Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

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.

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