Sunday, September 16, 2012

We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

Most of the chapels are well marked on the major roads

By Greg:


We have been sending out a lot of messages.  We will probably now just do a blog once a week.  That could change if we have an unusual experience, but that is our plan right now.


The President of Ghana died a month ago, the red ribbons are to honor him
We went to our “home” ward today.  We have been assigned to the Ofankor Ward.  It was a very nice experience.  Elder and Sister Powell went with us to introduce us and to help us find it. 


One thing that has been very frustrating to me is that I have not been able to get my bearings.  We really have been going around in circles.  The Powells took us one way to the church and brought us back another.  This did not help me.  Debi was busy in the back seat taking notes as she is sure she is going to have to be the navigator.  At this point she has sworn she will not drive for the next two years—we will see about that.


The ward meets in a large rented home that is within a walled compound.  We have noticed that the nicer homes all have walls around them and most have heavy metal gates.  There may be a nice walled home right in the middle of something entirely different.


Most of the members do not have cars.  In fact there were maybe six cars parked (one was ours).  After the meeting one of the brothers came and asked us to give him our car.  I am still not sure if he was serious or not.


There is a large room with benches that is the chapel.  Then there are several other rooms for classes.  I went to the Gospel Essentials Sunday School class that was in the Relief Society Room.


Now this was a former home, but even the church built chapels do not have carpeted floors or soft chairs and benches.  The floors are tile and the chairs and benches are hard.


After we got home I needed to “find myself” so we went and sat down by the Temple.  Debi is a lot calmer about this direction thing, and bless her heart, she has good notes.  The Temple President and his wife also returned from their meeting and we met them.  I asked them if there are maps.  He pulled out one and I really thought about stealing it from him.  He is older, I could have, but it would not have been nice.  He also has a three ring binder with directions and smaller maps to the various chapels.  They visit different units each week.


We returned to our room and had a very good companionship study with Google Earth.  We have been around enough to make some sense of it.  I have to stand on my head to make north and south be in line with my “inner man” (This is an African term for our spirit, or our conscience, or that which is within us that helps us do well—the priesthood brethren talked a lot about this today).

These people are very religious as this new building will attest.

I feel much better.  We might get our car this week, or next, and I think with Debi’s help I can drive us safely to the store, to the mall, to the airport (if we need to make a mad dash for it) and to church.


The Sun is not much help either because it comes up and goes down in the wrong place.  But, if we look out our window in the evening, as the sun is going down in the wrong place, I know that somewhere out there, in that direction is home and our loved ones.


By Debi


 This is our first Sabbath day in Africa.  It has been such a beautiful day.  It hasn’t been too hot and today there was a lovely breeze.  As we wound our way through the streets of Accra this morning trying to find our church my heart ached.  Most of the people here live in such poverty that you can only understand it by seeing it.  When we went to Mexico with our daughter Rindi and her husband Greg a few years ago I thought that surely that was the worst poverty in the world.  But this puts a whole new meaning to the word “poverty”.  It is almost comical to think of what the United States considers as poverty.  If those standards where here, they would be considered absolute luxury. 


The amazing part is all of the members here came to church with beautiful African and Western clothes on and they were so well groomed and ready to worship.  They do not like to call themselves Mormon because it sounds too much like Muslim.  So they always call the church “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”.


Sister Powell warned me just as Sacrament meeting was starting that they might ask us to bear our testimonies.  Well, two speakers had already spoken and so I relaxed thinking that the third speaker would speak and they weren’t going to ask us.  Just then the counselor who was conducting got up and asked us to bear our testimonies.  I am so glad that I had thought about it before I got up.  We both gave a short testimony but very heart felt.  I told them we had only been here for six days and we were just learning.  I also told them how beautiful they were and how we loved them already.  There were lots of smiles in the audience so I hope they could understand me. 


They speak with such a strong accent that we can hardly understand them.  If we listen really close, we can get at least the idea of the conversation.  All three of the speakers gave wonderful talks and we were very impressed and touched by the spirit.


In Relief Society the sister that gave the lesson was amazing. She was so knowledgeable and knew the material so well.  She hardly even used notes.  She just gave an amazing lesson and the sisters really joined in with great comments.  Their testimonies are so strong and they truly understand the gospel principles.  Several times I have wondered why we are here.  Why are we assigned to a ward that seems so strong and is doing very well? Then the thought occurred to me that maybe I need them more than they need me.  I am the one who is going to grow and learn from these very humble and righteous people.


Today has been a very good day.  Our first Sabbath in Africa!


  1. Greg, I don't know how you make me laugh (about making a run for it) and cry (about watching the sun set towards "home") all in the same second. Such sweet comments. I love hearing from both of you!!

  2. Thanks for sharing so much. Don't ever apologize for sharing your mission with all of us back home. Love you guys! The Lord will take care of you as he has this past week. Jyl

  3. I "ditto" Emily's comment. I hope you find your "inner man" while you're there and that your directions come a little easier. I'm sure you'll get used to the sun's position and when you get home it will feel all wrong. Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts. It's so fun to stay connected.

  4. I know you will get busy but I don't think anyone wants you to stop or slow down the entries. I miss you both so much and I love hearing about your life. Dad you made me miss you when you talked about the sun. Your home is still here as well as your loved ones. We are praying for you and will start to pray for you to now your directions. I love you both.

  5. Oh...when we look at the sun rising, we know it has just come from where you are. Other than that, you seem so far away. We love you both! Dad, maybe you need to learn to let go of your bearings as you know them, and then you will find them again in Africa. :) Mom, keep sharing. We are all hanging on every word back home. We are all here sending our love and support. You guys are doing awesome!

  6. Mom and Dad,
    I love your blog so much! I am checking it several times a day. I love everything about this post except for the part about writing once a week. I certainly understand if it is taking up too much of your time, but I am feeling the missionary spirit so much through you guys that I love every single picture and word. Dad you comment about the sun made me think of the song "Somewhere, out there, beneath the pale moon light. Someones thinking of me and loving me tonight." Avree prayed for Grandpa and Grandma in Africa in family prayers tonight. We all are praying every prayer for you. Keep up the good work and the great pictures. I love you!


    PS Kyle just pulled up Google Earth on his Iphone and it has a very detailed map of Accra. Load up Google Earth on your phone (use the Google Earth App in the App Store, or go to Google Earth and it will ask you if you want to download it) and then you will have a mobile map.

  7. I love this. It is so wonderful to hear about your mission. I think the more blog posts, the better.

  8. Greg, I want to know which direction the water swirls down the drain when you are at the Equator.
    Can you see the Big Dipper at night? When I was in Peru the stars were all different. And we had to mail our film to Rochester New York to get it developed and then mail it home so a month later they might get a few pictures.

    What a great thing this blog is.

    Judi and Mike did such a good job speaking at church on Sunday. It was cute the way Judi talked about driving a stick shift.

    Thanks for letting the Haws family in on your life. I tell my friends I know more about what you are doing now than I ever did when you were at home.