Sunday, September 30, 2012

End of June 2012

This is the house that our ward meets in,  the garage is the Primary room

By Greg:
We have been missionaries for a month now if you count the few days we were at home and our time in the MTC.  In some ways it seems like only days, and others, a small life time.
This former guest house is the Bishop's and Clerks'Offices and at the back is the missionaries apartment

The Church is not that easy to find, but we know the way!

We attend the Ofankor Ward.  It meets in a rented building that used to be a home.  There is a large room in front that serves as the chapel.  Around behind there are former bedrooms that are classrooms.  The garage is the primary room.  There is a guest house that is the missionaries' quarters and the Bishop and Clerks offices.

They have built this outdoor faunt for baptisms
They built an outdoor faunt.  Baptisms are held here and they just set up chairs on the driveway.

This is the road to the church.  It is under construction.  We take several roads and even a pretty modern (Ghana standards) highway and then we turn off onto this.  We are currently using a motor pool car.  It is a Toyota Corolla.  It is pretty tricky not to high center along this path.  Notice the car coming is way to the right.  There are no established lanes on dirt roads.  It is every car to themselves!

On our Saturday excursion in the mud we came across these four Elders.  Two are from Nigeria, one is from Liberia and one is from Spanish Fork, Utah.  By the way, that is an open sewer next to them.  The rain is cleaning it out. 

This is the chapel these Elders attend.  This is typical of the buildings that the Church builds.  It is very clean and well kept.  There are not very many like this.
These ladies are waiting to attend the Temple.  Sister Haws and I had just returned from the market.  We went to both a store and a street market.  At the street market we bought our fruits and vegetables.  When I saw them I put the basket on my head.  There were others and they all started to laugh.  They thought it was so funny to see a white man carring a load on his head.  One of the other women ran over to me and said, "Oh, that is so heavy, let me carry it for you."  I could not let her do that, but they still laughed at me.
It was a pretty heavy load.  The women have a little cap that they wrap with cloth to shield their heads.  We saw a poor woman who had been carrying eggs.  She had tripped and lost most of her eggs.  It was on a very busy section of the road.  We tried to go back and help her/  She was crying.  She would have either bought those eggs already, or she would have to pay for them.  We said that if we ever see that again, we will stop and give her some money.  It was so sad and we felt so bad for not helping.  They keep telling us we cannot solve all of the problems in Africa.  Well, we could have helped her!
There is a funny story about this couple.  They are French speaking members from Togo.  The man's name is Tojo.  I called him Tojo from Togo.  They are engaged to be married in the temple.  Every morning Sister Haws and I go out at 6:00 am and walk around the Temple for 45 minutes to an hour for exercise.  I have never worn a hat before, and I normally do not fix my hair.  I do wear a white shirt, but no tie.  This morning (Saturday) I decided to wear my BYU cap.  This again was the first time.  Three young adult men (Tojo was one of them) came right over to us and asked if they could take our picture.  Oh, they get up early too.  I soon realized that he really wanted a picture of the hat.  As we stood on the steps of the Temple, I had the idea to put the cap on Tojo's head.  He was so happy and proud and after the pictures said thank you, thank you and ran off.  I had given him my hat!  Soon he came back with her.  Some of his friends wanted to wear his hat, but he would not have it.  ""Elder Haws gave it to me!" Well, he has a future in the Church.  He will marry in the Temple.  He speaks English.  He is currently the Executive Secretary in his branch that one day soon will be a ward and he maybe the Bishop.  So, when he is, he will have a nice BYU hat.
At home, I give my grandchildren candy.  That is what grandpas do.  Well, there are so many children here, especially here in this building.  They come with their parents.  Some to be sealed as a family, some just to come back.  The teenagers do baptisms.  At the store I found strips of 7 suckers for 1.49 GHc (about 75 cents) so I bought 10.  This would give me 70 suckers.  Oh what a scene I made.  I tried to just give them to the children, but as you can see, these young women all wanted to be part of the party.  There were older women who wanted one too.  (Did you notice the Elders were eating a sucker as I took their picture in the mud?)  Oh well, I will just buy more.  I high five the kids and young men, or give them knuckles or shake their hands or all three.
Sister Haws spends a lot of time cleaning our food that we buy at the street market.  First it is rough cleaned--mud and loose stuff, then it is washed in sink water and soap, then in bleach solution.  Hey you former Burger Bar back room workers, remember doing this with the lettuce.  Then we keep it all in the fridge and try to eat it before is spoils. I am so thankful for her hard work and her desire to keep us safe and healthy.

We went for a drive yesterday while they fumigated our building.  We were not lost, but we did not know where we were.  It is amazing that our phones can tell us exactly where we are at all times.  And even more amazing it that the roads are on the google maps.  This is a scene along a typical road.  Again, it is each man for himself.  We had to go to a car wash when we got home.  It cost 4 cedis to hand and power wash our car.  That is less that two dollars!
We do not eat much beef.  Neither do the others in Ghana.  These cows were grazing in what seemed like a land fill.  To be honest, alot of the road side seems like a land fill.  I don't think I will be able to bring myself to eat this cow.
The flowers are so pretty.  These flowers were right by the land fill.
When we got back to our apartment the fumigation was completed but the building smelt like Truly Nolan had been there.  Three other couples were trying to decide if it was safe to go in.  Elder Hussien (pronounced Ho-Zion) can not go up stairs.  He uses a cane.  We never use the elevator to get to our second floor room which is on the third floor as the ground floor is not the first.  But we were persuaded to get in.  Bad decision.  The elevator must have been operated by insects because it was dead.  We pushed all the buttons, even the cool alarm button.  Nothing and nobody.  Our phones did not work in the elevator and we were very hot and after 20 minutes we were running low on air.  The air we had was mixed with insecticide for Heaven Sake.
Sister Hussien suggested we pray.  What a novel idea for eight senior missionaires stuck in a small elevator about to enter the Spirit World.  Elder Powell was selected and gave an very passionate and fine prayer and I am not trying to be funny now.  In just a couple of minutes, the Clines, who do not live in this building and normally would not be on these grounds on a Saturday night, came in the front door.  We could see because we had pryed the doors open just enought to get Elder Hussien's cane through.  That also provided us with some air, though Sister Haws, who was at the back did not get any of it.
In the end, they got security and they got some one else and they contacted someone and they checked with the man that finally gave me my stapler, and we were set free.  This has happened to me before, but then I did not think to pray.  I know this is a little thing, but the Lord blessed us and we are greatful.
Have a great week.
by Debi
We have had another eventful week.  Even though we are mostly doing office work it seems that we have experiences that are new to us and we are totally amazed most of the time.
Yesterday we drove through the streets out by the ocean.  We saw our first african animal.  A man passing us in his car had a monkey sitting on his shoulder and the monkey was leaning out of the window.  The monkey looked just like the one in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Even though the monkey wasn't in the wild it was still very fun to see.
We also drove up a street that we thought would take us to an old castle that the Dutch had built centuries ago when they did trade here.  But we found ourselves driving up to the mansion of the current President of Ghana.  There was a barricade and a soldier at the gate with a machine gun.  Greg thought the guard waved us through and he kept driving.  I thought we should go back.  If you know Greg it probably doesn't surprise you that he kept driving.  I got a little worried and realized we were going into sensitive areas.  Finally Greg turned around and went back.  The guard stopped us and told us that we weren't suppose to be up there and he was watching us.  He wanted to know why we were there and what we were doing.  We told him that we were missionaries and we were in the country only 3 weeks and we were looking for the road to the beach.  He told us how to get to the beach and then told us to move on.  I don't know what would have happened if we hadn't turned around.  He probably would have called in the military to take us out!
We had a good day today at church.  Greg and I met with the ward clerks in the ward we go to.  We asked them questions about their training and what they understand in the procedures of the finances.  They are doing a very good job but they haven't had the training that is designed by the Church.  Hopefully we can acquire enough information that we can prepare a program to train the clerks and auditors in this area.  They also had a fifth Sunday meeting with the Relief Society sisters and the Priesthood brethren.  It was about Welfare.  We surely take for granted our understanding of the Welfare program of the Church.  This was a very lively discussion and the people were trying to understand what was appropriate to ask for when they need help and the process involved.  When it was time to finish the meeting there where still so many hands raised with questions.  They decided that they would have a fireside later and continue to learn about Welfare. It is so interesting to watch the Church in action here in Ghana.  The people are so faithful and have such strong testimonies but then you can see their inexperience and very childlike understanding of the Church's policies and programs. 
We met thesw two missionaires assigned to our ward today.  They are both from Uganda.  The senior companion has been a member for three years and has been on his mission for a year. The junior companion has been a missionary for 3 months but he has only been a member for 1year and 3 months.  That means he came on his mission when he had only been a member for 1 year.  That also means that he had to be thinking about going on a mission and starting to prepare probably when he had only been a member for 6 or 7 months.  I am so impressed with the young men here and their valiant testimonies.  These young missionaries from Africa will be the leaders of the future and they are receiving invaluable training on their missions.  This is how the Church will grow and mature as these young men serve missions and then go back to their countries to help strengthen the Church.
 General Conference is this week.  This will be the first time that we have been out of the country for Conference.  We are going to try and watch it via the internet.  The Church here just holds regular Sunday Meetings.  Then in November the Church sends DVD's of Conference and they play them at the church buildings for the members to watch them.  We are excited to listen to the Prophets voice.  We probably will have to read most of it in the Liahona (That is the name of the Ensign magazine outside of the United States). I hope you all enjoy your wonderful weekend and enjoy watching Conference in your p'j's.  We will be thinking of you!
Until next week.
Love, Debi


  1. oh, so many things to comment on! Greg with the basket on his head and giving away his hat and suckers... I can hear him laughing and see him smiling as clear as day! I am sure they will remember you forever and love you twice as long!

  2. When you come home for your visit, you should get a dozen BYU hats (actually I think they are giving them away at the BYU bookstore, and you should be able to get them at the D.I.).

  3. I instantly thought of Burger Bar when I saw the process of washing your food there. Wow. I don't blame you one bit! I agree with my dad, you should invest in a bunch of BYU hats.

  4. Oh, and one more thing, the elevator story made me laugh. Good thing you missionaries decided to pray! What a cool experience it ended up being.

  5. Sorry, last comment... I'm just curious about the snakes. I remember Debi being terrified and wondered if you've seen any black mambas or the like.

  6. It was great to visit with you before you headed back. We appreciate everything you are willing to do for Blake. My prayers were answered.