Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, July 24, 2016

1/3 of the way to the finish line

On the 18th  of July we noted that we have been on our mission for six months.  Sister Heid says there are 3 H's to coming to Africa:  
1)  The Honeymoon period because everything is new and interesting
2)  Hell because it is not like home and you know you will be here awhile longer
3)  Harmony that you are at peace with your situation.
We think our feelings change throughout the week, but generally we are doing well.

Here are a few highlights from this week.  

We invited the Office Elders and Assistants to dinner since Elder Quarshie, in front of the water dispenser, will be released on 2 August. Nancy made a crock pot of spaghetti sauce, almost 10 cups, and there was only 1 cup remaining!!)

Charles Mensah came to the mission home from the Area Office to set up a special Finance account in Outlook for Stan.  He is a bright young man with a college degree.  He is connected to an outfit in Silicon Valley that specializes in advanced entrepreneur studies. He works for the church currently, but his dream is to attend BYU for his MBA and return to Ghana and start his own business.  We were very impressed with his expertise in many areas. 
Elder Smith, on the left, is our former office elder.  He was right at home doing paperwork applying for renewal of his non citizen card.  However, he prefers being out actually in the mission field!  As of next Tuesday, he will be a Zone leader over several missionaries in his area.
 More elders stopped by the office to fill out paperwork for renewal of their non citizen cards.  After the paperwork is completed, the office elders take them to the renewal office.  Sometimes it is a fast process and other times there is a long wait.

Elder Whiting seems to enjoy having his picture taken.

We stopped by a local market on Saturday and look what we found!  Bob's Red Mill is an Oregon company in the Portland area.

Product of local craftsman displayed along the road.

Beautiful foliage at the mission home.  This was right before a torrential downpour!!.  We were at the mission home to have another dinner Sunday evening with the office elders and AP's.  Yes, they got fed twice this week! 

Sister Heid's mom passed and she will be returning to the states for a few weeks.  She wanted to feed  "our"  missionaries since transfers will happen while she is away, and as mentioned above, Elder Quarshie will be released.  (Sorry we forgot to take photos....just more food pictures anyway!!)

This upcoming week will be extremely busy with two multi Zone Conferences to attend and orienting our arriving senior couple (nurse and her husband).  Plus we leave for a couple of days for some R & R, so stay tuned for pictures!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Goodbye Sisters and More Food

Some weeks are starting to look like ones in the immediate past.  Transfers come more often that once every 6 weeks, so it seems like we are sending and receiving all the time.  This week we said goodbye to 8 Sister missionaries.  Before we tell you a little about them, Nancy wanted to include this crude sign we see quite often.  We wondered what A.M.A. stood for.  They seem to control lots of things around town and it certainly wasn't the American Medical Association.  Our Ghanaian missionaries were unable to help us.  As it turns out, it is the Accra Municipal Assembly.  They do lots of things in the city including collecting property taxes.  We received a notice recently, that we were delinquent in our property taxes for the mission home.  The notice stated that if we failed to pay we could be arrested.   We found that a bit dramatic since the amount due was 130 Ghana Cedis, or about $32, and that was for an entire year.  Home owners would love the tax system here.

Now back to wishing our sisters farewell...this was a interesting and diverse group.  They were traveling home to Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

Once again our photos show us eating.  Their farewell dinner this week was at Lord of the Wings.  Our office elders loved the place but the Africans.....we think it was a little too Western for them. 

President and Sister Heid with Sister Agboyin, who flew home to Nigeria.  Her one-hour flight to Nigeria was supposed to leave at 6 pm.  At 9 pm we received a call from her father who had not seen his daughter yet.  We were a bit frantic when we consulted the airline website only to find that the flight she was supposed to take didn't exist.  Somehow her father learned that it was delayed "big."  She finally left Accra at 10 p.m. and met her father at 12:30 pm Nigeria time.  Arik Airlines is notorious about delaying and cancelling flights at the last minute.  It does create some uncertainty and anxiety when we see that they are scheduled on Arik Air, especially for Nancy.

Pictured here, at our parting devotional, are 7 of the 8 sister missionaries, who served for 18 months.  One had already left that morning on the bus since she is from Cape Coast, Ghana, about three hours from Accra..  At least two of these sisters already have college degrees.
  Last minute photo taking and weighing of luggage!

This group of missionaries were waiting to get their Non-citizen cards renewed.  Ghana requires that all "noncitizens" pay a fee and carry this card with them at all times.  In our experience, no one has EVER asked to see it.  It is good for one year and must be renewed.  

 A little frivolity in the office
 Elders Bergeson and Hanberg

On Wednesday we were invited to dinner at the Heid's.  (Here we are again, eating).  We welcomed the President of the Ghana Accra West Mission, President Simpson and his wife, who arrived only a few weeks ago.  They brought with them our mission office counterparts, the Munros.  Both of these couples are from Australia.  It was a very nice evening.  Both Brother Simpson and Brother Munro were accountants before coming to the mission field.
This has become one of our favorite paintings.  This is hanging in the Area Office.

We went out to dinner with the Websters, ( next to Stan....from Australia and he is the Area Executive Secretary) and the Peines, (He is the Area Mental Health Specialist and they are from St. George, Utah), on Friday night.  We went to the Noble House, which is Chinese, but learned that there was also an Indian restaurant upstairs.  We decided to order some Chinese and some Indian and they served both cuisines to our table.  It was a very nice evening and the food was great!  Again more "dinner" pictures.

Our old apartment is getting renovated.  They installed the granite countertops this week.  It is starting to look like it will be finished before the Jones's arrive a week from Tuesday.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Learning much about life in Ghana

This week we had some meaningful interactions with people who live in Ghana.  It helped us appreciate that while they have little in material possessions, they always have hope that life will be better in the future.  We will share a few thoughts with the pictures.

This was on a truck we passed on our way to a missionary district meeting in Kpone, an hour east of the mission office.  We enlarged this so you could see the message, an Eagle and the Ghana flag with the motto "In God We Trust".

District missionary meeting.  Elder Cook, closest in the picture, and Nybo are from the US.  Elder Ndala (DRC) is conducting and his companion is Elder Ebinum.  The two gentleman in the back are returned missionaries and brothers who are members of the Kpone Ward.  Ralph is in the Bishopric and his brother, Solomon, is in the Young Men.  

This is the church building in Kpone. 

After District meeting, we met with the two brothers.  President Heid wanted us to be on a fact finding mission.  These brothers are trying to start a daycare center/private elementary school as a business to benefit their family financially and by offering a needed service for the community.  This is the property they are renting for the school.  They have a business plan to provide actual education (teaching, not just rote bookwork) and daycare for less cost than other private schools.  (Parents go to work when their children are 3 months old.  Usually both parents need to work to provide for their families.)  They had money saved for the entire venture, but another brother became ill with cancer and they needed to help with funds for his treatment.  Both brothers are enrolled in the BYU-I Pathway college program.  They are going to start the foundation work  for the building this week and hope to open for the school year in September.  They feel like they can make a profit, and retain more money individually, than when they were employed by others.  Their older brother has been successful running a school in Ghana.  They have contacted people in the community and have about 50 parents who are willing to have their children attend this school.

 Brother Solomon is looking at his cell phone.  He worked for a company, but it is no longer operating.  Brother Ralph is holding his youngest child.  He has been a school teacher for 10+years and was recently laid off.  His employer felt he could hire younger teachers for less pay.  His wife is a nurse and has worked for a government hospital for 10 years, essentially only receiving tips from patients and transportation money, but no wages.  She works with only hope that she will be on the payroll someday.  When we asked about other possible medical jobs, there are apparently not many options.   We have heard of this scenario of working for no pay from others in Ghana.  It is not uncommon.  The politicians talk about this issue often during campaigns, but nothing changes.  It is a serious frustration for the Ghanaians.

This is the beginnings of a building across from the school property.  Many buildings remain unfinished because the owner runs out of money.

In contrast, this is a home right next to the unfinished building.

After meeting with this family, we had a discussion with our Elder Quarshie, our AP, who is from Ghana and has an chemical engineering degree.  He begins his National Service obligation in August, so will be released from his mission early.   He will work for a private power company and be paid 350 ghs ($90) per month as he his considered a "volunteer".  Fortunately, the position is in his home town of Takoradi where he can stay with his mom which will help with his expenses.  He is hopeful that following his year of service, he can be hired on permanently.  A good entry level position for a college grad would be 1000 ghs ($250).  We are trying to figure out who owns all the cars on the road, because it would seem difficult to have such transportation on that salary.  We can see how one can live inexpensively by eating local food and using the Tro Tros for transportation.  But, purchasing a car, we just don't see how they can do it.  Yet there are so many cars on the road, it is a challenge to get around.

Workman began installing this tile in our old kitchen apartment this week.  Sister Heid and Nancy 'diplomatically" requested a change.  The contractor looked in an American d├ęcor magazine and thought this is what US couples would want.  Obviously, cabinets would hide some of this tile, but the room is quite small and would give us, or anyone else, a headache!

 Now only the white tile will show.

The tile contractor wanted his picture taken.  The workers actually stay in the apartment overnight as they work dawn until about 9pm each evening.

The hallway flooring is looking very nice.

This is the flooring in the kitchen.  It had been selected earlier by the contractor.  We think with the neutral cabinets, neutral countertop and white tile "backsplash" it will be ok.  We can't imagine this flooring with the original tile!

Zone leaders on the left, Elder Howard and Elder Kofotua, arrive in the evening from the "bush" prior to our Thursday Missionary Leadership Council.  They are joined by our office elders, Elder Falk and Elder Fuller.  Some put on napkin bibs to protect their ties while eating Indomie, a form of Top Ramen with veggies.

We forgot to take pictures of our MLC meeting.  Stan did a presentation about the process of financial reimbursement in the mission.  Due to the lack of senior couples and our inability to visit the bush frequently, the mission is making Zone Leaders handle reimbursement for certain expenses.  We had some role plays about different situations and how Zone Leaders should respond.  The missionaries had fun asking each other questions to clarify issues.  Ex.  reimbursement for lost phones.... is something that has to be cleared by the office staff  Ex. missionary lost his money out of the hole in his pocket - this had just happened!!
Ex.  payment for a water bill and has the receipt...Yes, reimburse them!!

Sorry no pictures.....but Saturday we took a few hours and went with Heids to the Accra Mall.  We had Philly steak sandwich...different place than we went a few weeks ago...and enjoyed some mango and blueberry frozen yogurt.  Then we went to a movie together.  It was a nice relaxing time.  Sister Heid has been struggling with an infected bug bite the last week and was doing better, so we wanted to "get her out of the house"!

President Heid asked us to attend the Adjorman Branch for Sunday meetings today.  This area is about 30 minutes east of the mission office and along the coastline.  The Christiansborg Stake President was in attendance to organize this branch into a ward, which means they have sufficient members to implement the full program of the church.  He also announced that in the near future they will be a part of their own Stake, and land has been purchased for a Stake building.

It is unbelievable the church growth we have witnessed in the six months we have been in Ghana.  We are grateful that church leadership is emphasizing "strength over numbers".  In other words, make sure those being baptized are truly converted and ready to contribute their time and talents to the church in the area where they live.

Nancy took this picture of the women in Relief Society meeting.  The lady in the bright blue dress is the Stake Relief Society President.  She is seated with her counselors who visited today for this special occasion.  Julianna, who helps clean at the mission home, is one of those counselors.  She is seated on the extreme right, next to the sister with the green and yellow print outfit.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Elder Causse, Kumasi and Koforidua

This week we realized that though what we do is a bit routine, there is also joy and happiness in the day to day.  We had a missionary come to Accra to have some dental work done.  He volunteered to assist Sister Pace and the office elders with several tasks, including changing the toner cartridge in the copy machine.  Even in the little things there is fun.
 Elder Nielsen, from Houston, TX, and our office elders, Elder Falk and  Elder Fuller.

 This week the workers renovating our old apartment, got serious.  Looks like we had a bomb go off in there.

Bishop Gerald Causse - Presiding Bishop

On Thursday we were invited to a special devotional with the Presiding Bishop of the Church, Elder Gerald Causse.  He was in Accra to call and set apart a new Director of Temporal Affairs for the Africa West Area, who is from Ghana.  We were privileged to hear remarks by Elder Causse and then shake his hand.  (We took the picture from the internet because we were in the overflow area!)

Elder Emyfon, in the middle, finished his instruction at the Ghana MTC last week.  When he went to the airport to leave for his mission in Nigeria, the immigration officials determined that his passport was "smudged" and not valid.  They would not allow him to board the plane.  Until he can obtain a new document, he has been assigned to our mission.  His home is only 30 minutes away, in Tema.  But, since it may take 1-6 months for the passport process, they want him to serve but be handy for any needs immigration might have.

The result of this is that our mission has an uneven number of missionaries.  Elder Emyfon was assigned to a threesome, which you can appreciate, is a little awkward.  With a little research, President Heid learned that the Kumasi mission also had an uneven number.  Together the two presidents came up with a plan for us to send a missionary to them, so both missions would be even, especially since no new missionaries will arrive until the middle of September.  Elder Asare was asked to take the assignment and Sister Pace and I were asked to transport him to his new area in Kumasi.  Kumasi is about 5 hours north of Accra so we had an overnight trip.

We love driving in the interior of Ghana.  Today the weather was threatening.
We saw gallons and gallons of Palm Oil for sale along the roadside.

This is  a constant issue....broken down vehicles.  Usually they are just fixed on the spot, but traffic backs up as a result.  This gargantuan truck was sitting in a major intersection.

 This is a landmark in the middle of a roundabout that helped guide us to the Kumasi Mission Home.

 Out the mission home window in Kumasi

 Elder Asare's new companion happens to be a drummer.  He demonstrated his talent on a drum recently acquired by President Cosgrave, on the left.

Elder Brandt and Elder Asare at the Kumasi Mission home.

President and Sister Cosgrave with the new companionship.  President and Sister Cosgrave are from Utah and served as a senior missionary couple to President and Sister Heid before being reassigned last July as Mission President in Kumasi.   

It is a small world....their daughter is married to a son of some friends on our Portland Temple shift....Sister Cosgrave's father was instrumental in having the BYU Young Ambassadors perform in New Hampshire in 1972.  Stan was touring the East Coast with the YA's that summer and they had a waterskiing outing on a boat driven by Sister Cosgrave.....Dr. Cosgrave is the former doctor and good friend to one of Stan's former mission companions, etc.!!

 We were impressed with the new addition to the Kumasi "fleet."  Pretty sheik design and color.  Designed for speed!!!

 Dinner with the Cosgraves and one of their senior couples, the Wardles, from Washington State.  She is the nurse for the Kumasi Mission.  Her husband is a former teacher and helps with apartment issues in the mission.

 Some of the scenery on our way back to Accra.

 Often vendors will sell "meat" on the side of the road.  This is a chicken.  We also saw a small antelope and grass cutter, but we were not fast enough with the camera!

This is a photo of Bubba, who is our security guard.  You can see how intimidating he is.  Who would dare to break into our complex??

Stan has had his "eye" on African sculptures since we first saw them at a market five months ago.  Since July is his birthday month, we purchased them yesterday.  We plan to "dump" some clothes at the end of our mission, so we figured we would have room in our suitcase.
This week we were introduced to an interesting snack made by one of cafeteria workers at the church Area office.  It contains roasted peanuts and popped millet.  It is very good and healthy!
This Sunday President Heid asked us to go out in the "bush" and support a branch division in Koforidua.  Two of our elders are assigned there, Elder Beckstrand and Elder Liongitau.  This is the fifth branch division that we have witnessed since arriving.  It is wonderful to see the growth , both in number and strength here in the mission.  These people are truly a "light on a hill."