President Heid has asked that we be familiar with the entire mission, since as of May 8 we will be the only senior missionary couple in The Ghana Accra Mission. We had been invited to “take a break” and do some fun “recreational” activities with other couples. With the President’s blessing, we left Accra for “the bush” and Ho Tuesday morning and returned Thursday afternoon. The bush really means that we are away from the metropolitan area. In the bush there are still many gas stations, street vendors and small shops, and usually one “established” grocery store. The roads can be great or full of potholes and there are many stretches of road where it appears no one is living in the surrounding area. In this case we went to the Ho District, which is about 3 – 5 hours from Accra.
Those in the group included: John and Sarah Bodine, who have lived in Ho, (where we were based for the two nights); Larry and Carol Sanders, our neighbors, who are an EMT and a nurse; Scott and Rebecca Bruebaker, who are the current Ghana MTC President/wife, and Brother and Sister Tibbets, a senior missionary couple who served with President Bruebaker when he was mission president in Belgium/Netherlands a few years ago. Bruebakers recruited the Tibbets to come for one year and help at the MTC. Normally the MTC couples can not leave for more than a few hours since the office staff and MTC teachers go home after working hours. However, there was another senior missionary couple temporarily at the MTC, so they were available to “babysit” 5 French speaking missionaries. There will be an influx of 90 new missionaries by the end of the week. (Notice that the Bruebakers had previously served a three-year mission and are now here in Ghana for two years. Similarly, the Heids were a senior missionary couple for 18 months here in Ghana helping with the church self-reliance program and then were called back to serve as mission president for our mission for three years. These couples are truly dedicated!!)
We will let the photos tell the story of our trip to the Bush.
We started with a short cruise on the Volta River. The bridge connects Senchi, which is home to a very nice resort....see previous posts....and the road to Ho.
From the left: Brubakers, Bodines, Paces and Tibbitts
View from our hotel in Ho.
We stopped to check on the missionaries in Ho and give out some supplies. The red haired missionary is Elder Nissinen from our home town of Hillsboro, OR. When we arrived he was faithfully wearing his hat to protect him from the hot sun.
We visited an outdoor bakery in Ho.
These men were hauling 100 lb. bags of flour!
Brother Sanders sampled a coconut in the village below Mt. Gemi.
We climbed to the top of Mt. Gemi. The cross was constructed by
German missionaries in 1939.
This is Mt. Gemi from the village.
Visit to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. This ecotourism development was created with help from American Peace Corp volunteers.
On our hike to Wli waterfalls, the highest falls in Ghana. We only went to the lower level. The Bodines said going to the upper falls was narrow and scary. Fruits bats were nesting on the nearby cliffs.
The blue color was from the tinted window in the car, but still an impressive picture!
Holy is a weaver in Ho and makes our missionary departure banners. He was working on one when we arrived. He asks only $5 for each banner and they take 4-5 hours each. He learned the art of weaving, called Kente style, from his grandfather.
We made some stops along the way so we could see some of the church facilities. This was a mother daughter mid week activity. They were making okra stew.
The Sanders pose with one of their church branch members in Kpong who has a clothing resale shop. We brought her some clothes. She has a toddler on her back...those shoes sticking out....and a baby due in two weeks.
The Sanders stopped a the home of the local church branch president. He and his wife run a school and a pig farm. He also used to live in Italy and speaks Italian!!
The larger pig would sell for about 1,000-1200 cedis, or $300.
A few signs noted during our trip:
Anointed Hands Beauty Salon
God's Delay is not God's doing
Sunday, Stan and John Bodine went back out into the bush, but in a different direction. They were assigned by President Heid to work with the Koforidua district president in proposing changes to branch boundaries. The idea is to create places for the church members to worship that reduces travel time and costs and still provide enough leadership and direction. Statistics in Africa show that church members will come and participate when they feel needed. Last Sunday a new branch held their first meeting. Attendance was higher at separate branches than when the unit was combined.
Nancy stayed behind and attended a Stake Conference at a church building on the temple site. (A Stake Conference is held every six months for a group of 6-10 wards or “congregations”.) Church members were asked to be in their seats about 30 minutes in advance and the building was almost filled to capacity….maybe about 1200-1500 people. Although the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a set wardrobe, wards or Stake choirs usually just wear their own Sunday church clothes. Nancy was impressed that all the women in the choir had the same light blue dresses and the men had black vests and light blue bow ties. (As we have been in the bush on a Sunday, we notice that Africans walking home from other churches all have on the same fabric for Sunday. Apparently someone purchases the fabric for all the women and then they make the style of clothing their choice.) Also, the choir actually sang the songs up to tempo and were on key!! Africans like to sing loud but sometimes they really drag the songs for the benefit of those who don’t speak English well.
The talks were on subjects like: the blessings of eternal marriage; created in the image of God; being kind to everyone; the sacred nature of families, etc. Sister Heid was asked to speak for a few moments and shared how we can pray to Heavenly Father about the small “concerns” in our life. When their daughter, Dana, was visiting last week, they had very limited time for shopping amidst mission business and they wanted to find a small souvenir Dana could take home to her two sons. They prayed about being able to quickly find something appropriate and were out of the vendor market in ten minutes!! During a plane change in Amsterdam, Dana, mistakenly left her Ipad on her seat as she headed to a connecting flight. Everyone prayed that it would be found and not “stolen”, and she was able to get it back before departing. Sister Heid said she truly believes angels are assigned to help us every day for even the simple things if we have faith.
President Heid related how Dana had gone into the “mission field’ one day with one of the sister missionaries. One person they visited wanted to know if the church offered money to members. The sister missionary replied that she had answered that question the previous appointment…the church teaches education and self-reliance to help you improve yourself. She had personally sold beads at two different shops to earn the money for her mission. President Heid spoke of scriptures that teach relying on the grace of Jesus Christ as well as personal efforts to qualify for eventual salvation.