Thursday, September 4, 2014

August - Ghana Here We Come

So it all started on the first of August, 2014, as we said our final goodbyes to our friends and family.  All went well on our nonstop trip to London and we were in the airport for a few hours before we boarded our flight to Accra Ghana.  We boarded smoothly and then sat for two hours before take-off.  They announced that someone had checked in their luggage and then left the airport to go shopping, but didn’t make it back before it was time for departure.  They had to unload every piece of baggage and find theirs before we could leave.  Oh well, a slight diversion to an otherwise smooth trip.

The airport in Accra was a different matter.  Our dear President Robison had to wait the extra time we were delayed plus the slow process to get our baggage.  It is a madhouse of people offering to help us get our baggage, for a price of course, and many, many people doing the same thing.  It took a while to find the right place to watch for our 6 bags on the conveyor belt, but we did find them and were glad to get all six.  The last one took a while, but we eventually got everything.  A  very long and tiring day, but all is well that ends well, or something like that.

We have now arrived at the very center of the world, The Ghana Africa MTC!

We are now settled into our nice apartment at the MTC in the city of Tema, close to Accra.  Tema has a population of around 140 thousand and Accra has a population of around 2 million people.  Our apartment is the one on the right side of the building on the top floor.  No elevator, but we’re getting strong legs.  They will soon be building a new MTC on the temple complex in Accra, but we probably won’t see it completed.  We do have to make a lot of trips to Accra because that is where the temple is and some of the better shopping.  Not necessarily in that order.

Our Tema, Ghana Apartment:

Home Sweet Home!

August activities:

Our first group of missionaries:

This is our first group of missionaries with Elder Curtis, our area authority, and his wife who spoke at our devotional. Every few weeks we have a general or area authority visit and speak to our missionaries. 

I won’t say that we haven’t had an adjustment to this new life, but we are doing fine now. It didn’t take long to learn to love these great people.  

This isn’t a 3rd world country in many respects.  I would say that it is a 2nd world country, on its way up.  We have a mixture of the traditional and modern culture.  The stores are stocked with a variety of goods, but the many traditional outdoor shops are full of the handmade traditional things.  The climate isn’t too hot as yet, and there is often a breeze.  We do have air conditioned rooms and cars, so that helps.  It is quite tropical, but it is still a big city with many, many people.  We often see people using their cell phones, etc. so things are modernizing. The architecture is interesting with quite a variety.  There are many partially completed buildings that just seem to sit there.  It may have something to do with taxes. There are a number of nice houses but also many shanty towns.  I asked someone who lives here who the nice houses belong to.  She said many of them belong to the ministers.  I thought that was interesting.  We quite often hear blaring loud speakers with preachers shouting.  Most folks here are Christians with some Muslims and some follow the native religion.  Overall, the people are friendly and seem kind.  They say if your car breaks down, that many people will come over and try to help.  We have been warned not to go out after dark if we can avoid it, so there must be some danger.  We are in a very well-guarded compound, so we feel secure.  Besides that, we have between 50 and 100 very strong young men who would protect us if needed.  I don’t think anyone is going up against these guys.  The only thing they are afraid of is getting immunization shots, which they hate, but they endure it and move on.

 And of course, they have ice cream, pizza, free range eggs and other interesting everyday sights!

Our favorite fruit/veggie stand.  It is typical of what we see all over the area.  The markets and malls also have fruit, but it is less expensive and fresher here.
Typical roadside shops.

We often see young girls carrying their siblings on their back like this little girl is doing.

  Of course, we often see people, mostly women, carrying huge burdens on their heads as well.  It amazes us that they can balance them so well.

 A typical street scene, a mixture of the old and the modern.  
You decide which is which.

They even have some pharmacies and herbal shops.

The MTC here in Western Africa is a training ground for many missions.  They include the following:
Ghana Accra, Ghana Cape Coast, Ghana Kumasi, Nigeria, DR Congo, Benin Cotonou, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria Lagos, Nigeria Port Harcourt, Benin, DRC Kinshasa, and Madagascar.
We currently have missionaries here from the following countries, to serve in those missions:  
USA, Kenya, DR Congo, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, United Kingdom, Uganda, Ethiopia, Haiti, Madagascar, Burundi and Australia.

 We have mostly the young men, but some sisters and occasionally a couple.  The routine is that we have some missionaries here for training for a little less than two weeks, if they are not learning a language.  Our new language missionaries are here for six weeks.  Some come speaking French to learn English, and others the opposite.  We have professional teachers who do most of the training classes, while we are in a support role to help our MTC President Reid Robison and his wife Diane with their many responsibilities to help the missionaries stay happy and healthy during their stay with us. They have been super busy trying to keep up with all the logistics of their calling and are appreciative of our help.

President Robison with his two counselors. 
MTC President Robison has two local brothers who serve as his counselors and take care of the Sunday meeting schedule.  Elder Malmrose, (alias Grandpa), is his executive secretary and helps with many of the other details that need to be taken care of.  He also works with these young missionaries in their family history, so they can take an ancestor’s name to the temple while they are here.

Sister Malmrose, (alias Grandma), helps with the medical concerns that come up regularly.  These young folks are often far away from home for the first time, and it is a big adjustment in climate, food, and routine.  I have an office near the dining room, so that they can drop by and get some medical advice and maybe a headache pill or a cough drop or maybe just have someone listen to them.  They bounce back pretty quickly and are off and running before too long.

We also get to associate with some of the couples serving here.  Some of them serve as family history consultants, others as humanitarian missionaries or proselyting missionaries, others work in the temple or area office, and some as mission presidents.

 We have many opportunities to sing in church meetings.  Sometimes we practice a duet and before we know it, several of the missionaries come up and start singing with us.  We may start with two or three of us and then all of a sudden we have six or eight.  They sing with great enthusiasm like we have never heard at home, and that is always fun.

Bishop Causs√© of the Presiding Bishopric visited us and gave a wonderful, inspirational talk to our missionaries.  We had met him when we were serving at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, and it was nice to renew our acquaintance.  He is French, and so the French elders really enjoyed him.

Shortly after we arrived, one of the Robison’s friends from their home ward, came to visit and to help out for a few weeks at the MTC.  She has a business in Washington DC interpreting for the deaf.  So it gives her some flexibility on work hours and days.  She loves to travel, so she went to see a friend in Uganda and then came to stay with us.  Her name is Heidi Johnson, and she was such fun to be with.  We did a lot of sightseeing together and got to know each other quite well. The staff at the MTC loved her so much that they didn’t want her to go home.   She hopes to come back and see us again before we are through serving here. She loved the culture so much she went and got her hair braided in the traditional African way.  It took three women four or more hours of braiding.  Is this cute or what?   Maybe I should try it?

Some of our traditionally colorful sister missionaries!

This is the cafeteria where our missionaries congregate to relax and are fed three times a day with a snack before bed.  They eat a lot of rice, bread and chicken, but it seems to keep them happy. We have become friends with Sister Margaret, who is in charge of the kitchen, and spoils us with fresh homemade bread and cut up fresh pineapple, on a regular basis.

Margaret is on my right.  These are her helpers.

The elder with his thumb up, is from Ethiopia. I think he is the only one we have from that country so far. 


1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful opportunity this is for you! And what a blessing you are to all your new friends (and old ones, too)! Thanks for keeping us updated! We love you!