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!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Missions: Changing the Missionary and Those They Teach

We are teaching some very nice families. One of the families had 10 people we were teaching. It was a little intimidating but after the dad told me that he likes to hear my voice and what I have to say. He said his family wants us over again. He is reading the Book of Mormon and praying so I think his family has a good potential. 

 One of my favorite scriptures Ether 12:27 I try to read every day and it gives me strength. I also always think about Nephi and how hard it must have been to go back 3 times to get the plates from Laban. I was listening to a talk and it shared the 5 scriptures that will help us get through almost anything.
1. 1 Nephi 11:17
2. Moses 7:26-33
3. Alma 14: 9-13
4. Alma 7:11-12
5. D&C 101:32-36
He said pay attention to the last words of each prophet after what he went through. Especially Moroni who became a general at age 16 and had war his whole life. It is amazing what he says. It really helped open my eyes. I liked Nephi too how he says I will go and do the things the Lord has commanded for I know that he will prepare a way. Also in that 1st Nephi scripture it explains how we know not the reason of all things. So what we might be going through may be hard, but we always know that God loves us so everything he gives us is to help make us better.  Trials are only to make us stronger and better. We just need to have to faith to get through them. We need to open our eyes to the Eternal perspective and we see that this life is but a fraction compared to what is to come.

 I didn't really understand how a mission could change you that much, but now I understand.  Like Alma chapter 5 says, when we meet Heavenly Father, He will tell us "well done".

Ethiopian MangoesMango Avocado Shake

Friday, August 23, 2013

Be Not Afraid. Ethiopian Food - Injera

Elder Ferrara's report on August 19, 2013:
Everything is very good. We walk through mud everyday, it rains so much that it is a miracle if you don't cover you shoes in mud. My feet stay dry because the mud isn't deep enough to get your feet wet. It's just more messy. The electricity is so unreliable here that sometimes we do get hot water and sometimes we don't. We usually just boil water and take splash baths. I am starting to get used to it though so it doesn't bother me too much. My companion and I are doing great. He is a great guy and is teaching me well. I have been told that he is one of the best trainers. We get along super well and we work together good. Most of the Missionaries that get sent to Ethiopia are the more trusted missionaries because the mission isn't super well regulated over here. The mission president is too far and so they have to be able to trust us. I think there is only 26 Missionaries in Ethiopia and so most of them are pretty close. We all know each other.  I am learning the language but it is very difficult. The Alphabet has over 300 characters and is has really weird sounds.   We have a 2 hour Amharic class 4 times a week with a native to help us. Most things are not really translatable to english so you have to always think Amharic. I am learning slowly but I am learning. Missionaries that have been here for their whole mission leave not speaking fluent because it is so difficult. But it is possible if you put a lot of effort. The branch is small, we get about 60-90 people every Sunday. But half of them leave after sacrament meeting. Most of the people are nice and most speak little english so you can barely hold a conversation. We stay in a 2 story house with another companion. so 4 missionaries. It is pretty nice but the only down side is the electricity reliability. Other than that it is nice. We do have a washer but we have to hang dry. It gets dirty fast because of all the dirty enviornment but we try to keep it as clean as possible. 
There are massive spiders everywhere and creepy looking bugs.  They are impossible to get out of the house so you kind of just have to live with it.
 They have a culture food hear called injera and it's like sour sponge tortilla that you eat with meat or beans and you use your hands. Look it up on google and it will probably show you some pictures and things. It doesn't taste too bad, it just depends what you eat it with. By itself it is pretty nasty.The Other day I was reading over D&C 84:80-88. They are great missionary scriptures. Also in Mark 5:36  it says be not afraid only believe. Our mission president shared that one and a lot others that were really inspiring. He said a Mission is the "University of Life" and I really liked that. 

Here is some info on Injera:
Injera is not only a kind of bread—it’s also an eating utensil. 
In Ethiopia and Eritrea, this spongy, sour flatbread is used to scoop up meat and vegetable stews. Injera also lines the tray on which the stews are served, soaking up their juices as the meal progresses. When this edible tablecloth is eaten, the meal is officially over.

Injera is made with teff, a tiny, round grain that flourishes in the highlands of Ethiopia. While teff is very nutritious, it contains practically no gluten. This makes teff ill-suited for making raised bread, however injera still takes advantage of the special properties of yeast. A short period of fermentation gives it an airy, bubbly texture, and also a slightly sour taste.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 13, First Zone Conference

By Tuesday morning, August 13 we had not received our usual email from Elder Ferrara on Monday, his P-day.  With it only being his second week in Ethiopia, I was a little worried. But, there was a good explanation because they had zone conference on Monday!  Elder Ferrara writes about his experience at Zone Conference which is great for a mom to hear because I can see how he is growing spiritually and also in great hands in this mission!
"It is going very well. I am starting to get used to the culture. It is really hard getting used to walking on the streets and the transportation. It's like New York but way more crazy with construction going on everywhere and you're walking in mud rather than a nice street. It's almost impossible to keep our shoes clean. We just recently had a zone conference and our new mission president is amazing. He has a really strong country accent and is super humble. He and his wife are really amazing people. After our conference I think all of us missionaries were mind blown. He speaks with such humility and such power it's one of the most powerful meetings I have ever been in. He shared a scripture which is in my journal and  forget where it is but says Be not afraid, only believe. He shared so many things that just made you want to be like Ammon in the scriptures, and just give everything you have. He set a fire in my heart that I haven't felt before. I wish I brought my journal so I could share some things I wrote down but I will bring it next time. The mission here is very different, because we need to find people that will help the church grow so we are trying to find the "elect." All the missionaries here are under a year in their mission so no one can speak fluently. This language is not translatable in some instances to english because the structure is so different. I am still learning the alphabet but am learning slowly.  On Sundays we mainly just try to get to know the members. Our main goal right now is to create a foundation by making the members that we have right now strong. In our conference they were talking about how we had almost 1500 hundred members in Ethiopia and about 400 were coming to church. It's like throwing a pitch in baseball with no catcher, you throw the investigator in and they just fall and roll away with no catcher. The ward or branch is the catcher, without that foundation it is all a waste of time. There are so many people that are fake here so it's hard to find the educated ones with family that will make the church grow. They like to just disappear and with the terrible cell phone service and extremely hard navigation, it's almost impossible to find people. We're trying to find find out where the members live right now and as we become closer to them they will help bring investigators to us so we don't have to always search so hard to find them. Most of the families live in areas that are really hard to find them and Members have to bring them so we can meet them. My companion and I are working hard and are trying our best to help this branch become stronger. There is so much to do!
Elder Ferrara"
LDS Chapel in Addis Ababa

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Week in Ethiopia

August 5, 2013
"My companion is really great, we get along well and work together well. He is not from Ethiopia. We stay in a house with 4 elders and it is pretty nice. The power goes out a lot but we do have a microwave and basic necessities. We don't get hot showers but that's okay. We do have filtered water so no worries. There is not a malaria problem over here so we don't have to sleep with nets or anything. We don't have to take the pills either. We are in the city of Addis and we do do a lot of tracting and walking. The people speak some English if they are educated. Most people we teach know little English but not very much. My companion has been here 6 months and can speak a little, just enough to be able to get the point across. We still run into really stubborn people but for the most part people are fairly friendly. The food here isn't too bad. We eat a lot of bread and peanut butter. Most american food is too expensive to buy so we have to buy cheaper local things. They have some weird food but for the most part it isn't too bad. We have enough food to keep us from starving but I rarely get full unless on p-days where we have time to cook. "
Pictures of Elder Ferrara's arrival and short stay in Kampala.  Mission President and Sister Chatfield, and other missionaries arriving together.  Six of the ten missionaries went to Ethiopia.

Elder Ferrara Arrives in Africa

Elder Ferrara spent July 23-24 in route to Uganda, beginning from Salt Lake City, then Chicago, an 8 hour layover in London, then to Johannesburg, and then Kampala, Uganda.  Upon reaching the mission home in Kampala, 6 of the 10 missionaries then traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!  In his words:
 "On our travels to Uganda we met a lot of people at the airports. The people were awesome and made us laugh a lot. We handed out quite a few of Book of Mormon. One of them was actually a worker at a 
Ferrari store at the airport. When I arrived in Uganda they told me I was going to Ethiopia. So I am in Ethiopia right now in Addis the Capital. I am learning their language Aramic which is very difficult but I am learning. My companion is really nice and we get along well.  We are tracting a lot and walk a lot. Our sacrament is about 65, so pretty small. So far everything has gone really smooth and am still learning. The mission president is really nice and expects us to do well. He told us this is the most experienced group he has ever had. In all of Ethiopia I think he said there are only about 20 missionaries so very few. Our areas are ridiculously large. But everything is going good and I am safe. Still trying to adapt to the the culture because it is a lot different. "

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In the Beginning.....

Elder Luke Ferrara left for the missionary training center in Provo, Utah this morning. He begins his service here, and in a few weeks will be sent to Kampala, Uganda to serve for 2 years...the BEST two years! This blog will share his emails and experiences and photos with friends and family.