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 ghanamtc.blogspot.com

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