Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Farewell to our Elder "Obey"

This week we bid farewell to eight missionaries, including Elder "OBEY," and welcomed 18 new missionaries from the Ghana MTC.  As mentioned in our last blog, they represent many different countries in Africa.  It is amazing to us that these young people can come from such varied backgrounds and circumstances and most generally get along well and work hard together.

Most of those departing were Nigerians.  Elder Osei-Brobbey, or Elder OBEY as we called him, was an exception.  He is from Ghana.  We will miss all of them but especially Elder Obsei-Brobbey who was in the office for many months and who returned to his family 4 hours away in Kumasi.  We are hopeful that we might see him again during the next few months.  We will miss him.

 Elder Osei-Brobbey was an Assistant to the President in the mission office.

Elder Osei-Brobbey's sister, and her husband, came to accompany him home on the VIP bus.

With all the transfers, departing and incoming missionaries, many were at the Mission Office this week.  As you can see, Elder "Obey", is loved!!

Elder Koronikalau, from Fiji is taking Elder Osei-Brobbey's place as Assistant to the President. 

Elder Koronikalau has an interesting story.  He lives on an island in Fiji owned by his parents.  On the island they grow crops and raise cattle.  On one end of the island they have built a vacation resort.  But he is not that interested in helping run the resort.  He wants to further his education and then become a pilot.

On another note, Elder Koronikalau loves the sport of Rugby.  In fact, he gave up a lucrative opportunity to play professionally.  We are looking forward to learning more about him. 

 Our two mission nurses.  Sister Jones and Sister Dadzie with her daughter.  Sister Dadzie answers phone calls regarding medical concerns, especially from the Africans.  She helped before Sister Jones arrived and has continued to "volunteer" for the mission.  It is something she can do while being a mom.

On Sunday we attended Stake Conference in Tema, about 30 minutes away.  The talks were very good and everyone was so attentive, even though the temperature in the church was at least 90 degrees.  "Members who sweat together, stick together."  I guess we are just getting used to it because it wasn't too bad.  We did notice, however, that it was cooler standing outside in the sun.

The Stake President spoke specifically to the topic of the upcoming election here in Ghana.  For the last 9 months we have been seeing signs and posters encouraging voters to cast their ballots and to maintain order and peace.  Interestingly, Ghana has had few problems during elections the past 3 elections and the transition of power has been good.  But in Africa, that is not the norm. 

The Stake President admonished the saints to learn the issues and vote for those worthy of their support.  He acknowledged that the traditions perpetuated in African government are not what they should be.  He said the people in government are, for the most part, corrupt and are there only for their own personal benefit and not the benefit of the people they represent.  (Sounds a little like what we are facing in the US).  He said that by living more fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to effect change in Ghana. 

 Another sign says, "We need peaceful elections.  We have only one Ghana.

 This is actually a 4-lane road.  Fortunately, we were heading the right direction.

 On our way to church a major road was blocked by those marching for the current Ghanaian President, Mahama.   The marchers are actually occupying the entire opposing lane of traffic.  There were no policeman or road signs to indicate that cars would have difficulty getting through the area.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gearing up for new arrivals and visiting an NGO project

This coming Tuesday we will be receiving 18 new missionaries from the Ghana MTC.  This is a diverse group representing eight different countries; Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Liberia and one from the USA.  We are excited for their arrival, but it has been a bit busy reorganizing the mission.  We needed to find 18 new trainers and backfill leadership vacancies because so many of our leaders have now returned home.  President Heid is a master of such transfers.  Our role is minor in comparison, so we can focus our attention on welcoming and orienting.

We enjoyed a "tidbit" from an email President Heid received from one of our US missionaries who just completed one year of his mission.  He said something like he can't believe he has been out a year without "my mom, Dr. Pepper and Taco Bell"!  Glad he still has a sense of humor.  After an initial adjustment period to mission life, most of our missionaries really enjoy the people and culture of Ghana.

Again, we attended a District Council meeting on Tuesday.  This time we visited the Ashalley Botwe District.  Below is a photo of everyone waiting for the gatekeeper.  We started only 15 minutes late. We were very glad because it was getting very hot, very fast.

 The lady, who had the key, had made a cake for someone's birthday.  It was the box on the sidewalk with the red cloth on top.  We should have taken a picture of it before it was covered!

 In this photo, Stan had just returned from the bank.  Scenes like this reinforce his nickname, "moneybags."

Gilbert, our facility management guru, stopped at the mission home to pick up a few items to furnish a newly acquired missionary apartment.  He became quite creative in loading up the truck.

Elder Harris and Elder Osei-Brobbey prepared to demonstrate proper rain attire options.  The rainwear that President modeled a few weeks ago was found to tear easily.  In the end, the green raincoat was too heavy for this climate and the red one also tore.  We guess the missionaries will just have to hope they are not riding their bikes when it rains.

Several months ago, President Heid asked us to meet with Soloman and his brother Ralph.  You might remember that they presented a business plan for starting a school.  We showed pictures of the property and briefly explained their plan.  The president was able to find someone who wanted to help these brethren financially so they could get started.  They signed an agreement.  Soloman came to make the first payment and give a report. Nancy, the President, and I were impressed.  They showed us pictures of their building, a 6-room school.  It is not totally finished, but it does have walls and a roof.  The floors are tile and very clean.  They have 13 teachers and 135 students.  They still have some debt, the largest the benefactor that President found, but most of their building expenses have been paid.  We encouraged them and gave a few suggestions.  We are very happy for their progress and commitment and that the President asked us to represent him.  It showed us that there are many good people here who are trying hard and want to be self reliant.  All they need is a little help and encouragement.  We will continue to follow this developing story.  (Solomon was to forward us pictures of the school that we viewed, but they have not yet been emailed to us.)

Saturday, we joined several other senior couples and representatives from a visiting NGO, "Africa for Change."  The tour is referred to as the "Volta River Trip," and most of the seniors (Except for those arriving this year) have already experienced the 2-hour trip from Accra to the confluence of the mighty Volta River.  A member of a local Stake Presidency, who is quite familiar with this area of Ghana, acted as our guide.  He is also employed by an NGO that will be in the photos.   George kept us from drowning and provided background and information about the island and surrounding area.

We will let the photos tell the story.

George, our guide.

Gathering to start our trip to the waterfront.  The young man covering his face is the son of the Clarks.  He was on a business trip to India for Amazon and took the long way so he could see his mom and dad.

When we show up anywhere, we attract children.

 On the way to the waterfront.

 The locals farm oysters in the Volta.  These shells look more like muscle shells, but maybe it is a different variety.

 The coconut was as big as she was!

We first boated to an island.

World Vision provided the health center building which serves 22 communities scattered on various islands.  The government of Ghana decided they would fund the nurses who staff this health center.  The nurses also use a boat to visit the locals.

 New termite hill

 As we walked along we noticed this very large turkey.  The Africans don't even celebrate Thanksgiving, but he looks like he would make a great meal!

 We also saw several of these birds.   The was the closest we have been to Guinea Fowl.  They are raised for food and we have had some in the past.  They are quite good.

Empower Playgrounds, the NGO that George works for, sponsored this project where solar panels are placed on top of this structure and supply power to large batteries.   Then smaller batteries can be taken by families to use in their homes.  This island does not have electricity for it's residents.  This was an effort to do something to help.  Unfortunately, the start up fee to get electricity to each of these homes is 500 ghc, about $125 US, which is not affordable for these villagers.

Also part of the project at this school is the merry-go-round electricity project.  When in use, the equipment here produces electricity which is sent to large batteries in a room at the school.  One turn of the merry go round turns the generator 25 times. The energy stored in the batteries then charge smaller lantern type units that students can take home and use for doing their homework, etc.  This has been very successful.  The students are improving academically since they can study at night and they are building leadership skills as they take turns organizing study groups and being responsible to bring back the lanterns for recharging.  It costs $10,000 US to provide one merry go round!

 Recently the government of Ghana built wind turbines and a solar powered plant to help supply electricity to the village.  Many homes still do not have electricity however, because the villagers cannot afford the price that the government charges for power.

 This young man was using his feet to hold sugar cane strips in place as he weaved a basket.

Brother Jones was trying the coconut meat.  This variety had a soft, slimy texture.

Sister Terry and her husband were released from their mission with the Africa West Area Office in April.  She returned to Africa to check on her NGO which seeks to empower women and children through education.  Here she is trying to drink from a coconut shell.  Since the coconuts were cut with a machete, some of us were reluctant to take a drink!

We took this photo of the school.  No students but quite a gathering of goats.

 A contrast of lifestyles on these islands.

 This is where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Fishing is the main occupation for these villages.

 When we returned from our excursion, we enjoyed a dip in the swimming pool at Alema Ct., where some of the Africa West Area senior missionaries live.  The grounds are beautiful.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rolling along in October

For our Monday night Senior Missionary Family Home Evening, we had two guest missionaries, the Findlays, from British Columbia.  (They actually live in the same area in Canada as our neighbors, Meg and Wayne Jones!) They have spent the last twenty years serving a variety of church missions, including in Russia and Fiji.  Personally, they have traveled to 94 countries! Currently they spend several weeks a year coming to Africa to distribute wheelchairs and supervising immunization programs.   He is a retired Air Force pilot and said they could have never imagined what would happen in their retirement years!

One of the Findlay's power point slides was about a band that donated their lunch money to hire a truck and play music to encourage residents to come out and hear about the immunization program.

We attended the Christiansborg Zone Training this week at the Ghana Temple Square complex.  Elder Gamil and Elder Ferrell demonstrated techniques to greet others....look people in the eye, give a firm handshake and start teaching a gospel principle!

Elder Burns, in the foreground, is a Zone Leader and responsible, along with his companion, for training the missionaries in their area. 

Our mission office internet is connected to the Area Office internet a few blocks away.  There were some major problems this entire week and these gentleman helped get the problem solved.  Brother Henderson, on the right, was in our office most of the week.  He has been a computer programmer and worked as a computer salesperson.  He also installed Microsoft 10 on our computers.  Stan says his computer is running very well now.

 On the mission home property is a pawpaw tree, somewhat like a papaya.

Nancy and Sister Heid took pictures of the Mission Office and Mission Home this week.   Salt Lake church headquarters wanted current pictures to help orient the incoming mission president and his wife. They have likely been called to their position, but their assignment will probably not be announced until the first of the year.  They will arrive about July 1, shortly before we are released from our mission.

On Fridays we usually have Office Council with the office elders, Assistants to the President, senior couples, our facility manager, and President and Sister Heid.  We coordinate items on the calendar, apartment issues and discuss mission business.  Elder Osei-Brobbey, the Ghanaian, by the door, explained how he has changed for the better on his mission.  He will be released next Monday from his mission and return to Kumasi, Ghana.  He is applying to the UK Army and hopes to get training to be a mechanic.

Elder Osei-Brobbey also shared a touching story that he has always wanted to serve a mission.  When he was 8 years old, he had a "dream" about doing missionary work and meeting a white couple.  Ten plus years later, when Elder Osei-Brobbey was at the Ghana Missionary Training Center, President and Sister Heid came to meet the new missionaries who were coming to the Ghana Accra Mission.  Elder Osei-Brobbey immediately recognized them from his dream. 

Elder Ackley and Elder Sam accompanied their investigator, Cecilia, to the mission office where she had a baptism interview with President Heid. 

Sunday, we attended church in in an area of the city called Jamestown.  This is the chapel.  If you look carefully you will see the sign behind the "walk" signal.  This area is in the heart of the city but is economically challenged.  The chapel is on the second floor.   We don't know exactly what is happening on the 3rd floor.  Because of it's location, the noise from the street was very distracting.  Today they had to endure a major political rally with the accompanying chants and loud music.  But the Saints just proceed and don't let the annoyance bother them.  There were about 150 in attendance at the Jamestown Ward.