Dear family and friends,
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas... and have a Happy New Year!
I will do my very best to keep this letter brief and concise, but there is so much that has happened lately, I can't help but give the details.
First off, it was a blast talking to family at home! I loved it. It was a lot of fun hearing everyone's voices and laughing for a while. I really enjoyed the funny questions you asked me, like if we use shampoo. I don't know why, but the questions were kind of funny! Not going to lie, it was difficult to say goodbye. I felt at peace afterwords. It was the best Christmas gift I got this year! Thanks again for the nice American money surprise. I'm rich!!!
|This is me calling you on Christmas day!|
So backing up to Christmas Eve:
The four of us built a bonfire using some doors we didn't need in the apartment. We also used old church magazines from the 90's. It was a lot of fun! Elder Madsen called home. We bought some fireworks and had neighbor kids come over and blow them up "for us". Afterwords we sang Christmas songs and went to bed.
|Singing Christmas carols|
For Christmas Morning:
I was able to sleep in until 8, which was really a treat. I opened up packages from home and the four of us gave each other gifts. I gave the other Elders an African tie with a chocolate bar, and Elder Madsen a surprise shirt he thought was for me. Elder Bergeson gave us handmade cups from coconuts, and Elder Kambwiri got me a bar of soap. We planned on making smoothies and some type of pancakes, but it was lights off! ALLLLLLL week we had power, but the President of Ghana decided to give us darkness for a Christmas present. So no smoothies!
Elder Madsen and I delivered the special gifts to Sister P. and her family later that afternoon. It was quite special. I got a bit emotional when I told her that back home, we have a special family we give gifts to each Christmas, and that for this year, that family was hers. It was Elder Madsen's favorite moment of his mission so far. We went around and passed out like 300 pieces of candy to investigators and kids and recent converts, then hiked home for me to call. Christmas in Ghana is sad, to be honest. It's just another day. No gifts, no celebration, no nothing. People are working, cooking, all the regular chores. It looked like any other day. In fact, kids will tell you "Santa Clause doesn't come to Ghana".
|We got matching shirts from some fabric we got.|
You all want to know about the cat party and baptism on Saturday:
|Bergerson goes for the tail|
|Eating Cat tail|
At 9:30 that night, Sister P. called me. She was crying, and needed our help. Elder Madsen and I had no choice but to help her. She had been verbally abused by her drunk "husband" pretty badly, and needed a place to stay for the night. We took her over to Branch President's house and had him help with the situation. He had us take her to her sister's house in Mame, a little far away. We walked with her there. When we got there, Sister P. said she needed to get her 5 year old daughter. See, she only had her baby boy with her at the time. Her daughter was with her husband. We walked around for some time, looking for her husband and daughter. We searched in bars, her house, everywhere, but still couldn't find them. We called him and he would answer, but was so drunk he wouldn't tell us his location. By this time it was like 11:45 pm. We needed to get back home, but couldn't leave Sister P. alone. Anyways, the 1st Counselor in the Branch owns a big bar (ironically) and he offered to help her so we could get some rest. Elder Madsen and I said a special prayer for her to find her daughter and be protected.
Sunday morning rolled around, and we didn't know Sister P.'s situation. She came to church! Second hour during Gospel Principles class, she walked in with her two kids. She told us that night she found her daughter and husband, and ordered him to give her her daughter. He beat her and choked her, so Sister P. had a big scratch on her neck. We talked with President E. some more, and he wanted us to get her out of the house. We went with Sister P. and literally packed her bags for her and her children. Mom, I used the packing method you use! There would have been no way we could have packed clothes for 3 people in a small suitcase unless I did your folding method! I gave her money for a taxi, and she loaded up her stuff and headed out of there to her Grandfather's place, about 20 minutes away. We had to work quick before her husband got home, so he wouldn't see us.
She called me late last night, telling me the Grandfather wanted her to leave the next day. So basically she had no place to stay. This morning the drama continued, and we are in the process of having members and President E. help her out and plead with the Grandfather to keep her. Sistert P. cannot return home to as her husband will continue to beat her.
As missionaries, all of us are called to save souls. Typically this is saving souls spiritually. But for Sister P.s case, we are saving her physically. We know without our and other's help, Sister P. will likely get beaten to death. It's a really stressful situation for us right now, as we have done basically all we can to help her and her children. The mess is still unfolding, so more news will come soon tonight. Your prayers for Sister P. and her children would be really appreciated right now.
So that was my week! Bonfires, calling home, a baptism, eating and killing a cat, and helping out someone who can't help herself. Pretty wild, ain't it? My companion and I are emotionally drained from all these events, but we are hoping things will ease up.
|My wall in my bedroom|
|This is what the school rooms look like.|
We have a New Year's Branch Party on the 1st, and it's going to be big! Tons and tons of investigators and nonmembers are supposedly coming. Music, dancing, sports, and banku!!
Have a wonderful week, and a Happy New Year! Make some nice Resolutions for next year. 2016 is coming soon! Thanks for all your support and love. You rock.
It's a good thing everyone is on vacation, cause this letter is going to take a day or two to knock out! Sorry.
Love Elder Nissinen