Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, April 24, 2016


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 at 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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Routine and Eating

This past week was rather routine.  We spent our time taking care of our office responsibilities and eating.
Elder Morris was a little frustrated by the copier machine!

Elder Falk and Stan inspecting the new "apartment" for the missionaries who come to the mission home overnight.  There are bunk beds, an outdoor kitchen under cover, two new toilets and sinks and a new shower.  The office elders and assistants have a separate apartment which has a new restroom.

On Tuesday evening, we hosted two of our senior couples for dinner.  Nancy made “Connie’s” chicken stuffing dish and it turned out very well.  We thought we would have plenty of leftovers, but John Bodine had a different idea.  He did leave room for the fudge sundae brownies that Carol Sanders made for us to enjoy.  We are going to so miss both couples as they are returning to Utah in about a month.

From the left:  Sarah and John Bodine, Stan, Carol and Larry Sanders

Wednesday evening the Heids asked us to dinner.  They were feeding two sister missionaries who had a dental appointment and were staying in Accra for the Sisters’ Training meeting the next day.  Plus their daughter, Dana, is visiting for a couple of weeks from Idaho and we had not really had a chance to visit with her.  Stan found some pictures of a visit we had with the Heids in 1981 and Dana was laughing about the hair styles.  We also had a few laughs as we rehearsed “meeting our spouses” story for everyone. 

The Heids in 1981!!

On Thursday all of the sister missionaries came to Accra for the Sisters’ Training meeting. Nancy, Sister Heid and the other senior sisters also attended as “guests.”  The young Sister Missionaries actually conducted the meetings and did the training on such topics as using the missionary handbook effectively, the principle of repentance and forgiveness and speaking no guile.  They did an impressive job.  The most exciting thing for Stan was that they had pizza for lunch and the office missionaries were invited!!  We still can’t believe how good the pizza is in Ghana.  Who would think?  To top it off we had Texas sheet cake!!

There were about 30 sisters who attended the training meeting.  The other picture with additional sisters was too dark!

The young sister missionaries were acting out a skit where one was passing on gossip, something all "women" need to avoid.  They really got into their roles and made their point!

Friday evening, we met President Heid, their daughter, Dana, and the Bodines and Sanders at a restaurant called “Lord of the Wings.”  This restaurant is located near the US Embassy and really caters to the American clientele.   You would have thought you were actually in an American establishment with tv screens, exposed ductwork and an outdoor patio area.  We did meet the manager who is Lebanese.  The food was good and the company outstanding.  After dinner we went to the Heid’s for dessert…love that gelato….and games.  Stan was excited to actually win a card game!!

 The Heids in the front, Sanders and Bodines in the back at Lord of the Wings.

The three blondes:  Delynn Heid, her daughter, Dana and Sarah Bodine.  Since Sister Bodine is 18 years younger than Delynn, many people mistake them for mother and daughter.  When Dana was arriving to visit, she said, "move over, Sister Bodine"!!

On Saturday, we made our way to the grocery store to see what was available this week.  It is interesting that it changes all the time.  It is a little like Costco.  You need to go often and purchase things when you see them because the next time you go; they won’t be there.  On the way out of the store we took the elevator down to the parking garage.  On the elevator was a young Chinese couple.  We asked them where they were from.  We were surprised to learn that they were both from Shandong Province and both were very familiar with Jinan and Shandong University, where we taught English two years ago.  They are in Ghana working on a construction project.  Their English was very good.  It was so fun to make their acquaintance.

On Sunday we drove with the Bodines to attend the Tsito Branch.  This congregation is located in the “Bush” about 2 hours to the North.  Before we left, Accra was experiencing a major thunderstorm.  Fortunately, it let up as we were driving and really it didn’t delay us any.  In fact, the absence of traffic, even early on a Sunday, was a pleasant surprise.   The meetings were well organized, started on time and reverent.  We are constantly amazed at the depth of conversion and commitment of these humble followers of Christ.   We enjoyed our experience there very much.  With the earlier rainstorm and the ceiling fans in the building, the temperature was actually pleasant.

The teacher of the young women at the Tsito Branch was ill so Sister Bodine stepped in and gave the lesson.

This week we are off to the northern part of the mission  for a few days to visit some of the apartments, church buildings and learn about the area where the Bodines have lived.  In addition, we are going to a monkey sanctuary and hiking to a waterfall.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hawkers and Koforidua

One interesting thing we experience every day, as we drive around Accra, are the “Hawkers.”  These are entrepreneurs with an interesting marketing strategy.  They determined that the best place to show what they have to sell is when they have a captive audience; on the highway where drivers are waiting for the light to change.  At any given intersection you might see up to 20-30 different vendors weaving in and out of the cars.  The majority of the Hawkers are female and they carry everything balanced on their heads.  It is amazing how they can quickly move from car to car and never have a balancing problem.  The men also learn how to balance things on their heads but after they reach manhood, you generally don’t see them using that skill too much any more. This weekend we learned that the Hawkers have now shown up in the “bush", like in Koforidua.

This is on our way to Koforidua.  There is a toll booth so everyone has to stop and pay 1 cedi (25 cents).  The Hawkers know the traffic has to slow and form a line, so they are hope to entice someone to buy.

We have compiled a list of what we noticed they are selling:

Papaya, belts, shoes, water, beverages, nuts, apples, city maps, bananas, paper towels, tp, gum, mints, chocolate, windshield wipers, toys, books, towels, newspapers, clothes, animal bobbleheads, flags, key chains, popped popcorn, phone cards, bread, oranges, Kleenex, safety car triangles, laundry soap, fire extinguishers, television rabbit ears, lint brushes, paint brushes, shoeshine kits, bananas, eggs, and more.  We will let you know when they start selling bigger items like washers, refrigerators and such!! 

A glimpse of the countryside on our way to Koforidua, which is about 2 hours north of Accra.  We actually were on a paved road....well, with potholes, but this was the view from the side of the car.

Our purpose in visiting Koforidua was an assignment from President Heid to learn about the area, the church buildings and the missionaries.  The Taylors, another senior couple, have been there for four months, but will be returning to the US on Monday night.  She has developed a painful, skin rash due to the heat, so they are going home for treatment and hoping to be reassigned to a different mission that is not so hot!  We will miss them.  They have been extremely helpful to the missionaries; getting their propane tanks filled, being "parents" and assisting the members and church leadership in the area.

We were amazed at the number of people alongside the road.  They were doing a run and there were hundreds, if not a few thousand, who eventually went up and down a very steep hill for about 3 miles!!  Remember at 8am, it is already about 85 degrees and 70% humidity!!

A band even accompanied the runners!
Sister Taylor at her Angel Gate House in Koforidua.  Notice the razor wire.  You will find it everywhere.

The Taylors drove us around Koforidua and neighboring villages.  This is a tree with many fruit bats hanging on the limbs.

We stopped by a cocoa plantation.  Cocoa is a major crop in Ghana.   Those huge pods have many seeds that are dried and become the cocoa bean.  We will have to return in later fall when they are harvested and dried.

This is part of the cocoa plantation.  The sky was darkening and we did have a downpour of rain later.

 We also stopped by the Bunso Canopy Walkway, a local tourist attraction.  There were several busses there and other people in line, but our tour guide took us to the front!!  We protested that was not fair to others, but everyone was speaking in Twi, a local dialect, and somehow it was arranged.
 You climb many stairs, like going into a treehouse, to reach the "walkway", which is like a suspension bridge.  It was a little rickety, but there were many safety nets!  There were 5 separate bridges to navigate.

Some of the other tourists were from several Methodist congregations and they were having a retreat in the area.  One of them wanted her picture with an "Oburoni," a white westerner. 

Stan and Elder Taylor standing in front of one of the tree 'bases" at the canopy walk.

On our drive we saw this man selling fresh-water crabs.  We didn't buy any as we weren't craving mini crabs today, but we gave him a donation.

This colorful lizard was above the doorway at the Taylor's house.

Since the Taylors are leaving, the 22 young elders and sisters of the Koforidua Zone organized a last minute goodbye party for their "mom and dad".  In spite of needing to pack, Sister Taylor made peanut butter cookies and cinnamon twists for her adopted "sons and daughters".
Nancy helped by cutting up watermelon and eating!!

 Sister Long is in the red blouse.  She will be leaving the mission to return to her home in July but currently she is a Sister Leader Trainer.  She has a great personality.

The entire group surround the Taylors with their love.

This is a coconut tree.  All the hanging objects are actually bird nests. Don't think you will see anything like it in the states.

On our drive to and from Koforidua, we noticed more interesting signs, many with religious connotations.  We hope that we are not repeating the same ones as previously listed:

Fear Woman and Save Your Life


The Truth

Come to Jesus

Unshakeable Jesus

God is in Control

Give your Heart to Jesus

Hand of God

God is Light

God First

Miracle Lights

Look and Pick Co.

Good Master

Jesus is Alive

Don’t Fear Moving, Fear Standing Still

Uncle Sam

Elohim Printing Press

Rescue the Perishing

Don’t Mind Your Wife (this is a chop bar eating place)

Still Peace Man

In the Name of Jesus

The Finger of God Fashions

Christ in You (Samsung Ltd.)

In This Time Living Enterprises

No Jesus No Life

Some other scenes from this week.

The mission home has been undergoing a "remodel" of the missionary bunkhouse and the missionary apartment for the office elders and assistants to the presidents.  President invited the elders to help with the clean up process so they can move back in this upcoming week.

Two of our sister missionaries, Sister Winnie Mandela in the yellow (yes, she was named after "the Winnie Mandela") and Sister Atuk on the right, stopped by the mission office.  Sister Mandela is from Kenya and was a degreed accountant before coming on her mission.  Her boss has offered her the same job when she returns from her mission in July.  She has her 'eye" on a special someone at home, who is returning from his mission in two weeks. Sister Atuk is from Nigeria and insisted that she does not have a boyfriend at this time.  We really enjoyed visiting with them.
 If you look closely
This banana tree overhangs the wall around our apartment.  Actually bananas are quite small here and this is likely a bunch of plantains.

On Friday President and Delynn said we needed to get out of the office after lunch.  Stan and President went to the driving range and Stan got a few golf "tips".  (President loves to golf and played college baseball at BYU.)  Stan said the golf course was very beautiful, but he forgot to take a picture.  Delynn and Nancy went to a nice hotel swimming pool as the one that we can use for free at the temple apartment complex had a broken pump!  That afternoon it was hard to believe we were in Africa!!