My New Area: Tamale

Jan 30, 2017

The Weather and Family Culture

So Tamale.

It feels like I’ve stepped into a completely different mission. It’s dry heat, and that is super weird to me. Other than vacations, I’ve never really experienced dry heat. Yes, I’m still in Ghana; yes, I still feel the heat (and even more so here because of it’s location), but it’s way different.

One thing that is different is the culture. I get to teach a lot more families rather than just single people out of a family. And that is way sweet! All the other missionaries tell me that their favorite area is Tamale despite the challenges (like the sun and a ton of Islam). I would ask them why, and they would just say because of everything. Now I can see it.

My Area is in the more-northern part of Tamale, and my branch is named Kanvilli. The branch is about 30 members or less. There is one Zone in Tamale and three Districts (mission-organization-wise). Within the Zone, there are ten companionships, including myself. The Church is 1 District and 5 Branches, even though it goes up to Bolgatanga (about 3-4 hours north of Tamale). But Bolga is growing like a wild fire.

I don’t get to speak Twi as much, which bugs me; and I really overestimated the number of Muslims in my particular area (although Tamale is the Muslim capital of Ghana). I know there are parts where a ton of Muslims live, but my Area goes to the parts where it is predominately Christian.

Facilities are still nice, even though everyone believes Tamale is the size of a village. It’s probably better than Obuasi by size, population and availability of stuff.

Yeah! Tamale is really cool. I just gotta drink water a little more often and i’m okay! Yeah! Seriously, I just gotta get adjusted fast because it really does feel like I’ve stepped out of one mission and into another.

Transportation

We came to Tamale by bus on Thursday. Normally it takes about 7-8 hours, but our driver got us there in 6 cuz he was crazy and passed people like it was nothing. I will still need to go to Kumasi once a month. As a zone leader it is required to go there once a month.

Everyone uses motorcycles here, so they altered the roads to better suit motorcycles and bicycles. So we ride bikes! It’s actually really, really cool. We visit other missionaries either with the bikes that we ride or with public transportation. Which is fun! I’m including a picture of said bike.

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My Sweet Ride!!

My New Companion

My new companion is Elder Antwi. He’s a Ghanaian and my 7th companion, of which he is the 4th Ghanaian. He has been in Tamale for 6 weeks before I came. I’m like half training him. I’ll just be rounding out the rough parts because normally people are trained as Zone leaders for 12 weeks. He only has 11 weeks until he goes home.  I’ve been getting along great with him; He’s really funny and we work well together.

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My new companion, Elder Antwi.

 

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Elder Amponsah and Elder Wilson, both from Ghana. They were transferred with me from Obuasi. I love these guys!

This and That

Last week I taught the Elder’s quorum class, but yesterday I taught the Gospel Doctrine class. Guess what?! I’m the Gospel Doctrine teacher in my branch! They just started the D&C curriculum yesterday so I’m behind you a couple of weeks. I kinda gave an introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and let people know how to understand it and all scriptures through understanding context, through understanding content, and through application.

Say hello to all my siblings! After that tell them that I need to see their faces as well as their loving words! I miss them, paaa! 🙂

Don’t worry Mom, there is never a day where I don’t strive for exact obedience. I try so hard! 😀   I gotta honor that promise to you and the Lord, right? I still remember promising you exact obedience right before leaving. I shall honor it for the rest of my life.  Recently, I’ve started looking over weaknesses and faults to be more friendly and happy with people. If I had a mentality like I did a year ago, it probably wouldn’t work well, but thankfully I’m progressing!

A Week Later

Feb 6, 2017

The area is slow going, but I’m getting more used to it. I think that over time I’ve been getting better at memorizing areas and finding where I’m going only after going there about 5 times, even if I’ve never seen anywhere before (like when they landed me in Tamale and had absolutely no bearings or directions anywhere). I really wasn’t good at it before at all… so improvement!

The bikes are a blessing. More than I thought they would be. I like biking more than walking by far. At first I was nervous because riding bikes meant traversing traffic, which I don’t know how much I can really emphasize that this place is absolutely crazy when it comes to traffic.

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An example of traffic in Tamale. From Independent Travelers.

Speaking of which! My companion had a crash this past week. It was dark, and he was in front of me. We were going fast on the road because there were no cars for some small time; and when we noticed the cars catching up to us, we were heading back to the side walk/road, which is meant for the bicycles. As we were going, we saw a pothole, which we both swerved to miss (him, then me), but before I knew it my companion was tumbling head over handlebars. Good thing I noticed and didn’t run him over. What he hit to make him tumble was a half-crumbled stone pillar that stops cars from coming over into that side lane meant for bicycles. It wasn’t too bad, just a couple cuts on his hands, but it was crazy, still.

Other than that, proselyting is starting to get normal. I’m adjusting fast to Tamale, just that it’s dryer than Tuscon, Arizona and the sun is making me three shades darker. I’ve gone from a tan white-person to a very fair black-person. But everyone still sees me as an Obronin. Actually, in the language up here, they call me a Slaminga (slah-MING-gah), meaning white person.

To Mom: Hearing your report about the family makes me want to join you so badly. I want to be there for the children. I want to go back to being Uncle Ben, the dairy guy at HyVee. I want so badly to be with you again. And I know that I will! Even if I die tomorrow, I will. That knowledge of the Plan of Salvation helps me understand my purpose in life and on my mission. So I will press forward with a steadfastness, Mother. I’m not perfect, but I’m keeping that mentality of not giving an inch towards tiredness, and I just keep pushing as much as I can. I’ll keep on keeping on. I hope that it’s an okay report! I love you so much, and I will be your ray of Sunshine from Tamale, because I get enough sun… I need to share it with everyone. 🙂

Another Week Later – Wa

Feb 13, 2017

Just some interesting stuff: This past week we went to and from Kumasi and it was really, really neat. It was about a 7-hour journey on the nicest charter bus I’ve ever been on before. Other than that, the only news I can give real quick is about Wa. They just had their first Sacrament meeting Sunday! The work is progressing and growing. I want to be one of the first missionaries to open Wa. We’ll see when we get there though! How neat would that be? 😀

Map of Ghana - Wa

That’s all for now,

Elder Gilbert

 

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