Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Week in Ghana

We had several holiday activities this week, including two more Christmas Conferences with our missionaries, Christmas Eve Mission open house, church on Sunday and Christmas Day dinner with the Heids and Jones's.

Last Sunday was a Ghana Accra Mission open house for any vendors, friends, Area staff, etc. who wanted to stop by and see the mission home compound.  Sister Heid really likes lights and not many people actually decorate in Ghana.

It was Sister Heid's birthday and she loves chocolate.  So, Nancy made her a cake and we sang Happy Birthday.

A Young Single Adult group stopped by to sing Happy Birthday to Sister Heid and serenade us with some African Christmas music.

At Sister Scripture Study on Monday, some women brought nativity sets to display. 

 This set was made of soapstone.

This set "gives you pause to think about the power of Christ to heal the sins and sorrows of this world."  The nativity is made from the brass shell casings of bullets that were used in the civil wars 1989-1996 and 1999-2003.  The carver is a member of the church in Liberia.

For December senior missionary Family Home Evening, we had a delicious buffet, sang Christmas carols and had a gift exchange. 

Nancy got a wallet and beaded necklace and earring set. 

During the gift exchange, Elder Darrell Webster and Elder Stephen Webster negotiated who would keep which purse!!

This Christmas banner is typical of holiday decorations around buildings.  This is at the entrance to the Area Offices.

Gathering for a missionary Christmas Conference.

A lunch buffet is always a popular item at the Christmas Conference for missionaries.  President was able to greet all the missionaries (174) in the entire mission between our Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday meetings. 

 This district acted out the Nativity as they sang.

Stan and Elder Harris, with the red cap, sang an upbeat rendition of Angels We Have Heard on High.  Elder Koronikalou was just holding the mic.

After the conference was "officially" over, the "islanders" plus one adopted son, performed the Haka.

 We finally started some Christmas baking this weekend!  Stan helped frost the sugar cookies.

 Nancy made cinnamon rolls to share for Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve afternoon, there was a pool party at the Temple View apartments where the Area Presidency lives and the Temple President.  The Heids were showing off their water ping pong skill.  President Heid had a nasty cold all week so it was good to see him back in action.
Where there are senior missionaries, there is food.  Wonderful barbecued chicken and salmon plus more!!

 After the Christmas Eve "buffet", there was another open house at the mission home.  Joseph, one of our security guards, came with this wife.

 Sister Heid had a creche display.

One of the visitors was wearing a "Light the World" T-shirt, reminding us of the church campaign to encourage us to do service during the month of December.

 The office elders supervised the refreshment and coloring tables.  (Ben Gibbah is a finance employee at the Area office and came with his family.)

Gilbert, our mission facilities supervisor, and his wife, Cynthia, pose with Mildred in front of the mission home tree.  Cynthia is a nurse and works about 3 hours from Accra.  She and Gilbert only spend every other weekend together.   Many couples have that kind of situation where they are married but live in separate locations in order to provide for their family. 

This is a better picture of Mildred.  We finally got her to smile but not in this picture.  She carried around that cookie all night!

Sister Heid was given this quilt in California after their first mission 4 years ago.  She brought it back to Ghana when they were called to be Mission President. 

Look who showed up at the mission open house, our former AP's, Charles Osei-Brobbey on the left and Livingstone Quarshie, on the right.  They came to visit friends and members during the long Christmas holiday weekend.  Charles is still looking for work and applying for college.  Livingstone is doing his National Service obligation and "working" for an energy company in his home town of Takoradi, about 5 hours from Accra.

 Christmas morning we enjoyed scrambled eggs and a cinnamon roll before attending church.

 After church we posed by our Christmas tree.

We were thrilled that packages from our family arrived in time for Christmas and everything was intact!

We enjoyed a nice Christmas dinner at the Mission home with the Heids and the Jones's.  President had not yet filled his plate when we took the picture!! The Jones's provided the turkey (expensive here in Ghana) and Nancy made lemon meringue pie.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas music and Mission Christmas Conference

We have to force ourselves to remember that we are quickly approaching Christmas Day.  If we don't, a step outside and the blast of moist heat in our face reminds us of something else. We have been finishing the purchase of a few gifts for our sons and their families.  We are thankful for the many on-line merchants who make it possible for us to at least contribute, in a small way, to the smiles and laughter of our grandchildren on Christmas morning.

We have been thinking about what kind of service we can render to our new friends and proxy family in Ghana.  We are more convinced than ever that the greatest gift and service we can give is the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the promise that it will bring true happiness and peace to those who accept and live it.

We have been inspired by the #Light the World initiative found on mormon.org; Twenty-five ways to serve each other in twenty-five days.  Christmas has always been a time to look outward to others instead of just inward to ourselves.  We like so much the practical and very real ways we can do the same things Jesus did and by doing so, make the world a better place.

This week it feels like we did the same things that we did last week.  That is not totally true. We hope the pictures will give you an idea of our week.

Sister Heid and Nancy attended a District Meeting.  Elder Helm, the district leader, had made pancakes for everyone! 

The mission office is decorated with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling.  Our former office elder, Elder Morris, made them last Christmas and we discovered them in the storage closet.
Sister Heid wanted to make the mission office more "professional".   So, instead of missionary "artwork and crafts" accumulated from many years, she ordered pictures of various temples. The San Diego temple, near where the Heids live when not serving a mission, is on the left.  The Salt Lake Temple is in the center and the St. George, Utah temple is on the right. 

Wednesday evening, the Heids "made" us stay and have dinner with the APs and Office Elders.  (We think they felt sorry for us since we were still at the office at 6 p.m.).  Sister Heid had purchased large pork roast, from a new vendor, and was consulting with Nancy all day about the best way to cook it.  

These missionaries are always ready for a home-cooked meal.  In fact, they are so ready that they cannot stop when reasonably filled up.  See the result below.

For December 15 the #Light the World theme was "Jesus Worshiped through Song and So Can You".  We were invited by our MTC friends, the Websters, to visit their home for a dessert buffet and night of singing carols.  We enjoyed socializing and feeling the Christmas spirit through music.

On Saturday morning we left early to get ahead of the traffic.  We were on our way to Kpong for the first of three Christmas multi-zone conferences in the next few days.  The Mission President wanted to gather the missionaries together for "light" instruction and provide an opportunity for them to be together and enjoy a Christmas meal. 

On our way, and early on, we were caught in some serious traffic.  We barely moved for about one hour.  The picture above is what we saw out of the driver's window as we inched along on the freeway. Yes, the cattle were grazing between the lanes.  They, however, were not the problem.  Let's just say, Ghanaian highway engineering needs serious help.  As long as there is a dirt path anywhere near the freeway, motorists will make it into a traffic lane until they run out of dirt or pavement or an obstacle like a disabled vehicle.  Five "lanes" of traffic were being forced into two to negotiate a traffic circle.    

We arrived 30 minutes late to find things well under way.  Our new couple, the Haglunds, were seated on the front row.  They chose to ride with the Koforidua Zone in a tro tro instead of driving their truck.

Since we were late, Stan thought for sure he would not have to give his presentation. Wrong!  He talked about how the music at Christmas gives us a "magical" feeling, especially the beautiful harmony.  Our goal in our life is to bring our lives in "harmony" with what the Savior teaches and exemplifies.
 One of the activities at the Conference was to make Christmas cards for investigators and recent converts.  The missionaries were quite creative!!

Elder Koronilalou, our AP from Fiji on the left, and Elder Liongitau, from Tonga, were given permission to wear their "formal" island attire to the Conference.  They thought the Africans would enjoy seeing the attire from another culture.  Elder K is wearing a sulu and Elder L is wearing a tupeni.

Each of missionary districts were to present a musical number at the Conference.  Some sang traditional Christmas carols, but others were not so orthodox.

This district did a unique version of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It began with..."On the first day of Christmas my Branch gave to me...a referral living by me.  Additional verses were: Four Standard Works, Five golden Investigators, Seven Babies crying, Eight maids breast feeding, (so typical in Ghana), Eleven balls of Banku, (common Ghanaian food), etc. It was very clever.

 Our new senior couple was included immediately in the musical selection.  The gal in the green was invited to attend also.  She is from one our districts that President Heid oversees and has just received her mission call to the Uganda Kampala Mission.

We kept "praying" the driver would not have to make sudden movements on the motorway as this goat was on top of the Tro Tro and walking around.  We passed the Tro Tro, and a few minutes later we saw the the same vehicle again minus the goat!!!  We truly hope that one of passengers was let off the Tro Tro and took his goat with him.

Saturday evening we attended an Inter-faith Christmas Concert sponsored by the LDS Christiansborg Stake on the Accra Temple Square.  The various choirs mainly sang African music with a beat, which included some swaying in movement.  Most verses were in a tribal language, so we did not understand very much.  This choir was from the Labone Senior High School a few miles away.  They actually harmonized nicely.