Monday, August 14, 2017

Week 91- Last Stop- Iron City!

Well I got transfer news! I'm excited to say I will be leaving to my final area to be with my last companion! I'll be transferred to Kasoa 3rd Ward. From what people are telling me, it's a good area to go to serve, I'll be the district leader there. I'm going to miss Alajo and all my investigators and the members here! It's been real. I have spent a long time here and it's time to go. 

My District

Well let me start out with the best event this week, Elder and Sister Renlund came to address the mission. Tuesday was a great day in general. I got to see a lot of people and we listened to an apostle. Well, Sister Renlund got up and she talked about faith and how our faith can never change God's will for us or others and also how faith cannot take away anyone's agency. She also talked about how we can find joy in everything if our faith is bright. We can have faith and be happy even when we are going through hard times. It was awesome. It was very brief, simple, and very powerful. Elder Renlund told a story about him being somewhere in Africa and how it was very hot and miserable and all he thought about was how he should be home and wasn't focusing on the positive things. They were driving in a car and they got to the top of this hill and he sees something that is so magnificent. There was a little river at the bottom of the hill and he saw these elephants holding the tail of the elephant in front and they all helped each other cross. Then his wife nudged him asking him if he forgot about how hot it was. When I first came on mission I was always focused on the elephants and near the end it's always easy to look past the elephants to complain about the no light and no water problem we have. When we align our will with God's will we will find the elephants. We were given three main messages 1) Heavenly Father needs us. 2) I was sent to Ghana Accra West Mission for a reason 3) For sure President and Sister Simpson are called of God! When I'm with President and Sister Simpson I desire to be better and they radiate with the Spirit! It was a good day. We even got to tour the new MTC that place is nicer than Provo! These people are lucky!

My Favorite Food-- Wakye
MTC Squad

Well on Wednesday we had a little district get together and we played ping-pong and some card games as a district. It was the last time we were all going to be together so we had to have a little fun!

Thursday I was in Tesano and that day was filled of lots of unfortunate events. Well first of all I got stuck in their bathroom, not once, but twice! You would think I would learn my lesson the first time but nah I'm dumb. But yeah I almost died. It was the first time I biked in like over a year and the roads are busy and stuff so it was rough. I'm so out of shape it was just a very unfortunate day. Well I actually figured out my transfer news on Thursday because I was with President.

Eating Berkina with Tesano Elders

Did I mention that this apartment finally got a water tank and a water pump? So finally we can use our water filter and take meaningful showers! Too bad I'm leaving this area so I can't really enjoy it like I wanted to but all that matters is the next missionaries will enjoy.

Friday night I went to eternal marriage class and then met up for the exchange for Akweteman. Elder Randall wanted pizza so I'm like cool I'll go with him but I can't buy any cuz money is tight. Well long story short he bought some for me and everything was normal, or as we thought. We both wake up in the middle of the night with food poisoning. I handled it a little better than him. But yeah we didn't end up going out to proselyting until 2:30. It was rough, but everything was well.

Well Sunday was full of the Spirit. We had a missionary devotional at Newtown Ward where missionaries were asked to prepare talks on how being on mission has strengthened our faith in Jesus Christ. I was on a really good winning streak against crying. Last time I cried was like a year ago. What destroyed me was when Sister Tarue from my district gets up before me to share her talk and says how I have been a big influence to her as her district leader. So I was already crying before I got up. But if you want to know what she said, hit me up when I get home.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 90: As Salaam Alaikum

Peace be unto you in Arabic. Yes I can speak a little Arabic lol When I come home I'll speak some for everyone. This is a normal greeting between Muslim people. Well to be honest with everyone, I don’t really know what to talk about. Nothing really happened this week. I just want to share a story from my favorite talk from Niel L. Anderson that has been a strength to me my whole mission.

On June 12 of this year, I received an email telling me that the bishop from a Utah ward, his wife, and two of their children had been killed in an airplane accident. Bishop Mark Openshaw had been piloting the plane as it left a small airfield, when it suddenly fell from the sky and crashed to the earth. Bishop Openshaw, his wife, Amy, and their children Tanner and Ellie were killed in the accident. Miraculously their five-year-old son, Max, thrown out of the airplane in his airplane seat, escaped with only broken bones.
I learned that their son Elder Porter Openshaw was serving in the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission and that their 17-year-old son, Zane, was on a school cultural exchange in Germany.
I called Elder Openshaw on Christmas Island. Although heartbroken by the unexpected death of his mother, father, brother, and sister, Elder Openshaw immediately turned his concern to his two younger brothers.
Ultimately it was Elder Openshaw and his brother Zane who decided that others could help at home and that Porter should stay on his mission. They knew it was what their parents would want. 
As I spoke with Elder Openshaw, I felt his sadness but also his unquenchable fire of faith. “I have the confidence,” he told me, “and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will see my family again. … Strength in our trials is always found in … our Lord, Jesus Christ. … God’s omnipotent hand has been so apparent in helping [me] and my brothers throughout [this] very difficult challenge.” 
I met Zane for the first time at the funeral. As I looked at the four caskets before us in the chapel, I marveled at the faith of this 17-year-old as he addressed the congregation. “Today,” he said, “we have gathered with humble hearts and weary souls to remember the lives of my mom, dad, Tanner, and Ellie. … We have talked together, cried together, remembered together, and felt the hand of God together. …
“The day after I heard the news of the accident, I found a letter in my bag from my mom. In the letter she wrote: ‘Zane, remember who you are and where you come from. We will be praying for you and missing you.’” Zane continued: “There could not be more fitting last words from my mother. I know that she, along with Tanner, Ellie, and my dad are … praying for [my brothers and] me. I know that … they pray that I remember who I am … because I, like you, am a child of God, and He has sent me here. I testify [that] … no matter how alone we feel, God will not forsake us.”
My dear friends, your faith did not begin at birth, and it will not end at death. Faith is a choice. Strengthen your faith, and live to be deserving of the Savior’s approving words: “Great is thy faith.” As you do, I promise you that your faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ, will one day allow you to stand with those you love, clean and pure in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Thank you all for the support. I love you all and look forward to next week when I share what an apostle of the Lord taught all of us! (Elder Renlund is in Ghana this week!)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 89: 2 More Transfers, I Can Do This!

Dear Family And Friends, 

Well we had a little surprise on Monday night. I got a call that we were going to get a new Elder from Sierra Leone. His name is Elder Davies. He is a super sweet and humble guy. We all love him. Well he came from a mission in Nigeria. I can't go into much detail but pretty much that mission isn't really that good. He couldn't take it anymore and actually first decided he wanted to come home but they decided to bring him here to Ghana. I'm glad they trusted him in our district! He is exactly obedient and loves this work! I'm going on exchanges with him on Thursday.

Well the highlight of the week would have to be the fact that we had a multi-zone conference this week on Wednesday. We talked about finding through our own efforts and finding through members. Our mission culture is to find, find, and find. We are trying to get the mission average per companionship to 5.5 a week which shall raise our baptism rate from 7.7 to 10 per missionary per year so we can be the same as the average for West Africa,. It's interesting how much I actually learned Wednesday. That was my third time to receive the instruction. Since I'm a leader I was instructed by the zone leaders then we discussed it in district meeting and then boom, the third time is the charm I guess.

I went on exchanges with Elder Reeves this week. He is still going strong. We did this so Elder Beall can start trying to take the lead more! The sisters in the district as always, are some of the hardest and most dedicated workers I have ever seen. Well as a district everyone is doing well, for the most part. I'm hoping that everyone is being diligent and is enduring to the end. Sister Israel is really doing a good job with Sister Tarue. Being in the presence of them really helps me to remember that fire I had when I first came, and reminds me of the opportunities I had to train and how great of an experience it was. We are all helping and lifting each other and I have a ton of support from everyone. It's a good feeling. 

On Friday we had an interviews with our mission president. We talked about some good things and it was great to talk with him. I can't really say what we talked about but I love Him and his wife and I sustain them.

It's pretty evident that some people will always take advantage of people and their kindness. This is my thought for the week. I have understood now how much we really do take advantage of people. I always think back to the fact that my parents are so loving and caring for me that I would take advantage of them. I'm not going to go into detail but I think everyone who reads this knows what I mean. I also think about how much we also take advantage of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and also take advantage of the grace of God, thinking to ourselves I can do this and repent later, knowing that we won't get struck by lightening or something or knowing that we can be forgiven. To take advantage of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we have to continually learn and grow, and that growing process will obviously mean we’ll make mistakes. Because of the Atonement, we can repent and our reputation will be restored. He never will stop loving us, no matter how terribly we behave. But like any other parent who has children when they do something wrong they will want them to confess to it and not do it again. This is why I shared the thing about my mom and dad. I didn't really have time to make it sound pretty.

It's my prayer that the people who read my emails can benefit from it. I know I benefit so much from the things that seem small and insignificant. I love you all and I'm grateful for the support. I hope you all have a good week!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 88: Another Week Down

My friend didn't want a picture taken.

Well, I guess you could say this week was a good week. I'm just kind of going with the flow, keeping my head down and trying to do my things, oh and the Lord's thing. I was evaluating myself and came to the conclusion that's it's crazy how Christlike I am becoming. Then me being the person I am, and everyone who knows me back home should know that I then asked myself how much Christlike is too much Christlike?  Then I thought about this for like 10 minutes. I'm not sure if Christ ever asked himself "How much love is too much?" but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong lol. It was this moment I realized how much more I need grow and become even more Christlike lol. Never get too comfortable. 

Me and my Homie Prince

President and Sister Simpson came to my district meeting this week. Last week the district had a really good week. We are all working hard achieving great things and we have the potential to even greater things. To be honest, I always tell them we can work harder haha. Well I'm happy because President said that this district was one of the best in the mission. When we were reporting on our areas apparently out a Sacrament attendance is the best he has seen. And of course I have been hitting the standard of excellence for weeks now in all indicators so he couldn't be more happy. I gave instruction and I was a little nervous because I felt like I was being graded or something lol. But it went well.

Well I had 3 baptismal interviews and an exchange with the zone leaders this week so this week was very busy for me.

Speaking of the exchange with the zone leaders...It was pretty interesting but in a good way. So the zone leaders' area is the home to the President. Apparently last time they passed there they left a restoration pamphlet and a Book of Mormon. So we went by there to make sure the President got it. But the police were sure and we enjoying talking and having fun with the police people lol. Well we went to our first appointment that day and she had a visitor so we tried to contact the guy who was visiting and he says that he has a church so he doesn't need to hear from us (generally people are more prideful here in Accra). Well then you know how missionaries do their thing. We were explaining our purpose and stuff and they told us we need to catch the people who don't know Jesus Christ and teach them. Well we opened up the Bible and we explained that even Peter was the closest to Jesus Christ and he was still learning and growing and everyone deserves the light and knowledge this restored gospel brings. Then the woman was like "I know Jesus Christ more than Peter." Me and Elderedge couldn't help but to laugh a little. We just set another appointment and contacted more people. But that was an interesting little encounter. Lol. Well that same day an appointment fell through. So we went to Stake President's house to discuss about the area plan for West Africa. Well this was a little fun. The Stake President knew me but his wife didn't. So I was introducing myself to the family and vice versa and literally the Stake President's wife knew me and Eldredge were almost done so she was trying to give us her daughters. It was crazy. Me and Eldredge literally were just confused. The Stake President just started speaking to the wife in French so we couldn't understand. So we began the discussion. Oh man I'm still laughing about it. But we had some bomb Ivorian food.

Well everything is good here in Alajo except the water continues to be a problem here. It's going to make me go crazy The water just comes and goes as it pleases. What bothers me the most is after a long day of work everyone likes to come home and shower right? Well here in Alajo you may not get the chance. Well I mean I guess we can look at it on the bright side. At least I have my ghetto fan lol. Can't wait for the luxuries we have back home like A/C and constant running water lol.

Found at the Zone Leaders' apartment

Well my mood has been really good this week despite all the challenges I constantly am facing lol. But life is good here. I'm really enjoying the mission and the experiences I'm having. There aren't very many people who get to experience what I'm experiencing, many different cultures and foods. It's awesome! 

Found on a random door

Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 87: "Diligence is the mother of good luck." Benjamin Franklin

Well I would say this week was excellent for us. I would say Thursday and Sunday were the best days this week. Thursday I went on exchange with Elder Randall that went very well. That day we were so lucky and ran into some new people. We contacted a family of 5 and we hope to baptize them by the end of this transfer. Elder Randall is a good missionary and he loves missionary work. The first time we went on exchange was back in Oda and I got a gnarley sunburn on my body; it was crazy. So on Sunday we were able to go out with a member and do some contacting and get to know our area a little bit better. We have been contacting quite a bit this week. On Thursday we also contacted 3 other people and hope to turn them into new investigator. On Tuesday and Wednesday we were able to meet with some of our investigators but some of them are so busy. After church on Sunday we split so we could teach some of them. As you can see we have been pretty busy this week haha. We are hoping to have quite a few investigators this next week.

Well as a district I feel like we did well this week. Abeka and Akweteman found more people this week than last week and were able to get more at Sacrament. Tesano is holding it down. They have a couple of people they are preparing for baptism very soon. I'm surprised about how strong Reeves is still going even though he goes home soon. My prayer is that all of us can endure to the end just as he is. I love Elder Reeve. He is a great missionary. Sister Tarue (the new sister from Liberia) is doing great. She contributed in district meeting and shares her thoughts and experiences. I know the sisters are working hard. Here in Alajo we are trying to help people with marriage problems and some other problems. Well sadly I won't be on mission to see an investigator named Priscilla get baptized because they are planning on doing the knocking (a way that both parents acknowledge the couple can be married, a requirement for baptism) in December. We have been working with her for a long time now. And another family we are working with as I have said before the man is married to 2 wives. The mom and the daughter come to church, but the husband can't seem to stick to one, so we are on that. Other than these minor setbacks Alajo is looking good! 7 baptismal dates and 6 people at Sacrament along with 5 new investigators this week, sadly I won't be in the area to see these people get baptized. But all that matters is I'm preparing people to baptize!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 86: That Awkward Moment When The Mission Begins Planning Your Flight Home

We had a pretty decent week this week. I'm glad that this week we were able to raise our new investigators to 5-- a little under the standard of excellence for the mission but we are trying for sure. We are close to baptizing these two investigators named Arthur and Samuel,. Samuel though has not come to church in a couple of weeks and we haven't seen him at his house. So he might have traveled. He stays close to our bishop. So he is also helping a lot. When he returns we will get him to church and resume the teachings. With Arthur he has come every week. But he is one busy man. So time is the issue for us now. But he is close. Most of our investigators are just having problems with time. They all are very hard workers but our investigators are progressing and all is well. We were expecting about 7 at sacrament this week but couldn't happen. Next week I'm scared that we won't be able to show all of our investigators where our new building is. So we may not hit our goal but we will work at it. Generally, for a while now, we have been hitting the standard of excellence that the mission President has set and I'm grateful for that!

District meeting went well we had a powerful discussion about going about doing good in Chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel. I know that mission-wide and especially in our district we are having trouble with getting new investigators. I'm very happy that my companionship and the sisters were able to increase that indicator this week. For the most part the key indicators for my district have increased which means more work is being done! For the most part that meeting was very uplifting for all of us. I chose to focus on the time the Savior went about doing good and we discussed how certain things can apply to us missionaries. In the meeting this week we did a scripture study with my district. Pretty much what that means is I give a topic and pretty much a couple people come up and share what their favorite story or scripture about it is. Of course the topic was obedience and I shared about the Stripling Warriors and drew parallels to how we are like these young boys and girls and we are fighting against Satan and stuff and if we do not obey every command with exactness we wouldn't make it. I'm sure you all can get the point haha. But yeah I don't really have much more to talk about.

Just grateful for all the support I get each week. Any small note helps me. I promise I'm grateful for everything everyone does for me. I love you all.

From the letter this week from his mission president:

Dear Elder McFarland,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and testimony of this work. It is wonderful to see your growth and feel of your spirit.

Congratulations on your baptism. It is wonderful to see our investigators following the example of the Saviour by being baptized by one holding the Priesthood authority of God. Helping them to endure to the end must now be our focus. Your indicators are looking good and it is a great foundation to build upon. You will be a great District Leader as you call upon the Lord and seek to do His will.

Have a great week and be safe. Remember to Find when you Teach and Teach when you Find.

President Simpson

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 85: "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God for the rain" - Dieter F Uchtdorf

A Nice View
Transfer news is in; Not much is happening in the district. One of the areas in my district is being shut down. Sister Israel is training a new sister from Liberia. Elder Reeves is getting a new companion named Elder Beall. He is a really cool guy. Elder Taunuu and Elder Randall are staying together. My Companion and I will remain together and I will be the district leader here. I have been thinking a lot about this since I got the call Saturday, how we have pretty much all experienced missionaries in my district and why the call came to me instead of a more experienced Elder. Well turns out I have been prepared my whole mission to do this job. I know I have. I have been involved in many district meetings and have had many opportunities to teach. My area is doing really well. This is the right time that I needed to be called. This is the best time. The Lord saw that I needed to serve. I'm very humbled to be able to serve. The Lord qualifies those He calls. I'm very excited to do this.

My District

Samuel's Baptism
The reason for my subject of the email is this week has been a struggle for me emotionally. This week I was having a lot of thoughts about how hard this work is, how hard Ghana is and how long I have been patient and have dealt with all these hardships. I have thought a lot this week of how I'm going to keep this fire going, and also how I will even survive the 4 months I have of my mission. It's just been a struggle for me and I can't imagine some of the things the others in my district are going through since 2 of them go home at the end of the transfer. It seems that when we are going through difficult times it easy for us to forget the little things that God does for us and the things he has done for us in the past. From a missionary's point of view how much time do we waste thinking of all the trials instead of thinking about other people's happiness or the blessings that God has in store for us? This hit me very hard on Sunday when one of my recent converts got up and bore a powerful testimony of how she has found the true church and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is really true. These 3 simple but powerful phrases really hit me that I have really been worried so much about myself this week and not so much worried about these wonderful people in Africa. I have been worried about all the negative things and forgetting just how much of a positive influence I really have on people and how important I really am in the sight of God.

Birthday Pizza

Aftermath of the B-day Celebration

Lambson and I

Randall and I

So many of us think so much upon an end result that we forget that we are engaged in a journey and end up losing out on the experiences of the adventure. I guess what I'm trying to say is understand that everyone has a purpose and we are all expected to do hard things. It is the plan of our Heavenly Father. Actions have consequences. Usually if we make a bad choice the consequence is bad. Usually if we make a good choice we are rewarded in some way. Think about how much more happy we would be if we forgot ourselves and did the Lord's will. Heavenly Father will always reward his Children who do his will. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can overcome any hardship. I also know that when we focus on the Lord's will he will lift us up and do wonders for us. I cannot sit here and type everything that God has done for me because I have come to realize how much he is a part of my life. I will forever be grateful for this Gospel. I will forever be grateful for my wonderful loving and kind parents who brought me up in this Gospel. I will forever be grateful that I made the decision to come on mission and serve these wonderful and beautiful people of Ghana. I will forever be grateful of the power of prayer. And last but not least I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and its power.

Enjoying a Wedding

Me and my companion

Samuel's Baptism

Well we managed on having a baptism this week so I am pretty happy with that and we were able to get 5 investigators at Sacrament Meeting. Our struggle this week was new investigators but to be honest we are having so many people to teach that it's getting overwhelming haha. But as we increase our teaching pool the chances of baptism will also increase!