Monday, January 25, 2016

Twelve Balls of Banku

Dear Family,
Multi Zone Conference

This week presented some of its own challenges. It seemed like the ward and the area was stunned and disappointed to see Elder Ojaide leave. We worked hard to continue the progression of our investigators and to contact and find new ones as well. Our investigators and ward members had to adjust to Elder Johnson. I too had to adjust to Elder Johnson. Teaching lessons with Elder Ojaide and Elder Johnson are much different and Elder Johnson and I are still working on teaching in unity together. It seems as though some people have seen Elder Johnson and I as the 2 young Americans that they can be friends with instead of missionaries for the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope as we explain and teach the magnitude of our message more they too might take things seriously.

That being said this week was a good week. Many new opportunities and lessons learned. We started working on our ward mission plan, as a part of it we are having small devotionals with members several times a week. We hope this will bring in many referrals. It has seemed to be a great program so far and it has been good for Elder Johnson to meet so many members.

It seemed to be a week where we had a lot of funny things happen to us and I laughed a lot. On Tuesday evening we were having a devotional with a member. We were reading out of the scriptures and this small boy named Kieth is sitting next to Elder Johnson. Next thing I know he has vomitted all over Elder Johnson and I and our scriptures. It was pretty funny.

Then on Friday night we were at the stake patriarch's home to do our devotional.  We were there with the Sisters as well. Afterwards he brought out 12 balls of banku and a huge pot of stew for the 4 of us. I usually struggle getting through one ball.  As I am about halfway through my first ball the patriarch comes in and tells us his rule at his house: No food can be remaining. So he gives out the rest of the stew into our bowls.  In the end each of the Sisters, who are both Ghanaian ate 1 ball, I ate 3, and Elder Johnson ate 5. So we are still stuck with two balls.  Sister Thatcher tells us to put them in our pocket and then claim we have a disease. We eventually got Elder Johnson's bag from the other room and packed them out in there.Elder Johnson got home and threw up. Kind of sad but he was fun enough to laugh at it.

Sounds like you had a good week. You have a trip to Hawaii pretty soon. I would say Ghana beats out Hawaii on quality of pineapples and coconuts. I buy one almost everyday.  Pineapples are 2 cedis for 1 full one. Coconuts are 1 although usually they charge me 1.5. They are my favorite snacks.

Anyways that was my week.

Questions from mom:
So I'm very confused about transfers in your mission. Can you explain why there are transfers mid transfer? Don't know actually, President just moves people when he feels like it. The sisters are on a different transfer cycle than we are too.

How close to the beach are you? It took about 22 minutes on bike.

And I'm hoping you were able to fix your bed so you don't get into trouble for it. Didn't fix it. Elder Buys was too nervous to tell the mission. So he took my mattress and is sleeping on the floor. I took the bottom bunk.

What is your favorite food to buy off the street? Probably coconuts. They just cut it with there cutlass right there. You drink the water, then they will split it for you and you eat the meat.  Plantain, yam, bowl floats, fan ice, pineapple, are other favorites.

Is the power situation in Ghana getting any better? The news from there says it is but you never know. Yep, we have power a lot more often now.

Did you do any service this past week? Helped a Lady stir her Kenke.

I hope you all have a good week. I am afraid that when I go home I will freeze. I was sitting in an air conditioned room the other day and I looked at a thermometer that Elder Buys has and it said 83. I was freezing. Love you all.

Elder Shelton
Cultural Note:
Banku and Kenkey are two more Fufu-like staples from Western Africa, served with a soup or stew or sauce. They are particularly popular in Ghana. Both are usually made from ground corn (maize), though Banku can also be made from a mixture of maize and grated Cassava tuber. Making Banku or Kenkey involves letting the maize (or maize and cassava tuber) ferment before cooking. Banku is cooked in a pot; Kenkey is partially cooked, then wrapped in banana leaves, maize or corn husks, or foil, and steamed.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Good Week

Dear Family,

Morning bike ride to the beach
Notice how hazy it is!
This week was a really good week for me. On Tuesday we had Zone Training and Elder Buys gave a really good analogy that he pulled from his experiences in musical theater. He explained that there were 2 phrases he heard frequently. They were, "leave it on the stage" and "leave it all on the stage." The first one refers to unnecessary drama or "konkonsa" that people would participate in. The second one refers to giving your performance everything you have. It reminded me a lot of a phrase I used to hear while playing baseball and football. Leave it all on the field. I remembered all of the times I would come home from practice or a game and be completely exhausted because I had given it everything I had. In those moments I always felt tired and I felt pain, but I felt fulfilled because I had not given up or slacked off. It was a great conference and I felt like I learned a lot. Afterwards we treated ourselves to some KFC! It was super good to taste a real chicken sandwich again.

On Thursday morning Elder Johnson and I woke up at 5 and rode our bikes out to the beach to watch the sunrise for morning exercise. It was super cool. Elder Johnson has never been to the beach before so it was awesome to see his reaction.

The missionary work is going well too. This week we had 9 investigators progress. They are still having a hard time coming to church but I have hopes that some of them will be baptized.

Brigham and his new companion, Elder Johnson
Saturday night I got the big news. Elder Ojaide has been transferred. He is going to Tema ward 3 to join Elder Buys and Elder Johnson who was in ward 3 is coming to join me in ward 2. We will all stay in the same apartment but things will be very different. Elder Johnson has been out for 6 months and is my same age. He is from Pleasant Grove. He is the oldest of 9 children. He is super goofy and a little not serious. I am excited to be with him. It will be a very different experience and I will have to learn a lot.

How have you been doing? Always have ups and downs. Confidence and then being humbled. When Josh returned home from his mission he told me that many people see a mission as going from one "Kodak" moment to the next and returning home a completely new and wonderful person. He informed me that it was not like that at all. That it was hard and tiring most days. I have found his words to be very true. I don't see big miracles everyday. Usually the work is tiring and disappointing. Even despite this I have found my own small miracles in my own life and others as well. I have seen tender mercies extended towards me when I needed them that have strengthened my testimony. I am grateful to say that I have felt happiness in the work.

Have you been sick yet? Haven't been sick.

Is it still the hot and windy season? It isn't that hot. It is windy and dusty. You can't even see a mile. Its really hard to see 100 yards in front of you. Makes for cool sunsets though.
What do you do about it? Deal with it. Its not that big of a problem.

What are you studying and what are you learning?
I have been trying to focus my study on the fundamentals of the gospel. I have learned better how they all relate and why each and every aspect of the gospel is important.

Does anything seem unusual anymore? As a Ghanaian would say, "Its normal"

What is the funniest thing that happened last week? Elder Johnson and Elder Buys were wrestling and they took each other down on my bed and fell right through the bed frame and broke the bed. It was unfortunate for me but it was funny to watch.

There is so much going on at home! It is exciting to hear about it all. I love you all so much.

Elder Shelton

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

Playing Hide & Seek on Christmas Eve
Dear Family,

Happy New Year! We spent a lot more time in our area this week compared to last week. We taught some lessons this week that made me more optimistic about some of our investigators. It seems that in the last couple of days people have been more willing to listen and to change because of all the New Year's resolutions. I hope to have a really strong week this week.

It is both exciting and weird to me that I am now finished with my training. I still feel like I have so much to learn and that I am a young, inadequate, missionary. I know that I will always have so much to learn, and I will always be inadequate to do such a significant work. Although I am confident that this is where I need to be, and that the Lord has a plan for me if only I am humble enough to accept it. I remember when I first got to Tema Elder Buys said that your first area will always be home. I thought there was no way I could come to find this place as home. Over the last 3 months I have come to love Tema and the people here. Transfers are this week and I will be staying here with Elder Ojaide to carry on the Lord's work.

Making a Christmas Breakfast
For New Years the ward had a big party that went from 5 until 12. We only got to stay until 9 but it was a really fun party with lots of dancing and food. I think I have mentioned this before but parties here are intense. They hire DJ's and you can hear the music from a block away. We also walked into a young single adult party on Saturday night at the chapel and that looked like a lot of fun and we got free food. We had to pull the Sister missionaries away or else they might have been there all night.

Cool story of the week: Last night we were walking home and we said hello to this woman as we passed her on a path. We got a ways away from her and she turned and asked if we had seen the movie Freetown. I said that I had. She happened to be one of the actors in the movie. She played Mrs. Thomas in the movie. We talked for a while and she has apparently done several other movies and shows as well. She said we could IMDB her. She was super nice and cool and hopefully the Tema 3 Elders will start teaching her soon. It was weird to think back about when I saw that movie and how I viewed Ghana and the movie and the people and how I do now. I thought all of the people lived in those kind of circumstances. This lady we met though was just a normal human being that talked and laughed with us and told us about her job and how she got into acting. She even seemed famous in Ghana. These things that were only part of my imagination before are real now and it is weird to recognize the reality of that.
Girls in the Ward

Anyways I love you and hope you have a good week going back into school and work.
Elder Shelton