Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love Yo Pikin?

Well, before I post Scotty's letter, I need to let you all know that he cannot see the comments....sorry everyone.  I will put the comments in my letter to him.  He has very limited internet access, which is why he loves it when he gets letters through "DearElder.com"  It is simple to write him that way, just type it up on the site, they make a hard copy and it is delivered to him through the mission home.  I can tell that he is working very hard because his letters are getting shorter.  Thank you everyone for supporting Scotty on his mission.  This blog really helps me feel a part of him and keeps me going week to week. In his letter, I have put a link to a site that tells you about the village of Rokel where Scotty is working right now.

Dear Mama,
I am so much happy to hear from you. I am glad you are able to see the pictures the Sister Roggia has even though they are few. I have been trying to send some but the internet is hardly sufficient enough to email. In fact we are lucky I am able to email today for a while I thought I was not going to be able to. But the guy gave me some free extra time so I can finish. So firstly I am unable to see comments on the blog so I do not know what those people have said. Tell Ashlee to not be lazy and just write me. Dear Elder is so easy and free.

Sounds like the temple dedication was sweet. I will be excited to attend in 2014. I wish there was a temple here. I have grown to really miss it. But oh well for now. So the missionary work is going so sweet right now. You say you want to know how many baptisms mom? I will tell you but do not state the number on blog. I do not want to brag about an ordinance of God.  I just finished my 2nd transfer yesterday and now I am a fully trained missionary. My companion and I are now splitting. He is going to Kenema and I am taking over Rokel. I am actually going to be training a new Elder coming out of the MTC this week. So I will be his trainer for the next 3 months. I am super excited about it. He is lucky cause I have some sweet baptisms for us this next couple weeks he will get to do.

But the weather is nice. I have acclimatized to the humidity quite well so I do not feel it to much. But I still sweat a lot more than I did back home so I know the humidity is still there.

So you say you want to be able to do some research about where I am? My area has now split and 2 different elders will take Waterloo. So I am in charge of just Rokel. Rokel is not really a city, it is more of a mixture of villages spread out so you will not find much on it. It is geographically huge and has ton of people. But it is very rural.

Hehe Mom you keep talking about how Americans complain when we have so much and when these people have so little they are grateful. Hehe that is how it is for some but most people whine and complain. Which they do have reasons, but it is complaining that makes you unhappy more so than the things you are complaining about. These people have nothing but they are trying to live lifestyles of material substance. They are skipping necessities and going for wants. So they are having a lack of progression. They are indeed jumping up in Maslows hierarchy of needs. So when these people are able to ground themselves and actualize what they need to do. They will begin to progress. But with a lack of the Gospel there is to much selfishness, people step on one another for personal gain a lot here. And I have experienced it first hand being a white man out here. These people expect it to be done for them and do not want to pull things together themselves.

But then we get the people who truly suffer, who truly try, who truly are grateful for the small things they get and who truly work and the circumstances are always against them. Those people I have so much respect for. The trials these people have faced have either strengthened and humbled them to an amazing extent. Or they broke and have turned to bitterness. But my heart goes to those that are humble and they are the ones who are truly ready for the Gospel.

But thats my thoughts for now, I am lacking time to share much more. But I love you and I hope all things continue well.
Love yo pikin,
Elder McDonald

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pictures of Scott at Zone Conference

Freetown East and Freetown Zone Conference
Scotty on the back row talking with his companion

just chillin
He looks at the camera knowing he is looking at you

Zone Conference - Becoming More Christ Like

Scotty had a wonderful experience and learned a great deal at the Zone Conference.  In his letter he shares a little about the message of Elder Sitati's talk. Scotty seems to be a sponge, soaking up every morsel of knowledge he can, and applying it in his life.  He is setting such a wonderful example for me, and giving me a greater desire to apply the teachings of our Savior and become more like Him.  And oh how I wish I could have heard him sing, I am sure it was absolutely beautiful and sung with the spirit.
Thank you to everyone who is writing to Scotty, I know that means so much to him.  Several of you have asked how to write him since he is not allowed to receive emails from anyone except family.  The best way to contact him is through www.dearelder.com.  You will set up a brief profile then choose his mission, type in his name, and write your letter write in the application.  It is printed up on a hard copy and put in a pouch that goes to the mission home on a weekly basis.  He is then able to reply by hand-writing a letter and putting it back in the pouch.  He loves to hear about the happenings at home, but with all the work he is doing, I am amazed he has any free time at all. I hope to have some pictures from the Zone Conference in the next couple of days.

Dear Mama,

The Zone Conference with Elder Sitati was amazing. He was able to give us so much instruction to apply to our lives. What really stuck out to me is how we can become more Christ Like. So he broke it down. I will go through it how he did. So before we become we have to make an action. Before the action comes choice. And what governs our choice is our desire. And there are 2 places that desires come from; the spirit and the physical/natural body. So it all roots down to getting our spirit in control over our bodily desires. And from then on out everything will come itself. Also during the conference, we actually had me and my Grandfather (trainers trainer) Elder Wuthrich sing a duet of Joseph Smiths First Prayer. It was soooo sweet.

 Oh man I miss those foreign movies. I really miss sitting down each night and watching some weird movie with a pumpkin pie in hand. Oh speaking of which I got your package on Friday. Man do I love it. I have already eaten most of it. But I have shared some because I like to see if the Africans like it. But oh man yeah it is good stuff. I hope there will be another sent out soon. I am now good on soy sauce for a very long time. Also in my next package can you send me my exercise stretchy bands and a jump rope. And I could also use some clippers. 

But things are going so sweet this transfer. Time is going so fast. We are having some wonderful new converts coming in lately. We have had 6 baptisms this transfer and are having 3 this Saturday and that will finish the transfer. I love all the pictures you have sent. You should continue to send me packages of with developed pictures in them as well. But I love you and hope everything continues well.

Love your son, Elder McDonald.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What An Honor for Scotty

I wrote Scotty and told him all about Lorenzo's farewell yesterday, and attached a few pictures so he could see all of his friends again, and feel like he was still a part of their lives even though he is so far away.  Scotty's absence is felt by so many, and yet, his presence in Africa is changing so many lives.  As you read Scott's letter, you will see that he have been given a rare opportunity, of which I am so thrilled and proud of.  I just think of how much he has accomplished and how much he has grown, and he is still in training.  I cannot fathom the growth and experiences he will yet have.  Scotty has made a request about emails.  You will see it at the bottom of his letter.  He really wants to hear from you and will write you back.  And hopefully, next week he will be able to send some pictures. 

Dear Mama,

I am so happy to see all of the pictures from Lorenzo's farewell. I am so excited for him, it literally feels like I was just where he is now. I am glad to hear that everyone around there is doing so well. I cracked up seeing Justin in the back of all the friends at Lorenzo's farewell.

And I know that Jared does not have a GF, I know this girl has been bribed in one way or another. Jared is much to nerdy to talk to girls yet. :P

This week has been sweet. We had a couple baptisms on Saturday, they are going to be some strong members. I hope they will be able to continue to develop in the Church. I have some pictures but I do not have time to send them. So hopefully next week.

So this Friday we will be having a combined Zone Conference. I am very excited. We are having Elder Sitati, the only African in the 1st quorum of the 70 come and speak to us. I have actually been asked to sing a solo. They have asked me to sing Joseph Smith's First Prayer. What are the chances huh? So that will be so sweet.

I now only have 2 weeks left of my training. Then I will be a fully trained and capable missionary. And then my area is splitting as well so I am excited to see how things are going to work out.

So I have not gotten the package yet but I will be expecting. It takes a long time to receive anything out here. So you have to be patient. And sometimes the things can sit in the mission office for a while until someone can get there to get them.

Hehe Mom, you better be careful after your surgery. With your clumsiness you do not want to ruin your brand new and improved bladder. But it will be good. Show your pants some mercy.

I also pray Justin can receive the job, he needs a break. But anyways I love all of you. And everyone take care. And technically I am not allowed to receive email from people outside of family. So mama I need you to urge people to send letters so I can write them. Emails will be a bit more difficult.

Love Elder McDonald

This is Pademba Road.  The mission office is just up the road to the right.  This is the only intersection in Sierra Leone with signal lights.  They haven't worked for as long as anyone can remember.  You can see the traffic policeman in the center.  Motorcycles (okadas) and taxis everywhere.  There are a few road rules for the cars ... none for the motorcycles. (http://mmlauritz.blogspot.com/)

This is the Freetown Ferry at Government Pier.  This is where every missionary arrives and leaves Freetown across the mouth of the Sierra Leone River to the Lungi Airport. The ferry becomes so full that people are turned away after waiting for an hour.

The cars made with sardine cans and tires are bottle caps, held together with nails as the axle.  He looks very proud of his creation. (http://mmlauritz.blogspot.com/)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pictures of Scotty and His Mission Area

These pictures are from the blog Scott's of mission leaders, Brother and Sister Lauritzen, Lauritzens in Africa

A local boy playing by rolling a tire up and down the road
The groundskeeper at the mission home
Looking toward the mission home
Soccer match in an abandoned cistern
Water flowing down the hill from the road
Wonder how deep that water is
Rice paddies along side the road
A road from Freetown to Grafton, the area Scotty is living.  This road was built by the Chinese

Laundry In A Bucket and Mud!

Scotty is having some wonderful experiences on his mission, many of which are too sacred and personal to share. I started reading a book about the people of Sierra Leone and the trauma and suffering as well as the repercussions of the civil war there. Thousands of people were killed, and young boys, as young as 6 years old, were abducted and made into boy soldiers. The book is call 'A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of A Boy Soldier' by Ishmael Beah. If you want to know what this book is about, you can look the author up on Youtube. The book is his story. You will see in Scott's letter why I mention this. How does one forgive someone who has killed your family before your very eyes? There are so many questions that I have, and won't go into them here. But everyone should at least know the story of the war there and why and how they are related to the diamonds that we love to wear.

This is a post from the Senior Missionary couple that Scotty is working with. "Dinner with the Carlos family. It was chicken and fresh herring on rice served family style. It was cooked over charcoal in a corner of their small front porch. Sister Carlos did not eat with us. It's their custom to put guests first and there was limited space around the plate of food. There were five spoons around the dish and we all sat in a circle on benches in a little room. There was no light in the room except what came through the window and door. It took a little courage to dig in, but we bravely did. It was good. Elder McDonald explained to Sister Lauritzen beforehand that when you are eating family style and you get a mouthful of small fish bones it's best to just swallow it. Brother Carlos told us stories as we ate. We laughed and had a fun time."
Hamburgers and Fries!!!!
Dear Mama,

This week has been so sweet. We had many activities. We had our Zone Conference in Freetown. It was such a great learning experience. And they gave us Hamburgers and French Fries. It was a magical moment for me. Sure compared to the US, they would have been mediocre. But trust me, you learn to be grateful for the U.S. very quickly. That mediocre hamburger and french fries tasted amazing. And then they gave we chocolate cake. Oh man, I sure ate it slowly. So you should know I am very excited for my next package.

So I am glad to hear about the Temple. I wish it was up before I left! That would have been nice to be able to go there. But you noobs better be going, or somebodies gonna get smitten. But anyways, I hope school is going well and I think the art stuff is either under the stairs or in kitchen area.

I am so much happy to hear about Jared. And pfft there is no way he has a GF! He is still so young and goofy. But good for him anyway. I am very gladdy that the letter made a difference. I know Jared has always had good intentions. But he is like me, a procrastinator. So those good intentions are for deeds tomorrow, not today. So make sure he keeps doing well. Or I will send a Juju curse in a package or something. I am also happy to hear about Colin baby. It is crazy to think how big he will be next time I see him. He better be talking by then.

Interesting you have read a book about the war. We have been receiving an increasing amount of stories or questions from the war from our investigators and members. We think these principles we live are easy. But see someone ask about how we are to forgive all when they have had family members killed in cold blood during the war. There were many innocent victims in that time. Many of the things I do not feel comfortable sharing in letter form. I have many of these in my journal you will be able to hear when the time comes.

Thank you very much for sending my blessing. I will be anxiously awaiting. And I am so glad you are involved in Lorenzos life somewhat right now. I am so excited for him at the moment. As we plan each day I think "Holy smokes, Lorenzo leaves soon." Make sure you do the thing that you did for mine so I receive those updates for Lorenzos blog as well. Speaking of Blogs, I actually very rarely see Sister Roggia. I live like 3 hours away. So do not expect to many pictures from her. But I have been seeing the Senior Couple a lot lately, they informed me of their blog. Look up Elder And Sister Lauritzens blog. I am not sure how to find it. But you can do some digging.

I am slowly piling up pictures and on a day when the internet is good I will send some. I am also waiting for these next couple of baptisms so I can send pictures in bulk.

Today we had a very sweet football match against the Elder's Quorom. I am getting a lot better at it as I go. It is a lot of fun. so before you know it I will be so sweet at it. But I always slip in the muddy areas. And then that means I have to to laundry and I have decided I think doing laundry in a bucket is from the devil. I guess it would not be to bad. But when wherever you go is all dirt and you have to sit/teach in it pretty much. Laundry is soooo annoying. I miss washing machines and dryers.

You ask how the new District is coming? I am still in the same district mom. But we did have one Elder transferred and a new Elder come in. I love my district. We get along very well. We have 2 Americans 1 Ghanaian and 3 Nigerians.

But things are sweet right now in my area. We are finding a lot of super prepared people. A lot of people who will be ready for baptism soon. But with my area splitting I do not know if I will even be there for the baptism.
But I love you a lot even though you are super nerdy. Let me know how things go.

Love Elder McDonald

If you have any comments for Scotty, please take the time to leave them here on the blog. He gets a copy of this blog on a weekly basis, at least every time I update it or someone makes a comment. So, if you don't have time to write him, but would like to say hello and give him some encouragement, please leave a comment. He will see it every Monday when he has access to the internet. And those of you who know Lorenzo Martinez as well, I will have a blog for him at www.elderlorenzomartinez.blogspot.com.

Mud! Mud! and more Mud!

Picture of Freetown, Sierra Leone taken from the ferry
East Zone Missionaries