This week was definitely a holiday one. There was less traffic, plus banks and the church Area offices were closed on Monday and Tuesday. There were two official holidays at this time: Boxing Day and Christmas because it fell on Sunday. We only saw a few street vendors peddling their wares.
December has also been a hard month for the missionaries to teach anyone. Many people were gone a week for the Ghana Election and then traveled to their villages for the holidays.
Following Christmas Day, we went outside to exercise and noticed what looked like "fog." Harmattan had arrived. "The Harmattan is a dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind which blows from the Sahara Desert over the West African subcontinent into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March (winter). The name comes from or is related to Ga haramata." (internet) Some flights were cancelled this week. Our friends were to go on a Safari to the northern part of Ghana, but they were never able to fly out of the Accra Airport.
This was taken from our apartment living room window. You can see a building in the distance, obscured by Harmattan.
Elder Asare discussed how do we develop Christlike attributes?
Elder Bullie, Elder Agba and Sister Otto leave for the Missionary Training Center in Tema, Ghana. Elder Bullie, from Sierra Leone, has been "visa waiting" in our mission, hoping to enter the Capetown Mission via the Johannasburg MTC. He still did not have his visa for South Africa on 29 December, so a change was made to have him attend the MTC in Ghana for the next three weeks. We told him that he would be "staff" at the MTC since he has actually been in the mission field for more than a month. If he does not get his visa by the next transfer on 17 January, he may be back in our mission again!
Elder Agba and Sister Otto live in our mission district and President Heid has responsibility for them. Elder Agba was going to Nigeria on a mission and Sister Otto to Uganda. President Heid drove the new mission van for the first time and took them to the MTC.
Sunday we attended church at the Teshie 3 Ward. We wanted to give support to Elder Flan II, who is from Liberia and recently broke his wrist in a bicycle incident. He will have surgery on Friday to have a plate installed. His companion, Elder James, has been very patient this past week. He and our mission nurse, Sister Jones, and her husband sat with them from 6 am until almost 4pm for Elder Flan II to receive a temporary cast. Sister Jones was impressed with the surgeon but not with the hospital organization!! After everything was finalized, she still had to find and purchase the actual plate and screws needed for surgery from the one pharmacy in Accra which carries these items.
There was a propane gas explosion in Accra on 22 December that killed at least eleven people and injured 40. It was bad. This is the location where we fill our gas propane tank! One of our AP's and an office elder had just driven past the area when they heard the explosion. They, fortunately, acted quickly and took an alternative route. Most of the deaths were individuals walking along the road next to the propane station. On a local website, people are blaming the government for not having stricter standards. Unfortunately, that is the way it is with many things.
We spent New Year's Eve at a Chinese/Indian restaurant with 40+ others who are here in connection with missionary work. We enjoyed visiting, eating and headed back by 9pm!! On the drive home there were long traffic lines going the opposite direction towards downtown Accra and many people walking the streets. The fireworks began early in the evening and have continued for New Year's Day.
Waiting to order at the restaurant. President Heid is behind us. President Nash, first counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency is standing.
(Update: A few weeks ago we mentioned that Elder and Sister Clark, a senior missionary couple helping with auditing, had been called as Mission President as of July 1, 2017. This week they were able to announce they will be serving in Liberia. It will be a challenge, but they have visited that country before, so they know what to expect. One bonus is they move into a brand new mission home!!)
Today we have been reflecting upon the past year and looking to 2017. We feel so blessed to be in Ghana and able to serve as missionaries. We are doing well and are so glad our health is such that we can do this. We just have to be patient with our aches and pains. We are looking forward to completing our mission service in about 6 months. It is quite amazing how quickly 2016 has gone. HAPPY NEW YEAR! to all of you.