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