Monday, May 30, 2016

I Am Loving It Here

Dear Family,

On the way back from zone activity in Accra
Rainy season struck this week. It has rained every single day this last week and it is tiring fighting the mud and wetness. I just got back from a multi zone activity in Accra. President came and gave some great instruction in the conference we had afterwards. 

This week we had a solid week. We found a family to teach. We have taught them twice and they have been to church twice. Unfortunately they don't speak English very well but it is nice to be able to teach a family. I called all of the numbers in our Branch Directory to people about the Open House we had for the new chapel. There was this less active named Naomi that doesn't speak English. I tried to explain to her in Twi about the Open House. I thought she didn't understand anything but she showed up. It was pretty cool. It was a disappointing turnout but it was ok. I felt like I was able to do some good work with the members.

I don't think I have written about the Donkor family yet. They live in Jumapo which is a ways away from Oyoko. The children grew up in a normal family. Their parents joined the church when they were young. Unfortunately when they got older their mother left and they were with their father. Their father fell sick and has been in Accra hospital for the last 6 months. So Foster aged 23 and Docas aged 18 have had to support the family. Their brother Evans aged 21 just returned home from his mission last week. They have 2 younger girls. Victoria aged 12 and Mary aged 10. Mary is crippled. Their family is still as happy as can be. They come to church with a smile on their faces. They are some of the most humble, hardworking people I have met. Mary loves to share the gospel. I have really enjoyed getting to know them and their story has inspired me.

We had 8 new investigators this week and 5 with baptismal dates. We are hoping that our really awesome investigator Loretta comes back from Accra this week. She is the one with 2 children and told us thank you for changing her life. I really am loving it here. Some days it drags on and the tro tro rides are nauseating and the children are annoying. But I have always tried to remember where I am, and how privileged I am to be here. And then the children become a joy and the tro tro rides are an adventure through Africa!

Answers to questions:
What do you like best about your companion? He notices funny things and likes to laugh.

What is the strangest thing you saw or did this week? Talked to this drunk guy who was really enthusiastic and when we talked would keep saying, "Relaaaaaaaaax"

Are you aware of any unique resources in your mission? I know they have plenty of resources here. Some include gold and oil. I am sure they have other gem stones as well but many of those come from East Africa and even a lot in Liberia and Sierra Leone. A lot of the resources here are food. Unfortunately most of the resources are taken and processed by foreign countries.

I love you all.
Elder Shelton

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Normal Week

Dear Family,

Sounds like you had a fun week. I can't wait until that new garage is functioning. That will be lots of fun. I was super excited to see that Brandon got his call. When you get your call you think it is a really big deal where you go, especially while in high school. I have come to learn that their are children of God everywhere. And they all need help in their own way. The blessing is serving and learning to love people not where you go.

We had a normal week this week. On Monday (Brigham's birthday) we went to a nice Restaurant called Lindador and had Pizza. It was really fun and it was also a send off party for Elder Okiyi who was transferred on Tuesday.

Wednesday we had our Zone Training. It was really good and also strange to have Elder Buys back again instructing but he gave a really good instruction that the Zone needed to hear.  He brought the truck up here and it has been really nice getting rides from him.  (Elder Buys was in Brigham's apartment in Tema and was transferred to Oyoko this week.)

Saturday and Sunday was district conference for the Koforidua district. President Heid came up and he gave some really great instruction to us and some really great talks in the Saturday and Sunday sessions. He told this story of a missionary who was in a Temple in Arizona and he felt like one of the ordinances wasn't performed exactly correctly so he went to the Temple President and raised the issue. The President told him, "You would be surprised what the Atonement covers."  I love that thought.  It is comforting to know that the Atonement is more infinite that we know.

It has been weird to have Elder Buys back in the apartment. It is like I am halfway back in Tema now. And halfway in America.  I realize that I had forgotten a lot about how Americans really are. Luckily we still have Elder Krofuah to cook for us although it was hard to say goodbye to Elder Okiyi. I was thinking today that most of the people I know and are friends with are older than me on the mission. Not many people have come in after me. It will be sad to watch all of those Elders leave. Elder Ojaide and Okiyi both leave next transfer and Elder Krofuah the transfer after that. I don't like saying goodbye.

We are teaching this lady named Rachel. She just moved to Oyoko and has no friends here so we have quickly become her good friends. She has a 5 year old daughter and a husband as well. It is rare to find a family like that. I haven't taught a family my entire mission. Hopefully we will be able to teach all of them. I really enjoy teaching her. She is really humble and speaks English which is nice. Her daughter is really cute and will always run up to us. Even when we first contacted her, her daughter took my hand and followed us for a long time while we walked away. They are really enjoyable to teach.

  • What is school like for the kids and is it different in the city than out where you are? How long (years) are they in school? Does everyone go or just the privileged? 

You have to pay school fees so it is difficult for some people. In Tema 99% of children went to school and most of the older people had been to school. In Oyoko some don't go to school because they don't want to because educated people are kinda frowned upon, or they can't pay. Most of the older people haven't been to school. Especially the women.  The school system is very different.  They can beat you at any time for anything. There are prefects that have the ability to beat anyone as well. They start children at school here much younger. When you get into middle school you have to pick a subject to "Major" in for lack of a better term. Lots of people don't finish school here because they have adult duties early in life.

  • How big is your area?  It sounds like you cover several towns.  About how many miles from one end to the other?

Our area covers 4 towns. New Asakore, Oyoko, Jumapo, and Suhyen. It is maybe 10-15 miles long. We mostly stay in Oyoko and Jumapo, the two middle towns.

  • What is the one dish that you will want to make when you get home.  Is there one particular food that you enjoy most? I suspect that you will miss the Elder who does the cooking (when you go seperate ways).  It sounds like he knows what he is doing.

I will make rice and stew all the time. Yam will be another one. Elder Buys and I have been trying to devise ways to make all of our favorite food back home and find out how it will be possible. Emutuo (rice ball) will be possible and most of the soups and stews as well. I definitely want to continue to eat Ghanaian food when I go home. I tell investigators that my favorite food is Tuo-zaafi with Ayoyo. It is more a Northern dish but it is really nice. I also like Kontombury stew.

Tuo-zaafi (TZ), made with corn flour and cassava flour and accompanied by a variety of soups,
 such as ayoyo or bra (dry okra soup or fresh okra soup)
I'll be excited to see how the state tennis tournament goes.  I want a thorough update on the tournament. Especially how Ben does. GO BENGALS!!

I love you all.

Elder Shelton

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekly Letter to President Heid

Sunday was Mother's Day and Brigham got to call home and talk with us for about an hour. It was great hearing from him. He has a bit of an accent, speaks like a Ghanain, and is doing really well. He has adjusted to life in Oyoko and is working hard. We are so proud of him and the things he is doing in Africa. 

Dear Family,

It was so great to talk to you again yesterday. I don't have much to say so I will just send you my letter to President this week.
Dear President Heid,
I was very grateful to be able to talk with my family yesterday. It is really incredible how much I miss them and how much I love them. I really don't know where I would be without them. I have often wondered to myself why God decided to put me in that family and to be born into the church. I don't know exactly why but I am beyond grateful for it. As I hung up the call Elder Okorie asked me, "Why is there water in your eyes?" I told him it was because I love my family. I am not ashamed that I miss my family, nor am I ashamed of crying. I have often seen coming on mission much like the Plan of Salvation. We leave our home and our parents for some time, so we can learn to love in a deeper way. There was a time in my life where I missed my Heavenly home, but I found that because of that time my Heavenly home felt closer to me. I think the same has happened with my family. As I have missed my family, I have felt my love for them as well as my testimony of eternal families increase. I don't have to always be worried or missing them, because as deeply as I know that the Plan of Salvation is true, I also know that God has a specific plan for me and my family. That plan is for me to be here.
My mom asked me yesterday how missionary work had blessed me. I have come to find that as I have met people and learned to love people I have been blessed with a greater understanding of God’s plan for me and for all His children. When you care for someone and try to teach them the things you can see will bless them and make them happy, you understand better that God cares for us and has sent us here to try to teach us the things that he can see will bless us and make us happy, even if we can’t understand it now.

Thank you all so much. I love you all. I wan't pictures of Emily's baby when she comes!! Hopefully I will do something fun today. (It was Brigham's birthday when he wrote this.) I think I might splurge and go get pizza.

Elder Shelton

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Day in Accra

Dear family,

So we are teaching this lady named Loretta. She is only a few years older than me but has 2 children. We found her a couple weeks ago and she is really cool. When we have lessons she is really focused and really wants to repent. The other day when we were leaving we were saying thank you and she said, "No thank you for changing my life." I have hopes that she will be baptized although she will be in Accra for the next month visiting the father of the children.

Thursday we were in Accra all day because Elder Okorie has now been out a year and had to renew his non-citizen ID card. The picture was of me and my MTC companion. It was really boring waiting there all day but I got to spend time with one of the newly called AP's Elder Quarshie who is a Ghanaian and is the most humble guy.  He asked me to go get food with him.  I love being able to meet different people and hear their own stories. It started to pour while we were getting the food and it was a fun memory I will have.

Friday we spent the day in Maase because Elder Okorie had to do baptisimal interviews. Maase is clear out in the middle of nowhere but it took us so long to get out there that it took our entire day.

A Day in the Mission Office in Accra
Anyways, it was a good week and I had a lot of insights in my personal study which always makes me want to improve.

Anyways, I hope all is well back home.

Elder Shelton