Thursday, November 8, 2012

Off to Nigeria

A group of Elder-I sent this picture to each of their mothers
By Greg:

It is Thursday and tomorrow we are flying to Nigeria.  We have been preparing for this training for a couple of weeks.  We will fly there tomorrow at 5:00 pm and get there at 7:00 pm.  When we fly home we leave there at 5:00 and get here at 5:00 pm.  It takes longer to get there than to get back.  OK, I know about the time zone thing, even though I am still confused and the daylight savings thing has now made it 7 hours different from home.

We will meet with the brethren in Nigeria for 6 hours from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm.  We will give them a morning break and then lunch at noon.  The Church has an office in Lagos, Nigeria and we will meet there.  We are expecting six Assistant Area Auditors (AAAs) and the local Manager of Temproal Affairs, and us and Brother Sowah--10 total.

We are staying at the local Best Western Hotel.  That is not a joke, it is a Best Western and it is near the office.  We will have a car pick us up at the airport in Nigeria but we are taking our first cab ride from our home to the airport here in Accra.  Elder and Sister Taylor are picking us up Saturday and if we are still alive we will go out to dinner with them.  That is our incentive to live.

We are here to teach the teachers.  The teachers are the Assistant Area Auditors.  They each have a "Coordinating Council" (CC) of Stakes and Districts.  These CC have around 8 to 12 Stakes and Districts (most have both) and of course those have wards and branches.

The AAAs, as we call them, have the responsibility to train the Stakes and Districts on auditing and finance.  So as we train them, they in turn train others.  This is the pattern of the Church.

There are three CCs in the Africa West Area that do not currently have an AAA (we hace 11 total).  So in the interium I am the AAA for three CCs: Kumasi Ghana, Cape Coast Ghana and Benin.  This is why we went to Kumasi last week and Cape Coast a few weeks ago.

Now you might say that once the AAAs are trained we could go home?  It isn't that simple.  There is turnover and many of them are challenged by the computer technology as well as the actual auditing function.  We are here to help!  We are going where we are needed, any time, any place, at any risk.
Besides, how many times have we talked about Laman and Lemuel beating up Nephi?  We go over the same stuff over and over and over.

Debi made some of the best oatmeal raisin cookies I have ever eaten the other night.  It was hard not to eat all of them at once.  I ate too many and then drank lots of water and felt the oatmeat expanding inside of me--but it was worth it.

I know it sounded like our bags were full of white shirts, and they were, but we did have a few other things, like 2 huge bricks of cheese, a large bag of rasins, a few cans of chicken, some M & Ms (as gifts for our lady friends on the floor) and a lot of spices and gravy mixes.

Debi is a good African cook.  So far she has taken to the "pot luck" dinners a Tuna Casserol, a big dish of cooked and seasoned carrotts, a large dish of chicken pot pie, fresh pineapple and baked beans with pineapple, green peppers, and canned ham.

We saw Elder Blake Widdison from our Muskrat Springs Ward as he came to the Temple one more time.  He leaves tomorrow for Liberia.  This is the same country that Elder and Sister Miles are serving in, he hopes to see them too.  He is so pumped up and excited.  His traveling companion is from Cote d'Ivorie and speaks French and a little English.  I snuck him two Snickers candy bars that I had just purchased at the local MaxMart.  He was so happy to get them and hid them is his pack.

Last night, one of our new friends from Taylorsville, who just got here and are serving a Temple mission, called and said they were having an emergency.  They have had a pretty rough transition so far.  They needed help.  I was reading my scriptures with my eyes closed and Debi was talking with Stalee.  I grabbed my trusty Letherman tool and we went up to their apartment.

Their kitchen sink fauset had broken off and they had hot water shooting out.  Elder Cooper was trying hard to hold a pan over the gusher and force the water into the sink, but it all was not obeying.  He was soaked and there was water on the floor.  They don't have alot of things here, but they do have water pressure.

Of course the first thing I checked was the shut off valve under the sink.  Now, if we can have a worldwide Nuclear Arms Treaty, why not a universal building code?  No valves under the sink.  I followed the pipes and they clearly went toward the hall.  So I went out in the hall.  I think the Coopers thought I was leaving.  Debi went for backup--Elder and Sister Powell.

I found a small door that I just knew had shut off valves behind it, but of course it was locked.  It was not a key lock, but just a very small round hole.  I tried to unlock it with my tool, but no can do.  I saw down the hall a similar door that appeared unlocked, so I went to investigate.  Now I knew the shut off valve was not down there, but that door held the key to solving my problem, not the real key, but a clue.  This is basic troubleshooting technics.

I opened the door and sure enough, two shut off valves.  I considered shutting them just for good measure but the occupants of that apartment might not have been happy.  I did discover how the lock worked and so I returned and took off the outside plate with the phillips screwdriver then worked the lock until it opened and then I became the hero as I turned off the two valves and the water stopped.

Last Monday we took a couple of hours off and took the Coopers down to see the ocean.  As they work in the Temple, and do not have a car, Mondays are their day off.  They wanted to know if there really was an ocean so close.

Well it may take some time to get their sink fixed, but we hope it will be soon.  We also hope Sister Cooper will stay with us.  We felt so bad for her.

Speaking of building codes, yesterday, right here in Accra, a big building that houses a large discount store collapsed and a lot of people were trapped and hurt and we are not sure how many died.  It was a new building and was being rented by the store. You can check it out by google Accra Ghana Building Collapse.

These school kids are typical students.  They all wear uniforms and they are waiting for a Tro-tro.  Notice that the boys have a mashettee in their hands, they call them cutlesses.  I want one!  Imagine in the US a boy taking a big knife like this to school. 

By Debi:

Well, Greg has said all that we have done this week.  I have been washing and sterilizing the fruits and vegetables that we bought today while he wrote this entry.  We are on our way to the temple this evening.  We will take lots of pictures in Nigeria and put them in our next blog. We are having a hard time finding a P-day when we go on the weekends for trainings.  So we fit in a shopping afternoon when ever we find time.

Everyone, keep their chins up.  The Church is true and we are so blessed to be in this land.  When we saw Elder Widdison this afternoon with the biggest smile ever it reminded me why we are here and helped me to recommit to working hard and helping along the effort here in Africa.


  1. Great job Dad for saving the day! You have saved the day so many times...I bet you are the handiest accountant ever! I think James and Jeff would love to have a machete to take to school!!
    Be careful in Nigeria!!!

    All my Love,

  2. Good job with the cookies mom! I made sunee's bread for the first time in wv and it turned out great. When you bake here things get so fluffy and nice. Of course I ate a bunch and the fresh yeast made my stomach almost explode, but yum it was great. Good luck in Nigeria!

  3. I am happy the water turned off. I was interested to hear what happened. Mom just told me a neighbor was having an emergency. I hope you have a safe trip. We love and miss you.
    Love Stalee