselves, that we will be happier, that we will be blessed. I know that the Book of Mormon is the most true book on this planet. I know this church is true. I say these things in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Rain then went to the piano and played Paul Cardall's rendition of Redeemer]
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05 September 2013

White Shirts

Two weeks from today, Rain flies to West Africa to begin his service as an LDS missionary. What does it take to get an 18 year old ready for two years in Africa? Immunizations, a sizable packing list, and of course, white shirts. Lots of white shirts.