Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Togo and Benin-Part One


By Debi:




They have this signs around to remind everyone
Greg and I have just spent the last four days in French speaking countries!  Even though I cannot speak French, I love to listen to it.  The French language is so romantic and beautiful. We visited Togo and Benin.  They are beautiful countries and the people were very kind to us. Even when we were stopped by the police to check our passports and driver’s licenses they were respectful and welcoming.


Greg and I are charged with the calling of training the Priesthood Brethren throughout all of the Africa West Area in auditing and taking care of the scared funds of the Church.  We have now been to every country that is in this Area.  With the new missions announced last weekend our area will open three new missions this July.  That means we will have more Assistant Area Auditors to train and more Priesthood leaders to train in Auditing and Finances. The Church is very mindful of how expensive it would be to expect us to pay for all of our own travel expenses.  We are so grateful that they reimburse us for our travel.


The scenery was beautiful and in some places breathtaking.  We crossed the mighty Volta River at the eastern side of Ghana.  This river is the main source of water and electrical power for much of the western area of Africa.  We also saw the great shipping area of Lome’, Togo.  We tried to take a picture of the ships out to sea waiting to come into port. There were hundreds of ships.  The shipping yards were huge.  Togo has a free port so many companies use this port.


The people in Togo and Benin grow beautiful gardens. They use the land that is between the road and the warehouses and factories.  They keep such beautiful gardens and they water them all by hand.  We saw men with watering cans walking up and down the rows watering their plants.     


Also, while driving through Togo we saw a beautiful sight with a river flowing right into the sea. It is a beautiful area with white sand beaches and fresh water running into the salt water.


As we were driving through Benin we passed a beautiful lake.  Out in the middle of the lake some people have built a community on stilts. They actual live on the lake.  They fish and crab out of the lake and provide for their families.  The people here in Africa work very hard to support their families.  


As we entered into the city of Cotonou, Benin, we were attacked by motorcycles.  They call them “Mottos”.  Everyone drives a motorcycle. The taxis are motorcycles, the family car is a motorcycle, and the bus system is a motorcycle.  The Church parking lot that we visited on Sunday had motorcycles in the parking lot.  There were only two cars, ours and the mission president’s car. 


We saw a family on one motto. They had a package, two little girls, the father, another little girl, and the mother with a package on her head.  They were so happy when they saw me taking their picture.  They all smiled and waved. They are happy!


We met President and Sister Weed from Fallon, Nevada in Cotonou, Benin.  President Weed is the Mission President for Benin and Togo.  He went to France on his mission when he was young.  They are half way through their mission and doing a great job.  We had one of our trainings in their home and we also used the mission office for our other training.  They were wonderful hosts and wonderful people who are dedicating their lives to the work of spreading the gospel.



Last but definitely not least, I want to tell you about Folly.  Folly is a church employee here in Accra.  He is a young man with a wonderful family.  He and his wife have four children and their story is one to be told.  Folly agreed to go with us to Benin for our training.  He is from Togo and speaks French fluently and he is also in the MSR department. He understands audits and the records part of the Church so he would be a great interpreter for our trainings.  He not only guided us through three different countries, helped us cross the very difficult borders between Ghana, Togo, and Benin, but he taught us a lot of the area’s history and the traditions of the people and about the geography.


Folly came to Accra when he was about 24 years old.  He was single but he was engaged to get married to his fiancé in Togo.  Folly is the oldest in his Father’s family.  He grew up in a very large village.  His father was the Chief and Folly was groomed and trained to become the next Chief after his father.  That makes Folly a prince. 
When Greg found this out he started bowing to him.
Folly came to Accra looking for an education and finding his way in the world.  He was questioning everything about his life.  One day on his way home from school he saw a building.  The building felt different to him and he didn’t know why.  Each evening on the way home from school he would stop in front of the building and just look at it.  He still didn’t speak much English and he didn’t know what the building was used for.  One day as he came to the building he saw people there.  He went in and learned that the building was a church and the missionaries started to teach him about the gospel. He was so touched by the spirit, the feelings he felt when they talked to him and with the building, he was willing to listen.  In just a short time Folly was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and he has never looked back.  Folly lost his position with his family and with his village.  It was a great disappointment to his father to lose his oldest son. It has been a great trial for Folly and for his family. But he has worked tirelessly in the Church.  He taught his wife and they were sealed in the Ghana Temple soon after it was dedicated.  Folly has been in a Bishopric, a Temple Ordinance Worker, and now he is the stake clerk.  Folly has been constantly worrying about supporting his family.  He has received a bachelor degree and has been hired by the Church to be the Physical Facilities manager for the countries of Benin and Togo.  His new job will start in April.  He and his family are very happy to be going home to their families and country and to have a very good job.  Folly hopes to teach his family about the Church.  He already has one brother that has joined.  Folly’s mother has seen the change in her sons and her heart is softened.  Folly’s father passed away a few years ago and Folly has done his Temple work for him.  The Church will be blessed to have their family back to help build the Kingdom in Togo.


We are so thankful for the wonderful example of the Saints in Africa.  They all have wonderful and inspiring stories.  Each have been tested, tried, and proven and they are strong to their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

These are the missionaries and President Weed.  All of these Elders are assigned to the branch that we attended.  They hope to divide it soon, and someday make Benin a Stake of Zion.  Like everywhere, we love the missionaries and they seem so happy to see us.

I feel very humble to be here and to have these wonderful people surround me every day.

What a blessed opportunity!
We are going to use this trip for several blogs, so stay tuned.  Greg will do one soon about Togo and Benin.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you guys made it back safe. One of my geography teachers told us that you can judge a countries development by what they use for transportation. First is bikes, then motorcycles and then cars. I bet twenty years or so ago those roads were clogged with bikes.