Merry Christmas to all those who are reading this!! :)
Anyways, I don't have a ton of things to write about this week as it was a relatively short and fast week!
First, On Thursday we had Zone Conference in Kumasi combined with UST Zone and Dichemso Zone and it was awesome! It was a really uplifting time as we focused on the true meaning of Christmas and read the accounts of the birth of Christ in the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Then, we had an AMAZING Christmas lunch! Everyone got a sugar cookie shaped as a Christmas tree or as a star. Wow. It has been long since I have had a sugar cookie! Ahhhh!!!! :) It was wonderful. I got a T-Shirt from the mission, a bunch of stuff for hygiene, and a few treats. I finally received my ties which I have been waiting for and more importantly I FINALLY GOT MY PACKAGES from home!! :D They cost an arm and a leg, but that is the name of the game I suppose!
Then, we had our Christmas day. It was really great. It is really REALLY hard to get into the Christmas spirit here as it is 90-100 degrees everyday, and they don't celebrate Christmas as huge and grand as we do in the States, but when the morning came, I was super excited!! :)
I got a bunch of sweet stuff from home, and even managed to pack a little box for my companion! :) Thank you for everything you do, my beloved family :) Our branch President was going to feed us, but his wife wasn't well, so he cancelled late on us, so I had some Idahoan potatoes for Christmas dinner :)
Then, today, we went to Nkawkaw, to their soccer stadium to play the other 2 branches. Last year, Mpraeso branch lost both games in the tournament. 4-0 and 8-0 . We were determined to turn that around this year! The activity started by the branches playing volleyball against each other which was hilarious! :) Three was a lot of competition and it was intense! They love to play here, so we had our work cut out, but we lost by a few points which wasn't that sweet! Then, we got together to play soccer. I suited up to go and play and one guy said, no no, you can play in the second game. Well... I am practicing patience.... So I decided to shrug it off and do a little coaching. Then, 25 minutes into the game, I wanted to sub out some of the tired guys for a few of the fresh ones we had on the sidelines, but the players on the field openly said no, so I was angry and sat down to cool off. Then, our branch clerk said, "well yeah, they won't come off. This isn't just apartment ball that you play". Needless to say, that didn't help my patience... I told him to keep quiet because he had never seen me go and play. Anyways, the Branch President overheard and barked at one of the guys to come off the field to rest. So they put me and 2 others in for the last 5 minutes. It was hilarious. One of the 2 was a small boy of about 13 years and he came to play striker with me. We had just been talking about passing around because our team wasn't doing that well because they weren't passing. So, we decided we would pass a ton in the front. So, a loose ball comes around, it gets passed to Joseph (the small boy) who taps it over to me and Ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, I sent the ball right into the net. Funny how teamwork really can change the whole situation! Anyways, everybody was really surprised because they didn't think that white people could come and play the rough African ball they play, but it was funny to see the branch clerks face after that! :) The next game we played we tied 1-1 so we definitely improved from last year! :) Anyways, now I am really tired, a little sun burnt and psyched about the fun we had! :)
Well, as we close the year, now is the time to reflect on how our year went. What we did well, what wasn't so great, the things we learned and the things we wished we woulda learned a little earlier, but most importantly, how many blessings God has given us. Maybe that is just being healthy all year and not having serious injuries or not having any sickness. Could be getting out some debts or coulda been getting to change someones life. But I promise as we reflect with an open heart, the Spirit will bear witness to us that God truly is involved in the details of our lives. He knows us personally and loves each one of us, no matter what we have done in the past. He has provided a way for us to be forgiven of those things we have done, and that was through his Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this time of year. This I know to be true as I have seen countless changes in my life because of my service to the Lord. He loves us and is watching over us always. This I know to be true and real, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Happy New Years everyone :)
(click the link below; if troubles, open using Chrome as your browser. Excuse the first few seconds of sideways video. Gabe's companion is at 5:18)