Another week has passed here in ”paradise.” We continue to be very busy as we open up areas in northern Ghana to missionary work. We indicated in the past that we put missionaries in the city of Tamale – a fairly large city where we have never had missionaries. We have had a couple of baptisms and are teaching a number of other investigators. The missionary work is what you would have seen two centuries ago in the 1800’s with street contacting and teaching. Meetings are set up at our rented chapels and invitations given, just as in the early days in the church. In June we will be sending 8 missionaries to the city of Techiman. By the end of June we will have eight missionaries in each city of Tamale and Techiman and will have 4 meeting houses in each city and 4 missionary apartments in each city. We started with about 12 to 14 members of the church in each of these cities (generally associated with the universities in these cities) and the numbers are expected to increase quickly. Needless to say, the movement into areas that we have never been in before and setting up meeting houses and missionary apartments is challenging, particularly with the way the Ghanaians do business.
Below is a picture of a sign out front of a place we have made a Saturday evening habit to visit. Out of the entire city of Kumasi – a city of approximately 2 million people, this is the only place that we have found that is anything like American food and at the same time has cleanliness standards that gives you some degree of confidence that you will not pick up something that will make you sick. We therefore meet the other senior couple in the mission most Saturday evenings for one of the few eating and restful pleasures available. The place as noted in the picture is “Piri Piri” – a Lebanese owned restaurant, which is not high on décor, but the food is very good – excellent by Ghanaian standards. It claims “fast food,” but you order it and wait about 30 minutes while they make it. But, it’s worth it.
Also pictured below are some of the church members outside of the Asokwa Ward chapel. The lady in the wheel chair is inspiring. She trains rigorously for the Special Olympics and with the help of sponsors she has competed in various countries in the world, and apparently has been very successful. She is a faithful church member and due to her training she has upper body muscles and a build that is most enviable. We love to be around her because of her kind outlook towards life and her optimism and accomplishment with her handicap – a result of childhood polio.
The other little girl pictured below has become our little sweetheart. She and her mother live across the street from us and she just can’t wait to come out in front of her house and wave hello to us. She gets disappointed if we leave her presence. She has a given name, but as is the custom here in Ghana you receive another name based on the day of the week you or born or your order in the family or if you are a twin. She goes by Accria, since she was born on a Wednesday.
Due the threat of malaria, we are confined to our apartment most evenings. (We have two or three missionaries with malaria almost all of the time). With the evening time indoors we have put together the 1,000 piece puzzle that Trevor and Ashley sent for Christmas. Never thought we (particularly Rodney) would have patience to accomplish such a feat. As you can see from the completed puzzle below we were short 5 pieces at the end. We think the shortage may be due to one of the little African boys that was intrigued by the puzzle one day and begin to stir up the puzzle and throw a few pieces. Now, you notice how orderly the pieces are laid out? Rodney sorted them into catagories so he could easily go through the different types. Because he’s color blind to red and green, this helped him find the shapes he was looking for. But, it was still a long process to finish the puzzle because the water was really the challenge.
The people here have a great respect for age and authority. When they see us they say, “Hello, mommy and daddy.” (Yes, our grey hair and wrinkles give us away.) We become their mommy and daddy and they honor us even though they don’t know us. At the post office, while Rodney was in getting the mail from the post office box for our mission, Mary Joyce climbed the stairs to wait for him. At the top was a man sitting eating some food (with his hands, which is common). She greeted him and he said, “Hello, mommy. Please, have some food.” He wanted to share his food with her out of respect. That was very thoughtful. Of course, she very politely declined. We receive many courtesies because of their respect and friendliness.
Also, we have been told by many here that even when they are upset, they will never hit each other. They just have a war of words not a physical war. And we can attest to that. When there is someone who is upset you should hear the people arguing! Glad we aren’t in any of those because they get very heated. Also, these people are very friendly and helpful with each other. Frequently, we will see a cab stopped in the road – he’s just saying hello to a guy walking bye. Also, when there’s a traffic jam there will be many out trying to solve the problem. We are always amused as we travel around. They are good, humble Christian people.
We send all of you our best wishes and offer continued prayers in your behalf with your families. We were delighted to log on to Brooke’s missionary site and read the first letter she posted to the site. We felt the spirit of her dedicated efforts there and pray for her success in learning Spanish. With her spirit and devotion she not only will master the language, but will be one of the Lord’s choicest missionaries. We were also jealous as we viewed the pictures of the family members that hiked to Fossil Creek. We were also in awe at Jared’s exploit on Mt. Ranier. We love hearing about the triathlons, half-marathons, Pat’s Run etc., but not eager to join the crowd at our age. Also as we viewed the Clayton pictures of Disneyland it took our minds back a few decades when we were doing the same. Then we look at the pictures of the little ones getting bigger in our absence and feel a twinge of homesickness and yearning to hold and squeeze them. We will have to settle on doing the same for the little ones in Africa for now.
Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney, Mary Joyce
Here is the menu for Piri Piri. We really enjoy the fajita sandwich and the pizzas (chicken, all season or supreme, Mexican). Their fried or grilled chicken with rice and cold slaw or chips (fries) and slaw are good too. Have to be careful because they really like to spice things up here. Piri piri is actually a very spicy pepper.
In front of the Awokwa Chapel. The black tank in the background is a poly tank that filters the water so it is drinkable. Most of the taxis and tro tros have Christian sayings on them. Many of their shops do too. We are making a collection of some of those sayings. The man hanging out the passenger side of the tro tro is the one who gets the fare. He is always looking for someone and usually he yells to them to encourage them to ride with them. As you drive along you always hear “honk, honk.” That means, “ I’m coming, do you need a ride?” Also, the people who are waiting for a tro tro or taxi have hand signals to tell where they want to go so maybe the tro tro or taxi won’t stop because they aren’t going that way.
Most of the taxis and tro tros have Christian sayings on them. Many of their shops do too. We are making a collection of some of those sayings. The man hanging out the passenger side of the tro tro is the one who gets the fare. He is always looking for someone and usually he yells to them to encourage them to ride with them. As you drive along you always hear “honk, honk.” That means, “ I’m coming, do you need a ride?” Also, the people who are waiting for a tro tro or taxi have hand signals to tell where they want to go so maybe the tro tro or taxi won’t stop because they aren’t going that way.
Accria dressed for school.
The water is the hardest!
Notice all of the pieces are categorized by shape? It really helped.
Is there ever any guarantee that all of the shapes will be in the box? We are very proud of our accomplishment and didn’t think it would be done this fast. It was a great project. Now when we’re ready to box it up, we will leave it with the next senior couple to do.