This last week has been a little crazy. We had some run-ins with the immigration office here in M--- again, the other companionship only had one lesson taught for the whole week and were visited personally by the zone leaders, and I had my first experiences in chop bars (local food bars). Today it has been raining like crazy and I barely had the chance to run out of the apartment to make it to the internet cafe, but here I am. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to shop for food as well, but I can't be too sure about it. I might just have to buy food to go in a small stand on the side of the road and then head back to the apartment.
Last Wednesday we were contacted in the morning by an immigration officer who told us that we should arrive at the immigration office by 9:00 A.M. promptly, or they would send officers to our apartment to arrest us with handcuffs. Obviously, we all got dressed, ate as quickly as possible, and then left for the office. When we arrived, the head officer invited us into his office and just stared at us before he started interrogating us with questions. "Do you know why you are in my office right now? Do you understand that you don't have visas with you and what that means? Do you know what will happen to you if you don't bring the proper papers?" etc etc. We just looked back calmly at him and answered his question, stating simply that we know what he is saying and understand the problem, but that there is nothing we can do about it but call the mission president. The officer called the mission president and chastised him for not sending the proper papers in even though he even requested for them 3 months ago, and then said that he wanted the papers in by Friday, or else we would all be sent to Kumasi to be dealt with there. After hanging up, the officer started to chastise us for not obeying the law of the land and gave us plenty of scriptures to think about. The funniest thing he said though was this: "I will never put you into jail, because I am a God fearing man. I know that if I put you into any sort of jail, the walls will shake and everything will collapse, but you will stay alive. You might even run." He told us that even if he couldn't put us in jail, the best he could do was to just send us away from his area of jurisdiction. After a few more words, he sent us out and let us know that he would expect us at 10:00 AM each morning until Friday until he received the proper papers. Basically, we were put under parole. Thankfully, he received everything on Thursday, and now he wants us to visit his office so that we can teach him about the message which we have. It was interesting how everything worked out.
The zone leaders came to M--- on Friday in order to proselyte with the other companionship in the apartment because they taught one lesson for the whole last week (now two weeks ago). Everything went well during the day, but at night everyone was hungry. Since it was apostasy week (meaning, the last week before our next subsistence), no one had any money besides myself. I paid for 6 plates of rice, equaling 18 cedi ($9), but that meant that all of my money was now gone. I have survived these past few days off of what little I had left in the cupboard, but it was a definite relief to withdraw money today. When other people don't manage their money well, it becomes difficult for the people who are prepared. I don't have reason to complain though, because I lived through it all and now everything is back to normal. It just felt like a big sacrifice at the time.
Chop bars here are basically little shacks that the locals eat in, and I had never been in one until last week. The basic foods that any chop bar will have are banku and fufu, and they both look the same. The chop bars will never have utensils for you to eat with, and everything is eaten out of clay bowls that are placed in front of you (don't worry, they aren't communal). There aren't any big chairs to sit on, so you sit down on small stools that don't even reach the knee. I didn't enjoy my first experience in one, but the second place I went to was better. Everything is really different here in Ghana, but I am doing my best to get used to it.
One thing I love about my mission is that I get to be in an environment that is so new, so different, so challenging, and yet so worthwhile. The challenges I have faced (and am still facing) have really forced me to change, grow, and reach higher. If I could give the people here one spiritual gift, it would be the gift of obedience. If I were to give them one temporal gift, it would be enough money to drive to church on Sundays.
Thank you for all of the love that is sent my way, and I give my best of wishes to those who are preparing to leave for their mission. It will be a challenging experience, but invaluable all the same. Always have your eyes set on the prize, and then everything else will seem trivial to you, whether they are trials or tribulations that come your way. Have faith in Christ, and have a prayer continually in your heart.