I have had an experience this week that not everyone will experience in life. I turned 60 years old Thursday in Africa. It was an amazing day. I received cards and letters from all of my children and grandchildren. And to top off the day my daughter, Stalee, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.
I will now have someone special to share my birthday. I will never forget my 60th birthday!
|BYU-Idaho Collegiate Choir|
The BYU Idaho Collegiate Choir has been in Ghana for the last two weeks. They have been planning this concert tour for about a year. They have traveled to several cities and performed for people all over Ghana.
Their last two concerts were here in Accra. They performed Thursday evening at the Stake Center by the Temple. And Friday night they performed with two other choirs at the National Theater.
BYU Idaho has a program in several countries called “BYU Idaho Pathways”. It is a program to help the local students to prepare themselves to enter the BYU Idaho on-line college program.
The Choir came here to promote the Pathway program and to increase public awareness and good will for the Church. The interesting thing is that the two African choirs sang LDS Hymns and the BYU Idaho Choir sang several African songs. The choirs also sang a few numbers together. A couple of the numbers have been posted on YouTube if you want to check them out. You can see them by searching BYU-Idaho Collegiate Choir Ghana or Winneba Youth Choir-The Morning Breaks. The Winneba Youth Choir sang the Hymn “The Morning Breaks” as well as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was awesome. (We did not post these on YouTube, someone else did. And the recordings do not do them justice. But it is fun to look at and know that we were there.)
We met a group of young men that were off on a hunt for "bush meat". We asked him what he was trapping and he said frogs. There were about 5-6 and they all had their own trap. I snapped this picture from the back seat of the car, but you can see the boy and the trap.
As Garrison Keillor would say, “It has been a quiet week here in Africa but not at our home town of Hooper where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average” especially our daughter Stalee and our new grandson Heber.
I want to say more about the wood carvers today. Now I have talked about them in the past, and shown some of the items we have purchased for souvenirs, and I think we have just about enough, but I am intrigued by these men. They can take a hunk of wood and turn it into some amazing things. I want to show the village elders again. This is quite a sight and a good display for our new friend, Aaron. As a group we are becoming his best customers. The Area Presidency purchased several elephants from him this week to give as gifts, and a lot of couples have also supported him. I have challenged him to carve me an Angel Moroni. I have invited him to come to temple square and look at the angel on the temple and get a pattern. Of course, he cannot get too close. But I think if he does the first one, others will want one and then he will need to read more about the real Moroni, in order to carve him better, and then he might read the rest of the book. We’ll see how this goes.
He has carved this magnificent steamer-sized trunk. It would be a beautiful piece of furniture. I really want it, but there are a couple of big issues for me. First he wants 2,500 GHC (about $1,300 USD) and second it is very heavy and big and I don’t know how I would get it home. The shipping cost would be a lot. Anyway, I have been trying to help him sell it because I think it is so cool. It is made out of one big huge log. He cut off the lid and hollowed out the chest and then carved it. It is a special wood that is sacred here in Africa and is often used for incense, and the markings are special. This is why he wants me to buy it, because he thinks we are special and would treasure it. We would.
At the National Theater I saw this huge carving. It is rather bizarre. I think it is a slave ship, as there are people “below the decks” lying in cramped quarters and there are huge chains. It is massive and very interesting.
We have had several days of utility issues this week. We lost all our water one day when the water pump went out. The fire department brought us water in their tanker truck, which was very welcomed. Then we lost power on Friday. The community system went down (it goes down almost every day for a little while). We have a huge backup generator but this time it failed. We were in the Temple when it went down. I had 11 names that I was doing initiatory work for and I had done 3, but the men had to stop as it was very dark. Debi and the sisters just got flashlights and kept right on going. So I went back to our apartment. All the power for the entire complex was gone. With no power we also lost water as it needs to be pumped. We have bottled drinking water, but that was it.
The ancillary building was full of guests from Takoradi. With no water or power they could not go to the temple, wash themselves or their clothes, cook their food, or anything (like flush toilets). They all went outside and just mulled around. Of course the air conditioning did not work either.
I broke out the suckers and at first said they were just for the children. The women got on their knees and said, “We are children!” Then the men claimed they were still deacons, so I gave in and gave them all a sucker.
I used the last of my balls to give them something to do. I demonstrated juggling and then gave the balls to some of the youth. I told them to share, but do you think I could get that concept across? Those who received the balls assumed that I gave them to THEM. These are wonderful people but they are not good at sharing. They are good at taking from each other, however, and I imagine the balls have changed hands several times.
When I came up the stairs to go to our apartment, and it was in the dark, I found several children hiding on the stairs in the corners. I think they were playing, but they were totally unseen and unrecognizable. My phone has a flashlight app and when I turned it on I discovered I had started a new game of “find the African children in the dark!” If they don’t smile, you can’t find them without a light. It was pretty funny and fun. I wonder what these children think of me. They have a word for us, abrouni, which means “White Man”. And boy, are we white!
We are excited that there are several of our open house guests that are going to be baptized in the next few weeks. We have two ladies, and their children, and maybe a man or two. This is wonderful. We have a poster that we use and Wednesday one of the Path-way students, who was there practicing their dance, came up and said, “That is me” pointing to one of the pictures. She was a young girl in the picture and now is a beautiful young adult. We know her father, who is also in the picture.
We had a baptism today. The girl in the middle in the pink was baptized. She is 15. The boy in the tie is a future missionary after he is baptized and grows up. His name is James. We have a new friend that was here with his daughter. Brother Greer and his daughter are from Alpine, Utah. She is on the left. He gave James his tie and James was so proud to display it. The other girls are from the Jamestown Branch.
We met one of our young adult friends from Ofankor at the concert and he announced that he is engaged. We are so happy for him. He is a returned missionary and a fine young man. We hope to go to the temple with him when he gets married.
Not only is the Church true, but it is real. It is such a big part in these people’s life, and it is also a force for change in their lives, as well as the lives of those around them. I am sure it can change the world.