Hello family and friends!
Zone Soccer Jerseys for when we play other zones. I'm in Christianborg Stake and Christianborg Zone
I got so lucky they spelled my name right. So many Elders got their names way messed up. Super funny
I should probably start by saying something about Conference. It was awesome! We were lucky enough to watch both morning sessions live at the Stake Center near the Temple, about 30 minutes away. We couldn't watch the later sessions because they were too late in the evening for us, due to the 7 hour time change or whatever. But I felt really lucky that we could watch what we did. Conference is much better when you are a missionary, just throwin' that out for ya! You focus, actually take notes by choice, and don't have to be yelled at to sit up. The 3 new apostles are great too. I am excited when they have the talks online so I can print them out and study them.
Benjamin, the 17 year old member who goes out with us all the time.
There are 3 groups that meet at our building - Teshie 1 and Teshie 2 wards, and our branch, Sangonaa Branch. They combined all 3 this Sunday so that everyone could have time to make it to Conference, so there was like 250 people total in a relatively small building!
Right after Saturday Morning Session. We took lots of pictures. New and improved Elder Nissinen: No sideburns, and how about the pants?!
To make things even more exciting, I got 12 kids to come to church with us! All of them it was their first time! Kids 6-11. Only a few are really able to be taught, but it was a lot of fun having little girls and boys holding your hand on the way to church. Just imagine 2 non-africans in white shirts and ties with 13 other people following them to church! Elder Liongitau was with our main investigator, Joseph, a 21 year old guy, so I was left to deal with the little kids in all their needs and different directions. I felt a lot like a father, weird huh?
The kids I took to church! Every one of them is a nonmember and first time coming to our church. They were so fun to be with. They got dressed themselves and waited for us to come by. A few like me. One kissed my cheek the other night and ran away.
Things are going just fine for me and Elder Liongitau. We are finding plenty of people to teach, so many that it becomes hectic to remember everyone we contacted for the day. It's way too easy to find a new investigator haha. But getting them to come to church is and always will be the challenge. We are continuing our approach to solving this problem by biking to them and physically taking them with us. We are getting more member-present lessons too.
We were standing on a bridge called London Bridge. Really cool area because it is so open.
There is one thing that frustrates me and I can't seem to get a good way to solve it: kids and adults begging for money and drunks pestering you. It's hard to deal with. You know people need money usually, and you want to give, but people have a hard time understanding that a white Ghana missionary doesn't have much money to live off of already. I have no problem giving a boy money, but there are tons of others, and I would be broke if I gave to all, so I have to say no most of the time. We still give our money away to those who are hungry, but it's a challenge dealing with it. The drunks are pretty bothersome. Lots of drunks we run into. We attract them?
I went on exchanges with Elder Fayeampah, one of the elders in our apartment. He's hard to get along with because he only 3 hours away from his home and is 25 years old, so the rest of us in the apartment are 18 and 19, and a super long ways away from our homes! I was worried it would be a rough day. But he was hilarious, super cool, down-to-earth, and our relationship now is nothing but fun. Goes to show when you really focus on YOU trying to understand THEM, THEY begin to like YOU. YOU have to focus on OTHERS so OTHERS will like YOU.
We are having a lot of fun. Everything is getting hotter, but it doesn't stop us from working hard and playing hard.
Kids coming from school are always a thrill to talk to. I was teaching them a handshake I think.
If you want something fun to look at and see what I eat a lot. google these things: FanMilk, fanIce, FanChoco. I eat at least one FanChoco every day except Sunday. Phenomenal snack. Frozen! Water comes in satchels, or pouches here. We all drink from them. Bite off a corner and drink! Really cheap too. Nobody buys bottled water...too expensive. Guys go around with a horn and a bike with a cooler attached to it, selling those things. They are everywhere. They also have muffins, like little corn muffins that we get along with a FanChoco or FanIce. Great snack in the middle of the day. 1 cedi for the FanChoco, 50 pesewas for the muffin. They also have FanYogo, which is like frozen yogurt. I had it in the MTC once and it was gross, but it tastes great now. Same with FanIce. FanChoco is so good. The FanMilk company does great here. See the pictures of the guys on the bikes? You just yell "Hey FanIce!" and they'll come to wherever you're at! I so love it.
To answer some questions from home: Do members feed you dinner? Do they have a food calendar to feed the Elders?
Haha yeah right! the church is so different here. Rarely get fed by people. If they are cooking they'll give you something, but it's spur of the moment. Never plan on a free meal! No calendar. The church is really simple here. We don't even have meetings before church. We've had one meeting with the branch mission leader so far. It's just different. We do our own thing. They call on people randomly for fast Sunday! Everyone shows up late too. They sing songs before church starts. I teach Sunday school. Young women teach themselves. Seminary is in the evening a few nights a week. There is always something happening at the church building. I usually have at least one little girl or boy on my lap during sacrament or playing with my stuff. The chorister gets really into it, like she dances almost. Funny. Half of sacrament meeting is in a different language, so I have no idea what's going on half the time! Kids are running around everywhere and other churches blast their music with their dumb bands, so we can't hear the speaker often. Music is played everywhere, every moment. You can always hear music from at least one source. All day, all night. Good music too! Check out Stone Boy. He's a popular artist here. My favorite song is called Shake Body! Sometimes I want to break out in dance moves but I'm supposed to represent Jesus Christ, so I try to hold it back as much as possible. But sometimes you gotta shake it a little bit. People are dancing all the time. Like it's different here. Nobody is embarrassed about their dancing ability. They dance because they want to, nobody really watches you dance.
I'm not going to share EVERYTHING I see. There is lots of violence here. Not in a dangerous way, but the culture is aggressive. Kids punch each other, boys and girls, and roll around in the sand and dirt all the time. You want to break it up or hope an adult does it for you, but it's different here. People solve their own problems here. No need for courts or lawsuits.
I don't know what the hardest thing is really. The weather is rough on my skin.
Me right now. This is my favorite shirt. 5 cedi!
I love the children and the work the most. They pick me up when I'm feeling down. They smile at you. The work is great. Serving others all day is a blast. I love my mission. It's not as hard as you think, at least for me. I love it. Everything I've learned, even in just the 5 weeks of being in the field, has helped me in some way. I know much more about the gospel than I did before, I really like studying the scriptures, and being able to talk to people all day is great. Ghana is a much different culture of course, but I love so many aspects of life here that just can't be done at home for one reason or the other. It will continue to change and mold me (like clay huh?) to the person I need to become.
Thanks again for the package!
P.S. If Rosie and Joe get bored, have them handwash there clothes for fun. Or next time they complain about clothes, have them do it our way: handwash in a bucket, and dry on a line.
Love Elder Nissinen