Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Ghana


For Christmas Eve their district went out and sang Christmas carols to people and handed out oranges. One day Elder Meinzer and Elder Smith were going to an appointment and a man walked out of the bush from his farm with about 125 oranges in a container on his head. So, they bought the oranges for 5 cedis. For Christmas they went and cleaned the church.

Earlier in the week they had a Christmas gathering at the mission home and received instruction from President Sabey and ate food and got some gifts. Elder Meinzer learned how Christ's Atonement was infinite and accomplished in a finite amount of time. They discussed Christ in America, letting 2500 Nephites come and feel His hands and side and feet, one by one. If each one took twenty seconds, that would have taken fourteen hours. The Atonement was also accomplished one by one. Heavenly Father also planned in advance for the birth of His Son. A star appeared in the sky. Light travels. The light of the sun takes 8.5 minutes to get to the earth. So, if the star was in our galaxy, it would have been created 100,000 years ago. If it was in the furthest galaxy, it would have taken 2.5 million years to get here. God is in control. The missionaries also received a Book of Mormon that they are supposed to finish reading by February 28, marking all the scriptures that reference Christ.

For Christmas the President gave them 5 cedis extra to use on others. Elder Meinzer and Elder Smith combined their money to prepare rice and stew for a couple of different investigators and member families in their area. It was sweet.

They had 10 investigators come to church. The Lord has definitely blessed them!

Saying Goodbye

Elder Meinzer & Elder Smith


Elder Meinzer got transferred to a new area called Abakrampa and absolutely loves it. He went around and said goodbye to a few members. Joseph cried a little bit. Elder Meinzer loves that man!

Elder Meinzer and Joseph


His new area was under the care of the office couple, the Saunders. Some sister missionaries would also come out twice a week, but eventually it got to be too much and they needed full time missionaries. So, Elder Meinzer and his companion, Elder Smith, are the first missionaries to be staying in the area. Elder Smith is from Accra, Ghana and actually was in Elder Meinzer's first apartment for a little while. He truly teaches by the Spirit and gets to know the needs of the investigators. Most of the lessons they have taught have been taught in Fante. Elder Smith teaches, then Elder Meinzer teaches and Elder Smith translates. "The people here are freakin awesome!" Many members walk 3+ hours to get to church each Sunday.



The branch has been around for about five years and most of the members have been baptized in the last little while. The branch president is President Abaan, who was baptized three years ago and became president five months ago. During that time he has organized three temple trips and has helped several people to become endowed. The second counselor is named Paul. He used to be the head Pentecostal minister and was one day praying to know if there was a true church on the face of the earth and "Latter-Day Saints" came into his head. So he went to church. He has always believed that the true church needs to have apostles, prophets and seventies and that was what they happened to be learning in investigators class that day. He was baptized in April.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Elder Dodd's Six Month Celebration

Elder Dodd and Elder Meinzer met with Isaac and he told them that he knows the church is true. Apparently, he has gone to over sixteen churches but hasn't been satisfied with any of them and said that none of them were good. But, when he came to our church, he noticed something different and knew that it was true.

Every Saturday they go and visit Joseph. Their visits always boost Elder Meinzer's spirits because he loves meeting with him. They always have a good time and laugh a lot. Before visiting with Joseph last week, they went to Emmanuel's house and did some wash for his wife for an hour and a half. He has never washed so many clothes in his life. She really appreciate it!

Gilbert told them a story about how a pastor for another church tried to confuse Gilbert about the church and cause him to question his faith. He told his wife, "They cannot confuse us because of what we know to be true." That made Elder Meinzer so happy. He loves that family!

Elder Dodd celebrated his six month mark so they ordered two containers of groundnut past each and bought 5 liters of vanilla ice cream. They split the ice cream and mixed in the groundnut paste so it tastes just like peanut butter ice cream.

It's crazy for Elder Meinzer to think that this time last year he got his mission call.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ups & Downs of Missionary Life

There is a village called Enoe that is on the top of a large hill and has a lot of houses made from mud. A lot of people don't speak English. There is a 70 year old member who lives near the base of the hill and for the last few weeks they have been going with him to visit some less-active members and to teach some of his referrals. A member recently hired a taxi to go and pick up three elderly women from Enoe and bring them to church. Sunday there were three investigators from Enoe on the front row at church (Isaac, Edward, and his daughter Comfort, who is 11). Later, as they took Comfort to primary, they saw a 10 year old girl named Patience who has sat in on the occasional lesson with Stephen who had walked herself to church. So Cool! Experiences like these help to balance the disappointment of having some new members not coming to church.



There are a lot of ants in Ghana that come into their apartment. They are tiny and fast and you can't leave food out for half an hour or the ants will find it. They really like sugar so all sugary stuff has to go in the fridge.


A recently baptized family was confirmed in Sacrament Meeting and Gilbert received the Aaronic priesthood. Stephin also received the priesthood. Elder Meinzer totally believes these people were prepared by the Lord and all they did was help them along the path to baptism.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zone Conference

The mission president has asked the missionaries to recommit to proselyting for nine hours a day. He believes they can be effective each day by serving, teaching, getting to know the members, etc. Sometimes missionaries don't see how going out will be effective so they stay in their apartments. On his mission, the president had weeks where they didn't teach a single lesson but they still went out. If they had used that excuse, they would have stayed in their apartment for the full two years. Elder Meinzer had gone into the meeting looking for areas he could improve on and is committed to being better.


The president also introduced something he wants to do in the biggest city (Kumasi, with about 2 million people) that gave Elder Meinzer chills. Currently there is only one stake in the city. The mission president wants to bring the church to the people. The plan is to move more companionships to the city and get them apartments with a front room big enough to hold sacrament meeting so that nobody has to walk more than 30 minutes to worship. He has tried this in another place, Soonyani, where the missionaries had never proselyted. After a couple of weeks they have had over 70 people attend church.



One of their investigators, Emmanuel, committed to baptism. It was a pretty cool experience committing him. During the lesson, they asked him if he believed the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the church were all true and he said yes. "Then it was almost like I wasn't talking; I just opened my mouth and the words came out asking him if he would be baptized on December 11."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Family Baptism

The big news is a family was baptized. Elder Meinzer was able to baptize the husband, the wife and the eight year old girl. His first family baptism. Gilbert is already looking forward to getting sealed in a year.

Elder Meinzer's apartment had an epic water balloon fight (Thanks Zufelts!). The power was out so it was hard to see-especially Elder Conteh since he is black :) Elder Meinzer also brought out some water guns so nobody can walk around the apartment in safety. Elder Dodd thought it would be fun to wait around corners to squirt people in their faces, which has made things interesting. Now, everybody is a little paranoid.

They have two investigators that they have been teaching lately. Priscilla (a referral from Isaac) and Patrick (a referral from Harry). They both know that the church is true. Elder Meinzer loves missionary work!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stephen

Sekondi Zone



Stephen was baptized. The family that Elder Meinzer has been teaching should be baptized this week. Exciting!

Elder Meinzer has realized more and more that this is not his work and that he needs to seek the help of the Lord and His guidance. He needs to do things His way. Since he has come to this realization and applied it, his mission has become much more enjoyable and he has seen more success.

Elder Meinzer was able to watch the Saturday afternoon and the Sunday morning sessions of conference. This is the theme that he saw: We need to develop faith through obedience and listening to the prophets to build a strong character so as to qualify for personal revelation and to protect the family. Also, we need to have faith to be an example to the world and re-establish the moral values of society even in the midst of persecution.

Friday, November 5, 2010

True Ghana Experiences


Elder Meinzer woke up the other day, freezing, and it was 75 degrees. He knows he is going to have a hard time adjusting to the cold when he comes home.


Elder Meinzer's testimony on the sacrament has grown. When he had malaria he wasn't able to go to church. When he returned, he realized how badly he missed not taking the sacrament.



Recently, Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd went to the farm of Isaac and Enoch. It was a 45 minutes walk out into the bush. It was the coolest walk on a trail that was basically non-existant at times because of the thick vegetation. At the farm, they were under a canopy formed by tall palm trees. They weeded about one to two acres of thick bushes and ferns and trees. There were others from the ward helping as well. At one point, he heard screaming from the other men and saw them all converging on one location, swinging their cutlasses. They had spotted a grasscutter, which is a rat that is over a foot long. (and yes Elder Meinzer ate some). Later in the day, the men spotted another one. But, Elder Meinzer didn't join in because he didn't think it was safe to be running with them as they were swinging their cutlasses. The whole experience brought a huge smile to his face.



The church is in the first or second generation where Elder Meinzer is serving. The members have such a vigor. They know what it is like to not have the gospel in their lives and really appreciate it. It is humbling serving the Ghana people.



Elder Meinzer got to bless the sacrament on Sunday. It was been a while since he has done that. They don't have sliced bread, so there were just big chunks of bread on the sacrament trays. As they broke the bread Elder Meinzer couldn't help but think that this was probably how Jesus Christ broke the bread.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Amazing Experiences

Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd with Enoch & Isaac


Elder Meinzer would really like to hear about what is happening in everybody's lives. So, write to him!


Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd have been helping a set of twins in their ward prepare for their missions by reading with them to help them become better readers. Isaac is going to the Nigeria Calabar mission and Enoch is going to the Nigeria Port Harcourt mission. They leave in January.


Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd accomplished part of their mission goal. Richard went to the temple with the ward and did baptisms for his deceased ancestors. It was a sweet experience. Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd had dedicated a whole day to gathering up some more information on the pedigree chart for Richard. They had gone over to the stake center to work on it. It took forever because the internet was slow. At one point, it wasn't working, so Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd prayed to know if they should stay there or go to the internet cafe to finish. As soon as they finished, they looked up and the internet was working. Eventually, the internet stopped working again, they prayed and it started working. And for a third time, it stopped, they prayed and as soon as they ended it started working again! "It was one of the coolest things." The experience definitely helped his testimony to grow.



Elder Meinzer was able to give the district instruction and felt like he should give it on trials. Later that day they were meeting with a woman who hasn't been to church in three months because she has been sick. They began by asking her if she had any questions for them and the first things she asked was why bad things happen to people. It was at that moment that he knew why he had felt prompted to give instruction on trials. Definitely a sweet experience. Elder Meinzer also recently watched Joseph imp into church. He knows that it is not easy for him to get to church because of the amount of pain that he experiences, but he still continues to show forth his faith and come. Joseph is a great example!



Elder Meinzer is currently reading a Twi Book of Mormon along with an English Book of Mormon and he is able to understand what he is reading in Twi. And he able to understand a lot more in church.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Malaria!

That's right. Just last week Elder Meinzer mentioned that he hasn't been sick for the whole six months and Sunday he woke up with Malaria. Hopefully the Coartem works well. Trying not to think about the fact that 1000 people die each day from Malaria. (Did that fact come from American Idol?)

Elder Meinzer shared a story that put a smile on my face. He was recently talking with an investigator who had been baptized in another church. She said that the months after her baptism, she felt worse than before and contributed this to the fact that they didn't drain the font after they baptized the person before her so that person's sins that were washed away stuck to her. This made Elder Meinzer think, "Where do the sins go that get washed away? Down the drain?"

Elder Meinzer hears "Wo hote den?" about fifty times a day (which means how are you?). The people are very friendly and greet just about everybody. He will definitely miss that when his mission is done.

Elder Meinzer is learning that there are many ways to missionary work. He is a total rule follower and hates to not be on time but doesn't want these attributes to interfere with his missionary work. Sometimes he rushes lessons so that they can get to their next appointment on time. Recently he had an experience where he glanced at his watch during a discussion and realized that they need to end soon but then he felt like he should give his attention to the current lesson and that it would all work out. He felt the Spirit stronger and knew he had made the right decision. Small changes have helped him be more guided by the Spirit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Small Obolo

Elder Meinzer with Elder Ikor

Elder Meinzer and his companion are involved in a lot of service projects all the time. He has seen hearts soften as a result of the service and he grows closer to the people. He has actually had people tell him he weeds with his cutlass like a Ghanaian, which is quite an improvement from the beginning when people actually made fun of him. One of his goals is to become as much a part of the customs and culture as the Africans. He can already weed, wash his clothes and eat like a Ghanaian. Recently he got called a "small obolo" by an investigator which means "small fat person." Next he wants to speak like a Ghanaian. The language is coming along pretty well. He can't wait for the day when he is fluent.


Elder Meinzer is now the oldest missionary in his apartment. Elder Ikor got transferred to Cape Coast. Elder Briggs is now with Elder Conteh. Elder Briggs is from Utah also.


Ransford has proven to be quite the little missionary. He brought two friends to church. Gilbert is now a tro-tro driver and talks to people about the church. Another investigator, Stephen Enyin, is progressing nicely. In the past he would go to a bunch of different churches and always felt like something was missing. When he received a Book of Mormon from some friends, he read it and knew it was true. Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd definitely feel blessed!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mission Conference & Catherina's Baptism


Sekondi Zone


Elder Sitati of the Quorum of the Seventy came and addressed the missionaries. He told the missionaries that they need to utilize the area book (a record of the investigators) more in their planning and to seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they do.


Elder Darrow and Elder Meinzer (with his glasses)

Elder Meinzer bought a pair of glasses to wear last week for fun. He mostly wears them around the apartment. He took out the lenses because they were hurting his eyes and he has received a ton of reactions from people. People will walk up to him and look at his face from different angles to try and see if he has lenses in the frames and some have gone so far as to try and poke him in the eye. When they ask if he has lenses in his glasses, he replies "yes" and then scratches his eye through the frame. Just keeping himself entertained.

Their new mission goal is to baptize a referral from a recent convert and to help a convert prepare a name to go to the temple and do baptisms for a deceased ancestor.

Catherina was baptized and Elder Meinzer performed the baptism. She has a bunch of support in the ward, which is wonderful. They had eight investigators to church this week, six were member referrals.

The missionaries love Brother & Sister Lamb

Last week the Lambs took his apartment out to more of the villages to share the message of the restored gospel. It was cool thinking it was the first time missionaries had ever been to those places and the first time the gospel had been heard. As they drove out on the muddy and bumpy road, Elder Meinzer kept thinking how beautiful this world is that our Heavenly Father created for us. He loved looking at the untamed jungle. It was so green.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sixth Month Mark This Week


Sixth Month Celebration with Elder Darrow


Elder Meinzer still hasn't gotten used to the cold showers that they have every morning. He still has to count to three to jump in.

Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd have decided that they haven't been using the members as much as they could so last Sunday they scheduled a bunch of appointments with families to stop by and leave a message. He loved stopping by the members homes and leaving a message on the Plan of Salvation, because he feels the Spirit quite strongly when he enters their homes and he knows they will be blessed because of their faithfulness. At the conclusion, they say something like, "Unfortunately, many people in Nketsiatrom have never heard of this wonderful plan and the peace that it can bring. Do you have any friends that we can share our message with that will benefit from this knowledge?" The results of this approach have been wonderful! They have received several promising referrals and the families are continuing to look for those whom they can invite to their homes to listen to them.

At one of their lessons, a member named Brother Ephraim told them about how he was looking for the true church for a long time while he was a young man and investigated the church for eight months before he joined. Then, he went on a mission right after he got baptized. Since they didn't have a MTC, they had an orientation training and then he went out to serve. He was one of 20 missionaries in all of Ghana, so he was a pioneer. He was also involved in opening the MTC in Ghana.

This week they commited Emmanuel to baptism on October 9. This Saturday they have Ekua and Catherina getting baptized. He can see many of his investigators getting baptized in the near future. Exciting stuff!


His sixth month mark is this Saturday and he has been thinking about how much he as grown and changed since he has been on his mission. He honestly things that a mission is more for the benefit of the missionary than for anyone else. His testimony and knowledge of the Gospel has increased tenfold, he has come to better appreciate the Church and the wonderful influence it has had on his life, he has come to better appreciate his family, he is now able to better utilized his time (He is always looking for ways to do something else with his time and doesn't really rest unless he is sleeping or eating), he has seen how great service can be and he is more tolerant of others and their shortcomings. "Basically, I know that being on a mission is the best thing that I could have done with my life right now!"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Standard of Obedience


Elder Meinzer has decided to pay three times as much to go to an internet cafe that has high speed internet since they only have an hour for e-mails. It has a fast connection and even has air conditioning.

President Sabey wants to re-establish a standard of obedience. Here is a brief rundown on his chastisement (which Elder Meinzer thinks the mission needed). They need to serve the Lord faithfully because they have committed to follow the Lord. They will receive the gift of faith as they are more obedient and they should not be casual or situational about the rules. It is never safe to rest; they need to do the very best they can do because they are capable of doing so much better.

Enjoying his fufu

Their apartment boiled some casava and plantains, borrowed a mortar and pistol and pounded their own fufu. It took a couple of hours but it was a lot of fun! The fufu wasn't the best but it was cool that they could do it.

Elder Meinzer loved riding the bike...Elder Dodd didn't!

Elder Meinzer was in a companionship of three this week with Elder Ikor. They went to his area and rode bikes to a lot of the villages. It took one hour to get to one of the villages. This totally put a grin on his face. Each time they would turn a corner and Elder Ikor and he would see a hill, Elder Ikor would look back at him and smile because they knew that Elder Dodd, who was riding behind them, would start yelling, "Are you kidding me??" As they went and taught a lesson and Elder Ikor taught in Fante, it made Elder Meinzer look forward to the day when he can speak the language and teach people out in the villages, because he loved it out there. There were only fifty homes in the villages and the homes were made out of mud and sticks and surrounded by a bunch of vegetation.

Catherina has committed to baptism on the 18th and Gilbert has quit his job so that he can come to church on Sundays and he is planning for everyone in his family to be baptized and for his newborn son to go on a mission.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Time is Flying By


The Church in the Africa West Area had all the wards do service projects. For the four wards near Elder Meinzer-Kojokrom, Sofokrom, Nketsiakrom and Mpinstin-they worked at a school for the mentally handicapped. A lot of the members were surprised that Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd could weed.

Last week Elder Dodd and Elder Meinzer went out contacting and came across a man named John. It was difficult to schedule a time with him, and as they were leaving they asked if there was something they could do to help him around the house. He immediately showed them an area behind his house and they went to work. They worked hard and he told him, "Elder Meinzer, you can weed pa-o" (pa means plenty in Fante and they just like to add "o" to things). After they finished weeding, he asked them to come the next day to teach him. Service definitely opened the way for them in this situation.

Gilbert hasn't been able to come to church because of his job but he has been having conversations with his co-workers about the Book of Mormon helping them to understand that it does not contradict the Bible but accompanies it. He isn't even baptized yet but is already being a missionary.

Elder Meinzer has taken one of his plastic army guys and carries him with him thoughout the day and puts it in his photos-just trying to keep himself entertained.

We can always be improving

Elder Meinzer with his roommates-Elder Conteh, Elder Dodd and Elder Ikor
"Never fall in a spirit of complacency or satisfaction with how things are." by President Kimball is a quote that has had a big impact on Elder Meinzer. I think this sums him up very well-always pushing. The beginning of August he figured they have taught 556 lessons. He isn't too caught up in the numbers but recognizes that it is something tangible that he can see.

Caiji (he has been spelling her name wrong) was baptized so they completed the mission goal of baptizing somebody they found during the World Cup. He is really focusing on making sure the investigators have a testimony and is trying to help them develop friendships with the ward members. Catherina, one of their investigators who has been to church a lot and who has been taught the first three lessons, came to the baptism and then asked Elder Meinzer when she can be baptized. He asked her if she has prayed to know if Joseph Smith is a true prophet, and she said yes but hasn't received an answer yet. He proceeded to tell her that a testimony is part of getting baptized. During the baptism, Elder Dodd saw her go into a classroom and pray.

They have another investigator, Elizabeth, who was taught all of the lessons while she lived somewhere else. She was been reading the Book of Mormon and is in Alma 20. She has told them that whenever she reads, she feels like something is touching her heart, so they are trying to help her understand that this is the Holy Ghost.


Hands of a hard working missionary

Elder Dodd and Elder Meinzer try and do a lot of service throughout the day. This past week they weeded and helped build a house. Blisters on his hands have become a regular part of life.

He has decided that he is going to introduce himself as "Elda Meinza" because whenever he says his name correctly they cannot repeat it but they say it correctly when he says it this way.

Elder Meinzer has memorized a pray in Twi (Twi is similar to Fante) and continues to work on the language.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Work Hard and Never Give Up

Zone Picture


Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd bought cutlasses last week. Elder Meinzer named his "Shishak" from the Bible Dictionary and plans to carve the name into the handle. I'm sure they will come in handy as they help people in their yards.



Elder Meinzer thinks it is awesome that investigators receive blessings for letting them into their homes to teach them and it is even better when the investigators become aware of those blessings. Two investigators, Gilbert and Elizabeth, were able to find jobs and both told the missionaries it is because they are listening to their message. So, with all the success they are having, he has felt very blessed. But, he was also humbled on Sunday when only two of the nine investigators they were expecting at church showed up. Elder Dodd and Elder Meinzer decided that they needed to humble themselves more and focus more on strengthening the ward by visiting, teaching and serving them. They need to continue to work hard and never give up. He also mentioned that he is not trying to get as many baptism as he can while he is out, but he wants to make sure everyone he baptizes stays in the church.



From Elder Meinzer:

I've been thinking about Christmas as well as my birthday and have come to this conclusion: I don't want to get any packages. These thoughts came about when I learned about how you guys are not getting any presents but are going south to do a family service project. Instead of getting packages and presents, I'd prefer people to go out and do service projects and then write to me about their experiences.




Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sweet Missionary Moments

Sekondi & Takordi Zones


Ransford was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. Also, Kae committed to baptism on August 7 and will fulfill their mission goal. "These are the moments when the missionary work is sweet."



Elder Meinzer had the opportunity to give the District instruction and felt like he did a lot better job than he did the time before. But, he still feels like there is much more for him to improve. That realization hit him when he did splits with Elder Halling, his Zone Leader. Prior to the split, he was feeling pretty confident in himself and his teaching abilities, but as they had lessons and Elder Halling taught, Elder Meinzer realized what specifically he could work on. His high expectations of himself continue, which is usually a good thing.



Elder Meinzer has decided that there are low and high points everyday and throughout the mission. Last week was kind of a low point for him but the Lord blessed him on Sunday when he had nine investigators come to church, most of which he can see getting baptized in the near future. One investigator, Gilbert, stopped them on the road two weeks ago and said he wanted to come to their church. They didn't think much of it because they hear that all the time. But, he showed up. They have been able to meet with him a couple of times and he has told them that he has prayed to know what church he should be a part of and wants to have his name added to the records of the Church. He also mentioned that he wants to bring his wife next week. They also had Joseph come to church, which was a miracle in and of itself. He is the member with the foot that is crippled. This was a man that had so much faith that he walked about a mile to church on a crippled foot so that he could feel the joys of church worship. It definitely was an example to Elder Meinzer of what his attitude should be while attending church. "So, in my moment of sadness and despair, the Lord blessed me when I needed it the most."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Four Months Already

Elder Darrow and Elder Meinzer get to see each other on P-days



Can you believe Elder Meinzer has been on his mission for four months? We are glad it is going quickly because we miss that kid so much!


The little boy side of Elder Meinzer is still there. Recently he took twenty cowboy and indians from his aunt and numbered them on the bottom from 1-30 then hid them throughout the apartment. Obviously, there aren't thirty little toys so if anyone ever starts looking they won't ever be able to find all thirty. He thought that was pretty fun.



Elder Dodd thinks the food is pretty spicy so Elder Meinzer has to finish his bowls of fufu and other native dishes. No complaints though. Elder Meinzer has found a place that sells Kit Kats, Twix and Snickers so he is excited to buy one every Monday.



They had eight investigators to church last week. It is great to see the progress in the area. As Elder Meinzer has continued to develop his testimony and obtain as much knowledge as he can about the gospel, he has descovered how truly remarkable it is.



He recently was teaching a man named Emmanuel about the Plan of Salvation, specifically about the Atonement. He shared his testimony and really felt the Spirit. "The Atonement is very special to me because I have been able to feel its cleansing power in my life. I'm not a perfect person (surprise!) so I've needed to go through the repentance cycle countless times throughout my life. Before I would fully repent, I would sometimes be so weighed down with hopelessness, guilt and shame that seemed too much to bear. But, as I looked to my Savior and took advantage of His atoning sacrifice, I began to see a light in my life and could feel the burden of sin being lifted off of my shoulders. And how great did that feel! My outlook on life then had a very positive spin and I realized how real the sacrifice of our Redeemer truly is. And as I think about all that the Atonement entails I am overwhelmed with gratitude; He not only took upon Himself my sins, but my pains, sicknesses and trials as well. He bore and suffered everything! And He did it out of pure love for all of us." How great is that!





Monday, July 12, 2010

New Companion...Elder Dodd

Elder Meinzer and Elder Dodd


Elder Meinzer says being a trainer is definitely a humbling assignment and he is grateful that both the Lord and his mission president have enough trust in him to accomplish this task. He is excited about the experiences and responsibilities that are ahead of him. He has been out in the mission field for over three months now and finally feels like he is adjusting more to the schedule, the environment and the missionary work; "Ghana now feels like home!" He also feels like the time is starting to fly by.



Elder Dodd is from Utah. He is 6'4'' and has been enlisted for about 22 months as an army combat medic. And since he was in the army, he is pretty good at following the rules, which Elder Meinzer thinks is sweet.



This past week they had Zone Conference. Here are some of the highlights of what he learned: The commandments that we have been given should not be viewed as restrictions, but as opporutniites to receive blessings. The rules are designed to protect us and defend us. And, happiness is a choice.



The missionary work in Ghana is great. They have had more progressing investigators, the members are becoming involved and they have had more investigators come to church. They challenged a 15 year old boy named Ransford to baptism and he accepted and his mom gave her permission. He will be baptized on July 24. He has come to church regularly for about a month or so and enjoys the teachings; he even told them that he always feels "good and happy" when he comes to church. They are also teaching his mother. Kae s the niece of a family in his ward that they have taught several times. She is a football findee (they began teaching her during a World Cup match). There is also a man named Cornelius that they have taught the first two lessons to and he is doing great. After they taught him the Plan of Salvation, he included a little piece of paper on the back of the pamphlet entitled "What I know," which basically had his testimony of the teachings. Elder Meinzer really enjoys teaching the Plan of Salvation to investigators but they don't get to teach it very often because the Restoration lesson weeds out many of the investigators who aren't serious.



As he has been out in the mission field, he has had a lot of different things put into perspective, like how important the gospel is, how much he really loves his family and other things. One thing he has come to discover is that prayer is essential in all that we do. As a misisonary, he has come to realize how great prayer is. Elder Dodd is like Elder Meinzer, in that he wants to pray to seek for the assistance of the Lord as they go throughout their day. This has resulted in some pretty spiritual experiences. He and Elder Dodd say tons of prayers every day (maybe 20-30) and he is doing his best to avoid vain repititions. "I am speaking to my Heavenly Father! It's amazing that we have such a means of communication readily available to us and for that, I am extremely grateful!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Elder Meinzer is a trainer...WOW

Elder Meinzer and Elder Darrow on the coast

We found out last night from the Darrows that Elder Meinzer became a trainer yesterday. Can't believe it...but at the same time, we totally can. I'm sure he is feeling a roller coaster of emotions. We are so proud of him and excited for the amazing experiences to continue.

James was baptized on June 19. Elder Meinzer was able to perform the baptism, which was "sweet". It was the closest he will get to swimming on his entire mission. He was nervous so he didn't enjoy the water that much. He was able to baptize three other people as well. Dan wasn't able to be there because he works in a place called Tarkwa during the week and couldn't leave work soon enough. But, he was able to make it to church on Sunday so immediately after the services ended, they held his baptism. Since it was right after church, almost the entire ward was able to witness that sacred ordinance. Elder Meinzer baptized him, and once that ended, he was almost tempted to tell the witnesses to shut the doors while he enjoyed the water a little bit. But he refrained. The best part was seeing Dan embrace his wife; he knows that Dan will remain in the church because his wife is a solid memeber and Elder Meinzer is eagerly anticipating the day when they go to be sealed in the temple. James received the priesthood last week and Dan was confirmed and received the priesthood this week.

Last Monday they went to the beach and Elder Meinzer loved just sitting down and watching the ocean. The missionary couple, the Lambs, made the zone sandwiches. He had a tuna sandwich (actually two), a groundnut paste and jelly sandwich and an egg sandwich. He loves good food. He has decided he needs to cut back since he can see the weight gain in his face. So, this past week he has put himself on a diet. He will limit the amount of food he consumes and refrain from buying snacks while proselyting, besides fruits and vegetables.

They have been meeting with a less-active member, Joseph who hasn't been coming because of a bad foot. The other day, he informed them that ever since they started meeting with him his foot has been healing. "This work truly is divine."

Elder Hancey and Elder Meinzer have been dropping more of their investigators and he feels like it has been a good thing. (They have 20-30 investigators most of the time.) They haven't been doing it very much before because they were just hoping they would progress, even when they failed to do so multiple times in the past. This has helped them open the way to teach more people who will accept the message of the Gospel and he feels like they are being more effective missionaries. He did the math recently and determined that he has taught 375 lessons on his mission so far.

He was cutting his hair the other day and the buzzer shorted. He likes to tell people that it blew up because it sounds cooler. There was just a loud pop and then it started smoking and it smelled like a cap gun. The horrible part was that he had just begun to cut his hair, so he had parts that were shorter than the other parts. He had Elder Hancey cut his hair with scissors and he did a pretty good job, but the difference is pretty obvious if you look closely.

They had seven investigators come to church Sunday. He feels like the work is just getting better and better. He is getting to know the members more and working on strengthening those relationships.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Working Hard

Elder Hancey and Elder Meinzer weeding

One thing that Elder Meinzer loves about the the people in Ghana is that they all know how to work hard and don't ever complain. Life is relatively simple and most things are completed by physical labor, like washing, for instance. As Elder Hancey and Elder Meinzer proselyte, they usually see at least one person washing, and they are fast. They wash one piece of clothing in only a couple of minutes. It takes Elder Meinzer quite a bit longer. The people also trim the bushes or weeds with machetes. It is not easy work. Elder Meinzer has weeded four separate homes in the past couple of weeks and currently has at least one blister on every finger of his right hand. As he and his companion weeded, people would walk by and laugh at them and say, "You are trying." It was quite humbling. Several weeks ago they helped with a service project where they were digging a hole for the foundation of a home. There were several members there of all ages and everybody worked hard.

The missionary work is moving forward. Elder Meinzer is figuring things out and feels like he is more productive than he was at the beginning of his mission. They are getting closer to the members, serving people more and teaching people who seem to be more receptive to the gospel. It is difficult to find those that are serious about listening to their message since anyone will sit down and let them teach them. Elder Hancey told him that the people think they are some amazing preachers because they are white.

Lately, he has been having triathlon withdrawals; He misses the chlorine, his S22 Tribike, the sweat when running, the pain and the victory after a race.

He is loving the rain. It cools the temperature down quite a bit and all the cloud cover blocks the sun. Although he gets wet, he would rather be wet from the rain than from sweat. The only downside to the amount of rain is the mosquitos; at any point and time he has at least four or five mosquito bites.

A few weeks ago he splurged a bit and bought two boxes of cereal and two liters of milk. He finished it in four days. It tasted so good! He has decided that some of the reasons he enjoys food so much is because 1) he is a former swimmer, and 2) it provides him with some sort of comfort or enjoyment since one of the few times he has to relax is when he is eating. He is usually busy from the time he wakes up until the time that he goes to bed.

Even though the World Cup is going on, it isn't that difficult to teach people. They are still kind enough to greet them and sometimes let them teach them, but a lot of the time they ask them to come back. It is really sweet when they walk around during the match and someone scores, because the whole town erupts in a low roar. The energy is exciting. As they walk around, they can ask anybody the score of the match and they will be able to tell them; even the old ladies.

He continues to go through the emotional ups and downs that accompany missionary work. This past week he was blessed with the opportunity of having one of the Assistants, Elder Lewis, come out on splits with him and his companion. He was a powerful teacher. It may have just seemed like another missionary split to him but to Elder Meinzer it was an answer to prayer. As he went with Elder Lewis he was able to discover things that he needed to do in order to improve. The things that he needed to improve on were simple, but as he has applied them since that missionary split, he has felt much better about his service as a misisonary.

As he has studied every morning for several hours, he has come to see that he really enjoys learning, which is weird. He is excited as he continues to learn about the different principles of the gospel, because then he will be able to better explain it to his investigators and develop a testimony that will remain with him for the rest of his life.

"I know the Church is true. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation are so simple yet answer so many questions of the soul; they could never have been merely contrived by man. It is just another witness to me of the divine source of everything in this Church. God truly does guide and direct His Church by speaking directly to His Servant, Thomas S Monsen. Christ's Church was restored by Joseph Smith. He was a prophet. I am so grateful for this knowledge."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dan


Elder Meinzer and Elder Hancey committed Dan to baptism on June 19! "The whole thing seemed so easy and I know that we definitely had the help of the Lord." Dan will be the person that helps them fulfill the mission goal so they are quite excited.

Zone Conference time. Elder Meinzer felt spiritually strengthened and received a renewed sense of commitment and focus on the work. During the conference they received a new mission goal that starts June 11, the day that the World Cup begins. The new goal is that no one in their mission will watch any soccer from June 11-July 11. After announcing the new mission goal, the President talked about the importance of keeping the promises or covenants that they make. He related how the Nephites took covenants extrememly seriously, even dying before they broke their oath. He admonished them to be the same way in all aspects of their lives. At the end of the Zone Conference, the President called each of the missionaries into a room individually and had them promise they would fulfill the mission goal and had them sign a Ghana flag declaring their willingness to accept the goal. The second part of the goal is that they will baptize somebody during the time of the World Cup matches. The President promised them that this goal will help them find people that will build up and strengthen the Church.

Elder Meinzer and Elder Hancey have been teaching a man named Prince over the last couple of weeks and he is understanding everything really well. When they teach him, they ask him to read a page from a pamphlet they leave with him. When they come back, he has written down a full page of notes and then teaches them what he has learned, with them making minor corrections. Prince said he believes that Joseph Smith is a prophet and one time he got in an argument with a neighbor then went and read the Book of Mormon, which brought him peace. Elder Meinzer got the chills when he told them that.

The church is somewhat different than back home; the people aren't very reverent. Last week when Elder Meinzer was giving a talk, the bishop's phone rang and he answered it on the stand. When people sing hymns, they can't read notes so they are off and it's kind of chaotic. "Somehow, the Spirit can be felt in the midst of all of this."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Most Successful Day

Elder Meinzer had four investigators and two less active members come to church yesterday which made it the most successful day on his mission so far in that regard. Becky came (her husband is a member) and she is progressing really well. Dan (his wife is a member) also came. Elder Hancey and Elder Meinzer are going to ask them this week to be baptized. Esther also came. Elder Hancey has tried teaching her before and said that it was a mireacle that she came to church and has had such a change of heart. He knows that the Lord has blessed them this week. They also asked James to be baptized and he accepted! He added that they can teach just about anyone, so they want to focus on the ones that will progress and that will want to hear their message. Sometimes, people just want them to teach them because they're white, which is frustrating.

One thing that he admires about the Ghanaians is the fact that all the children are incredibly obedient. If anyone asks a kid to do somethig, they'll do it without question or argument.

Their apartment is next to a cocoa factory so every once in a while they have a wonderful aroma wafting through their apartment. One of these p-days they are going to go see if they can score any discounted chocolate (does that sound like Zach or what?). He hopes that he will walk inside and see something like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

He has almost finished one journal and has already gone through four pens. He has come to the startling realization that he doesn't care if he gains weight while he is on his mission.

Every night before he washes his clothes, he says a little prayer to ask for Heavenly Father's help so that he can wash his clothes quickly. It seems to be working so far. He knows that the Lord is helping him, even in something as simple as that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Richard

Richard is the fourteen year old that was baptized on April 24. Elder Hancey said it was the best baptism he has had. Elder Meinzer was able to participate in giving a little girl the Holy Ghost the same day, which was a cool experience for him.

Elder Meinzer's Fante name is Queku because he was born on a Wednesday.

For meals he eats oats or french toast with homemade syrup for breakfast; they go out to eat for lunch at "chop bars" where they get rice and beans with a pepper sauce or fufu (something that looks like mashed potatoes but is actually made from casava and plantains) with a soupy-sauce or french bread with ground-nut past (the Ghanaian equivalent of peanut butter) and pineapple jam; for dinner he usually has rice or pasta with a spaghetti sauce. He loves the bread! The fruits and vegetables are all really cheap, which makes him happy.


He definitely doesn't like washing his clothes by hand. He is pretty slow and his fingers get rubbed raw. Last p-day he washed clothes for over three hours. He has been trying to wash clothes every night so that he has more time on p-days. He has decided that washing clothes by hand would be a great punishment for misbehaving children because it is character building.


The thunder and lightening storms are amazing. Elder Meinzer now knows what the hymn "I Stand All Amazed" means when it says "rolling thunder."

We sent him a new pedometer which he is thrilled about. They walk about 15,000 steps a day, which equals six miles. He figures he will walk about 4,000 miles on his mission.

Elder Hancey and Elder Meinzer had the opportunity to serve one of their investigator families and "weeded". In Ghana, weeding consists of taking a machete, or cutlass, and hacking at the weeds that are several feet tall. He thought it was pretty sweet.

The missionaries listened to General Conference again and it just reaffirmed his testimony that those men are inspired by God and are prophets and apostles. "As I stop and think about the fact that President Monson communes with God, I realize how remarkable that fact truly is. It makes me want to listen and follow his counsel that much more."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First Baptism



Elder Meinzer has his first baptism Saturday. His first day proselyting, they had a fourteen year old boy commit to baptism. No more since but he is focusing on "bringing people into the waters of baptism instead of just trying to teach as many lessons as he can." They did teach 36 lessons this week but didn't have anyone follow through and come to church. He is finding that the people are quite spiritual and love to hear the word of God. But the problem is that people want to do just that, only hear the word of God. They aren't really willing and able to make and keep commitments. The mission president has directed the missionaries to spend one lesson teaching people about the importance of keeping promises.

He is becoming more adjusted to the humidity and the food. Last week Elder Meinzer lost his pedometer, which made him sad. The testimony he memorized in the MTC is in a different dialect than the one found in Nketsiakrom, which was kind of a bummer. He is already starting to pick up on simple greetings and phrases though.

Elder Meinzer is striving to have a good attitude, to open his mouth always ("my preparation is in vain if I don't open my mouth"), remain humble, and embrace challenges. It is frustrating at times because he wants to use eloquent speech because that's just how he is, and people don't understand him. So it's been a real struggle to simplify his speech and speak slowly, but he knows that it will work out in the end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nketsiakrom Area/First E-mail

We have been crossing our fingers that Elder Meinzer would have e-mail so Monday morning when we received his "hello" we were so excited. It makes him seem so much closer. Waiting ten days for each letter was a long wait. Anybody can e-mail him, but his replies will have to be through the family. So, please write. Zachary.Meinzer@myldsmail.net


Elder Meinzer with President and Sister Sabey

Elder Meinzer left Wednesday morning with the MTC president and his wife and ten elders to his mission. It was a three hour trip to the mission home. The mission president admonished the missionaries to follow the rules with exactness and even to imagine the Savior as their mission companion. If He was your companion, how would you behave? The mission president wants quality baptisms over quantity . The mission goals are to baptize a family, a future leader (a successful individual) or member referrals. So, that is what Elder Meinzer will be working on.

Elder Meinzer is in the Sekondi zone. On a scale of one to ten, from bush to modern city, his area is a three. His residence is surrounded by trees. His home is pretty bare, with concrete floors and walls. They don't have a washing machine or dish washer. His companion is Elder Hancey. He is from Logan, Utah and has been out for seven months. The two other elders that he lives with are Elder Smith, from Ghana, and Elder Ikor, from Nigeria.



Elder Hancey and Elder Meinzer

As they go out proselyting every morning, they walk on dirt roads and paths that wind in between houses and the bush. The people are friendly and always return his greeting. People are always willing to let them into their homes. The first four days they taught thirteen lessons to people they just met. But, he is realizing that they are also friendly to the Jehovah's Witnesses, who occasionally come around as well. So, he may not be able to baptize the entire area like he was originally thinking.

Elder Meinzer believes that his call to an English speaking mission must have been a typo. Everyone there speaks the local languange, Fante. They taught 29 lessons the first four days. They had two investigators come to church Sunday out of the six that said they would. And, on average, he takes 12,000 steps a day. The Nketsiakrom area is extremely hilly so he gets a good workout walking around. Plus, his companion has joined him for his P90x workouts.

He loves everybody and appreciates your support!

Ghana MTC/Letter #3


Elder Meinzer does a great job in his letters with the details so that we get a pretty good idea what life is like in the Ghana MTC. Some of my favorite details are that he gets up at 12:30 and 4:30 each night to go to the bathroom, he doesn't need to iron his clothes because of the humidity, he has "laid down the law" by telling the missionaries each night at 10:45 to be quiet (reminds me of his chore chart for his roommates at college), the average weight loss for a North American missionary is 30 pounds, and the fact that it is easier for him to memorize things in the MTC.

He realized that he lost sight of his motto "Everything will work out" so he is praying for patience and faith. He is realizing that attitude affects a lot of things. Some of his goals are to study and cherish the words of God, talk with everyone that he sees, relate to people, and come home exhausted everyday.

The French speaking missionaries are contantly singing, humming and whistling. They even harmonize in the shower. The French edition of Preach My Gospel is longer than the English one and he is convinced that it must contain a whole section on singing.

The missionaries had two opportunities to go teaching in the area. The first trip was about 2 1/2 hours. The people were extremely nice. He talked with thirteen people and scheduled four return appointments. He gave one Book of Mormon out. His second experience was great! He taught three of his previous contacts-Rosemary, Isaac and Perez. The gentleman that he gave the Book of Mormon had been reading it and his friend wanted a copy. He is already starting to fall in love with the people. The teaching seems so natural. He "just shares his testimony and his knowledge." This activity got him stoked for his mission!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ghana MTC/Letter #2



Elder Meinzer's Ghana MTC group

Elder Meinzer leaves the Ghana MTC today, April 7. His experiences have helped him, at times, to feel really confident and ready to go out to the field, but then at other times he feels awfully inadequate and unprepared. And that mix of feelings will help him a lot on his mission to continue to grow and develop, as well as to help others with his depth of preparation.

The students

The students

The teachers
He has grown really close to his companion Elder Isagara, Elder Sanft (from California), Elder Banda (from South Africa), Elder Hailemariam (from Ethiopia) and Elder Darrow (from Utah). He is so glad that Elder Darrow is there. He keeps him sane.



Elder Meinzer & Elder Darrow

Elder Meinzer's companion, Elder Isagara, "is kind of a big deal." His mother is a princess so people come and take pictures with him a lot. And that simple explanation is one of the many examples of the fact that Elder Meinzer's experiences in the Ghana MTC are very different than his Utah County life.

Elder Meinzer has only seen one other white person there who isn't a missionary and feels like he sticks out like a sore thumb. He has been able to eat everything so far, except for a disgusting porridge. The cooks try to mix things up and make food from the various countries of Africa so they have had yams and chicken in a broth, spaghetti, fried rice and salad with chicken, a local dish of fish tail with something that looks like mashed potatoes. (He heard it was disgusting . He didn't eat it because the cooks were looking out for the white boys and gave him and Elder Darrow yams and chicken.)

It rains for several days straight and the power goes out frequently, which turns off the fan and adds to the heat. He feels like he is constantly damp from the humid air. He washes his own clothes so he tried washing them on his abs, but that only resulted in a type of rugburn on his stomach so he hasn't tried that since. (don't ask me why he did that...washboard abs I guess)

He's decided that his humor doesn't translate very well. As he plays the prelude music, the two french speaking sisters always sing along. Does it surprise anybody that this annoys him? So, to throw them off sometimes he switches songs halfway through or just skips lines.

For church, two topics are assigned and everybody is supposed to write a 3 minute talk on each subject. Then during the meeting, the President randomly calls eight missionaries to speak. He definitely felt the spirit when he gave his talk.



The Accra Ghana Temple
Elder Meinzer had the opportunity to attend the Accra Temple twice while at the MTC. Only eight of the 39 missionaries were endowed when they arrived at the Ghana MTC. He loved going through with everybody and serving as an escort. He definitely appreciates all the time he spent in the temple prior to his mission. The Accra Temple is beautiful and is one of his favorites, along with the Newport Beach Temple.

Elder Darrow & Elder Meinzer

Elder Meinzer had the opportunity to give Elder Darrow a blessing. It was a great opportunity for him to feel the spirit. He is also learning his testimony in Fante, which is the dominant local language. One thing he mentioned that I totally love is, "I may not be able to save people from their poverty, but I can heal their wounded soul with the word of God."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ghana MTC

Elder Meinzer

Elder Meinzer with Elder Sanft & Elder Darrow
(his traveling companions to Ghana)


The Ghana MTC


Elder Meinzer with his companion, Elder Isagara,
who is from Uganda



Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our First Letter

Finally it's here! It was so good to hear from Elder Zach Meinzer. It's cute how his personality comes across even in a letter-a letter that took ten, yes 10, days to get to us after he wrote it. We are crossing our fingers that he will have access to e-mail when he leaves the Ghana MTC. Otherwise, the waiting will be torture. We love that kid!

He mentioned that everybody at the SLC airport was extremely nice to him and Elder Darrow. (Elder Darrow is from Sandy and they have been in contact with each other for a few months after being connected by somebody in Zach's BYU ward. They have even gone to the temple a few times.) The people at the airport would come up to them and talk to them, wish them luck and tell them that they would be in their prayers. (OK that brought a tear to my eye!)

The missionaries were also warmly received in Ghana when they arrived. There are about 37 missionaries in the Ghana MTC. The Ghana MTC is surrounded by a concrete wall with an electric fence on top of it. The missionaries are from Zimbabwe, Ethipoia, Fiji, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, Madagascar, Congo, Ivory Coast and one white guy from France. He mentioned that some of their accents are pretty difficult to understand. About half of the missionaries speak french. The missionaries will serve in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, the Congo and Madagascar.

Elder Meinzer's companion is Elder Isagara from Uganda. He swam in high school and was also a lifeguard. Sometimes, he would swim across the Nile. And the best part, Elder Meinzer can understand his accent.

Elder Meinzer is the only piano playing missionary in the MTC so he plays at every meeting. I love that! He is already learning that he will need to have more faith and humble himself, relying completely on the Lord. He knows that he is on a mission to learn and grow. And we are so excited to be a part of that process!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Farewell


Best friends from Provo


Zachocracy


The Farrells


HAST Friends


Opa & Oma Meinzer


Grandpa & Grandma Bowers


Zach and his girls


Lone Peak Friends


The best FHE group ever





Meinzer side of the family


Bowers side of the family