Dear Family and Friends,
Hope all is going well for each of you at home. We are enjoying unusually cool weather here in Ghana. The natives wear coats and sweaters because it is in the 70’s and 80’s (Fahrenheit). They are pleading for and hoping for warmer weather while we are enjoying a time when we are not pouring sweat. We get plenty of rain this time of year also so all vegetation is lush and thick. The trips outside of Kumasi are quite pleasant with the lush thick jungle growth – that is if you can dodge all of the potholes and gullies that are a part of every roadway. As mentioned in our last letter we traveled to Obuasi recently. Below is a picture of the road, and our car (and Rodney) as seen from the chapel on the hill. This is actually one of the nicest church buildings we have in this part of Ghana. Most buildings are leased, but the church does have a few owned properties. Ownership in this country is an interesting concept, a discussion for another day.
We once again had some missionaries over for breakfast on preparation day (Monday). After breakfast Dad proceeded to give 4 of the Obruni (white) missionaries a haircut. The breakfast picture below is an unusual concentration of white elders, since 70 percent of the missionaries are from Africa and obviously make up the majority of the missionary force.
Below is a picture of Sister Rockson, a member of the Atonsu Group of the church who is a professional seamstress - one of the nicest ladies you would ever meet and most talented in her dress making. Mom had her make a dress for her which Sis. Rockson did without any pattern, just took a few measurements. The seamstresses attend school for three years and are so professional. They have pictures of many dresses and can sew them without a paper pattern – just draft them up themselves. MJ would love to learn some of their methods to bring back home. It was no small feat getting to the place where her little shop is located. We barely made it through the rough terrain.
While visiting with Sister Rockson we became intrigued with the bread making process of the neighbors. Below you see a couple of pictures we took of them by their brick and cement oven. Once we indicated we wanted to take a couple of pictures they were highly animated and wanted to make sure we got everybody in the picture and that they were positioned in such a way that they looked their very best. The oven is interesting .They have a bunch of tin pans that have a slide in top that they place the dough in. They cook 60 loaves at a time and make over 200 loves 2 or 3 times a week. They were tickled to get their picture taken, and believed that we were rich Americans and accordingly pleaded with us to buy them a big modern oven – of course to no avail.
When it comes to music during church meetings most congregations sing without any accompaniment. The chorister will sing the beginning line or two of the song, accapella, and then the members sing with great gusto every verse of the song. As I think we indicated before, they know the words to the church hymns far better than what we experience in the United States. We have sung songs out of the hymn books that we have never sung before, and they know them all, generally without the use of a hymn book. Church units usually have a keyboard, but many do not have somebody to play them. Mom ends up accompanying when we visit the various branches and wards. Below is a picture of two young men playing the keyboard for the Daban Group – setup rather crudely. We have been amazed at how many of the African elders have taught themselves to play the piano or keyboard and are really good at it. They seem to have a natural gift for music. One elder, Elder Senda, is very gifted and knew how to play the piano before his mission, as well as guitar, and also is a talented vocalist also.
One of the Ghanaian families that we have come to love is the Kwaku Dadzie-Cooper family. We have mentioned them before. Brother Cooper works with us regarding physical facilities – missionary apartments, etc. He has a tremendous sense of humor and keeps us rolling in laughter when he is around. His oldest son was baptized a couple of weeks ago so we were there with his family. Mom, of course had to hold their recently born son and be a grandma – something she misses with her own grandchildren.
Yesterday we traveled again to attend meetings, do some training and assist the Bibiani Branch with some of their financial and computer needs. Since it was a fast Sunday we were most pleased to participate in their fast and testimony meeting. They have such a great spirit and such a deep faith in the Savior. They are so inspiring. Much of the meeting was in Twi so it was more a feeling of the spirit than an understanding of what they were saying. Most have a good command of English, they just prefer Twi – a part of their tradition in this part of Ghana – the Ashanti Region.
We continue to be thrilled to read the letters posted on Brooke’s missionary website and continue to pray for her success. We wish we had some of her energy. We are very pleased that family members are making use of the cabin and also pleased that the families – both in Utah and Arizona continue to get together to enjoy and support each other. We hope all of the new little ones are doing well – the two born right before we left (Tyson and McKenzie) and the two born after we left (Brynlee and Samuel). We pray for all of you and know, without a doubt that the Lord has showered down blessings on all of the family, wherever you may be. It is always our prayer that the Lord will continue to watch over and bless each and every one of you.
Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Rodney, Mary Joyce
View from the side of the Obuasi church building – Dad and car below on the road to the building
Dad, Elder Otagba, Elder Crump, Elder Stentzel, Elder Sagers and Elder White at Palmers for breakfast before their haircuts.
Dad – Giving Elder Sagers a haircut – the first of 4 elders to get haircuts on this Monday morning.
Two young men practicing the keyboard. This is where MJ played the music for Sacrament Meeting.
Sis. Rockson with one of her machines – treadle because they lack power most of the time. They also use the hand-crank.
Some of the many dress patterns to choose from that Sis. Rockson can make without a pattern.
The bread making crew – the man has one of the bread tins – in front of their oven
The oven filled with wood ready to heat up for next bread making session.
Comfort Dadzie-Cooper and Mom with their new arrival – a third son for them
Kweku Dadzie-Cooper Family on the day the oldest boy – Nana was baptized.