Oral History with Mahana Kodzo

Item

Title

Oral History with Mahana Kodzo

Description

I am a graduate student at Utah State University. For a final project, I was given the option to record an Oral History for a religious person. I chose Mahana Kodzo from Ghana. Included in this record is an audio recording, a pdf transcript of the interview, and a couple of photographs of her and her children. I have a consent form on file from her to allow me to publish this record with you.

Date Created

November 10, 2020

Community

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Denomination

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

extracted text

Oral History with Mahana Kodzo
Tue, 11/10 9:34AM

39:20

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

church, called, resumed, sacrament, felt, lockdown, people, home, friends, sister, teach, sunday,
struggling, sacrament meeting, devotional, prophets, week, realized, morning, young women

SPEAKERS

Diane Livingston, Mahana Kodzo

D

Diane Livingston 00:04
So I'm Diane Livingston here with Mahana Kodzo, who is from Ghana. Today is November
10, 2020. We're doing an oral history today about her experiences with COVID, in light of
religion. And I'll just say that I met Mahana Kodzo, through a friend of a friend, and I'm
looking forward to this interview. This is the second interview we'll have together. And so
again, though, I need to ask Mahana, can I please have your consent to record this
interview?

M

Mahana Kodzo 00:29
Yes, Diane, you have my consent.

D

Diane Livingston 00:34
Thank you. So we've talked a lot about your life already. And that was super fun. And now
we're going to move to the COVID part of this interview. And so what we know is that
COVID has affected a lot of people around the world. And many people are wondering
how this has affected people. One aspect that people talk about is that of worship and
faith. And so I'd like to move to this part of the interview and hear from you about your
experiences with COVID. With respect to religion. So I guess my first question would be,
what was your first what is your religious affiliation? And then, what was your worship like,
with church, pre-COVID?

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M

Mahana Kodzo 01:21
Okay, so I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And before COVID
came, we normally go to church on Sundays. And it used to be three hours, and then now
it was shortened to, I think, yes, it was three hours. So we start at nine, and then we close
at twelve. And so on a normal Sunday, we go to church, we take the Sacrament after
partaking of the Sacrament, we listen to talks. And then we sing, and then we pray. And
then after that, we disperse into classes. So we have where the children normally go, we
call it Primary class. We have where the youth, that is the young women and young men
between the ages of 12 and 18, or 12 and 17 go. And then we have where the adults,
women or adult ladies from 18 downwards ladies also go. And then we have the quorum
that men from 18 downwards also go. And so on a normal Sunday, we go to church from
nine and then we close at twelve. If there are any meetings, maybe auxiliary meetings, if
any of the other classes... So the women, we call them the Relief Society, and if there's a
meeting they go. If the Young Men or Young Women have a meeting, they also go. If there
is a council meeting, which is made up of the presidencies around both auxiliary sections
in the church, if they have a meeting, they also do the meeting. But apart from that, after
twelve, church is officially closed and then we get maybe socialize, talk, hi, you know, chit
chat, sometimes you go visiting friends who weren't able to come to church and all that.
But when COVID came it made me realized that that was a priceless thing. Going to
church every Sunday was priceless. We couldn't go to church anymore. We could only talk
to our friends by telephone, we couldn't go visiting them as usual, like we would want to.
And so things came to a standstill. We couldn't attend church for a very long time. And so
life was basically boring without church. Yes. And so I think during COVID, that is what
happened. You couldn't attend church services because we were told that we should hold
our church services until we get other directives. And so that is all we did.

D

Diane Livingston 04:07
All right. So really, you came to the lockdown, and it was LOCKED DOWN?

M

Mahana Kodzo 04:14
Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 04:14
How did the your kids handle the loss of being able to see their church friends, was it
difficult for them?

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M

Mahana Kodzo 04:21
It was. My son would wake up every morning, Sunday morning, and say, "Mommy, please, I
want to go to church. I want to go to Primary." I'm like, "You can't go. You can't go and see
your friends." He has a friend called Abraham. And he would always sit by him and say, "I
miss Abraham, I want to go see Abraham." Like, "You can't go and see Abraham. Don't
worry, we'll start church very soon." And so for as young as three-year-old he knew what it
was like to be missing his friends. If nothing at all, he knew that every Sunday morning,
you would dress nicely, and then we would all go to church and then after that there's
Primary, there's singing time and all that ceased. Like, just like that. And so for a threeyear-old, that was something unexpected, something, a sad experience for him. So, I don't
know. And for me, and I used to teach the Primary. And so it was a whole new experience
for me sitting at home on Sundays, not going to church, not being able to teach or not
being able to sing the Primary songs and all that. Not seeing the children. It wasn't, it
wasn't fun. It was-- I don't know -- it was, a it's an experience I, I never want to go through
again. Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 05:44
So when you were home, how long do you think it was before you started church back up
again?

M

Mahana Kodzo 05:52
Hmm. So it was like second week of March or there abouts. I didn't know there was even
going to be a lockdown. We were hearing lock downs in other parts of the country and in
other countries, but we didn't know there was going to be locked down so soon, in Ghana
here. But I think second part of March there about, that was when we were asked not to
go to church until we get further directions. Until somewhere, March, April, May, June, July,
August, September, hmm, it was a LONG time. So we started church about two months
ago, which is like -- we are in November now-- so we started in September.

D

Diane Livingston 06:32
That was a long time.

M

Mahana Kodzo 06:33
Yes, a long time. So we started church in September. And then, when we started, we
weren't doing to doing the full, the normal church hours, we just did one hour, which was

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Sacrament Meeting. And then when we started we weren't singing, so there would, the
opening hymn -- we would normally start with an opening hymn, and then an opening
prayer. And then we would take the Sacrament, then after the Sacrament, if there are
talks, and the talks commence, then we sing and then we close. And then after that we
would go to our classes. But when we resumed we would only hear a recorded version of
a song, which will play as the opening hymn. And then we would take Sacrament. We
would pray and take Sacrament. And then after Sacrament, there'll be one or two talks,
and then another song and then closing hymn and that is it. We all go back to our homes.
We couldn't even socialize. So it was just -- Yes. So it was just one hour when we resumed
church after COVID. What I also noticed was that, before you enter, there is, we call it
Victoria buckets here. It's a bucket with a top on it, and then soap by the side and then
tissue paper by the side. So, before you allowed it to the Sacrament hall, you need to wash
your hands with soap and water, sanitize, your temperature will be taken before you enter
the Sacrament Hall. And then when you enter the Sacrament Hall the chairs have been
moved such that there is social distancing. The chairs are so far apart and families have
where they sit. And then the aged also have where they sit. And then the other members
also have where they sit. And so that is what I realized. And it was -- [pause] for a twoyear old or for one-and-a half year old girl it is tough sitting at a place, sitting down at
one place still, and not moving about. And she had friends that she had missed. And so
when we went and then she saw her friends, and my three-year-old saw his friend, they
were all eager to you know, go and socialize, go and talk, you know, but they were
restricted. It was a little uncomfortable restricting them at that age. They will start crying.
They were fidgeting all around. And so it was something else for the first few weeks, like,
first two weeks, I think the third week, they got used to the idea that they can't get to go
see their friends anymore. So, that is how it was like when we resumed in September. From
March and April, May, June, July, August there was no church and then we started
somewhere in September. So for about five months, we weren't going to church.

D

Diane Livingston 07:34
Ugh!

M

Mahana Kodzo 09:30
But, during the times that we weren't going to church we were encouraged to hold, you
know, if we have a priesthood brother in the house, that priesthood brother could have
Sacrament meeting with the family. Unfortunately for us, my husband was not home. My
husband wasn't around and so for all that time we weren't having anybody to administer
Sacrament to us. We would only do our Come Follow Me, you know, and then after that,
that is it. We sing and then that's, that was the end. But I think about a month or two

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down the lockdown, we got directed that missionaries or other priesthood brethren in the,
you know, in our area in our neighborhood area could bring us Sacrament. And so we
started organizing Sacrament meetings in our home. So we had one family who were
about five, like, it's a big family. So they would come. They had a man in their family, their
son was like 18 or 19 year-old. And so he would come with them, and then we organized a
small Sacrament Meeting in our porch. I think I have pictures, I'll send you that. I'll send
you those pictures as well. Yes. So we organized Sacrament Meeting in our porch. And
then after that, we discussed the Come Follow Me as well. And so that is what we did. So
it wasn't every Sunday, it was each and every other Sunday. So if we have the Sacrament
today, the following week we wouldn't have it until the next week, towards like, every two
weeks, we had Sacrament. So that was all we were doing before we resumed church. But
for me, personally, I wasn't too comfortable with that course. They were a large family.
And you wouldn't know who they mingle with in their homes when they are not with us.
And we have children and my mom is aged. And so I felt that there was a risk bringing
them to the house to have Sacrament Meeting although we were keeping our social
distancing and we were keeping all our protocols, I still felt, in a way, that we were risking
ourselves by mingling with other people. That aside, I think everything was okay. We were
having Sacrament every two weeks, and we got opportunity to share the gospel, as well
to listen to other people's testimonies and all that. And so that strengthened us a bit when
the lockdown was on until we resumed church again, in some ways.

D

Diane Livingston 12:29
So you did feel a strength from doing that. It was worth the risk?

M

Mahana Kodzo 12:33
Yes, it was, it was, it was worth the risk. At that point in time, we felt that we needed to
stop them from coming. But at the same time, we felt that we were strengthening each
other at the same time. And we didn't even know how to go about telling them that we
didn't want them to come out anymore. Yes. And so we couldn't say it. And we just prayed
that the lockdown will be lifted. So that we could go doing about our normal Sunday
activities, and all that. And so that was -- that was how it was.

D

Diane Livingston 13:06
Did you wear masks during that time when you had those people?

M

Mahana Kodzo 13:08

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Yes, yes, we wore masks.The difficult aspect was getting the children to wear masks. So I
have my sister's, my eldest sister's two boys living with us. One is nine, and then the other
is eight. And so although they are old enough to understand what it means to have
COVID, or to be in an area of corona, they were a little disobedient when it came to
wearing the masks. They felt it was uncomfortable. And so, although you give them the
masks, somewhere in the middle of it you see them playing with it. They don't wear it, they
just play with it. So that was--

D

Diane Livingston 13:10
They're swinging it...

M

Mahana Kodzo 13:50
Yes. Uh huh. And that was our only challenge. Apart from that, everything was fine.

D

Diane Livingston 13:58
Awesome, that's great. Let's see. So, do you feel like, when you stopped being able to go
to church, were there things that you tried to do personally to keep your faith alive? Or
keep your testimony going? I mean, did you try and do anything different? Or were you
able to maintain even, you know, your own personal worship that you usually do during
that time? It was such a crazy time, a difficult time. I'm kind of curious about that
experience for you, personally.

M

Mahana Kodzo 14:42
It was tough. It was tough trying to maintain my spiritual life. On a normal weekday, I
know that I have an assignment to teach. So if I'm not teaching the Primary, I might be
teaching in Relief society or I might be giving a talk. So whether I like it or not, I would
have to prepare some way, somehow. Yes. And at work, we have devotionals, every
Monday, where the whole workforce meets to share the gospel. So we have, we meet
every Monday morning, we pray. We sing, we pray and then we share a devotional
message. And then we sing and then we pray. And then we start the day with it. And so
every Monday, an individual has something to talk about at the devotional. You may not
know who's turn it is, so I strived, I ALWAYS strived to be on top of my game, to read my
scriptures, to do all what I need to do to be spiritual, because you might never know when
you'd be called upon. Yes, and I needed that, I needed the Spirit. I needed the promptings
of the Spirit to do my work. I realize that when I focus on the Spirit, I am guided in what I
do, I'm able to achieve more. But when we were just in our home, and weren't going to

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work, weren't going to church, some way, somehow, I felt a little easy. I felt that there was
no need to learn because I wasn't going to teach. It was difficult, keeping my spirituality
up. It was a tug of war. My mom would always say that we are being lazy. We need to do
the Come Follow Me. At least our morning devotions, we should do that. It was, it was a
struggle for us to maintain that. We'd do them but not as we were supposed to. And so
our faith was lacking -- a lot. My faith was lacking a lot. I couldn't keep up with my
spiritual studies and all that.

D

Diane Livingston 16:48
I mean, I know what you mean. To me, it's, it's a lot easier to, like you said, stay up on your
game when you know that you're going to need to be accountable to someone, somehow.

M

Mahana Kodzo 17:02
Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 17:03
It kind of drives you. It does. Yeah. Did you feel, though, at any point that you felt like it
was getting easier? Like, I mean, we'd like to think that we grew. [chuckle] I don't know,
are you just glad it's back so that you have that driver once again? Or how do you think
about that.

M

Mahana Kodzo 17:22
So when church resumed, I was a bit reluctant to go because I wasn't too sure of my
children. And so at a point, I felt that I had become too relaxed. It looked like I was
enjoying the lockdown. And so it became difficult for me accepting that the lockdown was
over and that we are back to -- well, we aren't back to normal times but I would say that
we are back to normal. And although we were going, it was just Sacrament. We just go, we
took Sacrament and we come. And the least mistake you do you get to Sacrament only
the Sacrament has already been passed. When you are late for 30 minutes you go and
you only probably going to hear the concluding speaker talking. You don't get to partake
of the Sacrament. And so, our mornings, we were always in some sort of a rush which
didn't really invite the Spirit. Yes, until we became used to the idea that, okay, church has
resumed fully. And so we need to prepare beforehand. We need to prepare, make sure
that Saturday evenings everything is fine and ironed. We don't need to rush Sunday
morning, "Where are my shoes? Where are my socks? Which dress am I going to wear?
Baby hair is messed up, you need to fix it before you go" and all that. And so, it's gradually

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coming. I am not there yet. I am not there yet. I have a lot of room for improvement. I
need to up my game. And I try. I'm trying. I'm trying. I'm trying. But I'm not there yet. I'm
not there yet, at all.

D

Diane Livingston 19:10
What do you think it is? What do you mean by, you're not there yet? What are you not
there for?

M

Mahana Kodzo 19:15
So, spiritually. I can see that I'm lacking in some sense, spiritually. My spiritual life is not as
it was before. I hardly do my morning devotions, and my scripture studies. And so that is
what I'm saying that I'm not there yet. Since we've resumed, I having been tasked to
giving a talk or saying a prayer or nothing. And so, sometimes, there is no motivation to
learn, to read the scriptures, and to do all that. I think I was tasked to teach three weeks
ago. And even with that, it was, I think it was a conference message from one of our
prophets. I don't remember. It was about the Book of Mormon and how the Book of
Mormon can help us overcome, overcome -- how the Book of Mormon can help us
increase our faith. And so I was told I was going to teach it on Thursday evening. I was on
my way home, and then the Relief Society president called to say that she wanted me to
teach on Sunday. I was like, really? Okay. Let's see, I normally go to lectures on weekends.
So let's see what happens. Is that okay? And then I forgot about it. Then Saturday, I was
like [giggle] I was called to teach on Sunday. And so I had -- I even forgot the topic and so
I had to call her to ask her again what the topic was. And then she told me. And so I
started reading, like, Saturday after the kids had gone to bed, and I started reading and
preparing for it, like, for about three, four hours that night before I slept. And then in the
morning, even during Sacrament I was looking through it. And then after Sacrament we
went for Relief Society and then I taught. So that is how challenging it is to keep -- to keep
up with my spiritual life. I feel there's so many -- there are so many things I need to do. I'm
too busy. That is how I feel. I can never be too busy for the gospel. But that is how I feel,
now, that I'm too busy. I wake up in the morning, I'm on the run. I mean, I have to get to
work before eight, and I get home after six. And the children are asking, "Mommy do this,
Mommy do that." I need to make sure they are fine. They go to bed and I'm dead tired.
And I sleep and then I wake up in the morning, and I start again. And so it's some sort of, I
don't know. I don't know how to explain it. But ---

D

Diane Livingston 22:05
I think you did!

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M

Mahana Kodzo 22:10
Yeah, I can do more than I'm doing. Yeah. There's more room for improvement.

D

Diane Livingston 22:15
So Okay, that sounds like, but that sounds like probably what your life was pre-COVID too,
would you say? I mean, How's--

M

Mahana Kodzo 22:23
Yes.

D

Diane Livingston 22:24
Is it different now than it was then? You know, we've come off of -- the lockdown is over,
and you're feeling a little bit low from the lockdown. And so I'm wondering, is there
something about the lockdown, that made it even more difficult to do what you want to
do than it was pre-COVID?

M

Mahana Kodzo 22:52
Okay, so with pre-COVID, I was more enthusiastic. When I say enthusiastic, I was more into
activities pre-COVID. Because each week, there was something I'm there to do. Teach
Relief Society or teach Primary. And then COVID put all that to a stop. And then when we
resumed after lockdown, we started one hour stuff, one hour, one hour, until I think we
went for one hour sessions for about a month. And then we moved to two hours. I think so.
We moved to two hours again. And so, [pause] there was simply no motivation because I
knew that there was -- I wasn't going to teaching anyways. I'm not going to give any talk;
I'm not going to be asked to do any prayer. And so there was no motivation and going
back was -- although we were glad the lockdown had been lifted and we're glad we could
go to church to see our friends to listen to the gospel again; to share experiences -- it was
tough. Like, if, during the COVID and during the lockdown, we could have our Sacrament
meetings at home and still do our Come Follow Me's, is there really any reason of us going
back to church apart from going to see our friends we haven't met in a long while? You
know, these were some of the questions I was asking because I realized that whatever it is,
we're doing a Sacrament meeting. We could have easily done it at home. That is what at
least COVID taught us. And thanks to the Come Follow Me it is friendly. It's
understandable, easy to understand. You read, you compare it to what you know, your
life, how you understand it, to share experiences. And if that can be done at home, why do

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we have to go back again. And so I was struggling with those kind of ideas because it
wasn't necessarily different from what you are going to have in Sunday, like, on a normal
Sunday. So that was...Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 25:10
That makes sense. Did you have any -- did you ever come to any conclusions on those
questions? Or is that still kind of rumbling around in your head?

M

Mahana Kodzo 25:22
Well, I never came to a conclusion. But then I also realized that, with the family that would
come, I realized that, just like us, they wouldn't really read. And so if there's -- when you're
being asked questions, then you start to rumbling, like thinking in your head about -okay, so what is it about? And because of the internet, you can quickly go in and then look
at it and then just say one or two things as contributions to whatever it is that lesson, that
particular lesson was teaching. And so it wasn't really worth it, you know. When you get to
go on a Sunday, you have views from different people. And it gets to improve upon your
understanding that you thought you had. It brings a different viewpoint from what you
had, and you get to learn from other people. The learning environment becomes a larger
group of people than the few people you had at home learning from or listening to. Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 26:36
Wow, that's really well said. Thank you for that. I think a lot of people are thinking about
that. And I don't think you're alone in that. People were just sort of less, like you said,
enthusiastic about going back.

M

Mahana Kodzo 26:50
Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 26:51
Which is really interesting. Let me look here. Have you learned? Oh, no, how about this.
Has anything surprised you about this experience?

M

Mahana Kodzo 27:04
Hmm. I think, I believe in -- as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

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-- I believe in the prophets and continuous revelation, and so on. So the lockdown came,
and then we realized that, okay -- Come Follow Me -- we could easily do Come Follow
Me at home. And so I was like, okay, that's what gave me a firm conviction that our
prophets were really called of God. And that everything they tell us to do they really know
why they are doing it.

D

Diane Livingston 27:40
Hmm.

M

Mahana Kodzo 27:42
Yes. It was like, when Come Follow Me was introduced, it was preparing us for COVID. It
was like the prophets knew ahead of time what was going to happen. And so the Lord was
preparing us for us to be able to survive in the COVID times. And I think it's, it gave me a
very firm conviction that I was at the right place.

D

Diane Livingston 28:09
What a great place to be in.

M

Mahana Kodzo 28:11
Yeah,

D

Diane Livingston 28:11
Yeah, I mean, place in the sense of feeling grateful.

M

Mahana Kodzo 28:16
Mm hmm.

D

Diane Livingston 28:17
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences with COVID? and religion
at this point? Or have I kind of asked the right questions, I hope.

Mahana Kodzo 28:28

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M

Mahana Kodzo 28:28
Okay. So and during the time of COVID, our Bishop would always reach out to us, give us a
call, ask to how the family is doing, if we need any help, you know. And although we
weren't meeting, he would always go to the meeting house. And so he would tell you if you
have an issue, I'll be at the meeting house on this day, after work, or Yes, I would come. He
had his own -- he wasn't working in a government sector -- he was an enterpreneur so he
had his own shop. So he could always go to work and after work, come back to the
meeting house. And so he would always call you and say if you have an issue, if you want
to discuss something thing, I'm always there for you. And I'll be back this time, be there
that time. I realized that all though we weren't seeing ourselves, the ministering that was
introduced was also helping a lot during those COVID times. Because you could minister
by just using a telephone call to, "Hello, I was just calling to check up on you. How is the
family?" And there was WhatsApp internet, we could do a video call, you know. It was it
was AMAZING. The way sisters called, the way the bishop called to always check up on
the family. And so I think that is a plus for us -- the ministering, the new way of ministering
that we are doing now against what we used to do I think it was really helpful in these
COVID times.

D

Diane Livingston 30:11
Oh, yeah, that's really cool. Yeah. So did you find that there were many people in your
ward who really struggled either financially or spiritually? That you are aware of?

M

Mahana Kodzo 30:23
Yes, yes, including me. [chuckle] For the spiritual struggle, I'm sure I had friends who were
also struggling the same way as I was. But financially, I was, I was lucky that I had a stable
job. And so although I had a big family, I need to take care of my mom, I need to take
care of my nephews, I need to take care of my two children and all that and an Uncle. And
so the family was large, but I had a stable job. And even with me, it was sometimes tough
because we had to buy things in bulk. And then keep. Because we couldn't go out every
week as we were supposed to. And so sometimes you realize that you don't have enough
money to buy in bulk as you would want to. So the little you have, you'd have to manage
and make sure that it's, it takes care of the family until you get some more money, and all
that. But there are other people didn't have stable jobs. And they need to go out day in
and day out to fend for themselves. And so they struggled a lot. There were a couple that
were brought to our attention because we were ministering to them. And so when we got
to know, we had to call the Bishop and let the Bishop know. We first had to talk to the
Relief Society president. So some of them were Young Women. And so the Young Women
president got to know about it. My mom is the Young Women president and so she got to

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know about it. And then she had to go to the Bishop to tell the Bishop, "Okay, my Young
Women are struggling. Most of them do not have members as mothers or experience in
the church." And they go to school, and the close from school to well pure water. Okay, so
we have something here called sachet water. We call it pure water. It's in small sachets. So
some of them would have to... S-A-C-H-E-T

D

Diane Livingston 32:24
Yes.

M

Mahana Kodzo 32:25
Yes. So, it's in a small sachet. And we call it pure water, or sachet water. And so they would
have to close from school. And then went and sold the water by the roadside to get
something to take to school the following day. But because it was locked down most of
them couldn't do some of these things. They weren't going to school, though, but they
couldn't go and sell as well, because people were not buying. People were not going out.
So they couldn't get that and they couldn't support their families and so the Bishop had to
be spoken to. And then some arrangements were made, they bought food in bulk, and
then it was shared for each and every one of them. For some sisters they went to rentals
and events, decorators and stuff. And because of the corona, all activities at halted. No
weddings, no parties, and so people were not patronizing their services. And so they
couldn't feed themselves nor their families. And so they were also brought the attention of
the Bishop, their Relief Society president who then went to the Bishop, and then some
foodstuffs were made available to them. But my question was for how long was it going to
continue? After it was it was finished would they have to come back again, for another? So
those were some of the challenges we were facing physically. Spiritually. I know a lot of us
were struggling spiritually. So for that it was a fact.

D

Diane Livingston 34:03
Yeah, yeah. Wow, that is great, though. So nice to see a ward come together and help
each other.

M

Mahana Kodzo 34:11
Yeah.

Oral History with Mahana Kodzo

Page 13 of 16

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

D

Diane Livingston 34:11
You know, did you feel like there was a closer bond in THAT way, Maybe? Even though you
were separated? Or did you really feel that at all?

M

Mahana Kodzo 34:20
Yes. And I felt that there was a closer bond with them calling and finding out how you are
doing. Although they weren't coming to the house, they weren't, you weren't seeing them
once a week, or maybe in the middle of the week going to visit and all that, they showed
us that they cared. And so for that, the bonding was there, and we knew that we had
friends who really cared about us.

D

Diane Livingston 34:46
Yeah.

M

Mahana Kodzo 34:47
Yeah. Yeah.

D

Diane Livingston 34:48
Well, that's, it sounds like people came together and helped where you could and we're
seeing that -- I feel like we're seeing that in a lot of places around the world, it's really
positive. Are there any other thoughts that you have, as we wrap up here that you'd like to
share? We've covered a lot I feel like.

M

Mahana Kodzo 35:09
Hmm, no, for now. No. No for now. [pause] No, no, nothing comes to mind. I think I've
basically spoken about everything. Okay there was one thing. There's this sister, she
doesn't really have. So she sells, she shares a room with about four or five other family
members, who are like Auntie's or nephews or Uncles and stuff in one small room, and she
doesn't work. She does sewing. So if you have a dress that is torn, and you take it to her,
she would mend it for you. And she sells staple foods, maybe sugar. She ties sugar, small in
a rubber bag, and then she puts on a table. So it's like a table top sort of store. That is
what she does for a living. And she has one son. And she doesn't have like, she's very
[pause] well there and then one of the sisters and a [Relief Society] minister too called and
said, thank you to me. I was like, "Thank you for what?" She said that I brought her a bag

Oral History with Mahana Kodzo

Page 14 of 16

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

of water. I'm like, "No, I haven't brought her anything." And she said, "Really?" I said, "Yes.
Why?" And she said, "Okay." The sister is called sister Elizabeth. Sister Elizabeth brought
her water and said it was from me. I was like, "No, I haven't done anything like that." So I
called the sister and I asked her, sister Agrew said I gave you water to bring to her. But I
don't remember doing anything like that. She was like, "Oh, I shouldn't worry. Maybe she
didn't hear her well." So for me, that was an impact. I felt like, "Wow." So for someone
struggling, so much to take care of herself and her son has been able to do this kind deed.
Then what am I sitting down for? So that taught me a big lesson. And it's, it's imprinted
something in my mind and in my heart, which woke me up from whatever. Although what I
had wasn't enough, I had more than what the sister had. So I called my mom and I told
my mom that we need to do more than we are doing. And so if sister Elizabeth has been
able to do this kind deed, what about us? We go and buy things. And then if we buy loaves
of bread, we just go get loaves of bread. You go, we give maybe 10 fish or 10 milk or
something. But what the sister did, I couldn't comprehend it. For me, that was selfless. So it
is one lesson she taught me although I knew that it was good to be kind, I knew that. To
be, to sacrifice is to give something, -- not to give what you have in abundance -- but to
give something you do not have in abundance. That is real sacrifice. And so you give until
it hurts. That is sacrifice. You don't give what you can give and then you still be
comfortable. No. So that is one thing I learned and then it woke me up from whatever I
was in. So that is one thing that is always here from the lockdown I learned.

D

Diane Livingston 38:35
That's a really -- and so then there's a positive thing.

M

Mahana Kodzo 38:38
Yeah, positive. Mm hmm.

D

Diane Livingston 38:41
Thank you so much for sharing that. That's good for me to hear too. I need to hear that
too. I'm learning from you. Well, this has been so great. Thank you so much for sharing
everything.

M

Mahana Kodzo 38:56
You're welcome. Thank you for talking to me.

Oral History with Mahana Kodzo

Page 15 of 16

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

D

Diane Livingston 38:59
So fun to get to know you and I hope we can stay friends! I'm going to stop the recording
now.

Oral History with Mahana Kodzo

Page 16 of 16

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Oral History of Mahana Kodzo
Interview One, October 24, 2020
In this Oral History, Mahana Kodzo describes her growing up years with her sister and
parents in the Accra region of Ghana. She shares her interests, joining the Cadet Corps, and
doing an exchange program with the Duke of Edinburgh. She relates her University years and
her year in Togo studying French. Her family was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints and she describes her activities growing up in the church. She describes
college sports and winning a Silver medal in Badminton at the GUSA games. Mahana served in
the National Service, teaching French and eventually became a Regional Secretary for the
region. She was sealed in the Ghana LDS Temple, had two children and describes her devotion
to her children. Her grandparents’ homeland is explained.
Interview Two, November 10, 2020
In this second interview, Mahana talks of her faith, how COVID-19 has affected worship
and her faith. When the lockdown was instituted, it was difficult for her little children because
they enjoyed seeing their friends. The lockdown was enforced between March and September.
She relates Sacrament Meeting on the porch with friends and her worry about contracting the
virus.
Mahana Kodzo, another Ghanaian, has historically been an integral member of her LDS
ward; teaching Primary each Sunday. She is raising two small children as a single mother and
feels her responsibility deeply. Mahana admits it has been tough to maintain her spirituality
during COVID. She attributes this to her loss of involvement in the church. Without a church
responsibility or spiritual devotionals at work (she was working from home for a time), she
struggles to find the motivation to study her scriptures. When the lockdown was finally lifted,
she was reticent about returning to in-person church, remarking, “I felt a little easy. It was a tug
of war.” She feels like her spirituality has declined significantly and has a great desire to
“improve.” Mahana is hopeful and resolved to continue to learn and live the way she feels she
should and be a good example to her children.
Diane Livingston, Interviewer, Utah State University Graduate Student
December 14, 2020

Dr. Patrick Mason, professor
History 6420

Interview with Mahana Kodzo
Part One
October 24, 2020
Time Stamp
5:17
Birth and growing up years in Kotobabi with sister
10:16
Childhood activities
13:13
Cadets Club and Corps
14:09
Exchange student
15:58
School years and studying French
21:55
Parents’ conversion to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
22:24
Standards and growing up Mormon
25:54
Testimony of Jesus Christ
29:51
Badminton successes
31:09
Togo study abroad
34:34
National Service
38:04
Elected Regional Secretary
40:13
Professional work and getting her current job as HR mgr.for the Ghana Area Seventy.
45:56
Value of education and her aspirations
48:45
Marriage
54:23
Children
57:26
Her hopes for her children
1:00:27 Desires to improve
1:05:20 Grandparents native land
1:07:46 Sister
Part Two
November 10, 2020
1:21
Description of Church services pre-Covid
4:21
Her son’s reaction to the lockdown
9:30
Sacrament Meeting on the porch with friends
14:42
Tough to maintain spiritual life
17:22
Hesitant to return to church
25:22
Being with others in church is a better learning environment
27:04
Surprised that Come Follow Me was preparing her for home church
28:28
Operations of Bishop during COVID
30:23
Ward care of needy and closer bonds
35:09
Experience that taught her to be selfless

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