Monday, August 13, 2012


By Greg

I went to Roy High and graduated in 1970.  At that time, the school was experimenting with a new form of delivering the high school curriculum, and it did not go so well for most of us.  One of the subjects that I completely lost was geography. 

 My mother was a first grade teacher and she always had at least one world globe hanging around.  Later she bought a huge explorer globe that had a light in the middle, it was really cool.  So, you might say, I was “home-schooled” in geography.  Add to that a good set of World Book encyclopedias and we were set.

Even though I have had maps taped to my walls, and I own several large atlases and I too have always had a globe at hand, I felt the need to grab a map and see exactly what they meant when they called us to serve in the Africa West Area with its headquarters in Accra, Ghana.

If you could undo the tectonic plate movements that have occurred over that last millions of years, South America and Africa would be joined back together and Ghana would be just north of Venezuela or Northern Brazil.  I don’t think that will happen soon, however.

Tema, Ghana, which is just east of the capital city of Accra, is just 100 miles north of the Equator and is almost right on the prime meridian.  Thus its address is 0’ latitude and 0’ longitude.

Africa is a huge continent.

I am having trouble with the time change thing.  This just comes natural to Debi.  I think she lives such a fast life that she lives in several time zones right now. It also has to do with the fact that she did the Burger Bar payroll for so long that she just knows that if you start your shift at 10 am you get off at 5 pm.   I do it differently. I think we are 7 hours different.  So I add 7 to 10 and take away 12 and thus if it is 10 O’clock here it is must be 5 O’clock there. 

After a long and animated conversation about this (because 5 and 10 are only 5 hours different!) we agreed on two things: we would never go the other way and bring the International Date Line into our conversations and I could buy two clocks and have them side by side, one Hooper, one Ghana.    

The Church has divided Africa into two areas, with those countries north of the Sahara desert assigned to the Mediterranean, or Middle-east area.  The two areas are Africa Southeast and Africa West.  Africa Southeast has all of the countries from South Africa north and east including Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Botswana, the Congo, Madagascar, Kenya, and Somalia.

The Africa West Area includes 17 countries and over 300 million people.  It covers a large area, about the same size as the continental United States (with nearly as many people).  It goes from the Eastern border of Chad, south of the Sahara, to the Northern Border of the DR Congo.  The Atlantic Ocean is on the west and the Gulf of Guinea is on the south.

I think it is pretty cool that West Africa is kind of a mirror image to the eastern US, with the Atlantic Ocean either east or west and the Gulf of Mexico or Guinea south.  There is one big difference: the US has Florida hanging down there.  It needs to be lopped off.  As missionaries in that hot, humid state, we sometimes were suggesting lopping it off or letting it sink into the ocean.  Al Gore would have been happy if that had happened.

The Church is officially recognized in 7 countries.  We have applied for visas in all 7 of these: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D’ Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.  They either speak French or English as their official languages.  Of course, there are lots of local languages, but following the colonial period, European languages were adopted.  Ghana used to be known as Gold Coast, but assumed its ancient name when it became independent,
There are close to 175,000 members of the Church in this area and they are currently baptizing more than 1,000 a month.

There are 10 missions in West Africa with over 900 full-time missionaries, most of whom are young African men and women. Nigeria has most of the members at this time (just over 100,000 members).  Nigeria is called the “Giant of Africa” due to its huge population, (150 million).  But it also has some political unrest and there are security issues as we go into that country.  Ghana has the most stable government and that is why the headquarters are there.

They have 35 stakes in this Area and 610 Church units that need to be audited twice a year.
Photograph of the Accra Ghana Mormon TempleThere are two temples in West Africa.  One of them is in Accra, Ghana and the other in Nigeria.  We will most likely live near “Temple Square” in Ghana. 

This is the Accra, Ghana Temple.

The Area Presidency, which we will report to directly, is made up of three Seventies: Elders John B. Dickson, Joseph W. Sitati, and LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr.  There are 8 Area Seventies, all of whom are Africans.

We are going to be assisting in local unit auditing and training and other duties as assigned.

We will fly non-stop to JFK and then non-stop to Accra.  Both flights are on Delta, so we will rack up some air miles. 

I still don't know why there is a shortage of chocolate chips, pecans and walnuts.

OK, there is a lot of detail here, but I hope it has not been too much.


  1. Super interesting. It might as well be a different planet. I never thought any of us would go and experience life in these countries. And here you go!