Sunday, 23 June 2013

Entry #31

The work continues to go forward here in Ghana and we continue to be amazed at the faith and devotion of these wonderful people.  The missionaries are working hard.  One of the elders today was disappointed that he and his companion only taught 6 discussions yesterday – they had 10 scheduled.  He and his companion taught and baptized a family who were a Muslim family last week and have several more baptisms scheduled for the next couple of weeks – probably a total of 10 in a 4 week period. 

A Muslim family that was baptized.  See picture below.  They changed their names from a Muslim name to a Christian name.  Since the Muslim way allows and promotes multiple wives and female relationships, it was a major change for the family, but they are so happy now they understand the eternal relationship of marriage and of the family.  We were in the Daban Group (a meeting group that is part of the Asokwa Ward) today to witness the confirmations of this family and some other confirmations.  There are only a half a dozen of the members of this group of 80 or so that have been members over a year. 

The young man that referred the Muslin family to the missionaries is one of the security guards that works at the mission home.  He took the missionary discussions while working as a security guard (He goes to school at night).  His name is Teddy. He is very polished and has made miraculous changes in his life.  He has only been a member of the church a few months, but taught the Sunday School class today and it was a first class presentation.  You may remember the picture and story we sent about him several months ago.

One of the missionaries that taught the Muslin family – Elder Sagers, lost his football scholarship when he elected to go on a mission.  The football coach was very critical of him when he left, part way through his college program, but after Elder Sagers had been on his mission for a few months he received a letter from the coach apologizing for his inappropriate treatment of Elder Sagers and offered him a new scholarship upon his return home – which is just a couple of months away.  He has had other offers as well.  The Lord is blessing him for his choice to serve him on a mission.  Elder Sagers has lost over 50 pounds since he left the football program and entered the mission field.  He said it was not fat either – it was muscle mass.  He said he is going to have to work hard to get back in shape and regain the muscle and strength. As noted in the picture below, he is still a large young man.

The activity and retention rate here is an enviable record.  I took all of the converts for 6 months in the Asokwa Ward and had the Ward Mission Leader help me check their activity in the church.  There were 40 names on the list.  Of the 40 – 37 are active and fully participate.  Three we were unable to locate, so may have moved or possibly are not active.  We are still trying to locate those 3.  It will not surprise me that they are active, but are living elsewhere.  Another branch in the mission with about 300 members– the Bibiani Branch, when ask for a list of less active members, could only think of 1 name.

Yesterday I (Elder Palmer) was chastened by the spirit.  In this area of Kumasi there has been no water for several days.  Because of the unreliability of the water supply the church installs poly tanks with water pumps for the missionaries so there is a greater likelihood that we will have water.  It works most of the time.  The other tenants in the four-plex we live in do not have a poly tank for extra water, so after several days one of the tenants came to us with their buckets asking for some water.  We provided them with water, but were a bit concerned that we would not have water for showers or washing our clothes because we were depleting our supply .  Then a little 12 year old girl from one of the other apartments – a young girl named Rebecca was coming over just as we were leaving.  She had a bucket, and we assume that she was also going to ask for water.  She lingered at the entrance to our place, so we proceeded to leave.  The truth is that we selfishly were concerned about having enough water for ourselves and really knew deep down what the young girl wanted.  I could not find sleep that night, as the words of the Savior echoed in my mind, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  There was no excuse for not postponing our departure and getting the water she apparently needed.  It was a selfish act which I would love to undo and make things right.  Hopefully a bitter lesson has been learned.

In the morning we will be traveling the Capital city of Accra to take care of mission business, do some shopping and most importantly attend a session in the temple.  It has been 4 months since we have been to Accra and attended a session at the temple, so needless to say we are looking forward to going to the temple.  The trip on the Ghanaian roads is no picnic and it is a four hour plus trip, but it is worth the sacrifice.

As always we love and appreciate you. – Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney, Mary Joyce

Sister Palmer training 5 wonderful Relief Society Presidents from branches in the mission – Bibiani, Agona-Asamong, Mampong, Obasi 1 and Obasi 2.  Sister Darko is the mission counselor’s wife.   (In our office.)

The Sister Missionaries in the Asokwa Ward – Ngwenya, Zeahn, Ogbonna, Omatayo

A family recently baptized in the Asokwa Ward – Taught by Sister Ngwenya and Sister Zeahn

A picture of the missionaries and others after the baptismal service

Elders Otagba, Stenzel, Sagers and Crump at the Palmers for Monday morning breakfast – pancakes, scrambled eggs, sliced pineapple and orange juice.

We love the school children – always in their uniforms.  Here they are crossing a major street.

Empty plastic containers apparently ready to be reused or recycled.  This load isn’t too heavy.

The family mentioned above who were previously Muslims –  Elder Sager and Stenzel

Francis Appiah and his two children – The daughter was baptized last week – the father a year ago.  Like the tie?

Elders Crump and Otagba (AP’s) and Elders Sagers and Stenzel.  We love working with them.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Entry #30

It seems like the longer we are in Africa, the more the pace picks up and the greater the need to hasten the work.  This coming week promises to be no exception in our busy schedule.  We have 6 missionaries returning home (1 from the United States, 1 from Australia, 1 from New Zealand and 3 from African Nations).  We also have 12 arriving this week from the Ghana Missionary Training Center (5 from the United States, 4 from Nigeria, 1 from South Africa, 1 from Fiji and 1 from Tonga).  We always are saddened when the missionaries go home, since we have grown very close to them.  On the other hand we are thrilled and uplifted by the exuberance and dedication of the new arrivals.  As we have mentioned before, culture shock is almost immediate for the North American missionaries, as well as for missionaries from many other nations.  Some of the African nations are much better off than Ghana.  Missionaries coming from these African nations have equal or greater culture shock in their first few weeks here.

Speaking of the challenges for new missionaries we have had some unhappy situations.  One of our sister missionaries looks like she may have to return home due to illness - she has only been here 6 weeks.  Below we have a couple of hospital pictures taken when we visited this sister.  As noted in the pictures some of her fellow missionaries were in to visit her at the same time we were there.  We had to travel some distance to another hospital to get some blood for her – since she was very low on blood.  The medical care here in Ghana leaves a lot to be desired.  It actually would blow your mind if you were to witness it.  (Notice the basic hospital conditions.  No air conditioning and the fan by her wasn’t working.  It was very hot & humid in there too.  Her temperature became too high so they just told her to go take a shower to cool down.)  They don’t even provide food – we had to bring it to her.

We also had another young missionary from the United States that had a hard time coping with the conditions here in Ghana, so only a few weeks after arriving here he ask to be released.  His desire and commitment was lacking from the beginning so it made it hard for him to adjust to the conditions and the rigors of missionary life in this African nation.  Several of the missionaries, in the first few weeks of their arrival are challenged and have to make some sizeable adjustments to be equal to the challenge of the work.

Earlier today we returned from Obuasi, an African City located an hour and a half Southwest of Kumasi.  We were there for a branch conference and some training for one of the branches. (See some pictures below of some of the kids which we love to be around.)  The church members are definitely in need of training, but they are ever so eager to learn.  The road to Obuasi is so treacherous that you are taking your life in your hands when you travel there – lots and lots of pot holes all across the road and very, very deep.  We have to avoid them and the other cars and trucks who are trying to go around them too. We are always glad that we are back safe after that trip. 

It is interesting to see the growth of the church and witness the humility of these wonderful people.  We were approached several times today by leaders and members of the branch pleading for us to establish a church unit in their area so they do not have to travel so far to church and pay the cost of the transportation.  One brother today told us that his family of 7 have to travel about 40 kilometers (maybe 25 miles) to church and the cost to make the trip is about 30 cedis (15 US dollars) each week – which is a lot of money for these people that don’t make much more than that each week.  This brother told me that he had many family members and friends which would accept the missionaries and church membership if we could establish a group or branch near where he lives.  Another brother, who has only been a member for 6 weeks and was in fact going to baptize his wife today, asked  if there was a way that the church could establish a unit near where he lives.  He said he knew he could have at least 30 members of his family and friends who would be interested in accepting the missionaries.

The church wants to ensure we have the leadership and resources to support church units in each location where we establish a branch and church facility, so many of the requests for  new church units get delayed, or sometimes denied.  We have a group in a village called Bekwai, which is fairly small. There has been some reluctance to form a unit here, but the acceptance of the church by the people in this location has been phenomenal.  Last week the mission president interviewed 20 members of this group to go to the temple for the first time.  It will be at a great sacrifice for them to get to the temple – transportation, housing and meals for their days near the temple in Accra, etc.  They are undaunted in their desire to go to the temple, so even though most of them have been members of the church a little more than a year, they are determined to make the sacrifice.

Once again we send our wishes for the best for each of you.  We continually plead for the Lord’s kindest blessings to be showered upon you.  We pray for Brooke in the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  We pray for Tana and her unborn child.  We pray for all of you that you will be watched over and blessed in all of your righteous endeavors.  Words cannot express how much we love and appreciate all of you.


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

This lady is carrying several mellons which are cut to sell.  That is a very heavy load – so heavy that she needed help to get it up onto her head.

Sister Ngwenya (S. Africa) and Sister Zeahn (Zimbabwe) and their investigators just before their baptisms which we attended.

Levi, Morrison, Senda and Doolin and Sisters Okoro, Kioko and Kotobane.  Unfortunately, Sister Kioko may have to return home because of her illness.  She really is hoping to recover so she can stay.  We hope so too.

Here is the hospital room.  There are very few conveniences or comforts.  And the service is very poor.  We are praying to stay healthy!

At a very busy intersection we passed a very ancient and well used big truck.  Notice the hood is up?  Yes, it’s stopped and they are repairing it right there.  It was there for a couple of days and then  disappeared.  It’s on the road again!  Unbelievable.  They use and reuse everything until it doesn’t work and then they rebuild it and reuse it again.
A camel!  That’s the first one we’ve seen here.  Up north in Tamale they actually have nomads go through the city with their nomad gear and saddled on their camels.

On a main street there has been a huge hole in the middle of the street at a busy intersection.  It’s a ripped up gutter.  Well, this poor tro tro driver ran right into it and just messed up his van.  We can’t believe that it hasn’t been fixed yet after months and months of being open and dangerous.  And there are very few warning markings – just have to know it’s there.

Some cute little children after our church meeting in Obuasi.  Most of the girls have short hair as required by the public schools.  Sometimes the only way you can tell between a boy or girl is the pierced ears – the earrings.  They are really cute and have so much energy.  They all love to have their picture taken.
Another little cutie.

This is Elder Obasi who returned home to Nigeria on 30 April.  He is living here now and working.  It was great to see him again.  Looks different out of his white shirt, tie and dark pants.  He was a great elder and speaks 6 different languages!