07 August 2014

Faith In Every Footstep

Elder Price is healthy and safe in the Ghana Cape Coast mission. We are thankful. We know that angels watched over him and the other missionaries as miracles paved their way for safe travels.

Timeline update from our end: 7:15 pm on Tuesday August 5th we received a short phone call from Elder Price. He was at the Cape Coast mission home. He was tired, safe, and a little sad. Wednesday, August 6th we received many chatty emails from him as he was at the mission home with seven other elders that he had served with in Liberia. The eight of them had been reassigned to the Ghana Cape Coast Mission (GCCM). He also sent us a very long "journal style" email, with many details of the events of the past week. An edited version is here:

Dear Family,
So, for this email, I've decided to do something a tad different. I'm just going to go through what has happened this past week, almost like a journal entry that's really long. I don't know if I've remembered to write everything in my journal, and I enjoy typing much more, so this is just like my journal. From the beginning:

Tuesday. Ebola rules were strictly reinforced. We were told to be more careful than other times; the Berretts visited at the end of district meeting and reminded us to be exactly obedient. The day went on. It had been pouring for the past few days and the road inside Doe Community was flooded bad. We took some nice pictures of me sitting on a bench in the middle of this flooded stuff; overall, we taught some good lessons. 

We saw a man named Vorkpore at the end of the day, and we walked through crazy place to teach him. We went inside this very short building-the roof was so low that we had to duck a ton just to walk inside this hallway. On our left and right of this cement building were these short doors with their locks on them--each one was someone's home. Inside a doorway is a small space, one room, where someone will live. We've been in a place like this before, but this one was a very short building. And it went on. The building was long. We kept walking and walking, above us was an open space where you could see the wood poles built, holding up the zinc sheets of metal that were the roof. There were massive amounts of spiders in this space, big ones, with huge webs. We kept walking through this hallway down and down until the end where there was a small open space with a bench or two. We sat down and taught Vorkpore there. Crazy place. Slums of Liberia.

Wednesday. This is the day everything started. This was the last day in my area. Wednesday morning the New Kru Town missionaries were called and told that they couldn't proselyte in their area, they were initially told to work with the Point Four elders and help Point Four branch. An hour or so later, the transfer was extended to the Point Four missionaries, too. The APs were calling all the people that were involved, and we went out proselyting. We taught a lesson to an investigator named Mulbah. We had Vera Morris with us, an amazing recent convert who was baptized by Elder Zaugg and Elder Kamara. She's awesome, but her boots were only just about the ankle rubber boots, too short to allow her to walk through the deep puddles. Elder Cottrell and I did a scout carry with our hands to lift her and carry her across the deep puddles; it was full of laughs. It was a great time. :) Before we physically sat down to teach Mulbah, we were standing outside his porch, and we saw another investigator, Brother Botoe, walking towards us over this cement bridge. We talked to him and asked him where he was coming from; he told us that he was coming from a house (that we could see) where a man died. He explained that the guy was working as a pharmacist in Redemption Hospital. A few others with that guy died, too. We asked the symptoms; yeah, it was Ebola.  We gave Bro. Botoe some hand sanitizer. :) We sat down with Mulbah and taught him, helping him to get married soon. We finished, carried Vera across more water, jumping on tires, bridges, flooded paths, broken bricks, all over mud. It was good. We went to another appointment, the Nagbe family. We sat down, and I went to relieve myself in some bushes around the side of the house (the whole place was completely flooded, too). As I was walking back, I got a phone call from the APs. The APs said that Point 4 elders weren't answering their phone, so it was our responsibility to go into their area and find them. So we dismissed ourselves from that lesson, said goodbye to Vera when we reached the road, and we took bike out of our area. I took a video on my camera of that last bike ride. Laughing, Elder Cottrell and I said that it might be our last day in our area, ever. It was.
["took bike" means they rode on the back of a motorcycle, the driver along with the two elders on the seat behind him. What a treasured video that will be.]

So we went to Point Four. We couldn't find them fast, but we said a prayer and 10 minutes after the prayer we got a call saying that they finally answered their phone. We went back to the apartment and helped the elders move out: they were now being transferred to Banjor and Duala. We then cleaned their apartment and taught Christiana, my convert, the security guard. We were called that night by President Kirkham. He told me to collect all the phones. After I collected all the phones, he told me that we were not to go out of our apartments the next day, and we weren't allowed to be communicating with anyone, members, investigators, anyone. [Elder Price was the zone leader, which is why he was the one collecting phones, etc.]

Thursday. Our first day inside. Spent the entire day doing random stuff. Elder Cottrell was teaching me how to waltz! We were told that we were going to be staying in for some more days. We were told to stock up food. So we bought a ton of food!

Friday. We were called that morning that we were going to be leaving the country the next morning. We weren't told our calls at that point. We spent the day packing. That night President Kirkham called us and told us our calls. That was when I was told that I was going to Ghana Cape Coast.

Sister Berrett, Elder Price, and Elder Berrett. Saturday at the mission home.
Saturday. We went to the mission home (beautiful place). We staged to go, all our bags were packed, the church had chartered a plane for us. We prepared everything and began our drive to the airport. Eventually we reached there, and we were told, frantically by the Berretts, not to unload the bags. President Kirkham came and announced to us, as we were standing in the airport parking lot, that we were denied access to Ghana.  No go. We were sent back and we redistributed our bags and organized to stay in the apartments that night. Some far elders stayed in closer apartments, and some elders stayed in the mission office and mission home. The Caldwell New Georgia elders joined us in the Logantown apartments. That meant we had Elder Pearmain, Elder Erickson, Elder Kaiser, Elder Gunnel, Elder Agyei, and Elder Obeng-Poku all joined us.

Sunday. We stayed inside. The African elders received a call that they were being picked up and shipped out. They left before all of us Americans. We spent the time playing chess, card games, etc. We were called that night and told that we were going to be leaving the next day. [on commercial flights]
Suits: Elders Erickson and Pearmain. Others (L-R): Elders Widdison, Price, Kaiser, Gunnell, and Cottrell
Monday morning at Logantown Apartment, prior to leaving for the mission home
Monday. We left. We went to the mission office and left, again. This time we made it into the plane. Everything checked, everything good. Got on the plane from Roberts airport to Brussels on Brussels Airlines. It had a touch screen tv on the seats, so I played chess... It was good. 
President Kirkham and Elder Price prior to departure from the mission home on Monday
Tuesday. We landed in Brussels. So tired. I ate at some random places there like.. well, I ate a chicken sandwich, drank a smoothie, and ate a ham and cheese sandwich from starbucks. 

The second flight was really short. And there are apparently windmills in the English channel: who knew?!

We had a nice layover and Elder Pishl and I were upgraded to first class on our flight! :) Nobody else, just us. It was sweet. We relaxed. 
At this point we were on British Airways. President Kirkham came up to where we were sitting and took pictures of us! :) 

... We landed, and we waited for our luggage. After getting all our luggage, we went through the airport. Not scary this time! No hard times with people asking for money; I'm more used to Africa now. :) I met the people of my [new] mission waiting for us, the APs, the couples, and the mission president and his wife. The APs took Elder Guymon and me, and all of us showed up at the mission home. I called you guys, and it was all good. 

This country is nice. Ghana is so peaceful. Everything is different. It's safe here. It's different here. And I miss my people. I almost broke down as we were driving on the Ghana freeway; the freeway itself and the views from it. It's hard to handle. I'm not.. home. It will become home, eventually, but it's not that yet. I'm going to be working my hardest, doing my best, losing myself. Thank you for sending me those notes from my setting apart blessing; I've been thinking about those a lot recently. I find myself talking about Liberia nonstop. I can't even describe it to these Ghanaian missionaries. They don't even.. know. Liberia is different, and I love it. I have half my mission here in each country, but I know that there's going to be more adventures ahead. I love you all; I'm doing my best to "walk with faith in every footstep." 'cause I know that's what I need. Everything has a reason. Have an amazing week!


Elder Price

Random email exchanges from Wednesday. They stayed at the Cape Coast mission home while the leaders went to Accra to pick up an additional eight elders arriving from Sierra Leone:

Is it true that there’s a KFC in Ghana? Are you going to eat the bones? :-D
That's what they bought for us last night -- already ate the bones. Turns out that KFC bones are really soft!"
Local chickens with soft bones. Tasty?
Hahaha, they *were* tasty, believe it or not. I'm still going to impress you when I get home!

You were so tired on the phone last night that it made me more sad for you. Sounds like you’re doing better today.
I definitely am doing better!

Did you leave much there in Liberia? Or did you manage to take everything? 
I left not much, just some things that I didn't need. I left Widdison's guitar... :P :(

How are the electric and water issues in Ghana? Even close to Liberian standards?
The electricity and water is a bit more reliable, but more on that in coming emails. 

I sent him the text of the Deseret News article from Friday August 1st.
Interesting article! It's always funny to me to read my name in something public.

I'm going to go calm my mind more and watch this church movie. I love you, Mom! BYE!!!

A couple more photos he sent us on Wednesday:

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