We continue to be very busy and expect to be even busier in the weeks ahead with additional missionaries being added to our mission. Since the church has reduced the age that missionaries can begin serving a mission, all missions are experiencing a great increase. We believe it will be even more so for us since we are a brand new mission and are still building our numbers to be a full group of missionaries. We are expecting a new senior couple from near Rexburg, Idaho next week and they will live very close to us, so we are looking forward to an American couple to have some social interaction with. Another couple – The Thaynes (pictured below) are serving about three hours away from us so we seldom see them. They are scheduled to return home to St. George, Utah on the 13 th of February. We are a bit concerned that the new couple (the Reiss’s) will be overcome with culture shock. It is a major adjustment to begin living and serving here without the comforts of life that most Americans are used to. You never know when you may not have water or electricity and cleanliness and sickness are always on your mind with the prevalence of Malaria and a multitude of other sicknesses that abound. Add to that the Twi language, which is almost universally spoken - you have difficulty communicating. Then there are the driving conditions and the complete absence of landmarks, maps and other means to find your way around. They are coming from cold Utah to hot Kumasi – a shock in itself. Anyway, we are preparing to soften the impact for the new couple so they will survive.
Thought you would be interested in some of the missionary’s names. We still struggle to pronounce them but they just laugh because we aren’t the only ones who have trouble. Sister Aimuaenmwosa, Sister Ejiobianu, Sister Ekhosuehi, Elder Evbuomwan, Elder Ahweyevu,to name a few, mostly from Nigeria. They are great missionaries though - - -we love working with them.
We generally attend church in the Asokwa Ward of the Kumasi Stake, unless we have an assignment to attend another branch in the mission. You should hear them sing the hymns with no accompaniment! They know all of the hymns in the book, some that we didn’t know but are now singing. Most Sundays we hear the missionaries filling the baptismal font during the meetings. They have the baptismal services on Sunday following the block of meetings so we witness significant numbers of these African people that have deep religious convictions and a great love for the Savior. When they hear the message of the restored gospel – that Christ’s church in its original form has once again been established on the earth, they are very receptive. On the first Sunday of the month – which is the Sunday for bearing testimonies during the Sacrament Meeting there is no lack of members that come up to bear their testimonies. They come up one after another and there are always a number that are unable to bear their testimonies – when the time requires the meeting to be closed. It would warm your heart to hear them express their deep love for Jesus Christ and their knowledge of a living prophet on the earth today. They have tears come to their eyes as they testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and that it is a history of God’s dealings with his children on the American continent during the period 600 BC to 400 AD. We sometimes wonder what they think about the restoration taking place in America versus Africa or some other closer location. Occasionally that question comes up, but their faith overcomes any concerns as they realize that Christ was born in Bethlehem and we all worship Him.
Mom and Dad
Common scene – Walking Walmarts. These women are selling bread sticks. They carry very heavy loads! We are even surprised to see a sewing machine on a lady’s head – a crank one, not electric. They make beautiful clothing with them.
We pass two or three tractors and trailers every morning on our way to the mission home. They appear to be about 100 years old and have seen their better days. This is actually one of the best preserved ones we have found. This is truly a land of working antiques – what won’t work or is too old in America comes here and works for 50 to 100 more years. They are much slower than in better days and you hear them coming, but they do their job anyway.
A little humor – you have to find humor where ever you can. It’s basically “nose goes first” because the traffic is so aggressive here. So, you have to stay tight or else someone’s nose will get in front of yours and then you’re still waiting to get in. All taxies and Trotros (van taxies packed with people) have multiple dents in them. So far, we are clean!
The recent election was very hotly contested. We were instructed to caution the missionaries to keep a low profile during the week of the elections, since there can be violence during this period of time. This picture was taken of a demonstration that was in process while we were trying to get to the post office to pick up missionary mail and parcels. We were stuck for 15 to 20 minutes unable to move until the demonstration moved past us. The demonstrators were even pounding on our car. The December elections were peaceful – a few incidents in Accra (accent on last “a”) – and it was very close, but things went well. They are a democratic government – one of the best and peaceful governments in Africa, other than the country of South Africa. We are glad to be here rather in Nigeria or other countries. But, money talks. There’s lots of bribery going on. For instance, our friend who owns an internet café was robbed. He didn’t contact the police because he knew that he would have to give them a big sum of money to investigate. And he had none because he just lost his livelihood. It’s really too bad. But, we feel safe – no problems.
They make the most usage of their vehicles as witnessed by this three wheeled vehicle and the boxes.
Elder and Sister Palmer and Elder and Sister Thayne at the missionary Christmas get together – a rare opportunity to see another abruni (North American Couple).
A wonderful family that lives near us. We have mentioned the three little girls, Elizabeth, Lynette and Joyce, before since they treat us like grandparents and always come and sit by us at church and frequently get a ride from us after church – they were in a Christmas picture in the last letter. The older man on the right – the grandfather - suffered a severe stroke recently and has limited use of his legs and arms. He previously served as a counselor in the stake presidency – prior to his stroke. We have been friendshipping them and we believe because of us they have made the giant effort of getting this brother to church in a wheel chair – no small task since their apartment is up a steep set of stairs. The entire family has now started coming back to church on a weekly basis. The young man in the pictures is the son and he recently returned from American where he received a degree in accounting. He is also a return missionary. We made a copy of this picture and laminated it and gave it to them. They were so happy to receive it.
As we mentioned they get the most out of their vehicles. This three wheeled vehicle is stacked with a full load of goats – tied in so they won’t get out.
They even make their own cement bricks that are used to make the buildings here – one by one. Then they let them dry out in the sun.
This man – Kweku Dadzie-Cooper is somebody we work with all of the time. He assists us in finding apartments for missionaries and getting them ready for their use and keeping them maintained. He also helps us supply the missionaries with cleaning supplies, gas cylinders for cooking and missionary proselyting supplies. They recently relocated from Accra to Kumasi. His wife’s name is Precious. A very nice family.
We see this very friendly lady and her two daughters along the road fairly frequently. She is paralyzed from the waist down and her two daughters push her everywhere in this modified tricycle. We are going to make them a copy of this picture and laminate it and try to catch them along the road in the next few days to give them the picture. The people here just love to see their pictures on the telephone camera or a camera but are extremely happy to have a picture given to them. They, along with other Ghanaians that we have done this for are thrilled to get one – a rarity for them.