Tuesday, November 4, 2014

First email from the mission field!

Hello everyone!
 How are you doing! This is my very first p-day in the field! Overall this has been such a blessing but so hard as well! I got done at the MTC this last Tuesday and it was actually really hard! I have grown so close to so many of these Elders and they will always be dear to my heart!
Gonna miss these guys!!
To start the travel day, we got all packed up and then headed to the airport. And there it was a typical day in the Ghana airport. When Elder Larson and I got there, we found out that our bags were overweight. Now President Robison had told us that if we had problems with that, the drivers would come forward with money so that we would not have to pay. However, the drivers did not and Elder Larson and I had to go through the airport to find an ATM machine and then pull out $80 to pay the overweight fee.  But then they said they needed more money and by that time our drivers had left. So, we had to go all through the airport looking for a security person to talk to and after about an hour we were able to finally head through security to start boarding our plane.
The plane ride to Lome was very short and we were fortunate enough to be able fly with all of the Elders from our district, except one, so I was very fortunate. While in Lome, we had a 2 hour layover so Elder Larson and I said goodbye to the other Elders who are going to Benin and Togo and then we boarded the plane to Cameroon. Once we got to Cameroon, Elder Larson and I looked around and said "this is more like it!". It was crazy how as soon as we landed, we had a sense of belonging.
We waited for our bags, which came very fast. Then came the hard part; waiting for the right drivers. People were crowded all around us, asking for money and offering rides. This was all in French, so we had abosultely no idea what was going on! But finally a man said he knew the missionaries and it felt right so we followed him and saw Brother Coleman and the Mission President pulling up and we loaded our bags up and we were off.

From there we went to the Coleman's apartment where we met the other members of our zone. Our zone is very small and only has 8 elders.  The districts only have 4 each and then each companionship is in a sector. So we met our zone leaders, who were very nice, and one of them was taller then me! I was so surprised but I guess they send goofy tall kids to Africa all of the time:) Then we had dinner at the Coleman's and it was so good to taste kind of American food! They gave us brownies and mint ice cream for desert and I thought I was gonna cry it was so good! After dinner, we all had a meeting and I met my new companion and my trainer, Elder West. He is from Ohio and he is a great elder! He did a lot of theatre in high school, as well as band. We have bonded very well and we are working towards having a great companionship!
Elder West, Elder Legerski, Elder Rakotondrabeharison, Elder Larson
That night we landed, I went to my apartment. And let me tell you, every apartment in the US looks like a penthouse compared to what I have seen! By African standards, we have a very nice apartment: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room and a decent sized kitchen. I got lucky and got the apartment with air conditioning so I'm soooo grateful for that! Now for the downsides of our apartment by American standards: we have ants everywhere and it is just run down in general and we have problems with cockroaches sometimes and they are huge! So it's a good thing I don’t mind bugs at all:) But I feel very fortunate to have what I have.
Zone Conference
Then came morning and the biggest moment of my life so far! Day one in the zone. To start, we went back across town and had a nice zone conference. After that I went and had my very first lesson as a missionary! Before I tell you about that, let me tell you about my sector. I'm in the Bonaberi B sector. It is one of 2 sectors that do not use taxis, so we walk everywhere! And in most places it is just dirt roads or dirt paths! Plus, Elder West and I are being white washed, which means that we are both brand new to the area! So we don’t know any of the investigators well, where they live, where the members live or who the members are! So we have quite the challenge ahead;) Because Cameroon is a 2 language country, we have anglaphones who speak English and frankaphones who speak French!
Sister Coleman, President Monga,
Elders West, Colindres, Legerski, Hatch, Larson, Okon, Johnson, & Rakotondrabeharison
My first lesson was with Sonita who is an anglaphone and it went so well! I think that she may be baptized soon which makes me so happy! She is such a sweet girl. I probably sweated off five pounds during the lesson, too. I had sweat pouring down my face! Its getting into dry season here in Africa which is when it gets really really hot! So I'll be losing a few pounds!
There is so much to say that it is impossible to write it all down! So I'll tell you all the weird things about Africa! The ladies don’t shave their armpits so that’s really weird. There are canals on either side of the street that hold all kinds of stuff and they smell really, really bad. It's not uncommon for people to drop their pants and do their business in the canals so that’s always nice! There is trash all over the place and huge piles on the side of the road. It really makes me appreciate America! But I found the most amazing drink and its called dudu! Its like liquid yogurt and it is just delicious. We don’t eat in members home at all because of the new rules from Salt Lake, so we as an apartment have to cook 3 times a day so we get pretty creative with what we have! We have had pancakes and pizza, and tacos so far, so I guess we can make anything!  Real quick note about the language: French is hard! In French lessons, I understand the general idea but other than that I speak and understand little but it gets better everyday! I know it will take time but soon I will speak French.

Now I want to share a spiritual thought with you all. This last night I was having a hard time; I was homesick and it was just all coming down on me. It had been a hard day, it was hot, I was in a foreign country and I felt like I was failing as a missionary. But then as I read through Preach my Gospel, I realized something. We all are never perfect and this life is a life that is meant to become better. At that moment I felt such a strong desire to become the best person I could be and the best missionary that I could be. I encourage everyone to have this same fire in their heart as they go through their daily lives. If you can look back and say "have I done any good today?" and you can answer "yes!", then you are becoming a true disciple of Christ. In 2 Nephi, chapter 31:17-20,  we read about enduring to the end. This is the hardest step of the gospel but one of the most important. Always stay strong with the Lord and thank him every night for everything he has given you.

Now its time to say goodbye! But before I do, I have a challenge for you all. Go into a store like Walmart and stand in the middle of a food aisle. Then imagine you are standing on a dirt road. The aisle changes into little stalls all around you. You hear people speak but cannot understand anything. Its so hot you sweat through 2 shirts. There are flies and dirt on all the food. The stench of sweat and rotten food makes you want to throw up. This is the average market in Africa. Never again will I complain about having food that I don’t like, or the availability or cleanliness of the food. Make a challenge of complaining less and start to be thankful more!

Well, that’s all for this week; someone go have a Baconator for me!

Elder Legerski

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