14 September 2015

Two Years

Dear Family,

I'm finding it a struggle to culminate my thoughts, feelings, and growth into a final email; to bring such a dramatic life-and-character-changing experience into some few poignant words at the finale of this adventure.

But I will do my best.

Starting from before the beginning, I had always had the thought in my mind to serve a mission. I knew that was what I wanted. The age change came, however, and I realized something about myself: I wasn't ready. I was far from prepared to serve the Lord, and, as growing up in Utah county would have it, many of my friends and acquaintances celebrated the opportunity to serve earlier. I didn't. I had this sinking feeling in my heart, a growing knowledge that I had sought to repress time and time again, that I wasn't worthy. This announcement became a bucket of cold water poured on my head, a wake-up call of what was important to me. So it took some time, and I prepared.

I can't say that I was fully prepared even going into the mission field. I don't think it's possible to be fully prepared, except that it was possible to be prepared to change. And that's what I was. Coming on mission, I knew that whoever I was before could, and should, be different upon my return. As I reached the MTC, I quickly realized that I wasn't prepared for the separation that those changes required in order for the influence of Him to be present. I found myself separated from anyone that I knew, in a foreign country whose culture and people were nothing like anything or anyone I had ever come in contact with before. In the MTC, I found myself saying, "if it is like this when I reach Liberia, I'm going home." That was a decision in my mind. Thus I let another circumstance shape my decision.

I reached Liberia, and, in a manner of using brief words, I knew it was right. I knew that was where I was supposed to be. It wasn't easy. It was one of the hardest times of my life, and those times shaped who I am.

Experience after experience, companion after companion, I began to learn. I began to understand in part the power of the Atonement of Christ, and I learned to rely on Him, for I was in places and in situations unlike any I had encountered before. I made mistakes. I wasn't perfect. Through my weaknesses, however, I learned.

I didn't learn everything. But it was, and is, my aim. Coming on mission, I didn't know what the gospel meant to me. I grew up in American Fork, Utah, where I was surrounded by other members, and the words and counsels given to me often sounded routine in my ears. They didn't mean much to me, and I didn't understand the vibrant way I saw others fulfilling their responsibilities, taking part in activities, and serving selflessly.

Time passed. I became more comfortable with life as a missionary. For the first time in my life, I would initiate conversations about gospel topics. I would share my beliefs with others. I began to learn what it meant to love someone else and share the things that have blessed my life, but first I had to learn what blessings I had because of these things. Each day I learned something new. I was corrected, chastised, and instructed time and time again, but I found that each time I received such things I grew.

My companions changed, my assignments changed, and my responsibilities changed. Each change in circumstance brought a greater change in me.

And then Ebola was in Liberia, and I found myself somewhere else. I had to take a step back and reevaluate myself. It took time, and I began to see what my personal "Goliaths" are. I began to understand what it meant to be sensitive to the spirit, what it meant to love those around, and how I could do those things a bit better. Just a bit better, each time. A bit better, that's all I needed to do each day.

I adapted, over time, and made friends. I had lingering doubts, and negative feelings from not having closure through the evacuation persisted. I noticed, however, even up to this day, that experiences came, and I met new people each time, to provide just what I needed to progress a bit more. Some people have meant so much to me that I would even consider them family.

And that's something I have loved about mission. Family. I have been away from my family for two years, yet I have found that there are connections between us that we have simply forgotten. We really are all family.

It's time for another change. It's time for my circumstances to be different, and adaptation needs to take place once again. I pray that the lessons I have learned while I have been out here will stay with me throughout my life. Although my calling is changing, I have still made covenants, and I am still the same son of our Heavenly Father. I know that He would not have me learn so many things and feel so many of these things for it to go to waste after a set date, no, there are more things to be learned. There are more adventures waiting.

I do know these things are true. I have stood and sat before countless people of all different backgrounds and occupations, and I will simply and boldly share these things with you as much as I would with those before. This church is true, and is governed by our Savior. Joseph Smith, no matter what slander and lies are presented and proclaimed about him, is a true prophet, and he did experience those things that he testified and died for. The Book of Mormon is a true record, and the knowledge of this truth will set one free, as the scriptures state. I know the Atonement is real. Jesus Christ suffered and died for each of us, and He knows us personally. We are the children of our Heavenly Father, and as such we have divine potential, potential that our Heavenly Father, in His love, wishes for us to reach, even in such great love to give his Only Begotten Son.

I do know these things are true.

No matter the circumstances, we can change and follow Him, be it a 180 degree or a 1 degree change. I know that He lives, and He loves us, come what may.

See you soon.

Love,

Elder Makani Rain Price

Melancholy Feelings Abounded

Dear Family,

I will be splitting this final email into two pieces, in similar fashion to the emails you sent to me this week. I'll be giving a regular update in this email, and more of a reflection email in the other.

Thank you for the suggestions for packing and traveling! That's good stuff for me to keep in mind, seeing as I'm in the process of packing right now.

As for sacrament meeting on Sunday, I would really like to sing hymn 89, The Lord is My Light. I do believe that the handbook mentions that it's supposed to be standing, anyway (can't tell you that with 100% confidence, however). :)

That weather report is interesting. I'm glad blankets exist. I had a dream last night that I was back home talking to family and friends, and one statement I made in the dream was: "there is no water in the air!!! How do you LIVE like this???" and I also remember being really cold in my dream. We'll have fun seeing my adaptation to the atmosphere up there. ;)

I loved reading your email: it was a good one! I won't waste much time, though, and I'll go into how my week was.

Monday: it was sweet! We had a Family Home Evening with President Quanson and his family. We watched a church video and had a great evening; the Hemang elders joined us, too! They were around for emailing right before the time to proselyte, and then their own Family Home Evening appointment cancelled, so we invited them to join us! It was nice. :)

Tuesday: It was a full proselyting day! Though we spent a bit of our planning time preparing for the zone conference the next day. We did get out and see some people! We were bounced around a little bit at the beginning of the day, but then we had a lesson with Tony, mostly about 3 Nephi 11 and the events occurring in that. We went around some more, visited some people, and taught another lesson to Gina! She's doing well. She's one sister that has come to church a few times that we have been teaching. We had a nice lesson with her and her friend about the Plan of Salvation.

Wednesday was Zone Conference! You saw some pictures of that. Elder Malatji and I instructed during it, and there was a musical number, as you saw. We sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth"! It was thrown together the night before by Elder Jones and me by the light of a flashlight (light was off... Light was off quite a bit this week here in Praso). After the meeting, I received my package!!! I was very happy. :) We've been eating/using the things inside it ever since. :) After the meeting and everything was finished, we went along with Dunkwa elders up to Dunkwa to do a couple baptismal interviews. After the long trotro ride, which was spent by me and Elder Hardy talking the entire time (he's a good friend), we arrived and did the various interviews. That evening we had a nice meal, provided by the package and the cooking talents of the elders there, of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc. :) It was GOOD.




  
The next day we made our way back to Praso, and eventually got home, though it wasn't the most comfortable ride I've had in a trotro for two hours. We went and did an interview for Hemang after we made it back to Praso, and everything went well. I realized after I interviewed the lady in Hemang for baptism that she was the last person I would interview for baptism out here. Melancholy feelings abounded, just like the rest of the week. 
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Friday was nice! We went and taught people. :) Saturday was good, too, with the proselyting. We taught a couple lessons on both days, and I was happy. There was a baptism on Saturday in Praso for the Hemang elders, too! But let me tell you about the best part of Saturday. I received a visit from... Benjamin and Akua!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D They drove up to Praso! We met them at the chapel, and we talked for a good while. :) I was so happy. Soooo happy. Yep.

That evening, after the baptism (the meeting with Benjamin and Akua was before the baptism), we tagged along with the Hemang elders back to Hemang to have a lesson with a Muslim that they have begun teaching, as the new policy states that the zone leaders go and check one or two things before the teaching gets into fulls swing. So that was good! The man is great, and it was good to see a few members around in Hemang. :) Oh yeah, I almost forgot, we received transfer news on Saturday night. A Ghanaian named Elder Tyson is coming to replace me, various people (Elder Hannemann and Elder Garry) are training, etc. I didn't pay much attention to it this time around. ;)

Sunday was church! Last church meeting. It went well, and we had two investigators at church: one from the Nursing Training College, Helena, and Gina. I bore my testimony in the meeting, and it was a good last Sunday. After church for the other branch they had a baptism, so we attended that, followed by an FM from someone in the other Praso elders' area, followed by the normal Sunday fufu. The Sunday fufu is from Auntie Alice, a member who has been feeding missionaries every Sunday for YEARS. :) After that we spent some time with Theresa and her family (and I took a wonderful video of my companion going Chinese martial arts on the kids. It was HILARIOUS). We came back to the apartment and closed our day and week.

So far today we've just spent our time at the apartment. I've been packing, as I need to be packed by tomorrow morning (meaning tonight for me) for Elder Hanlon to take my bags down to Cape Coast before transfer day. Today, Dunkwa elders are coming down (again...) for the MLC report tomorrow! We've organized it however, so that we can have an activity today with them around, so we'll be playing football this afternoon! I'm pumped. It'll be good to see all these elders around before Wednesday, even though it means that my companion and I need to instruct tomorrow, and it's also harder to pack with a ton of visitors in the apartment. It'll be okay, though. :)

This week has been good and memorable. Just like this mission.

See you soon.

Love,

Elder Makani Rain Price

07 September 2015

It was the best

Dear Family!

Wow. Well, this won't be my last email, but it's getting there. Week 6 has come, and with the schedule that's coming, it'll go really fast, too. We're hosting a bunch of missionaries at our apartment on Tuesday because zone conference is on Wednesday, then we're going up to Dunkwa for a baptism interview, then coming back to Praso on Thursday only to go to Hemang that same day to do another interview, a planned service project on Saturday, and a singing activity for all of Praso District (members, not missionaries) that I'm not sure if we'll be around for on that same Saturday, plus branch leader rounds on Saturday and Sunday, and... Well, there's a lot. And that's what we have scheduled before this entire week has started. Crazy? Yeah.

So, anyway, yes, I got some medication. Some off-brand nyquil. I used it, and I realized a side-effect that happened to me: insomnia! Yes, drowsiness was there, but the insomnia part was too! It was wonderful. ;) It helped me feel better, though. I'm still getting over the trailing end of the sickness, but I feel good now, so that's a plus.

MLC was good! [Mission Leadership Conference, in Cape Coast] I enjoyed it. It was interesting to see three other of my MTC group at MLC! Elders Hinckley, Collins, and Kaiser. We went down on Tuesday evening, making it to the station and then finding our way to the mission home where the Assistants' apartment is, too. We stayed the night there, having some funny times with Elder Mocke entertaining us all, and then I slept in the freezing room of A/C, wishing I had more blankets. We got up, and had pancakes provided by Elder Hinckley and Elder Makoti. After that I received one package! Freetown!!! :D I was so happy. 
Lunch at MLC
(photo from Pres Stevenson's blog)
On the topic of packages, I'll mention the others now. I'm not sure about the padded envelope that you've sent, but I do know about the big box. It's here. :) I don't have it, yet, but I will on Wednesday, maybe even Tuesday night. The Cape Coast Zone Leaders sent me a text saying that a lady called saying that she was going to bring it the next day (Sunday) to Cape Coast. She did, and she left it with the bishop of that ward, who proceeded to give it to the zone leaders, who have given it to the assistants, who are bringing it to me! I'm pumped. Looks like I won't be buying food for the rest of the week! ;)  [earlier this summer, we sent a large box via slow boat with a friend. It's had a long, adventurous journey, but it will be the largest box he's received on his mission]

MLC itself was really good. President talked a lot about the Sabbath Day (obviously I added a few things to my homecoming talk notes page in my notebook. ;)  [His assigned topic for his sacrament meeting talk on Sept 20th is the Sabbath Day, along with sharing missionary experiences] ), and it was a great meeting. I said goodbye to some people that I'm gonna miss a ton, like Elder Etim and some others that I won't see before I leave, and we eventually made it back to Praso.

So, Thursday was pretty normal. We finally got to be in our area! For most of the day, that is. We started an exchange that evening into Hemang. I went with Elder Berrett to Hemang, and we met up at a members house there and first watched Freetown [the movie]. I have quite a few comments about it running around my head, and I think I need to watch it again with a less critical mind. It's hard to believe it for me sometimes when it's so obviously Ghana and not Liberia, but it's okay. It's a good movie. :) I haven't seen the last couple minutes, however, so I definitely need to watch it again.

That evening we played Monopoly deal in the Hemang apartment. That game is the best.

Friday. What a wonderful day. Seriously.

Well, we went to a further village to teach the Elders Quorum President, and Elder Berrett and I went to a place very close to that village: Kakum! We didn't go on the canopy walkway or anything, but we went to the gift shop. It was just gonna be a short little thing until... TAKORADI STAKE YOUTH WERE THERE! All of the youth from Takoradi stake, INCLUDING SEKONDI, were there! I saw a recent convert, Alice (the only youth convert I had in Sekondi), and a couple leaders. It made my day. And week. Almost my transfer, too. It was the best. I took some few pictures, gave my contact info to a couple, and was just so happy.

That was the highlight of the exchange for me. :) Best surprise. We still even taught some more lessons! It was a great day.

Saturday started with us getting to a service project a little bit late and missing it (they went to farm without us... Next week! We rescheduled!). The day was a bit rough, literally no lessons... But we talked to a bunch of people! So it was still productive. The area's still improving.

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting! I bore my testimony. Also, a student at the nursing training school (in our area) stood up and sang "I Know That My Reedemer Lives" before bearing her testimony. She did great, and it was a memorable and sweet testimony, unique! We went through the rest of church, and then after the sacrament meeting for the other branch, the district president's wife, Sister Asamoah (in branch 1), asked me to teach some people how to conduct. So I went and did that! I had a blast. It was a good class. :) Then the other missionaries had a baptism that we attended, and we went and visited some less actives with our branch leaders! We ended up being late for the weekly fufu, but we eventually got there and had a wonderful meal to end the night.

That's pretty much it for this week. Things are good. Thank you for the great email; I did read it! Keep enjoying Alaska. I love you all! I can't believe time has gone this much, but there's still more to do. Always more to do, right? ;) Have a wonderful week; do good things! I've been going through waves of happiness and sadness of leaving, but I know it's not the wrong thing which gives me some consolation. My thoughts are all over the place, and the time is so short. Last week, here I come. :) I love you so much!

Love,


Elder Price
A member in Branch 1. We were instant friends.
my comp and people at night
A wonderful meal of ampese and kontombre/egushi stew
Dancing kid wearing my sunglasses. Awesome. :)
Branch president's son, Kojo, or "Jo-jo". :) Happiest little kid that I know. A half second later he was grinning.
impressive: riding a bike AND carrying a stereo on your head.