Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Entry #40

Hello family and friends,

For several months we have been planning a trip to the temple in Accra. Finally we were able to go. On Monday, October 7, we and the other Senior Couple, Elder & Sister Reiss, traveled to Accra. We arrived and were able to take care of some business that needed to be done for the mission. That evening we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken to get some dinner. Unfortunately they were out of ketchup and cold slaw, but we still wanted to enjoy a little bit of home. Since we were staying overnight in the temple ancillary building, we took our chicken and fries to the dinning room there and ate and relaxed. Then the next day, Tuesday, we got up and went to the 8 am session at the temple. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place and really enjoyed being there. The Celestial Room has a thick soft blue sculptured carpet and a beautiful huge chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. The accents are in gold and echo the African theme. Even the furniture legs are in the form of lion’s feet. It is very beautiful.

Coincidentally, we were in a session with some of the missionaries who were training at the MTC there who were coming to our mission the next week. We had 17 assigned to come and met about 7 of them. We have so many great young men and love them all for their desire to serve. They are so eager and glad to be here. The Lord has greatly blessed us.

As you may remember, I volunteered to crochet an alter cloth for the temple here in Accra, Ghana. I presented it in February. They liked it so much that they asked me to make another one for them and I said I would – I had time, 9 more months before we would be going home. So, I started working on one – different than the first. Well, I finished it in September and I took it with us to the temple on this trip. I was able to present the second one to Sister Afful, a Ghanaian, the matron of the temple. She was very grateful to me for making it and asked if I would crochet two large doilies for their round tables in the temple. I wasn’t sure I could get them done since time was getting short, but I told her I would try. When we got back to Kumasi, I found some patterns and started making a doily, not knowing how long it would take me. Well, I finished the first one today, the 28thone before we leave (3 weeks). If I don’t finish it I will mail it to her. But, she will have one of the two. Included are pictures of the second alter cloth and the doily. It is such an honor to be able to do this and to leave something I’ve made behind in the Ghanaian temple. I am so grateful that I was able to get the materials to do this – it was truly a miracle as I described in the blog in March. Now, on to making the last doily before we leave for home!

We are saddened to be leaving so many good Ghanaian friends and missionaries from all over the world, but it will also be wonderful to be with our family and friends at home. We have much to do in preparation – our replacements will be here next week and we will be busy training them. They seem to be fantastic people.

We love you all, see you soon,

Elder & Sister Palmer, Dad & Mom, Rodney & Mary Joyce

At the entrance of the temple with some missionaries.

Missionaries across from the temple waiting for a ride back to the MTC.

Driving past the temple on Liberation Drive.

The alter cloth for the Accra Temple.
A close-up of the blocks.

The doily for the table at the temple.
A closer look – I just love the pattern.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Entry #39

Dear Family and Friends

It is Sunday afternoon and we are resting a bit after another trip to Obuasi. We enjoy working with and assisting the branches in their development and growth, but as you have heard us say before – “Getting old is not for sissies”.

One of the speakers in one of the two sacrament meetings we attended today told an interesting story which we enjoyed and is summarized below.

He said that a young Ghanaian boy was on his way home from school one day with his not so good report card and noticed that his father was pulled over by a policeman. He noted his father put one Ghana Cedi with his driver’s license and the policeman took the bribe and let his father proceed without taking any action. (Policeman bribes are very common here in Ghana). When they arrived home he handed is father the report card with one Ghana Cedi with the hope of the same result that he had seen with his father and the policeman. The speaker’s point was that it will not be possible when we return to our Father-in Heaven’s presence to buy our way to an eternal glory. We will be judged according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We continue to enjoy the missionaries and had four of them over again for breakfast last Monday morning and while Dad cut the hair of one of the Obruni’s (white man). The missionaries enjoyed playing cards – Uno and Phase 10 (pictures below).

We had a great group of missionaries return home last week. These missionaries were outstanding and it was sad to see them leave. We always have concerns for the young men returning home to their homes in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierre Leone, Ivory Coast, etc. since most have no family to go home to or at least no family that are members of the church. In most cases the families of the missionaries do not understand what their son or daughter has experienced. These African missionaries also go home to difficult economic conditions which we try to encourage and prepare them to do their very best under their circumstances. These young men and young women are so strong in their faith and are so bright and capable and we pray that they will find great success in the months and years following their missionary service. The time they spend on their missions is, in most cases, the best life that they have experienced to this point in their lives. There are some exceptions. Some of the African missionaries actually have completed a college degree and are very educated and we worry less about them as they return home.

We included a picture below of a young girl in the Obuasi 2nd Branch who has some serious deformed legs. Her condition is actually worse than the picture indicates. When she walks her feet actually point toward each other. We are trying to arrange a screening with an organization that helps African children with such deformities to see if they can help on a no cost basis. Not sure how successful we will be but we want to try. The girl is from a wonderful family. Her father serves is the Branch President of  Branch who has some seriously deformed the Obuasi 2nd Branch and is a fantastic man – humble, faithful, kind and gives his all for the gospel.

We have included a picture below of a young boy (5 years old) with Dad. Most every Sunday he comes and sits by Dad. This Sunday he went to sleep on Dad’s lap during the Sacrament Meeting. We love him – he is such a fine young man. Speaking of the youth – each Sunday they have some young men and women – as young as 8 or 10 years of age speak in the sacrament meeting. The quality of their talks and the depth of their faith and testimony are astounding. They are very polished in their presentation.

We also included below a few more pictures of some of the children here. Pretty easy to tell that we are really taken by them. The woman who helps with cooking and other chores at the mission home (a returned missionary) recently gave birth to twins. We could not resist the temptation of getting pictures of these cute little twins – their names are Brian and Briana – boy & girl. Also included below is a picture taken one evening as we walked around in the neighborhood. Once the children saw that a picture was going to be taken, they all come running to get in the pictures, and of course they had to see the picture on the camera afterwards.

If we had a chance to get trunky we probably would, but we are so busy with all that is going on that we cannot really spend much time thinking about returning home. We will send a flight itinerary shortly so
you are aware of our flight plans. As we have said before it will be bitter-sweet to leave Ghana. We are anxious to return home to see family and loved ones, but sad to leave behind so many wonderful people and missionaries.

As always you are in our prayers and our thoughts.

Love Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney, Mary Joyce

Christiana Manu – the young girl referred to above with the leg deformity

Dad’s sacrament meeting partner

Cemetery in the jungle along the road to Obuasi – tiled and above ground – a common sight.

This tree is growing big balls like gourds – they will get much bigger – as big as a basketball. When they are dry, they hollow them out and use them as bowls for soup and other food.

Dad joined some young African men popping bubbles in some bubble wrap at the post office.

Breakfast with the missionaries at the Palmer’s

Card games by the missionaries (AP’s + 2) while Dad was cutting hair for another missionary – Elder Stentzel.

Fairly common scene – cattle tied down in the back of a three-wheeled vehicle – to be slaughtered.

A great group of missionaries returning home last week

The twins – Brian and Briana mentioned above with mother & father.

Another shot of the twins – 3 months old and very cute!

The neighborhood kids along with Dad and Elder and Sister Reiss

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Entry #38

Dear Family and Friends – 6 October 2013,

The work continues to move forward at a very rapid pace here in Ghana and the other West Africa
nations. We continue to be in awe as we feel the humble and receptive spirits of these wonderful
people. Most branches of the mission or wards anticipate at least 50 Ghanaian converts this year -
they are so faithful after the acceptance of the gospel. We were in a fast and testimony meeting today
for the Atonsu Group, which is part of the Asokwa Ward, which is a part of the Dichemso Stake. The
group is a vibrant group of 200 plus members. There are many who are highly educated and have
families, which is not the norm here in this country. There was never a pause between testimonies as
the members were quick to come forward and share their love for the gospel and their desire to live the
commandments of the Lord.

We just completed another round of zone conferences. We now have 8 mission zones and we
combined them into three conferences. Dad spent time in each conference teaching the missionaries
the importance of loving their investigators, their companions, their leaders and the Ghanaian people
in general, because that is what the Savior does and would expect us to do. He shared a portion of
Brooke’s latest letter from her mission site, with the missionaries. (Hope she doesn’t mind, but we felt
that it was inspiring and appropriate for the occasion.) Mom shared her testimony and the love that we
have for the Ghanaian people, the African Missionaries, all of the children and the gospel.

Of course we still have the role of parents away from home – giving haircuts, feeding the missionaries
and hemming and repairing their pants. We cannot seem to get enough of these missionaries. They
make us want to be better when we see their goodness and dedication.

In the next few weeks we will see the formation of two or three districts in the mission, which has taken
a lot of work to put in place. Such districts, with new branches in each, will set the stage for stakes to be
formed in the not too distant future. The growth is phenomenal. The only thing that slows the work is
the ability to find leaders for each of the new units – but the Lord provides.

We continue to love the children and take a picture at each opportunity. This Sunday morning the three
little girls next door arrived at our door step an hour before meeting time all dressed up for church.
We were not going to the ward that they attend, but we entertained them (or we should say they
entertained us) for a half hour before we dropped them off at their ward and we traveled on to another
branch of the church. (See picture below of them in the back seat of our car.)

We even caught a non-member wedding party at a very nice location for pictures - it was unusual in this
country where such dress and celebration is not common. It was pleasing to the eye and the camera –
see below.

We love all of you and look forward to being with you in a very few weeks.

Love Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney, Mary Joyce

Dad cutting Elder Taylor’s hair – recognize the pictures on the wall?

Elders playing Uno after breakfast at the Palmer’s

A lavish wedding party -

Wedding Party – picture time!

Zone Conference – Bantama Meeting House – the Assistants are instructing.
Zone Conference - Techiman

Sister missionaries and Sister Olson, Sister Holmes, Sister Reiss and Sister Palmer

Another Zone Conference – Just kidding!!! In Techiman.

Typical Cattle that we frequently see lining the roadways – where’s the beef? Look skinny?

Assistants to the Mission President – Elder Macheke (So. Africa) and Elder Evbouwan (Nigeria)

Two favorite elders – Elder Levi who aspires to be a medical surgeon (Nigeria), and Elder Taylor (US).

Elizabeth, Joyce and Lynette in the back seat of our vehicle

Four nice looking teenage girls from the Atonsu Group after church today

Common scene along the roads that we travel

Adobe Home in a village

Street vendors – they line most streets in the villages and towns – they love white bread.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Entry #37

Dear Family and Friends

While we only have 9 weeks left here in Ghana (but who is counting), we have a full plate of duties for those few weeks.  We have a new senior couple arriving this coming week – the Olsons who are from Gilbert, Arizona – the Val Vista Lake Area, who will have to get acclimated to a new environment and get situated.  We then plan a trip to the temple in Accra in two weeks and while in Accra where the West Africa Area Offices are we will need to transact a lot of mission business as well as take care of a few personal items.  The following week we will be having another round of zone conferences with the missionaries.  We are increasing the number of mission zones from 7 to 9, which adds to the workload.   The week following the zone conferences we will have another leadership council meeting – training for all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders.  We then will follow that week with the arrival of 18 new missionaries and the departure of 12.  Whew, time will fly by!  All good stuff, for sure.

In November it is expected that the Ghana Kumasi Stake will be split at a stake conference scheduled for the16th and 17th of November.  This stake division will change the composition of some of the branches and units directly under the supervision of our mission as well.  It is anticipated that we will then establish two new districts within our mission – the Obuasi District and the Nkawkaw (pronounced “N-coco”) District.  This stake division will be probably be one of the last things we will be able to be a part of before we depart to the United States.

We do see the Palmer name around a few places.  The pictures below show the “Palmer Clinic” and the “Palmer Palace”.  A bit amusing to us anyway.

We continue to make weekly trips to Obuasi to help train and strengthen these two branches in anticipation of them becoming 4 branches and then a district in the near future.  We are getting a second chapel ready for additional units in that area.  The picture below shows the second chapel that is being renovated for use as a church building.  We are with Elders Blackburn and Cockrum.

This past week we conducted some training for all of the Elders Quorum Presidents from the various branches in our mission.  We were humbled by the devotion of these men.  Most have been members of the church only 2 to 5 years and have limited means, but they still sacrificed time and money to travel into Kumasi for training.  They always show up in their white shirts and ties and are ever so grateful for the opportunity to know more about their duties.  They are like sponges – soaking up every morsel of information and taking meticulous notes.  We were impressed with how many have non-member spouses and how saddened they were that their wives would not join them in their love of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Two or three of these brethren who are married to non-member spouses pleaded with us
to pray for them and their families.  Today, while in Obuasi, one of these quorum presidents specifically ask if we remembered to pray for him and his wife and his family.  He pleaded for us to do so and made sure we had his name correct as we pleaded with the Lord to bless him and his family.  The faith and the humility of these men brought lumps to our throats and desires in our hearts to try to be more like them.

We love to hear from each of you and know what is going on with your families.  We are so thankful for the many blessings that the Lord has poured out upon us and you.It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to bless each of you.  May you also remember to stay close to the Lord and feel of his great love and peace.

Love Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney and Mary Joyce

Road side tool shop – Ghana’s version of Home Depot – lots of little shops like these along the streets.

The Palmer Clinic in Kumasi – couldn’t resist taking a picture

The recent group of missionaries returning to their home – 2 from the United States and 7 from Africa.

Mama Ghana (MJ) and four Sister Missionaries – Great missionaries that live near us.

Mama Ghana (MJ) and Andy – great church member that lives near us – always happy Andy.

Palmers Palace in Obuasi  – once again could not resist taking a picture.

Dad, Elder Cockrum and Elder Blackburn at new Obuasi church building being renovated – will open soon!

Lush Jungle

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Entry #36

Dear Family and Friends

Another epistle from Ghana – we trust that if you have had enough from Ghana that you will delete the communication and move on.  We understand if that which has become very meaningful too us may have limited interest for you.

It appears that our return home is becoming more concrete and you may not have to endure these letters too much longer.  As it stands right now we will be returning to the United States in approximately 2 + months.  While not completely set in concrete it appears that we will be flying from Ghana Wednesday evening – November 20th arriving in Phoenix Thursday evening – November 21st.  It appears that we will be flying via London on British Airways. As travel plans are finalized we will provide additional details.  It will truly be with mixed emotions that we will leave the wonderful, humble and faithful people here in this part of Ghana.  Probably the hardest part of leaving will be the smiling, loving and playful children.  They can really melt your heart.  On the other hand we are more than anxious to see our family and friends again, including babies born in our absence and others that were wee ones when we left, and are now walking.

We continue to make weekly trips to Obuasi which is south of Kumasi, helping these two branches of the church prepare for divisions – making 4 branches, and creating a district.  Some pictures below show the Obuasi chapel and baptismal font.  Also shown below are some of the wonderful people of the branches that we have fallen in love with.

We attended the sacrament meetings (fast and testimony meeting) for both Obuasi branches today.  We were overwhelmed with the quality of the testimonies of the young boys that were about 9 to 12 years old.  They were dressed ever so sharp and quoted memorized scriptures and bore fervent testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel.  They were so dignified in their presentation.  They generally begin with words like – “Dear brothers and sister, I am so thankful for the privilege I have to stand before you and share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon”  and then they would go on to add items to their remarks.  They would put most adults to shame. They were powerful.

We have also been impressed with the little choir that one of the branches has put together – only 10 or 12 members, and more important than the music they presented was the tremendous effort they made to present their number – absolutely incredible.

We have the luxury of having our own vehicle here in Ghana, a luxury that very few Ghanaians have here.  As we have reported before, most transportation is by taxis or Tro-Tros (small buses).  It is more than an adventure to use the taxis or Tro-Tros, but we ventured out to have that experience – for two reasons – (1) to just have the experience,  and (2) it is about the only way you can commute to the crowded central market which Sister Palmer wanted to visit.  You have to be there to really know what is involved since there are thousands and thousands of people with little or no room to walk or move because of the crowds and narrow walk ways.  It is literally impossible for private vehicles to make this trip into the bowels of the city of Kumasi.  You feel relieved when you return that you still have life and limb. Below are a few pictures of that experience, but the pictures do not do justice to crowding, pushing and haggling that goes on.  Andy, a young man in the Awokwa Ward and our neighbor, took us otherwise we wouldn’t have made it – we needed a native to be with us.  MJ found some black soap and pure shea butter made by the natives, some fabric and jewelry.  We really enjoyed visiting with the shop owners too.  They were very fun to talk to.

As always our prayers and thoughts continued to be for you and your families.  Our prayer is that the Lord will bless you as much as he has blessed us.

With love,

Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney, Mary Joyce

The chapel at Obuasi 30 minutes before the meeting.  It will fill up quite rapidly.

Before the meeting

Sister Bawa and three youngest of 6 daughters – Pres. Bawa’s wife

Three missionaries and three ready for baptism.  Elder Okoro (left) rode back to Kumasi with us because he leaves for Nigeria on Tuesday morning.  He is very anxious to see his family again who are members.

The Obuasi baptismal font.

A baptism.

At the Kumasi central market – fabric area.

Cutlasses for sale –and these are verrrrry sharp.  They even mow their lawns with these.

You can get anything here - sooo many little shops - - -  We wish we had gotten a picture of all of the fish just laying out to be sold.

Corn, coco, coffee, ground corn, etc.  They even make shoes right there in the market!