Monday, April 30, 2012

Lower Lights, Ice Cream & Racism

I'll be sure to devote some time to an email to Josh today. It's important that I give him what advice he can get... Leaving home is a hard thing, but I think he'll be better off than I was considering that he's used to being away from home/girlfriend/etc. The thing that will be hardest for him I think is the cultural adjustment. No matter where you go, it's pretty darn drastic!

I love the hymn "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy". It's always been one of my favorites as a missionary... And I think I can say that I'm kind of a "lighthouse person." What I mean I guess is that I'd love to live right on the ocean with a lighthouse nearby. It's just the most appealing thing in my mind! So then when I picture people hurridly "burning the low lights", it just touches me. You would think that a single light on the shore of a massive coast would be the most insignificant thing, but to those battling the waves, it's life-saving. It's such a powerful metaphore for the power of one righteous individual! Never should even the humblest of persons discount their spiritual power and potential.

Today was a sweet day! It was super P day at the beach! We had a lot of fun soaking our feet in the waves small ;-). The closest thing to swimming in two years! The sun totally flogged me though. I get a lot of "Washingtonian" comments from these other American losers who, for whatever reason, just can't get sunburned! It's all good fun though. I'm so proud to be from the Pacific Northwest! It's the only place I can call home (after Sierra Leone, of course).

We played, ate, soaked in the sun, and enjoyed. We went with Elder and Sister Krumm back to their apartment afterwards (just me and Elder Willis), and they took great care of us. They gave us REAL ice cream! Elder Krumm said that he'd try and find you and Mom on Facebook so that you could see some pictures. They're pretty sweet! I couldn't help but remember our family vacation to Hawaii. The beach was exactly like the ones there, on the sand here was a little more coarse. A good day!

As far as other things that happened this week, my appointments to get new glasses took a hefty chunk out of our teaching time this week. This past monday was P day, Tuesday was district meeting, and afterwards we had to travel all the way to town, and basically consumed the whole day with getting the examination and things. They next day, wednesday, we had to do the same thing, but in the end, I got some pretty sweet new specs. I got a black plastic frame that makes me look like Elder Svongwa, so I like them. They also tint a little in the sun, so it's okay for my eyes.

The thing about the whole experience that would shock you is just the pure RACISM that the people at that hospital have! Their eye examination pricing was as follows:

$500 Liberian Dollars (around $7 USD) for a Liberian citizen
$35 USD for a foreign black
$45 USD for a foreign white.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? I was pretty darn outraged. Truthfully spoken, one of the things that I will love so much about being home is NOT being noticed for the color of my skin! That's one of the only things that I've truly detested about being a missionary here in Africa: Being white!

After that, it was some pretty standard teaching. We had a pretty funny experience where we were teaching a woman about the Book of Mormon, and when we pulled out a copy to hand to her, she recoiled in fear! It was hilarious. She had heard from her church that it was a daemonic book, and that those that read it become in correspondence with dark spirits. We dispelled that. She took the book, and paused in silence for a moment. When she spoke again, she said: "God says I must not lie. My name isn't Fatu [like she had told us]. My real name is Esther." She said that she was genuinely afraid that if she gave her real name that we would take it to the church to give to daemons to come and find her. Oh man, it was funny! People say the darndest things about us.

Well, I'm running out of things to say. Things are good, the work moves onward. I am pretty sad that exchanges have to be conducted tomorrow, because I hate being away from Elder Willis. I na mi best padi. We work so well together. It's just been so surprising to me to see how two men from very different upbringings and interests could grow so close as friends. The church is so very true!

Love you all so much!

Elder Vaughan

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sweet L-I-B vs. Salone, Obedience & Being Perfectly Happy

You should cancel that order on the glasses! Sister Krumm is taking me to the eye clinic here in Monrovia tomorrow, and I should have my new specs by Friday at the latest. Sorry, but I don't think you can beat that time. Sister Roggia says that she'll handle all the receipts and things so that it's covered by insurance. If you have any questions, I guess you can email her. I can get it here much faster than you can send it, and I can get a more accurate prescription. According to what I've been told, it'll cost less than $200 for everything here (for an examination and a pair of glasses), which I think is less than it is at home, or roughly the same. Thanks though!

I thought I told you not to send me more packages?? o_O I really don't need them. We have a DVD player in our apartment for training videos that we can use to watch general conference when it comes in a week or two.

Uh, and I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but my mp3 player was stolen three weeks ago. I beg, don't send another one. It's not worth your time, effort, and money. If you feel so impelled to give me something, just put the money aside and take me shopping when I get home. ;-) Really, my mission is coming to a close, and I don't have an addiction to music like I used to. Just focus on helping Josh. Really, I'm okay here. The only thing I'll ever ask for again is some money to travel home with, and I'll ask for that in like 4 months when the time draws close.

Um... The difference serving here as opposed to Sierra Leone? I don't really know... The work is essentially the same. The people are very similar. The only differences lie in things like the food and the way that people talk. Admittedly, I miss Salone so much. Liberia is nice, but I can't call it home. Maybe with another 6 months here (hopefully I will have gone back to Salone instead) I'll change my mind. But yeah, the work is basically the same in almost every way. We walk in the hot sun, we get made fun of by little children for having white skin, and we baptize. It's sweet.

As far as being in a different country than the mission president, it puts a lot more pressure on me, especially as a leader, to be obedient. There are quite a lot of missionaries here who can't handle being perfectly obedient. In fact, I just got out of an interview with President Roggia not even 30 minutes ago. He gave me a pretty hard time about eating monkey... I guess it's not okay. Yeah, the Spirit kinda nagged me small that it was a bad idea, but I've repented of ignoring that warning. To be fair, we could eat monkey every day and not know it. I also ate a boa constrictor a few weeks back, but the Spirit had nothing to say on that one... Maybe it's 'safe'? Anyways, as a Liberian missionary, you have to be SO committed to being obedient, and not just because there's someone else over you telling you that you must. Obedience is an act of faith for us.

Anyways, not a whole lot else going on. Just work, walking, talking, growing, and all that jazz. I'm perfectly happy. Love you! Have an awesome week!


Elder Vaughan

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stepped on a Nail, Broken Glasses & Book of Mormon Teaching

We're going to see Wicked when I get home? Oh yes!! It's the perfect way to be welcomed home! Then we can go see The Hobbit as a family. Oh boy, it'll be awesome! I can't wait! As much as I hate to think of leaving the field, I really am excited to one day be "home" again.

I really don't have much to say this week. It's been a little more discouraging these past few days. I stepped on a nail (that REALLY hurt), broke my last pair of glasses, and am just feeling weak in general. The work was a lot more demanding too, with fewer people coming to church. No worries, I'm well taken care of. It's just been a little hard on me, which in turn will be for my benefit.

I guess in terms of "profound" teaching moments, the highlight of the week was with our new investigator by the name of Kollie. He stopped us one day and asked us to come back another day. We did, and as Elder Willis and I usually do, we taught our first lesson which is on the Book of Mormon. We emphasize this rather than the Restoration as a whole because the Book of Mormon is usually a pretty difficult thing for people to grasp and accept. So, we resolve all issues surrounding the book first, so that anything else we teach afterwards is credited. If the book is true, then everything else is too. It makes things simple. Teach them one principle and extend two commitments rather than eight principles and five commitments. (Teach B of M, invite to read/pray versus teach God is our loving Heavenly Father, gospel blesses families, dispensations, life of Christ, great apostasy, restoration, Book of Mormon, revelation through the Spirit, then invite to read/pray/attend church/be baptized/specific date. Yeah, easier to digest for sure.)

Anyways, I guess it wasn't anything that big, but I guess it was just in the way that the Spirit helped me and Elder Willis explain the book. Seldom do we have people who completely understand it right off the bat. Well, I felt like we had some exceptional guidance, and it went really well. Nothing really miraculous, but it was good.

Remember the sister that we so boldly invited to keep the law of chastity? She's being baptized this Saturday. It's going to be a special day for me and Elder Willis. :-)

Alright, that's all I have energy for. Love you all! I can't wait for our time together again! 6 1/2 months!


Elder Vaughan

Monday, April 9, 2012

Life as a District Leader, Real Pizza & Sweet Monkey Meat

First off, my letter to President, since you all seem to like it:

Hello President!

Another fantastic week in New Georgia! My gratitude in being trusted with another six weeks here with Elder Willis is overwhelming. Both of us are just so happy to be here! Our relationship just continues to deepen as our love and understanding for one another does.

The coming week is a very exciting one for me and Elder Willis! We have up to five candidates that we have thoroughly prepared for interviews in the coming weekend. We're so excited for them! They're all people that Elder Willis and I had found and taught from start to finish. The others that we have had baptized before were just leftovers from the previous missionaries. It's so sweet to see our labors coming to full fruition!

The work is going on very well these days. We just teach and teach and teach! I'm just so happy to be blessed to stay with Elder Willis for another transfer. I would have been pretty upset if it hadn't been the other way. We're dedicated to making New Georgia a shimmering gem in Zion! Elder Willis and I would like to say that if we were kept here for six months, the branch could be prepared to split! It's just phenomenal here!

I guess our only other hinderment is lack of materials... The 'mission wide shortage' of Restoration tracts, and more particularly, our shortage of copies of the Book of Mormon will make it hard to focus on the year's theme of Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration. Hopefully the Lord will bless us with a speedily replenishment.

Not much more to say I think. Just joy! Sweet, irreplicable joy! Thank you for your endearing support!


Elder Vaughan

It's difficult to pin EXACTLY what makes my companionship with Elder Willis so powerful... At this point, I'd have to admit that he's the best friend I've ever had. What interests me the most about that is that he and I have a lot of polar opposite interests. Regardless, we have so many commonalities. I think our strength comes from two things (mainly): Love for one another, and a powerful determination to work and serve others (including the other companion). It's been so sweet! My ability to love others has expanded to vastly, and his own maturity at such an early point on mission is just inspiring. I wish I could have been the missionary he is now when I was where he is now. I guess it's the way things are though; he's meant to stand atop my shoulders and lift another higher.

Elder Willis was also brought up in a... "less spiritual" district, so to speak. I can't speak from my own experience, but I've been told that there were quite a lot of broken rules in those days. He, being a new missionary, didn't know what to do and stood by as it happened, refusing to participate himself. When the time came that that particular assortment of Elders was disbanded, I was sent for damage control. The area was in pretty bad shape when I met it, so I put on the turbo and he kept pace perfectly (in fact, it is evident at times that he can work much harder than I can!). Mission has never been sweeter to me. Thank the stars that we're staying another six weeks!

You asked if I like being a District Leader. Well, I actually think I really like it! Admittedly, I didn't always feel that way, but I take a lot of pride in my district because of how obedient and trouble-free they are. I made it my goal to make sure that any district I serve in as their leader would be mission-known as the most obedient and most successful, and indeed it is! Plus, whenever we have leadership training with President Roggia, we get sweet food. Last month we had pizza! REAL PIZZA! Only in L.I.B. Sweeter than the pizza, however, is the training itself. I love being in such a close environment with President Roggia. He's such an inspiringly-powerful man! I heard a quote once that stated that mission presidents aren't just presidents for the mission, but are mentors for life. I really love the idea of that. He's an inspiration to me. Sometimes, when those wayward doubts come along, President Roggia is one of the people that I KNOW has a full and true testimony of the restored gospel. It's such a sweet association to have, even if he is a whole country away.

So you want to know something I wouldn't ordinarily tell you? Okay, here's one: About a month ago, Elder Willis bought a monkey (we made it rule-abiding). Here's how: the rules say that we cannot keep pets. Therefore, I told Elder Willis that I wouldn't permit such a thing in my district. He then promised that it was for food, and therefore was no different than keeping chickens, which is a practice that is widely practiced in the mission because of how much money it can save. Therefore, he committed to eat the monkey before he was transferred. To avoid attachment, we also refrained from giving it a name, so we called it 'monkey'. (As far as I see, no rules were broken.). We gave it to a member to make into palm butter, which is one of the sweetest dishes here. Indeed, monkey meat is one of the sweetest meats I've ever eaten! It was a wild adventure. :-) Admittedly, it's something that I will relish telling others about for the rest of my life!

Sounds like you don't need me anymore at work! Well, that's okay. ;-) I'll be most grateful for any part I can play as your son. Elder Willis and I watched the Testaments this gone week, and the interplay between the father and son really touched me again (I guess it always does). I don't know if I had told you, but it was that movie that made me decide that I wanted to return and take full part in the business like you wanted. The father, Helam, was so right when he said that sons are there to the place of the father when they grow old, to be a friend when no one else is there. I can't wait to be that for you. :-) I kept visualizing myself as that son who was carried off into his own dreams and desires, and ended up so far from his family that he almost lost them. I'm determined to prevent such in my life.

The word 'sacrifice' has had so much meaning to me since becoming a missionary. I learned at EFY one year that the roots of the word make the meaning literally "to make holy/sacred." True indeed, sacrificing my family has made them sacred to me, and I can't wait to be a full part and parcel of it again. Is it no wonder then that the sacrifice of Christ is to "sanctify" us? Oh goodness, the gospel is great!

Well, time's just about up. I think I ended up writing way more this week than I normally do, thanks to this sweet net cafe in town.


Elder Vaughan

Monday, April 2, 2012

Digging Deep, Parting the Red Sea & a Dowry to be Paid

Hey Everybody,

Time is shorter than usual today. Here's my letter to Prez-o. Everyone seems to like those:

Hello President!

Another good week! We've been working hard. I guess the only thing that holds us back is the sun setting each day. Things like leadership training and rehearsals, no matter how beneficial, are also 'interfering' with our work. We have SO many people to see that when things like that come along, it means that someone has to fall by the wayside for that week. Regardless, we did very well this week.

This area is so darn busy! Elder Willis and I are to the point of almost AVOIDING new investigators because we simply can't take any more! We're certainly being pretty picky about who we visit. We have to, otherwise those that are earnest seekers of the truth cannot progress. We have thirteen people that we have high hopes for in the month of April to be able to enter the waters of baptism. We had a lofty goal last month of twelve, but because of one thing or another, many of them weren't able to commit themselves to baptism. This month, however, we really feel that we can reach this goal. These thirteen are prepared people who are already progressing towards baptism.

I think our greatest success this week comes from the sister that met us at the leadership training this past Tuesday. As you know, I took a step that I was very afraid to make, and I invited her to keep the law of chastity that very day, which meant that she'd likely have to move from her home. Well, it worked! It was miraculous! She went home that night and found that the man was sleeping to his working place that night, so she had the room to herself. She spent all of the next day praying and fasting with a member friend to be inspired with what to say and do. When the man came, she spelled it out to him that she wasn't going to sin any more. The man's heart was softened, and he agreed to move from the room until her dowry was paid, which he committed to pay by May. He also provided her with some money so that she could kick up her own business. All in all, things are going great for her! She's so happy now that she is keeping the commandments. I was honestly surprised that it worked out so well for her. She is such an amazing convert.

Elder Willis is a powerhouse, as usual. Both of us are reaching the ends of our ropes physically. We're just burning out a little. Each day we're able to dig down deep and pull off another full day. He's truly inspiring to me, and i will lament the day we must separate.

Since that same training, I've been doing my best to help my district members learn and apply the doctrine of Christ as found in the first fundamental. I'm going to make it the focus of this week's district meeting.

I went on exchange with Elder [X] this past week, and it was great. I had some good time to talk with him and get to know him. He's a really excellent teacher, he just needs to overcome some of his pride. He has his way of doing things, and it's been hard for him to do things any other way.

This week we had a good breakthrough with Elder [X] and Elder [Y]. I was sensing a little tension with them, so I took a minute to sit down with them and talk before going out to teach Friday morning. It wound up into a two hour talk, in the which Elder [X] opened up a lot and was able to share some things with his companion that he was holding inside. He's felt that it's better to "tolerate" the negative or irritating aspects of a companion than to help or correct them when necessary. I think the hardest thing for him was admitting his own shortcomings in order to help his companion with the same ones. In the end, both of them were able to set goals on how to become better, more Christ-like missionaries.

We also performed a district service project this week. We moved our morning study time to the evening on Friday to give us time to go to a community well to help them dig the sand out of it. It had become too dirty to use for anything, and the people in the community were going without water. We were wise and didn't enter inside the well, but we sure did our part in helping them haul away the soaked silt. We also made sure to sling a few mud balls at each other for fun. ;-) In the end, it was a positive experience for everybody. From what one of the members living in that area told me, it's done a lot to soften the hearts of some of the more stubborn people in their area. They said that many people that saw what we did were asking why a few white guys were so willing to get down and dirty when they had their own well. It was a lot of fun.

Well, I'm looking forward to another week in Zion! Thanks for all that you've helped me to learn!


Elder Vaughan

As you can see, busy week! The best part for me was the leadership training this past Tuesday. It was just the District Leaders and Zone Leaders in Monrovia Zone with Pres. and Sis. Roggia and the Assisstants, as well as Elder Krumm, one of the senior couple missionaries. Our main focus was on magnifying the doctrine of Christ in our own lives, and becoming more converted. Doing so helps each individual missionary to become more successful, because everything he or she does will be driven by a desire to serve the Lord. It was real sweet.

We had been informed that we should have an investigator meet us at the chapel after the training segment in order to do some 'practice'. We had a sister come who was struggling with cohabitation. We did everything we knew how to help her to find a diplomatic way to fix things with the man, i.e. get married, separate, or whatever it was going to take. In the end, nothing was changing fast, and she was still breaking the law of chastity, and she was completely unhappy.

Before she arrived at the chapel, I was able to have a great conversation with President Roggia and Elder Krumm about what we should do to help this sister. Elder Krumm was my companion for the exercise since Elder Willis was away on exchange during the meeting, so we were also discussing what we should teach. We talked for a good hour or so, and President Roggia's advice was to actually drop this sister because she wasn't 'progressing'. In his eyes, he felt like we had done everything we could to fix the problem, but that the ball was then in her court, so to speak. Elder Krumm and I decided to revisit the law of chastity once again with her with a special emphasis on temple blessings when she arrived.

She arrived late, as Liberians usually do, but this time it was attributed to some severely redirected traffic. She ended up spending all the transportation money she had to get there, and arrived after nearly two hours of traveling. As I saw her enter the chapel, I whispered over to Elder Krumm "I hope we can make this lesson of ours worth the great sacrifice she made to come." Indeed, I was outstandingly nervous. I was afraid that I had wasted her time and money in coming to the church just for a lesson. How wrong I was for supposing such a thing!

The discussion that Elder Krumm and I had with here was miraculous! We talked at length about the temple, chastity, the blessings thereof, and being right with God. In the end, I did what I was afraid to do, and felt that I lacked the faith to do, which was to invite her to keep the law of chastity from that moment on, no matter the cost. The Spirit was there in such a way that is rare for even a missionary to find! The environment and atmosphere was perfect for the occasion. She was on the verge of tears the whole time. She accepted the invitation, and committed to never violate the law of chastity again.

At the end of the lesson, she knelt and offered one of the most sincere prayers I've heard on mission. She pleaded with the Lord to "Part the Red Sea, even as He had done so for the Israelites." From there, she went home, and we waited to see next what would happen.

Elder Willis and I met her at her home a few days later. Just as I related to President, the following happened:

I think our greatest success this week comes from the sister that met us at the leadership training this past Tuesday. As you know, I took a step that I was very afraid to make, and I invited her to keep the law of chastity that very day, which meant that she'd likely have to move from her home. Well, it worked! It was miraculous! She went home that night and found that the man was sleeping to his working place that night, so she had the room to herself. She spent all of the next day praying and fasting with a member friend to be inspired with what to say and do. When the man came, she spelled it out to him that she wasn't going to sin any more. The man's heart was softened, and he agreed to move from the room until her dowry was paid, which he committed to pay by May. He also provided her with some money so that she could kick up her own business. All in all, things are going great for her! She's so happy now that she is keeping the commandments. I was honestly surprised that it worked out so well for her. She is such an amazing convert.

(I don't know if you knew this, but the Brethren recently announced that the Church now views 'traditional' marriage (i.e. dowry) as a full and binding legal marriage for all ordinances in the church. Therefore, one who is 'traditionally married' is eligible for baptism, temple ordinances, etc., and are not violating the law of chastity.)

We've been so happy for this sister! I was amazed at how seemingly lacking my faith was... Sometimes I feel like my faith is unshakable, but when things like this happen that test my faith, I discover just how truly feeble it is. True enough, faith precedes the miracle.

Well, that's about all I have time for! Have a wonderful week!


Elder Vaughan

Monday, March 26, 2012

More of the Same, Some Mail, & Mission Scars

Sounds like another week for you all! Busy as always. Yeah, as for me, more of the same. You know the drill: Find, teach, baptize, etc. It gets hard to figure out what to share! It's just more of the same!!

I did in fact receive a package from you... at least, well, MOST of one. I think it was the one that Mom intended on sending music in, though it didn't make it. There was some half-eaten cheese inside, so that may be the cause of the missing items. I did get the sandals and the sweatshirt, both of which are greatly appreciated. I don't think I need any more money or any more packages from here on. Thanks! Send them to Josh instead. I'm sure he'd need them more than I do!

I got a couple letters too... It's funny though, because they've stopped being the highlight of my time here. The highlight of every day is when we are out teaching. I can honestly say that it's the first time on my mission that I've LOVED every minute of being out and about. It had been pretty hard in the past, but nowadays, I love EVERY SECOND!

For the record, I'd love to go to some trade shows with Dad when I get home. It sounds like my kind of thing. Well, I guess ANYTHING with my dad is 'my kind of thing.' ;-)

Yes, to answer your questions, President Roggia usually emails me each week. If nothing else, it's usually a one-liner of some kind. The encouragement and support is wonderful. I think the most treasured one from this transfer is when he said "I can feel the fire of your area all the way here in Freetown." Ha ha, yeah, we're blowing this place apart! We (at the moment) have nearly 50 investigators, 40 of which have accepted baptismal dates. Yeah, sick right? We teach ALL DAY LONG, and then there's STILL not enough time to see everyone we need to see!! I'm thinking about moving our personal and companionship study to the evenings so that we have two more hours out in the day. We really need it!

Yeah, as far as companions go, Elder Willis and I are tighter than any companionship I've ever had! Since he'll be going to USU the winter after I do, we're basically planning our college lives together. It's interesting because we're so different in terms of interests and background, but we're so alike in a thousand other ways. I've got him just about talked into being an EFY counselor with me the summer after he returns up in Washington. We're just never getting sick of each other! I can honestly say that he's been the best thing that's happened to me since Elder Kenner left (that one was hard...). He's my best friend, and we're so excited to our lives ahead.

I think I remember Dad talking fondly of Kevin Hart... Is that right? If I remember correctly, he was one of your fondest companions. I guess that's basically how Elder Willis and I are right now. We're fighting the good fight, and loving every minute of it! We never have an idle moment. Good grief, I just can't even express how much of a blessing it is to have a companion who is as committed to the work as I am! He is such an inspiration to me, that at his relatively young age as a missionary (he's reaching 6 months soon), he's driven to do the work, and it's fully satisfying for him. For that, and many other reasons, I cherish our time together.

Well, my time's about up. I hope you guys have a wonderful week in Sin City! That place is child's play after what I've been through out here. I don't think anything will ever phase me again, ha ha ha. Most of my mission scars will be found on the INSIDE (although there are also a great many on the outside too! Ha ha ha!). Love ya Mom and Dad!

Regards to all who actually remember me... ?


Elder Vaughan

Monday, March 19, 2012

Powerful Friends, True Conversion & a Dream

It's funny Mom and Dad that you mention preparing for missions yourself. Sister Krumm (one of the senior couples here in Liberia) reminds me of Mom a lot. She's really exuberant and loving. I can't help but picture Mom there someday. The couples work REAL hard here, and they are so greatly loved! I can't wait for that to be my Mom and Dad! It would suit our family well to quote Elder Holland in our home: "In this family, we serve missions!" It's the way to be! The work is so wholly satisfying and joyful that it makes it very hard to miss home, especially as my time is steadily drawing to a close. Some seven-odd months or so still seems like a long time, but it really isn't. I remember being with Elder Lancaster when he was where I am now. He's been home for nearly a year! It's so insane how fast the time flies.

I think I'll get in the habit of sending you excerpts from President's letter:

Hello President!

This week has been an interesting one. It went so darn fast that I don't even remember anything all that specific about it... It was nuts.

We've spent the majority of the week teaching exclusively on the Book of Mormon, which has been both amazing and incredibly discouraging. We have so many people that will do anything to avoid the book; they just want us to 'Bible' them to death. Elder Willis and I refuse, and we put it on themselves to find out that the book is true. It's very encouraging when people read and find out that it's true, but SO discouraging when they don't do it. I couldn't believe my ears when an investigator asked "Can I be a member of your church and NOT believe in the Book of Mormon? I really like the church, but I can't accept the book." I was nearly shouting when I replied that the church he is interested is founded upon the book he professes to not accept. Regardless of our obstacles, it's our number one priority to help people know about and come to know the book is true.

As pertaining to things within our companionship, we are doing great. Elder Willis and I love each other so much, and work so hard. He keeps me up and running when I'm starting to run down. Just like everything else in the gospel, 'enduring' is the hardest part. It's easy to get physically tired in this area with so much walking in deep sand. At any rate, we work hard, and we love being here.

This week also brings an exchange with Elder Opuene, which I'll report on next week. Until then, we look forward to seeing you again. We miss you lots over here in Liberia!


Elder Vaughan

Things are really sweet here, you know. Elder Willis and I are powerful friends, so no matter what happens, we're happy. To be honest, things are getting harder now that people are openly fighting the Book of Mormon. When we teach them briefly about the Book for a short time, and then never mind it again, we can baptize a lot more people, because many more people don't know what it is. They think of it more as a Bible study guide, not knowing that it's something different. So, when they find out that it's another book of scripture, and they hadn't accepted it (or their old pastor convinced them that it's a demonic book, something like that), then they fall away. Well, we're preventing that step and making sure that the revelation from the Spirit of the truth of the Book of Mormon is the primary focus of our teaching. As we've done that, many people have been threshed and blown away as chaff, and some have been gathered unto the garners. I guess it's the way it should be, right?

This week is going to be interesting... I have an exchange with Elder Opuene in Gardnersville branch on Wednesday, leadership training in Paynesville on Friday, and our Easter Program rehearsal on Saturday in Sinkor. It's going to be a bit hectic, and I think I'll feel like I haven't seen much of my area, but it'll be alright.

One cool experience happened with a woman named Garmai this week. We have been surprised by her repeated appearances at church after she had beforehand told us that she'd be attending her old church. We met her and asked her why she had so suddenly changed her mind. She told us that she had been really thinking about what our church claims; that is, to be the only true church upon the earth. She was also thinking about the Jehovah's Witnesses, who claim the same thing. She said that as she thought deeply on these things, she prayed to know what the true way was, and she went to sleep. She explained that she had a dream, in the which she felt a hand grip her wrist. She couldn't see the hand, but she felt it, and knew that it was Jesus Christ. She said that she was laying down, and the hand moved her outstretched finger to point in the direction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She said that since then, she's never dared to go to any other church, because she knows that none of them are true. We're now working with her on some commandments, and as soon as they're resolved, she'll be baptized. Of course, baptism isn't the victory we're looking for. She's CONVERTED, and that's why we're already celebrating!

Could I be doing anything better for my life right now? Unlikely. I pity those who feel that they don't need or want to serve missions. I pity even more those that are unable to complete the two years. It's the best labor in which one could be anxiously engaged! I really love being here, and I dread the day that I must return.

Regardless, I love you all so much! Thanks for your love and support. :-)


Elder Vaughan