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