Monday, July 29, 2013

Candy and a EMT in Ghana

Another great week. This one seemed to have just flown by in a flash. We spent most of the week getting ready our 4 investigators with a baptismal date and getting ready 2 more who are almost there. We started teaching a boy named Enoch who we met from our basketball activity. He is the first of many!! Maybe one of the most exciting events of the week was getting my first big package from home! Full of duct tape, candy and Superman. Some of the candy was Warheads and it is super funny to give them to the little Ghanaian kids. They say "Ah! It is spicy!!" Their faces contort as they try to act like they can handle it.

In the middle of a lesson (last week), a lady came in with bleeding abrasions on her legs and arms. She came just to get some alcohol to put on it but I lept into EMT mode and patched her up. I am carrying around a little first aid kit and I pray to help people as much as I can. This was an answer to my prayer! Half way through my second transfer and the work is going well!

2 Nephi 25:29
"And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Some Stories and thoughts

This week has been powerful. The Lord has definitely showed his hand (But not in a cool Brother of Jared kind of way but you know what I mean). Every Day is super busy and packed and not long enough for all the investigators Elder Harris and I have. Agona is so buzzed our branch now has exactly 90 members with 5-6 more coming in the next month. We will definitely hit a hundred soon. Recently we found out that we have been put on the list to get a building! For right now we are meeting in a an old school house. The deal for a building is to have over 80 members present each Sunday and 40% tithing for 2 years. So I will never see it is a missionary but it will come! The members are super excited about the work.

Our Mission President really stressing the importance of teaching lessons with a member present. This past weeks we had 26! In one day we had 11 lessons out of 9 hours of proselyting! I am very blessed with success. To put the name of the The Church out and bring people we thought about what we did to bring people at home: Basketball! We found an old tennis court with a stick and found a ring that could be a basketball hoop. So we asked around and prayed for someone who could weld a basketball hoop. Basically, through a big effort with some branch young men we have a hoop, a backboard, a pool and paint for the court. We should be putting it up soon. It should bring a lot of youth in just teaching them how to play and then inviting them to church! But don't worry Dad, it won't be like the baseball baptisms in England. These will be solid.

The other day we had a district activity and we watched a movie about The Willie Handcart Company called "17 Miracles. Wow, powerful movie. It is even cooler that it is about our ancestors. I would definitely suggest watching it. I hope you are all doing well! Ghana is a great place to be right now. It looks like you guys are having a fun. Summer has come. Do you guys have any summer plans? Don't have too much fun without me :). I hope letter writing is ok. I just don't have enough time for email.


In Ghana on the sides of streets there are gutters about 3 feet deep. They are kind of the worst plan ever because they just fill up with trash and urine and . . . other bodily excretes. Every once in a while there is enough rain that the gutters overflow and flood the street. One particular day we were caught in a especially bad storm in a city called Takoradi after a District Meeting. The water in the street was about 1-2 feet deep and just smelled terrible. But I am used to bad smells. We were walking on the "sidewalk" (A narrow strip next to shops) and we wanted to cross to the other street. We turned and at the last second some people shouted to stop and they were just laughing. Next moment we were 3 feet down in the gutter the water was a foul smelling brown now black death flowed up to the surface around us. Boy did we get out of there quick! The funniest part about it was all the people on the whole street was it coming and died laughing. The whole way down the street people were just laughing and I just did a little queen wave. I looked like "oh yeah. I totally meant to fall in that gutter".

Over the past few weeks I have been able to give and witness many baptismal invitations. They are my favorite because the spirit is so strong there. We have been fortunate not to have a no yet. But I have noticed there are three ways to say yes. The first is kind of like a "uh, of course!" They already know they want to be baptized and is an easy answer. The second is a reluctant yes. They say yes, but they really don't know if they want to or if it is right. I have only gotten one of those and they are disappointing a little bit and it just means we need to work with them more. The third is the best. It is when they pause, think about it and whisper a solid yes. That is when the spirit is the strongest and it si hitting them what they are saying yes to. I love teaching and giving the gospel to people. I love the transformation people have when they find the truth. This work is so true and I am so glad to be a part of it Everyone needs to go on a mission.


Alma 7:23-25 "And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works. And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with aAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments bspotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.
Be humble, submissive, gentle, full of patience and long suffering, temperate, faithful, hopeful, always abounding in good works
Your garments will be made spotless
You can hang out with Isaac and abraham and Jacob and Gordon B. Hinkley and Joseph Smith and Ammon!

2 Nephi 31:10 (Shall we be willing to Keep The Commandments of the Father?)
"And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?"

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Poem

This was a great week. They keep passing by like seconds. This week I have been hearing a lot from people how they have been falling into temptation and having to repent. Because of all of that, I wrote this;

A bird was sitting overhead
and saw some juicy berries
He also saw a cunning fox
whose grin was wide and merry.

"Come down" schemed the fox
feeling mighty hungry,
But the bird thought hard and saw the jaws,
that really were quite deadly

"No no" chirpped the bird,
"for if I do, it definitly wont end good,
and everyone knows that a bird like I,
certainly makes good dog food.

"But oh, dear bird, it is not so, 
for I am quite the bird friend,
and just today I chose that I
wouldbe a vegetarian.

The bird thought once, 
the bird thought twice and saw the fruit so juicy
"I do not think I will come  down
till you are far more busy"

"Just try itonce, there is no harm
for all your friends have tried it,
and if you do , it will be like you
are on a no fruit diet"

The bird stopped to think a sec 
and took some time to ponder
"I think this fox can be a friend 
I'd say in him I have grown fonder

"I suppose that just for once I go
There is no harm in that"
And with a hop skip and a jump he flew,
his tiny wings did flap"

"Of course my friend,, Just come on down 
from you perch above,
and partake in you r hearts desire
the fruit I know youll love.

The ill-fated bird, the fruit he pecked
and ate the lot in bunches
while his friend the fox licked his lips
and thought of other lunches

The bird got snatched and in a flash 
our little tale has ended
the little bird greatly misjudged
the fox to be a good friend

And so to my friends, I say,
I urge you to be wary
for you should never once decend
and eat the tempters berries.

I have seen this in so many instances happen to great people who just get snatched in sin and are dragged down. The beautiful thing is that for us, God's children, we don't just have one chance. With repentance we can always be forgiven. One of the most amazing things I have seen here in Ghana is that God loves his children all over the world. The church is just as true 1000s of miles away. 

Alma 34:35 Don't procrastinate! 
"For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked."

I appreciate all the letters and the encouragement and support I am getting. Big Congrats to Jared Gillans and Kelsey... Gillans? for being able to get a wedding invitation all the way to Ghana! It made my 18 month companion who has someone writing him anxious. It was super funny. Thank you all!

Elder Riehle

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Baptism and First Basketball Practice

Yet again, another powerful week! Elder Harris and I had another baptism, a great man named Emmanuel Frimpong (which means Brave Man). He is a good friend of the first counselor of my branch and since the first lesson he has been telling us to hurry up and baptize him. Weeks ago he introduced himself as "Emmanuel- Church Member." It was great to have him finally baptized even though the water was only about 2 feet deep because of the power outages. Ghana is apparently the second best country for electrical power in Africa. I would hate to see other countries power... Agona lost power for about 2 days. At night, it gets very hot without a fan for ventilation. It made me appreciate electricity a bunch! 

In my last email, I mentioned that we met a man in a bar when we were checking on another investigator. The man we met was named Earnest and is probably the most intelligent Ghanaian I have met yet.  For everyone I have taught so far, we separate the Lessons into segments. So we teach them one principle at a time so that there is no confusion. This man however was just eager to learn the whole thing. We were with him for TWO whole hours because he kept asking and asking good questions and didn't want us to leave! He agreed to be baptized and he also wanted us to meet his whole family. Right time. Right place. It was amazing. 

On the way home from him (he lives about 45 minutes away) "Call Me Maybe" came on the radio in the taxi!! The funniest thing is that Elder Harris had never even heard of it because he has been out so long. While the taxi driver and I were rocking out, Elder Harris was pouting in the back. Its funny to me now, but I am sure all you guys will be rocking out to something over there and I will never know. Ignorance is Bliss. 

Early this week I finished the Book of Mormon. Every time I read it, it seriously gets better and better. Something you may or may not know about me is that... I talk in my sleep. Apparently the night I finished, I woke up my companion because he heard me saying "I know the Book of Mormon is true" and keep going. He said it was a really powerful testimony. I told him that I wish I had been there, I didn't remember anything about it at all! But sleeping Elder Riehle is right, I do know its true. 

This week was the first Agona-Nkwanta Basketball League practice! I have never been a basketball coach before and the only time I was taught to play was when I was 10. So my decision was I either teach these grown youth like 10 year olds or wing it. I winged it. I tried thinking of all the inspirational basketball movies like... Space Jam and think what cool things Michael Jordan said... Like  I said, I winged it. The guys had fun even though there were a lot of double dribbling and flying elbows. Good thing I am an EMT and I know how to patch up bloody noses, these guys aren't pros... yet! watch out NBA! The Agona Basketball League will be a big competitor! Its all fun. I love the work!

3 Nephi 27: 8- the church belongs to Christ so it is named for him too!
"And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Right Time, Right Place

This past week has been a week of miracles. I want to testify to the statement of being in the "Right place. Right time." But before I talk about that, I want to talk about Basketball! In my farewell talk I said that Basketball can be a missionary tool. I took that thought and Ghana-ized it! Where an old run down tennis court stood we replaced it with a brand new (hand made) basketball court. Elder Harris and I had the idea a while ago, but it has taken time to finalized the details. We had to get measurements of what size everything had to be. We found that we had to get a rim, back board, pole, paint, cement and the strength of youth (not the pamphlet) to do it. We got a welder in Takoradi to weld an 18 inch rim, and a back board and a pole here in Agona. 

We told our young men about it a few weeks ago and they were just ecstatic. They said they are going to invite all their friends. This Wednesday we all got together and served by weeding and cleaning up the land surrounding the court. Weed wackers and lawn mowers are just a dream in Ghana, it is all about giant 3 foot knives they call cutlass. They said, "In America, man use machine. In Ghana, man use strength." Trying to do manual labor next to these people is tough, mostly because they think Americans don't know how to work. But when they saw me chopping grass and digging a giant hole with my hands some of them stopped and said, "I have never seen an Obruni work so hard before." That's right. Redefining racial stereotypes, one chop at a time. 

After about 3 hours we transformed rundown tennis court to a clean, NCAA guideline approved Basketball court.  We will start on this coming Wednesday for the first Agona-Nkwanta Basketball League. The reaction when we tell people is usually super excited like "Basketball! Yes! I love playing Basketball!" but then they get more serious like "Wait. Basketball... I have never actually PLAYED basketball" So these first few times will be teaching. I am very excited to truly mesh Basketball and Missionary work. We are trying to think of a good name for the court. Kimbell Court, Utah Court or Riehle Court.... Its a work in progress.... The job of putting up a basketball hoop in the bush of Africa was surprisingly much easier than I thought it would be. Must be the will of the Lord. "Right time. Right Place." 

This week has been full of spiritually edifying experiences. On Friday, it was just one after the other. In the morning, Elder Harris was calling people in the morning setting up appointments. Accidentally he called a past investigator who wasn't very serious. It wasn't until after the call that he actually realized who he was talking to. So that day, we went to go talk to this already proven not serious person. He didn't remember anything we had taught him last time. We felt it right to teach the first lesson to him again. One of his colleagues was in the back of the shack watching tv. As the discussion went on and on, became more and more involved in the lesson. He started asking golden questions and became really interested. We collected his name and number and will be seeing him soon. Right place. Right time. 

A few days ago one of the couples missionaries was buying something and man came up to them and asked to be a part of their church. When we got the chance to talk to him he said "When I saw them and the name of the church on their nametag it was like God was shouting at him to talk to him. Right time. Right place. 

I remembered that one of our investigators was feeling sick, so I asked if we could stop by to see her. She wasn't there, but we talked to a man there. He said he had been taught by guys like us before and he had been looking for us since. Right time. Right place. 

We stopped to talk to a member at his shop. The same time we came, another member of the branch who hadn't come to church for a month was there and was desperately looking for the Branch President but had no idea where he lived. We were there at the Right time. Right place. We were able to help her with a big problem that she was facing and needed help immediately. If we hadn't of been there at that time. That place. She could be in danger of her life. I testify as a servant of the Lord that you don't always know the impact you have on other people's life. If you follow the promptings of the spirit he will guide you to be in that Right time Right place to be there when someone needs you most. If nothing else, I have learned the importance of being worthy of Spirit. Live in Faith. All will be worth it.

Ether 4:11. Belief-> Spirit-> Knowledge 
"But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mission Life

The work is going so well here in Agona. We had yet another baptism this week. His name is Benjamin and he is a miner. His job is he runs down a really deep hole, lights a piece of dynamite and gets out as fast as he can before it goes off. I just hope he has a chance to be a new convert without being blown to pieces. We can pray. He also can rap… in Fante. So you may or may not be hearing about the Ghanaian and LDS Missionary rapping and beatboxing about the gospel. It happened. 

Elder Harris and I are going strong. Wake up, get to work, eat fufu, keep working, go to bed and repeat. It’s the good life though. There is nothing else I would want to do. For the month of July, we should be having 4 more baptisms and 4 or 5 more in the works. I am so blessed to be in a place where the people have been prepared for me to come. So Blessed. 

I have had some interesting food experiences here in Ghana. Shark, snails, alligator and fish head to name a few. All of those have a very good reason why they are uncommon. They are truly weird. 

One of the best parts about the missionary life is the time to study! The scriptures have never been so clear to me in my life and I read almost 10 chapters in the Book of Mormon a day. I started in the MTC and I got to 3 Nephi 11 today. This go around I have been tracking the pride cycle and how many times it loops. It is very interesting to see. I am glad that I am a part of the work and that I am not getting stoned and beaten when I go to the Lamanites… Once again. Blessed! 

The teaching is going so well, sometimes up to 10 lessons a day. The highest I have had has been 12 in one day. It was so worth it. This past week I got to go to the beach and witnessed God heal a man (Helaman?) All and All it has been a good week.

Well I thank all those who have been reading my blog and I definitely feel the love. But I realized that I have not yet bared my testimony. I just want you to know that I have one. A wise man in the Book of Mormon once said some profound words, “Oh be wise, what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:12) Short. Sweet.  And perhaps foundation to my testimony. It all rests on the word Wise. It doesn’t say “Smart” or “Knowledgeable,” it stresses Wisdom. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a wise way to live your life. “Don’t Kill.” Cool. “Have Faith.” Sweet. It just makes sense. The Almighty Creator, omnipotent father of the world who knows every person on this Earth loves me specifically. He has given me an opportunity to live with my family forever. He sent his only Begotten Son to die for me and a Comforter that can tell me the truth of all things. With a possibility of that being true, why wouldn’t you believe. For me, Elder Harrison Riehle, believe is not an adequate term. Know. I Know that I have left the comfort of my home and family to come to a foreign land where they don’t even usually speak the same language as me, for the Lord. He has a plan for me and who am I not to follow it? He wants me to be here where I can tell everyone the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and that the truth has been restored again to the Earth. The invitation is there for everyone. I love Ghana. I love the Church.

Scripture of the Week
1 Peter 2:17 "Honour all men. Love the Brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King."

Baptism #3 
I am helping our new convert Grace pound fufu. 
The picture was taken while I didn't have the pestle, but you can see how it works. It is really tiring.
Benjamin has the tie in the middle. Benjamin has the tie in the middle. Everyone is either members or will be soon. Left to right Elder Harris, Harriet Mensah (Branch President's Daughter), Robert (owner of a bar... Working on teaching Word of Wisdom. Will be baptized next month), Benjamin, Brother Mensah (Branch 2nd Counselor), Joseph (Fixes tvs, will be baptized next month), Koby (Benjamin's senior brother, will be baptized soon), Daniel (Benjamin's apprentice, will be baptized next month), Delois (wife of man below her, Daniel, Will be baptized in August), Bottom. Felix (Branch Mission leader, working on his mission papers) and Daniel (husband of Delois) It's a sweet little ward, but they have to pay 3 Cedis to come to baptisms in Takoradi which is a big sacrifice. We are looking at a small river in Agona to baptize in and it just needs to be approved by the mission.

Opening a coconut with a 2 foot machete! 
Don't worry. All my fingers are still intact
My lunch one day! A coconut I opened by myself! 
Coconuts are so much better fresh that dry. 
The water is almost carbonated like a soda and the meat is super soft and delicious.

Elder Harris and I on the Beach in Dixcove.

Me, Elder Harris, Investigator Danny and I. I just thought this was a hilarious picture.

Ghanian Phrases

It's great to hear that life is still happening! CTP is definitely a way the Lord has used to humble me and to tell me "No silly. You don't know everything" haha It has been nice. That is great you are going out with the Elders at home. To sound really cool to the Ghanaian guy here are things to say

Eta Sen? --Eye
how are you -- Fine
Apome --Nymadim
How are you-- By Gods Grace
Beboni kyewing gum fam wo nim
(Black person) There is chewing gum on your face

There is an explanation. I swear. hahaha Out here there are nooot many Obrunies (white people) around. Apparently at some point in Ghana history there was a white man who sat down on a chair with gum on it and he cursed white people for time and all eternity. Everywhere we go, every kid, seriously every single kid in Ghana, knows the saying, Obruni Kyewing gum fam wo to (White man there is gum on your butt) We get it everywhere we go!! Chanted over and over and over! And I have checked! There is no gum on my butt! Not once! So we always reply that they have gum on their face and they die laughing and can't even handle themselves. It is pretty funny. 

I wish we could give out more Book of Mormons, but it would be a waste. If we went on a street corner and tried to give them out it would be like saying "Hey! Everybody! Free book you can use as toilet paper!" And that is what it would be used as. It might work 1 out of 10, but right now we only have 10 Book of Mormons so it isn't worth the risk. Cape Coast Mission is an interesting story. It is on the rebound of being a very disobedient mission. I don't know if there is a cause and effect, but this mission is very short in supplies. Next transfer, we only have one planner to share as a companionship and we are running low on lots of the pamphlets and baptismal records. I hope the day doesn't come where we run out. (So if you want to "borrow" some from the Franconia Elders, it would be for a good cause hahaha.

One day Agona will be on the map. I have been drawing out a map on paper and its working. I just wondered what it looked like from the air.