Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Week In Ghana

This is the week of Memorial Day celebrations in the US.  On Wednesday we also had a holiday.  It was African Unity Day.  It celebrates the day in 1963 when leaders of thirty of the thirty-two African independent countries signed a charter to establish an economic community.  According to one of the Ghanaians who stopped by our mission office, it is a holiday that many people do not "remember."  It is very low key here in Accra.  However, it was a public holiday, so traffic was very light and few businesses, street vendors or banks were open.

Every two weeks the senior missionary couples, who are at the Church Africa West offices, plus the Ghana Accra West and Ghana Accra missions, have a potluck and program on Monday night for a family home evening activity.  It is held at the Temple President's apartment which is quite large and modern.  This week we sang personal favorite hymns.  Some were selected because they helped someone through a difficult trial or the words reminded them of an ancestor in another country.  We sang up to tempo....which the Africans generally do not do... and enjoyed the evening together.

The rain clouds opened up on our way to a Tuesday Adenta District missionary meeting.  Traffic was going every direction!  This intersection was blocked because too many people were trying to take advantage of the light.  Sometimes you wait 5 minutes at traffic signals! 

As we were driving on another road, we looked at the intersection ahead and there were oncoming cars directly across from us!!  There were no policemen or signs, just cars!  A block later, we saw there was a construction vehicle taking up two lanes, so traffic was being diverted into our lanes.  We were able to dodge the oncoming cars, but not sure what happened to the cars behind us!

Missionaries at the Adenta district meeting.  The district leader, Elder Dekaye, stuck out his tongue!!  Be assured, however, that he conducted the meeting with dignity. Elder Kasuku, behind Stan with his thumb up, is from Ivory Coast and a French speaker with very limited English skills.  He has only been in the mission field a few weeks.  During his testimony he got very emotional and could not speak.  (Elder Dekaye tenderly got up out of his seat and put his arm around him).  Elder Kasuku expressed that he had been very frustrated about not being able to understand investigators when they spoke and had prayed diligently for the "gift of tongues".  He feels like his prayers have been answered and expressed gratitude that he can now know what people are saying, probably better than we do! 
Elder Burdick, kneeling in the front of the group, is from Oregon and his Stake President was on our temple shift at the Portland Oregon Temple.

This week we spent evenings transferring our clothes, food, etc. from our apartment to one across the hall that was formerly occupied by the Sanders.  They have gone back to the US and the mission wants to install new energy efficient windows before the other senior couple arrives the end of July.  Fortunately, we did not need to move furniture since both apartments have similar items.  Stan likes the ceramic tile floor rather than the wood parquet that we had.  However, it easily shows dirt!!

Stan is trying to help me organize the new kitchen.  We wanted to make sure both apartments had similar equipment. We discovered that our "old" apartment had a rolling pin and pie tins, but our "new" apartment did not, so we made some purchases.

Nancy was with Sister Heid at a welcome lunch at Le Must for Sister Liljenquist.  We had yummy French onion soup and a bacon avocado salad.   Sister Liljenquist had just arrived this week with her husband, who will be legal counsel at the Area office.  Sister Liljenquist has a graphic arts background and will help with the Area West website plus assist Sister Heid with special projects.

Tropical flowers around our apartment

On our way to church today, we spotted several cloths with a white powder drying in the sun.  We think it is flour.

We attended Adenta Stake Conference today.  Again, the building was packed.  People were in their seats about 45 minutes early and the choir sang that entire time.  (The two obrunis ((foreigners)) on the stand are the Heids.) 

The Stake President Kabason asked the congregation if they are coming unto Christ or coming unto the church? (like for social reasons).  An Area Seventy spoke about picking a gospel principle and trying to consistently live it through the end of the year.  A member of the temple presidency expressed love for his wife and said he thinks of her as a newlywed.  (Africans are not known for publicly saying they love their spouse.)  Sister Heid followed up with a story about a Russian student that President Heid had in English class.  They befriended her, took her shopping, had her to dinner and invited her to church.  At church a couple spoke about their love for one another and this Russian student was amazed at that expression since it was not part of her culture either.  Later on this Russian student joined the church and was married in the temple.  It was a wonderful meeting and we situated ourselves under a ceiling fan which made the temperature in the building tolerable for us obrunis!!

As Nancy was putting baptism records into the computer this week, she was amused at the addresses in Africa.  The city may have street signs or not, so often people identify where they live by local landmarks:

Emef's Junction
Across from the police station
Agapet Filling Station
Car Park
Near Abanu Jr. High School
U Compound

Update:  Last week we mentioned the young sister missionary who had some seizures.  All of her tests were negative and she has had no more incidents, although she has been taking medication.  The US doctor has been consulting with Salt Lake City about the next step, but at least really serious concerns have been eliminated.
Her mission release date is July 11, so hopefully she will continue to do well and be able to finish and return to her home in Durban, South Africa.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Final Farewell to Bodines and Sanders

This week was rather ordinary and routine.  One thing that wasn't "ordinary" was having the Office Elders and Assistants over for dinner on Monday evening.  Nancy cooked a large casserole of Tamale Pie and we watched them devour everything.  Our two Ghanaians couldn't stop talking about how much they loved it.  They had never heard of Tamale Pie, but they are now "converts." 

 The Assistants are on the left and Elder Morris, the office elder, is across the table.  The other office elder, Elder Falk, was taking the picture.

 On Tuesday we attended a District Meeting in Ashalley Botwe, about 30 minutes from our apartment.  Elder Allen is the District Leader.  Elders Smith, Roberts and Pace are closest, Sisters Nwagboso, Maduakolam, Nwagbua and Mash'ak are further down the row.  Somehow Elder Loveridge is not in the picture.  He is from Zimbabwe. 

P.S.  You may have stumbled over the sisters' names as you read them.  It is one of our major challenges to pronounce correctly and remember totally these names.  Whew!

On Wednesday was computer class.  This is our third week of helping with this activity.  Stan "coached" Elder Tafo.  He is one of the very few missionaries who is serving from Ethiopia.  There are a few church branches there but no mission.

 The Assistants and Stan took apart the laminator to remove a jammed certificate.  They burned their fingers, but they actually fixed it.  It was truly a miracle for a principal, a degreed chemical engineer and a wanna be mechanical engineer!!

This week Nancy and Delynn Heid went to stop at a fabric shop that makes purses.  The owner was away for a week, but across the street was a Children's Center with several cute murals.
 All the missionaries living close to the mission home, were invited to a devotional by Elder  Soares.  These missionaries stopped by the office.  From the left:  Elder Nybo, Elder Ndala, Elder Cook, Elder Okiyi, and Elder Pace.

 Elder Soares, a church general authority visiting our Area from Salt Lake City.  He is originally from Brazil.

Our senior missionary couples took some R & R at the end of their mission, before heading back to the US this weekend.  They toured South Africa and went on a safari., etc.  They loved the experience.  Bodines in front, Sanders in the middle and the Keeles, an office couple from the Accra West Mission, in the back. All the couples live in Utah.

Here they are at Victoria Falls.

The Bodines are saying goodbye to Elder Koronikalou and Elder Labeja at the mission home.  We fully loaded up the mission Tro Tro with luggage and took Bodines and Sanders to the airport.  A ten mile trip took 1 hr. 15 minutes because of traffic on a Friday night!

 Our usual Saturday excursion to the grocery story.

 We had to go out on Saturday for some additional food items so went to another grocery story and scored with this find for Honey Lime Enchiladas!

Today we went to church at a location about a half hour away called Agbogba.  Elder Hanberg is waiting for Sunday School class to start.  He has only been on his mission a few weeks.

Elder Pace and Elder Handberg.  We had just had two thunderstorms this weekend which really cooled (well...relatively speaking) the air and we could open the windows for a nice breeze.
 Elder Bergenson greeting Sunday School class members.  The husband spoke English, but the wife only speaks Awi, a local dialect, so the class was conducted in two languages.

This would be the church Nursery Primary class.  The teacher said the kids played so hard that they laid down and fell asleep!

This is the Relief Society (women's organization) President at church.  She was quite a dynamic lady and was "encouraging" participation for a church dance "festival" to be held in July.  She was writing down names of the sisters who volunteered, so they knew to come to the next practice!!!  She wanted both us to come and learn also, but we didn't want to commit!!  The dance is called Kpanlogo, a dance form that began in the early 60's and was influenced by rock and roll.  Music is usually a metal bell, a gourd rattle, and drums.

Our Sunday finished by a trip to a local community hospital about an hour away.  One of our sister missionaries from South Africa had fainted twice this weekend and had been in the ER yesterday under the care of the Heid's supervision.  (Remember our nurse just left for the US!)  Several tests were run but nothing was significant, so they thought she was just dehydrated.   Then she fainted again today at church and was shaking, so Heids asked us to go and support her in the ER.  When we arrived the doctor had given her some seizure medication and ordered an EEG and an EKG that has to be done at another hospital.  So, we transported her and her companion to the mission home where she can stay overnight and get those tests done on Monday.  Plus our Area church MD can be present. We are praying that there is a simple solution.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cape Coast and Beyond

We mentioned last week that we now have a new Assistant to the President.  His name is Elder Charles Osei-Brobby and is Ghanaian.  He is from Kumasi.  He was learning how to help on a transfer day by loading luggage into the mission van, commonly mistaken for a Tro Tro!!  About 30 missionaries were transferred to new areas on Tuesday.

 One of the workers had restained this wooden elephant at the mission home.  We thought it was a nice setting for a couple picture.

 As last week, we spent Wednesday morning helping with a computer class.  Stan is sitting next to one of our newest missionaries, Elder Naito, who is from French-speaking Ivory Coast. 

This is Sister Carter, full-time temple missionary also assisting with the computer class.

President Heid got involved in the public speaking portion of computer class.  He asked a French speaker to tell us a little about himself.  He spoke in English, but kept looking to his French speaking companion for support!

 We also attended a Zone meeting this week.  Elder Morris and Elder Falk, our office missionaries, are smiling in spite of being up very early to load the mission van with mission supplies and mail to distribute to those attending.

 Elders Ogba and Gamil.  Elder Gamil is from the Philippians.  He is a very nice young man.

Elder Whitaker and other members of the Christiansborg Zone.

 The office elders were making a supply run to several of the mission districts.  Replacement bicycles are a challenge because there is no room for them in the bed of the truck.  They were quite creative securing them to the top of the canopy.

You may be able from this picture to understand one of the frustrations westerners face when driving in Ghana.  Whenever there is a backup, for construction or anything, TroTros and various other vehicles cannot stand it.  So, they will travel along the shoulder of the road as far as they can and then bully their way into the traffic line.  The vehicles are so beat up and damaged, that they have no fear.  When a few of the Tro Tros do this, it isn't too much of a concern.  But, when 50-100 do it, we never get to move.

Closely related to this traffic practice is one where the impatient traveler actually drives down the wrong side of the road.  This is justified by turning on your flashing lights and speeding down the road like you are a government vehicle or someone important.  Many other drivers see this happening, so they turn on their lights and speed right behind them.  Again, they travel as far as they can without hitting head on with another vehicle and bully their way into line.  Yesterday, it was a large tour bus with its lights flashing and speeding down the road.  It is no wonder we didn't move for 2 1/2 hours!!

When faced with these two behaviors, a number of thoughts find place in our minds.  One; how can I damage their vehicles and convince them they are unfit for the road and that their behavior is immoral and downright illegal?   Another thought is... within a few days, I will install a very large heavy duty front bumper so that I can ram errant Tro Tros and taxis and actually push them off of the roadway.  A third thought is; I know the Lord is trying to teach me something about patience, loving your neighbor, turning your cheek or your place in line, and allowing them to take advantage of you seven times seventy.  And this because we love those TroTro and taxi drivers, who are our brothers!!

On Saturday, we drove 6 hours to a village North of Cape Coast.  President Heid asked us to take a mission family member from Accra up to this village for a funeral.  We were to represent the President during the proceedings.  We had no idea what to expect.  We will mention only a few things, but it was quite an experience.

Typically, funerals are held on Saturdays.  It doesn't matter when someone has passed away.  They refrigerate the body for weeks and even months so the family can make arrangements to attend and to raise money.  (It is very expensive for a people who are mostly quite poor).  These occasions last two days and include lots of music, dancing and visiting.  For the formal service, canopies are erected in a circle or square.  The body is placed in the middle and everyone else is seated under the canopies.

At the beginning of this service, the family gathered in the middle where they opened the casket so they could see him for the last time.  There is crying and wailing, facial contortions, etc.  After this, a group of military folks marched out with the casket and took it to the cemetery.  Some of the family went but most did not.  There are formal greetings by the tribal and village officials.

In our case, the family wanted to meet with us at a small canopy away from the main body.  We met all of the family, gave words of support and condolences and sat and visited. 

 These two gentleman were dancing in the middle of the field.  There was a band playing most of the time we were there.

These three are tribal and village representatives that met with us away from the main group at the funeral.  

 This is Thomas, Nancy's new friend.  He told her she was his "sister".  The young lady is his daughter.   He is dressed in traditional funeral robes.  A large number of men wore these robes.

This gentleman was the brother of the deceased.  While the deceased was not a church member, this brother is and resides in the Mamfe branch in the Adenta Stake in our mission.  He had met us twice when we attended church in Mamfe.  He always had a camera in his hand and wanted to take our picture so he could show it to the church members on Sunday.

 We were fortunate to meet President Johnson, the president of the local District of the Church.  The person who passed was not a church member, but church members where there to support the family.  We learned that he was the son of Billy Johnson, one of the first Ghanaians baptized into the Church in 1978.  (His father had heard of the LDS church and had obtained some church literature many years prior to missionaries coming to Ghana.  His father had about 350 people prepared to hear the gospel when the missionaries arrived.)  It was wonderful talking to him and his sweet wife.  They are amazing, educated people. They could live anywhere, but have deliberately chosen to live in this area and help develop the church.

Sometimes we find adobe homes in the bush.  This woman "posed" for us.

On the way to the village, we saw these palms which are part of a large palm plantation.  Many of the locals work for the plantation.  They harvest the fruit which is then processed into palm oil.

A picture of the Fort as we approached in the morning as clouds threatened rain.  On the way home in the later afternoon, the sky had cleared.

Near Cape Coast there are two forts built by the Portuguese in the 1500's.  Both of them were used during the time of the slave trade.  You can see one perched on the hill behind the tree.  The Atlantic Ocean is off in the distance.