Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas in Africa

By Greg


We have had a wonderful week here in Accra, Ghana.  This is a Christian country so we felt at home with Christmas. 

There are 50 little people on this boat, it is 4 feet long!
Last week we went to a restaurant called Captain Hooks (in our last blog I posted some pictures, including my Red Snapper dinner with head attached).  Debi saw a couple of wood carved boats in the waiting area that she really liked.  We posted a picture of them last week as well. 


I was trying to find something nice to give Debi for Christmas so we went to “The Pit” and I found this boat.  It is really cool and even bigger and better than the one we saw at the restaurant.  It was hard to bargain with the wood carvers at The Pit, but I made a very good deal.  So it was Merry Christmas Debi!


A few months ago we had a painting made of the first baptisms in Africa that a local member of the Church painted from the famous photo.  This was in Nigeria and has been written about in the Church News several times.  The Church placed a monument there a few years ago.  The painting is even better than the photo of it appears.  We will try to get it home and then have it framed.  We are not sure how we will get the boat and rowers home, however.


Yesterday we returned to the village school that we visited on the way to Abomosu.  This is the school that has the Empower Playground merry-go-round.  When we were there we asked them what was their greatest need and they said, “Water!” Well, due to the generosity of some dear friends at home we were able to purchase a large poly tank and construct a platform and install taps and gutters and now when it rains the school will be able to catch the rain water.


We were so pleased that the village “Elders” (leaders not missionaries) came to receive the gift.  They asked me to make the presentation, and then the Head Master accepted it in behalf of the children.  Even though school is out for Christmas break, there were a lot of children present.  It was a wonderful day.  This school has no connection with our Church.


My I-phone has a “mirror” feature and so I held it in front of the children and it was so fun to see the expressions on their faces as they saw themselves in my phone.  I also told them some stories and said the alphabet with them and then I did it backwards.  We counted with them, had them name the major body parts as we pointed to them, and also did some math problems.  They thought I was funny when I shook my head really fast and my lips and cheeks went wild.


In anticipation of the tank, the children brought water in buckets.  Here some of the girls (the oldest was just 12) carried five gallons of water to the school to put in the tank.  Five gallons of water on your head is very heavy, and several of them did it!


We are excited to be able to facilitate this gift and are planning on adding tanks to 9 or 10 more Empower Playground schools in the next few months.  Of course, what the schools really needs is a bore hole and pump, but that will come in time.  They also need electricity.  The building is wired for lights and power, but there is no power in the area.  The younger teachers want computers, and they will come sooner than later. 



Our new friend Isaac, who is 30 years old, said the biggest change in Ghana in the last 10 years is that introduction of technology, especially cell phones and computers.  He served a mission and so did his wife.  They both went to college and he studied engineering and she studied project management.  We rode with them to the school along with their 2 year old and infant baby, both boys.  He is the field coordinator for this wonderful charity, Empower Playgrounds.  We talked about what the next 10 years will bring.


We hope all at home had as wonderful a Christmas week as we did.  Now Debi can tell more.




By Debi


Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the Holidays.  This year turned out to be a very memorable day.  Elder and Sister Dickson (the Area President) invited all the couples that are here in the Area Office over to their home for a social of games and singing of carols.  We were a little late because the traffic was worse than we had ever seen it!  This is a picture of a “Tow-mator” truck that turned in front of us. There was an ambulance trying to come up the road but that didn’t detour the driver. Tow-mator pulled right out in the way of the ambulance and just sat there.  I hope I never, ever need any medical help here in Ghana.  I think I will just shoot myself and forget trying to get help.


We had a great time at the Dickson’s.  Sister Scott (wife of the Area medical advisor/doctor) was a kindergarten teacher in pre-mission life.  She brought her bells and music and taught us several Christmas songs.  We were laughing and not doing a very good job.  She told us that her “kids” do a lot better job.  We then went to a Chinese restaurant.  We felt like we were living the “Christmas Story’.  We just didn’t have Ralphy with us.  The food was great and the waiters were so nice even though there were about 20 of us. They were Africans so they did not sing to us like in the movie.


After dinner the Taylor’s (legal missionaries) invited us to go to the midnight mass at the Holy Spirit Cathedral here in Accra.  Sister Taylor was formerly a Catholic before marrying Elder Taylor and then coming on this mission.  We were excited about going because every other midnight on Christmas Eve we have been very busy getting Christmas ready for our family.  I have always wanted to go and see what a Christmas mass was like.


We first listened to some youth choirs that were very good and then the Arch Bishop came down the aisle with altar boys carrying very long candle sticks with candles glowing and other priest swinging incense and the adult choir in their uniforms following.  They were singing Christmas Carols and the organ was playing full blast.  We were so interested in everything but we didn’t feel like we could take pictures.  We were obviously a little out of place.  Everyone in the cathedral was Catholic, and they all were Africans.  I think we stuck out a little and especially with our missionary tags on.


During the sermon the Arch Bishop welcomed “our guest from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  He nodded his head towards us and gave a big smile.  He said that a few years ago our church invited him to our cathedral and he was so grateful for us coming to his cathedral.  We were very surprised but very pleased that he was happy we were there and didn’t feel like we were intruding.


Needless to say, we had a very wonderful time.  As we got up to leave after midnight the Arch Bishop saw us and while on the stand waved a big goodbye to us.  We waved back.  We felt so much friendship and peace.  I wished the entire world could treat each other with peace and good will.  Hey, I think that is what the angel said to the shepherds.  Hmmm, that is a great lesson for Christmas Eve.


Then on Christmas day we all went to Elder and Sister Curtis’ (2nd Counselor in Area Presidency) house for a Christmas brunch.  We all brought potluck style dishes and it was wonderful.  I took a breakfast quiche and several sisters brought some yummy cinnamon rolls and breakfast breads.  We had lots of fresh fruit and fruit juices.  We did a fun “white elephant” gift exchange.  Everyone had to bring a gift that they had bought from a street hawker.  We had some very funny gifts and some that everyone was trying to get during the game to exchange gifts. 


We then had a wonderful Christmas day with all of our children and their families.  We talked to every one of our daughters and son and their spouses.  We also were able to talk to all of our grandchildren.  It was a wonderful day but it took us about 6 hours to call everyone.  We were tired but happy when we finished all of the calls.  I have to say that it didn’t make me homesick like I was worried about, but I did have a hard time going back to work the next day.  We just wanted to keep having a good time with the other couple missionaries and visiting with our family. Actually the day after Christmas is a holiday here so we did not go right back to work.

I really enjoyed going to the school and helping with the tank project.  It is amazing how much can be done here for just a relatively small amount.  This water project is greatly appreciated!


New Year’s Eve is fast approaching.  We will see how they celebrate it here.  One young man told us that most people go to church and count down to the New Year.  Wow! If that is true, Ghana has their act together.  Ring in the New Year at Church!

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year! I love reading about your mission and the pictures are amazing! Be safe you two are thought of often!