Thursday, March 12, 2015

February 2015 MTC Update

As we get closer to March, the skies are beginning to turn blue on occasion.  Even though it has been warm and dry, an occasional storm brings some rain and the skies start to clear from the dusty, gray look this time of year.  We are looking forward to blue skies again soon.  It is, of course, still warm every day but the wind blows regularly, and that is nice.  All year long, we have 12 hours of sunlight every day.  It takes getting used to, but we are finally there.  After being here over 6 months, we have what they call “African Eyes”.  That means that we see things a little differently from being home in the US.  We are much more comfortable in the culture now and have come to love and appreciate being here.  That doesn't mean we don’t miss our family and friends, that’s for sure!  Thanks to all of you who keep in touch and let us know what is happening with you, yours, and ours. We also miss Walmart and Costco just a little, but we have enough choices to get by quite comfortably.  Nevertheless, There Is No Place Like Home!

Here are a few scenes of the contrasts we see around here:

In the beginning……This is how the buildings start.

More contrasts.  Notice the small stalls along all the roads where the people buy and sell all sorts of things.  This seems to be quite an industrious society with most people trying to earn a living.

The traffic is unbelievable in the city, but not so bad on the outskirts.  We are always surprised that there aren't more accidents, especially for the pedestrians.

Anyone want a part-time job???

Oh, and yes, dresses do grow on trees and shoes grow on strings.

We have had several big intake days with the arrival of many new missionaries.  We continue to have a good number of sister missionaries.  We keep the language missionaries for 6 weeks and get two weekers on and off during that same time.  We get to know the sixers a little better of course, but they are all great.  This time around, we have missionaries from a few different places such as Burundi, Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and Idaho Falls, of all places.  Will the miracles never cease?  When they first arrive, they are a bit like deer with headlights in the eyes, but before long they are laughing together and hugging each other.  They grow a lot while they are here in this dedicated building and are better prepared to head out into the mission field and work hard.

Some of our newest missionaries are a bit homesick, when they get here, but before long they integrate and learn to love each other and us.

I do love my sweet sisters and I think they like me too.

Some of our missionaries are very talented.  The one on the right draws beautifully.  Gerald has several of his beautiful drawings.  He is also wearing the hand beaded tie with his initials on it that is made here.  They have many beautiful crafts such as beads, hand dyed fabrics, and wood carvings.  They are a patient and talented people.

We usually get one or two missionaries from the states.  It isn't long before they fit right in with their brother African missionaries.

Our wonderful Doctor Hill comes regularly to help with the immunizations and other health concerns.  This is our Elder from Ethiopia.  What a handsome pair.

We aren’t too concerned about people breaking into the MTC compound.  We have full time professional guards, as well as a number of missionaries that nobody would dare to push around. 

One of the delights here is to attend our Sunday meetings.  We usually have an English and a French sacrament meeting.  President Robison has two local counselors who come on Sundays and Sister Robison is the Relief Society President, and she has their two wives as her counselors.  It is lots of fun to attend R.S. with these dear sisters and our sister missionaries too. There are no smiles like an African smile. Aren’t they beautiful.

At the end of the day, we are all worn out, but it is worth it!

In our devotionals, we have different Districts put together the musical numbers.  They sure love to sing, and we love to hear them.  We have never heard such singing in our life.  They may not be trained singers in most cases, but they make up for it with enthusiasm.

Gerald and I were asked to sing a duet together at the last devotional.  We sang one of the hymns that is found in the French hymn book, but not in the English.  It has four verses and as we were almost at the end of the song, the electricity went out, which happens frequently, but we continued to sing in total darkness.  Just as we were on the very last sentence, bingo, the lights went back on as we finished.  The congregation let out a loud happy sound and almost broke into applause.  What fun we have sharing these moments here.

One of our missionaries by the name of Dominique Lath was the one who accompanied us whenever we sang a duet.  He plays the piano very well.  So when it was his last day we sang a short memorial song to honor him.  It is called Dominique-nique-nique.  We took a video with a couple of his companions which can be viewed on the link below:
               Dominique Farewell Video    Dominique Music Leader sings

We work a tight schedule with the comings and goings of the different groups of missionaries.  We do try to get a few moments here and there to exercise and recreate.  President Robison is making sure that he gets his few moments in, even if it is on the soccer field in front of the MTC.  He truly is a driving force!

 We met some folks from the USA, who came to Ghana to help with the redecoration of the Accra temple.  These folks are the parents of one of our dear Elders in the Caribbean, Elder Parker Tycksen. It sure is a small world.

We got a day off, so we decided to take a short trip into the mountains.  Where we are, there aren't any mountains visible, so it was nice to drive up into the hills and see the landscape from up high. It does give a different perspective as we looked down on the jungle.

There are some very nice houses here and even some of the ants build beautiful castles, as you can see.  We decided not to go inside though.  Didn't want to intrude.

While up in the hills, we found a nice resort to have lunch together.  They have a  hotel and swimming pool for tourists up near the top.  I thought the thatched roof was neat.  What a lovely setting and what nice company.

We got a smile from one of the signs in the hotel lobby.  A great philosophy, don't you think?

We are never without help, when we need something heavy moved.  We were moving our furniture around in our apartment and Gerald asked these Elders to help.  Isn't youth great!

We love it when our African missionaries play the piano.  Many are self taught.  This is a picture of our chapel piano.  This good Elder was helping out, but almost couldn't get his knees under the keyboard.  It looks like the piano is a toy, but that is not the situation.

And of course, we occasionally get to eat together in the Robison's apartment.  The kitchen clean up crew are very efficient and take their job seriously.

Ghana Temple Trip
The temple was closed for cleaning for several weeks, so we only recently returned with our missionaries.  Most of them have never been and others are already endowed.  The temple is always beautiful, but it was particularly nice because of all the new paint and renewed d├ęcor.  The one thing that does not change is the wonderful spirit that is always there, as we serve each other.  It truly is a House of God.  

A keyhole view of the temple from the Stake Center next door and where the new MTC is being constructed on the Temple grounds.  There are other buildings on the property that house the distribution center, the area offices and some temple apartments.  The new MTC will not be completed until after we return home, but we are able to watch the progress as it is being built.

It grows little by little, or as they say here, small, small.

This is one of our temple trip groups.  We divide up into smaller groups over several days.  What angels they are.

Elder Malmrose spends a lot of time helping to organize the many details of temple trips, and the missionaries love him for it. Many of them are the only members in their families, so they understand that it is up to them to see that their loved ones have the blessings of the temple.

Children's Group Home

While we were at the temple, a group of white sisters who were obviously from the USA came in.  We went over and talked with them and asked them what they were doing in Ghana.  They told us that they were from Utah and that they had a humanitarian group home for disabled children that they support.  They come here periodically and bring needed supplies and see how things are going.  We invited them to meet us for lunch after the temple session.  They did so and invited us to join them for an activity day and a visit to the children’s home.  We did and were very impressed with what they are providing for these helpless orphan children.

This is the rental house they use for the children.

Priesthood rep. watching over the group home front room

The caretakers work hard to help the children as much as possible.

These children, and many like them are just thrown away and abandoned and unwanted.  With a little love and care, they learn how to be all they can be.

Here are two of the angels of mercy.  We took them to the local bead factory after our visit to the children.  They are lovely and a lot of fun as well.

Our dear President and Sister Robison.  Her motto is, “one can never have too many beads”, and we agree!

The factory had many trees loaded with fruits such as mangoes, and as you can see avocados.  They have to import many manufactured things here, but the fruits and vegetables are abundant and delicious.  We have never tasted such sweet pineapples before, except in the Caribbean islands. What a beautiful world this is. 

MTC Food
Some of our missionaries like the cafeteria food and others don’t.  They eat the food served to them in our cafeteria three times a day with an evening snack.  A lot depends on what they are used to.  I tell them that either way, once they get into the mission field, they will wish they could just walk downstairs and have a full meal prepared for them.  It is all part of their learning experience.

All in all, they learn a lot while they are here and we see a lot of growth and maturing as they head out from their training with us.  There are a lot of sweet goodbyes and even some tears and "God be with you, till we meet again".  We know He will be with them as they serve the Savior in faith and spread the Gospel word across Africa.