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.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Entry #12

Our lives are extremely busy and has no dull moments. It has rained every day – or more appropriately it has poured every day lately. I have no official information, but I think we must have accumulated over 10 inches last week alone. Thank goodness they have drainage ditches everywhere to handle the high volume of water – it’s gone in no time. If this much rain had come to Arizona, the state would have been moved to the Ocean in no time.

We were able to catch the first session of conference – though the internet transmission was choppy at times and had to be re-connected on several occasions. We saw it with the Holmes and the Zolls in the mission home. It was most interesting to us to hear of the announcement of another temple for Arizona (Tucson). Also of great interest was the reduction in the minimum age for young men and young women to begin missionary service (reduced from 19 to 18 for young men and from 21 to 19 for young women. As noted by the conference speakers and the press conference, the number of young men and young women serving missions is expected to increase dramatically with this change – from around 58,000 to some unknown number. We were able to catch another session this afternoon at 4pm which was the Sunday morning session. Very good. What a great spirit we felt.

We continue to be excited and amazed with the growth of the church. Almost every week there is a baptism in the branches or wards that we frequent. Rodney is usually called upon to confirm a newly baptized member. Today was no exception when a lady in her 60’s was confirmed during our fast and testimony meeting. Also during the testimony meeting today an elderly man shared his testimony since he will be moving back to the Accra, Ghana area. He told us later that he joined the church in 1997 in Liberia and subsequently moved to Ghana. He said in 2003 when he moved to Ghana he was part of a group near Accra that had only 10 members of the church. He said in the 9 years since he first went there the growth caused the group to become a ward and now, recently a stake was formed in that area – a stake with 3,000 plus members. That gives you an idea of the growth. We will share some similar growth experiences in future letters – inspiring and phenomenal.


Mom and Dad

We have shared below an inspiring story of a faithful African brother who recently began working at the mission home –
(excerpt from Rodney’s journal).

Francis Appiah – Conversion Story (As reported to Rodney D. Palmer – September 30, 2012)

                                                                      Francis Appiah and Elder Rodney D. Palmer

The African people have a great faith and great love for the Savior and have a certain humility which I believe
accounts for the spiritual experiences the Lord allows them to have as a reward for their childlike faith. Brother
Appiah is one of many I have visited with regarding the spiritual communications (inspiration and dreams, etc.)
that come to them.

Francis Appiah, an African brother in Ghana, started working at the Ghana Kumasi Mission home on
September 28, 2012 as a caretaker of the grounds and also has some responsibilities for care of the mission
home. He is a man that is in his late 50’s and speaks excellent English. While conversing with him he shared
with me his conversion story which is very inspiring.

Brother Appiah joined the church about 18 months ago. He told me that some time before he joined the church
that he developed tumors in his head and neck (he called them boils, but best I can tell he was describing what
I would call a tumor). He indicated that there were 6 tumors total. Medical personnel were not encouraging
regarding prospects for his recovery. He went to his pastor and had him pray for him, but did not feel any uplift
or help from the experience. Shortly thereafter he had a dream and in the dream he saw a sign that was posted
in front of a building. The sign had the name “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and then the dream
ended. He had a strong impression that this was the true church. His pastor was critical of the Latter-day Saints
and warned him to stay clear of them. He said he still had the impression that this was the true church which he
should find.

Brother Appiah, said that two days later his wife had a dream. In the dream there were two young men – one
was a black man and one was a white man – both were in white shirts and had name tags on them. Just as she
got to the part of the dream where the two men were knocking on the door, there was a knock on their door.
They answered the door and standing at their door were the two young men that Sister Appiah saw in her
dream. The missionaries indicated they would like to share a message of the restored gospel with them, but
before they could proceed, Brother Appiah said he wanted to be baptized because he knew they represented
the true church. The missionaries taught them and Brother Appiah and his daughter were baptized at that time
(approximately a year and a half ago). Brother Appiah went on to say that his wife did not join at that time,
but just three weeks ago she was baptized. He and his family are part of the Daban Group, which is part of the
Asokwa Ward and Ghama Kumasi Stake.

Brother Appiah reported that the tumors disappeared and he had no other problems with them since.


At the post office where duty is charged. The postal inspector is going through a box sent to one of the missionaries in our mission. He’s charging duty on peanut butter – all items that were sent. It’s a very long process.

After church.

After a Church History Seminar with Pres. & Sis. Holmes (mission president), Palmers, the Zolls (sen. couple), and instructor.

Ester, a member of the Asokwa Ward with her little children. She wants me to teach her how to make banana bread.

Ester’s daughter - her outfit is like what most of the adult women wear – usually with brighter colors. Sewn by a seamstress to fit. A little lady.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Entry #11

We continue to very busy taking care of absorbing the increasing number of missionaries. With the latest group of new missionaries we are up to 82 missionaries. We were around 70 after the division of the missions and the establishment of this new mission. We will be over 100 by the end of the year and will, we guess, be around 140 by mid-year next year. One of the biggest challenges is to determine where it would be most profitable to open up new areas and then securing housing for missionaries. As we mentioned before you have to do a lot of renovation to get any apartment livable – and then by American standards you would consider it a very poor housing arrangement. Next week the mission president will be traveling up to Tamale – the third largest city in Ghana, where we have never had missionaries and where there are no established branches of the church. There are some members of the church in Tamale, but no organized groups. As mentioned before the difficulty is finding some leaders in the church that can get things going in new areas. Tamale is a 7 hour drive through very difficult roadways – which means any missionaries we put there will be quite isolated from the mission leadership. I am sure we will establish branches of the church and have missionaries there soon, but it will be a test for those that work there to get things started.

We are starting another round of skyping and look forward to having a video and audio session which each member of the family again. It is so good to see you when we skype and hear of the latest on a real-time basis. We love all of you and feel so blessed because of your goodness and your willingness to do those things that are pleasing to the Lord.

Last Monday we had a mission-wide preparation day (all of the zones, but one – which zone was too far away to include). It was very interesting to see all of the missionaries get together and tour a dam in their missionary attire and then change to sportswear to participate in soccer, volleyball horseshoes and card games. With transportation being what it is here, it was no small task getting Tro-Tros to get all of the missionaries there and back to their proselyting areas. Fortunately all made it and the only casualty was one missionary losing his phone and about 60 Ghana cedis (about $30 USD). See pictures of the P-Day below.

Every Monday, or P-Day , we invite the missionaries closest to us over for breakfast if they don’t have an activity going. So, we had the elders here but since the transfer on Tuesday we have sisters living in the apartment close. We had them over for pancakes and they love it. We enjoy getting to know them better. We have also invited the Assistants to the President elders but they are on their way to Tamale. Next Monday we will have them and the Sisters too. Below are the pictures of the Elders and the Sisters. Sister Nwokeka is from Nigeria, one of eight children, and is returning home on Nov. 7 after 18 months here. Before she came she graduated from college. She’s a very confident, fine young woman. Sister Gogo is from Cote de Ivory, one of five children, just got here Tuesday. She speaks French, very little English. She will be here 18 months. Both their families are members of the church. Elder Crump is from the U.S., Idaho, and will go home when we do next December. He’s a very hard worker. Elder Ramo, his name is Ramokgola but Ramo is easier, is from South Africa. He quit his college to come here on his mission and loves teaching about the gospel. His father has passed away and his mother is not a member. He has a cousin who is a returned missionary and who gives him lots of support. We love these young people.

We went to bed last night and pretty soon it started raining with lightening and thunder. And when it rains, it pours straight down! But, their drainage is so good that you can hardly tell that it rained so hard when you go out in the morning – it’s all gone. However, that makes for a very humid day. We went shopping for groceries this morning, and it was 86 degrees with probably 90% humidity. Whew! But it was very clean air and a beautiful sky with white fluffy clouds. When the sun is out, it’s very hot. The weather can change in a few minutes. Very interesting. We love the breezes that they have here. That’s what makes it bearable.


Mom and Dad 

Going down into the dam – very humid. They produce power down here.

We came out here to the beautiful lake/reservoir.

Guess who?
Guess who with the sisters and elders playing a tame game – Harry Potter Uno.

Horse shoes went over well. We finally got some Africans to play – they hadn’t heard of it before. Elders from Idaho and Utah.

Many loved playing football – soccer. Wow, it is BIG here.
And there was volleyball too.

Icecream to cool us off after a hot day. Then back to the city to finish “preparation day” to get ready to do missionary work.

Sister Nwokeka from Nigeria and Sister Gogo from Cote deIvory (right).

Elder Crump from Idaho and Elder Ramo from South Africa