Monday, 31 December 2012

Entry #19

It has been quite an interesting experience here in Africa during the Christmas season. While 60+% of the
population is Christian, there are limited signs or indications that it is Christmas. There are no Christmas lights and
only Christmas trees we see are a few in one of the stores we visit each week. The children are out of school for
approximately three weeks, and many roadside food stands and other businesses close for about a week. You hear
very little Christmas music and gift giving is very limited. I am sure that one of the reasons for the lack of Christmas
activity is the poverty and lack of resources of most individuals and families. Since they have never experienced
the wonderful life we are used to in America, they are relatively content – since they have never known anything

On Saturday, 22 December 2012, the mission brought all of the missionaries into Kumasi to one of the church
buildings in the city (Bantama Chapel) and put together a Christmas dinner for them along with a program and a
movie. (See pictures below) It was a fairly major undertaking, due to the circumstance that we have to operate
under here. Just getting 100 plus missionaries into the city from the remote areas of Ghana is no small task. It takes
3 or 4 hours by Tro Tro (small busses) for many to get here. We had two 50 gallon barrels made into a homemade
barbeque grills and grilled 100+ pieces of chicken and made potato salad, strawberry banana Jello with fruit
cocktail (yes, we found 16 boxes and 5 cans and bought them out), bean salad and rounded the meal off with some
homemade pastries, fan-ice (ice cream of sorts) and some carbonated drinks. The meal was generally appreciated
by most, but some of the Africans were not over thrilled with the beans, potato salad and Jello – American style
food. The program included Dad (Rodney) sharing a Christmas Message, followed by remarks from the Mission
President. A movie “Silent Night” was then shown and followed by a small gift packet made possible by some very
generous parents and young women groups from the United States. It still amazes us that many of the African
missionaries have little or no family support and accordingly never receive a package or even letters from home, so
the small gift packages were more than a welcome gift.

The holiday traffic congestion is a nightmare here. Traffic is always a challenge, but getting to and from places
during this time is unbelievable. Driving back from the Christmas Program it took almost an hour to go one mile.

On Christmas day we had the awesome privilege of having 10 of the missionaries (see pictures below) over for a
pancake breakfast (just by luck we found a box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix and grabbed it – made pancakes real
fast) and a video (one of the Work and The Glory videos). When it was time to leave we sent them off with bags
full of chocolate chip and snicker doodle cookies. (Cooking with a gas canister is not the easiest so MJ had to watch
the cookies very carefully to be sure that they didn’t burn – most of them were okay.)The missionaries were so
appreciative to have a bit of home life on Christmas. In the late afternoon and early evening we then traveled to the
mission home and had the great opportunity of Skyping with the three Palmer families living in Utah – a nice follow
up to the Skyping session we had with all the families in Arizona on Thanksgiving Day. It is nice to have the feeling
of being with family, even when you are 7,000 miles away. It was great to realize that both family groups, those in
Utah and those in Arizona, were having their Christmas Eve Programs at the same time at night.

We also had a pleasant surprise on Christmas Eve when we heard the rattling at our metal gate at the door of our
place. A grandmother with three little girls (a church member who lives near us) came to sing a Christmas carol to
us. The three little girls are the ones that have basically adopted us as their grandparents and always sit by us at
church and also come to visit us occasionally at our apartment. Anyway they came in and sang a carol – not great
musicians with their limited English, but their heartfelt gift was deeply appreciated. They were in some Santa Claus
type costumes (the most we have seen here in Ghana) and shared their love. (See picture below).


Mom and Dad

In the midst of our Christmas festivities we had 10 new missionaries arrive – all but one was from an African nation.  Below is a picture of these recent arrivals with their trainer companion.

The Christmas Feast for the missionaries – Sister Holmes (mission president’s wife), Veronica (mission cook a returned missionary), Rodney, Bro. & Sis. Thayne, another senior couple in the mission and me behind the camera.
The missionaries are enjoying the food and associations. On the left is Kwaku Cooper, who helps with the facility and apartment management in the mission.

Our great missionaries! Unfortunately, some had to leave before we got the picture because of their travel distance.

These four sisters rode with us to the Christmas Program and meal on Saturday. They live just around the corner from us. Two are trainers for the other two. They are from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Nigeria, in order. They came over a week before and watched the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on our lap top.

This is what our Christmas looked like. We found the tree in the apartment where a senior couple lived but left 2 months ago, brought it over and hung candy canes on it, decorated around it with presents, cards and a homemade silver star at its top. Thank you all for remembering us at this time. It made our time here better, even though we were without our family and friends. We love you all.

These are our Christmas Eve visitors who live around the corner from us: Elizabeth and grandmother, Sis. Kontho, in the back and Joyce, Rodney and Lynette (and Mary Joyce behind the camera). They sang a few carols and we sent them home with some candy which they loved – they weren’t getting much so they were happy.

We had 10 over on Christmas morning. Where was the one lost missionary? Don’t know - - -

Eating pancakes with syrup with orange juice to drink - - -
Elders from Nigeria, Utah and Idaho.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Entry #18

Christmas is only a week or so away, but there is little here in Ghana to indicate that it is the Christmas season.
The weather of course is noticeably different with the 90 degree temperatures, but the Ghanaians have little or
no decorations and very little in the stores that indicate the season is upon us, as is the case in the United States.
The national cavalier attitude about Christmas carries over into the church somewhat as noted by very few of the
traditional Christmas carol and songs sung in the church meeting. The church people here won’t even see the First
Presidency’s Christmas Devotional unless the West Africa Area Office sends it and we aren’t aware of any attempts
to do so, which is too bad – it is so fantastic. There is limited reference to the Christmas season – perhaps that
will change come next week, which will be the last Sunday before Christmas. We have a few of the trappings of
Christmas in our humble apartment – a small little Christmas tree, some homemade signs and pictures we have
placed on the walls and a few gifts.

We are planning an all mission get-together for this coming Saturday, where we are bringing all of the missionaries
into Kumasi. It will take several hours for missionaries to get to Kumasi on Tro Tros (small buses), but the
missionaries will enjoy being together. We will meet from about 10 in the morning, after they all arrive, and will end
about 2 p.m., which will give the missionaries time to return to their remote areas before it is too dark. Travel after
dark in Ghana is very strongly discouraged. We will have a nice homemade dinner (nice by Ghanaians standards) at
one of the church buildings in the city (Bantama church building) along with a program that will probably include one
of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas performances. Of course on Christmas Day the missionaries will have
that traditional opportunity of calling their families; however this generally will not apply to the African missionaries
who in most cases do not have supportive families or whose parents and family do not have the capability of
receiving calls.

We continue to enjoy working with the food that we find here. Banana bread is the best – bananas are so plentiful
here. The next kinds are apple bread and carrot . MJ is trying to find recipes for cookies and sweets that she can
make here for Christmas to give as gifts. Finding ingredients is a challenge, but by a miracle we found sweetened
and condensed milk and got 4 cans of it. Now she could really use corn syrup and almond extract, but that probably
won’t happen. So, a few kinds of cookies and a few kinds of candies will have to do. We are trying to help with the
Christmas spirit.

We have 4 sister missionaries that live just a couple of blocks away from us, which we have really enjoyed. All of
the 12 sister missionaries here are from African nations. The church does not bring young ladies from non-African
nations to this area. These sisters are so faithful and dedicated and are excellent missionaries. We pamper them a
little bit since they are close to us and we can get them mail, supplies and other items rather easily. We have also
had the 4 closest to us over to watch the First Presidency Christmas devotional, which Rodney downloaded from
the church website. They had tears in their eyes before the program was over. One of the sisters (Sister Nwokeka)
returned home this week and her replacement will come in next week. We have attached a little biographical
information on her and her companion that Rodney put together if you want to read a little about her. Also below is
a picture we took of the 4 sisters, just prior to Sister Nwokeka’s departure.

There are 10 new missionaries coming to our mission next Tuesday evening – 6 of these missionaries will also be
sister missionaries. We’ve had to do quite a bit to prepare for their arrival. There are 2 elders leaving on Tuesday
morning – one going home to Bountiful and another going home to Denver.

We continue to be impressed with the African elders. Rodney puts together a picture with information about each
elder and sister, when he gets the chance because we are so inspired with their dedication and what they have done
with their life. These two elders have an impressive story so you may want to read a little bit about them as well. All
of the missionaries are inspirations to us, and this is some information on these two – also picture below.


Mom and Dad

Rodney, Sister Nwokeka, Sister Gogo, Sister Eubokodom, Sister Modise and Mary Joyce

 Rodney, Elder Anouman and Elder Ochieng

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Entry #17

It is hard to believe it is December when it is so very hot and humid (90 degrees and 90% humidity). We see pictures
of some of you in Utah playing in the snow and wonder what that white stuff is. We have ask a few Ghanaians if
they have ever seen snow and their response was “only in pictures”. We do have a little scrubby looking Christmas
Tree – an artificial one that is about 3 feet high that we found in one of the vacated missionary apartments and
they did sing a couple of Christmas songs in Sacrament Meeting today, so it does seem a little bit like the Christmas
season. Christmas is celebrated here but there isn’t as much hype and craziness – not so much emphasis on gifts –
more low keyed.

This coming Friday is General Election Day in Ghana, which is a holiday, and we are told that things can get a bit
tense because of the fervor the citizens have for their respective candidates. In church today they warned the
members to vote and not to linger around the polling place to help ensure their safety. I think we will have to be a
little extra careful on that day.

We enjoyed a skyping session with the Arizona Palmers on Thanksgiving Day with most all of the Arizona Palmers
present and may see if something can be worked out similarly at Christmas time with the Utah Palmers. It would be
nice but the with seven hour difference it might not work. We will see.

We have been doing a lot of traveling the last few weeks –most of it being over treacherous roads that are either dirt
roads or asphalt roads with pot holes that are as much as a foot deep. We traveled North to Sunyani for a branch
conference (3 hour drive one way), then drove to Bibiani a couple of weeks later for a branch conference. Bibiani
is southwest of Kumasi (2 hour drive one way). Then last week we drove to Accra (accent on the last a), the capital
city for Ghana, the location of the Church Area offices and of the Ghana Temple. That trip is 5 hours one way and
is through villages with narrow streets and rough roads with absolutely no signage for directions. It was like an
obstacle course for half of the trip – we were constantly dodging large and deep pot holes, other cars that were
dodging pot holes, people walking along the jungle lined roads and goats. The roads were narrow. . The other half
of the trip we had very nice roads – similar to those you would find in America. Thank goodness we made it there
and back with no real problems. When we left for Accra at 6am Monday, as we got into the jungle, it was really
quite awesome. The mist hung over the jungle and the clouds were low. It was quite magical.

We have the opportunity to speak to the branch members at these branch conferences and we provide training for
the branch presidencies, Elders Quorum, Relief Society, Primary, Young Men and Young Women. The members are
eager to learn and hang on every word of instruction that you give to them. They have amazingly strong testimonies
that they love to share. Rodney loves to play around with the small children after the meetings and they just love to
be chased by him. They always want to get in the vehicle and come home with us when we depart – of course we
have to help them exit the car before we take off.

The trip to Accra was particularly invigorating. We had arranged to stay at the ancillary building next to the Temple
and the West Africa Area office building. Because this is the only temple in West Africa, people come in busses from
many other countries to attend. As a result, they need a place to stay when they get there. The ancillary building is
like a hotel. It can have 6 individuals in each room (3 bunk beds) and has a bathroom with a shower. We had a room
to ourselves and had a great rest. There is also a large room that has a kitchen where groups can eat together. That
is all we needed to be comfortable.

It is such a change to enter the temple and feel of the peace and quiet atmosphere. The spirit we felt was so
uplifting and a welcome change of pace from our everyday duties. We went through a temple session at 8:30 a.m.
Tuesday morning and were privileged to be the witness couple in the session. In the group were the Cape Coast
Mission Pres. and his wife, their Missionary Assistants and two senior couples with the departing missionaries from
their mission. We know them because they took us up to our mission office and got us set up in Kumasi. It was a
fantastic reunion for us. There were about 50 or 60 in our session and all of the ordinance workers who officiated on
are session were Africans. Rarely do you see any non-African white members. While in Accra we were able to take

care of some mission business at the Africa West Area Offices and also able to visit the mission headquarters for the
Ghana Accra Mission. We also were able to shop for some things that we cannot obtain in Kumasi, which is always
nice. It was a fast trip – we left early Monday morning and were back in Kumasi Tuesday evening. It was a long trip,
but a welcome break.

Today is fast Sunday and we fasted for blessings for all members of the family with some special pleas for the Lord’s
favors for some family members that may need extra help, guidance and the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost.
One of the blessings we are again looking forward to is being with all of you in the temple again. We count the
greatest blessing that we have received in our life – the blessing of being in the temple with all of our children and
their spouses. There is no greater gift or blessing that you can provide us that would match this blessing. We look
forward to returning home and having that special opportunity again.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We really enjoy your emails and pictures that you send. You keep us
going when you do that – makes the distance shorter. 

Love you all,

Mom and Dad 

Our apartment got a face lift – a new paint job! We live through the gate door that’s open and we go all the way to the back where plantain trees grow. There are 4 apartments – 2 on top, 2 on bottom. That is our car. Since this is the dryer season, everyone seems to be painting their places. Those palm trees are coconut trees. We love the coconuts!

On our way to Accra we were behind this truck – there must have been 50 people packed onto it! There is always something new to see along the road.

This lady was emerging from the jungle with a huge load on her head! Then she walked a long ways to the market. They are so strong – strong necks, backs and legs. This big load is not uncommon for the women to carry.

This is a jungle road to the capitol city, Accra.

 Here we are the Bibiani Chapel with Elder Alexander, a great missionary from New Zealand. The people here were so glad that we came and even gave us food when we left.

After the meetings at the Bibiani Chapel.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Entry #16

We have been doing a lot of traveling through the treacherously rough roads of Ghana in recent days. Last weekend we traveled to Sunyani, about 3 hours northwest of Kumasi for a Branch Conference. We have 5 branches of the church in the Sunyani area and were able to have a branch conference for the Penkwase Branch. Sunyani is more rural and much less congested than Kumasi, so we enjoyed being in an area where the beauties of the African Jungle were more visible and inviting. The jungle along the road is very lush and largely undisturbed. It is interesting to go to these branch conferences and realize that nearly all of the members have only been members of the church of two years or less. They are so receptive to your teaching. I think the Young Women’s President , who was just called had only been a member of the church for a few weeks, and that was about the same with every leader in the branch. There were a couple of return missionaries, one of which taught the gospel doctrine class and did a marvelous job. Mom did some training for the Relief Society Presidency and Dad trained the Elders Quorum Presidency. They are so eager to learn and do things right – they love the gospel in their lives.

This coming Sunday we will be traveling to Bibiani for a branch conference there. This village is about two hours drive west of Kumasi.

One of our greatest joys is rubbing shoulders with the young missionaries – both elders and sisters. They are so dedicated and seem to really enjoy being around the two of us. Our reputation for providing breakfast on Preparation Day has spread through the mission so we have some elders that invite themselves to breakfast and then travel for two hours to get to our place, just to share some time with us and have some American made pancakes. Last Preparation Day we had 4 elders drop in on us and they didn’t want to leave. They were with us for a couple of hours and enjoyed some of Mom’s banana bread. They just love telling us about their missionary work and talking about their families and their plans after their mission. Of course we love to tell them about our family and show them the dozens of pictures we have of the family – pasted all over the walls of our apartment.

We particularly enjoy the Zone Leaders when they come in for their Zone Council training. They love to joke around with us and we think we provide a welcome relief from the rigors of missionary work. They love to tease and Dad loves to tease them so we have an enjoyable time. Below is a picture of them in our office as they were getting ready to depart and head back to their respective areas of labor. Some of them have 3 or 4 hours by Tro Tro (bus) to get back to their area.

On November 7th we had 9 new missionaries arrive in our mission and we have 10 more scheduled to arrive on December 19th. There are only a couple of missionaries returning home during this period, so you can see our numbers are quickly increasing.

We were caught in downtown Kumasi a couple of weeks ago due to their celebration of Veterans Day (African Version) and caught a few pictures below of the military formations and drum beating and dancing.

The pictures below are a little misleading. It looks like white people are in plentiful supply. The truth is that you seldom see a white person and about 80% of the missionaries are Africans.

As most of you were, we were very disappointed about how the US presidential election turned out. I’m glad we weren’t home, even though we voted on line, because then we didn’t hear all of the spin of the results. Oh, my, it’s too bad.

Mom and Dad

Veterans Day Military Formation – we happened to be down town at the post office – this was in front of the post office.

The drum section that accompanied the dancing and marching during the Veterans Day celebration
Two dancers – an African lady and an abruni (white man) – quite a spectacle – dancing to the drums in the street. The umbrellas in the back all are stands where people sell various items.

This is a stand in front of the post office during the military show with some good fruit. After we go to the post office(sometimes twice a week) we cross the street to the store called Opoku Trade Supermarket –has some American food.

Missionaries that just dropped by our place on Preparation Day – Elder Sagers (Utah), Elder Succo (Utah), Elder Obisike (Africa) and Elder Reid (UK) – and some old man on the end. They were here on P-Day celebrating Elder Reid’s 19 th birthday and dropped by to give us a visit. We really enjoyed it.

The traffic on the way to the post office and the bank in Adum in Kumasi, downtown – usually worse than this.

Zone leaders in our office following Zone Council – great young men!

A typical logo on a Tro Tro. Every vehicle has some slogan or biblical saying.

Here are the new Sisters and Elders and their companions with the Assistants and the Holmes out on the back deck. We had 3 new Sisters – all African – and 6 new Elders – one American, one Australian and four Africans. It’s a very busy time in at the mission home and in our office when they come in. They are flown up here from the MTC in Accra and stay in the mission home one night, meet their trainers the next day, are fed well and then are sent out to do missionary work. Good looking group!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Entry #15

Since the wards and branches located in our mission do not receive direct broadcasts of general conference they wait a few weeks and play a DVD that has the sessions of conference. Today is the day that they used a TV and presented the sessions to the ward members. They opened the meeting and administered the sacrament and then they presented the Saturday afternoon session of conference and then took a break for some refreshment and then watched the Sunday morning session of conference. We were impressed by their focus and attention to the conference. They are very faithful members of the church. The presentation was in English; however it is our understanding that presentations in other wards and branches in the area were in Twi – so we were glad that this ward presentation was in English so we could understand and participate. The spirit was very strong and the members really soaked it up and were so happy to hear the prophet and the apostles and other general authorities speak.

Mom and Dad

Mission home guard and physical facilities guys working to furnish new missionary apartment – This is a new truck. When he gets his canopy on the back he will have loads tied to the top – really packs it in. In the top of the picture is the big generator for the mission home. It has to be turned on at least once and sometimes five times a day because the power is constantly going on and off. Think what it does to the office machinery. We’re just grateful for a that generator.

Corn planted around the mission home by the housekeeper and mission home cook – Veronica. Corn stalks are over 12 feet high. This is field corn not sweet corn. All they eat is field corn and boy, it’s tough! We don’t eat it.

Members of Asokwa Ward between sessions of General Conference
Ward members at Asokwa ward during break between sessions of General Conference. We were there from 9 am until 2 pm. All we have are open windows and ceiling fans. By 2 it was really getting quite hot. We are into the hot season.

Our adopted granddaughters – Lynette, Joyce and Elizabeth. The break between sessions of General Conference. They always seek us out and sit by us in church. We usually give them a ride home after the meetings.


 In early 2011, President Melvin Sabey, Mission President of Ghana Cape Coast Mission,
heard of a group of Ghanaians worshipping in the remote area of Bibiani located north
of Cape Coast. This village is several hours away from Cape Coast or Kumasi. The trip
required a several hours of driving, over difficult African roads.

President Sabey, upon visiting Bibiani, found people there worshipping and conducting
meetings, and most surprisingly, paying significant tithing to the Church. President
Sabey submitted a request to the Africa West Area office for permission to allow the
Bibiani members to be formed into a group with permission to conduct Sacrament
meetings. This request was denied due to the policy to not open Groups or Branches
without proper support or Priesthood leadership. (There have been many examples of
problems that have occurred from such action in the past.) Just before President Sabey
left his mission he formally submitted a second request to the Area Office. In Mid-2011
the members in Bibiani were given permission to conduct a limited sacrament service and
hold a Sunday school class.

President Jeff Shulz, the new Ghana Cape Coast Mission President, was asked by the
Africa West Area presidency to travel to Bibiani and determine if the church members
were following proper Church protocol in conducting their meetings. President Shulz
and his wife invited Elder and Sister Zoll, a relatively new senior missionary couple
serving in Kumasi, to accompany them to Bibiani.

No one could have prepared this investigating group for what they would see when they
arrived for the Sunday worship in Bibiani. They found over 60 faithful Ghanaian saints,
and their children, huddled in a small, humid, poorly lighted school room, singing church
hymns, and blessing and passing the Sacrament. Across the hall was another church
holding a meeting, a meeting that consisted of the pounding of drums and chanting
in tongues, which made it nearly impossible to hear the proceedings of the sacrament

The speakers bore humble and powerful testimonies, and the spirit was over powering.
After the service, the Bibiani saints put the chairs on their heads and went outside on
the dirt, in the sweltering heat and humidity, and proceeded to teach gospel principles
in a Sunday School type class. The instructors were prepared and knowledgeable about
the gospel. It was observed that even though everything was not perfectly adhered
to, the basic core of the meetings and messages were spiritually powerful and humbly

It was then that the acting group leader named Emmanuel Tawiah Turkson grabbed Elder
Zoll’s arm and said “Elder Zoll, we have been waiting for you. We need missionaries
to come and teach us and help us so we can receive the priesthood, so we can become a
Branch and worship correctly and with proper authority.” “Please will you help us” he
pleaded. “We have prayed for many years to get the missionaries to come” he said.

Both President Shulz and Elder Zoll were so touched and humbled with such a sincere
and heartfelt request that when Elder Zoll asked the President for permission to be in
charge of this group and provide all necessary support to help them become a Branch, it
was granted. Due to distance from the mission home, the mission president was reluctant
to send full-time missionaries to the group. Elder and Sister Zoll accepted the challenge
and the assignment to travel the 2 hours to Bibiani from Kumasi with missionaries to
teach and interview and baptize the Bibiani faithful. It did not take long to discover the
powerful sincere leadership skills of brother Turkson, who so desired for this group to
become a Branch. His faith and dynamic personality and spirit were inspiring.

It was soon learned that there was another group in a village called Bekwai (30
kilometers to the south of Bibiani) that were likewise conducting meetings with a similar
situation and number of faithful saints. The Zolls and the zone leaders Elder Koukou and
Elder Alba taught the discussions to over 35 faithful saints over the next month. When it
was nearing the time for baptisms to be performed it was realized that no baptismal font
was available. Africa has few waterways that can be used. Brother Turkson prayed that
a suitable river could be located. He found one 20 minutes outside of Bibiani. He was
able to get approval from the Queen Mother of the village near the river to perform the

Then a day to remember occurred on December 10, 2011 with the baptizing of 30 faithful
saints in that river, under the inspiration of the spirit. A powerful day no one would
forget since some of these saints, who were aging, had prayed for the missionaries and
baptism for 3 years or more. One sister had a baby boy, the day before the set baptismal
date, and so wanted to be baptized she got special permission to go into the waters of
baptism. Bibiani was now well on its way to becoming a Branch, a blessing that they had
so mightily prayed to achieve.

Brother Turkson continued to request a building for church worship. Buildings that fit
the criteria were very hard to find. The Zoll’s kept telling him they could not get one
approved for a long time, and they should be content with getting missionaries. He was
told that the church leadership in the Africa West Area would not grant such request until
they qualified for Branch status and had sufficient Melchizedek Priesthood and other
leadership in place.

Brother Turkson was undeterred and prayed all night for the much needed building.
Upon getting off his knees, the next morning, he received a call informing him that a
building had just become available to rent, if closed immediately. Brother Turkson called
Elder Zoll and pleaded for him to come and see it. Elder Zoll did so reluctantly, and
could see this building was ideal and would not last on the market. Although Elder Zoll
felt it was highly unlikely, he wrote the Area Presidency, pleading for the permission
needed for obtaining this building for the Bibiani group. The email sent to request the
permission happened to be sent and received during the Area Presidency meeting. When
read the Presidency felt inspired to change their position and approved it on the spot.
The Zolls traveled to the Area offices in Accra that next day to obtain the funds, written
approvals and an executed lease to close the deal.

Upon hearing of the chance to obtain a building for worship the members all came out
and sang hymns and walked about the building in happiness and thankfulness, as the
Landlords signature was obtained. It was a sight to behold.

Shortly thereafter, the missionaries began teaching another group of 42 investigators
(Elder and Sister Zoll and Elders Briggs and Elder Dadzie.) Many of these investigators
were from Bekwai and had to walk nearly 5 kilometers to attend the missionary
discussions in Bibiani. Another day to remember occurred on April 29, 2012 when 42
faithful saints were baptized and confirmed in a single day in the river. It was a sight
to behold and will never be forgotten by those in attendance. The spirit was there in
abundance and amazing testimonies were borne.

Bibiani became a Branch and Emmanuel Turkson was called to be the first Branch
President with 2 powerful and faithful Counselors in brothers James Buadu and Samuel
Ewusie. Bibiani later was provided 4 full time missionaries and a baptismal font.
Bekwai is now progressing toward Branch status. Little did anyone know that through
the faith and prayers of these faithful saints, as led by President Turkson, the gospel
would flourish and become a pioneering history of faith, and a verification that prayers
are answered.

The branch quarterly report for the Bibiani Branch showed 113 members and 67%
attendance at sacrament meeting. On October 11, 2012 – 18 brethren were interviewed
and found worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Truly the Lord loves these people and will bless them.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Entry #14

“Another week in Paradise” – I am sure there are those would say that it is anything but Paradise. When it comes to many of the wonderful African people and fantastic young men and young women serving as missionaries it is truly Paradise. When it comes to the poverty, harsh living conditions, treacherous roads and traffic conditions and overall concern for your safety and welfare – then it would be considered by many to be anything but Paradise.

As we mentioned last week we visited the Agona-Asamang Branch for a Branch Conference and assisted in training and teaching at the conference. The members are eager to learn and are very teachable. Travel conditions, as always are challenging and risky, at best. It took us nearly two and a half hours to go a distance of 10 miles or so, and when you arrive you are just thankful you are still alive.

The building was packed with members – more than in the picture below. They were even outside on the porch. And when we had Relief Society (the Women’s Organization meeting) lesson in the classroom, it was packed full of beautiful women ready to learn – such a great sight.

We have a great story of faith associated with one of the villages that we will share with you next week.

This week at the Asokwa Ward meeting we watched the Primary Presentation by the Primary children. It was really great. It was pretty much run by the Primary president. There are only two leaders – her and her sister. And all of the children are together from Nursery age to 13 – for two hours. It’s amazing! But, can they sing! Each of the 25 children (not nursery age, of course) went up to the pulpit and said a memorized part. They all knew it – no prompting. And when a child was to short, even with the stool, the Bishop would lift them up so they could talk in the microphone. One little girl was walking up to say her part and everyone started chuckling. She would need to be lifted up, but she was quite chubby and they knew the Bishop would have to lift her. Well, he did and had a noticeably difficult time compared to the others. Still, she did a perfect job. And they knew all of the songs and sang out so strongly. Well done!

We continue to marvel at the way the Priesthood takes care of the Sacrament with such respect and reverence. The men/young men are all in their white shirts and are sure to do a perfect job. At one meeting we attended in a branch, a Deacon’s little sister wanted to stand there with him. She was insistent. Her mother got her back, but then she followed him as he passed it to the members. She knew he was doing something very reverent.

A sister here told us that most of the women wear their very expensive clothes on Sunday to their churches because if they don’t they are shunned and forced out. The churches just want those who look good and have money. Most church here are businesses so want the more affluent. She stopped going to the church because she was quite poor. Now she is a member of the church and is grateful that we are not looking for wealth but for the humble and the pure in heart. She is a wonderful person and has three cute little children.

Well, every day we hear music and chattering. I call it “the heartbeat of Ghana.” Music always playing with a heavy beat and people always talking. The evenings are their social time because it’s too hot inside their homes. They are always out walking and talking and children playing. They are a very social culture.

As always our love and prayers are with you constantly. We miss all of you, but we also feel that the Lord is happy with our service here in Africa.


Mom and Dad

Agona- Asamang Branch – The picture was taken well before the meeting started. Every seat was filled with about 50 outside on an adjoining patio by the time the meeting was under way.

This is the land behind the Agona-Asamang church building where a family lives. There were chicken and a goat earlier.

Mom and Sisters in the Branch - they have very colorful clothing.
Dad with several men of the Branch that begged for a picture with him. We provided them each a copy of the picture afterwards.

50 or 60 year old tractor and trailer, which we regular see during our travels. After they are worn out in the US they must send them here to finish wearing out. Notice – only three tires, not four like it’s supposed to have.

Several cows tied down in a three wheel vehicle – going to the slaughter. How did they get them in there and pushed down so they could be tied so tightly?

More cattle (2)tied down – going to slaughter – part of a Muslim holiday feast preparation. How did they get them in there?

The power is out for 4 or 4 hours several nights a week – so dinner by lantern light is common. At least we have a propane stove. Just wish we had battery powered fans! Can you see the family pictures on the wall? There are others around the corner too. You are with us.

This is a young woman carrying her baby sister on her back. The little girl is very contented – sleeping. Notice where her black shoes are under her sister’s arms – typical. The little girl on the left (about 12 years old) is carrying her little sister too. The little one is quite big for her sister to carry. They love to take care of their brothers and sisters.

This is the way they transport goats – on top of a bus. They are tied together up there and very scared.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Entry #13

We are enjoying working with the people in Ghana and continue to be in awe as we observe their faith and humility. They have treated us with the greatest of respect and have gone the extra mile to be of assistance to us. We believe we have likewise been a blessing in many ways to them as we have befriended them and have worked to teach them more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and have helped them in teaching their own people of Christ and how to administer to the needs of their people. They are ever so careful to follow direction given. They hang on every word and sentence in the Handbook 2 (Administering the Church).

One of the senior couples that we have been serving with here in Kumasi will be flying home to Utah tomorrow (Buddy Ray and Bonnie Kay Zoll). We had a farewell dinner for them last night and it was great to reflect on all of the great work that they have accomplished in their 18 months in Ghana. We will admit that it made us a little jealous to know that they are on their way home and we will not be home to see family and friends for another 13 or 14 months.

We traveled yesterday to villages a couple of hours out of Kumasi (Villages of Agona and Asamang) to conduct a branch conference and do some training. The experience increased our love for the people and at the same time helped us realize more and more how much help is need for them to be able to bless and lead and teach their own people. It is interesting to realize as we attend the various branches of the mission that there are sometimes about as many investigators in attendance as there are members. The African people are so desirous of learning more of the Savior and the plan that our Heavenly Father has for his children here on the earth. There are a number of villages where there are just a handful of members and a number of investigators that are hoping and praying that missionaries will be assigned to their village and that there will be arrangements for a meeting place and eventually a branch organized. The biggest challenges, as we think we mentioned before, is getting leaders that can preside over the group and eventual branch. One of the pictures below shows us arriving at the Agona-Asamang Branch. Next week we will include some pictures of the wonderful people that are part of the branch.

This week we went to the four stores that we shop at to buy food. You find something here and something else there. And the prices vary. And if you find something new that you want, you buy lots because they most likely won’t be there the next week. So, this week we found canned refried beans! We were so excited! We’ve been wanting some bean tostadas – oh, just the taste. So, we bought many cans. That night MJ made flour tortillas and we had bean tostadas – refried beans, salad and cheese (unfortunately no sour cream or salsa). Yum, yum, were they delicious! We are eating well and realize how spoiled we are at home with so many foods available.

By the way, we voted this past week. We went on line, down loaded the ballot, signed it, scanned it and sent it in. We were so glad that we could do that. Thank heaven for the internet! We hope all of you get out and vote too – it is a very important privilege that we have. Get out and VOTE. We belong to the most wonderful country in the world. Let’s keep
it that way.

Mom and Dad

This is behind our apartment.  The man is sharpening the cutless (a very long, sharp knife) – several on the cement next to the poly tank, our water supply- with his grinding stone. The woman is our land lady. Those are plantain trees – we have lots behind us.

The Horse Roundabout. It’s very well known because the four roads on each side (take us to the bank & post office, the food store, the mission home and to our apartment) are very important to us as well as the people here. It’s usually very busy and hard to get into.
On Saturdays people sell birds, dogs, newspapers, tables, etc. in the road at the roundabout. We use this every day.

Here is a huge lizard. They are all over the place. There are all kinds here – some red, some green. Don’t like them!

Pigs in the back of a truck. They are tightly packed in and are on the way to market. The guy on the right has a stick that he hits them with to keep them in the truck. The gutter on the right is typical – cement and deep. They get rid of the rain water but also, they are used as sewer drains. This one looks pretty good.
The pigs in the truck and the goats along the road. Goats roam in herds all over the place. They really do eat lots of the garbage.

This is at the Agona-Asamong church building where we had our church meeting. That is Brother Yamoah, Brother & Sister Zoll and Dad. See the snail on the step below the gate? That’s a huge snail! And people catch them and eat them. Yuck! Nothing like the tiny snails at home. More pictures next time.