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.

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