Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Week

Dear Family,

This week was a pretty
normal week. On Monday we had Family Home Evening with the Bishop and his family and I made a chocolate cake in the microwave. Sis. Mensah is a good cook and is one of not many people in Africa with an oven so she bakes a lot. She keeps asking about cooking in the U.S. and how it is different so I decided to cook a bit for her. We put up a nativity set and it was good to be able to continue the tradition. I definitely miss all the holiday decorations and things. The Bishop is the only one with a nativity set and I haven't seen one Christmas tree although everyone says they have them plenty here. On Saturday we helped Sis. Mensah cook a bunch of food for various reasons. I got to pound fufu for a good amount of time and now my hands have blisters all over them. It was fun to get into the culture a bit. We also had our ward mission leader treat us to pizza on Saturday. I ate so much because I haven't had any good pizza in a long time. We also went to the ward primary party which was a legit party. They had hired a DJ and had super loud speakers. Quite different from back home but still very fun. One of my favorite things is associating with the kids so I had a really fun time.

It was a unique week as a missionary. It was a blessing to bear specific testimony of Christ and his birth and Atonement this week. It constantly brought my mind to what is truly important and I feel that I have grown closer to Christ even in this last week.

I can't believe the snow (at home)!! I was dying for that last year. There hasn't been a snow day in years.

I will try to call you your Christmas morning if that is ok. Like 3 or 4 my time. I actually haven't opened my Christmas stocking but Elder Ojaide did. Thank you so much for all of the other things. They are Great!!  I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and remember the love our Heavenly Father has for you. I am excited to talk with you in a few days. I love you all so much. Afikyapaa!

Elder Shelton


We had a really great phone call with Brigham on Christmas morning. I asked him what they do to celebrate Christmas in Ghana. He said there are not many decorations and people don't have trees because most can't afford them. They don't generally give gifts or have special foods. But they do buy extra food to eat on that day. Also, being a strong Christian country there are church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, including our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

We talked some more about the food there. He said goat is a very popular meat and described an incident of eating a meal at a members home where there was goat in the stew. They really like the fat of an animal and he got lucky with a piece that was a hunk of fat and some skin. He said that he was told to just keep chewing it and it would soften up after a bit then he could swallow it. Yum!

Mike asked him how his testimony has been strengthened since being in Ghana and he said that now more than ever he realizes that God is in the details of our lives. He also has a spirit of gratitude for everything. He talked again how people in Ghana do not wait to act. They don't know if they will be alive next  month so if they feel they need to do something, they do it right away. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Hammatan Has Hit

Dear Family,

It sounds like a good week at home. I miss all of the Christmas things. I was saying the other day how
much I disliked when mom made us go to Christmas plays and all that stuff but I have realized now how much I liked it all. I miss all of the Christmas traditions but it will be good to make some new memories here. Hammatan has hit. It happened so suddenly. We woke up one morning and it was much dryer, colder, and dusty. It is like a foggy day except its dust and it is everyday.

This last week was a good week with many different events that we participated in.  On Tuesday afternoon we flooded the Tema 3 area and contacted many people.  I enjoyed the experience because I got the opportunity to teach short lessons while doing finding.  I have not had the opportunity to teach lessons in that way before and I enjoyed the different approach to missionary work for a couple of hours.

We had Zone Training on Thursday and it was really beneficial and I had the Spirit speak many things to me.  One thing that I took from the meeting came from Elder Effiong's (the AP), thoughts on immaturity.  I liked the thoughts that were expressed.  Many people mentioned that no one is too young to bear testimony or to teach by the spirit.   I really appreciated those thoughts but the Spirit told me some additional things.  I found that often times the sin that is associated with immaturity is not the people at the top looking down on the "immature",(although that happens) but rather the "immature" looking down on themselves.  Feelings of inadequacy, having little worth, only there to listen and learn and not to contribute, feeling immature yourself are all things that have crept up in my thoughts and I am sure other new missionaries as well.  I have since tried to realize and appreciate the influence that young missionaries and myself can make, and contribute more in every aspect of missionary work.

I have also had the thought many times this week of the importance of thinking outside the box.  Elder Bednar during his visit here said something like, true power in the gospel comes from connecting two principles that before seemed somehow unrelated.  I think that is one thing that makes Apostles great.  They know all the same principles and fundamentals we know.  They just see them and connect them in different ways.  This week I am working on not falling into the same mundane pattern of prayer and teaching lessons, but rather try and experiment and see things in a different ways.  I will try to think outside the box that I often times fall in to.

On Saturday we took a recent convert down to the temple site where they were having a carol night and temple lighting. We got there 2 hours late and only saw the last 30 minutes but it was really good. The temple lights weren't quite the same as Salt Lake but they were good.

Answers to Mom's questions:
Did you get your first package yet? I got 1 then 2 more. They were excellent mom. I cried over the cheese and lasagna and spice packages. Did you put Elder Akwara's name on his because I never saw it.

What have you been doing on P-days? We usually have Zone or multi zone activities where we play soccer and game. If not I like to go to market or travel to a mall for groceries.

Are you acquiring an accent? Small. You have to talk different when you are teaching or speaking to Ghanains so they understand. In the apartment we just use phrases like small (a little bit), dash (give), and a bunch of others.

How many zones in your mission and how often do you have zone conference? 7 zones. 4 city, 3 bush. Usually 1 per month.

Do you ever get to stop by the MTC? Missionaries aren't allowed in the MTC but our chapel is in the same compound; so all the time.

Does your church have an inside baptismal font? Chapels are kind of the same as Hawaii where they are partially outside. Ours is covered and connected to the wash rooms but the viewing area is outside.

What is the weather like, still dry? And which do you like better? Its kinda hard to tell actually. Its cooler but more dusty during hamattan. I deal with both ok. I think I like rainy season more. I like the rain. I like the heat. I like seeing the sun and blue skies and not have it so dusty that you can look directly at the sun and not have you eyes hurt.

Have you been able to play with or talk to any kids and do you still think they are adorable? I play with kids often although some get violent. One licked my watch! The adorable factor is wearing off.

I love all of you so much. Be happy and cheerful this Christmas season!
Elder Shelton

Sunday, November 29, 2015

On Poverty and Happiness

Excerpt of Letter From Dad

...we enjoyed Thanksgiving. I hope that you got to have a small celebration .  It is a good time to think about everything we are thankful for.  We all live in such abundance.  I suspect that has never been more clear to you than it is now.  I bet you have seen real poverty for the first time in your life.  I also suspect that you have seen those with truly little who are nevertheless happy.  It is a great opportunity to learn that we can be happy even when we have little, and that we should be so grateful for our abundance.

Brigham's Reply

It sounds like a great Thanksgiving. We had Zone Training Thursday in Nungua. Luckily that is where one of the really nice malls is so we went and enjoyed a little bit.

The interesting thing about poverty here is that I am actually in one of the richest areas of the mission. There are many houses that are nicer than ours yet there is still so much poverty. My favorite person to teach if the poorest by far. But she is also the happiest and such a delight to be around. Its really sad when people say, "I want to be baptized this month rather than getting traditionally married and getting baptized next month because God could take my life at anytime." We don't think about that back home. Here they know that their situations are sometimes dire, but they still love God and are as happy as can be.

This week seemed to be a pretty bland week.  Unfortunately the missionary work slowed down a bit after our 2 baptisms last week.  Elder Ojaide and I did not seem to be together as much as we usually are because he had some Zone Leader duties to attend to.  As a result I had more opportunities to lead lessons.

I am getting more comfortable and enjoy leading and directing the lessons as well as talking to people.  I have found a natural cycle of my progress.  I have periods where I feel like I am ineffective and don't teach lessons well.  I humble myself and I have desire to learn more and become better.  As a result I pick up on things and have learned many important teaching skills.  I feel like I am teaching well and have things figured out. Then God always has a way to humble me and remind me that I don't know everything. In fact I know very little and I am "weak and simple."  So I have to humble myself again and learn more.

This cycle is something that is very interesting to me because it resembles closely the pride cycle found so often in the Book of Mormon.  I am working at always keeping myself humble and desiring to learn more, to find my weaknesses and make them strengths. I am grateful to learn things for myself.  I have always been someone that learns better from doing and experimenting, and learning from my mistakes, rather than watching other people do things.

Sounds like things are going well at home. All the Americans in our apartment die when we think about cold and snow and temple square lights. It is all of our first winter out here and we are all missing our traditional Christmas. We are getting excited here for Christmas. I am planning ways to make Christmas fun. Enjoy the beginning of the Christmas Season! Love you all.

Elder Shelton

Monday, November 16, 2015

Two Baptisms!

Dear Family,

Brigham's First Baptisms
This week has been an interesting week. Elder Ojaide had to go do a bunch of exchanges this week so I was with Elder Johnson for a lot of this week. He is a fairly new missionary as well so it was interesting to be able to step up and take a bigger role in the missionary work. As I did I discovered some things I am good at as well as many things I am not good at. A big chunk of our time was spent preparing G and A for baptism. Everything went according to our plan and they were baptized Sunday. I had the opportunity to baptize them as well as 2 other people that the sisters in our ward had been teaching. It was a really great experience. I pray that it meant as much to them as it did to me. The service was great and Pres. and Sis. Heid showed up unexpectedly.

Other than that not much else took place this week. Although we did have a combined zone activity again today that was really fun. As well as transfers tomorrow, I will still be in Tema with Elder Ojaide, Elder Buys and Elder Johnson will stay here as well. I completely forgot it was Thanksgiving this week. Elder Ojaide and I will celebrate somehow this week small.

Mom's Questions:
How many cedis do you get a month to use? 360
And what besides food do you have to pay for? Washing supplies, apartment items, transportation.
Seems like you are growing and learning a lot. What did you learn this week?I learned that showing gratitude first before looking at the negatives makes everything better.
How are things going with Elder O? How long has he been out? He has been out for 1 year 6 months. Things are going fine.
Does he have family in the church? All of his family is. He only has 1 sister.
Nigeria is a pretty dangerous place isn't it? No, very safe. Many people say it is dangerous but Elder Ojaide would say there are only a couple of people who do very bad things and everybody hears about that. There is the Boko Haram there which everyone is afraid of but they pose really no threats.
What is your address; I'd like to try to Google Earth it and see where you live. Sorry mom, there aren't addresses in Ghana. I would say I am at community 9 hospital road, across the new pharmacy.
I'm so glad the bishop has been so good to you. Have you eaten in his home, or other members? Or do you mostly eat at home? Do you just buy prepared food off the street or take it home to prepare?
I have only eaten in members homes twice. Mostly eat and cook at home by myself. I have made homemade chicken noodle soup, teryiaki rice, and lettuce wraps this last week.
 Do you shop in "grocery stores", or is it markets and shops along the street where you have the meat market, vegetable market, bakery, ect? I have been to one grocery store and it took us an hour to get there. I like to go to the market but we only go when we have time on P-day which is never. There are provisional shops run by women that are everywhere and that is where we buy most of our stuff.
I love hearing about the strangest thing you saw during the week. I'm sure as time goes on there will be less and less that seems strange to you. What was strange this week? Last week we were teaching somebody about obeying the law and a guy came and peed right in front of us into the gutter. It happens quite a bit.
What is something that is different or unexpected about Africa than what you thought before you got there?It is much more city like than I would have thought.

Sounds like you are having a great time back home. Soak up the cold weather for me. Have a great Thanksgiving. Its a perfect time to realize how much we are all blessed. We are blessed more than you know. I will be thinking about you and I love you.

Elder Shelton
Brig Has Always Adored the Kids!

Brigham's District
Zone Activity

Monday, November 9, 2015

Baptisms Coming and More About Goats

Dear Family,

We have had a good week this week, I won't mention numbers or Josh will die. But we are planning on having 2 baptisms this week. The first is a Sister A______. She was a member referral and is now living with Bishop Mensah and has progressed well through all of the lessons. The second we are baptizing is Brother G_____. We found him in our area book and finally had the opportunity to meet him and he has a great desire to get baptized and has a great motivation to do baptisms for the dead for his ancestors. I never realized how much baptisms for the dead means for some of these people. I have always had temples all around me and had an opportunity to go do work for the dead all of the time. Brother G's desire to do baptisms for the dead has made me realize how important and significant temple work is. He wants his ancestors to have and accept the gospel and those ordinances so much, it touches my heart. He asked if he could do anything specific so his ancestors would accept the ordinances. It is truly a blessing to have temples all over the world.

This week I had the opportunity to visit some of the really good members of the church. Christmas is around the corner so I have been thinking about how different this Christmas will be away from home. I remembered something President Crandall told me before I left. He said, "There will be times where you will miss your family. You are being called to be a part of other families now. Those are the families you will be serving." This week I have felt part of different families in the ward. It has been such a blessing to have such loving families to serve around. Bishop Mensah and his family have already had a great influence on me. I can feel that love that comes from families from them. Bishp Mensah is incredible by the way. He is about 30, has 3 kids under the age of 4, works at the MTC training the teachers, and is in college. He has an incredibly busy life but is one of those people who seems to take time with everyone to make them feel important. He is a blessing in my life.

This week I have learned many things. I have learned the importance and how to teach in unity better. I also learned the importance of not giving up on people. I was concerned that we were spending too much time on people that we would need to put too much work into, to get them to be baptized. Elder Ojaide told me of some experiences he has had of people changing their lives completely because of the gospel. My heart was softened as I realized that God doesn't give up on people, so why should I be so quick to do so? I hope I can be the means of helping even one person see the effects of the atonement in their life.

Answering mom's questions:
When you talk about marriages, what is knocking? Man does the knocking meaning he goes to the woman's parents and asks what the bride price will be. It sometimes takes years to pay the bride price so they are legally wed when knocking has been done. The Church is actually trying to do away with it.

Are you starting to adjust to the new culture? Yep, funny story: Usually people are scared at night when a black person is in a dark alley with them and such. The other day I saw a white person and I got that same kind of nervousness. It was kind of funny.

How is the power- still 24 on 12 off, or the other way around? They just take and give whenever. It usually is close to 24 on 12 off but we never know when it will be on or off which is the most frustrating part.

What were you most grateful for this week? Our trip to shoprite today so I could buy ground-beef. I wanted to buy cheese but a block was 100 cedis (about $26 American dollars). In all actuality though I was grateful for the knowledge I gained this week. I am also grateful for good members.

Again, the strangest thing you saw this week? I saw a goat get run over by a car the other week, get up, shake it off and keep going on.

I am sorry mom I am not sending pictures. We are told not to proselyte with a camera so I don't know when I would take pictures.  I am starting to feel the pain of no snow. Especially for Christmas. I was telling this boy in our ward about what are Christmases are like and about playing in the snow. He was so excited it was cute. I love you all. Have a good week.

Elder Shelton

Goat Liver Isn't My Favorite Food

Dear Family,

This week has been a good week. Tuesday we had a district meeting and President Heid and his wife came. It was incredibly spiritual. Elder Francisco, my District Leader, went home to Angola today. In the district meeting President asked him to talk about his mission a little bit. He spoke no English when he got here and it was hard for him to learn. He came from a place where the church is not plenty and his family aren't all members. He bore one of the most solemn spiritual testimonies I have heard. It was sad to see such a great missionary go. Sister Heid talked about how one of her grandchild's friend committed suicide. She reminded us how important it is to be a friend to all and it was something that really struck my heart. It was a really good meeting.

The work here in Tema doesn't seem to be easy. We have 4 investigators with baptismal dates but hope to pick up the slack this week and have a lot more. People are happy to listen to us and even to read the things we give them. The hard part is in getting them to believe that this church is the only church on this earth with a fullness  of the truth. They believe in the Book of Mormon and accept what we say but don't come to church because they are either busy or going to their own church. People love to talk to us about religion, they just aren't willing to change even if they know it is the truth. People are stuck on little things as well. One day I had to answer 3 different times in 3 different lessons why we worship on Sunday. Its great though that people are receptive.

Interesting things: I have made several kids cry because I am white. Goat liver isn't my favorite food. Everyone wants me to take them to America. They have a U.S. Visa lottery here. One of the hardest things I have to deal with here is refusing to give struggling people money. Every day someone will come up to us because I am white and have a name tag on. They are in dire situations and I feel so bad that I can't do anything to help. It is hard to walk away from someone like that who really needs help and knows you are good, christian people.

Answers to Mom's questions:
Are you getting used to the food and what is swallow food that you mentioned last week? I don't eat Ghanaian food much so no. Swallow is a food group here. Fufu is a swallow. They are like doughs that you swallow and dont chew.

Are you getting used to the heat and humidity yet? Yeah its not too bad.

What is Accra like? A lot like a big city but streets have markets and people weave through the cars at stoplights to sell stuff.

What kinds of homes do you teach in? Some you look around and could be in the U.S. Usually though we teach outside. Some people live in little huts with tin roofs. They all have power when it is on though.

What are some of their customs? Marriage is very different here. Bride price and such.

Is using your left hand a bad thing in the city like we read about before you left home? Yes using left is bad. I have had people call me out on that.

I love all of you. Sounds like you are having fun at home. Keep putting yourselves out there!

Elder Shelton

Monday, November 2, 2015

Answered Prayer

Dear Family,
This week was filled with some incredible experiences. Thursday Elder Bednar was in town. Unfortunately we did not have a mission conference with him. He did have a member fireside though. We were invited to go as long as we had an investigator or recent convert with us. The plan was to meet one of our recent converts at the chapel at 3:00 where there would be a van to take to the ward in Accra. (The fireside was at the stake center next to the temple)

So we start the day off teaching. We have an appointment at 1:00. We are teaching 2 friends whose names are M_____ and G_____. We start talking and Elder Ojaide keeps talking. There were many times I felt the lesson could have ended but Elder Ojaide likes to talk long. It took forever and now we are going to miss the bus to go see Elder Bednar. We get on our bikes and I say, "We need to get to the chapel now." He says he wants to go back to the apartment and shower to look good for Elder Bednar. I told him we weren't going to see him because we were going to miss the bus. He insists that we wont miss it. On our way home we run into the recent convert that said he would go to the fireside and we find out he can't go anymore. So we start to go home and Elder Ojaide is still planning to take a shower, and go to the chapel, and find some investigator that will go with us even though it is now past the time we were to meet. We get home and he jumps in the shower. I am super frustrated because we wont get to see Elder Bednar and Elder Ojaide wants me to find someone to take so we can go. Everyone else in the Zone seems to have ample investigators that want to go but we cant find any. In my frustration and anger I kneel down to say a prayer. As I get up from my prayer I flip open the area book and call the first person I see, which was a recent convert named Ben that we have never contacted. I called him and he said he was in Accra close to the Chapel and he would love to go and we should meet him there. It was incredible. One in a million chance. Incredible to see prayers answered. We rush over to the Church where, of course, the bus has left. We found this guy at the church who was also going to the fireside and he helped us find our way there via packed trotro. We got there and Ben actually showed up!

It was incredible to listen to Elder Bednar. He did a Q and A the entire time and it was so cool. One 9 year old asked how he could better prepare to serve a mission. Elder Bednar called him up to the podium and had some of the mission presidents say different things like read the Book of Mormon. Elder Bednar gave the last answer and said, "The best thing you can do to prepare for your mission is to keep that smile on your face." I loved that answer and it was so true. During Elder Bednar's last testimony the rain starts to come down like I have never seen it before. The meeting was so cool. We eventually found our ward's van and crammed into it. There were like 30 soaking wet people in a van made for 15. It was an incredible experience.

On Saturday we attended a baptism in the morning. We got there and I was asked to be the witness which I thought was really cool. I felt honored to be asked to do it. Later that night the Sister missionaries who serve in our ward also had a baptism. When we get there they asked me to do the baptism. So I got to baptize two people. It was really a privilege to get to do it. The hardest part was figuring out how to say their names correctly. It was incredible to see the smile on their faces as I baptized them. I also realized how incredible it is to hold the priesthood power of God to perform such a sacred and important ordinance.

Funny story of the week: Lasagna is both Elder Johnson's and my favorite food. One night we just started talking about Costco lasagna and describing it and how much we missed it. We were both in tears by the end of it because we miss it so much. Not much variety in flavor of food here. I miss cheese and meat so much. The food here is really spicy and I cry every time I eat a spicy meal. Swallow foods are still not easy to keep from unswallowing. Its not really all that bad though. I get by with bread.

I love you all so much. I hope you had a happy Halloween. I missed it here. Have a good week.
Elder Shelton

I got an email and picture this week from a mom of a missionary in Ghana. She was with her family in Ghana to pick up her son from his mission. While out and about touring the area they came across some missionaries. She said, "I couldn't help but take a picture of these two awesome Missionaries doing the work of the Lord. Hey moms… They are doing fantastic! And, the new one is adjusting well." It was a fun email to get, especially since Brigham hasn't sent a picture since he's been out in the field.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Investigator Fireside

This week we finally got Elder Buys a companion so we are no longer in a threesome. It has made a huge difference. When President Heid and his wife came to drop him off Thursday night he offered to drive Elder Ojaide and I to the Tema Newtown chapel to attend a fireside that he was speaking at. It was really good to spend some time talking to President and his wife as we drove there. When we got there the fireside did not go as expected. Pres. Heid thought only like 10 investigators would be there so he prepared something a little smaller and more intimate. When we got there the chapel was full of investigators and members, there were kids all over running around. Pres Heid and his wife started off talking for a couple minutes, then they were going to show the video of the First Vision but about 2 minutes into it, it stopped working. So they bagged the video and allowed the branch president to speak to fill some time. A minute into his testimony the power goes out. So we are sitting there in the dark, kids running around all over, the video didn't work. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong.

They eventually got the lights back on and Pres. Heid told a story of when he was on his mission. He said as a missionary he realized that he didn't know if what he was teaching all of these people was true. So in the middle of the night he walked out of his apartment, looked up at the stars, and knelt down and began to pray and ask if these things were true. He said he knew his answers to his prayers immediately and he could feel the love of his Heavenly Father. I'm not sure if anyone was touched by his story or even heard it or was listening. But that story hit me so hard. The homesickness I've had was diminished and I remembered why I came out here in the first place. I remembered my prayers that had been answered. On our way home President was feeling bad about how everything went and he asked if we felt like it did any good. I told him that I thought that if it touches one person's life then it was a success, and it touched mine and made a difference to me. That experience was definitely an answer to my prayers and things have been much better since. It has also been good to have another kid in our apartment make things more exciting and fun.

What are your days like and do you have time to do anything interesting on P-days? We went to Nungua yesterday for a p-day zone activity. We were going to go to the beach but then we were too late getting there. It was wonderful to see the ocean again and smell the salt air.

Are you still liking your companion or are you looking forward to transfers? I;m looking forward to transfers. Not because I don't like my companion but because I like change.

Love you all. Have a happy Halloween this week.
Love Elder Shelton

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ete sen? How goes life?

Ete sen (etah sehn)? It is a commonplace greeting in Twi (Tchee - first language of Accra), meaning: How goes it? "It" represents life. 

How goes life? 

I (Brigham's mom) always ask Brigham questions in my letters to him and he's pretty good about responding to most of them. For this blog all my questions  or remarks are italicized. Brigham decided to answer questions first this week... 

Ete sen?
I'll start with questions first...
Your companion is from Nigeria, wow!  What kind of conditions did he grow up in? Do Nigerians speak English? If you were to meet him you would think he is an American. (You can't say that about all Nigerians.) He has fairer skin, speaks English really well but with a different accent. I know he speaks Pigeon too and one more language I think.  He is 22 years old and has his bachelors degree in computer science. He knows American movies, and he sings songs I know, all the time.

Speaking of languages, are you having a hard time understanding the people or is it not too bad?
It is very hard at times. They speak lowly and quietly too which makes it hard. And they will throw in Twi so its confusing.

What is your apartment like? Very small and cluttered. 4 Beds in one small room. It is considered one of the nicest apartments though because it has A/C in the bedroom. Which doesn't work when power is out and we don't use it all that often cause the energy bill would be too high. It also has a water heater that kinda works when power is on. Very small kitchen but it does okay. But there still only 3 of us in there right now.

How's the food? I'm getting thinner. Lots of rice and beans. I haven't had too much Ghanaian food because we don't know the members well yet. They throw this fish into every stew though and I don't like it. It smells like fish that has been floating for a week. They have stuff called Jago here that is like sweetened and condensed milk that they sell in big cans and is acceptable to put on anything. So for breakfast and dinner I usually have bread and Jago. I want cheese though. No cheese cheap enough for missionaries to buy.

How's the work? It is easy to talk to people about the gospel here. Virtually everyone we talk to allows us to come and talk more with them.

What is the craziest thing you've seen? The traffic

How do you wash your clothes? There is a certain technique. But it is with a bar of soap and a bucket of water. Today was my first time and I literally rubbed the skin off of all my knuckles and it hurts bad now.

The last couple of days have been interesting. Still in the threesome which is really hard and Elder Buys is going crazy that he doesn't have a companion. We are teaching a decent amount. Hopefully it will pick up here. We are teaching this lady named M____ who lives in probably the poorest area in our mission. She lives in this little tin hut but really wants to get baptized and she is almost there. She has the 2 cutest kids in the world. I will see if I can get a picture. We are teaching two other ladies names G____, who has committed to a baptismal date, and E_____, who is still part of a different church but likes the Book of Mormon. There are others too but those are the big ones.

My life here is so much different than it used to be. It is sometimes hard to think I will live like this for 2 years and I get a little homesick. Sunday morning I was missing home and we went to church. When sacrament came around it seemed to mean a lot more to me than before. It really picked me up to know that someone else knows what this feels like, and that He is always mindful of us. I remembered as well that people are about as happy as they make their mind up to be. So I was happy. There are still ups and downs but I am happy to be here serving some great people and to be in such a unique culture.

Love you.
Elder Shelton.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Now The Real Work Begins!

The Entire MTC Group Before Leaving for Their Various Missions
(Brigham is Front and Center)

Hey I don't have much time. But I have been assigned to serve in Tema. My area covers where the MTC is which is pretty cool to pass that again everyday. My trainer is Elder Ojaide from Nigeria. He is really cool and reminds me of Frozone from "The Incredibles". He is really energetic as well. He is the Zone Leader. The other ZL, Elder Buys lives in our same apartment and his companion had to go home for medical stuff so currently I am in a threesome with the two Zone Leaders. The work has been hard and slow. We are all new here so we have been trying to start from scratch finding and meeting people that are being taught.

Yesterday this sister that the missionaries were teaching called us and wanted us to visit her. It took us like 3 hours to find her house (directions here are very hard to understand and there are no addresses) we talked to probably about 15 people on the way though and every single one of them gave us their phone number and a time to meet with them. It was nice. When we finally found  Sister E___ she just wanted to talk and get to know us. She is super nice and we will continue to teach her. Later that day elder Ojaide let me take the lead in finding and I talked to like 3 people and they all rejected me. We hadn't been rejected all day but it was ok.

I like it here in Tema. Kind of funny to be on the same streets as I was before. I have some good MTC friends still in my zone so I like that. I realize now after seeing the MTC from the outside how much I really enjoyed it there. But I like working with other people and hopefully the work will pick up when we figure out the area better. I have missed home a little more now that I don't have a bunch of people around me to take my mind off of it but I am doing great. I love you.

Elder Shelton

Arriving at the Ghana, Accra Mission Home

PB&J Breakfast
(This is a first for many of the Africans but welcomed by the Americans.)

Brigham doesn't even like peanut butter,
but he looks happy anyway!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Life At the Missionary Training Center

At the MTC here they keep us very busy. But it has been really good. This week has just been a lot of class time and devotionals and workshops and such. Practicing teaching a lot has helped me a bit, but I also practiced teaching a lot at home too. I really enjoyed conference and learned a lot there. It really picked all of us up here. Friday we arrived so early and it was the longest day of my life. Everyone was so tired. I had to fight to stay awake. It was really hard for everyone. Saturday came and spirits were still low until conference came around. Elders have said it was a Godsend and it changed their attitude. I think mostly because everyone caught up on some sleep during the sessions so they felt better but it meant a lot and pickup me up to hear from the prophet and the apostles. So thoughts on conference:

I really enjoyed Elder Hollands talk as always. After that talk all of the Elders here just talked about their mothers and how great they were. I really liked Elder Nelsons talk a lot too! It made me think of my mom and my sisters. It also made me think about my good friends that are the strong women of the church. It also made me appreciate the sisters here. They have really strong testimonies. Most of them have no support from home and have worked super hard just to get here. African women probably have the hardest lives in the world, but they are the happiest, kindest people. I really liked the new apostles talks as well. They talked about their new callings and feeling inadequate and I felt like I could relate to them as a new missionary. Anyways, great conference.

The last couple of days we have fallen into a consistent schedule. We do a lot of things as a district so I'll tell you about them. We have 8 american elders, 1 african elder, and 4 african sisters. Most of the Americans in my district goof off a lot. Its hard to learn but I cant help but laugh sometimes because they are really funny. The Africans work so hard and obey all the rules. Today we went to the temple. It was super cool. Most of the endowed elders went to the 8:30 session. I was scheduled for the 10:30 with one other white elder, 9 African elders that were going for the first time, a couple of sisters that had gone through, and a couple that hadn't so me and Elder Perkins (the other white one in the 10:30 sesh) and some of the sisters went and did baptisms before. It was super cool. Then we did an endowment session and I got to be the escort for Elder Igbogi from Nigeria. Me and Elder Perkins were the only white ones in there but it was super cool. A great experience. I felt at home. The sisters we were with at the temple stole my camera and took a bunch of pictures on it. Africans love to take pictures!!! I'm really excited to get out in the field and learn a bit more by experiencing the real thing. I've met some cool people here though and I would like to share some stories.

Bro Afful:
He is our teacher and is a really great guy. He is Ghanaian and 24 years old. He went on his mission to Ivory Coast. He will laugh and talk with us but is also very spiritual. He almost made the Ghanaian national soccer team. He wants to try out for a team in the United States. I think the craziness of our class has stressed him out but he still loves us. He has these little saying and its awesome. After you answer a question he always says,"Oh dat wonderful, what again?" Its so funny. Great guy and great teacher.

Sister Were:
Sister in my district from Kenya. She is super tall and super sweet. She is the only member of the church in her family of 7. She converted to the church about 2 years ago. Her father and siblings dont approve of her joining the church or going on a mission but her testimony is strong regardless. Her mother died as well. She is very knowledgeable and loves the church.

Sister Aboagye:
Sister from Kumasi, Ghana. Only her and her sister are members in a large family. Her mother has died as well. She is so positive though. She is really funny and loves to associate with people. She has to put up with all of us asking her questions about Ghana but she is really nice about it and is trying to help us with Twi. She is the most talkative sister in our district and actually knows a ton about the gospel. I'm always impressed with her answers to everything.

Sister Sampson:
Sister from Nigeria. She loves candy. If she knows you have candy she will tell you to give it to her. If you don't she will steal your bag and take it. It is really funny. We were sitting in class and she pointed to me and said, "You look like a chicken." So now she calls me chicken. She said it was because of my hair.

Sister Randrianandrasana
She is from Madagascar and is learning English. She is really quiet but is trying so hard to learn english. She doesn't say much but when she does it is funny. We were in class and she pointed over to an elder and whispered to me, "he looks like Mr. Bean." It was so funny because he looks a lot like Mr. Bean. She is really sweet as well and is working so hard.

Elder Sowah:
Elder from Ghana, has a really cool story. Only member in his family. At the same time he got his mission call he received a letter from a D1 school in singapore to play soccer. It was really hard for him because it was his dream to play and they were begging him to come play for them. He eventually decided he wanted to do the lords work and chose to serve a mission. It was an incredible story.

Most of the African Elders or Sisters here have stories like that but those are a few. It really amazes me how much faith these people have, how close they are to the spirit, and how much they know about the gospel.

Great to hear from you!
Love Elder Shelton

Friday, October 2, 2015

Gone to Ghana!

E Te Sen? I am here!!! Crazy long flight but it was really cool. I woke up this morning on our airplane as we were traveling over the edge of the Sahara and I watched the sunrise over the hazy desert! It was so cool!! I realized that I was finally in Africa. Its been a crazy day at the MTC. I got my companion. Elder Scott from twin falls Idaho. Cool guy. Its just been doing a lot of business type stuff. A lot of waiting around for things to get done. It has been great though. The ride from the airport was crazy!! People in the streets selling things. Women carrying things on their head. People cutting grass with machetees. And garbage everywhere. But it is super cool. And really hot.

Also, I really miss you guys and home. When we are just sitting there and doing nothing, sweating in the heat, it is easy to think about and miss home. I'm thinking about you guys. Know that I am doing great though. It has been fun to meet other missionaries. I also have talked to several Ghanain people in the airport. In JFK I talked to this guy and I told him I liked his shirt and he said, "You like? When we get to Ghana you can have." Everyone I have talked to is super nice. Anyways. I wish I could tell you so much more. I will try to explain more when I have more time.

Anyways, I have to go. Love you.
Love Elder Shelton

Note: To see more pictures of Brigham and life at the Ghana MTC go to

Brigham's MTC District

The 51 Americans Who Arrived in Ghana Oct 2

Brigham and His Companion Elder Scott

Missionaries Who Carried Humanitarian Items to Ghana