Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Entry #40

Hello family and friends,

For several months we have been planning a trip to the temple in Accra. Finally we were able to go. On Monday, October 7, we and the other Senior Couple, Elder & Sister Reiss, traveled to Accra. We arrived and were able to take care of some business that needed to be done for the mission. That evening we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken to get some dinner. Unfortunately they were out of ketchup and cold slaw, but we still wanted to enjoy a little bit of home. Since we were staying overnight in the temple ancillary building, we took our chicken and fries to the dinning room there and ate and relaxed. Then the next day, Tuesday, we got up and went to the 8 am session at the temple. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place and really enjoyed being there. The Celestial Room has a thick soft blue sculptured carpet and a beautiful huge chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. The accents are in gold and echo the African theme. Even the furniture legs are in the form of lion’s feet. It is very beautiful.

Coincidentally, we were in a session with some of the missionaries who were training at the MTC there who were coming to our mission the next week. We had 17 assigned to come and met about 7 of them. We have so many great young men and love them all for their desire to serve. They are so eager and glad to be here. The Lord has greatly blessed us.

As you may remember, I volunteered to crochet an alter cloth for the temple here in Accra, Ghana. I presented it in February. They liked it so much that they asked me to make another one for them and I said I would – I had time, 9 more months before we would be going home. So, I started working on one – different than the first. Well, I finished it in September and I took it with us to the temple on this trip. I was able to present the second one to Sister Afful, a Ghanaian, the matron of the temple. She was very grateful to me for making it and asked if I would crochet two large doilies for their round tables in the temple. I wasn’t sure I could get them done since time was getting short, but I told her I would try. When we got back to Kumasi, I found some patterns and started making a doily, not knowing how long it would take me. Well, I finished the first one today, the 28thone before we leave (3 weeks). If I don’t finish it I will mail it to her. But, she will have one of the two. Included are pictures of the second alter cloth and the doily. It is such an honor to be able to do this and to leave something I’ve made behind in the Ghanaian temple. I am so grateful that I was able to get the materials to do this – it was truly a miracle as I described in the blog in March. Now, on to making the last doily before we leave for home!

We are saddened to be leaving so many good Ghanaian friends and missionaries from all over the world, but it will also be wonderful to be with our family and friends at home. We have much to do in preparation – our replacements will be here next week and we will be busy training them. They seem to be fantastic people.

We love you all, see you soon,

Elder & Sister Palmer, Dad & Mom, Rodney & Mary Joyce

At the entrance of the temple with some missionaries.

Missionaries across from the temple waiting for a ride back to the MTC.

Driving past the temple on Liberation Drive.

The alter cloth for the Accra Temple.
A close-up of the blocks.

The doily for the table at the temple.
A closer look – I just love the pattern.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Entry #39

Dear Family and Friends

It is Sunday afternoon and we are resting a bit after another trip to Obuasi. We enjoy working with and assisting the branches in their development and growth, but as you have heard us say before – “Getting old is not for sissies”.

One of the speakers in one of the two sacrament meetings we attended today told an interesting story which we enjoyed and is summarized below.

He said that a young Ghanaian boy was on his way home from school one day with his not so good report card and noticed that his father was pulled over by a policeman. He noted his father put one Ghana Cedi with his driver’s license and the policeman took the bribe and let his father proceed without taking any action. (Policeman bribes are very common here in Ghana). When they arrived home he handed is father the report card with one Ghana Cedi with the hope of the same result that he had seen with his father and the policeman. The speaker’s point was that it will not be possible when we return to our Father-in Heaven’s presence to buy our way to an eternal glory. We will be judged according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We continue to enjoy the missionaries and had four of them over again for breakfast last Monday morning and while Dad cut the hair of one of the Obruni’s (white man). The missionaries enjoyed playing cards – Uno and Phase 10 (pictures below).

We had a great group of missionaries return home last week. These missionaries were outstanding and it was sad to see them leave. We always have concerns for the young men returning home to their homes in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierre Leone, Ivory Coast, etc. since most have no family to go home to or at least no family that are members of the church. In most cases the families of the missionaries do not understand what their son or daughter has experienced. These African missionaries also go home to difficult economic conditions which we try to encourage and prepare them to do their very best under their circumstances. These young men and young women are so strong in their faith and are so bright and capable and we pray that they will find great success in the months and years following their missionary service. The time they spend on their missions is, in most cases, the best life that they have experienced to this point in their lives. There are some exceptions. Some of the African missionaries actually have completed a college degree and are very educated and we worry less about them as they return home.

We included a picture below of a young girl in the Obuasi 2nd Branch who has some serious deformed legs. Her condition is actually worse than the picture indicates. When she walks her feet actually point toward each other. We are trying to arrange a screening with an organization that helps African children with such deformities to see if they can help on a no cost basis. Not sure how successful we will be but we want to try. The girl is from a wonderful family. Her father serves is the Branch President of  Branch who has some seriously deformed the Obuasi 2nd Branch and is a fantastic man – humble, faithful, kind and gives his all for the gospel.

We have included a picture below of a young boy (5 years old) with Dad. Most every Sunday he comes and sits by Dad. This Sunday he went to sleep on Dad’s lap during the Sacrament Meeting. We love him – he is such a fine young man. Speaking of the youth – each Sunday they have some young men and women – as young as 8 or 10 years of age speak in the sacrament meeting. The quality of their talks and the depth of their faith and testimony are astounding. They are very polished in their presentation.

We also included below a few more pictures of some of the children here. Pretty easy to tell that we are really taken by them. The woman who helps with cooking and other chores at the mission home (a returned missionary) recently gave birth to twins. We could not resist the temptation of getting pictures of these cute little twins – their names are Brian and Briana – boy & girl. Also included below is a picture taken one evening as we walked around in the neighborhood. Once the children saw that a picture was going to be taken, they all come running to get in the pictures, and of course they had to see the picture on the camera afterwards.

If we had a chance to get trunky we probably would, but we are so busy with all that is going on that we cannot really spend much time thinking about returning home. We will send a flight itinerary shortly so
you are aware of our flight plans. As we have said before it will be bitter-sweet to leave Ghana. We are anxious to return home to see family and loved ones, but sad to leave behind so many wonderful people and missionaries.

As always you are in our prayers and our thoughts.

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

Christiana Manu – the young girl referred to above with the leg deformity

Dad’s sacrament meeting partner

Cemetery in the jungle along the road to Obuasi – tiled and above ground – a common sight.

This tree is growing big balls like gourds – they will get much bigger – as big as a basketball. When they are dry, they hollow them out and use them as bowls for soup and other food.

Dad joined some young African men popping bubbles in some bubble wrap at the post office.

Breakfast with the missionaries at the Palmer’s

Card games by the missionaries (AP’s + 2) while Dad was cutting hair for another missionary – Elder Stentzel.

Fairly common scene – cattle tied down in the back of a three-wheeled vehicle – to be slaughtered.

A great group of missionaries returning home last week

The twins – Brian and Briana mentioned above with mother & father.

Another shot of the twins – 3 months old and very cute!

The neighborhood kids along with Dad and Elder and Sister Reiss

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Entry #38

Dear Family and Friends – 6 October 2013,

The work continues to move forward at a very rapid pace here in Ghana and the other West Africa
nations. We continue to be in awe as we feel the humble and receptive spirits of these wonderful
people. Most branches of the mission or wards anticipate at least 50 Ghanaian converts this year -
they are so faithful after the acceptance of the gospel. We were in a fast and testimony meeting today
for the Atonsu Group, which is part of the Asokwa Ward, which is a part of the Dichemso Stake. The
group is a vibrant group of 200 plus members. There are many who are highly educated and have
families, which is not the norm here in this country. There was never a pause between testimonies as
the members were quick to come forward and share their love for the gospel and their desire to live the
commandments of the Lord.

We just completed another round of zone conferences. We now have 8 mission zones and we
combined them into three conferences. Dad spent time in each conference teaching the missionaries
the importance of loving their investigators, their companions, their leaders and the Ghanaian people
in general, because that is what the Savior does and would expect us to do. He shared a portion of
Brooke’s latest letter from her mission site, with the missionaries. (Hope she doesn’t mind, but we felt
that it was inspiring and appropriate for the occasion.) Mom shared her testimony and the love that we
have for the Ghanaian people, the African Missionaries, all of the children and the gospel.

Of course we still have the role of parents away from home – giving haircuts, feeding the missionaries
and hemming and repairing their pants. We cannot seem to get enough of these missionaries. They
make us want to be better when we see their goodness and dedication.

In the next few weeks we will see the formation of two or three districts in the mission, which has taken
a lot of work to put in place. Such districts, with new branches in each, will set the stage for stakes to be
formed in the not too distant future. The growth is phenomenal. The only thing that slows the work is
the ability to find leaders for each of the new units – but the Lord provides.

We continue to love the children and take a picture at each opportunity. This Sunday morning the three
little girls next door arrived at our door step an hour before meeting time all dressed up for church.
We were not going to the ward that they attend, but we entertained them (or we should say they
entertained us) for a half hour before we dropped them off at their ward and we traveled on to another
branch of the church. (See picture below of them in the back seat of our car.)

We even caught a non-member wedding party at a very nice location for pictures - it was unusual in this
country where such dress and celebration is not common. It was pleasing to the eye and the camera –
see below.

We love all of you and look forward to being with you in a very few weeks.

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

Dad cutting Elder Taylor’s hair – recognize the pictures on the wall?

Elders playing Uno after breakfast at the Palmer’s

A lavish wedding party -

Wedding Party – picture time!

Zone Conference – Bantama Meeting House – the Assistants are instructing.
Zone Conference - Techiman

Sister missionaries and Sister Olson, Sister Holmes, Sister Reiss and Sister Palmer

Another Zone Conference – Just kidding!!! In Techiman.

Typical Cattle that we frequently see lining the roadways – where’s the beef? Look skinny?

Assistants to the Mission President – Elder Macheke (So. Africa) and Elder Evbouwan (Nigeria)

Two favorite elders – Elder Levi who aspires to be a medical surgeon (Nigeria), and Elder Taylor (US).

Elizabeth, Joyce and Lynette in the back seat of our vehicle

Four nice looking teenage girls from the Atonsu Group after church today

Common scene along the roads that we travel

Adobe Home in a village

Street vendors – they line most streets in the villages and towns – they love white bread.