Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Days in Kumasi

Chris' first days in Kumasi

Now, at this point we will not be receiving much information from him because he will only be able to send pictures when he has access to wifi and will only write letters on Mondays.  We were happy to be able to see who his trainer is and some of the surrounding areas, but there are a few questions I have for my boy! :)  The hardest adjustment for me since his departure has been my inability to communicate with him in terms of being able to ask clarifying questions.  Perhaps someday, a couple of years down the road, I will get to point at a picture and say, "Tell me about this"...and, hopefully, he will still remember! :)

These pictures are from inside the mission home.  Check out the security on that gate!  Woo.  

Kumasi is a very large city.  If you google it, you will find a famous market and pictures of large crowds of people.  However, all areas of the Kumasi Mission may not be so populated.  It will be interesting to learn through Chris' letters what the area is really like. 

Here is Chris with his dear mission president and his wife, President and Sister Cosgrave.  They are from right here in Utah County.  We have had the privilege of not only hearing from those who personally know them about how wonderful they are, but of being able to speak to President Cosgrave prior to Chris' departure and correspond a little via email.  We are very happy to have Chris under their supervision.  They have been prepared for this call.

Here is Chris with his trainer, Elder O.  I will not try to spell the name on the tag because, honestly, when I read it earlier I couldn't tell if one of the letters was an O or a Q so I'm really not sure it's worth trying.  :)

I asked a good friend of mine, whose son has been serving in Kumasi for three months, why I'm seeing ties on Chris that we did NOT purchase.  She said, "They trade them in the MTC."  "What?"  "They trade them in the MTC.  And often they give away ties to the native missionaries because they have so much more than the natives do."  Methinks we might send a few ties Chris' way so he can hand them out.  :)

These are the beds in the mission home.  See..I'm bubbling over with curiosity about all kinds of things, like little details that I can't find out with these small glimpses into his life.  

These three pictures above (and the one below) came with the caption "Kumasi is different!"  He joked in his latest letter home that all he has seen is chickens.  I thought it was funny that the next thing we goat was a picture of goats.  Goats and chickens...just what he's been looking at daily for the past decade.  So, I'm sure he was excited to find some lizards!  And, true to form, there is a "sky" picture.  So Chris.  It's fun to see his personality come through with something as simple as just photos.

This is obviously Elder O...well, at least we know it's not Chris...but OF COURSE Chris would want to take a picture of this bench press.  Not quite what we see here at home!

We don't know yet where Chris is serving.  He is a man of few details.  I have noticed that he writes about his feelings much more than the goings-on.  I may have to be content with that for two years!  Notice that where he was serving is not as pressing to share as who his companion is and what the sky and wildlife look like.  :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wonderful experiences from other sources!

I had to include these on here because this blog is really a record being kept for Chris, even though for now it serves as a great, ongoing account for the rest of us.  Enjoy!

This is from Elder Brandt's blog at

Hi :) We just arrived at the Mission Home today! I got to meet Brother and Sister Cosgrave today and they are awesome! He even approached me during dinner because I said I was a percussionist and asked what kind of percussion I did! He is a really nice and spiritual guy! And Shannon was right when she said he was funny! He's very good at slipping good little jokes into any conversation or discussion he is having with us! All is well here! I really like Elder Morford by the way. He is a great guy, very nice, very funny, and definitely full of the spirit! Love you!!!

Elder Brandt

This is a thought shared with me from Elder Walch's mom.  She clipped this excerpt from his letter today and messaged it to me.  It is so touching, I had to record it for Chris' memory's sake.  :)

In the MTC we learned a lot about the Spirit and its essential role in conversion. Never before have I felt such a sweeter Spirit coming from these Africans. Here is a people who have come here from all over Africa to be a part of something big. Something that they deem bigger than themselves. We had a lesson on a scripture in I think 2nd Nephi that goes something like this:To all those who forsake their family, their wives, their friends, their homes in the service of the Lord,The instructor then looked up and said:"How many of you have sacrificed something to get here?"a vast majority of the Africans raised their hands. The instructor began to cry and read the next part of the verse,"they shall be restored to him an Hundred fold." I sat there amazed at what happened next. The Africans started to sing the last verse of Come Come ye Saints. These people are so much greater than me. It is an honor to be here among them.

Lastly, this is the account from the MTC blog about what happened on Chris' way over to Accra:

The Elders were in line to get pizza at JFK and a man came up and was nice and asked them where they were going. He pulled out $100 and asked the elders to get snacks for the plane and to have on their mission. Twenty minutes later he found them again and said he wanted to give them more money to buy American candy to give the African missionaries in the MTC. So he gave them another $100 and said that when he was a missionary, he wished someone would have sent him some snacks and that he wanted the children in Africa to have American candy. (What is so wonderful about this is that we do not know his name.)

Chris sent this picture recently and said, "Meeting an angel":

Elder Porritt holding the donated cash

Departure to Kumasi

Chris's letter home today:

The Spirit has been teaching me things that I need to know and be better in the field.  It has been awesome to feel the feeling of comfort and the love that God has for me as I have been taught for the 11 days that we were here.  While teaching ''investigators'', teachers that were pretending to be investigators, I felt the spirit flowing through the things which I was to say, and it prompted me to look up a certain scripture that would pertain to that lesson.  It is an amazing feeling to know that God is changing these people by letting you be His mouth piece, but at the same time He is changing you too, for the better.  Throughout this mission, yes there are going to be hard times, and yes there are things you don't want to do, but I know that as we do them, we will be blessed in the sight of God.  And as I have had desires to serve God, I have been called to the work. (Doc.&Cov. 4:3)

I am grateful to know that I am watched over and cared for.  I have been homesick and cried myself to sleep many times this week, but what better way to deal with the things of this world to rely on the Lord? (Hel. 5:12)  I have been strengthened through the wonderful grace of God, and know that only miracles can be accomplished, during this time as we work for the Lord, than any other time in our lives.  How can we, as His disciples, better serve Him?  Only through Him will we know that.

So, as we go meet trials in our path throughout life, remember to rely on the Lord, because He is our rock, our life and our salvation, for this is His work. (Moses 1:39)

I love you, and hope you will continue to find strength in the Book of Mormon as you read it.  I know I have, and it has blessed my life and will continue to bless it. May we go through life leaning on the Lord, and know that we can come out the winner over Satan in the end, if we are faithful is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

PS- the wild life out here is CRAZY!! We saw 3 chickens! That's it so far... ;)

Elder Morford

Packing up.  You can see Chris in the left background as the MTC President, President Robison, approaches him.

We rode on a propeller plane for the first time... SO sketchy!!

We are here in Kumasi Ghana!! I cant believe that this is actually happening!!! Its so exciting!!

We just got done with a testimony meeting and it was SO spiritual.  Tomorrow, I get to meet my trainer.  Its "ghana" be awesome!! 

Just wanted to email and tell you that we are safe and sound!! Just rarin' to go!!

Love y'all and kiss Lizzy for me!

Study time after arriving in the mission home.
We are here in Kumasi and this place is AWESOME!! We just got done with a testimony meeting and it was powerful!!
I do have a strong love for the gospel.  I know that as you live the principles, you will come to love and know God personally because you have put in the work to know Him.  It works!!   I hope you DO become stronger in the gospel!! The second coming is coming nigh so we should all pay heed to what the scriptures are telling us!!

I will continue to grow and learn... that's what a mission is all about!! It takes someone 10,000 hours to master something, and the hours that I am awake preaching the gospel is about 10,280... so I will be able to master the companionship of the spirit, among other things!!

Last day in the MTC

These pictures were titled "Soccer and Bros".  :)

The Helaman District

This is Elder Walch, whom we got to meet at the SLC airport.  They got to be practice companions together the night before departure. :)

Chris said Elder Kanda gave him his jersey.  I'm not quite sure what the rest of the story is on these jerseys but I bet it's a good one!

When I saw my boy up there as choir director, my buttons were popping!  A boy after my own heart!  He lead the Americans singing "God Bless America".

Each district sang a song of farewell to the rest of the districts.  Here, Chris sings with his district.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Farewell to the MTC!

We are excited for Chris and have fasted for him today as he prepares to enter the mission field.  I don't know how things go, exactly, but I'm assuming that with the farewells and devotional that happened today probably allow tomorrow to be a packing/tying up loose ends-type day since travel will happen Tuesday.  Just my guess...we won't know until he actually tells us...which may be in two years.  Hopefully, he's as faithful writing in his journal on his mission as he was here at home! :)

"Saying goodbye to a zone leader going to Madagascar"

Farewell devotional.  This picture was posted on the MTC blog.  I was happy to see Chris in it there on the right so I stole it and stuck it on here.  This is when I love technology! :)

So, here's what I think about the picture directly above...the one of the tag in his hand came today.  When I added it to the files of the other pictures from the MTC, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason this picture is important is because the red dot is missing.  Maybe they had them take the red dot off after the devotional today as a sign that their training is completed and they are ready to go into the field.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Random pictures from the MTC

I must admit that I will miss the random pictures showing up in my inbox at various times of the day.  It's such a fun thing to often awake in the morning to pictures from Chris.  Here are the latest:

With this one, there was a text line that read, "Teaching schedule.  We committed Lisa to baptism!"  

Apparently food is important to 18 year old men.  Duh.  This is chicken, by the way. :)

View from the MTC classroom they were in at the time.

"MTC classroom after dinner"...looking pretty relaxed, I'd say. 

And with this one, he said, "First sign of the moon".  I thought this comment was interesting considering that we have a supermoon/blood moon tomorrow night, the last in a tetrad of four blood moons in the period of one year.  We will be able to view it here in Utah around 10pm but Ghana residents will not be able to view it until 2am their time...which no missionary will be up for!  

The MTC experience is coming to an end..

Well, we are going to have to enjoy these as much as possible.  Chris will leave the MTC on Tuesday, just about four days away, and fly to Kumasi.  Wifi will be scarce.  Electricity will be spotty.  The next time he will be able to write is the following Monday, his first p-day in the field.

The more I learn about the challenges these elders face while trying to share the Gospel with the people of Africa, the more I feel inclined to ask you for your prayers on behalf of Chris.  The MTC has been a bit of a bubble of comfort, food, and companionship.  It has probably been as American an experience as one can have in Ghana.

However, the transition to the field and the realities of the challenges in food, culture, attitudes, and living circumstances may be a shock.  Missionaries routinely experience negative encounters with people, even to the threat of their safety.  This is true throughout the world, not just in Africa, mind you.  Prayers would be helpful for Chris, and all of these elders, to aid them in the next big transition in this time of service.

I have no doubt that the Lord takes care of those who serve Him.  I have experienced that first-hand.  I don't worry about his safety.  I will be praying for his heart to be comforted and submissive to the promptings of the Spirit and that he will have the wisdom and perspective the Lord has on his situation and the people he encounters.  Please include him in yours as well.  Thanks!

So, apparently, the first thing on his mind today was food because these three pictures above came first.  He is able to add a little bit of text using his camera, but obviously not much because these read, "Foo foo and 'domestic' chicken".  Now, I know that foo foo is a very common side dish in Africa, made from a root vegetable if I remember correctly.  However, I am not sure which of the above side dishes are the foo foo. :)  I LOVE that they make authentic food for these boys so they can get used to the culture before they are immersed in it.  The Church is amazing.

Love how these boys are holding the flags of their countries.  Makes me wonder what was going on that day to allow them to have their native flag in hand.  

The shirt Chris has on in these pictures is his "Mission Ready" shirt.  It is from a week long conference of the same name that is held at BYU during the summer.  He attended this year as part of his mission preparation.

The symbols on the shirt represent the Plan of Salvation.  The first circle represents our pre-earth life wherein we were in the presence of our Heavenly Parents and our Savior Jesus Christ.  The line just after that first circle represents birth, the end of that pre-earth existence.  That second circle has a little star in it and those words below all these symbols say, "You are here".  That second circle represents mortal life here on earth.  The next line signifies death. After death, and before the final judgment, we either reside in a state of paradise where we get to enjoy the presence of our Savior and serve our living relatives from the other side, or we reside in state called "spirit prison" where learning and teaching need to happen for us to be able to progress.  How we have used our life here on earth will determine how we spend our time just after we leave this life.  Finally, after all is done that needs to be done here on earth, there will come a final judgment.  We then will inherit one of the three degrees of glory, as Paul talks about in Corinthians.  Thus the three lines at the end of these little symbols.

Well, apparently the MTC is a "thumbs up" experience.  I don't know if I've seen this boy so happy...ever.  He did write a friend and tell her that he knows he is where he is supposed to be and that he is supposed to be there at this time.  The Lord does have a way of making paths clear when we rely on Him!

I think we should have a contest on the best suggestion on a caption for this picture.  Any takers??