Sunday, 15 July 2012

Entry #3

We have completed another week in Ghana and are gradually able to find ourselves around to
various locations in the Kumasi area now. The major task of each week is to be able to find food that
is somewhere near what we are used to in the United States. The other missionary couple here in
Kumasi, as well as the Mission President and his wife, along with ourselves are always asking each other
where have you been able to find butter or cheese or jam or some other item. The hardest thing to
get used to is that they don’t refrigerate anything except butter and cheese. The eggs are just sitting
outside in the little sidewalk stands – never refrigerated. Having had fresh eggs for so many years, it is
tough to get used to eggs that are so unfresh and unnutritious that their yolks are a pale yellow. We
have chickens roaming around our place maybe we could just happen to find their nest? No chance but
is a great thought! And milk here is sold in card board boxes – on the shelf. They are only refrigerated
when you open them. The package says it’s “sterilized.” I think they’ve sterilized it so much that there
isn’t any more nutrition. Products that we are used to in the United States are rare find and there are
shouts for joy when you find a stand or small store that has something that you have been looking for
-baking powder, corn starch, vanilla flavoring, shortening, chicken or beef flavoring, etc. We did find
cans of Kirkland chicken – it’s the best chicken here. But, no chocolate chips or nuts. We searched and
searched for a can opener and never found one, but were able to get one from the other couple here in
Kumasi - how in the world do they open the cans that aren’t “flip-top?” We are still looking for another
sheet for our bed. We got one that worked, but the other was a fitted sheet that does not fit our bed so
we used scissors to tailor it to our needs, but it is not working the best.

One of the major hassles is working with the banks here in Ghana. We have to do considerable about of
transactions with the bank in connection with mission operations. It is no small feat just getting to the
downtown area where the bank is located. You have to be a super aggressive driver to get anywhere.
The rule of the road is ”nose goes” – meaning that whoever noses into traffic first has the right-of-way.
Sometimes the vehicles will be four or five vehicles abreast as drivers try to get ahead of another car.
There are very few traffic lights. Most people do not own a car so most transportation is by small taxis
or small buses (called Tro Tros). These taxi and bus drivers are the most aggressive drivers. The next
major obstacle in driving is finding a place to park. Anything goes when it comes to parking – behind
cars – on walks – even the middle of the street. Then if traffic is not intimidating enough, there is a
military man at the entrance of the bank with an assault rifle (AK47) and a long line at the teller stations.
Then because we are abrunis (white folks) we have extra hoops to get through to have checks cleared
for cashing – even though the checks are in Ghanaian currency and written on a Ghana Bank. Since this
is basically a cash society with no credit cards and very few checks, the misson has to have a safe full of
local currency for missionary use (local currency is Cedi’s). It has taken us an hour in the bank each of
the times we have had to transact business – even after we had one of our African leaders introduce us
to the bank manager and assistant manager

The postal service and the arrangement for mail and packages is another nightmare – one we are still
trying to get working for this new mission.

An interesting concept here in teaching the gospel is that there is an informal rule that you cannot
teach somebody that is more than 30 minutes from one of our church buildings. Since transportation
is limited most citizens have to walk or, if they have enough money, get a taxi. Few have that kind of
money. If they are too far away from the church you are just baptizing them into inactivity. There
are dozens of Africans who want to take the discussions and even are ready for baptism, but it would
be difficult or impossible for them to be nurtured by leaders in a church unit. When they get a large
enough group in an area they will send missionaries and establish a group and then a branch and then
a ward – and somewhere along the way they will arrange for a building to hold meetings. The people
are very friendly and very religious. A large percentage of the people are pentacostal, but there are
Presbyterians, Catholics, Baptists and Jehovah Witnesses. The focus is to baptize upper echelon people
so that you can grow the church from the top down and have the strength of leadership that is needed.

We enjoy taking a walk in the evenings or at other times and the little kids just love to come up to us
and talk to us. They think it is cute to do “high fives” and won’t quit until you just walk away. They
giggle and call us “abrunis”. The housing is very very basic for the most part – concrete walls or boards
thrown together looking more like beat up shed for animals. Most homes have no windows and doors
or if they have them they leave them open since most do not have any air conditioning. There are
exceptions and some pretty nice homes – usually built right next to one of the shacks. Any of the nice
homes will be surrounded by tall brick walls and large metal gates with padlocks. Padlocks will be on the
gate to the home, on the porch to the home and a third lock on the front door itself.

The church building for the Asokwa Ward, which we attend is just a few minutes from our place.
It is a nice building and doors and the many slatted windows are always wide open when we have
meetings. There are some pretty strong members, but they really don’t carry out the normal meetings
– partially due to difficulty in transportation, but also due to the need for more training and help. It is
our understanding that they do not have such things as a ward council and we think a true bishopric
meeting is rare. They do have some excellent meeting on Sunday. We attend the investigators class
and it is a lively group – a group of ten or twelve with maybe half being non-members. During any of
the meetings, including Sacrament Meeting, they speak mostly in “Twi”, so at best we get maybe half of
what is being said, since they mix the English with the Twi. We struggle to even understand them when
they are speaking English, since their pronunciation is so different than our English. We are working to
help the ward leader improve things.

Just the other day the senior couple who is going home in Oct. took us to a Kente village. Talk about
Kente cloth all over the place! This place was soooo primitive! The grandfather is trying to keep the
famiy tradition of making the cloth, but the children aren’t really interested. However, they go to school
during the day and then they come home and start weaving on their very old looms. Wow, do they ever
make some great designs – very colorful! They weave narrow strips – about6 – 8 inches wide – then
they combine the strips to width that they want the blanket to be. They have a barn full of products
they’ve made and are selling. They actually have tour busses (pretty rikety) come. The Cape Coast
Mission ordered over a hundred ties for the missionaries with CCM on them. They are fantastic. We will
include some pictures that we took of the village and the people.

Life here is very interesting but we are gradually getting used to living here – it isn’t as hard as it was.

We are impressed with the quality of the African missionaries. We had a Zone Council earlier this week
and some of the best zone leaders are Africans. They are very spiritual and have a great love for the
Savior. When they bear their testimonies they share a great love with the North Americans who they
are companions with. They are very inspiring young men.


Mom and Dad

Chickens outside our place
– just need to find their nests so we can get some fresh eggs! See the corn in the background? They eat
the very tough field corn not the sweet corn that we eat. We brought lettuce seeds just in case we
could grow our own. Lettuce here is nice, but everything has to be washed in water with Clorox – like
pineapple, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, etc., but lettuce doesn’t do very well. We wash the veggies
because of the water that they are grown in – very polluted and unclean. So, if we were able to grow
our own in a pot and water it with our filtered water, maybe it would work. However, the sun doesn’t
shine much due to the heavy clouds or the heavy pollution. Everyone burns their garbage or whatever
an there is always smoke in the air and pollution from the cars. So, maybe we can try in a few months
when it isn’t so cloudy – more sun – and hot. An experiement!

Lady & goats traveling.
Load of fresh bread going to the small stand where they bag it and sell it.

Zone leaders at Zone Council Meeting – Half of zone leaders area Africans and half from US, New Zealand or Australia. The couple in back is a senior couple from Sandy, Utah – the Zolls.

Friendly group at Kente Village where they weave the cloth. Boy are they aggressive salesmen – in your face! The Kente barn in the background that has all of the cloth for sale and about 15 working looms that these guys work.

African gentleman age 75 doing weaving. He is one that made 165 ties for the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. He uses his toes too.
Building with dozens of weaving looms with the Kente cloth – the finished product hanging on the walls.

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