Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Finals Week

We titled our blog "Finals Week" because it seems a little like we remember feeling at the end of a semester or finishing up a degree in school.  As we did then, we fully realize our experience is coming to a close and we will never again be the same.  We have adapted to our circumstances in Ghana and have learned to love the people and the missionaries.  Additionally, we recognize and appreciate the privilege we have had to represent Jesus Christ in His work.  

Hopefully the photos and comments we are including will give you a sense of how bitter/sweet it is to bid farewell to people and places that have become important and meaningful in our lives.

One thing we were able to do before leaving was tour the new Missionary Training Center. We have watched the construction of this beautiful building the entire length of our stay. The formal open house will be held mid-August and the dedication, by Elder Bednar, won't be until October.   Because of that schedule we were not sure if we would get the chance to see it.  President Brubaker, the current MTC president, and his wife, were kind to us and took us for a personal tour.

This is the front gate on Independence Ave., the main road in Accra.  The setting is really nice and it is located next to the Temple and Area offices.

William greeted us at the gate.  He has worked as a guard at the mission home for some time.  He was able to secure a new position at the MTC just a few weeks ago.

 Just inside the compound.

 This painting is found in the reception area.

This painting depicts the baptism of many early saints in Nigeria.  The actual photograph taken of this event is well-known in Africa West.  (Below)   This painting gives a different perspective. 

Elder and Sister Hill, who serve as Senior Missionaries at the MTC showed off their apartment.  They were pretty excited; especially about the dishwasher!!

Nancy is showing off the cafeteria serving area.  The Cafeteria can serve about 150 at a time.
 Unique to the MTC is this pizza oven.  The Africans love pizza too.

This is the view from one of the large windows in the building.  The ocean can be seen in the distance.
 Missionary accommodations are quite nice.  Four assigned to each room.

 There are full bathroom facilities in each room.

 Stair case and "pondering" area in the classroom wing.  On one of the walls there will be a "Tree of Life" wood carving.

 President and Sister Brubaker in front of our favorite painting.

 Monday was a holiday in Ghana.  The senior couples gathered for a "pool party" and BBQ.  

 Elder Anderson, Area Medical Advisor, and Elder Hadley, Area Public Relations manned the BBQ.

 President Keyes, Sister Keyes and the Glanfields get the chance to socialize together.

 Stan, with his mouth full, and the Brubakers and Hills.  

This is Dr. Kissi who was one of the early members of the church in Ghana.  He actually joined the church when living in England where he received his medical training.  He as written a book titled, "Footsteps in the Sand."  Both of us read the book and learned much about the early saints in Ghana.  Dr. Kissi visited the mission office to do a quick medical "check-up" for the Keyes and Glanfields.  Dr. Kissi is authorized by the government to vouch for the health of incoming senior missionaries as part of the resident permit process.
 This is Jessie, in the Travel Department at the Area Office.  Nancy and Stan both interacted a lot with her and Florence, pictured below.

Henry is a returned missionary who was originally assigned to Sierra Leone about 5 years ago.  He was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia and was unable to finish his mission in Sierra Leone.  He returned to his home in Ghana and was assigned to the Ghana Accra Mission where he finished is mission under President Heid and with the assistance of medical professionals in Accra.  Henry is attending college and is now a consultant for mission technology matters.  He also assisted Sister Heid with language learning and skill building programs.

Wednesday was Mission Leadership Council, which includes all the zone leaders and the Sister Training Leaders.  President Keyes wanted to learn about the missionaries and their impressions of Ghana.  He asked each missionary if they knew why they were on a mission, specifically in Ghana.  He also asked about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the Ghana Area and how they impact missionary work.  President Keyes plans to spend the next week greeting all the missionaries in our mission. 

After our meeting and a pizza lunch, President Keyes called for a group photo.  Then, someone mentioned that it was Elder Pace's birthday.  

In this photo the missionaries were singing Happy Birthday.  In the photo that isn't there, Stan was drenched with ice water.  It was unexpected but it actually felt good.

 Farewell pictures.   This is Elder Shelton who served with us in the office for many months.  He is from Salt Lake City.

 Elder Gillam from California

Elder Grant from Texas
 Elder Nissinen from Hillsboro, Oregon.

 Sister Harris and Sister Letunda.  Awesome Sister Trainer Leaders.  Sister Harris was quite shy when she arrived on her mission a year ago.  She has made tremendous personal growth!!

 Elder Burns from Highland, UT not far from where Stan's mom lives in Lehi, UT.

 Elder Bailey, from Ogden, UT area.  He is our AP who will be returning home two days after we depart.

 Elder George, the other AP, from Zimbabwe.

 Nancy invited President Keyes, Sister Keyes, the Jones's and Glanfields to dinner.  It was really good.

We also had a birthday cake.

 Stan is standing next to Gilbert, the good brother in charge of our mission apartments.  We are going to miss him.  He has become a very good friend.

Stan and Elder Magda from Cache Valley, Utah.  Elder Magda is an office elder who says he has learned much about marriage relationships from Elder and Sister Pace.  We hope it has been a positive experience for him!!

 Stan was "honored" again on Friday night when we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

The Peines, she is in yellow, were also celebrating their wedding anniversary (42).  From the left:  Glanfields (our replacements), Andersons behind Stan (Medical Advisor), Redlins (Area Welfare Specialists), and next to Nancy, the Munros (West Mission Office Couple)

What a way to end the week...EATING!!  Saturday afternoon, the senior couples in our mission got together at Counter Burger in the Accra Mall.  The restaurant specializes in American burgers. They tasted wonderful to us and were accompanied by sweet potato fries!  

The young adults in the background are from the University of OREGON, doing two-month internships in journalism in Accra.

As we attended church for the last time in Ghana, one of the speakers said, "If you have life, you have everything." It certainly is a great perspective.  

Tonight we head to South Africa for a visit to Cape Town, safaris, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and a day in Johannesburg.  We will return to Accra for one night and return to the US in two weeks.

"Safe Journey."

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Racing to the finish

This week we continued working in the mission office with our replacements, the Glanfields. They are doing great learning their responsibilities and now we will "back off" and let them handle everything!!😏We also attended our last Multi Zone Conference, said goodbye to the Heids, and welcomed their replacements, President and Sister Keyes from South Africa.

These plantains were hanging over our fence at the apartment.  They were huge!! We often see "Hawkers" on the street selling dried plantain chips.  They are quite good.  We took this picture and a few days later all the plantains were gone from the tree!

When senior missionaries depart for home, the Family Home evening group, often has them say a few words about their mission experience.  We met Darrell and Ann Webster at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT in January 2016.  He is a retired attorney from California and was specifically assigned to help with church legal counsel here in West Africa.  He spent much of his time reviewing real estate contracts.  His wife served as secretary to a church relations council and helped "organize' the office at the temple.

President and Sister Heid are honored and received their banners for their three year service as mission president and mission mom.  They left on the plane Saturday night and will be spending time with family in North Carolina, Idaho, and California in the next few weeks. Their home in Fallbrook, California, is rented until September, so they will live with a son temporarily until they decide whether to remodel or sell their home.  Sister Heid said she currently had no home, no car, and no phone, but all was good!!

 President Heid had some kinds words about our service.  

Mary Richards, on the left, organized a musical number for the evening. (Mary's husband is the church attorney for West Africa).  All these women volunteer at a library in the community, and also help teach simple music to the children.  Sister Nash, in the blue sweater, is the wife of a member of the Africa West Area Presidency.  Sister Anderson, in the beige outfit, has extensive literacy teaching experience.  She and her husband, the church medical doctor here, were in the MTC with the Websters and us.  They will leave a few weeks after us upon the arrival of the new medical doctor and her husband, the mental health advisor. Sister Eaton, on the far right, has an English degree and she and her husband serve as church missionary financial auditors.  They train local leaders in the Africa West Area. 

We took a "selfie" close up with our banners when we returned to our apartment.  The banners show our names, years of service and say Ghana Accra Mission.

Tuesday we traveled to Koforidua to our last Multi Zone Conference.  Our two office elders are smiling because the technology worked and they made it to the meeting on time.  (The previous week they took a wrong turn in a construction zone, and were an hour late because they had to ask directions several times to reach the conference.)  They are great young men and we will miss them!!

The Haglunds, on the left, are the senior missionary couple in Koforidua.  They especially enjoy working with the young adults in the area.  The Glanfields, on the right, are enjoying a day away from the office!

Sister Heid's presentation included a video and 10 lessons learned from training to be a Navy Seal. She encouraged the missionaries to spend some of their study time each day to discuss with their companion how these suggestions can apply to missionary work.

We thought we would include 3 of the 10 lessons.

#1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
Making our bed seems simple, but if we don't do the simple things right...well...you know how that goes!  Bed making is strictly enforced in the military for this reason. After we all get up in the morning, we look at ourselves in the mirror and decide how to "make our lives."  So, if we can get the bed part of our day right every morning, maybe we can get our lives right too!

#2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
Are we changing "my" world or "our" world? Humans tend to do stuff together.  Getting along with each other takes time and patience and perseverance but in the long run, it's worth it.  So, paddle away and ask for some companionship.  Get some more Navy SEALs!  The more paddles the better!

#3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
I have a theory about height and size.  Seems like the shorter folks I know tend to put more effort into everything they do.  They have a bigger heart inside their smaller body. I never ever want to cross a person who is shorter than I am.  And two-year-olds can eat my lunch if I am not careful.  Motivation seems to trump intelligence and if we work at strengthening both, we can change the world.

Part of the Multi Zone Conference included Zone Leaders instructing the missionaries who are in their Area.  Elder Peter Smith asked missionaries to go about doing good everyday; being friendly and looking for opportunities to do service.

We had a picture taken with Elder Peter Smith.  His father's family was baptized in the 1960's in the northeastern part of the US.  (Elder Smith actually had a picture of that baptism that he has carried with him on his mission.) The missionary who taught them was Stan's childhood friend, Don Pectol.  Don and Stan grew up together in northern California. Stan served his mission in Austria while Don served in the New England Mission.  The impact of one baptism is amazing throughout generations!

These are the missionaries serving in the Koforidua Area.

Last week's blog talked about the creation of a Stake in Koforidua.  The church building where we held the Multi Zone Conference is being expanded into a Stake Center.

Stan loves the scenery on the drive to and from Koforidua.  We call this type of tree, "Stan's Tree"!
Elder Wisdom Oforikumah joined us at the Multi Zone Conference.  He was staying at our mission home for some follow-up treatment following surgery.  (His home is in Tsito in the Kpong District where President Heid presides.)  He was born with a club foot and had a specialized shoe.  He wanted to serve a mission in spite of this defect.  He insisted he could walk and bike just like other missionaries and was called to the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. However, after about 8 months on his mission he was in a lot of pain.  Some American LDS doctors volunteered their services in Ghana and performed surgery to straighten out his foot.  He spent three months resting in Cape Coast at their mission home and then the decision was made to allow him a medical release to go home and rehabilitate. President Heid reminded him that whether or not he returns to the mission field, he has served an "honorable" mission and his service is acceptable to the Lord.

Wisdom practiced walking and standing on his foot with the aid of a crutch.  He had a boot for several months and the doctor in Accra said it was now time to really start walking.  We saw significant improvement in the few days Wisdom was at the mission home.  He is now back in Tsito with an uncle and doing his exercises to get stronger.   

Saturday we took the Glanfields to a high end "market" that we frequent.  We all enjoyed a bratwurst at the Goethe Institute.

Saturday was Canada Day and our Canadian missionary friends included us in the celebration at the Canadian Embassy.  The Glanfield's are from Ontario and were greeted by the High Commissioner here in Ghana.  She is the woman in the red top and white skirt and has been here about 8 months.  She promotes trade and goodwill for Canada.

Refreshments at the Canadian Embassy included poutine.  We were told that someone brought the cheese curds in a suitcase to Ghana so the poutine would be authentic.

(In the basic recipe for poutine, French fries are covered with fresh cheese curds, and topped with brown gravy. In a traditional Quebec poutine: French fries: Usually of medium thickness, and fried (sometimes twice) such that the inside stays soft, while the outside is crispy. (Wikipedia)

Saturday morning President and Sister Keyes arrived.  He is an attorney and their home is in Johannesburg, South Africa. They were suffering from jet lag after attending training in Provo, UT the last several days.

We took the Keyes to church in Ashaiman Stake where several wards were created from branches.  The Stake was formed three years ago and had six units.  Today there are 13!! We forgot to take pictures, but it looked like a mini Stake Conference.  The building was packed with people.  

The Stake President, President Morrison, is a dynamic articulate leader.  (He works for the Africa West Area Office in Materials Management and Nancy interacts with his "employees" in the travel department all the time.)  President Morrison invited the new Bishops and Branch Presidents to say a few words about their testimony and asked their wives to come up also. He thanked the families for supporting these men in their new callings.  He also encouraged the congregations to listen to these leaders and accept their counsel.

Side note:  As President Morrison asked each new leader to come to the podium, he remarked that one wife was not in attendance because she had a "fresh" baby!!