Friday, December 30, 2011

Interview in Bellair

A Sierra Leone Freetown Mission twist on an old early nineties favorite. Bellair is an area around Freetown in Sierra Leone. In Nov 2011 there was a new branch created and named the Bellair Park Branch.

African Football

Football is a mojor sport in Africa, even for the missionaries on preparation day. I don't think all the players are missionaries from Jarren's mission but I recognize several who are. When Jarren sends pictures there have been several from the football field.

Of course the game isn't complete without the post game interviews...

Elder Purcell says they are playing in the Wellington Community Center. Wellington is near Freetown. He also teases about the other missionary's age.. 26. Missionaries are typically much younger than that. Most missionaries are 19-21.

And there you have it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kenema Branch

The Rough Road to Liberia

Ode to the Rough road to Liberia


Jarren, Elder Percell, and Elder Jenkins /Companions in Kenema

Man on a Mission: Christmas

This past weekend was our Christmas Conference. We got to watch two
movies. A Christmas Carol and Megamind. A Christmas on Friday and
Megamind on Saturday. We came back that night. We left on Thursday
Oh I also forgot to tell you. Elder Moss was transfered to BO. Elder
Jenkins, Purcell, Okeke, and myself got to spend the two nights in his
apartment. He was also made District Leader after I left and is the
District Leader in that apartment. It was fun to see him again. We
both mised each other.
Christmas Conference was alright. We had to organize a Chior in the
three branches and have them sing at the Conference on Friday. We had
30 come. Ours was the biggest chior. We also had two investigators sow
up too. But it was a fight and a hassle from the begining. It always
is in Africa. The way Africans communicate is arguing about anything
and everything and over the smallest thing.
To top it off, nobody can carry a tune, they don't know how to read
music, they don't know the songs that we were supposed to sing and
they had no unison, or beat and they always want to sing the songs
about 50 beats slower than it should be. But somehow they managed to
pass themselves off as a chior. I don't know how I managed to do that.
I had to be the conductor. President Roggia thinks I pulled the skill
out of no where and at the end of the conference in his closing
remarks, asked me to conduct the whole place in Joy to the World. I
think hes going to have me conduct hymns at all the zone conferences
now. Crap.
I don't think we will get in much proscyliting time in this week. We
have this trap at our back door. Its a board of nails to catch
intruders who try to break in. I "tested" it last night. Guess what?
It works!
Yes I stepped on a nail last night and limped to the internet cafe.
Don't worry, I'm going to be alright. I'm up to date on all of my
shots. I'm taking an antibiotic that Dr. Ford sent me off with to
fight off infections before they start, and my foot is fine. It just
feels like I stepped on a nail, and it is very sore today.
How was your week?

- Show quoted text -

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quotes from Jarren

I have let too much time go by before updating Jarren's blog so this post will be a long one.  Jarren was moved from Kissy 2 at the end of October to Kenema, Bo district. Since his relocation Kenema has gone from one Branch to three; South Branch, Central Branch and North Branch.  Jarren serves in the North Branch at Kenema.
Recently I was asked to speak at Stake Conference so I asked Jarren to give me some good stories to tell about his mission.  He had this to say," Seriously I do not have any stories that should be told in Stake Conference.  This place I am in is riddled with secret combinations, oath bound societies, and a twisted perverted mentality of God's commandments, doctrine, and gospel that makes it very difficult to teach someone.  I have stories, just none that would go well to be told in Stake Conference unless you want a perfect example of how to lead your life down the crapper!"
There is an individual, which Jarren calls Korihor, that is very anti. Jarren had this to say about this poor fellow, " I saw him today.  The guy is insaine! I would rather jump in the lagoon at a dairy than be around him again!!"
They had several baptisms lined up.  The water comes on Tuesday and Thursday.  Someone didn't set the plug on the baptismal font so most of their water drained out.  All baptisms take place on Friday.  They reset the plug and squeezed enough water out of the tank to fill the font to just above their ankles.  The people getting baptized had to lie down in the font and turn their heads so their noses would be under water.  They made it work.
Jarren's companion, Elder Tade, was burning the trash.  They have a place in the corner of the yard to do this.  Jarren said that Elder Tade poured about a half gallon of gasoline on the trash and then lit a match.  The trash went KABOOM!!! Jarren said a wave of heat went over him.  He was standing about 5 feet away.  The blast broke one of the kitchen windows and knocked off the dishes that were on the counter.  He said people came running out of their homes thinking that the civil war had started back up.  On into the night their neighbors came by one by one to tell the Elders that they needed to be notified the next time they decided to blow something up!  Jarren said later in the week as they taught discussions the people would ask them if they heard about the big explosion?!  Boys will be boys.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News From Kenema

Jarren posted this email to me dated October 10, 2011 10:25 AM.  It was too good not to share with everyone.  Hope all enjoy. Knell:

Life is going good here in Africa. Today we went to Bo for interviews by president Roggia. And what was also waiting for me in Bo was two packages, Claudia's second package and Bill and Mary Kay's. Also letters. 5 from mom, 1 from breanne, and the one from the branch.
Mom's are dated: aug 24 - sept8 - sept 15 - sept 18 - sept 26
Breanne's is : sept 18
This one from the branch is awesome. It's really nice to see friendly faces. I'll write a letter back to the primary and to the branch soon. You should get it in a few weeks.
Haven't had a chance to open the boxes yet, but i'm sure they're good!!
Next transfer theres going to be two more missionaries added to Kenema so there will be 3 branches working here. By the end of this transfer theres going to be 126 missionaries working here in Sierra Leone Freetown Mission.
There have been some exciting developments in Kenema North. For one theres a fellow here from Liberia who has strong anti-Church feelings that he feels necesary to share them openly and with much colour. He lives somewhere in my area, Kenema North, and Elder Jenkins and Elder Obbina have seen him in there area in the town. Every time he sees us he expresses his absent love for us and the church with a cheerful "F" you and a jubliant finger. I remember seeing him somewhere the second week I got here, and i don't really see much of him.
The second time I saw him Elder Tade and I where headed home, we crossed an abandoned air field when we saw him fast asleep in the tall grass. Elder Tade believes that God caused a sleep to come over him so that we could pass by unhindered in our journey.
The next time I didn't see him but Elder Tade did. It was yesterday we where going to leave the apartment after church to prosylete when Elder Tade spots him. He says to go back and he comes out of the house with a shovel ready for war. When we don't see him Elder Tade trades the shovel for a machette. Now we go out. During the day he let me have the machette and I stuck it in my belt and continued to prosylete with a machette in my belt like a samuri.
From what I have seen, this individual has a sad pathetic life that will probably never amount to anything if he doesn't soften his heart. I don't know his name, so I call him Korihor.
Another development is my companion blew up out trash. We have a small burn pile in the corner of our compound. Elder Tade puts a little gasoline on it, lites a match...KABOOOM!!!! It gives off a concussion wave that blows out a window in the kitchen, everybody in the community is freaking out, thinking that the eleven year war has started again and life as we know it has come to an end. We have members call us asking if we are alright from no more than a half a mile away, because they felt the wave!
Elder Tade and I were standing about 5 feet away from this thing when it goes off. We're alright, nobody was hurt, and Elder Tade promises that it will never happen agian.
Interisting things have happened. Thats all for now.
-Elder Rochester.

Date: Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 10:25 AM
Subject: interesting developments
To: Mom - Kathy Rochester

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Shangrila Of Sierra Leone Mission

I got an email from Kevin Moss's mom, Julie.  She said that the Bo district is the best area of the whole mission.  Jarren transfered to Kenema the second week of September.  He said that it is just outside of Bo and part of Bo district.  Jarren described it as flat bush country.  He said that the living accomadations are 10 times better than what he had at Kissy 2.  I am so grateful that he likes his new area and that things are so much better for him.  Kevin M told his mom that Kissy 2 was grueling because of the mountain that they have to climb everyday.  Jarren was there for 5 months and the last letter we got from him he stated that he was almost at the end of his rope with having to climb this huge mountain every day.  I know Kenema was an answer to his prayers. Kevin Moss is such a postive young man.  He told his mom that he would be in great shape when he leaves his mission in June.  He will pick up his football scholorship and play for one of the universities in Utah.  I am not sure which one. I think his goal is to play professionally when he leaves school.  Jarren's new companion is Elder Tade from Nigeria.  He also shares the apartment with another American, Elder Jenkins from Wyoming.  He and Elder Jenkins have really hit it off.  They definately plan on meeting up after the mission.  Jarren's future plans still include getting his sound engineering degree.  I hope Jarren can stay a good while in Kenema. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Man Remade

I can't believe I have let so much time go by without a post.  We have received a few letters since my last post.  Jarren remarked in one of them that he cannot get over how overweight he was when he came on his mission.  He weighed 238 when he left home.  He hasn't been able to weigh himself but he is considerably smaller.  He and Elder Moss are having quite a bit of success sharing the gospel.  Jarren mentioned 22 baptisms which is good news.  The work is going forth. Daily life is a challenge sometimes with all the hiking he and Elder Moss do up the mountain.  Jarren mentioned that all of their contacts are at the top of the mountain behind Freetown.  He also washes his clothes by hand using bottled water.  Missionaries have to be very careful since the water carries typhoid.  Certain foods have been forbidden to the Americans to eat.  I know strawberries is one of them.  He so looks forward to the goodie boxes that the family sends.  I know it brightens his whole week.  Thank you one and all for all of the support you are giving Jarren.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ghana Accra Temple

The following are some pictures that Jarren emailed of the temple in Accra, Ghana. The Accra, Ghana temple was dedicated in 2004 and was the first in West Africa, and the second on the continent (the first was Johannesburg, South Africa in 1985).

The following is an exerpt from the dedicatory prayer:
"We dedicate the ground on which it stands with its beautiful vegetation. We dedicate the walls and the windows, the roof and the steeple with the crowning figure of Moroni. We dedicate the baptistry, the various ordinance rooms including the beautiful celestial room, the sacred altars, and all of the other rooms and facilities. We pray, dear Father, that Thou wilt accept this Thy holy house as the gift of Thy thankful people. By the strength of Thy mighty hand save it from the storms of nature and any desecrating act of man. May all who look upon it regard it as the house of the Lord with holiness unto the Lord. May all who enter its portals do so with meekness of spirit and gratitude of heart, and with cleanliness before Thee whose house this is. Please cause that Thy Holy Spirit shall dwell within these walls at all times. This is the temple of our God, hallowed unto us, Thy children. May it ever be a place of refuge from the noise and cares of the world."

for more information (and pictures) of the temple in Ghana you can visit

Temples are sacred places of worship, different from a chapel or meetinghouse where members gather on Sunday. A temple is literally the Lord's House, hence the inscription on every temple, "Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord." Before a temple is dedicated, anyone may come into the temple for a tour. This is generally called an open-house. Once the temple is dedicated to the Lord, every person is still welcome to enter but must meet the Lord's standards of worthiness before entering. God requires that each person who enters have already made covenants with Him through baptism, and be keeping that covenant made at baptism.

Inside the temple, people have the opportunity to make additional covenants (or promises) with Heavenly Father through ordinances. One ordinance is the sealing ordinance, in which husbands and wives, and their children, can be sealed together as a family forever, not just "until death do you part." Other ordinances are also performed for those who have passed on from this life.

Honestly, a better explanation than I can give can be found here: There are links about what happens in temples, entering in the temple, blessings of the temple, and inside the temple (the celestial room picture is the San Antonio temple!)


I personally am grateful for the blessings of the temple in my life. Having temples on the earth today means that there is a way for families to be together forever. Having a temple means that I have the opportunity to go and visit the Lord's House, a sanctuary if you will, from the world. None of us are from this world, but we are each divine children of our Father in Heaven, and we will return to him someday. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Words from Africa

We got a letter last week from Jarren dated July 6th.  He and Elder Moss are doing very well.  Jarren indicated that the gospel is well received by many in Sierra Leone.  When life is so hard and the gospel is so sweet you can understand why so many, when they hear the word, accept it.  After viewing the video that Jarren sent about his apartment it is easy to see why he is homesick.  I do think that things are better for him.  He is adjusting and they stay so busy that their isn't much time to dwell on all the things you miss.  Elder Moss celebrated one year over there on July 1st.  This is Jarren's 3rd month.  It feels like he has been gone so much longer.  On Monday we didn't get an email.  Jarren downloaded some pictures to Breanne so I am assuming that it took all of his time to get the pictures sent and he didn't have any more time to write.  Hopefully we will get more words from Africa later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Apartment

Jarren included this video in his last letter to me. In it he gives a tour of his apartment where he lives and the introduces the other missionaries that live there. There are 3 companionships that live in the apartment together. Each has their own separate area of the city in which they work.

If the video isn't working properly, try the following link to youtube.

Arriving in Sierra Leone

These pictures are of Jarren and other missionaries as they are in Lungi Airport waiting to board the water taxi that will take them across the bay to Freetown. These pictures were taken May 10, 2011.

 And they are on the water taxi...

 That is Freetown on the hill.

 Picture with all the new missionaries in Elder Rochester's transfer and the Mission President, President Roggio, with the Sierra Leone flag in the background.

 Driving to the mission office...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Missionary Mail

The following is an email I received from Jarren today, dated July 11, 2011:
"We had four baptisms this week, however only one showed up on time and was confirmed yesterday.  Another showed up late, and the other two didn't show up at all.  This baptism was a hassle.  On Friday we began filling the font at about 11:30.  We left to preach the gospel, and came back about 6:30 but the font was only about a third full.  The water tank was empty so they began to fill the font using the well.  However, through the inginuity of this country, when they built it they did not put any kind of secondary faucet so that you could purge the line, as a result they were pumping mud into the font.  Oops!  Last minute change , "Baptisms are now at 2:00 not at 11:00 tomorrow, the next day.  Baptism is now at Wellington chapel, not Kissy."  We have another baptism planned for this Saturday.  I think it will go better.
P.S. My diet is as well as can be. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pictures have arrived!

I received a letter from Jarren (finally) that contained his SD card in it from his camera. The next few posts will be full of pictures from his camera!

This first batch are pictures from the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Ghana.
 Group picture from MTC

Elder Rochester and Elder Purcell

 Missionary in front of the temple in Ghana

 Jarren: "I had tried to get a picture of that sign on 7 different occasions and I've finally got it."
 Any ideas on what "hawking" is? Hunting with birds maybe?

Jarren: "This is at the Accra airport. I thought it would be a good idea to take a picture of my bag. Remember my two bags I brought with me? I got all of it to fit in that one bag."

New Companion

Jarren is still in the same area in Freetown (the area of the city is called Kissy) but now he has a new companion!

Elder Rochester and Elder Moss. 
Elder Moss is from southern Utah and has been in Liberia for the past several months.

Here are a few more pictures that were recently posted on the blog that the mission president's wife does.
(left to right) Elder Eyinda, Elder Emanuelson, two baptismal candidates, Elder Addo, Elder Rochester, and two more baptismal candidates at the Kissy chapel.

The Elders having fun with Elder Lowe a few days before he flew back to the States after serving two years.

 Elders Massey and Moss (back) Rochester, Addo, and Emanuelson.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Little News Here and There

We got a letter in the mail from Jarren the other day.  He said that when he went on his mission that he used the second notch on his belt.  Now he is on the fifth notch.  I heard through a reliable source that he has found a store over there that carries Ramen Noodles, which by the way have very little nutritional value, and all of the American boys are buying them.  Jarren told my source that he eats them everyday, so of course I am worried about his health failing.  When the kids were little and growing a lot I refused to buy Ramen Noodles and allow my children to eat them because I knew they just fed the stomache, not the brain, muscles or tissues.  I'm not going to say anything to Jarren about what he eats because he didn't want me to know that he is not eating properly.  My philosophy, live and learn.  The work is going forward.  Jarren said that he did his first two baptisms: Sister Nellie Lucient and her daughter, Sister Regina Sebatu Sheriff.  Jarren sent his SD card to Breanne so pictures will be forth coming soon about these two sisters and their baptism.  I think that Jarren is committed to finish this mission no matter what.  He said that his testimony has grown tremendously.  He also said that at that time he was the only missionary in the Kissy district that can grow a full beard.  Power to the Priesthood! Power to all of our Missionaries wherever they are serving!

Monday, June 27, 2011

These are just a couple of pictures that were on the mission blog a couple of weeks ago.

Elder Eyeinda, Elder Addo, Elder Emanualson, and Elder Rochester with a family they baptized in June 2011.

Elder Rochester with his companion, Elder Eyeinda, and a lady they are teaching.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Smaller Jarren

The last email that I received from Jarren, he admitted that he can now pull his pants up to his waist without unzipping or unbuttoning them.  This is only after 6 weeks.  There will be a much smaller Jarren coming home to us in April 2013.  Things are going better for him.  His first few weeks were rough on him.  Living conditions were deplorable and the food was not what he was used to.  He said that living in Sierra Leone was like living in a land fill.  There is debris all around in piles from the civil war they had there.  Evidently nothing gets cleaned up. Jarren also said that most of the people that they are teaching live on top of the mountain.  He said that it was worse than summer football  2 a days pulling tires.  One thing that I do think made a difference for him was that he had received his first box from home and it uplifted his spirits to have some familiar food and dial soap.  I am so grateful to all the family for your willingness to contribute to Jarren's mission by sending him a care package.  Boxes are schedule all the way through April!!  I will continue to keep everyone posted on his progress and remind you when your turn comes up to send a box.  Please remember to send the box a little before the month you are assigned as it takes a month for the box to get there.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Arriving in Freetown

Jarren arrived to the mission field on Tuesday, May 10. He was one of eight missionaries who arrived in Freetown from the MTC in Ghana.
Here is a group picture that Sister Roggia posted on the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission blog.
She also posted other pictures of the missionaries as they went through orientation and then went out to their respective areas. Some went to Liberia, some when to Bo (in Sierra Leone) and some went to areas in Freetown.
Elder Rochester talking with Elder Patterson.

Loading up in the van.

Elder Emanuelson, Elder Rochester, and Elder Purcell ready to go in the van.

If you'd like to email Jarren, send him an email at