Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Capes, Castles, Canopy and Conference

This was a special week.  President Heid encouraged us to take a little break and see some of Ghana to the West.  We left Thursday and traveled with our neighbors, the Jones's.  We ended up only about 40 miles from Cote 'd Ivoire.  We had permission from the Africa West Area Presidency to leave our mission boundaries.   It was "out West" where we checked out Capes, Castles and a Canopy of sorts.  The Conference part was back in our Mission on Sunday. We hope you can get a sense of what we encountered.


Cape Coast Castle is where male and female slaves were housed before leaving on slave ships.  The timber trade, discovery of gold and ivory in the region were attractive to foreign nations and eventually "human resources" were required.

Fort Williams on the hill would signal the castle if there were approaching ships or enemies.

One of the cells where slaves were kept.  They received food and water twice a day, but they were in crowded, unsanitary, and horrible conditions.  They often stayed here up to 3 months before being traded.

Supposedly Michelle Obama's great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was born into slavery and passed through the Cape Coast Castle on his way to America.

This was a very deep tunnel where the slaves were marched to the ships.

 This was where small boats would ferry the slaves out to the larger ships.

Today, this area east of the castle is a bustling fishing boat launching site and market.

While we waited for our guide to tour some church historical sites at Cape Coast, we watched these men string their nets.

School kids on their way home.


Prior to the LDS Church organizing in Ghana, a minister named Billy Johnson obtained a Book of Mormon and used it for some of his sermons.  This went on for several years as   Billy petitioned the church for literature and membership.  By the time the LDS Church sent missionaries in late 1978, he had a congregation of many people who wanted to be baptized.

This is a picture of the first meetinghouse in Ghana.

Stan and Sister Jones are in front of the original building where the church members met.  It is now another denomination.  Ato is our guide and one of the original LDS members here.

This is how the church looks now.  Ato explained that when he attended church, the roof was in such bad condition that you could see the sky.

Baptisms took place here.  Ato was baptized by Billy Johnson.   To calm the waves, people would form a circle around those being baptized.  

The round circle concrete slab we are standing on, is/was where they used to slaughter sheep!

This is Ato, his wife and one of his seven children.  They are such wonderful and faithful people.

This is one of the church buildings in Cape Coast, a few blocks from the original building. The steeple cannot be on top of the building due to building codes.  It is, therefore, displayed in the parking lot.  (Below)

On our trip we saw three sets of missionaries.  This companionship was preparing to teach a lesson to this young lady on the church grounds.


We drove further west, about 3 hours from Cape Coast, and decided to spend BIG BUCKS and stay one night at this unique beach resort that some other senior missionaries recommended.  We weren't sure what to expect after leaving a very nice paved road, to find this 4 mile "path" was the entrance to the beach resort!!  We were very grateful for 4 wheel drive.  And, we needed it!!

After the muddy road, this was what our truck looked like.  It almost rivals Gilbert's vehicle, our Mission Facility's Manager, who is out in the bush all the time.
 Part of the resort is on a small peninsula.

 This was the reception and restaurant area.

From the restaurant to the peninsula, you walk across sand that is often covered by water from the tide.  Yes, your shoes get wet even if you try to dodge the waves.

 This was our cabin with a private pool overlooking the ocean.

 This was our neighbor's cabin.  

The view was amazing!

 Breakfast was served at our garden patio.

 Even the bathroom door had a peephole to see the ocean!

Exotic orange dessert....like a fruit salad.

 Stan plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.

This fishing village was only a block away from the beach resort.  We don't understand how the laundry stays white with all the dirt!

We stopped at this LDS Church to enjoy the grounds and have lunch.  The beach is across the street from the church.


After the beach resort, we returned back to Cape Coast and toured Kakum National Park. This National Park is still primitive and covers 36000 hectares.  There are leopards, snakes, elephants, birds, toads, etc. in the park but virtually no roads.

Before we headed to the park, we stayed at the Rain Forest Lodge.  It was adequate, but definitely not the luxury we had the night before!  It brought us back to reality.

Canopy Walk in Kakum.  There were 7 suspension bridges high in the trees.

We went on a nature walk and we were glad we had a guide.  We almost felt like we needed a machete to blaze a trail.

Soldier ants that formed a solid line for a long way.  They bite!

Cocoa .  We sampled the coating and it was sweet.  The beans inside are dried before processing.

 Ebony tree
There are 240 elephants in the park.  They like to scratch against the bark.

 Black pepper plant.

Tree has thorns at the base to discourage predators.

 This Onyina tree is at least 500 years old.  It is the largest tree in Central Ghana.

The huge base supports the tree.

We tried to smile by the base of this huge tree.  We were hot and sweaty.  It was only 9am!!


Lush tropical feel!!!

 Wow...bike lanes, no gutters!

 Rebar, shovels, pans, anything you want is at the side of the road.

 Caskets are made by hand.

Bamboo poles holding tv antennas


After our trip to Cape Coast, we slept at our apartment in Accra and drove 2 hours to Koforidua for District Conference.  Stan calls the scenery Jurassic Park!

The building was overflowing.  This is the just the back portion of the building.  There were an equal number of people in the front of the hall.

All the missionaries were gathering before the meeting in the canopy area in courtyard.  We also sat there.  There were no ceiling fans and no breeze.  It was quite warm!

At the meeting President Heid read a letter from church headquarters announcing that due to the growth in the area, the Koforidua Stake would be formed on June 24 and 25.  At that time a Stake President will be called to preside and a Mission President will no longer be responsible.  When President and Sister Heid arrived three years ago, there were three church units.  There are now eleven.


Sister Heid is very happy with the foliage around the mission home.  She planted some Camillas and some small roses.  So far they are surviving!

We had no idea that a cocoa plant was growing around the mission home grounds, until a security guard showed us.

This house....primed with white paint...has been under construction since we have been on our mission.  Progress is slow.  Sister Heid had to sign off with the owner that it was ok for the house being so close to our building.  What do you do when the construction is already well underway? Not sure there is much of a building code here.

Our facility management team wanted to raise our security wall.  You can see how close the two buildings are to each other.  Their wall is on top of our wall!