Sunday, January 20, 2013

Catching Up-Liberia #1

By Debi:
Five Hooper Missionaries in Liberia

Hello Blog Friends.  We have gone missing the last few weeks. We have had a very busy couple of weeks and I left our camera cord in Liberia.  We couldn’t down load our pictures from our camera.  Elder Curtis, who is in the Area Presidency, went to Liberia for a mission tour and the Miles were able to send it back with him.  Thanks to everyone for their help and kindness.



Greg is always playing with the children
Right before Christmas our ward, the Ofankor Ward, had a Christmas Party.  Christmas parties here are a little different than they are back home.  They had the party out in the car park and it was hot. They had chairs all set up and loud, fun music playing. Of course, Elder Haws couldn’t just pass up an opportunity to dance with the children.  He told them he would teach them some American dances.  He had them do the bunny hop, the hokey pokey and even the limbo.  After everyone was too tired he taught some of them the swing.  Everyone had so much fun and this is before the party even officially started. 


We have decided that the Ghanaians serve pop for an appetizer.  Whenever we go to a gathering they serve us a fancy drink before dinner. At dinner they just drink water.


Greg and I went to Liberia to train an Assistant Area Auditor.  The fun part of this trip is that we were able to stay with our friends the Miles from Hooper.  They came on their mission about two weeks after we did.  They are humanitarian missionaries and they are doing a fantastic job.  The Miles are amazing people and they took such good care of us.  We stayed in their apartment and they fixed great food for four days.  They took us around their area and gave us a good view of Liberia. If you are every looking for the perfect hosts and great cooks call Rick and Sharon Miles from Hooper.


We went a few days early so we could see some of the things that they are doing for the people in Liberia.  We also met the other Senior Missionaries that live right by them in the apartment compound.  We met the Kirkhams and the Crumbs.  They are the “right hand man” for the Mission President, Pres. Roggia.  They were so wonderful and even put on a birthday party for Sister Miles while we were there.



The Miles took us to Elder Blake Widdison’s ward where he serves.  Elder Widdison is the missionary that is from our home ward.  We were able to see him in Accra before he left for Liberia.  It was so fun to see him now in Liberia. 


We saw the compound that he lives in. We also went to church with him.  We met his companions and saw him in action.  Elder Widdison and his companion where sitting by the entrance into the chapel hoping to see their investigators coming to church.  They are doing a great work there and Elder Widdison looks so happy and enthusiastic in the work.  His parents should be very proud of him and how well he is doing in a faraway land with a very different culture from his own.  We did take a little care package to him with some Kraft Mac and Cheese and some Snicker Bars.  He loved it.



As we drove with the Miles and stopped at several villages we saw happy people.  These two women wanted their picture taken with me.  Also, the little children love their picture to be taken and then we show their picture to them on the camera screen. They get so excited.  One of the little girls had an Ohio State shirt on. We thought our daughter Katie and her husband Dan would enjoy that.  They live in Columbus, Ohio. Big ships with containers arrive each week in Liberia. There are bundles about as big as a bale of hay.  The people will buy a bale and not even know what is in it.  They then open the bale and lay it out in the market and try to sell it.  A lot of the bales are used clothing or clothing that is seconds from United States. The people are wearing shirts with names of colleges and sport teams, etc. It is fun to see.


I am pretty certain he is not affiliated with the Grandview Marching Band?

As we were driving down the road we saw these two cute Sister Missionaries.  I am sure with the new announcement from President Monson there will be a lot more Sister Missionaries.  They are so cute and very good teachers.


The picture that I love the most from Liberia is this beautiful bush with hot pink flowers.  Everywhere in Liberia there are signs of war and heartache. But this bush is the hope for the future and the beauty that is there in their country.


By Greg:


As Debi said, we have had a very busy couple of weeks.  One of the goals we set when we first came was to visit all 13 of our Assistant Area Auditors in their home countries before the end of 2012.  We almost made it. We could not travel to Liberia around Christmas, so we went the first week in January.


We held a big training conference here in Accra Friday and Saturday with all of our Assistant Area Auditors.  Elder C. Scott Grow of the Seventy came from Salt Lake along with Brother Michael Beck from Church Auditing.  This was a major event for us, but it went smoothly and everyone was so happy to attend and receive counsel, direction and training.


Debi and I took Brother Beck to the airport.  I was talking with him and sort of ran a red light (everyone else around here, and especially the motorcycles hardly even slow down for red lights) but I did not want to throw Brother Beck through the windshield so I went on, even though other cars were stopping in the lanes next to me.  We met the Ghana police for the first time.  They chased us down and made us pull over. Then this big, really buff officer came to Debi’s window and told me I had run a red light.  I said that I was sorry, but it is so hard to see the lights (it really is hard) “That is no excuse!” I said that I was sorry but I am a missionary for Jesus Christ. “Even Missionaries must stop for Red Lights!” I told him I was sorry but I am new to Ghana and just learning how to drive in this country.  “I must arrest you and then appear in court with you on Monday.  What am I going to do with you?” I said that was alright and he must do his duty but that I would like to repent and I promised never to do it again.  He looked really firm and then said, “Next time I will not forgive you!” and turned and got back in his police vehicle and drove off.  Next time I can assure you I will go to the dungeon!


Debi said we met with Elder and Sister Miles.  Elder Miles and I are the same age.  We went all through school together.  We were in the same ward, the same classes, and the same scout troop.  He and I lived less than one-half a mile from each other, and it took coming to Africa to join us in an eternal bond of brotherhood (not that we were not brothers before—but now we are eternal brothers).  They took us out on their projects. 

This is their apartment building in Liberia.

They are humanitarian missionaries.  They are doing many things, but principally building community restroom/showers, digging water wells and helping with garden/farm projects.  They use contractors, but they do a lot of work and have to monitor the construction and also training the people in how to maintain the projects.


This is the toliet building they are replacing.  This was serving a couple hundred people.

This work is all dug by hand.  The ground is pretty hard so they use picks and shovels.  But first they must remove the layer of garbage.

Every group has an established clan or tribe or group association.  It is important to utilize that existing group to better the lives of the entire village.  Elder Miles is so good at this.  He is friends with the chiefs and leaders and they expect him to return often.

This old man is the chief.

One area we went to is called the VOA camp.  In my earlier days the United States had what they called “Radio Free Europe” to broadcast the message of freedom beyond the Iron Curtain.  That evolved into the Voice of America during the latter part of the Cold War.  The US government built a huge transmission tower in Liberia.  This was also a relay tower to embassies around the world.  The CIA also used this system.


When the Liberian and Sierra Leone Civil Wars were in full swing, many people from Sierra Leone fled to Liberia and became refugees.  The US and the UN established a big camp around the VOA tower and facilities.


Well the tower is no longer used and the facilities are abandoned, and the wars are over, but so many of the refugees remain.  These are called the VOA camp people.  Elder Miles is a hero there.  He is building two toilet/shower facilities and plans to dig some wells.


This is the septic tank to the community toliet and shower facility.


His wells are not “bore-holes” which are deep wells that have to bore through a rock layer to get to the water.  His are dug by hand.  They place a five foot concrete pipe on the ground and dig the dirt out and the pipe sinks.  They place a new one on top and down it goes.  They go down 40 feet. Eventually they cap it with a concrete slab and a pump and the village has a clean water supply.  It must be pumped by hand, and is controlled for security and cleanliness, but it is a welcomed facility.  We saw what it is replacing.  These girls are getting water out of an old well that is open (except for a few old boards that have rusted nails poking out everywhere).  This is not safe, clean or secure.  It is also very close to the urination spot (and poop deck).

 This hole is very deep.  A small child could easily fall into it,
They then have to haul the jug back to their house on their heads.

This is a much better system.

Liberia is west of Ghana and a little north.  Ghana is just above the equator.  You would have thought it was hundreds of miles north.  The people think it is winter and so cold.  It was in the high 70s or low 80s and many wore serious coats.  Those “taxi” drivers whose taxis are motorcycles especially had coats.  Here is a man in a fur coat.  I saw him and yelled, “Stop!” I had to take his picture.


There is lots of dust in the air right now.  This comes from the Sahara desert.  It feels like a major inversion.  There is dust and dirt everywhere.  Our car is dirty all the time.  We get it washed, but then in the morning it is dirty again.  They say this will last 2-3 months.


It is not cool (cold) here, but it is “pretty” cool.  Every day is the same as the last.  We are happy to be in Africa and are sure this work we are doing is the Lord’s work.  It is hard to explain that the Lord is really interested in auditing, but if you think about it, there must be an audit preformed before judgment day can happen.  So the message is, make friends with your favorite auditor.


  1. It is so good to read and see everything you are doing! I love you guys!!

  2. I can just picture Greg dancing with all the kids... so fun! I'm sure they will remember him for the rest of their lives!