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Monday, August 25, 2014

Palmdale California

I got transferred and I am now in Palmdale.  I still don't even know what my mission looks like or what is what... but I'll just keep doing whatever the Lord tells me! haha

I was bummed to leave Elder M*** and Elder B***... we were having some good times together... but to be honest... we didn't get a lot of work done.

I am with Elder B*** from Springville Utah!  He is super sweet and is very dedicated.  He has a lot of energy and so one of the most genuine Elders I have met!  He loves tractors more than I love corndogs... so we've enjoyed the last week together and we have worked HARD!  (He absolutely loves corndogs.  We made homemade corndogs for all of his buddies the night before he left on his mission.)

I always saw the part in PMG (Preach my Gospel) that explains how success of a missionary is really measured... but because we were baptizing so much in Sierra Leone I never really studied it or thought too much about it.  Success of a missionary is measured by their diligence, effective time use, and their true desire.  We may not have had fantastic looking numbers but we really worked from sun up till sundown.  I am learning to talk to literally everyone I see and it is so awesome!!  We wouldn't talk to everyone we would meet in the street in Sierra Leone or we wouldn't be able to make it to any of our lessons! haha  So many times I think to myself... holy cow that guy looks super scary and like he wants to kill me.... then I talk to him... and realize he is a teddy bear inside and he needs the gospel just as much as anyone!  We found so many potentials this week it was crazy... I can't wait to follow up and make them ALL investigators!

One thing I love about this mission is the dinners we get to have with memebers!  All the food I was fed in Africa was from people we would just meet or from investigators.  However, here we have dinners scheduled for almost every night of the week!  It is amazing to go into a members house after being in someone's sketchy beat up apartment because you can just feel the presence of the spirit in a members home.  It reminds me of the feeling I would get when I was in my own home!

We are teaching the G**** Family.  They have a crazy background and things are continually hectic at their house.  One son named J*** just got out of Juve and the Other daughter named H**** just went in.... so when I first met them I was just blown back by all the craziness that they have been dealing with.  I made it my goal this week to help them to feel the spirit strongly.  Well... we taught 2 of the most powerful lessons I have taught while out on a mission and J*** and the youngest brother M*** both came to church!  I can't believe how amazing the gospel is at bringing peace into a mix of chaos!  We see them almost every night.  We come in we invite the spirit with a prayer.... fill them with good feelings (teach a short lesson)... and get out of there quick to help them realize that those good feeling they feel come from the Holy Ghost.  I can't wait see them again this week:)

I did my first ever District meeting.  I didn't plan very well so it was a little too late to give assignments to other people in the district so I ended up giving a talk about faith.  I shared the experience I had with my brother when I relied on his faith to receive an answer from Heavenly Father.  I explained how that experience has helped me to develop my own faith. I don't think I have ever shared that experience without shedding tears... so hooray... more tears haha!  We can only rely on others for so long.... but after time we must gain our own testimony and learn for ourselves.  I think the meeting went pretty well... I felt the Spirit so I hope they did too! Oh and lucky me.. the Assistants joined us last minute so that added some pressure ha!

We had a sweet lesson in Elders quorum about how as the world grows darker and darker... the Church of Jesus Christ becomes brighter and brighter.  Which reminds me of an awesome quote that I got from Lindsey Parrish in a letter.  "It takes a certain darkness to be able to see the stars" -can't remember who (don't get me for plagiarism)  This world has grown dark... whether is be ebola... war... drugs... or immorality... It is definitely the last days. There is a definite peace that comes to your heart when you know you are doing what you are suppose to. Prepare, for the Lord will come quick! 

California is cool in its own way... I am learning to adapt.  Thank you for all the prayers!  Peace and Blessings!

Shout out to Wamps!  Happy Birthday this week!  I love you tons and i'm sure you could beat me at tennis even though your are turning 86! keep aceing them old ladies!  (in tennis) haha

p.s. sorry no pics...

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's hotter than Africa here!! haha

Ow di Bodi!

I had a pretty great week but things are still weird that's for sure.  Missionary work is so much different here and I still have a lot of adjusting to do.  I don't know how to do a door contact to save my life but thankfully my companions are both super cool so we just laugh it off.  To put it into perspective.  In Sierra Leone my last transfer we were averaging around 30 lessons a week.  This last week was normal... and I think we taught a total of 3 lessons. haha! 
Another thing I noticed is how different it is to be bold and teach the gospel to someone who is the same race as you!  I am so use to teaching and talking to Africans that I am still a little scared of white people!  I have the urge to yell pumwee when we haven't been around to many people and I see a white person.  It was RARE to see white people in Sierra Leone.  However, there are plenty of hispanics so I enjoy talking to them haha!
Transfers are tomorrow.  I still don't know where I am going or who my companion will be.  However, I do know that I will be a district leader and that I will have a car! haha wooo!  I am gonna miss Elder Mcknight and Elder Bean for sure.  We have had a blast the past week and a half!  I don't think I have laughed this hard in awhile!  I am pretty surprised that I am being called to be a district leader... I've never been one before and I am still a noob to this mission.  Thankfully Heavenly Father has got my back:) whew! haha
Since Missionaries who go to Sierra Leone don't take a suit with them.. I have been the only missionary at meetings without a suit for the past week! haha I tried wearing my companions huge blue suit jacket but it just wasn't matching my beat up gray pants... so I only wore it to a couple meetings haha! 
My mission President is super nice and took Elder Barrick (the other Sierra Leone Missionary) and me to go SHOPPING for things we needed!  We got to spend half the day with him and his wife!  I got a couple of suits and some P- day clothes!  I really wanted to get a silver suit... but the first thing he said when we got to men's warehouse was.... Dark colors only Elders haha but I have no place complaining!  It was so awesome getting to know him and his wife better and just being able to ask him any questions we wanted about the mission and how things work.  I bet I am one of the very few who get to spend that much personal time with President Wilson. Oh they took us out to lunch too... I'm pretty sure Red Robins wanted to stop their bottomless fries deal after I came in! haha
We were able to go to a baptism that was in our ward but it was the sisters candidate.  The baptism was awesome and the spirit was so strong.  I couldn't believe how many people came for support.  Member support in Sierra Leone was absolutely horrible.  I wish I could just write a list of all the things that are completely opposite but it would fill up like 5 pages.  I am learning to just love the differences and laugh off the things that are foreign or still awkward for me to do... like contact someone in english! haha  

We contacted this crazy guy named Kayowe (K.O.).  I went to get a haircut from a member but they ended up not being home but when I got out of the car to go to the house I grabbed a book of mormon for some reason.  I remember thinking...why in the world are you grabbing this .  we were walking away from the door when this gangster looking guy started yelling to us from across the street.  I thought he was gonna yell at us for knocking on peoples doors or something... but turns out he wanted to give us "mad props" for doing what we do.  We talked to him for about a half hour.  I was trying really hard not to laugh cause he would just try and use massive words that he had no clue what they meant or when they should be used.  for example "I bet if I use these academically inclined futuristical words you fine young gentle man wouldn't have the millisecondest ideal of what enlightenment I am bringing you"  hahaha I was dying inside!!!  He was really nice though. He also didn't understand my accidental Krio that kept slipping out! haha! I shared a scripture with him and gave him the book of mormon I grabbed "for no reason." I know we made his day... and he definitely made mine!
I will only have an hour to email in the future so my emails will probably be much shorter from now on... just another change to get use to I guess! :)
Shout out to Blaize Pryor!  I miss you tons man! Enjoy yourself while you are at the MTC and do your best to keep the spirit with you at all times!  I look up to you Elder!!!!
P.s. sorry this email is lame... I had to write it really quick!

Monday, August 11, 2014

What is going on.... Happy 6 months right??

Well, I am really not in the mood to email.  I'll try and write as much as I can though.  I have like over 50 emails so I probably won't be able to catch up on those for the rest of my mission haha.

I tried writing a lot of what has been going on in my journal... but I think my mind and body are working as hard as possible to not feel or think.  I am almost positive I went into some type of shock because I have felt weirder this past week than I ever have in my life.  I definitely have emotions that are bottled up but there is no telling when those are gonna explode out of me ha.
So basically on Thursday about 1 1/2 weeks ago we had just finished weekly planning and were getting ready to go out for the day.  We were all laughing and joking in the apartment and everything was good.  Then our district leader came in the room with a pretty sickly look on his face and told us to pack everything and be ready to go in an hour.  I can honestly say my heart dropped straight to the floor.  We basically started throwing everything we have into our suitcases as quickly as possible.  I had 3 suitcases.. a big bag with all my shoes in it... and my back pack that were just loaded with jumbled stuff.  We went and got a taxi and had it take us over to the couples apartment on the other side of town.  We unloaded our stuff and were told we were going to wait for a bus that was coming from Freetown to pick us up.  All of the Elders in Bo were there and we just kinda hung around waiting and wondering.  Actually we sang hymns nonstop for like 6 hours haha.  The bus came and we crammed all of us inside and traveled 4 hours to Freetown. 
The next morning all of the Bo elders were just hanging out at the mission home.  We still didn't really know what was going on but we tried our best to keep our missionary schedules.  I think that was the first day I have taken a real nap on my mission haha! 
The next day was Saturday I believe.  We were told we had a devotional in the mission home.  I could see one of my favorite people I've met on mission Sister Kanzler.. a senior missionary.. just crying and crying so I figured what we were about to hear wouldn't be very good.  President Ostler talked about how everything is done in the Lord's way and that all of the instructions he was receiving were directly from the twelve.  He then told us that we had all been reassigned and that they would be taking all of the Elders out of Sierra Leone... This time My heart dropped through the floor.  He had us stand when he called our names and then gave us our new mission.  My heart was beating like crazy and the only think I was thinking about was PLEASE let me stay in Africa.  "Elder Crandall, Ghana Accra West Mission" I was still pretty devastated to be leaving Sierra Leone but one of the things comforting me was that I would be staying in Africa.  After he called all of our missions we sang "I'll go where you want me to go"  The spirit was more powerful and overwhelming than I think I have ever felt in my life.  I had my arm wrapped around Elder Mukwaira's (his current companion from Zimbabwe) shoulder and his around mine.  We were just crying and attempting to sing.  I don't think I have ever seen more 19 year olds cry in my life.  It was very spiritual but nothing I would ever want to experience again.  Immediately after that meeting I went and said one of the most powerful prayers I think I ever had.  I basically bawled for like 15 minutes to the Lord.  I finished and saw one of my best friends on mission Elder Gherkins.  We gave each other a hug for a very long time and just cried on each others shoulders.  I have NEVER cried so much in my life.
We were told that our bags had a weight limit.  We could have one 44 pound suitcase and one 22 pound carry on.  I probably had over 150 pounds worth of stuff so I spent the rest of the day throwing away all of the stuff I wouldn't be able to take.  I did this in the hot sun with dried tears on my face for at least 6 hours.  It was awful.
We were there for another night or 2 I'm not really sure.. everything has blended into 1 awful day in my mind.  Finally after still being in the dark about when we were leaving and all of the other details, All of the Elders with American Passports were rushed into Podas (last time I will ever ride in a Poda:(  )  We went to the boats that take you across the bay to Lungi where the Airport is.  We then stayed in a hotel in Lungi while we waited for a charter flight to land and be able to take us.  I think we were there for 2 nights and 3 days.  It was pretty fun hanging out with all of the Elders... but it got boring pretty quick because we are all very use to keeping busy.  All of the  African Elders were still at the mission home with NO plan yet to get out of the country.  I felt so bad, I honestly think I came to love the African Elders waaaayyyy more than the American Elders.  They are all so humble and have a strong desire to follow God.  Anyways, we finally left Sierra Leone on a charter flight to Portugal.  We had medical people on the plane checking our temperatures and asking us questions.  We landed and were taken to this conference room... I can even remember the seats.. they were lime green... the reason why is it was in this room that I got the news I had continually been praying I wouldn't get.  "Elder Crandall, California Bakersfield Mission"  My mind went 100% blank and seriously couldn't think for the rest of the night.  I spent the night in Portugal in one of the nicest buildings I had seen in 6 months.  I woke up at 4 in the morning and started my horrific travel day back to the States.  I flew from Portugal to Newark New Jersey with 3 other Elders... they were going to Louisiana though.  After we landed I was on my own for the rest of the Day. After being a missionary and being use to having someone with me all the time I seriously felt like a lost confused sinner haha.  I went from New Jersey to Denver Colorado... and then Colorado to Bakersfield California. (Note from Cody's mom, there was one other elder traveling to Cody's same mission, but he was on a flight the following day.  They spread the missionaries out as much as they could and had them take their name tags off so as to not draw attention to themselves.)
One of the worst things about this whole adventure is how I felt.  I felt homesick... but I'm sorry to say I didn't miss my family.  I missed my Sierra Leone family.  Because my schedule has been so whack I haven't been able to do the things that help me feel the spirit.  I didn't feel like a missionary for the past week and except for a few experiences. I didn't really have the spirit with me.  I have since gotten it back but I really felt what it feels like to not have the spirit.  As hard as I was trying to have a good attitude I just wanted to keep asking myself why?  I've had more time to think about it... I have repented for asking myself those questions.. and I think once I did that I immediately felt the spirit again.  I know I am in Bakersfield for a reason.  I don't know what it is yet... but I will find it.
I am still adjusting back to life in a 1st world country.  I have never been so disgusted at some of the things Americans think is normal.  I can't believe 10 year olds are running around with iphones! Also, the horrible media that is displayed everywhere is ridiculous.  Satan is real and he is also everywhere.  Thankfully God is too. 
Also, incase anyone is wondering... Bakersfieldians don't speak Krio... my list of things for next week is to try and speak English while attempting to contact haha!

I am so grateful for all the prayers that have been said in my behalf.  I don't know if I would have made it here without them.  I love you all.
Shout out to all my Fellow Sierra Leone missionaries.  I have shared some of my most sacred experiences with you.  I will never forget any of you.  I am praying with my whole heart for you guys.  This is not an easy thing but the Lord is on our side.  Kushe for the work.

Elda Crandall

Mailing Address for Elder Cody Crandall

Dear All;

I am anxiously waiting for Cody's first email from his new location this morning.  With him now being one time zone behind us, I will have to be more patient on Mondays while waiting to hear from him.  I have actually had enough practice in patience, but I guess we continue to learn the wonderful quality of patience throughout our lives.

Cody is serving in the California Bakersfield mission.  I don't know yet if we are going to be able to mail things directly to him now, but things can always be mailed to the mission office.  His permanent address will be:

Elder Cody Crandall
California Bakersfield Mission Office
3512 Coffee Rd Suite B
Bakersfield, CA  93308

We spoke with his mission president on Friday evening after he had an interview with Cody.  He was very reassuring and gave us comfort in knowing that he took time to get to know Cody and that they are taking care of their needs.  He said Cody was doing well and was a very fine young man.  Cody is in a 3 some with transfers next week.  I will be sending him a package (delivered via my sister who lives in California) so if anyone wants to send him a letter or anything to go in the package and not mailed directly to him, you can drop it by or send it to me and I can include it.  My sister is leaving Salt Lake on August 25thto return to California, so I would need anything to be included by Sunday, August 24th.

Thanks very much for your concern for Cody and all the people impacted by this crazy virus.  I look forward to hearing how Cody's week has been and more details of his evacuation.  I pray his adjustment is relatively smooth, but I anticipate it will be more difficult for him to adjust to coming back to the United States than it was for him to adjust to the culture in Sierra Leone.

Thanks much.

P.S.  I had not shared his location previously because we had been asked not to.  The details of getting them out of Sierra Leone and Liberia and into other countries was a very difficult and complicated process.  A few missionaries went to Ghana and the rest all went back to their home countries somewhere (this is an educated assumption on my part, but not confirmed).  With the Ebola scare, no countries wanted to receive people who had just come from West Africa, nor were there a lot of options due to Visa issues.  Their travels out of their missions are a whole story by itself that can be told at another time.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Settling In

We got a phone call from Cody late last night.  He was at the airport and waiting for 1 of his 3 bags of luggage (the other 2 were left behind).  I spoke with someone in his mission office today to see if he could help me find out what Cody had left behind and what he needed me to help him with.  He checked this out for me and called me back.  Cody was out with the District Leader and another missionary doing missionary work.  I assume he is tired, but probably very happy to be back to work doing what he left home to do.

I don't know when his P-days are so don't know when we will hear from him next.  He is safe and healthy.  He said it had been a wild week.

Thanks to all of you who care so much about him.  He is a great young man.  It was great to hear his voice and realize he is doing just fine.

Love you all

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

All is Well

Dear Family and Friends;

We have not yet heard from Cody but we know he is doing well.  All the missionaries are safe and are out of harm's way.  We do not know where Cody will be serving but realize that no matter where he is, he will be doing what he loves. 

I anticipate I will not be posting any additional information for a week or more.  I'm speculating at this point that I might not have additional information to share until he emails, which will likely be next Monday, but even then, there might not be information to share.  I apologize for not being able to give more details, but I don't have any to give.  We will all learn a great lesson in patience as we go through this experience.

The most important thing is that they are all safe and out of harm's way.  I know I am willing to wait for information as long as necessary, if that is what is best for Cody and the other missionaries.  Some day we will know more details.  For now, we will grow in patience and obedience.

Have a wonderful week.  Thank you all for your love, prayers and concern for Cody and all the missionaries in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  That is the greatest gift we can give all of them.  Also, don't forget to continue to pray for the people in these countries.  We need to pray that the leaders of these countries become very proactive and are able to get this Ebola Virus under control very quickly.  We also need to pray for the safety of those who are living there.

Thanks again for your love.  I know Cody appreciates it very much.
Cody's Mom

Monday, August 4, 2014

Traveling to the Airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Cody looks like his normal self.  A bit of a character under all circumstances. 
I'm glad he is handling things well.  This picture is priceless to see today.

I think this shows that the missionaries are in good spirits. 
It also appears as though they might each have an envelope with their travel documents.

Evacuation Efforts

Evacuation efforts continue to move forward.  I have received information that they are working to get the missionaries and the Mission President out of Sierra Leone via chartered airplanes and regularly scheduled flights.  However, the report is that most of the missionaries and the Mission President are still in Sierra Leone.  I believe Cody might be one of the first to leave because of a cute picture that one of the mom's was able to get today from her son's camera.  Her son has a camera with Wi-Fi on it which downloaded some pictures.  She shared 3 of them on Facebook with us, and Cody happens to be in one of the pictures.  The first one was of the two missionaries.  Several hours later, she posted the one with Cody in it.  Yea.  Made my day.  What are the odds that the 3 pictures she posted of her son and only 3 other missionaries are included, one of them would be Cody.  Perfect.

They cross the Sierra Leone River to get to the airport.  This means that Cody is obviously headed to the airport.  They couldn't take all the missionaries over at once, so they are probably taking the ones they think are leaving first.  Hopefully we will have some contact with him soon.

Here is a very funny story.  Jenessa, Cody’s sister, is in Tonga right now doing her student teaching.  Yesterday she saw a man she thought looked familiar but she couldn’t place him.  She spoke with him and they realized he was in the administration at Churchill Jr. when she was a student there. Her school burned down when she was at Wasatch Jr. so they combined both schools in the Churchill building for a couple of years while they rebuilt the Wasatch Jr building.  Anyway, he is a missionary in Tonga with his wife.  Out of the blue he mentioned to Jenessa that they would be receiving some additional missionaries from West Africa soon because they were being evacuated due to the Ebola Virus.  Jenessa told him that her brother was one of the missionaries getting evacuated.  She has her fingers crossed that Cody will be one of the missionaries transferred to Tonga.  We'll see how her luck holds out.  There is a 1 in 274 chance of that happening (or better depending on how many missionaries go to Tonga), but she isn’t holding her breath.  I'm sure she is crossing her fingers though. 

Hopefully the next update will include Cody's new mission location with some fascinating stories and pictures.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Being Reassigned to Another Mission

We received information today that all missionaries are safe, healthy and have limited interaction with other people. We will likely not receive an email from Cody this week because they will not be going to the internet cafĂ© to email.  Therefore, the first we will hear from him is when he arrives at his new mission.  I will definitely post his new mission as soon as I hear from him. 

Some interesting information is that there are 274 total missionaries in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  Of those, 157 are from other African Nations, and 117 are from outside Africa, mostly the United States and Canada.  There are 13,078 members of the church and 30 congregations in Sierra Leone with the first approved church meeting in 1988.  Liberia has 8,081 members and 22 congregations with the first formal branches starting in the early 1980's. 

The new mission assignments will be made by an Apostle.  I appreciate how complicated this situation is for all those who are involved in making these decisions, working through the logistics and taking care of that many missionaries in such a short time frame (3-7 days).  Tuesday will be 6 months since Cody left Salt Lake.  As you recall, his travel to Ghana was complicated, and it has been a crazy but wonderful experience every single day since he left.  I know that Cody is safe, healthy and being protected.  I pray for the people in Sierra Leone and Liberia that they may be protected and safe, and continue to grow and blossom as they have been these past few years.

Thanks again to all of you for your love.
Cody's Mom  :)
(Best job in the world)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Evacuation of Sierra Leone and Liberia

Dear Family and Friends;

Cody will be leaving Sierra Leone in the next few days (or possibly a little longer).  I have not heard from him, but received this information from a post by his Mission President, David Ostler.  All missionaries in these two countries will be evacuated as quickly as possible due to the Ebola Virus that is spreading quickly throughout the Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. 

My understanding is that we will not hear from Cody until he has arrived at his new mission assignment and he will be the one to let us know where he will be serving.  There are 274 missionaries to be reassigned, so those in charge will be busying making things happen and will not be the ones contacting the families, but will leave that to the missionaries when they arrive at their new destination. 

Please remember Cody in your prayers.  He was hoping to not be transferred this week because he loves the people he is currently working with and has 7 people lined up for baptism.  I'm sure he had no idea there was a possibility of him being evacuated.  Please also pray for his Mission President, David Ostler, and the Area Authority, Lee Curtis, as well as all of the people of Sierra Leone (and Liberia) who will be staying there and suffering another hardship on top of all that they have already suffered.  They lost so much during the civil war that ended 10 years ago.  They have not yet healed from that.  The Gospel was the light to help them move forward and it is now going to be harder for them to hear about the blessings that are available to them.  They love the Plan of Salvation.  It gives them the promises they need and they cling to it.

Thank you for your love and support you give Cody.  I will post as soon as I know anything new.