Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

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.

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