Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Settling In for the Long Term

Stan announced that he needed a haircut.  Nearly all of the senior couple men told him that the best option was the Shell Station in Osu. Osu is a neighborhood near the office but at the Shell station???  It was true.  If you look really hard at this photo, you can see the shop behind the pumps.  It's really nice to be able to fuel your car, buy a few snacks, have your oil changed, rotate your tires and get your hair trimmed all at the same time. 

 Stan and President Heid went about 5pm to get a haircut.  There were other people waiting so they didn't get home until after 7pm.  However, Stan was able to talk with a Ghanaian about the Church and President was able to answer some emails.

 Stan after his hair cut.  Cost was 20 cedis including the tip....about $5!!  It wasn't too bad.

We really like the nice calm setting of the Mission Home.  Our office is by the bench in the background.  It looks tropical here but the climate is really Equatorial and we are in the very dry season.  Once you get out into the country, it is pretty brown.

After a hard day of "work", President and Sister Heid provided pizza for the office elders, the Assistants to the President and the senior couples.  We enjoyed having the night off from cooking.  And the pizza was very good! Stan and Elder Morris, office elder, are enjoying the night!

 On Monday mornings women who are serving missions in the Area offices or two nearby missions gather for scripture study.

Sister Heid and Sister Bodine visiting a silversmith shop in Ghana.  The owner is from Lebanon and makes her own creations.  Nancy bought a necklace.

Miracle in the Mission
Brother and Sister Sanders related an experience they had this week with their black bag.  (Sister Sanders is the mission nurse and her husband helps with medical and apartment issues.)  They had attended the temple and were exiting when someone across the street at the Area offices ran into the temple and told them one of the senior male missionaries was having extreme chest pain.  (He did have a heart attack but is ok for now but likely will return to the states for treatment.)  They hurried in their truck to get to the hospital.  The black bag had their temple clothes and they left it in their locked car in the hospital parking lot.  When they returned they found that someone broke a small back window in their vehicle and stole the black bag.  They looked for it along the street, thinking that when someone just found white clothes that it would be discarded.  They did not find it.  The next day a church member found it at an airport hotel where he works.  What are the chances???

We thought we would share a few random observations about Africa…..

* A sign that reads “To Let” means available to rent
*Many Africans have English/American First names like Shakespeare, Oswald, Rebecca, Gil

*There is a special handshake that the men do in Ghana….shake, then thumbs together, then shake again releasing with a click of your fingers.
*In Ghana you cannot cash a check over 5000 cedis (or about $1250) at one time

*A friend had a conversation with an individual who sold onions.  If she made 14 cedis (about $3.75) per week she would have enough for her needs and transportation
*Traffic circles and highway driving could be considered a demolition derby or a game of chicken.  There is no pedestrian right of way or yielding to the person coming on your right hand side. 

*Saturday morning has the least amount of traffic and is the best time to grocery shop
*Many people are Christian and reflect that belief with signs on their cars and on businesses

                Trust Jesus
                Love God
                New developments:  Heaven’s Gate and Hosanna City
A sign with religious overtones!

This modern building is right next to our apartment

Friday evening we took the opportunity to do some ordinance work in the temple.  We thought it would provide an added benefit of separating ourselves from the world as well as the heat.  Not this time.  They were having trouble with the air conditioning.  We enjoyed the experience but it was awfully warm in the temple.

The setting for the temple is wonderful

After the temple, we went out to dinner with some senior couples.  Next door was a gelato shop.  It was really good, and actually tasted like gelato!  Stan had mango (the yellow one in the display case) and Nancy had After Eight, a chocolate vanilla combo.  Yum!!

Sunday we attended church in Aflao, about 2 1/2 hours from Accra.  The building is open air and was one of the "coolest" we attended.  This is a group photo after Branch Conference (a small congregation.)  There were 11 people attending a year ago in a home. Now there are 50 members on the roll and they have this larger building to meet in each Sunday.  Next door are some other buildings for classrooms and offices.  This day there were about 170 in attendance (about 20 were visitors from the mission) and there were barely enough chairs to accommodate everyone.

 This young woman carried her daughter on her back.  She said the African women do this until the children are age 3.  This little girl was a year old.  She wouldn't smile for the camera but gave smiles many times in church.

With Sister Heid are the members of the Aflao Branch Primary

These book marks were distributed today to all those in attendance.  It describes the Africa West Area Plan, or focus for this year.  We really like the question that is asked:  "Do I love, trust and know the Savior, Jesus Christ, and do I constantly seek for the blessings of the temple?"

On the way to Aflao, we saw many of these Termite hills along the highway.  They are quite large and accommodate a nice sized family of termites.(We were not able to get a picture as the car was moving too quickly.  This photo comes from the internet!)

Also colorful pottery along the roadside...(It's a little blurry. Went by too quickly)

We hadn't been in the country long before we were approached about purchasing a Nativity with an African perspective from a local artisan.  This set is definitely unique.

We believe it is carved from Sese wood.

For those of you who followed our experiences in China, our young adult friend, Lily, was married on Sunday.   Her husband descends from Confucius and his family actually lives in the city where the great teacher was born.   She has been dating her new husband for over a year, but she kept insisting she was too young to get married and he wasn’t “the one” for her!!  Obviously her feelings changed!!  We met him when we visited China in October and he treats her well.   We are so happy for Lily.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Moving out of the Mission Home

The apartment renovations were completed enough this week for us to move in Tuesday evening.  You wouldn’t think that hauling 2 suitcases and two carry-on bags would take any effort.  But, it is more tiring to move in the heat.  Plus we didn’t have much food.  We also learned that there was minimal bedding, towels, and kitchen supplies.  Nancy and Sister Heid spent nearly an entire afternoon this week just shopping for the “basics.”  Even then, we felt confident we could feed ourselves for only a few days.  We needed to return to the grocery stores at least two or three times to get ourselves “adequate” provisions.

Saturday morning we made our way to a local grocery store and "stocked up".  Imagine our surprise seeing canned Oregon fruit on the shelves!  The small can of mandarin oranges, next to the Dole pineapple was $3 (US) per can!

We feel very blessed to have an apartment that feels comfortable.  There are still a few things that need to be done including fixing our water filtration system in the kitchen and a leak in the main bathroom.  But overall, we think we can call this home.

As part of our blog this week, we are giving you a tour.

 This is our favorite picture in the apartment.

 The kitchen is quite adequate.  The brand new stove/oven is something Nancy is looking forward to using a lot, except that it is so large that it really heats up the kitchen.  Fortunately we have a fan plus AC if needed.

 This is the main bathroom.

 Master Bedroom
Master Bath

 Office with a treadmill

Guest Bedroom

 Living Room

 Dining Area
(Yes, that is a keyboard at the end of the dining room table.  We don't yet have a table to put it on!)

 This was our FIRST meal at the apartment.  It was Chicken and Rice.

We were also invited to our neighbors across the hall, the Sanders' apartment, to have
A & W Root Beer floats with a few of the missionaries one evening.

This week we helped send three missionaries home at the end of their mission and welcomed 8 new missionaries from the MTC.  By necessity, it became a large transfer requiring companions and trainers to come in from other locations, some staying at the Mission home bunkhouse.  Even though it was still very hot, the missionaries met their companions and had lunch outside under a canopy.  They seemed to be very happy and enjoyed their traditional “chicken and rice, rice and chicken” meal.  The office assistants also included us, but we chose to eat our Chicken and Rice in the air-conditioned Mission Home since we were still “residents” there.  Believe us, that was a good choice.

Enjoying their "Chicken and Rice" and "Rice and Chicken.

For those returning home, we try to make the transition a happy and relaxed one.  We make sure they have their necessary documents, travel tickets and travel money.  Most everything went well until the  airport employees would not allow a Samoan missionary to board his flight because he did not have a transit visa for New Zealand.  No one, not even the “travel experts” from the area office could convince them that such a visa is not necessary.  (He had only 3-hour layover and would never leave the international portion of the airport.)  Only 20 minutes before the plane was supposed to leave, they allowed him to check in and took his luggage.  He departed for home only because of mighty prayer and a miracle.  Such it is with the missionaries.

Transfers also bring the Senior couples into town. 

Elder and Sister Bodine from Lindon, UT who are in the same Ward as our friends, the Morses, who used to live in HillsboroThe Bodines are serving as support missionaries in the Ho District to the NORTH, about 4 hours from Accra.

 The Wades serve as Self Reliance missionaries, which also includes helping some missionaries and other residents become more proficient in English.  They are from Arizona.

We took President and Sister Heid out to dinner at a "swanky" restaurant not far from the Mission home.  It was very nice and the food was great!!!  It was the least we could do for them hosting us the past two weeks. Stan really enjoyed the steak from South Africa.

 Meet two of our new friends....  Julianna

...and Gilbert.  Julianna does housekeeping work for the Mission home.  Gilbert is supervisor over Mission apartments.

 Stan is standing next to our truck; a Nissan Navara.  It is a little big for squeezing into small spaces but great for "bullying" our way in traffic.  Driving is truly a "harrowing" experience.  But, we are getting better at it every day.

Nancy isn't that excited about driving in Accra.  This week challenged her resolve to feel more comfortable behind the wheel.  On Friday morning, as she was driving from our apartment to the Mission Home, the car alarm went off.  Every 10 seconds it would go off with horns blaring and the lights flashing.  This happened all the way to the office and she ended up passing a policeman on the way.  (Fortunately she was not stopped!!) Stan was off on an errand with our neighbor, Elder Sanders, so when she arrived at the mission office, all the office elders came running out to try to help.  They read the manual, etc., but thankfully the alarm stopped on its own after 15 minutes.  We determined that the spare key may power the truck but creates problems, so we are only going  to use one key from now on!

On Thursday, Stan drove with President Heid to visit a missionary companionship in Ashalley Botwe District in the Adenta Zone in Greater Accra.  Stan went with Elder Kohler to see a family while the President met with his companion.  They visited "mama" Grace who the elders were teaching.  The title of "mama" is a term of endearment and respect.  They taught a short lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and prayed with her.  Stan was impressed with her loving and kind spirit.  These are truly humble people.

Every morning but Sunday, we try to get some exercise.  We have several routes we take.  The pictures below are what we saw on Saturday.

 It is still about 80-82 degrees when we start walking at 6 am.  Notice the hole very close to the roadway?  The cement "gutter cover" has collapsed.  Think of the problem you might have should you drive onto the shoulder.

 These murals are on the wall of a very nice hotel just down from our apartment.

 These deep drainage ditches are everywhere on both sides of the roadway.  Imagine the damage to your car if a wheel goes off into one of these?  Apparently, it is a common occurrence.

These people can carry most anything on their heads.

This Sunday we went with our neighbors, the Sanders across the hall, to church in Senchi.  It is about 1 ½-2 hours north of Accra.  The Sander’s assignment is to support and visit five church groups on an alternative basis.  President Heid wants us to know our way around the mission so we went with them to get an idea of where buildings are located.  Along the way we saw baboons (sorry no picture), smaller villages, a “mountain” and people dressed in their Sunday “Best” walking to their church.  The traffic on Sunday morning is less hectic since many businesses and small vendor shops are closed.

 On our way to Senchi, we stopped at the last church-owned chapel to the north of Accra.  All other building in this part of the mission are leased.

Also, on the way, we saw the Ensign College of Public Health campus.  It is the creation of a former Ghana Accra Mission President who established this school as a branch campus of the University of Utah.  (This is at least the plan).  The school is operating with it's first class.  This project looks to benefit young Latter-day Saints immensely in helping them gain quality education and good jobs in a field that will benefit the country as a whole.  It is very exciting. 

 We also were introduced to the Senchi Resort which is located not far from the church and was recommended as a nice weekend "get-a-way."  It was absolutely beautiful and was in stark contrast to more primitive conditions only a block or two away.

 We attended church at the Senchi Branch.  They meet in a leased building.  The "young" missionaries live on the second floor.  We are standing out front.  The structure to the left is actually a baptismal font.

There is actually a partial wall separating the meeting area.  There are more participants on the other side!

Stan and Elder Sanders were trying to find a flat screen tv to use for a short computer presentation after church.  After we arrived, we found out the Senchi building only had a tube tv.  During Sunday School time they decided to drive to a building about 10 minutes away to secure a tv, only to find out that building only had a tube tv also!  Elder Sanders said that first thing Monday he was making arrangements for flat screen tvs for those buildings.  Nancy volunteered to accompany them on this errand.  Even with ceiling fans the building was very hot and stifling and she wanted the opportunity to be in an AC vehicle and recuperate!!

 This is the look of the terrain travelling North of Accra.  We were expecting to see more rainforest, but we think it is more like a savanna.    We did see several baboons along the side of the road on our way up to Senchi.

This was a market scene in Ashaiman on the way back to Accra.  Notice those that they are balancing goods on their heads.  They do have a "support" on the top of their heads to help, but it is still amazing  what we see people carrying ....a flat of sunglasses, drinks, towels, containers of food, etc.

This is a Muslim mosque a few miles from our apartment.  It is still under construction.