Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Many Visitors

This week we welcomed another "visa waiter", Elder Dzikpe, from Ghana, but who is called to the England Manchester Mission.  We also received an Elder Conista from the Sierra Leone mission who was sent here to have some medical tests.  Elder Conista is from the Philippines and personally knows the two Filipino missionaries who are serving in the Ghana Accra Mission!!  Both of these young men are great!

Elder Dzikpe on the left and Elder Conista on the right.

We took Elder Conista to the Korle-Bu Teaching hospital to return some medical results and passed by the Jamestown Light House in one of the oldest districts in Ghana.  The original lighthouse was built in 1871 as part of the British occupation.  This replica was built in the 1930.

Another visitor this week was Hunter Crandall and his wife, Lori.  He was an AP with President Heid before we came to Ghana.  He is traveling with his family....mom, sister, wife, brother-in-law, to China, Dubai, etc., partially for fun and also for the mining business where he is employed.
The Crandalls

We also welcomed our senior couple friends from the Ghana Kumasi Mission, Lynn and Tess Wardle. She is the mission nurse and he helps with apartments. They came to Accra to be with their branch members at the temple.  We were lucky to have them stay with us both Thursday and Friday night.  (The Wardles are from the Tacoma, Washington area so we can see them when we return from our mission.)   The Wardles were joined on Friday by the Schows, who are the office couple in the Kumasi mission. We had a great time together.

 The Schows's are by the window and the Wardles are on the right.
Also invited for breakfast on Saturday were our hall neighbors, the Jones's.

Sister Wardell was showing a video of her husband doing relaxation techniques for the Kumasi missionaries.  Elder Wardell is a former physcial education teacher.

We also bid farewell to our former missionary Assistant to the President, Elder Koronikalou. He returned to his island home in Fiji on Friday.  (He needed to return home for some legal matters, so he was released a few weeks early and out of the normal transfer cycle.)  We are going to miss him terribly and his delightful personality.  Elder Pace has joked with him that it was his body that he was supposed to have when he came to earth.  Elder K is quite the specimen of strength and agility.   (Everything Elder Pace DIDN'T get).  As you can see by the photo, he is a large young man with serious strength and athletic potential.  In fact, he turned down a lucrative professional rugby contract in order to serve a mission.  His family owns a resort on an island in Fiji and he has been appointed CEO since his grandfather passed in December.  We see a trip in the works!!

We had a small gathering for Elder K's farewell luncheon.  Afterwards Stan grabbed a chair and stood on it to give Elder K a hug.   Everyone in the restaurant was laughing!!  Missed the camera opportunity!
Elder Pace, Elder K, Elder George and Elder Bailey (new Assistants to the President) and the Heids. President Heid is not really a dessert person, but the moist red velvet cake is one of his favorites!

This weekend was Ashaiman Stake Conference.  This Stake is about 1/2 hour from our apartment in Sunday "no traffic".  We missed the Saturday session because of our Kumasi guests, but we attended the Sunday session.  The Stake Center was packed.  We estimated there were close to 2000 in attendance.  Our 24 missionaries gave up their seats so members and investigators could sit in the main cultural hall and chapel.   (We understand there were at least 30 nonmembers there.)  The missionaries went to a separate room in the church to listen to the proceedings.

Everyone gathering for Conference.  The women in the choir were all dressed in teal green dresses and the men in teal green ties.  The Stake President said they could replace the Mormon Tabernacle choir!!

There were talks about becoming "perfect" in Christ, about how the young women's program can help them to "Come unto Christ", about temple attendance, about the importance of scripture study, etc.  President Heid rehearsed his upcoming "5 minute" speech for  this Tuesday when he and Sister Heid have been invited to explain our religion to some Catholic seminary students.  This group has asked to visit temple square and some of our missionaries will be hosts.

Stake President, Isaac Morrison, is a powerful figure.  Nancy has some contact with him at the church Africa West Area Office since the travel department is under his supervision.  He is spiritual, dynamic and leads a very organized Stake.   He invited his wife to the stand and told everyone how much she means to him and how he loves her.  He he asked her to share her testimony and then he gave her a kiss in front of everyone!!  (Highly unusual to show public affection in this culture.  He was modeling how men should treat women.)

As part of his talk at Stake Conference, President Morrison had the Primary children (ages 3-11), the youth (ages 12-18), and the Single Adults (age 18-30) stand and sing the song, "I Am A Child of God".  What a group stood up!! It was more than 50% of those in attendance. Part of the lyrics for the song are....."teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday." President Morrison asked the parents to teach the Rising Generation because they are the future of the church.  He quoted scriptures from the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2:6) and how a prophet named King Benjamin instructed his people to gather as families and face their tents toward the temple.  Symbolically, we should live the gospel as we remember truths taught in the temple, as well as instruction from General Conference and local leaders.

President Morrison explained there were 2400 church members in his Stake:  Of those...
300 are Primary children (ages 3-11),
400 are Young men and Young women (ages 12-18), and
800 are Single Adults (ages 18-30).
TOTAL OF 1500 ages 3-30 and the rest 900 adults.

He called youth up to the stand to represent each age group.  On the left were two returned missionaries who are in their first year of university.  Then, there were two Primary children (the young boy was just baptized a few months ago).  Then on the right was a young woman who has recently spoken in Stake Conference and a young man who may be part of a church-wide question and answer session in August with an Apostle.  

At the conclusion the Stake President gave a blessing to all the youth that they would hold steadfast in their values, appreciate the Lord in their life, be "prosperous" in their school work, and love and be obedient to their parents.  It was a very powerful meeting!!

This week Brother Fall, a former missionary in our mission, sent this picture from BYU-Idaho where he is attending college.  He is the only church member in his family and is the only church member that we know of from Burkina Faso. He joined the church while attending college in Benin.  A US sponsor is helping him with college expenses.

Side note:  He wrote that during during a recent trip to Utah he went to the Salt Lake Temple and somehow met President Eyring and received a blessing.

Sunday we were invited to meet with the senior missionaries who live at Alema Court, an apartment complex a mile from the Accra airport.  Included in this group are the medical and mental health advisers for the Africa West Area, as well as those that help with auditing, humanitarian projects, young single adult programs, the BYU Pathway program towards a college degree, self reliance instruction, family history, etc.  It is quite a diverse group.  A few Sundays a month, they host a potluck for the eight couples and this time the Jones's and us were included.  We enjoyed the opportunity to meet, to mingle and to laugh with everyone.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter Monday Holiday and Organizing a New Stake

For Elder Pace, this week began with a trip to the Accra Country Club at 6:30 am for some golf practice with President and Sister Heid and Ryan Richards, (Area Legal Counsel). It was Monday, P-day, but it was also a holiday. (Easter Monday).  The course was overflowing with golf enthusiasts.  It was slow going and took nearly 5 hours to play 18 holes.  Stan thought he drank plenty of water but found himself questioning whether he was going to finish.  He was light-headed and thought that he might pass out.  He doesn't ever remember a time when he sweat so much.  (He doesn't remember the last 5 holes either). He was drenched from the top of his head to mid-thigh. It took a good 3 hours of water guzzling before he felt like lifting a finger and chewing some food.  He said, "We've got to get an earlier start!!"

His caddie this time was Wally.  He was a nice guy and very helpful.  Stan was so glad he didn't have to carry his clubs in these hot weather conditions.   Don't let this picture deceive you.  It didn't feel as good as the course looked.

Tuesday, Sister Heid and Sister Pace attended the Burma Hills District Meeting.  After the meeting, refreshments were served.  It was yam (a potato) with egg stew.  Egg stew is made from tomatoes, onions, powder pepper seasoning, and when the stew boils, eggs are whipped into the mixture.  It was actually ok... maybe a little spicy.  We shared with Elder Afoa, the Islander in the picture below, who can never get enough food!

Elder Lyman, with Elder Afoa, is from the US and has been in Ghana one week.  He is getting used to the culture quickly.

Sister Monday is from Nigeria.  She was the cook for the egg stew!

On Tuesday, President Heid set apart Morrison Godson Halm from the Kpong District (Asutuare Branch) as a missionary.  Then he headed to the Provo MTC for training prior to going to the Georgia Atlanta Mission.  Morrison received his call to serve in November.  We wondered aloud if he would get a visa to the US in time to report to the MTC in April, but he was blessed.  This is one of the few African missionaries we know who have been sent to the US.  We tried to prepare him for culture "shock" and told him about Georgia peaches, southern drawls, and peanuts! We would love to be a fly on the wall when he returns to Ghana in two years and tells about his experiences.

On Thursday Sister Heid invited the Sister Leaders and their companions to the mission home for some training.   While she instructed the STL's, the companions watched an LDS General Conference video from a few weeks ago.  Then they all had lunch at the Area office cafeteria and attended a temple session together.  Sister Heid said that in the three years she has been mission mom, there has not been a better group of sister missionaries!   

Saturday we attended an afternoon adult session of Stake Conference at the Stake Center building on the temple site.  (You can see President and Sister Heid seated on the front row, left hand side.)  This was a combined meeting for the Christianborg and Tema Stakes.  A third Stake would be formed on Sunday from these two units.

Elder Vinson, the Africa Area West President and a General Authority Seventy, presided. He said that he and his wife have been here in Ghana for almost four years.  When they arrived, there were 38 Stakes in West Africa and it that short time the number has doubled to 76.  During his remarks he commented that he has felt an urgency to extend the gospel blessings to the other eight countries in Africa West Area.  The church is not legally recognized there and many are Muslim countries, so the church proceeds cautiously.  He talked about Guinea and Mali (remember our experiences in August with a Mali family coming to be baptized) and the desire that people have to learn about the church.  

Elder Vinson also said that he knows that we all struggle to not have "other gods before me", as in reference to the Ten Commandments.  In ancient days there may have been idol worship, but now we need to avoid the trappings of materialism and holding on to traditions like extensive and expensive wedding ceremonies, when we should focus on the temple sealing where families are united for eternity.

Elder Vinson also asked the congregation to not just pray for the sick, poor and needy, but to seek them out and offer comfort.  

Sunday we went to the Ghana International Conference Center for Stake Conference.  It is in a nice setting, only a few blocks from the mission home.

Nancy is about to enter the main hall, but there were not any seats, so we headed up to the balcony area.
The venue holds 1600 in theater type seating and it was close to capacity. 

 The Paces and the Jones's are among many Africans!

During the meeting a new Stake (Teshie) was created from the Christiansborg, and Tema Stakes, including adding two units from the neighboring Ashaiman Stake.  The presiding authority, Elder Vinson, talked about how the church operates differently than a change in governments. Elder Vinson said sometimes the "obvious choice' is not the one who is asked to be a Stake President.  He reminded members that there was no election, no ballots and no politicking for a position. After interviews, the Lord made known his choice through revelation to the presiding authorities.

Elder Egbo, just called as an Area Seventy, said he was told that at least 50 investigators were in attendance at the meeting.  He then bore his testimony and related how the church is different from other religions....priesthood authority, the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc.

 There were even additional seats set up in the foyer of the main hall.

The crowd exiting after Conference

After conference, we were invited, along with President and Sister Heid, and the missionaries in the office, to dinner at the Jones's.  We had a hardy beef stew over potatoes and Nancy provided lave cake for dessert.  

The office elders and assistants to the President anticipating dinner to be served.  Elders Sebuliba, Magda, Anusiem and Bailey.  Elder George was just out of the picture.

 President enjoyed some "lighter" moments and shared some family activity pictures.

 The kitchen was a busy place

Bon appetit!!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

More Farewells and Arrivals

This week was highlighted by the arrival of 10 new missionaries and the departure of 9 of our most experienced.  The mission really is like a "revolving" door, in a state of constant change.  We also welcomed a new Assistant to the President.  His name is Elder Bailey and he is from Liberty, UT just a short distance from Ogden, UT.

Elder Lyman attended the
Provo MTC and the others went                                         NEW ARRIVALS
to the Ghana MTC.  Elder Lyman 
was delayed coming on his mission
because had an appendicitis operation
and then returned to his home in Texas
to recover.  He came into Accra on 
a late flight from the US, so he has
been "hanging" at the mission
home getting adjusted to Ghana.

New AP, Elder Bailey, with AP Elder George, who has only been with us a few weeks also.  

On Monday and Tuesday we bade farewell to our dear Elder Beck, extreme left, two Tongans, five missionaries from Nigeria, and a sister from Kenya who was not in the picture. The two Tongans are from the same area and are relatives.  Another "brother" is serving in the Ghana Kumasi mission.  At one point all three on their mission were able to attend the Ghana Accra Temple together. 

Elder Beck was a great Zone Leader.  Prior to his mission he was in the Utah National Guard and make three jumps out of a plane.  He is from Lehi, UT, and lives quite near to Stan's mom.   Elder Beck will return to the National Guard and resume his college education. 

Also departing this week are the Websters from Sydney, Australia.  (Sister Webster is Maori and originally from New Zealand.) They have served as executive secretary to the Africa West Area Presidency.  This is essentially a 24/7 "job" as volunteer senior missionaries. They have become very dear friends and we will miss them terribly, especially since they are so efficient in their skill set, plus they choose where the senior couples go to dinner on Friday nights!!!! You might recall that Elder and Sister Webster had a visit from their son, (Stanton), and his wife several months ago.  In talking, we learned that our son Ryan and Stanton were companions while serving in Canada as missionaries.  

Once again, with arrivals and departures, we engaged in a major transfer.  The mission home was alive with activity.

Wednesday we attended Zone Council in the Christiansborg Zone.  Elders Nissinen and Allen are new Zone Leaders and conducted all the instruction.  They did a great job.  

Elder Nissinen is from Cornelius, Oregon.  His dad has a landscaping firm there and they maintain our yard at home while we are here in Africa.

This is the Frederick Dei-Oppong family, who stopped by the mission home this week to say goodbye to the Heids.   This family is heading for Salt Lake City for training for 18 months. Frederick is a Self-Reliance Operations Manager for the church here in Ghana, and was the "boss" for President and Sister Heid when they served as senior missionaries helping with the Perpetual Education Fund.

 Love this orange tree in bloom .

In preparation for the new mission president in July, the church did an appraisal of our building and grounds.  They painted the exterior of the mission home and decided for security purposes to increase the height of the wall around the perimeter.  The work is still in progress.  Sister Heid thinks this will make a great backboard for tennis practice!

Saturday, the Hadleys in the back, organized an Easter breakfast to say farewell to the Websters.
Our P-day activity for Saturday was to see the movie, "Beauty and The Beast."  We asked for the "senior" discount.  Our ticket categorized it differently.....   Isn't it nice to know that we are considered children again?  We start out life as a child and we finish up as a child!!

Had to share this picture of Stan and Wayne Jones starting the generator in a thunder and lightening storm last Sunday evening.  Normally the generator will come on automatically when the city electricity is lost, but on this occasion the Jones's lost power and our apartment still had lights.  So, a manual start was required.  They were master engineers and we had power!!

Friday was a special day in our family.  Our grandson, Calvin had his 8th birthday.  On Easter Sunday, his father baptized him and confirmed him a member of the Church.  We would have traveled to Pennsylvania for this occasion, but we are in Africa.  His other set of grandparents and a cousin were able to attend and support him. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Interaction with Interesting People

This week was busy with attending various missionary meetings and preparing for upcoming missionary transfers, departures and arrivals.  We had the opportunity to mingle and learn from some interesting visitors who were in Accra; those who are involved in legal matters for the church, as well as marketing.  We also received information from those who attended the culmination of a church sponsored clean water project in a village within our mission boundaries.

Last Sunday between LDS General Conference broadcasts, we had a potluck turkey dinner at the mission home.  We were joined by the Legal Counsel for the Africa West Area and his boss from Salt Lake City.  Additionally, the brother of one our senior missionaries was visiting and is directly involved in marketing campaigns for the church. (more about him later).

We were fascinated by some of the complex legal issues facing the church.  When the Perpetual Education Fund was announced in about 2004, it was a wonderful opportunity to encourage young people to get an education through small loans that they would pay back as soon as they graduated.  Even though it has been quite successful and modified through the years, it required the legal department to investigate banking regulations in various countries because now the church was in the 'business" of making loans!! (The Heids served a senior mission here in Ghana administering the PEF program. Then they were called back to Ghana as mission president and mission mom.)

The office elders, AP's and two sister missionaries who are temporarily on the mission home site, enjoyed the home cooked meal!!

 President Heid was retrieving more food in the kitchen to feed those hungry missionaries!!.

One of the Assistants to the Presidents, Elder George from Zimbabwe, models a fun T-shirt on his "P-Day".  It says, "Stripling Warriors... Momma's Boys".  There is a story in the Book of Mormon (Alma 53-57) about 2,000 young men who fought for liberty, were true and faithful, and were taught by their mother's that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

Monday night we had a special Family Home evening with Perry Merkley, who is posing with his sister, Sister Peine.  (Her husband is the mental health advisor for the Africa West Area.) Perry had a career in the advertising business (think campaigns with American Express) and came out of retirement to work for a corporation which provides communication services for "cause related" entities....like the UN, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Smithsonian, and the LDS Church.

 Senior missionaries "cram" into a Conference Room to listen to Perry.

 Perry shared some interesting tidbits about the church's effort to use media to spread the gospel message.  It was a very informative presentation.

1.  During the Book of Mormon Broadway play, which was not produced by the church but has been shown in many areas of the world, many critics praised how the church turned a potentially negative situation into a positive message.  NY Billboards, subway kiosks, subway stations, taxi advertising, etc. were used to start a conversation...."the Mormons are Coming," "Step inside the Book of Mormon," etc.

2.  The church is now gearing mormon.org toward nonmembers, since many do not know the official name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Mormon.org has been simplified.  You ask a question, get an answer....can chat "live" if you want....can request church literature or the missionaries when you are ready.

3.  There may be a future church effort to introduce new converts to the general public.  We were shown a few "clips".  Many converts now do not fit stereotypes.   They are a diverse group.   Why did you a become a Mormon? What are the benefits of your membership?   Ex. skateboarder, musician, ballerina, single mom who had a child out of wedlock, professional rugby player, etc.  Also the idea that "God made you a better person, you make us a better church."

Each morning we spend about 30 minutes walking in our neighborhood.  We have met many very nice and interesting people on these "walks."  Below is Stephen who has a small restrung chair business.  

This is Paul.  He works for the German Embassy as a gardener.   He loves plants so this is the job he likes.  He has been with the embassy for over 15 years now.  Paul is married and has two small boys.  He is Muslim.

 We visited the Adenta District Council.  We enjoy mingling with the young missionaries.

However, traveling to and from District Council is always an experience.  We are grateful when we are home safe and sound!

Thursday we had Missionary Leadership Council.  President Heid invited Elder Webster, on the left, to share experiences about his "young" mission, and some of his responsibilities as executive secretary to the Africa West Area Presidency.  Some of the comments he made were:

1.  The church has been in West Africa (8 countries) only 39 years and will likely have 100 Stakes by 2018.  Thirty percent of the entire church growth is in West Africa.
2.  In 2004 President Eyring, now a counselor in the First Presidency, visited Ghana prior to the dedication of the temple in Accra and said that God is "brooding" over Africa.  "God is in a hurry to hasten the work of the gospel."
3.  Elder Webster was born in England. He talked about how his parents joined the church when he was a young boy, and when jobs became scarce,the family immigrated to Australia with faith.  When Elder Webster returned home from a mission in New Zealand, he met his wife, who was from New Zealand.  He joked that she is from the northern region and belongs to the only cannibal tribe in New Zealand.  He has worried for 40++ years of marriage that she may wake up in the middle of the night and  that he might be a target for a snack!!
During Missionary Leadership Council, AP Elder Miller, had these missionaries give him one valuable item on their person.  He was trying to emphasize safety and not caring everything with you.
Missionaries love Elder Pace since he will reimburse them for travel expenses.

Saturday morning we traveled to Kpong for District Conference and an overnight stay at the Royal Senchi Resort.  We have been there before.  However, we were looking forward to a swim in the nice pool after our Saturday meetings.  A thunderstorm prevailed instead!

 At Saturday's Kpong District Conference, President Heid taught about putting on the "whole armour or armor of God" from the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.  We didn't realize that President Heid was an 'artist!!'

Members and friends gather for the Sunday session of the Kpong District Conference. Sister Heid was waiting for her husband before going on the stand.  We were outside under a canopy as there were no seats left in the main room or other classrooms in the building.

Our former mission AP, Charles Osei-Brobbey, now resides in this area and was singing in the District Choir.  He is a wonderful young man.  Elder Jones and Elder Pace had to take a photo with him!!


Elder and Sister Baker are completing their mission tomorrow as welfare senior missionaries here in Ghana.  Elder Baker is a former well driller and took on the challenges of a water project that was deemed impossible.  Several Area senior couples accompanied the Bakers to this village for the “handing over” ceremony last weekend. We did not attend, but several people said it was one of the highlights of their time in Ghana. The whole village (about 200 people) turned out to honor the group with dancing, music, and food.  We have included a few excerpts from the church newsroom website:  http://www.mormonnewsroom.com.gh/articles/clean-water-for-nyagbo-fiafe  

Clean Water for Nyagbo Fiafe
500 year-old tradition changed for good
Shouts of praise, dancing feet and tears of gratitude expressed the joy of villagers in Nyagbo Fiafe as water flowed through faucets into waiting basins. Clean water delivered at the village was the direct result of villagers working closely with LDS Charities Humanitarian Specialist Henry Baker, or “Grandpa” as he is known throughout the Nyagbo region.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embarked on a clean water program for Afadzato South District Assembly in early 2015 as Elder and Sister Baker, from Burley, Idaho USA, began their service as welfare missionaries in the Africa West Area. This project included 16 water systems consisting of bore holes, spring catchments, mechanized pumps and hand powered pumps. Specialists from LDS Charities design water systems which maximize local resources for the benefit of those they serve.

…..A natural spring is nearly 750 meters from village homes. To meet their family’s daily requirement, women came here 4 to 5 times each day, to fill large basins with water (about 8 gallons) and carry it on their heads up the narrow, grueling trail. 

Armed with an inspired plan, dogged determination, and Elder Baker’s instruction, villagers used cutlass, pick, and shovel to excavate more than 500 meters of trench for electrical and water supply lines from village level to catchment basin.
A retaining wall and pad was constructed from 2.5 cubic yards of sand, aggregate and cement carried on the heads of women and boys. When additional gravel was required; rocks were gathered, then crushed by children and mothers, using hammers and stones.
Five months of intense labor, many set-backs and fervent prayers for rain, culminated in water flowing from the improved springs into the storage tank at the catchment basin.
A voltage regulator controlled unstable electricity to the switch which fed power to the pump. Elder Baker’s modified pump sent water up the steep hill to the 5000 liter (1300 gallon) storage tank at the village. Faucets were opened and clean water flowed freely. A 500 year-old tradition of fetching water changed forever!

 Children pose in from of the water faucets and polytank.