Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Suhum and More

Richard Sackitey stopped by our office with his wife and daughter to collect a check.  He is able to get supplies that we need for reasonable prices ....cooktop stoves for the missionary apartments, light bulbs, etc.  He is also the Ghana director for an NGO called "Ghana Make A Difference".  The Sackitey's are outstanding people.

(Ghana Make A Difference was started by a couple in Idaho who wanted to provide shelter for orphans or abandoned children until they could be placed with families.  In 2017 they will also sponsor a medical mission with medical professionals from the US. and Ghana.  They expect to perform 60 major medical surgeries,100 eye surgeries and provide dental care for 300.

Computer class for the non English speakers.  It is so fun to see them progress.  Sister Heid, former English teacher, is in the purple outfit.

We love it when elders "have to hang out with us at the office" while waiting for their companions at computer class or getting Non-Citizen cards.

 Nancy's Friday night dinner at La Villa, a boutique hotel with a restaurant

Yes, eating again!!  Saturday night we had a potluck at the mission home.  The Cosgraves, the Ghana Kumasi Mission President and his wife, were in town and they are seated next to Stan. (We visited them a month or two ago when we "traded" missionaries for a few weeks.  They were also a senior missionary couple here in Ghana prior to being called as Mission President in Kumasi.)  Across from Stan are Ryan and Mary Richards.  Ryan is a church lawyer on assignment for about 3 years in Africa.  Mary is an accomplished musician and the granddaughter of Ezra Taft Benson, a former president and prophet of the LDS Church.  President Heid is seated in the back next to our apartment neighbors, Meg and Wayne Jones.
Sunday we attended the dedication of the Suhum building.  Sister Heid is posing with the Branch Relief Society President.

We showed pictures of the building in a previous blog.  It is a nice facility.  This was taken prior to Sacrament meeting.   We had over 100 in attendance.  President Heid was asked to offer the dedicatory prayer.

 Elder Kamanda with a "helper" ready to greet visitors.

Three of the four missionaries assigned to Suhum posed with Stan.  Two are wearing traditional ties, one of beads and one of Kente cloth.

It is difficult to see the magnitude of this tree, located about a block from our apartment.  It is very impressive.

Side Note:
Some of you may have heard that some LDS missionaries in Sierra Leone were involved in a car crash this week.  We understand they had just arrived in the country and were being driven to their areas in a mission van when they were hit head on.  Two are in "very serious" condition and were air lifted to Accra to be stabilized before being flown to the US.  Our  Area medical doctor, Dr. Anderson, has been overseeing their care.  We encourage everyone to pray for these missionaries and their families.

Stay tuned for the next two weeks, as we hopefully will have some interesting experiences to share.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Baptisms for a family from Mali, It's a Small World, and Africa Service Day

This week has been very busy and rewarding.  We will try to be somewhat brief and let the pictures tell some of the story. 

We went to the Ashaiman Zone Training Meeting.  This is where the Zone Leaders instruct the missionaries about information they received the previous week at Missionary Leadership Council.  We were just there to be supportive and clarify any issues.  This picture was taken before the meeting began.  Notice how relaxed everyone was!

Zone Leader, Elder Akichi, instructs about "Feed My Sheep".  He encouraged the missionaries to get to know the members in their area, to invite them to help with the missionary effort and to serve everyone.  He shared an experience about a woman they met who was not really interested in the gospel message.  She had to go inside her home for a short while and Elder Akichi and his companion did her hand washing while they waited for her to return.  Her attitude softened as service was rendered.

On the way back from Zone training in Ashaiman, we snapped this picture in the market area.  This is the traffic and organized 'chaos" we encounter everyday.  Notice the one Trotro in the other lane just pulls in front of another car.  Happens all the time.  You have to be aggressive and defensive here!

We are constantly amazed how so many items can be balanced on the head along with carrying a baby!!

This is Dramane, Miriam and Junior Bagayoko from Mali. 

They traveled three days on a bus from Mali to be baptized in Ghana!!  Mali is 90% Muslim and the church does not have formal recognition, although a small group of members and investigators meet together in a village near Bamako. 

Dramane works for a large chicken farm (20,000 chickens purchased from France) and is an egg salesman who delivers his product on a three wheeled scooter.  He met his wife in high school.  She does not speak English but understands some French.

Dramane studied English in Utah for 10 months and became acquainted with the church there.  He wanted to be baptized in Utah but because it was against his father's wishes he respected that decision.  Now that is father is deceased he wanted to be baptized and his mother approved.  He and his wife had permission from our Africa West Area presidency to come to Ghana because he was already so familiar with the church.  Although there are about 30 potential investigators that also want to come here for the same reasons, the church will not encourage expansion until political and legal issues can be resolved.  Since it is a predominantly Muslim country, church officials want to make sure that members will be safe and that the church organization is welcome.

The Jones helped teach the missionary lessons to the Bagayoko family.   They were also taught by the young office elders, AP's and a set of missionaries in the area, one of whom is a French speaker.  We just supported!!

 The picture is of everyone who attended the baptism.

 Elder Bulunga baptized and spoke the ordinance in French.  Most baptismal fonts in Ghana are outside and have the same design.

After the baptism we celebrated with the family at Burgers and Relish.  It was the first time that Miriam and Junior had ever had a hamburger.  They ate everything!

The young missionaries each devoured a double burger!!

It was a week for plumbing issues.  A hose under the sink at our old apartment burst and we helped clean up with our new neighbors, Wayne and Meg Jones.  A few days later the canister for our water filter in our "new" apartment sprung a leak and Stan had to do some repair as well.

Friday night we attended the Ghana temple and then went with some senior missionary couples to dinner.  Joining us was Stanford Webster and his wife from Australia.  They were visiting his parents, who are senior missionaries serving as executive secretary to the Africa West Area Presidency.  As we visited, we discovered that Stanford served his mission in Calgary, Canada and that Ryan Pace was his companion for about six weeks!!  We couldn't believe that someone coming from Australia and someone from Oregon would have a connection in Africa!  We immediately texted our son and he and Stanford exchanged greetings and emails.  They had actually connected at BYU after their missions.  Ryan said he really loved being a missionary with Stanford. They worked hard and still found time to laugh!!  Stanford runs the family pharmaceutical business in Australia and he and his wife have four children.

Yes, eating again at the Lord of the Wings.  Stanford Webster is seated next to his dad, and his mom is next to Sister Heid.

Every year the church encourages the various church units to do a service project to benefit their community.  This one was scheduled in the Ashaiman area where we attended Zone training earlier this week.

On Saturday we drove to West Adenta where part of that Stake unit was doing yard work and cleaning corridors of the Pantang hospital.  They had about 200 people working and we got there just as they were finishing the project, which ended an hour earlier than anticipated.  We took a few pictures.  The yellow vests say Mormon Helping Hands.  Some of the pictures include our missionaries.


Sunday we traveled 1 1/2 hours to Akuse, a bush area of our mission.  We had never been to this location before, which is only about a mile from the Volta River.  The church recently divided two units to make a church building closer to members. There are two lone missionaries in this village.  This rented house is the church, the missionaries' apartment, and truly is the nicest building there!

After the meeting started there were about 60 in attendance.  We were asked to give a short testimony and thought.  Most of the meeting was in English, but sometimes the local dialect was spoken.
The canopy of trees is a nice entrance to the Akuse area.

When we came back form Akuse, we went to another baptism.  Francois is Dramane's friend from Mali.  He also traveled here to be baptized and Dramane was now eligible to baptize his friend.  Francois has a brother in the US who is a member of the church.  Francois has a college degree in literarcy and desires to come to the US to get his Masters in International Relations.  He hopes to help Mali become and stay a peaceful country.

The two friends from Mali are now both church members.

Selfie of Elder Pace and Elder Osei-Brobbey.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Elder Bednar Speaks to YSAs and Youth plus our visit to SUHUM

This week was routine, but we haven't been able to define "routine" yet.  We did spend time at leadership meetings and did eat 3 times a day.  That is pretty routine.  But each leadership meeting and each meal can be quite unique. 

Monday night we gathered with most of the Senior Couples serving in Accra fro our bi-monthly Family Home Evening.   A special treat, besides the outstanding food that was served, was meeting Elder and Sister Nash.  They arrived only recently to assume the responsibilities as first counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency.  He has most recently served as South America West Area President.  They are delightful people.  Elder Nash was an attorney by profession and spent his career practicing in Seattle, Washington.  We are looking forward to getting to know them better and learning at their feet.

This week we attended District Council meeting in Nungua, which is along a beach drive about 45 minutes from the mission home.  (The beach is not attractive, so don't be jealous!).  We were very impressed with Elder Anderson and his district.  They are diligent and very engaged in the work of sharing the message of the Gospel with the people in their area.

On Thursday we attended, and did some training in, our monthly MLC (Mission Leadership Council).  Those attending were the Zone Leaders, Assistants to the President, Office Elders, the senior couples and President Heid.  We normally meet in a conference room at the Area Office.  This week, however, we were preempted by Elder David A. Bednar, one of the Twelve Apostles in the church.  He travelled to Accra to address the Young Single Adults and Youth.  He was scheduled to give 2, three-hour firesides originating from Accra, but broadcast to many locations in the Africa West Area.  In addition, he was meeting with officials and church leaders during the week.  We didn't mind losing our room.  We were assigned to a different room in the Area Office and actually got to see Elder Bednar and his wife as they passed on their way to a meeting.  President Heid happened to be in the right place at the right time and had a personal conversation with Elder Bednar.   President Heid was 'set apart' by Elder Bednar to be mission president and has met with him in Mission President Conferences.

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Elder David A. Bednar

(We borrowed this picture from the internet.)
We were also able to listen to Elder Bednar for the firesides via the internet.  It was a treat to hear him, his wife, and the other generally authorities address questions that the young people had.  Both firesides followed a question/answer format.  The congregation posed  very thoughtful questions like:  How can I tell if the Holy Ghost is with me?  What is the doctrine of Christ?  Why is it important to keep the law chastity as a youth?.  Elder Bednar and other leaders present gave inspired counsel.

Nancy took a few photos of our MLC training meeting.  Most of the instruction was given by the missionaries.

After MLC, we gathered at the Mission Home for lunch.  The following pictures were taken there.  Wouldn't you know, more pictures of eating....

 Elder and Sister Jones enjoyed the conversation with these great missionaries.  The two sister missionaries in the picture will be released the end of August.  They have been leaders of the sisters in the mission.

Elder Morris and Elder Beck

We have been looking high and low to find blueberries.  We actually found some on Saturday.  The quantity is very small and the price was equivalent to 6 US dollars for this tiny box.  Nancy could not force herself to purchase them.

On Sunday, we traveled north to Koforidua District to visit the missionaries in Suhum and attend church.  Nancy thought we needed 2 1/2 hours to arrive before Sacrament meeting.  It took us only one hour.  But we were able to relax for a few minutes and watch the leaders and members arrive.  
On the way to Suhum, we encountered this very large earthmover.  We were fortunate to meet it on the 4-lane part of our trip.  We don't want to even think about what was going to happen when the road narrows to 2 very narrow lanes.

 Elder Kamanda and a local member.

 Elder Kallon

We met in a brand new building.  They are holding an open house and dedication in two weeks.  The members are very excited.  It is wonderful to see the growth happening throughout Ghana.  (We took the photo before the meeting.  There were about 100 in attendance.)
After our visit to Suhum, we took a different way back to Accra so we could stop in Koforidua and check in with the missionaries there.  We love driving to Koforidua.  It really is BEAUTIFUL!!