Monday, September 19, 2016

Elder Stevenson Visits and Office Life

Dear Family,

This has probably been the most interesting week of my mission. Tuesday was my last day proselyting for a while. The new Elder came to replace me Tuesday afternoon and I slept in Effiduase for the night. On Wednesday I came down with the rest of the Koforidua zone to see Elder Stevenson speak. It was really good.  Ulisses S Soares and his wife spoke, and so did Marcus B. Nash and his wife. Both President Heid and the Accra West Mission President spoke. It was a really wonderful program all together.

Accra and Accra West Mission Wide Conference
Afterwards I came back to the mission home and a whole bunch of other people were here for the program and transfers and such. It was a little stressful because everyone expected me to know what I was doing but I didn't really have any idea. So many people made office elder jokes and stuff. That night we had all the trainers and trainees sleep here in the bunkhouse and on Thursday they got them processed and assigned and sent out.

Friday everyone was tired so President gave us an Office P-day. Me and Elder Harris went and played tennis! First time in 1 year. It was a lot of fun and we will be going several times a week because the Heid's play tennis and have court time there that we can use. Then I spent the rest of the day cleaning because there was nothing else for me to do. I also went to this place called Shoprite which is just like a normal grocery store back home. I hated it. Everything was labeled and stuff and there are too many options and too many white people. I was really missing the simplicity of the life that I used to live and the lives that the Ghanaian people live. I just sat in an aisle an stared at everything for a minute. Anyways on Saturday Elder Harris and I went out and bought tennis stuff and got lost somewhere in Accra. When we got back Elder Falk and I went to Teshie to drop off some bikes for some Elders.

Sunday we went to church. My area is called Cantoments. It is a really sweet ward. We worship at the temple site. I am used to having to communicate and get to know people in Twi. Sunday people were coming to me and telling me about their trip to Salt Lake and stuff. Super awesome people though that know how the church is supposed to be run and have been members since the beginning of the church here in Ghana. It is really enjoyable though to be right by the temple and have so many great members. I bore my testimony and I realized that I have heard three apostles - David A Bednar, Ronald A Rasband, and Gary E Stevenson - all speak from that same pulpit. It is also the ward that people visit when they come to Accra and I met the Relief Society President from Oyoko there. It was really awesome to see people from old areas. Sunday I also learned how to drive stick shift. It was crazy because there are no church parking lots here. I had to drive across like the busiest, tightest road in Ghana after like 2 minutes of practice!

Questions from home:

You live in the actual mission home - with the President? How is that? Are the living conditions better than most? Yeah, so I live in the mission home with Elder Falk, who is my companion, and the 2 AP's, (Assistant to the President) Elder Harris and Elder Osei-Brobbey and President and Sister Heid. Elder Falk is cool. He lives close to us in Salt Lake so I know everywhere he is talking about back home. He was a baseball player for Olympus. Elder Harris is my good friend. We were trained by the same person. He plays tennis as well as I do and he reminds me exactly of Uncle Bart. Just this really goofy guy that is really smart and friendly. Elder Osei is a Ghanaian that is going home next transfer. He is also pretty cool.

What kinds of things are you doing? I don't know actually, this week was abnormal. Mostly I just sat around this week. I understand it like this. I do all of the mission statistics and office work. Give reimbursement. Fix problems. Run supplies. I have heard it explained like this: We are not proactive, we are reactive to all of the problems that come from running the mission.

Do you get the chance to do any teaching? This week we didn't. We have an area that we share with other Elders. Elder Falk said we will teach maybe 5 lessons a week. I think we can put in some good missionary work though.

I love you so much. I can tell whenever you email me now because I get notifications on my Iphone.

Elder Shelton

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Phone Call Home

Great view of Oyoko
Last week's hike to Boti Falls

Editor's Note: We received a phone call early last Friday morning from Brigham. I didn't answer the phone in time as it roused me from a deep sleep. The caller ID said "Ghana" and I got a little excited and a little freaked out. I imagined Brigham possibly being reassigned to the Liberia or Sierra Leone Mission - it has happened to a few other elders as they have reopened those missions. Mike started googling Ghana news outlets to see if there had been any political unrest or natural disasters. After a few minutes when we didn't get another call I figured out how to call the number back. Brigham answered and immediately said, "Mom, I'm ok, I'm ok." and then we were disconnected. We finally were able to connect with him after calling again and he apologized for the early hour. We spoke for maybe three minutes when he said he was getting a call from his District Leaders and needed to answer their call. The phone call ended with a quick "I love you." and then he was gone. Read on to find out why he was allowed to make this unusual call home.

- Brigham's Mom

Dear Family,

Resident of  Boti Falls
It has been a really great week here. I had a mission standard week to finish off my time in Oyoko and hand it off to the next person. I guess I should explain about my assignment and the phone call. On Thursday President Heid called me to ask if I could help one of Oyoko's perspective missionaries to fill out his online application. We planned to go to the internet cafe on Friday evening to help him. I had some questions so I decided to give President Heid a call and clarify what action I should take. We sorted everything out and then he asked, "Elder, do you have an international driving permit?" I explained to him that I was working on getting mine renewed. He said, "Why don't you go ahead and call your mom and tell her to expedite that immediately." I asked, "You want me to call my mom?" He said, "Yeah, why don't you go ahead and give her a call, you'll be working with me in the office so this will be your last week in Oyoko." I was shocked and excited and didn't really know what was going on. I immediately called you because that is what President asked me to do. I was so excited I didn't really think about what time it was there. I knew right when you didn't answer that it was like 4 in the morning and that I had just scared you to death. Anyways, I am glad it all worked out.

In the mission, the President has 2 office Elders. They stay at the mission home with the AP's. "They are President Heid's personal ministers to do whatever the Lord needs them whether it's preparing audio visual materials or buying frying pans or transporting missionaries all over creation." (written by a former Office Elder) My companion will be Elder Falk who is a really cool guy. He went to Olympus high school and played pitcher for their baseball team.

Over the river and through the woods
to the Teye Family's House we go.
The Teye Family
I am very sad to leave Oyoko. There are so many things I will miss about being here. I have seen so much progress in this area. I heard many things about Oyoko as I came here.  I am convinced that no area is "bad". Rather an area is what you make of it. I am confident that I worked my hardest while I was up here. I don't know how much of a difference that will make to the branch or the people here, but I know it has made a difference for me. I will be sad to leave many great investigators, members, recent converts, and my companion. God placed me under the stewardship of this area, and it will be sad to pass it along. I know the Lord will take care of the area and help it to continue to progress.
Elder Shelton and Godfred

Mom's Questions:
Is Elder Robertson staying in Oyoko? Yes.

Do you have time to tell the story about the new drunk guy you've been teaching? His name is Godfred Oware. I told you the story about how we met him. He has traveled all over Africa. He has been under a drinking addiction since he was in high school and he is 43 now. We taught him about baptism and he was so grateful that he hadn't died so that he could be baptized now. He has read like the entire gospel principles book and definitely knows more than all the members now. Super cool guy.
Recent Convert

 With Oyoko Branch Relief Society Presidency
Anyways. I love you all. I will email you next week from my new home.    
   -Elder Shelton
What African Kids Do During a Rain Storm

Monday, September 5, 2016

Interpreting Dreams

Dear Family,

This week was a fantastic week. It is funny some of the things that you mentioned mom in your letter. You mentioned dreams.  We have this woman that is the daughter of a local pastor. She is 30 years old. This week she was telling us about this dream she had about 5 years ago. It took her like 30 minutes to tell but I will tell the short version. She told that in the dream there were some people that were trying to keep her locked up. It was the people that were close to her and familiar that were trying to keep her locked up. She said that she saw 2 white people dressed like missionaries. She wrote down there names. She said the 2 white people were fighting and fighting to free her and to help her. She talked about angels being with the white people trying to unlock her and free her. Eventually they were able to free her and heal her from this sickness that she was having.

She told us that when she first met us she kept looking at our name tags over and over again. She recognized them before. It is why she talked to us in the first place. She eventually realized that the symbol she saw on our name tags was the same symbol that she had seen 5 years earlier in her dream. We had been teaching her earlier about how there is only 1 true church. She was super confused by that. I think the dream helped her to understand a little more. She is still really confused by what the dream means. It is funny because to Elder Robertson and I it couldn't be more obvious. Her whole life she has lived under this blanket of false doctrine. It is not easy to uncover. But God truly can send dreams to help people understand.

In other news the drunk guy we found last week is progressing very well and came to church and has stopped drinking. Pretty incredible story he has that I will have to tell you some other time.

Today we had a zone activity and we went to a place called Boti Falls. It is actually just over the mountain from the Oyoko apartment. It was actually this huge waterfall and it was really cool.

I love you all.
Elder Shelton