Monday, August 29, 2016

"My hand is in the Lords work."

Dear Family,

I have to say that this was a truly unique and wonderful week. There were many events and experiences to remember and I would like to share a few. The first happened on Tuesday. There is this family in our branch and some of the children are not baptized. They have been coming on and off and until Sunday I didn't know the children weren't baptized, so we scheduled for Tuesday to come and visit them. He said his house was difficult to find so he sent his boy to come pick us up on the main road. He started leading the way from Jumapo down into these smaller villages on the outside of town. I thought we would be stopping at one of these small houses on the outskirts of Jumapo. I guess I was wrong because after about 1 hour we had climbed up to where this family stays. We had to cross rivers and streams and swamps and we walked through a rice field. We got up into the cocoa trees and there were many huge beautiful trees. As you might expect they live in a very humble circumstance. We started teaching the children and it was a great experience to see these children so excited to learn. We committed the whole family to come to church on Sunday and sit next to each other. They must walk 2 hours to get to church. As we were starting church they were all there sitting together. They also came to our baptism on Saturday. It is truly an incredible act of faith for them every week to come but they are there with no complaints. It is wonderful to see that the gospel can even touch and bless families that live in such a remote area of the world. They are a great example to me.

Elder Robertson, Festus, Isaac, Elder Shelton
Our baptisms on Saturday went great. It was truly a joy to see both of them come so far and to see all of the blessings that have come to them in their lives. As you remember Isaac was a drunk that has had his life completely changed by the gospel. Festus is 14 years old and is a really funny kid with a lot of energy. He pretty much just was invited by someone at church and came and then we started teaching him. We are planning on him going out with us and working this week.

That same Saturday night we were trying to find one of our investigators and we only found the brother in the house. We started talking to him a bit and behind us we heard this voice that I couldn't discern very well. We turned around to see this man who was sitting on some dark steps at the opposite house. Immediately the spirit hit me like a hammer and I knew that God wanted us to come in contact with this man. He saw that we hadn't understood him and he again asked for our contact. We went over to him and started talking with him. He expressed that he was a drunk and he couldn't stop drinking although he had the desire. We sat down with him and started to talk about Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us so that we could change. He was in tears. I have never seen a Ghanaian cry before. He kept saying, "I am trying, I am trying, but I just can't stop." We spent some more time with him teaching him about Jesus Christ. He was so grateful for us and our desire to help him. As we were leaving he said, "I think this will be my last day drinking." I told him I thought it would be too. It was an incredible experience for me because I had just seen the journey of a man in a similar situation be baptized. I could see how much agony he was in, but I also knew with an absolute a surety that he could be changed by Jesus Christ and his gospel. After this experience I realized that it isn't me who should have the influence on these people. As we were coming home that night I said, "The Lord's hand is really in our work." then I recognized that more accurately, "My hand is in the Lord's work." I know that it was God that put that man there to talk to us. I don't know what will happen with him, but I can only hope and pray that he will be able to feel the influence of not me, but the Lord in his life.

I love you so much. You are always in my prayers.

Elder Shelton

Monday, August 22, 2016

Service Project

Dear Family,

This week was a normal week. We were able to find 3 part member families that we want to teach. As I have said before families are not easy to find in Oyoko. I hope that I can make some difference in these families lives and bring them closer together. I know how much the gospel blesses families. When you do find a family here it is super hard to schedule them to all be together because no one has a schedule. But I am optimistic about putting in some good work with these families.

We did do a service project. It was an all African service project. We went to the Oyoko Library which was a huge mess with a bunch of old dusty books thrown all over the place. We dusted and cleaned everything up on the inside and out. It was a little bit of a disaster. We had children climbing to the top of bookshelves throwing books off and having illiterate people try to organize books putting them in upside down or backwards. But it was really fun and we had a great turnout. I will show you some pictures.

Isaac and Festus' baptisms are this week. I am super excited to baptize them. They are both truly converted.

Anyways, love you all.
Elder Shelton
Okoyo LDS Branch


Monday, August 15, 2016

Investigators Progressing Well

Dear Family,

Sounds like you are having too much fun at home. I have only seen 1 person watching the Olympics here. Soccer is still the thing that people are watching.

The investigators are progressing well. Brother Isaac will be baptized soon. What a joy it has been teaching him. When we first found him he was abandoned by everyone and drunk. Now when we go there he is with his 3 children and they are all making dinner together. This week he told us of some of the blessings in his life. He said that his friend came over and saw that he has stopped drinking and he gave him two huge contracts to build some story buildings in Koforidua. When we met him we boldly promised him that if he stopped drinking that the Lord would bless him. He has stopped and the Lord has blessed him in more ways than he can think of. I have confidence in promising anyone blessings because I can see so easily how their lives will be effected by the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people are always asking for money.  I wish they could see how much more joining the church would bless them than me giving them money.  It seems like while I have been out here my vision of the world and God's plan for us has deepened so much. I can see the cause and effect of the gospel so easily now.

We are also planning on baptizing this boy named Festus. He is smart and is progressing well and has a desire to learn. It really excites him to be a part of the church and to be able to hold the priesthood.

Gabriel is doing wonderfully. He is the deacons quorum president and is passing the sacrament. He says he feels shy to do it. I guess that is one of the blessings of the church. You learn to do hard things.

Constance has still traveled. She was going to get baptized and then she went to her home for a while and her family saw her reading the Book of Mormon and said that there was no way they would allow her to be baptized. We hope that she comes back soon because she still has a great desire to be baptized.

I love you so much.

Elder Shelton

Monday, August 8, 2016

Catching Up . . .

Brigham's Apartment Complex

Editors Note:
I have gotten behind on Brigham's blog
so there are three weeks of posts this time.

July 25th -
This week seemed to be a spiritual week for me.  At many times the spirit spoke to me and reassured my testimony.  I would like to tell you about one experience. Many times I have had the thought come to my head, "What good are you really doing? Do you really have an influence? Are people really changing or are they just hearing?" I know all the answers to these questions and I know it is Satan that puts them in my head.  This week I was able to get reassurance.

We were teaching our investigator named Isaac Adu.  He was the alcoholic when we found him.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and I am not sure he has put it down since.  His change has been incredible. This week he was asking about the plan of salvation and we were talking about life after death. He asked several good questions that we were able to help him understand.  Then he asked, "So if I make it to Paradise, will I be able to see you guys again and say that these are the men who taught me the gospel?"  I nearly started to cry because I had a sure knowledge of how to answer his question and because the thought of seeing him in Paradise touched me.  I remembered how great shall be our joy if we bring but one soul unto Him.  It was a wonderful experience for me that gave me much reassurance and hope.  I am grateful for experiences like these that make me realize how much the Lord is in my life watching out for me.

August 1st -
This week was a really rainy week and we had to battle to rain and mud. I have been in Oyoko for 3 transfers now. 1 with Elder Robertson. I am staying here for at least another transfer. I hope to stay here for some time still. I am really happy here. Although there are always disappointments I am really happy here and really excited about the future in Oyoko. The other day I realized how happy I am and how happy my mission has been. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in all of the busyness and commotion and not take time to count your blessings. I realized how truly wonderful of an experience this is an that I still have much happiness and memories ahead.

This week I gained a greater respect and love for the Ghanaian people. After a disappointing day where we only had two lessons we tried to go visit one of the less actives in our branch. Unfortunately he wasn't there but we met his daughter Sister Faustina Mensah who recently returned home from her mission. She informed us that her sister died the night before in her sleep and Sister Faustina was sleeping right next to her. Sister Faustina seemed to be o.k. and you could tell that she was still happy for everything she had and everything she knows about life after death. It really opened my eyes. I had just been complaining that I only had two lessons and feeling sorry for myself but one of our branch members just lost her sister. It really made me think about how much these people suffer and how little they complain and just takes it as it comes.

Then a few days later we invited Isaac Adu to a mid-week activity. He lives about a 30 minute walk from the chapel so we decided to walk the distance with him as he has been doing every Sunday. About half way through I started thinking about how long of a walk it was and how I was getting soaked by the rain. Again I caught myself complaining. I realized that this man walks this distance every Sunday and doesn't complain at all. He is as happy as can be that he is at church. It is the life he lives everyday and here I was feeling sorry for myself. It really gave me a greater love for him and the sacrifice that all of the Ghanaian people go through. Sometimes I forget how much I am asking these people to do for the gospel. I am touched by how much they will do and go through for their Savior Jesus Christ and not complain one bit. They truly love the Lord.

August 8th -
This week was a normal week. We were able to find a lot of new investigators that seem like they will progress well. This week I was reminded about a line in Preach My Gospel that says that the Lord will lead you to those that are prepared or He will lead them to you. My first day in Oyoko, about 5 months ago, 3 women kind of jokingly called us over and started asking us some questions. There were 2 that were more loud and 1 that was in the background a bit. The 2 that were more talkative let us know that they lived in Koforidua and the shy one stayed in our area. Luckily we got all of their contacts and we began teaching the more reserved woman named Constance. She has really progressed and has a baptismal date for the end of the month although she has traveled. I was surprised that she has progressed so well and has gained her own testimony because of the weirdness of the initial contact. It didn't seem like she would progress. I know the Lord prompted her friends to call us over.

Then the other day we were in Jumapo, the town next to Oyoko, and we saw the other 2 friends, more accurately they saw us. They told us they have now moved to Jumapo and they said we could meet with them. It turns out that they happen to be incredible investigators that are progressing rapidly and they have had so many of their questions of the soul answered by the gospel. It was like the gospel was the perfect missing puzzle piece in their life. 

Apartment Bedroom
It is incredible how the Lord provides opportunities for those who are held from the truth only because they know not where to find it. The way we found these 3 investigators was a bit out of the ordinary. I know that the Lord provided a way for them to have the truth in their life and fill that hole of doubt and confusion in their lives. It was a testimony that this work is not mine. It is the Lord's. If we are doing all we can do the Lord will lead those people right into our paths.

Elder Shelton

Apartment Kitchen