Sunday, June 23, 2013

Where is Elder Riehle?

Frequently asked questions. Answered by his mother.

Where is Elder Riehle?
Elder Riehle arrived on his mission in Ghana on May 17. He spent 12 days in the Missionary Training Center in Accra and then was sent to the town of Agona-Nkwanta not far from Takoradi to serve. His mission covers the southwestern area of Ghana. Attached is a map showing where Takoradi is located. 

What language is he speaking?
He will be speaking English on his mission, but he was learning a few phrases in Twi before he left, and may pick up more during his two years in Ghana. He is also currently learning some words in Fante.

Is he alone?
He is assigned a companion (currently Elder Harris) who has been in the mission for a longer time and who will help him learn what to do and stay with him at all times. About every six weeks they will have transfers when he might change areas or companions. The mission is very organized and he will be reporting regularly to his mission president.

Will he be coming home to visit?
He will not come home during his two year mission. He will stay in Ghana and focus on serving and teaching about Christ. He will call home only on Christmas and Mother's Day, but writes letters and e-mails once a week.

Can we write him?
He loves to hear from family and friends. Please be aware that he has very little email time so he may not be able to email you back. We are posting all his letters and pictures here for everyone to read. He can receive email, or regular postage mail. 

Elder Harrison Riehle
Ghana Cape Coast Mission
PMB CC 1385
Cape Coast, Ghana

There is also an option to send him "pouch mail" and use a regular US stamp. This must be one sheet of paper, folded into three panels and taped at the top. There must be return address in the left hand corner.

Elder Harrison Riehle
Chana Cape Coast Mission
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Pictures

Some African children and me

A small girl in the hallway of our chapel.

 I had another baptism this week! My companion, Elder Harris and I with Baptism #2! Her name is Grace Diamewu (holding the baby, Abigail) She was baptized by her husband Henry. 

A picture from our second family home evening. We had about 15 people there, members and investigators. Our lesson comprised of Elder Harris reading the Story of Nephi out of the child story book and me making balloon props. Laban was killed by Nephi with the (Balloon) Sword of Laban. Then we played Rocks (a variation of the game Spoons, played with cards, but instead of spoons we use rocks) 

Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Prepare for a Mission

Dear Family,

Whereas this letter is addressed to Cole, it is not private and has stuff that could not fit in your letter.  Consider this as another set of plates that adds to the knowledge you have and is still the word of…me.  I still don’t have his address. but I will email him for it today.  Feel free to put any of this on the blog.  I lovest thou.  I hope all is going well.  It sure is over here. 


17 June

Dear Cole, [who is leaving shortly for a mission in Korea]

I am writing you a letter because I can take my time and tell you stuff instead of my spazzy hour of email.  You can email me back though.  And, yes, I will read it even if it is long.  I can suffer for the greater good.  I have actually been reading a lot lately.  I have read half of the Book of Mormon [again]!  Personal study time is legendary. 

So right now I am in a teeny town called Agona-Nkwanta.  But everybody just calls it Agona. 

No matter what people tell you about missions, I know you best.  If you are anything like me (which I think we have established you are) you are totally prepared.  Knowledge of scriptures; willing to be spiritual; confident in talking to people.  The whole package.  For those things, the mission has not been hard at all.  Keep preparing.  Oh, yes, but use your time wisely.  So far I have been very, very blessed with a receptive area and branch, a great trainer, super prepared people that are super to teach.  Super blessed.  The biggest thing I wish I had studied more about was culture.  Dude, talk to every Korean you see.  Don’t be scared.  Just do it.  Start talking about where they are from, what it’s like, differences to America.  I am a very adaptable guy, so it has not been a big challenge (yet…now that I say that, God will trial the crap out of me).  But it would have made me hit the ground running better. 

Basically, I learned really well how to “America” teach and how to talk to Americans about the gospel.  Ghana teaching is completely different.  A big piece of advice for you is to study the pamphlets: Restoration [The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ], POS [Plan of Salvation], GOC [The Gospel of Jesus Christ].  Those.  They break down all that you need to teach. 

In America, you teach the full restoration lesson all at once, and people can follow you.  Not in Ghana.  I am farrr out in the bush, which [is] basically Ghana hillbilly town.  People are not very well educated and mainly speak a language close to Twi called Fante.  Some of them never really learn English that well and don’t have a good attitude on life.  They think, “Oh, I am poor so I will never amount to anything, so I might as well not try…  But hey, at least I love Jesus.”  

There is a big misconception about the LDS church that is when you join, you get money and be rich!  And it is kind of true.  All the members in my 90-member branch work very hard and have come a long way, but are now quite successful and happy.  The church doesn’t make you rich, it teaches you that you have unlimited potential and [can] do anything you want with your life.  Kolob is the limit! 

When we start to teach someone, we don’t start teaching doctrine and restoration at all.  We start with CTP, or Covenant Training Program.  Every single person in Ghana loves Jesus.  As missionaries we could preach to every person in our town about Jesus and about restoration and make them all promise to come to church and they would definitely stand there and listen.  But they would never come to church or actually want to change.  We could baptize everybody!  But no one would be serious.  People just call us on the street “Obrunis, bra, (white guys, come) preach to me.”  CTP is a way we can see if they are actually serious.  We teach them about promises and how God is sad when they don’t keep promises, and then give them one topic to read in the Restoration pamphlet and a question in the back and send them off.  When we meet them gain, we check their promise and if they didn’t do it, we tell them to call us when they finish and be done with them.  They will always say, “I will call you, God willing.”  Apparently, their god doesn’t will them to learn of the true restored gospel because they never call back.  If they do finish the promise, we start teaching them one principle at a time:  God, prophets, Christ, apostasy, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  It can take a long time because there are 2 whole lessons, Plan of Salvation is split into 3, Gospel of Jesus Christ into 2 or more, then the commandments, which is usually 4 or more times, depending on their needs.  So before anyone can be baptized we have to teach them all those lessons one at a time.  So at [least] 15 lessons.   That’s how we separate the sheep and the goats. 

And it works.  All the new converts are spiritual studs.  Already this month we have 2 baptisms.  I got to baptize the first one, a boy named Valentine.  And I got to confirm the second one, a lady named Grace.  I have already had a lot of awesome experiences. 

Here is my month long wisdom advice:

--Study Preach My Gospel.  After the lessons, “Using Time Wisely” (chap 8) and “Teaching Skills” (chap 10), memorize pages 176-177 and “Your Purpose” (page 1).
--Study The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Find scriptures; find life examples.
--Study Alma 1-29: Alma, Ammon, and Sons of Mosiah.
--Culture and language!  Start with greetings.  Then learn easy words in the lessons: faith, repentance, God, Jesus.
--Bring pictures: family, friends, good times, me—mostly just me.  Not to be trunky or home sick but for motivation. 
--Find out what you can’t get there and treasure it.  For me, I can’t get sticky notes, quality scripture markers, or chocolate. 
--Mark and know a bunch of scriptures you can use in lessons.  I love stick notes for tads.  You can flip to them fast and be cool
--Mission supplies.  Stock up if you can on pass along cards, planners, and pamphlets.  You never know how much you’ll have. 

I pray for you, man.  Korean is not easy.  A lot of the vehicles here are Korean rejects so I see Korean all the time.   I am thinking about you and wishing the best.  I hope you love your time in the MTC.  It only gets better in the field.  Never lower your expectations.  Know you are better than sin and pride. 

Your brother in the Lord,

Elder Riehle


Sweet scriptures for Elder Rosenberg:

Alma 17:2 (classic)
Alma 18 (attributes of a good missionary)
Alma 8:10 (our goal to be said of us)
Alma 2:30 (what our attitude should be)
John 5:39 (notice the scriptures never say “read”)
John 10:16 à 3 Nephi 15:21 (just too cool)
John 15:16 (you have been chosen)
Acts 7:55 (Godhead are separate in the Bible)
3 Nephi 18:21 (pray in your families)
Moroni 10:23 (2 years isn’t that long)
D&C 4 + 13 (memorize if you haven’t already, in Korean)
D&C 43:15-17 (teach, don’t be taught)
D&C 50:13-15 (preach my gospel!)
D&C 84:85 (treasure up these scriptures)

These are just some I have.  Personal study is awesome.  Treasure it!  Stay strong.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Three Generations. 
Left to right. Elder Bush (Elder Harris' Trainer, my Grandpa) Me, Elder Harris (My dad)
In mission terms I am his son. So I am literally Harris'son. Irony? 
  My companion, Elder Harris- The Supermen and I

Valentine Astivor and I. The 16 year old boy I baptized. 
He is so excited about the gospel and is already bringing friends to church

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Life in Agona-Nkwanta

The MTC was kind of long. Not that I wasn’t learning, I just really wanted to be out in the field. My companion there was Elder Chimechefucam, a good guy from Nigeria. Nigeria is a rough place and the Nigerians in the MTC still behaved as they would in Nigeria, Survival. They would save food and assert dominance and just do silly basabasa things sometimes. There were two other Americans, Elder Judy and Moffit. They were nice to have around. But I still just really wanted to get out of there.

On May 29, 2013, I got on trotro (a 15 seater bus like vehicle that fits about 30 people or more…almost) and headed out to the Cape Coast Mission Home. Ghana is not that large a country and distances between things aren’t actually that big, but cars hear only go their top speed of 50-60 kph. I am not too sure but it is only about 35-40 mph so everywhere takes a looong time to get anywhere.

My biggest prayer coming out was having a trainer who would get me off to a good start. And I got Elder Harris, about 6’6’, started the mission 16 months ago weighing 270 lbs and now weighing 180 lbs. Lineman to basketball player in a little more than a year. I have already lost 10 kg whatever that is in lbs. Elder Harris is on a strict “Eat lots of food so you don’t die” diet so I am doing all right. His name is Jeff Harris from Nephi, Utah. If you want to look him up on Facebook to see before and after. He is a great guy. He loves fufu, cooking and wouldn’t you know it… Superman. He is a BIG Superman fan. On the mission he is eve called superman because he works hard and wears a superman shirt to activities. You probably got my picture of us wearing them. People thought it was super (pun) funny that I loved Superman as well. I was even called Superman once already. Cool I’ll take it.

So I am in the Takoradi Zone, West Tanokrom District and Agona-Nkwanta Area. Agona-Nkwanta is a small little town west of Cape Coast about 40 minutes north of the Coast. Every one here just calls it Agona but on a map it is Agona Nkwanta because there are multiple Agona’s in Ghana. It is a very third world town. They haven’t seen many white skinned people before. There is not running water, so no bathrooms. Boys and girls just pee in the gutter. There are about 3 foot gutters along the road, no sidewalks. And they are flowing with Black Death. Everything smells terrible, but I am slowly getting used to it. There are 2 main roads with a roundabout in the middle of town. It is the center of town where you can’t get anywhere without going thorough it unless we take the back road shortcuts which means random mess of houses and shops with no apparent organization. I decided that we should call them by Quadrants. Quadrent 1 is mostly the market and some houses. The market is open small everyday, but gets massive on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On those days “I had to go to market” is a legitimate excuse to miss a lesson because it is the only day they can buy essential things, like soap, big jugs of water and food in mass. During the week, you can buy small basically everything and anything that you never wanted. They find the weirdest stuff to sell.

Along the roads are also shops, basically everyone in the town sells from a tiny shop, usually made from storage containers or out of ghetto shacks. Most of them all sell the same junky snacks. There is not a set price for most things but there’s definitely an “Obruni Price” which is basically “Let’s see how much money we can rip out of these rich white Americans” price. Where as we are white we are not rich and my comp has been in Agona long enough to know the true prices of things. We do a lot of bartering if you don’t know them or get dashed (given something for free) if we do know them. There are a few members with shops and whenever they see us they send their naked children to us with free stuff. Most of the time it is water sachets, which are plastic pouches of pure water for 10 Peswes.

The money here is an interesting story. It is in transition from “old” currency to “new” currency. So little green colored orange (irony) is either 1 Cedi or 1000 Cedis. At first I was like woah! Expensive apple (orange?)! But they are equal. The government changed their decimal places and printed new money. Cedis now are what are used. They come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50. I was exaggerating about the orange, they are only 20 peswes or their version of cents. One Cedi is worth 50 cents so everything is dirt cheap here. Most things on the street cost less than 2 Cedi so a little money goes along way. I just wish we came here with Pounds! In the “Big City” on the map, which is Takoradi, you can buy anything for cheap. My companion bought $200 headphoes for 60 Cedi or 20 dollars. He made sure the ones he bought were valid but you can buy any name brand stuff here. . . kind of. Ghananians like stickers.

We have a bunch of investigators who are awesome people. We just baptized Valentine on Saturday. I got to do it, which was pretty cool. The service was at Takoradi Stake Center about an hour, 1.50 Cedi by trotro. When we got there the water was straight yellow. We are baptizing Grace on Tuesday and hopefully 3 or 4 more by the end of the month. I’ll let you know. We are teaching a lot of people. Members are so excited for us to be fulltime in their town. Elder Harris and I are the first companion to be in Agona full time meaning we live here. My first few days were moving in and getting ready to work out here. So it was a weird few days. We moved from Takoradi, were (my first first day) the key snapped in the lock and we had to wait outside for 3 hours with some bread and good conversation. 

I am lucky. Elder Harris can cook and is teaching me how. We are baking a cake for Grace and her baptism on Tuesday. A cake . . . on a stove?? Just plain Ghana magic. We have been given food a little bit but we usually cook or eat out. A giant bowl of fufu is only 2 cedi so it works well in a budget. It is actually way good. I haven’t had  much weird meat yet. But, dog, cat and snake are on the menu of the future. Chickens, goats, cows and dogs just roam free and go where they please. Which could mean the road in front of a car. Then it just becomes first come and first serve. 

It is the rainy season and it is the worst rain there has ever been. It rains pretty much every day and its hard. We were caught in a giant storm in Takoradi, for a meeting, on the way home there was about 2 feet of water which covered the road . . . and the black death gutters . . . we were crossing a street and toppled in. That was just gross. And saying gross is a big deal because I have gotten use to most gross things. Sorry it is so small. If you add another page it doubles the price. I love you guys. I hope this gets to you. I am doing well. And there is a great work happening. I love you and yabishya bo!

PS. I love the work here. It is making my testimony so strong. I am doing things and I know that I couldn’t be doing them without the Lord’s help. Like giving marriage advice. How do I know! I have never been married! But we are helping a lot with the knowledge we have and following the spirit. I know I am making a difference in these people’s lives as well as my own. When I was in the MTC I was discouraged by the diligence of the rest of the Elders and I felt like I was above them not in a pride way, but in a knowledge and love for the gospel and in obedience kind of way. My prayer was to have a humbling experience and boy did I. I taught a bunch of lessons with the missionaries at home so I felt super ready in the MTC. Basically, everything I learned in the MTC hasn’t helped me. America teaching is worlds different than Ghana small town teaching. Got here and I know nothing -- we teach one principle at a time and give them homework assignments to see if they are serious. I know that I am sent here for a purpose and I am being so blessed. I love this mission and the gospel and I know it is true.

Monday, June 3, 2013

First impressions of Ghana

• Lawn mowers are non-existent. just big knives they call cutlasses.
• Every person and their grandma sell random stuff on the side of the road and its called Hawking.
• Everywhere I go I am called "Obrunie" which means "white man" There is also a "obrunie cost" which is super high.
• There is tons of unfinished construction. Every other house is not done and never will be.
• Motorcycles do what ever they want. Stoplights are optional for all cars
• There are ghetto buses they call Tro-Tros. Any given 2-lane road can be made into a 4 lane if tro-tros want to go somewhere.
• Taxis are worse than they are in New York
• Clothing is optional, especially in the rain.
• Breastfeeding is not private. Whether you are on the side of the road, being taught a lesson by missionaries, or even in church, its all good

• There are giant billboards that say stuff like "Jesus is coming, Repent!" and every car is plastered with Jesus stickers.