Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday August 25, 2013

Today was a payday for some of our missionaries as we witnessed 6 individuals baptized after Sacrament meeting in the Nsawam Branch of the Church.  After the baptism we went with two young ladies, one a nursery school teacher, Gifty & her friend Gwen to visit a member family at their home and invite them to come back to the fold.  We visited with the sister but because she was cooking fish, and the family makes their living selling the cooked fish we offered to come back at another time.  The picture shown is the yard of this sister. The family lives in nothing more than a board shack with a tarp and some corrugated steel roofing to keep the elements out.

On Sunday there is a lot less traffic and it only takes 1 hour to get to our assigned branch.  Our branch president, Thompson, takes the trotro with his family to church.  He is hoping we can give him a ride, as he lives along the path we take to church.   We have noticed the miracle of the gospel is that those who adopt the ways of the Lord and really live the gospel, have better lives.  It reminds me of a statement made by President Ezra T.Benson in 1985 and quoted by Elder Packer since.  "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums.  Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.  The world would mold men by changing their environment.  Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature."   We can witness that it will take the gospel to bless this nation. The concern I see is there are many false prophets and false Christ's here, in Ghana and the people know not where to find the gospel in its purity. The Book of Mormon defines priest-craft in 2 Nephi 26:29 and this land seems to be full of it and the people yearning for the gospel and Christ in their lives are fooled by those making their living selling the gospel and their craftiness.   ...."that men peach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and the praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion." The work of spreading the gospel is so important to this people, they want so very much to find His path.  

The rest of the week was pretty exciting and stressful, we had 18 new missionaries come on Transfer Day. Before that came we had to have 4 new apartments, which are hard to find here.  Finding the right price along with a bathroom, windows and little niceties like that. Then we have to furnish that and have it all ready for the missionaries. President and the A P's (Assistants to the President) figure out who and where the new missionaries will be.
These are our AP's They look like they are ready for anything. One is a young man from Ghana and one is a young man from Idaho. The one from Ghana is going home in a month and we will miss him. It seems like all our missionaries get along very well, sometimes the cross culture is better. We got 15 new North American Missionaries so we are getting to be at least 40 % white to 60% black. Our new missionaries we just got, were all just 18 and just graduated from High School. I think we are going to have a little more homesickness and mom's that miss their boys than when they used to have to be 19.

Talk about homesickness, our 12th grandchild is due today... nothing yet... if you want just 1 more week little girl, you can be born on Grandma's birthday. But for your mom's sake you better come sooner!!!

Look for the Ghana Accra West Mission on Face Book and Like us.

These are a few of the new Elders with their new companions. They have just had lunch and a great talk from President Hill and Sister Hill and they are off to learn the life of a missionary.

Monday, August 19, 2013

All Africa Day of Service

This last Saturday the Church had an All Africa Day of Service and every Ward and Branch was to find a need in the community and do service. The Office Elders, they went to an open air market in their area and went to clean the market at 6:00 A.M. with their ward. They had a big turn out the Elders had to clean out the open sewage ditch. (the sewage ditch and lack of trash cans is a whole blog I am working up to- later)
Terry and I have been assigned to a Branch about 45 minutes north of Accra in a town  called Nswsam. We went to do a service project with them. We went to a government Hospital, the man had to bring machetes or as they call them here cutlasses. Terry has been itching to get one of those. He called Elder Nielson who bought one for him out in the Bush (all the men and boys out there have one). so Elder Nielson bought him a nice big one.

Elder Wall had so get the Elders up and going we were there very early.
The men had to hack at some grass and the ladies had to sweep the paths and the sidewalk, each ward had a separate building and there were paths and sidewalks. The waiting room was outside under a roof. I wanted to go and sweep that up, but there were several people sleeping on the benches ( maybe people that had family in the hospital (Ronald Mcdonald where is your house when we need it) There were also a bunch of /chickens under the benches, they started clucking at me when I started sweeping around them, I found another place to sweep. Meanwhile Terry was using his machete.  

Terry is moving that machete so fast you can't even see it.

This is a picture of about half of the people that came. The 4 men in the middle were some members of the Muslim Community that wanted to come and help. In Ghana they are very blessed because the members of the Muslim and the Christian Community get along and there seems to be no animosity between the two.
Some of the youth, they enjoyed being there and helping.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cape Coast

Last weekend we moved to our new apartment. It is bigger than our last one and very nice. It is in an apartment complex with 4 buildings and 6 apartments in each building, about 5 other missionary couples live here and the best part our office is right next door. That means we save 1-2 hours each day in traffic Yeah!! We really are only about 4 miles from the temple, but it seems like 25 miles in the morning and evening. The worst part is that the office is only next door, like the time I woke up at 4:00 A.M. and Terry was not there. I knew he was having trouble balancing his finance for the mission so I went next door, there he was entering all the expenses and payouts again trying to balance. They are still working on our permanent mission home and office in Tesano, but the mission home is still half demolished and they have not started on the office yet, so we still think we are at least a year away. We are in a nice neighborhood, mostly embassies and embassy residencies, so we go for our walk everyday on the street. We will miss the Temple ancillary especially all the people that come a stay from all over West Africa. This is a picture of where the bus driver who drove all the people to the temple stays during their time in here.

his last week it was time for 5 of our missionaries to go home. We were able to have brunch with them at President's home, go to the Temple with them and spend some more time with them as they talked about their mission and future and their testimonies. 4 of them all American left that evening on the Delta 10:10 flight and the other one left the next afternoon to Samoa, he had a travel time of 2 days. Elder Mauga  on his way home to Samoa.

Last week a friend, that Terry knew for many years before through his employment, was here in Africa, he was taking a group of people to Cape Coast for a day and a half and invited us to go with him. Cape Coast is further west from Accra and much of their living is the Sea. Here is Accra there is no notice of the fact that Accra is right on the Atlantic Ocean. The beach front property is not more valuable, there are not scenic drives near the beach or a beach resort or vacation type mind set here. But in Cape Coast there is, there are lots of boats in the ocean, resorts and a little more touristy feel. We stayed over on Friday night at a place called Elmina Resort. by the town of Elmina. Elmina is famous for a Castle that is more than 5 hundred years old. It took 600 Portuguese soldiers 4 years to build it. Then when the Dutch took over they added more to it. When the castle was first built they used it for trade. The native people traded gold for items like clothe, beads, tools, liqueur  etc. That is why the town is called Elmina (the Mine), they soon ran out of gold, what they did have was people. When the tribes got into fights, they took the defeated people as slaves. So the Europeans got right into that trade as you know. We went through the Slave Castle, it was a terrible part of our history, European history and of course to the people who died or suffered through it . Here are a couple of pictures of the town that I took  from the top of the Castle.                                                          
Later we when inland to a rain forest and you could walk along the top of a rain forest, it was really high, about  250 meters from the ground. The forest was so dense, that you could not see the ground, and we did not see any of the animals, although I don't know if they have a lot. Terry asked a man from Ghana why there were not any wild animals like they have in other parts of Africa, and he said, we ate them. So Peter you don't have to worry about Grandma and Grandpa outrunning the Lions. The people ate all the Lions.

An Act of Faith, Obedience and Love:  11 August 2013 is the first day of our assignment to the Nsawam branch, just outside of the greater Accra area. Four elders and ourselves will be serving with the faithful saints of that branch.  The chapel is beautiful and represents the Church well. Two of our missionaries live almost directly across the street from the building.  Over the last few years the number of members attending church has become small, small (native) and dwindled to the point that it is now a branch.  In an effort of the "Rescue" that President Thomas Monson has addressed in the effort the Lord wants to invite our brothers and sisters back to the fold., our mission President Hill in conjunction with the stake leaders and members have made an effort to visit those who the spark of the gospel may be rekindled and the fire rebuilt.  I sat in priesthood, next to the high councilor assigned to the Nsawam branch from Alajo, where he stays (another unique African designation  which means where you are currently living, as where are you from means the village you are originally from).  As we sat this faithful saint shared with me a visit he made this week along with other ward leaders.  A visit to an elderly brother that had not come to church for two years and he had not had a visit. Since there are few street signs and everyone doesn't live on a street anyway, local members must accompany you to the home.  In some cases the members do not know where someone stays.  But in this case they did.  Upon arriving at the home it was discovered that the reason this brother had not been to church is he had had a series of strokes which left his legs unusable and his speech very difficult to understand.  In the states that is serious but here where one must walk to church or if one is lucky and has some financial means, they can take the tro-tro or cab one may make it. (Our truck was one of two cars in the ward, so people can not go pick up their neighbors, in many cases the cars could not drive to where the person is because their might not be a road.)  In this case there are little financial means and walking is out of the question.  During the visit it was discovered that this goodly brother had been waiting and praying for a visit.  He expressed his gratitude and told those visiting he had been waiting for two years to pay his tithing, which he gave to them. He asked for a blessing to be released from this life but was given a blessing of faith.  We are excited to join with our brothers and sisters here in preparing ourselves and families for the second coming of the Messiah.

It is said of the people here in west Africa they may not have much but they have what counts.  They have great faith, love for the Savior and patience.  When I ponder upon the saints that we have met and love a scripture comes to mind; Acts 2:17  "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:"