Sunday, November 4, 2012

By Debi:

Clear, Clean, Blue Water!  Now you probably think I am going to talk about water! But actually I am going to talk about not having water.


Sister Haws, Henry and Leslie Odonkor
We went to Kumasi Friday.  Kumasi is about 5 hours away if you are driving in light traffic.  If it is busy then it will turn into 6 or 7 hours.  We had training in Kumasi for the Stake and Mission Priesthood leaders and their clerks.  We traveled with Arnold (the MSR manager) and two of his co-workers who were going to help with the training.  One surprise is that Arnold decided to bring his two very cute boys along because they had never been to Kumasi.  The ride became very tight when we added two more passengers to our seven passenger vehicle.  We also had our bags, computers and video projectors. 


You put your right foot in...
When I leave our apartment I have to decide how long it will take to reach another restroom that I can safely use.  I knew Friday morning that it would be my last until that evening.  I didn’t drink until after 7:00 that night.  The men were all right because they can go anywhere.  One time we stopped at a gas station and Arnold told me they had a place for women.  I went to take a look and this is what I saw. Needless to say, I didn’t use this women’s restroom. A couple of other times the men and boys just went alongside the road.  I looked away.  Men are doing this all over this country.


By the time we got to the Hotel that night I decided that I would either learn to have a bladder of steal or it would burst and then I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.


We stayed at a very nice hotel.  It is called The Golden Tulip.  It even had a very beautiful swimming pool that we didn’t swim in.  I felt bad for the boys because they wanted to swim but did not bring their suits.  I would have gladly watched them if they had. The beds were hard as a wrestling mat but we actually slept very well. 


We went to our training the next morning at the Kumasi Stake Center.  I took a few pictures of Greg in the room he was going to use for the break-out session of the training.  We taught everyone in a big group and then separated the clerks and auditors.  Arnold and company taught the clerks and we taught the Audit Committees.


At noon, they brought in lunch for everyone.  It was a meat pie (they never say what kind of meat) and a malt drink that they all love but it tasted very nasty to me.  Plus, remember I didn’t want to drink after 8:00 in the morning. I knew that after we left the church I wouldn’t find another restroom until we were safely back in our apartment 7 hours away. Greg took a picture of me in the room with all of the men.  Sometimes I forget that I am a different color from everyone else.   


I do have to say that the drive was very beautiful.  The foliage was so lush and green.  Trees and bushes and the grasses were thick.  The mountains were rugged and covered with greenery.  I tried to imagine Tarzan living around here.  We saw several farms with rice fields, banana trees, cocoa trees, and lots of corn.  We saw animals but not the kind you would think from Africa.  We saw cattle, goats, and chickens.


On our way home from Kumasi we saw many funerals in progress.  People wear black and red.  That is the funeral colors. They usually have funerals on Saturdays.  Funerals here are very important.  So important that sometimes it takes a year to plan everything and pay for everything (they put the body on ice for that time).  It puts the families in a lot of financial trouble.  As it got dark, it was very hard for Arnold (who drove home) to see these black people dressed in black and walking along the road with no sidewalks or even a shoulder.  It is amazing we did not create the need for another expensive funeral.


Arnold’s two boys are very cute and very well behaved.  On the way home they fell asleep in the back. William and Folly had to stay over and so there were just 5 of us coming home.  I think they were either going to take a bus or a plane home.  I just had to take a picture of these boys because I miss my own grandsons at home.  I let them play games on my ipad and they loved it.  I guess boys are the same all over the world.


Today at church we watched two sessions of conference.  I am so grateful to have the experience of being here in Africa.  Instead of watching conference at home in their PJs they come to church and watch two sessions right in a row with their little children.  That is a real sacrifice.  They don’t think so, they think it is a real blessing to hear the Prophet’s voice and hear the instructions from the Priesthood brethren in Salt Lake.  It was a very special moment to watch them lift their hands to sustain the Prophet.


At the break they had a beautiful birthday party for one of the little girls in the ward.  I couldn’t believe how fancy the cake was. It was a white Barbie cake. They even lit candles in the church.  They passed cake out to the little children and everyone was so happy.


I am still amazed here in Africa.  I learn something about the people, the country, or about myself every day. I thank my Father Heaven for this opportunity to grow, learn, and become a better person.


By Greg:


Well good luck on the Presidential Election.  When we get up Wednesday morning it will be midnight Tuesday and maybe we will check to see how it all turns out.  Here, the big campaign issue is free SHS (senior high school).  This is a very welcomed event and all of the candidates are promising they will make it happen.


One thing that was really interesting as we traveled in the country was that there are two very competitive cell phone companies: GLO and MTN.  In order to advertise, they sent out painters to paint houses, shops and buildings for free if they could put their label on them.  So all the way from Accra (and all around Accra,) the buildings and shacks are either blue or yellow.  This was a good thing as most of the country needed painting.


I also noted that in almost every town there were several Christian church buildings, some very old, and usually one Mosque.  The Mosques are all similar, with an open room that they can pray in.  The Muslims here are not Arab, and therefore not so radical.  However, they believe something is about to happen, big time!


They highways are very interesting.  They alternate from country roads to divided highways.  It seems to be an option to use the entire road if possible.  We escaped two crashes; the first one scared the xxxx out of me.  But we made it.  This is not a divided highway.

There is a lot of truck traffic, all the trucks are over loaded and the trucks are constantly breaking down.  I think the first skill needed to be a truck driver is to be a mechanic.  The only thing more common than a broken truck along the side of the road (being repaired right on the spot) were the roadside shops selling everything from palm oil, pottery, bananas and cassavas, and a thousand other things.


The Golden Tulip hotel is an international hotel chain.  The government of Ghana built the hotel several years ago but it failed due to government abuse and lack of financial incentive.  Every government leader at any level thought he was entitled to stay and eat for free, and bring his family and guests as well.  It sat empty for several years and then the Golden Tulip came and remodeled it and now it is very successful.  The people here do not think the government should run businesses!


In the lobby of the hotel there are art works celebrating other cities with Golden Tulips.  This is the one for New York.  It is really bizarre and we were not sure of its meaning beyond the 911 plane crashes.  The thing on the side maybe Osoma being killed, but we were not sure.


Debi is a real trooper!  She was so nice to those two boys, sitting in the third seat with them and letting them play with her Ipad all day.  Then sitting through the training and enduring the ride home.  She does it all with a smile.  I don’t know how to solve the bathroom issue.  The gas stations have this outside urination pits, some with separated ones for Ladies and Gents.  But still, they are outside and I don’t know what you do if you need number two?


At one of the stops, I was stretching my legs after using the pit and a taxi cab pulled through the gas station full of children.  I waved at them and they all waved back.  They kept waving.  I held my hand up for them to stop so I could take their picture.  I grabbed our camera and my Malinda Allred bag full of suckers.  At least ten children were in this little car.  I gave them a sucker and took their picture.  I wonder what impact such a small thing like that may have on them in their lives.  Will they remember that somewhere in the bush of Ghana they met an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he gave them a sucker.  Will they ask, “I wonder what else he has for us?”



Next week we go to Lagos, Nigeria.  I think using the restroom will not be our biggest concern.

I want to add one more thing, sorry if our blogs are so long.


The Church tries to have its meeting houses close to the people but also visible to the general public.  We were with the Shulz’s last week and they like to go to the only KFC in Ghana.  I was talking to a man who was doing security for KFC (really helping people park).  He said he was baptized and was looking for the Church.  Sister Haws pointed to a sign just over his shoulder.  We have a chapel just down the road from KFC.  He was happy to know that.


Today in Church I was talking to a friend from the Ofankor Ward.  I asked how long he had been in the Church. He joined in 1987.  He and his wife were disillusioned about churches and had decided to live without a church.  One day his wife saw one of our signs (this was before the Freeze) and she attended.  She came home with missionaries.  This brother wanted nothing to do with them, but allowed his wife to have lessons.  One time, his wife said the missionaries could not continue without meeting with him, as he was the head of the house.  He agreed to give them five minutes.  They spent 2 hours together.  He said these young men had answers to all his questions.  He has been a leader, first branch then district, then he was a Stake President and a counselor in the Temple Presidency.  Now he is a sealer and teaches the High Priests in the Ofankor Ward.  He is a great man.  All because of a sign!

1 comment:

  1. Dad and Mom,

    Great Post! This was so fascinating. Somehow mom has got to find a bush or something...I don't think stopping drinking and going to the bathroom is healthy. I loved all of the details about your trip. I love your long blog posts. Don't ever feel bad. Today in Primary, I told my kids about the Primary kids in Africa. Eliese screamed out, "My Gradmpa is giving all of them suckers!" It was really cute! Keep up the great work! Be safe!