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!