Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Winding up, Winding down

For months we have been preparing for this week.  We knew we were going to experience a major turn-over with 18 missionaries returning home Monday, and 10 newbies arriving from the MTC on Tuesday.  And we did.  The disparity between the two groups required the closing of four areas.  This, in turn, created a "domino" effect and impacted nearly every part of the mission.  We had major chaos for those two days at the mission home.  Fortunately everything did work out and everyone got to their new companions and areas safely.



 
This departing group of non-African missionaries was the largest number we have experienced since our arrival.  (There were a few Africans, too.) Among those returning home, were Elder's Morris and Smith. They were both serving as Office Elders when we arrived last year.  Since we spent many hours with these two, we were able to get to know them better than most of the other missionaries.  So, for us, it was a little sad to say goodbye. On the other hand, we can and will maintain contact with them and hope we can watch, from a distance, as this new part of their lives unfolds.  


 Elder Morris

Elder Smith

This week we also welcomed many new zone leaders to our Missionary Leadership Council.  Once a month all Zone Leaders and Sister Leader come to the mission home for training.  Elder Falk, in the front, looks quite excited, don't you think?  He is also a former Office Elder.


In this group, we have 9 new zone leaders.  Many of them will be returning to their homes in the next few months.  This will leave a dearth in mission leadership.  But it does provide opportunities for others to step up and develop their skills.  


This weekend we welcomed Jeff and Carol Glanfield from Ontario, Canada, our office replacements.   We took them grocery shopping and gave them a little tour of Accra. (Interesting side note:  The Glanfields originally thought their mission would be helping with construction needs at the Nauvoo, IL church historical site, but visas are difficult to obtain for Canadian residents, so they were assigned to Ghana.  When Jeff served as Bishop in Canada, he helped find an apartment for a couple of young LDS women who were coming from Ghana to attend nursing school.  One of the girls' fathers is Dr. Kissi, one of the original church members here in Ghana.  Now Jeff will have the opportunity to meet Dr. Kissi in person.  Dr. Kissi does a government approved medical physical for missionaries so they can get a residence permit to stay in the country.

We invited the Glanfields to dinner to meet the Jones's.  The Glanfields were doing quite well after only an hour nap and coming from a very long international flight.

Sunday we drove three hours to Dzodze, near the Togo border.  We took the mission van with the Jones's and Glanfields.  Theses are the missionaries who serve in this area.  

We were in Dzodze because President Heid created two branches, Dzodze and Aflao.  Two years ago there were 8 members in this Area and now there are about 100.


 The local tribal chief, in the blue outfit in the center, was a guest.

Group photo of most of the Sunday group.  Several church members were also taking pictures.  Following our Sunday meeting, there were 5 baptisms....three were children of record and two converts.  One of the converts was referred to the missionaries by his father who was also being taught by the missionaries.  The father can't be baptized because he has two wives!  (Remember in Ghana, polygamy is legal up to 4 wives.)

 This is the Aflao Branch.

 This is the Dzodze Branch.

The two Branch Presidents greet each other.


So, this week we "wound" up for the big transfer and "wound" down some and prepared for receiving the Glanfields.  With their arrival, the reality is setting in that this truly is the "winding" down stage of our mission.  It is hard to believe.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Short and Sweet

This week was fairly routine, as we are really concentrating on preparing for massive missionary transfers this upcoming week and receiving a new mission office couple.

Stan, Joseph, (one of security guards and gardener), and Wayne work at assembling a weed eater.   President Heid's father owned a landscaping company.  President tried to mow with the current mission gas mower and decided Joseph needed some new equipment to keep everything trimmed properly at the mission home.

The Haglunds are the senior couple in the "bush" in Koforidua, about 1 1/2 hours from the mission home.  This week their daughter, McKenzie and her husband, Matt, arrived from Salinas, California to visit in Ghana.  We hosted them a few nights.  Matt teaches high school Spanish plus a college prepare course for immigrants and McKenzie teaches algebra and geometry.  We enjoyed meeting them.


Today we attended church in Teshie 3 Ward.  It is an area about twenty minutes from our apartment. Elder Mehnpaine, on the left, is from Liberia, and Elder Horne is from Queen Creek, AZ.  It was Ward Conference today, so the Stake President was in attendance and encouraged the members to strive for a temple marriage, to be considerate of each other, and to work together on life's challenges.


On Saturday, our neighbors, Wayne and Meg Jones, moved a block away to a new apartment complex.  The West Area legal and public relations senior missionaries live there also. The complex has a small swimming pool, exercise room, and modern decor.  The apartment across from us will now house the Glanfields, the office mission couple who replaces us.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A little of This, A little of That

We had a busy week but nothing too exciting happened.  However, we always seem to find something to share.  We are getting ready to send and receive a fairly large group of missionaries next week.  There is just much to do.  We are also writing office instructions in preparation to receive the Glanfields, the office couple replacing us, and help them transition into life in Ghana.  They will arrive on Saturday, June 17.

  We laughed because there are in general no cycling lanes anywhere.

This car was directly next to the sign above.  This is a four lane road, two lanes in one direction.  You can't really tell by this picture, but our tire is right against the curb and what you are seeing is the "sidewalk."  The cars to the right are parked on the sidewalk.  The walkway is closed, so there is no place to walk and cycles have no cycle lane, so they just use the closed sidewalk.


Missionaries at the mission office this week.

Several sisters came to the mission home to be trained as STLs.  (Sister Training Leaders) Sister Nkasa, in front, is one of our favorites.  Well, actually, all of the Sisters are "favorites."

This is Elder Eguko.  He came to our mission so he could take the TOEFL test in preparation for college admission at the end of his mission.  He is currently serving in Liberia and his father is Mission President in Nigeria.  Elder Eguko actually left for his mission from Ghana.  He is a capable young man.  We have been the "hosting" mission for many different circumstances occurring in the Africa West Area.

Nancy was able to take this photo of the Ghana Accra Mission Presidency.  From the left, President Sowah, President Senanu, President Heid, and Clerk Ben Gibbah.  All of these men are wonderful and talented individuals.  We may have mentioned that during the "freeze" in Ghana when the church could only meet as families, President Sowah spent the night in jail because he and his companion had given an ill person a priesthood blessing. According to the police, that was a violation of the law.  President Sowah is a banker by profession.  President Senanu just returned from a few months of training in Salt Lake City. He works in the Real Estate department of the Area Office.  Ben Gibbah works in the Finance Department at the Area Office.




We had a good sized group of missionaries show up this week to attend computer class, renew their non-citizen cards, attend the temple, and have interviews with the President.  It is always fun to interact with the missionaries.

On the way to church this morning, Nancy found this statement on the back of this taxi to be quite amusing.  As far as we have observed, ALL taxi drivers drive recklessly!!   

Today we attended the Christiansborg Ward, which is only about 10 minutes from our apartment.  (We affectionately call it the KFC building since there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken establishment on the corner of the same street.)   It was Fast and Testimony meeting.  This is the worship service held on the first Sunday of the month.  Members fast for two meals and donate the money they would have spent on food for the Bishop to use for those in need.  Church members also take the opportunity to briefly share experiences that have strengthened their relationship with the Savior, etc. 

It just happened that a newly called Stake President was in attendance at this meeting.  He spoke of being prompted to visit a certain ward recently.   When he shook the hand of one young person, he looked into her eyes and asked her if she was sick.  She admitted that she was not feeling well.  He asked if she had told her parents.  She had not.  So, the Stake President sought them out and asked that they seek medical attention for their daughter. Later in the week, the Stake President phoned the family to check on the health of their daughter.  She apparently had been diagnosed with a very serious condition, but she was now doing well.  The Stake President was grateful he was placed in the right position at the right time, or the outcome could have been very different.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Variety of Warriors

This week we said goodbye to friends, welcomed new "warriors" to our mission and observed a program for special education students and their parents, who are "warriors" themselves.


We said farewell to Elder Harris who returned to his family in Caldwell, Idaho.  Elder Harris was an Assistant to the President for several months so we got to know him well.  He called us Grandma and Grandpa and was constantly asking about recipes, advice for school, etc.  He plans to be a medical doctor and has a brilliant mind.  He just needs an assistant to help with details!!

 Our May 23 departure group

Elder Ntumbo is almost twenty seven years old and comes to the mission from the DRC. He has completed medical training so Sister Jones, our mission nurse, is anxious to consult with him about health issues for Africans!!


Always the unexpected when you are driving in Ghana!

During the week our AP"s and Office Elders became "warriors" at the mission home.  A missionary from Cape Coast Mission, about three hours away, had a sudden mental breakdown.  He was transported to Accra for evaluation and medical treatment.  Our elders took an all night shift to watch over him until appropriate arrangements could be made for him.  (They didn't get any sleep at all)  He is doing much better and likely will remain hospitalized until he can safely be returned home to Nigeria.

We have another elder temporarily staying with us at the mission home for a few weeks. We will get a photo this week.  He is from Ghana, is serving a mission in Liberia, and his father is a mission president in Nigeria.   This missionary received special permission to temporarily leave his mission and travel to Accra for TOEFL (Test of English for a Foreign Language) testing, so he can prepare for school when he is released from his mission.

Some other missionaries came to the mission home to pick up new companions, receive a leadership assignment, and transfer to new areas in the mission.


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All of these US missionaries will be going home in June.  Since the temple will be closed for maintenance when they depart, President Heid had them come into town early and attend the temple now.

This week the Wardells from the Kumasi Mission (in the back), and his sister and brother-in-law, returned from a safari in South Africa.  We spent a few hours with them and they gave us some travel tips, since we will take the same trip prior to returning back to the US.

It was Brother Wardell's 69th birthday.  He was treated to a tropical cheesecake.  He shared with all of us.  Yum!!

On Saturday we attended a program, "Special Kids Have Special Families".  Several women who are serving a senior mission here, volunteer at a school called New Horizon.  It was founded over forty years ago to help students with handicaps.  During the annual Africa Day of Service sponsored by the church, the Cantonments Ward, which meets on the temple grounds, helps with clean-up and landscaping at the New Horizon School.  The volunteers thought it would be nice to recognize the families of these special needs students and have ward members actually meet the people they help each year. 

The students and the staff performed a few songs for their parents with help from the Young Women and Young Men who attend the Cantonments Ward.

 
The students sang, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" complete with hand motions.

Ballet by M. Miles Dance Academy.  The owner of the studio attends the Cantonments Ward.

The Accragio Choir performed some selections from Africa, secular and Christian music. Their accompanist, Mary Richards, is a volunteer at the New Horizon School and a member of the Cantonments Ward.   The choir is truly international with members from around the world.


There are several mature adults who participate in the Sheltered Workshop at New Horizons.  They perform job skills according to their abilities.  One gentleman has been at the school for 43 years.  These adults learned three choreographed dances!!


Mrs. Salome Francois, founder of the New Horizon School, greeted her daughter, who is in a wheelchair.  Mrs. Francois started the school over forty years ago because her daughter was paralyzed from a small pox vaccination and needed help for her education.
  
Mrs. Salome Francois received a framed poem entitled "Heaven's Special Child" and a framed picture of Christ with little children, as a tribute to her helping these students.  She was very touched.  (We were too, especially remembering our niece who has Angelman's Syndrome.)

Heaven's Special Child
A meeting was held quite far from earth
It's time again for another birth,"
Said the angels to the Lord up above,
 This special child will need much love.

He may not run or laugh or play,
His thought seem seem quite far away.
In many ways he won't adapt,
And he'll be known as handicapped.

So let us be careful where he's sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please Lord find the parents who
will do a special job for you.

They will not realize right away,
The leading role they're asked to play.
But with this child sent from above,
Comes stronger faith and richer love.

And soon they'll know the privilege given, 
In caring for their gift from heaven,
Their precious charge so meek and mild,
Is Heaven's very special child.I



 This couple did a salsa as well as a hip hop dance.

Mary Richards is here in Ghana because he husband is Legal Counsel for the church.  She has a degree in music and can sing, play piano and flute, etc.  She taught many songs to the students at New Horizon School.  For those familiar with modern church prophets, she is the granddaughter of President Ezra Taft Benson, who also served as the Secretary of Agriculture in US President  Eisenhower's Administration.

 View of the Ghana Accra Temple from the Stake Center second level.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pace Baby, Trashy Bags and Hillburi

The highlight of the week had nothing to do with our experiences in Africa but was an important event in our family.  We have a new granddaughter born on Saturday at 11:53pm to Ryan and Stephanie in Pennsylvania.   Everyone is doing well and we are awaiting the decision on her name.  We are excited to meet her in August.



Both of us were very busy this week.  It isn't because of "extra" things coming to our attention, but rather preparing for the next few months and getting ready for the transition to a new mission president and office couple.  Near the time these two events occur, there are many new missionaries coming to Ghana and many leaving.  There is no way to make it easy just because of the sheer numbers.  We have had nothing in the past 16 months that compares to what will be happening in June, July and a September group of 23 missionaries returning home.  But, it is good to be busy.

After our trip to Takoradi and Cape Coast, this week was rather routine... busy, but routine. We did attend the temple on Friday and went out to dinner with the other senior couples. (Yes, more food pictures), but Sister Pace forgot to snap a few for our blog.   We are sure you are tired of seeing us eat all the time, so it was a good thing that Nancy forgot to photograph the food.



Well, we did find one picture!! Sister Heid came in the mission office late Thursday afternoon and said she was making beef stroganoff and had plenty.  Did we want to come for dinner?  Sure!  The Jones's joined us for an impromptu meal.  The women were ready to eat and the men were talking baseball!


Had to show this picture because we complain about the traffic all the time.  The taxis and Tro Tro drivers don't seem to check their mirrors and are constantly pulling out in traffic in front of other drivers, as well as darting in and out around other cars.  We were returning to the mission office from lunch and saw a taxi and this small car jockeying back and forth on a two lane ramp.  We all made a right turn and found traffic was stopped due to the yellow truck in the traffic lane.  All of sudden the driver of the cream colored car jumped out of his vehicle and started hitting the taxi driver ahead of him.  He was really pounding on him for a period of time through the open window.  (Most windows are down because the taxis do not have AC.)  A motorist going the opposite direction stopped his car and all the occupants got out to try to pull the gentleman off of the taxi driver.  You can see many people were needed to stop the altercation.  Then a motorcycle cop arrived on the scene and we drove around the incident. We did notice the cream colored car had several large scrape marks in the front, so perhaps there had been an incident with the taxi.  

This weekend we did have a few interesting experiences.  On Saturday morning we met several other senior couples at a place called Trashy Bags.  It is a business that is committed to teach and promote recycling.  One of the major environmental problems is Ghana is waste.  Especially pertinent to this problem are small plastic bags that contain an individual serving of filtered water. The hawkers and vendors sell them everywhere for a few Pesewas.  When you purchase one of these water sachets, you simple tear off  the corner with your teeth, guzzle the contents, and throw the bag on the ground.  There are very few public garbage bins around Accra.  These bags end up blowing everywhere; clogging the open gutters, washing up on the beach, and collecting in the most interesting places.  We have seen piles of these bags raked into a pile and then set on fire. The fumes are toxic, but there are no laws regarding open burning.  

Trashy Bags, with support from groups in Europe in particular, have begun to so something about this issue. The way it is set up currently, the company will pay 1.2 cedis (about 30 cents US), for a kilo of these bags.  We can hardly guess how many of these bags are in 2.2 lbs.  Still, people are desperate and will do anything to earn cedis to support their families. The bags are cleaned, disinfected, and dried in the sun.  A team of creative employees have been working on items that can be made from this "Trash." The pictures below will give you a little idea of this very interesting project.



Elvis has been with Trashy Bags Project since it was formed in July 2008.  Being a professional Archaeologist and having worked with museums and educational programs, Elvis is committed to the idea that education and awareness is the key to finding lasting solutions to Africa’s problems. As Project Director, his role at Trashy Bags is in the area of public relations and educational initiatives with emphasis on outreach programs. (from the Trashy Bags website)
A pile of water bags or sachets.

Elvis shows us a grocery shopping bag that is made from 70 water sachets and can hold 20 kilos.  A backpack uses 220 sachets and it takes 400 sachets to make a gym bag. Recently Trashy Bags received a contract to distribute backpacks to school children in northern Ghana.  The backpack lasts several years and also contained pencils, crayons, stationary, rulers, and other school supplies, plus an educational pamphlet about recycling.  


Some of the colorful African fabrics that are used in some of the products.  The outside of a bag might be fabric and the liner could be the plastic water sachets.


Trashy Bags also uses the heavier material from billboards for design elements of bags. They try to recycle 99% of the materials for their product line.

 This is the case for the grocery shopping bag and forms the bottom of that bag.

Some other items on display


After our morning visit to Trashy Bags, we, with the Jones's, headed up the "mountain" to Aburi.  We had been told that there is a good restaurant there that had nice views of Accra. It is also about 3-4 degrees cooler there.  We thought we would try it.  It was a nice setting.




The Jones's and Nancy wait for our meal to be served.  We actually ate outside.


 The City of Accra is in the valley.




 The restaurant had some interesting signs for the decor!





Sunday we attended Adenta Stake Conference.  This was the crowd 15 minutes before the meeting began.  There was not an empty seat by 10 am!!

The Stake President spoke with direct advice to various groups in the congregation.  Church members should strive to be committed and diligent in their testimony.  To those who are single, he encouraged them to be engaged in worthwhile activities and to not delay marriage.  Since bride price or a dowry is a huge issue in Africa, he counseled couples to strive for a simple spiritual wedding rather than an elaborate affair that puts a financial strain on relationships.  For those who are divorced, he said to not lose faith in marriage.  To those who were widowed, he suggested they spend time striving for personal growth and giving service. He asked  priesthood leaders to "look after" widows, the fatherless and single parents.  He advised all members to be kind and considerate to others.

  


We always enjoy mingling with the missionaries when we are gathered together.