Sunday, 26 August 2012

Entry #8

This has been a very eventful week. Early Monday morning we drove, with another senior couple (the
Zolls from Sandy, UT going home at the end of October) to the capital city of Ghana – Accra (accent on
the last “a”). It took nearly 6 hours to go a distance of approximately 150 miles due to the poor roads,
wild drivers and congested traffic. There are points during the trip that the road almost disappears or
is under major construction. It was quite a trip. Along the way we went through many small villages.
Most of them were very primitive – adobe walls, no electricity, outdoor cooking, very little to live in and
they are selling produce along the highway. It sure makes us appreciate what we have at home. The
country up in the mountains is very beautiful and lush – no pine trees but other kinds of foliage.

We arrived around noon and immediately indulged ourselves in the only mall in all of Ghana. It was not
too different from some of the smaller malls in the United States – there was even a food court with
pizza and rides for the kids - and there are a fairly good number of American type products. We stocked
up on things like Peanut Butter, meat and a variety of other items. We actually stopped at a store on
the outskirts of Accra that is affectionately referred to by the Americans as Costco. While it is very small
it stocks some of the large sizes and quantities of products frequently seen in the United States. We also
visited a fast food place in Ghana that is familiar to Americans – KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken – believe
it or not (no McDonalds). Never thought we would be so enthralled with a fast food place, but it was a
treat to have something that was familiar and very tasty. But, it lacked the best drink ever, A&W Root
Beer – it was good anyway.

We stayed at the West African Missionary Training Center. It was very nice. There were about 100
young Elders and Sisters (19 to 21 years old) there preparing to go out to their missions. We really
enjoyed meeting them. They are from all over the world – the US, New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria,
South Africa, UK, etc. We also met Pres. & Sister Graham, the MTC president and his wife.

It was extremely helpful for us to visit the Area offices while we were in Accra. The Area office for all of
West Africa is located in Accra and we were able to accomplish a number of tasks with various finance
and supply people in the Area offices. Then of course we had the heroine experience of retracing our
steps back to Kumasi on Wednesday afternoon. Accra, while not anything like most American cities, is
so much more modernized and accommodating than what we daily experience in Kumasi.

On the spiritual side we had the special opportunity of attending a session at the Ghana Temple and
then sat in on a marriage or sealing ceremony for one of the African men who had recently returned
from our mission and married a beautiful young lady who was a recent convert to the church. This
young lady was of the Muslim faith, but inquired of this young elder via mail about the church and due
to her seeking for truth and due to a strong desire to know what our Heavenly Father’s plan for her
while on the earth lead to her joining the church and being endowed in the temple before this young
man even returned from his mission. To make a long story short they fell in love and were married. It
was great to be with them in the temple.

Another interesting story – not particularly significant, but gives you an idea of the humility and
goodness of the African people. One of the guards at the mission home complex took the missionary
discussions and was baptized and is so faithful in his church attendance and studying the gospel. One
evening he caught Rodney before he left the mission home and ask in a very kind way if he would help
him tie a tie so he would be able to have a tie with his shirt the next Sunday. Rodney tied the tie for him
and got it all ready for him so he could just slip it over his head and tighten it up and he would be ready
for church. He was so grateful for the help and was looking forward to being at church the next day with
his tie.

We had another experience that warmed our hearts – an experience with one of the African Elders we
were helping get some missionary supplies after a Zone Leader Council meeting. We noted that he was
struggling to read some of the information on one of the packages. Rodney asked him if he was having
trouble seeing. He initially did not want to admit that he was struggling to see. Mary Joyce offered
him her glasses and asked him to look through them. Initially he was reluctant, but when he saw how
clear things could be he had a new smile on his face. We told him that we would arrange for him to visit
an optometrist and get some glasses. He was so kind and so appreciative it made you want to reach
out and embrace him. In addition to the eye problems he had a slight speech impediment –stuttering,
which made us want to help him ever more. His name is Elder Nwatu, and we will be following up to
help him. These young elders are fantastic!

On Friday we spent nearly 5 hours in the bank and post office – hassling the sytem and getting banking
chores done and picking up packages for the missionaries – including going through customs with the
packages. One of the silver linings in the ordeal was one of the bank officials ended up providing us
with more cash (cedis) than we were entitled to – a fairly significant sum actually. Due to our very busy
schedule we had put the money in the office safe and had not even verified the count of the money.
Rodney received a desperate call from the young lady who had been assisting us in the mission banking
transactions. She was significantly short of cash and thought that she may have given us too much
money. We had her hold on the phone while we counted the money. Sure enough she had given us
too much money. It was after closing hours on a Friday evening and she asked if she could come by the
mission home and retrieve the money. Of course we said yes and a short time later she showed up at
the mission home. She was so kind and gracious and we had a short religious discussion and provided
her some information about the church. This situation was actually a blessing because we believe it will
pave the way for a smoother bank relationship after she witnessed our honesty and help.

Even though life here is very different for us, we just love the people. They love to smile and talk to
us. Those who we’ve met are very sincere and loving. They have a love for God and Jesus Christ. We
are enjoying being here to share with them what we have to help them be happy and have a more
meaningful life. There was another baptism today after our Sunday meetings. They are very receptive
and the work is going forth. It’s great to be part of this wonderful work.

We love you – please keep the emails coming – we love to hear from home.


Mom and Dad

At the Accra Temple

The Costco in Accra. Its official name is La Fiesta Hacienda – strange that it’s a Spanish name here but we were like kids in a candy store – Campbell cream soups, pickle relish, large Krustez pancake mix, tomato sauce, etc.!

At the temple. Some young ladies tending children – notice the babies on their backs and how their feet stick out forward. Sometimes there are shoes on their feet and sometimes all you see are 10 toes. Rodney and Sister Zoll.
The newly weds.

These Tro-tros are all over the place! They are little “busses” and are PACKED past the limit with people and will just stop in the road to let them off. Traffic is ALWAYS terrible. The slogan is, “the nose goes.” Very congested.

A street market – lots of venders with everything. Ghana is the king of small businesses! (Good looking tomatoes!)
More venders in the street market.

The West African MTC. We stayed upstairs in one of the general authority rooms with a nice soft bed. It was free for us. Nice!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Entry #7

Dear Family and Friends,

We have been so busy that we didn’t send a letter last week. That did not stop us however including all
of you in our prayers every morning and evening.

Last Sunday we traveled to a church branch that was about 75 kilometers from where we live (35 or
40 miles) – a place called Konongo – a village or town that is between Kumasi, where we live, and the
capital of Ghana – the city of Accra. With roads and traffic conditions the trip took us a couple of hours
and was risky business – to say the least. We took a couple who are part of the mission presidency here
– President Amoako and his wife (picture below) – a wonderful black man and his wife that we worked
with to hold a leadership meeting with the leaders in two branches as well as the leadership in the district.
We went to two sacrament meetings and spoke in both meetings. These saints are really faithful and can
they ever sing – a lot more volume and enthusiasm that we generally see at home. Below are some of the
pictures taken on the road and at the church building.

We had our first group of missionaries arrive this past week – two sister missionaries and 6 young men
– Elders. Just to give you an idea of the names of the missionaries – all of which are from other African
nations – They are – Elder Appiah, Elder Ojok, Elder Noble, Elder Musasizi, Elder Cherekedzai, Elder
Chiweshe, Sister McGill and Sister Ngwenya. We have five mission zones – Asokwa, Asuoyeboa,
Bantama, Dichemso and Sunyani. The zone Asuoyeboa is the one that gave mom the hardest time.
It’s pronounced like “a(short)seeohbwa.” It took forever. Here are some of the names of the other
missionaries: Nkanyane, Nwokeka, Okechukwo, Ubokudom, Nwatu, Kkwo, Kumakech, Ejiobianu,
Tlathi, Udo-Bassey, etc. Boy, it’s interesting to get used to saying their names but to try to understand
them on the phone is something else. They are used to us asking for them to repeat many times. Then
they give up and say that they will just text it. That is a good thing. We also know that Akwaaba means
“ welcome here” and Majoya (mahoeya) means “fine, thank you”. Medasi means thank you.” The Book
of Mormon is written in Twii and many are given out. Sure can’t read it though. The language is spoken
lower in their throats and of course is quite fast. At church today we didn’t understand much again.

There is another funeral celebration in the road that the Mission Home is on. They close the street and
put up a large tarp. Inside are many chairs. And the music is very loud jazzy and we can feel the beat in
our office. It lasts for a day or two for 24 or 48 hours. People actually pay to go because there’s lots of
nice food. The families make money off this funeral. The ladies usually dress in black fabric wrapped
around them and their heads. Quite interesting. I’m afraid that we get quite tired of listening to it.

Speaking of food, when we get home at night we are quite tired (about 6pm). Making dinner isn’t easy
because we don’t have the convenience foods like at home – most is from scratch. Mom had learned
to make flour tortillas so we’ve had cheese crisps with salad one night and wraps with cheese, lettuce,
Kirkland chicken (yes, we’ve found it here), cucumber and tomato. It was pretty good. Another night
we had rice patties with ketchup and green salad. When she makes rice, it’s a large quantity. What isn’t
needed goes into the refrigerator. To make a rice patty you take 1 cup cold cooked rice and mix it with
a slightly beaten egg. Stir it together (add onion, green pepper, etc. is optional) and pour some into a hot

non-stick skillet and brown on both sides. Put cheese on top with ketchup. Pretty good. We’ve even
had pork & beans with rice mixed in and warmed. Pretty good. Even the pan cakes we have on P-day
are all by scratch. We have an excellent recipe for them – the Elders liked them too. Got to be creative.

We are driving to Accra with another senior couple, the Holmes following in their car. We will go to the
temple and come back on Wednesday evening. The Holmes need to be back earlier. In Accra we can
get better food – like the big jars of Skippy peanut butter which we love and stock up on. We are looking
forward to going to the distribution center and the Area Offices. We will be staying at the MTC which
rents out rooms for those who are out of town at a minimal rate. Will tell you about it next time.

Congratulation to Jeff & Alice – Bryndlee Heidi, a cute name for a cute little granddaughter. Please send
pictures that we can print out from email. Unfortunately the pictures on Facebook don’t come through to
us. They are filtered out. Everyone, please send pictures.

Mrs. Carson was in a care home when we left home and we were able to visit her before we left. She is
now in hospice care and is fading fast. Just thought you might like to know. We will miss her.

We are enjoying the work here – it keeps us very busy – especially Dad because everything here is cash
and we have to go to the bank quite often which can take an hour or two. When we get home at night the
other senior couple let us borrow the TV series “Mentalist” . Have you heard of it? Boy, we really enjoy
watching it – an hour show. It helps us to wind down and fills up the time before bed because we can’t go
out after about 6pm due to mosquitoes and safety.

We pray for you all and love you. We appreciate your prayers. It’s been fun to Skype with you.


Mom and Dad

This is a picture of some of the way they load the trucks. This highway to Konongo Branches was a good road – just very poor drivers (dare devils) and large trucks – even bigger than these.

Pres. and Sis. Amoako who road with us to Konongo The church building is the white building behind Dad. That’s our silver car.

 Primary in the Konongo Branch 2. It was a very small room. They sure can sing!

The arrival of the first new elders and sisters to our mission. They are all African. Great young men and women!

We see big trucks like this hauling these humongus logs that they’re hauling in from their forests. I don’t think are many left. These truck travel on single lane roads all of the time.

This is the way they carry their luggage. This is looking down our apartment street. On the right there is a mechanic working on lots of cars parked along the street.

A carpenter who lives next to our apartment. He makes everything by hand. He doesn’t understand English but is so nice. The curls of wood from lots of planning are on the ground. Almost done with a kitchen closet.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Entry #6

Dear Family and Friends,

The power just came back on after being out awhile, a frequent occurrence, so I can proceed with this
letter which I had anticipated doing earlier. It has been great to have skyping sessions with most of you
and we look forward to hooking up with the rest of you as we try to coordinate your schedules and deal
with the time difference (7 hours in Arizona and 6 hours in Utah). It was interesting to see beefy looking
Tyson and we are looking forward to getting a glimpse of McKenzie. We will miss being at the baby
blessings of both Tyson and McKenzie. It was fun to hear of Riley’s heartthrobs as she begins dating and
to get excited for Brooke as she prepares for BYU. It seems like yesterday that her parents were the
students at the “Y”. It was great to see and visit with each of you that we have Skyped with so far and
are looking forward to sessions with the rest. We are anxious and praying for Alice and her delivery.

The work here has not been without its challenges, not the least of which is battling the legal red tape
with banks, postal authorities and law enforcement personnel. We are finally learning what you can and
cannot do here, but you have to have a lot of patience. The systems here are so archaic and inefficient.
Most of the government and other officials expect some kind of pay, just to get their cooperation. We
try to tell them that we are missionaries and bring blessings not gifts or money. Most of the time we
are able to get what we need, but it takes hours, most of the time, for tasks that should only take 15

With the large increase in missionaries that will be coming to this mission – substantially all from other
African nations versus North America – we are very busy getting housing and trainers, etc., etc. to get
them started in the missionary work. We will be doing much more traveling to the remote areas of
Ghana, which is frightening with the terrible traffic and road conditions, but we are confident that the
Lord will watch over us, as we are on His errand. I think we mentioned in an earlier letter that you have
to prepay the rent on apartments for the full term of the lease – so if you have a three year lease you
pay the full three years on the day you sign the lease. In addition, all the living quarters are seriously
deficient, so we have to arrange for considerable upgrades to make the conditions tolerable. Each living
quarters has to have a water tank, water pump, water filters, gas tanks and toilets installed. Most of the
housing here do not include these – leaving the improvements up to us before the missionaries move in.

The mission president and his wife have been journeying out to the various zones in the mission and
holding a brief conference and providing a meal for the missionaries. The meals are a great delight for
the missionaries. (The missionaries have a limited selection of food and typically such food includes
a lot of rice and bread.) We have attached a picture showing the one zone that was brought into
the mission home. The good news is they received a great meal and enjoyed briefly some nice living
quarters. The bad news is they return to much less favorable living arrangements.

One of the biggest challenges, which I believe we dwelled on a bit in previous communications, relates
to obtaining food to eat for the week. It literally takes us 4 or 5 hours to obtain the food needed for the

coming week - something that would take 30 or 45 minutes in the United States. We still only are able
to obtain a fraction of that which we would be accustomed to at home. Each store has this but is out
of that so we travel to the next one to see what that one has or hasn’t. We have to go to about three
different stores and then we get our vegetables (which are washed in Clorox water at home) at a stand.

As I am sure we mentioned before the families and individuals we live around are so helpful and
friendly – which contrasts greatly with the experience you have with various regulatory and government
authorities. When we go on our walks the children just love “high fives” and don’t want us to leave. It’s
the same way at our church meetings. The people are generally spiritual in nature and are receptive
to the teachings of the Savior. They are so eager to help you when you have a need. The African
missionaries are a great joy to be around. They have such strong testimonies and convictions of the
restored gospel. Most of the African missionaries are the only members of their families that are
members of the church and in many cases their families are not supportive of the missions. With the
knowledge that they have little or no family support they still serve and serve faithfully. One of the
missionaries we had over for the evening meal last Monday evening has been substantially disowned
by his mother, because he elected to serve a mission for the church and put his education on hold. He
is from South Africa, but he is one of the most cheerful missionaries we have. He has only been on
his mission for a couple of months, but we anticipate that he will be one of the leaders in the mission
before his two years are up.


Mom and Dad

View outside our kitchen window – our neighbors in the same four-plex we live in are cooking a tomato based soup on charcoal early in the morning.

Another view just outside our kitchen window – a young African girl sweeping the area – which she and other women do faithfully, each morning. Notice the short broom. They all have them – no handle. They even clean up the outside of their shops with these brooms. Our poly tank back there which is our 1 st water filter.
Veronica – a young lady who served as a missionary in our mission a couple of years ago, who now helps with meals at the mission home when a zone is at the mission home for a conference. She’s been to culinary school and makes some great meals!

Missionaries in the mission van heading back to their mission area – mail on their laps. It’s packed full - the AP’s are driving.
An interesting shot of some typical transportation along a busy street here in Kumasi.

Another picture taking of shops along the road as we travel the streets of the city.

Lunch for the missionaries at the mission home. They loved it! Great guys. Sorry it’s so blury.