Monday, April 14, 2014

Pictures January - April 2014

Elder and Sister Wold April 2014

the couple missionary that is serving with the Elders in Debrezeit

Easter in Ethiopia

EASTER in Ethiopia
Elder Ferrara:  "They do a 40 day fast here and then they break it on Easter. Also their fasting is different. It is only dairy and meat products. Kind of interesting. Most of there holidays they usually just have the whole family over and have traditional food. There are some particular foods that they only usually make on holidays. "
From the internet: 
BAHIR DAR, ETHIOPIA – In Ethiopia, Easter is one of the most important religious festivals of the whole year, signified by the 53 days of fasting that precedes Easter Day itself. During this time, members of the Coptic Christian Church in Ethiopia refrain from eating meat and dairy products and some also fast from alcohol. So coffee is taken black, toast is eaten dry and main meals are made up of grains, pulses and vegetables. Fortunately, the national dish, injera, which is made from teff, a millet-like substance, can easily be eaten with vegetable sauces.
The Sunday before Easter is of course, Palm Sunday, or Hosanna, the day in which Jesus traditionally is said to have ridden into Jerusalem over a carpet of palm leaves thrown by the people. As in other Catholic churches, palm leaves are given out to the congregation and in Ethiopia some of the more devout Christians fashion these leaves into a crown, which they wear until Easter Sunday, as a symbolic crown of thorns.
On Good Friday, which is a public holiday in Ethiopia, the churches are packed with people, many standing outside listening to the amplified voice of the priest. A few go to church on Thursday, the night of the ‘Last Supper’ and remain there until Sunday, maintaining a vigil over a symbolic tomb of Christ. On Easter eve, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, church services begin at 7.00 p.m. in the evening and continue until three or four in the morning. Then the worshipers go home and break the fast, either starting their feast or, after sleeping for a few hours, beginning their feast on the following day.

New Companion

April 14, 2014
The work is going pretty well. This last week we weren't as busy as we were the week before but it was still pretty good. I got a new companion last week, his name is Elder Hall. He came from Arkansas. He is kind of a different person.. haha. He is fun to work with though. He is really serious and sometimes switching from companion to companion is sometimes hard because they all have different personalities. He came from Uganda and has only been here about a month.
He is a perfectionist and sometimes gets really mad at something that is not really a big deal. Sometimes he spends like 20 or so minutes ironing his shirt to make sure every little wrinkle is out. It makes me laugh but I still love him. He is more of a leader type so most of the time I just follow him and will do what he wants to do because I don't really mind it and it keeps an argument from coming. He is very straightforward and doesn't have a problem speaking his mind. He is a really good missionary and I can learn some things from him. I was with my previous companion for about 4 and a half months so we were used to each other. I may leave this next transfer in about 5 weeks because I will have been here 6 months. So it is likely they will move me, but maybe not, we will see.  (Elder Hall is on the left)

Well it has been nice the past month or so because he haven't had a problem with water so I can take a shower every morning. Usually we eat breakfast in the morning before our personal study then after our studies we have Amharic class from 10-12. After that we usually eat lunch. Then we go home around 9 at night and we will eat something before we go to bed. If we get hungry throughout the day then we usually will grab a quick snack to munch on. We try to walk when we can but when we don't have time we will take public transportation. Ethiopian Toothbrushes!

They are blue and white mini van looking cars and you just stand on the side of the road and stick out your arm to signal them stop and pick you up. They have there specific routes that they run so you just get the one that goes to where you are going. They are tons of them too so it's usually pretty easy to get. The only thing is they are not really safe, the drivers drive crazy but the Lord is watching over us so we will be fine. We only take them when we have to and so far I haven't had a problem with any yet.

Both of my shoes I brought had holes in them the first six months so right now I have 2 pairs of Ethiopian shoes that I bought. They aren't super comfortable but they are made to last. So far they have been holding up well so I think they will last me the rest of my mission if I take good care of them. I had a lot of shirts and so 2 of mine I gave away to some recent converts that we baptized because they didn't have any and they wanted to pass the sacrament. All my clothes are holding up pretty well.

Usually anyone that leaves on a mission at least from Ethiopia stays in Africa. They have a lot of problems with missionaries that run away so they usually keep them in Africa for those reasons. On Mondays we usually play soccer with the returned missionaries and that is always a fun bonding experience with them.

This last week we received a really awesome referral. It is a mother and 5 daughters. Her husband died and throughout life she just has had many problems. Our last lesson she cried almost the whole lesson. She doesn't feel like God loves her because of all the hard things she is going through. I hope that she doesn't accept to receive money or something from the church though. On Sunday we went to her house to pick her and her family up and walk with them to church but she wasn't there because she had to work. The children said they told her to walk with us to church though if we come. The children came and seemed to really like it. They are all under the age of 12 so they really enjoyed primary. We have a new branch presidency and some new leaders in the branch. I really think that these new leaders will really help the branch to grow. Most of the people in the Branch I know now so I am pretty close with most of them. The Sacrament attendance has been going up so that is also exciting to see. Last week we had about 80. Including the children and all the leaders and missionaries and everything. It is still pretty good though compared to what we have had in the past.


March 2014
This week we baptized Yolamdar.  Last week we baptized a guy named Motuma. My companion with his old companion started teaching him but me and him finished teaching and baptized him. I really feel like he will stay strong in the church. He has a really strong testimony. There is the other lady that is a chef for a big hotel. Her baptism should be in 2 or 3 weeks. She was going to be baptized this coming Sunday but we found out that she is having tea problems so we are working with her on that. She also has been being taught the last 6 months or so, so her testimony is also pretty strong about the church. A lot of new investigators here have problems once they go outside the church in life because there are so many bad rumors about the church. It really scares people away. Her name is Gizayworq and she really stands up for the church which I think is really awesome. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

January 2014

The living arrangements:

 the house is really big! It is really hard to keep it clean. Especially now because the other 2 missionaries that we are living with are leaving now to another area. so only me and my companion are going to be living in the house now. 

Yeah the work is really hard now but I know that it is just going to take persistence and faith. The other day I was having a really hard day and I was sitting outside the church trying to call some people. One of the little boys in the ward came up and kissed me on the cheek. It really helped to remind me that God loves me and he is aware of what I am going through and will help me. It was a really cool experience.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pictures!!!!! First Baptism!!!! October 15, 2013

 There are a lot of people that we are teaching but our teaching pool changes a lot. It is hard to decide who to keep teaching and who to stop teaching. The biggest thing here is finding the elect who will help the church grow. We need leaders really bad. The branch president is a 26 year old.  He is married with no kids. He is a returned missionary.  He is a really good guy and tries to help the branch a lot. He doesn't have any counselors. We only have a couple auxiliary leaders. That is something that we are working really hard on. We need a foundation of good leaders. Right now, many of the leaders aren't even that strong in the church. The branch president struggles with just getting people to speak on Sunday. We are trying to focus on the younger generation. Most of them know pretty good English and are educated. The leaders here need to know English. That is one of the things that the General Authority who spoke here said. He actually spoke in General Conference. Elder Hamilton is his name. He talked about how we need to teach the educated people, they are the ones that will help the church grow. There are a lot of people that come to church just because they want a job or money.  It is really humbling how a lot of the people live here though. An investigator who we baptized last week, which was my fist baptism, named Barrihun. He only gets paid the equivalent of 30 US dollars a month. He got kicked out of his house for joining the church and lives in a room about the size of a bed. It is amazing how humble a lot of people are here. They have really good hearts though. A lot of people that we meet are satisfied with what they have and they barely have anything. A lot of times I think it is easy to forget to be happy with what you have.  

 Since I have been here we have had 3 new people baptized in the Branch.  We with the branch president right now are just trying to focus on having the branch become closer together.  We are starting Family Home Evenings on Monday nights. So far it is going really good. I think it will really help people have better relationships with each other. We actually really want to do a service project here but it is really hard because of the government. To have a service project you have to go through the government and everything. So it is really hard to do. We try to always ask the members if there is anything we can do. Most of them don't ask for help though. 

This past week my companion and I have been tracting and exploring a lot. Our area is super big so a lot of times we can go see new places that we have never been before. The other day we were walking on this mountain and at the top there was this huge house. It literally looks like the white house in America. I wanted to take a picture but we were afraid we may get in trouble. If we get a chance again I will try to take a picture. The language is coming slowly but there are some things that I am starting to get a hold on. I can have a conversation with someone very briefly but that is about it. 

One thing that is really awesome is that we are starting to have branch council meetings with all the auxiliary leaders. I am really excited to see how these meetings will help the branch. We are starting more activities for the branch that will help people become better friends. It sounds like it is time to get another dog to stop the animals. haha. Yeah one thing that is nice about here is that they don't have the same holidays so it is not as easy to get home sick. It is definitely teaching me how to take care of myself though. You learn some pretty interesting things on your mission. Especially on weird things to eat.
One thing that really helps me to do my best is setting a good example for Brian.  I never realized how much a mission can change your perspective on things until I have been out here myself. Richie set a good example for me and I know that I have the opportunity to set a good example for Brian.  Hope everything is going well!
"The Kingdom of God or Nothing"
Elder Ferrara

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 23, 2013 Letter From Elder Ferrara

September 23 Letter to Home:

When Luke left on his mission, we all assumed he would be in Uganda, so it was a surprise to us that he was sent to Ethiopia, and in this letter he lets us know that he will probably spend most of his mission there, and learn the language, something else he did not expect!
"Our typical day would be to wake up at 6:30. Then we get ready and start personal study at 8. Then we have companionship study at 9. We go to the church at 10 and have Amharic class till noon. Then we eat lunch and start our appointments. Since we don't start till noon we usually don't eat dinner until we get home at about 9. We close our day by talking about how they day went and such, and then we go to sleep.  We don't really see the leadership of the branch that much. We have a meeting with the branch president every Sunday after church. We discuss about things that need to be done to improve the branch. There is a chance I will get transferred to another area in Ethiopia. It will probably be later though. There is only one branch in Addis so if I get transferred it will be to another city in Ethiopia. I found out that Addis is actually the highest city in the world for elevation. That is why a lot of runners come here to train. The weather is starting to become warm. The winter is the hot season here. Then the Summer is the rainy season. It is mid 70's most of the time and sometimes hotter. It rains a lot during the Summer. You can expect it to rain everyday for a couple hours. Sometimes we eat local dishes but not very much.  The food here gives you the runs. So when we have the choice we just eat what we have. We mostly eat bread, milk, peanut butter and jelly, eggs, and the Ethiopian version of top ramen noodles.  To get access to a computer we go to little internet cafes. Sometimes they will send Elders to Uganda but you can expect to stay here your whole mission. If you learn the language it is not likely they will send you to Uganda. We just had a General Authority here though so there might be some changes next transfer. My first companion was from Queen Creek, Arizona. The companion I have now is from Ashton, Idaho. He lived basically on the outskirts of Yellowstone. We talk a lot about the outdoors. He worked for Yellowstone. Mainly for maintenance and trail work. His job sounds like it was a lot of fun. He got to ride around snow machines all the time. We get along really well. One thing that my MTC teacher told me is that the Lord has already found the investigator. We are the ones that are lost. One thing that I think you really learn on your mission is that there is still so much to learn. You can read the Book of Mormon a million times but learn something new every time you read. It is hard but I love it.
Elder Ferrara"

 September 15, 2013 This week is Luke's Birthday!! HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY ELDER FERRARA!

Luke was responding to a question about their food and ethiopian flat bread that is fermented..."Yeah there is plenty to eat here. I think I am loosing a little weight but for the most part it is pretty easy to maintain weight here. There are supermarkets, but a supermarket here is more like a tiny grocery store in America. We get most of our food from the little family street stores. The food over here is nice though, everything is basically home-made because you buy the food from tiny street shops that are family owned. The bread is super good and especially the juice and jam. I think dad would love the jam they have over here. I tried one the other day that was orange marmalade. It was so strong, it surprised me! there is the pulp in the jam and it literally tastes like a orange on bread. My favorite is the plum jam though. It is super good! We mainly just eat toast, peanut butter, jelly, eggs, and milk. Sometimes for a treat we will go out to lunch or something. Here in Addis it is a little more "Americanized" so you can find some pretty nice food. It is really expensive though. I don't think peanut butter would taste very good at all with Injera. haha. It tastes like sour bread so I already have a hard time eating it."

In our letter we mentioned that Brian is playing football and he comes home with "battle scars" every game. I was asking him about his "battle scars": " I think the biggest battle scars I have are just mental. The water and appliances are so unreliable it gets frustrating sometimes, and it is hard to stay positive. Especially when you really want to take a warm nice shower.  I actually really enjoy the walking because it helps my mind to stay going. If you stop and sit you realize how tired you are and it is hard to stay motivated."

What he says about the people and his work: "Yeah when we tract you knock on gates. They live in little square hut things and usually there are 4-5 in one compound. Contacting on streets is not really effective here because there are a lot of crazy people. haha. It is really hard to find families here so that is our main focus. We try to really focus our efforts on the families. There are paved main streets, but people do not know how to drive at all. I guarantee if you drove over here you would have a heart attack. haha. People are crazy drivers over here. I think there is only one person out of our whole branch that has a car. If you have a car here you are rich. Tax is so bad here you basically pay double what you pay in America for a car. Most transportation is just by taxi, or walking.  But yeah almost everybody here lives very simple. You rarely ever see fancy things or anything extra in a persons home. We just had another conference with our mission president and he said something I really liked. He was talking about how when we have trails we need to step into the fire and let the Lord refine us. Our mission president is such a good guy and when he speaks it is so powerful. He is a great example to look up too. A general authority (Elder Hamilton) came to speak to us and it was really cool to be able to shake hands and speak with him. Our mission president told us that it will probably be the only time in our lives that we will be in a group that small listening to a general authority. There was about 25 of us. He gave us a lot of good advice and shared a lot of really great ways to become a better missionary. "
All together everything is going really well. Just like everyone says there are ups and downs but if we stay positive and be humble we realize that this is to shape us for our future. I think one of my biggest passions is to be able to have a family of my own. I think one of my greatest fears is not being a good father. So I think that is one of the things that really drives me forward is knowing that this will help me to become the best father I can be. 
Elder Ferrara"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 9, 2013: 2 months out and going strong!

Monday, September 9 Luke writes:
" I know that there are going to be hard times but I don't worry too much. I think back to the military training and realize that I have no reason to complain or whine. I also like to think back to the stories in the Book of Mormon. Especially when Nephi broke his bow and his family started murmuring. Nephi didn't complain or murmur. He got up, made a bow and inquired of the Lord where he should go to get food. I realize that the things that I have gone through have been to prepare me for my mission. I honestly know that if I had not gone through those experiences I wouldn't have the same drive I have now. Something that my MTC teacher shared with me is that "Heavenly Father works with who we can become and Satan works with who we were." Heavenly Father sees our potential but we do not. Through the stories in the Book of Mormon we learn that no matter what we need to put the Lord first. I have realized as we do that our whole outlook on life will change. We see the eternal picture and not the worldly picture. There are times that are hard on my mission but I know that there is nothing that I can not overcome. We have a choice to enjoy it or to not enjoy it. Just like we have a choice to be happy through hard times or not. I know as we stay positive and see the bright side. No trial is to hard to handle with the help of the Lord.  We had transfers last week and I have a new companion. Our personalities get along really well and we work together really well. I am excited for this transfer. We have 2 Less Actives coming back to church and are still working with some. I can see major improvements in the Branch. I can't wait to see it grow. I think the only thing that I struggle with is the people don't have a sense of humor. They don't know what sarcasm is.  My companion and I try to keep each other happy and laughing as much as we can though. It helps us have a good attitude about things. Before I left I didn't really understand how a Mission changes you. I realize how much it changes us now. If I have learned how much I did in 2 months, I can't imagine how much I will learn in 2 years!