Tuesday, December 29, 2015

White Christmas in Ghana - Christmas Photos

 Bryan's White Christmas in Ghana
Baptism of Sister Prinsia and Sister Philo
 Making fufu on Christmas Day at the branch president's house.
 With some of his district from the MTC
 Christmas morning
 No one in Bryan's apartment received their Christmas packages from home.  He secretly bought these gifts and set them out at midnight.
Elder Radmall and Elder Itepu

Monday, December 28, 2015

Finding Christ in Christmas

Dear Family and Friends,          
          This has been an unforgettable week.  Admittedly, I was scared that Christmas would leave me feeling homesick. Being away from home and loved ones on my favorite day of the year didn't sound all that great. While I did miss family and all of the festivities that surround Christmas back home, this was the first time that I think I came to understand the true meaning of the holiday.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend this Christmas in the service of my Savior.  Elder Itepu and I really tried to focus on growing closer to the members in our branch.  We also enjoyed sharing our testimonies of the Savior with many of our investigators.  On Christmas day we were blessed to be able to witness the baptisms of Sister Prinsla and Sister Philo.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ than to watch two souls coming unto Him! It was a beautiful service and I am so excited for them. President and Sister Heid even attended the baptism. 
          This week was full of celebration. On Wednesday we spent the majority of our time at a missionary Christmas devotional. It was sweet!! Each district performed a skit. Ours was the best. We did the nativity in Pigeon (a crazy African form of English. Go look it up.)! Then we had a HUGE lunch of rice and chicken. The pieces of chicken were as big as my head! Then we gathered again to hear some lovely testimonies and we watched the nativity. On Thursday night we got take out from our favorite "restaurant" and we played games as an apartment and read the nativity story.
          Christmas day itself was fantastic!! We went and enjoyed lunch at our branch president's house. They killed a goat for Christmas and pounded fufu. I am pretty sure half of our branch was there. After that we sped to the baptismal service with our full bellies. Then it was time for the best Christmas present ever!!! I got to call home. I LOVED talking to my family. It was so good to hear their voices. Then I hung up the phone and cried like a baby for a few minutes... but it was great! Our branch president and his wife insisted that we come back over to have some amazing rice for dinner. It was one of the best Christmases yet.
          Saturday it was a little difficult to get back to work, but we gave it our best. That night we were invited over to the home of the second counselor in the district presidency. I think he might be the richest man in all of Koforidua. He seriously lives in a mansion. And yet they are very humble and kind people. His wife prepared an all you can eat buffet of rice, soup, chicken, and yam balls. It was perhaps the fanciest meal I have eaten in Ghana thus far.
          God continues to pour out tender mercies upon us each and every day. I know that many of these come as a result of all of your prayers. I can't thank you enough. Although I could do without the spiders and mice, the flooding toilets, the hot and dusty air, the cold showers, the long bike rides, and washing clothes by hand, it all helps me to recognize the one thing that I can't do without. I need my Savior by my side every step of the way. The shepherds knew that when they went with "haste" to that manger in Bethlehem. The wise men knew it when they presented the baby Jesus with kingly gifts. How grateful I am that He was born.
          I hope that all of you had a very Merry Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year! I thank you all again for your prayers on my behalf. They are definitely felt. I love you guys and hope that it is a great week!!

Elder Radmall

Q. What was the best part about Christmas!
Calling home of course! And the two baptisms.
Q. How was the goat you ate for Christmas?
It was pretty good. Not my favorite meat though.
Q. Were there any Christmas celebrations you discovered that they have in Ghana?

Lots of people kill animals for Christmas. They also seem to celebrate Christmas for the entire week following Christmas day.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas in Ghana

 Sister Sophia's 40th birthday.
 Birthday feast.
Ghana sunset.

Dear Family and Friends,
          I can't believe it is almost Christmas!!! This week was another fantastic one for us. Monday night we  had FHE with some of our branch members. They served us banku and a delicious stew. I even enjoyed the fish. As we were biking home I received a phone call from the sisters in our district. They apparently left a sink on in their apartment before they headed out for the day. When they returned that night everything was totally flooded. It seems our district has a theme of flooding. Elder Itepu and I headed over and helped them to clean up for a couple of hours. I especially enjoyed observing one sister yelling "Oh, my shoes! Why my shoes?"
          Tuesday night we went to another FHE with Sister Sophia's family. They are a great family of five living in the middle of the city. They can't have FHE on Mondays, so they do it each Tuesday. This time was special though. It was Sister Sophia's 40th birthday! We had a great lesson from the birthday girl and an amazing dinner afterwords. Delicious pasta and chicken!
          The rest of the week was pretty normal. Right now we are in Harmattan season. The good news is that the temperatures are cooler! The bad news is that Harmattan is caused by crazy winds blowing dust from the Sahara Desert across Ghana. Everything is covered in dust. Sometimes it is so thick that you can barely see the sun. My nose and eyes are in constant distress. I guess this is just Ghana's version of snow. 
          This is such a special time of the year. Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Christmas. I am one of those awful people that starts singing Christmas songs before Halloween. At the same time, I have come to the realization that this Christmas simply can't be the same. I am in a foreign country without my family. At first this came across as very distressing. No snow, no homemade chocolates, no presents under the tree, no getting together with the family and acting out the nativity. But I have come to realize that this Christmas will be an exceptional one. This Christmas I will truly come to understand what Christmas is all about. This Christmas I will be blessed with a chance to serve my Savior who gave all for me. I know that He was born more than two thousand years ago. I know that He lived, suffered, and died for each of us. And I bear you my testimony that He lives again. Because of Him we can find hope in an ever darkening world. I love Him and I know that He loves each of us. May you all have a wonderful Christmas!
          I love you all soooo much! Have a super week and a white Christmas.

Elder Radmall

Questions from Dad
Q. Do you have cell phones?
Yes. We use them a LOT as missionaries here. Everyone in Ghana has a cell phone if you can believe that.
Q. Do you use French at all?
Sadly, no. Some people here speak French, but they also speak English.

Questions from TeriAnn
Q. Did you get you second package with all the Christmas stuff in it?
Not yet, but hopefully this week!
Q. What was the best part of your week?
This week I loved my personal studies each day. I focused on the Savior and felt the spirit so strongly as I studied about His life.
Q. Did they do Christmas Sacrament meetings where you attended?
Not really. We don't even sing Christmas songs in sacrament meeting aside from the choir.
Q. How is your toe?
It is really good! It still looks funny, but it feels great.
Q. Will you please splurge and buy yourself some yummy treats for Christmas Day? :)
Haha I think I can do that.
Q. What is your favorite Christmas scripture or scripture story surrounding the Christmas theme?
I have always loved the story of Samuel the Lamanite and the people who believed on his word. Samuel showed courage by prophesying of Christ to a people who mostly rejected him and even tried to kill him. Those who believed him were heavily persecuted and almost put to death. But in the end the Savior was born and their faith was rewarded.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tis' the Season!

 Baptism of Daniel
 The zone.
Elder's in my apartment.

Dear Family and Friends,
          It has been a very inspiring and motivating week.  We were blessed to have many members working with us through the week.  I felt the spirit as they testified to others what they believe to be true.  Many of our investigators have been failing to keep their commitments, which saddens me.  But I know that they have their agency.  We spent a lot of time this week finding new people to teach and share our message with.  This included a lot of referrals from members with nonmember family members.  We also very much enjoyed going to zone conference on Friday.  All of the messages shared strengthened my desire to improve and become better.  One of my favorite parts of the week was being the baptist for a young man named Daniel.  Daniel is totally blind and yet he comes to church faithfully each Sunday.  He loves the Gospel.  I have become good friends with him over the last week, and I was so happy to be able to baptize him on Saturday.
          This week I had my first ever mango. Wow!! It was so good!!! I also had my first ever fresh coconut. It was quite delicious and you can all be jealous. I don't know if I have talked about the bats in Ghana yet. Every night as we ride back to the apartment I get to see bats of all sizes swooping over my head. It's very awesome and a little bit spooky. We had ice cream last night as our Sunday dessert. I even made pancakes to have with it. It's really expensive for how much we have to spend, but it was soooo worth it. Some random information about food. Generally if I want a snack in Ghana I get either fruit, cooked plantain, or maybe some groundnuts. Most of the cookies they have here in Ghana aren't even worth the cost. Plus, I don't have any milk to go with them. But I have come to love the food that is available here. 
          I am so grateful for service. I love the chance to serve others and I am so blessed to be surrounded by many who serve me. Above all I am grateful for the Savior's example of service. His entire life was spent giving of all that He had to lift others. I hope that all of us can seek out opportunities to act in the Savior's place and to lift another in need.
          I love you all so much and I can't express how much I miss you. Continue to have an awesome Christmas season centered on Christ!
Elder Radmall

Questions from Mom
Q. Do you need new shoes?  Can you wear tennis shoes that are black?  Can you wear sandals until your toe heals?
I don't think so. And we spent too much money on these shoes for me not to wear them! Haha my toe is on the mend. It no longer hurts to walk. I don't think I could wear tennis shoes.
Q. What made you laugh this week?
When Elder Itepu laid on the inflatable Santa Claus and he popped.
Q. When did you feel the spirit this week?
As I heard the inspired words of our mission president during our zone conference.
Q. Has your Christmas package come yet?
Not yet. I did get the Walker's package though!
Q. What is your favorite scripture of the week?
This week I ponderized Ether 4:11. Please read it!
Q. What is your favorite thing about Elder Itepu?
He loves to laugh and he looks for chances to serve others.
Q. Do you ever speak in church?
Yes. A few weeks ago the clerk surprised me half an hour before sacrament meeting with the opportunity to speak. Actually, I spoke with the grandparents of Charlotte Wilcox (who I took to prom). They are serving a mission here in Africa. I jumbled something together quickly about everyone helping to share the Gospel, and I think it turned out all right.
Q. What are you doing to bring the Christmas spirit to your branch?
Elder Itepu and I are going to be singing with the branch choir! I would also love to get a gift for the primary kids.

Questions from TeriAnn
Q. How is your toe that was operated on? How is your toe next to it that seems to now be infected from the picture? Do you think your shoes are too heavy or too tight and possibly causing ingrown toe nails?
It feels great! The other toe is getting better. I apply neosporin to it. I don't know if my shoes are the problem since my other foot is fine.
Q. How are your companions? What are your favorite things about them?
Super! Elder Itepu is a crazy African, and I love it. He is great at connecting with members.
Q. What did you eat at the mission president's house? How many nights did you stay there?
We survived off of bread from a little shop down the street.
Q. Have you had any bad storms there yet? If so, are they crazy awesome? 
Yes! We have had some sweet storms with lots of lightning and thunder. I love it!
Q. What was the weirdest thing you saw this week?
A woman peeing into a gutter on the side of the street. Gross.
Q. Are you still the district leader? How is that going?
Yes. It's going all right. I am definitely learning a lot from the experience, so that is good.
Q. Do you still see the two sweet sisters often, that take care of you and feed you?
Yes! We visit them often and they are still the best.
Q. What are you planning to make for your Christmas day feast?
We aren't totally sure yet. Part of me is tempted to just buy an overpriced pizza to enjoy.
Q. What was the highlight of your week?
Baptizing Brother Daniel! It was super cool.
Q. What was the hardest thing this week?
It's always difficult to bike back to our apartment after a long day of biking and walking in the sun, but I find that to be a time when the spirit is able to teach me a lot about myself and the Savior.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Week Of Tender Mercies!

 Me With Kwame And His Sister
 The Mission Home
Missionary Activity With Missionaries From Accra

Dear Family and Friends, 

         On Tuesday Elder Itepu and I were blessed with the chance to travel to the mission home. The whole place is decked out with Christmas lights! I love it. The Heids even invited us into their living quarters where Sister Heid really went all out.  We were especially grateful that we got to enter the temple on Tuesday for an endowment session.  I loved the peace and clarity I felt there.  I definitely received the answers to some questions that have been on my mind.  On Wednesday morning a member of our branch was going through the temple for his first time.  We were blessed a second time when President Heid let us go through with him. At the same time the MTC was sending missionaries to take out their endowments. We were in a session with about 15 missionaries preparing to head all over Africa. How cool is that? Two sessions in one week!! Wow!  

          After the temple I had a very successful surgery on my ingrown toenail.  Dr. Hill stuck some giant needles into my toe (it hurt quite a bit) to numb it. Then he cut off a third of my toe nail and applied some chemicals to kill the roots. It looks quite nasty. Thursday we jumped back into the work and saw our wonderful people.  I loved the teaching opportunities we were blessed with, and I was equally grateful for the learning opportunities we had as we looked for ways to improve as missionaries.  Two sisters (Victoria and Fostina) we planned to baptize on Saturday unfortunately didn't come to church yesterday.  This week we will meet with them to find any concerns they may have so that we can get a new baptismal date for them!  Overall it was a wonderful week for the Koforidua area.

          Today the Adenta zone (in Accra) came to Koforidua for some games. It was awesome and we enjoyed some fufu afterwards. Do I need to send home more pictures of the food here? Let me know. They finally fixed our toilet!!! It was exciting. Our sewage tank was totally filled up. It smelt awful while they were emptying it. Finally, when it was all empty, they discovered that a pipe on our toilet was in fact leaking. So we continued to have water in our hallway for a couple of days. A plumber came on Saturday and hammered out our entire wall to fix the problem. Now our toilet is totally fixed... for now. I am very grateful for people who know how to fix toilets because without them we would be in a really crappy situation (pun for my dad). 

          I am so grateful for this wonderful season. Although the people of Ghana don't really seem to get all that excited about Christmas, I can feel myself changing as we approach December 25 (like my increased need for sugar). I am so glad to be able to rejoice with God's children around the world that indeed He gave His only begotten for all of us. I know that the Savior was born over two thousand years ago. Because of Him we may all achieve life eternal.

          I love you all and pray that you have an amazing week full of celebration. Make good choices!

Elder Radmall

Questions from Mother
Q: Are you able to listen to your Christmas music?  How do you like the selections?
A: Sadly, the type of thumb drive you sent (sandisk) is the only type that doesn't work on 
    their speakers here.
Q: How did your surgery go?  What is the doctor like who performed the surgery?
A: Super well! Dr. Hill is an old man from Canada. He is funny and very kind.
Q: Is your septic tank fixed – can you now use the bathroom?
A: Yes and yes!
Q: If eating ice cream makes you want to cry, why don’t you get it more often?  Is it price? 
    Cause I will pay for it!!
A: Haha okay! We will do that.

Questions from TeriAnn
Q: How's the toe doing?
A: Super!
Q: Is your apartment dried up from the nasty flood?
A: Yes, thank heavens.
Q: Did you see a rainbow after the flood? I hope so, as a sign that you won't see another 
    flood like it again in Ghana. Yuck!
A: Haha I wish. I should draw one on our bathroom wall.
Q: What is Christmas like in Ghana? How do they celebrate?
A: They really don't know how to celebrate Christmas. The only lights I have seen were at 
    the mission home. I think they just eat a lot of food on Christmas day. That's good I 
Q: What was the best part about your week?
A: Going to the temple!!
Q: Who is your favorite person in Ghana/your mission right now?
A: I love President and Sister Heid. They are such kind and loving people.
Q: What moment would you have like to take out of your week this week?
A: Realizing that I have another ingrown toenail. Haha... haha... ha
Q: Do you know I love you more than words can ever say and that you are one amazing 
A: Awe!!! Thanks. I love you too.
Q: What will your apartment do on Christmas? 
A: We will make another huge feast and eat ice cream and candy! And we will have 
    peppermint hot cocoa and Christmas music.
Q: Who helped clean up your apartment after the flood?
A: We did most of it. Brother Francis, who is over the apartments in our area, helped a lot 
     as well.
Q: Do wards in Ghana have Ward Christmas parties? 
A: Yes! But you have to pay 10 cedis. I think missionaries are free though.

Questions from Christie
Q: Do you have any new "pets" at your apartment this week?
A: Nope. We still have some mice though!
Q: Did you eat anything disgusting this week?
A: Not really. I quite like all of their food here, and I'm a pretty amazing cook. Just saying.
Q: How is your toe?
A: Lovely!
Q: What made you laugh this week?
A: Children saying funny things and running inside of our apartment.
Q: Are you still living in sewage (please say no!)?
A: No!
Q: What did you study in the scriptures this week?
A: I am reading in Ether right now. It is crazy to see how quickly people can turn to 
    wickedness and lose their blessings from God.
Q: Who is your favorite sibling (you don't have to answer everyone knows it's me ;))?
A: No comment...