This week, in many ways, was rather routine. But in the midst of the routine, were moments of fun and meaning. As we meet with the missionaries and locals on a daily and or infrequent basis, we are becoming friends and sharing a Ghanaian experience together. Stan is even starting to connect with the people at the bank!! One teller offered to get Stan a duplicate of his "fluorescent" green tie!!
This week, we are posting mainly pictures with minimal explanation. We hope they give a flavor of what we experience each week.
President Heid and Elder Falk on Preparation Day, which is time for recreation, laundry, and emailing home. Maybe it should be called "Same color shirt day." Quite the coincidence.
You just never know what you will see driving around. At least this animal was secured!!
At our Senior Missionary family home evening, the Heids spoke of the contributions of the Bodines and Sanders who will be released from their mission on May 8. They will be greatly missed.
John and Sarah Bodine are from Lindon, Utah. He retired early from a career with Visa so they could serve a mission while they were still healthy. (They are 18 years younger than most of us!!). Their youngest son will be returning from a mission in Mexico in July. They have helped the members and missionaries in Ho, in the bush about 4 hours north of Accra. This weekend they helped organized a one-day youth conference for those ages 12-18.
Carol and Larry Sanders are our medical couple from Layton, Utah and have been our neighbors the last three months. She has been a nurse for over 30 years and he was a fireman/EMT. Plus they owned rental properties, so he was invaluable with handyman skills and making arrangements to get missionary apartments repaired. They are both energizer bunnies!!
The Sanders returned from church in the bush with an extra chicken for us, all seasoned and ready to be cooked! Now this was truly fresh from the farm to the kitchen!!
We were invited to assist with computer class this week. Sister Heid, a former English teacher, offers instruction to help missionaries develop more professional skills for the future. We worked on keyboarding, editing letters, studied from an American English website and practiced public speaking. Missionaries are invited to attend on a rotating basis and each has an adult "tutor". Learning English can be especially challenging for missionaries from French speaking countries like DRC, Cote d' Ivoire, and Togo. And, they are teaching the gospel in English! One of our French-speaking missionaries worked hard during his daily personal study time and passed a test this week, which indicates a certain proficienty in English.
Nancy "tutors" Elder Charles Osei-Brobbey from Kumasi in Ghana. He plans to study for the ACT and SAT following his mission and hopes to attend BYU.Elder Bodine and Stan enjoyed a "street vendor" egg sandwich this week. They were working together on another church division proposal for a unit in the bush. In the past few weeks they have submitted plans for five new units.
Sister Heid made Elder Morris a cake for his 20th birthday. He is our office elder and is really anxious to be back in the field doing missionary work. President Heid says he can never replace him!! This week the office elders were working on purchasing SIM cards for various countries so the missionaries can phone home on Mother's Day.
Sunday we were asked to attend the Ashaiman Stake conference. We had no official responsibilities, but Stan started to worry when he realized that President Heid was NOT on the stand and he knew that one of his counselors, Eddie Sinanu, had an emergency and could not attend. Fortunately, the other counselor, Mahmud Labinjo, WAS on the stand. Often the Ghanaians will just call you up out of the audience to speak. That makes for some pretty uncomfortable meetings for Senior Missionaries, who are easily identifiable in a very black congregation. It can also be a motivator to ALWAYS be prepared with something to say. This time, Stan was able to sit back and focus on the message.
The Ashaimen Stake is considered a "city" stake of the church. In our mission, there are four "city" stakes and three "bush" Districts. Districts look much the same as Stakes, but in the Districts, it is the mission president who is the presiding authority. For the Stakes, it is the Stake President. Generally, Stakes are formed from Districts that have grown large enough with membership and have the needed local leadership.
Today's meeting was outstanding. The Stake president started the meeting on time, actually a few minutes early, to a totally full stake center of about 1200 people. In front was a 40-member Stake Choir who had been singing prelude music for 45 minutes. We arrived 20 minutes early and there were few seats available. The young missionaries told us they had arrived one hour early, and that they had to sit in the very back.
Everyone in the choir was wearing black and white!
Many of our Ghana Accra missionaries, all those white shirts, were on the raised stage in the very back!!
The talks were outstanding; a twelve-year-old deacon, a young adult, mission presidency member, temple presidency member and spouse, and the Stake President. President Morrison spoke for 50 minutes and we understood everything he said, which is not always easy with various accents. He made four points. Point 1-Do not contract the disease of Materialism. Point 2-Develop your Character as followers of Christ. Point 3-Do everything you can to acquire knowledge, both spiritual and secular. Point 4-Build faith and testimony in Jesus Christ. We felt the Spirit and were taught and encouraged to live the Gospel more fully.
After Stake Conference, we were invited to receive some traditional Ghanaian nourishment provided by the members. Some if it was quite spicy. Our mouths were still tingling as we left the air-conditioned office for our trip home in the heat.
This is Gilbert Oppong and his daughter, Mildred. Gilbert works for the Ghana Accra Mission as our physical facilities specialist. But, he is also the Stake Executive Secretary for the Ashaiman Stake. His wife is a nurse and lives in Ho, about three hours away, during the week. It is not uncommon for married couples to work apart from one another to provide for their families.
Nancy often texts missionaries to clarify information on baptismal records, arrange travel, relay information, etc. Often the elders and sisters have a scripture or saying when they respond to her and they "sign" their two names (companionships) on the text. Some are funny and some have great wisdom. Here is a sampling:
WWJD - what would Jesus do
Tonto and the Lone Ranger
Peace be unto you my children
John 14:1 Let your heart not be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Proudly Namibians in the Lord's work
Quick to Observe
We believe in unity and love
Champions never rest
Life without passion is no life
Never look backward no matter what
We beat 2gether with one heart
Do all things with patience
Love, Peace and Respect
Nungua (one of the areas in our mission) French Boys
The Warriors of Batsonaa (another area in the mission)
Abide with me
Alma 36:3 (Book of Mormon) trust in God and be supported in their trials
Alma 31:35 (Book of Mormon) preaching of the word....more powerful effect...than the sword
Proverbs 21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and an angry woman (They probably chose this scripture to focus strictly on their mission. Remember these young man don't date for two years!!)
President and Sister Heid with Elder Mukendi.
Side note: Our senior missionary couple, the Taylors, who left Ghana a few weeks ago due to a heat rash issue, have been reassigned to Belfair, Washington. They will help with maintenance at a church camp on Hood Canal and wear sweatshirts and jeans!! They will enjoy the cooler climate!! We miss them in Ghana but wish them the best of health in their new assignment!!