Friday, September 26, 2014

2nd Half of August, 2014

 Another Ghana Temple Trip.  

We go every other week with our new missionaries.  Some of them have been endowed before, but for many this is their first time.


Early Germany visit:

When we visited Duisburg, Germany, in the summer of 1986 on a work assignment, we attended the Duisburg ward sacrament meeting there.  It was testimony day, and a brother stood up and said goodbye to the ward.  At that time he was serving as a member of the Stake High Council.  He said that he felt inspired by the Lord that he needed to take his family to the Ivory Coast to bring the Gospel to them.  His wife then said her goodbyes and so did their two children.  This good brother was instrumental in Africa to help the church get established there.  He eventually became the first branch president, first district president and first stake president.  Now, many years later, he and his wife are serving in the Accra, Ghana Temple.  We were able to visit with them and tell them that we had heard their farewell talks back when they first thought of moving to Africa.  The church has grown a great deal in that time, and they were some of the very first pioneers. They are Phillipe and Annalies Assard.  

You can read their story in the following church history Ensign article at the following web site:   
Pioneers in the Ivory Coast

Missionaries Arrive: 

Our missionary arrivals come in waves as the different groups enter the MTC.  We have a very busy intake day when they arrive on and off during the day and evening hours according to their flight schedules.  They are checked in and then they are photographed and interviewed by president Robison and come to us for a medical review, measurements for temple clothes and other orientation materials.  It is a very tiring day for us but it gives us a chance to meet one to one with each of them.
It’s a busy but fun time to get acquainted.

Some of my brothers and me.

They come in all shapes and sizes.  

 He calls me grandma:

As the weeks progress, we do get a few lighter days and on those we try to get out to see the country.  The traffic is horrific and it amazes us that there aren’t more accidents.  Everyone just does their own thing with little regard for rules of the road.  The rule of the road here is survival of the fittest.  The society is a very polite and nice one except when driving, when it is push your way through or you’ll never get in.  So far, Elder M. hasn’t had to drive and hopefully he won’t have to.  We try to ride with our friends on their outings and shopping trips.

There are many “hawkers” that go between the cars selling all sorts of things.  Seems very dangerous to us, but we haven’t seen anyone hurt…..yet.  They have a thriving business of what they call, “Tro-tros”, which are mini buses that they pack a bunch of people into.  They are cheap and many people use them.  There are also cheap taxis that many people use too.

Ghana Site-Seeing Visits: 

Here are some of the places we have been able to visit so far.

We met a full time missionary couple, the Iveys from Cape Coast, and they invited us to come visit them and they would take us around that area south of us.  Heidi and we decided to do just that and we were able to spend a couple of days sigh seeing. It is a seaport town where fishing is still a big part of their life.  Years ago it was a shipping port for gold, honey and alas, slaves.  The slave traders were Africans, Arabs, and whites at different times.  We toured a castle that was used to hold the slaves before being shipped off across the world.  Although it was a bit unpleasant to visit there and think of the awful things that transpired, we need to remember and learn from history and fight for freedom.  The Gospel brings freedom where ever it is excepted and lived and we can see that happening in this wonderful place.  These people are hungry for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is time for them to hear it.  These young missionaries are the army that will carry the truth far and wide, so that more and more people will have the chance to accept the Savior of the World.  That is where lasting peace will be found. Until then, the world will be in upheaval.

Slave castle:

It is now a very busy fishing village.

There is a place called the Canopy.  It is high up a mountain in the jungle and it has seven rope suspended bridges at the top of the jungle.  Our friends the Iveys, took us there.  On the way there, we saw some vendors selling what they call, “grass cutters.”  These are rodents that some people eat.  We stopped to get some pictures.
An interesting thing happened while we were stopped at this roadside vendor’s place.  Almost everyone in the car got out to go see the place.  Gerald was with them but decided to come back to the car and as he came across the road, I saw him leap quickly toward our car and immediately a car went speeding by and almost hit him.  He sprained his leg, but at least he was alive.  The driver didn’t even touch his brake and if Gerald hadn’t jumped out of the way, he would have been hit and probably killed.  My guess is that the driver didn’t even see him.  Another blessing of protection.
  Grass Cutters, what a bite?

The flat one is smoked and stretched.  Nice huh?

Because Gerald had injured his leg on the way over to the Canopy, he sat in the little café and took care of more important things such as eating an ice cream bar, while we hiked up the mountain (likely excuse).

A view from up above the forest canopy

This is one of the seven rope bridges.  One can choose to do the full seven bridges, or just three.  I did the three and that was plenty!

Heidi was more brave and I waited at one of the little shacks for her to complete the full 7.  The bridges do sway and swing as people cross them.  Ugh, I’m glad my brothers weren’t there or they would have been jumping up and down just to tease me.  My advice. if you ever go there, hang on and don’t look down!

Here is one of the little stopping off places along the way.

Boy, were we glad to go back to the Ivey’s beautiful house and have dinner.  They are serving a full time mission in Cape Coast.  What wonderful people these folks are and we were glad to get to know them.

When we had another break the next week, the Robison’s took us for a drive along the beach.  It was beautiful but with very rough surf.  Not a safe place to swim, but a nice place to walk along the beach and view the natives.

Even the young girls carry things on their heads.

There isn’t much that Heidi won’t try.  Better her than meJ

We also went to visit an orphanage that houses unwanted children.  It is supported by charitable funds mostly from Holland.  Some of the Dutch young adults come over and help out from time to time and we enjoyed talking with them. The lady holding the baby is Sister Ivey, who found this little unwanted starving baby boy and brought him to live in this compound.  She goes by periodically to check up on him and bring some needed items to donate to them.  She says that the little boy is doing very well.  As we got out of the car, the little kids came running over and touched our clothes and reached up to be held.  It was heart breaking.

Some volunteers building a new building for the orphanage.

The older boys performed for us.

Another fun place the Robison’s took us was to a Batik.  It is a place where they dye different fabrics to make into things.  They heat up wax and then dip sponges into the wax and press it onto the fabric.  Then, when the fabric is hand dyed, those areas stand out in the design.  Here we each got a chance to use the sponges on the pattern that we chose and then we took the fabric home to dry.  I made a table cloth that I will bring home with me.  What an interesting craft.

Sister Robison sponging her tablecloth.

The dyeing process.

Finished product.

Their colors are so bright and vibrant, like these two sisters.

I plan to have a dress and skirt made here out of these fabrics.  They are very inexpensive to have made.

They are also well known for their hand carving of wood.  We hope to get some samples of these kinds of crafts.  It is interesting to see the old world craft shops lining the street on our way to a very modern mall.  The old and the new side by side.

Another example of the hand crafts here is the bead factory.  They take recycled bottles and crush the glass and then heat it into beads and hand paint the finished product.  It was fascinating to watch the procedure.

The “kiln” oven for heating the glass.

The painter.

The cooling process

The finished beads.

We went on a boat on the Volta River to visit an authentic African Village.  We felt as if we had gone back in time as we watched these people cooking over open fires, washing their clothes in the river and hanging it on trees to dry, etc.  Then, as I was walking behind the guide, I looked down on there on the ground was an ear bud with a wire attached.  I also saw some of the “natives’ using their cell phones.  They do have some electricity at their community school and a few people in the village have some electricity.  They have batteries that they rent and can use to have a couple of light bulbs and a few outlets.  When it runs down, they bring it back and pay to have it recharged.  They are remodeling their community school, so we were able to tour that area because the kids are on break.  It was interesting.

A short ride on the boat.

Typical ancient living accommodations.  They are fisherman and we saw lots of oyster shells around.  Here you see the shells and the drying of the palms that they use for many things such as roofs and making baskets.

A different world in many ways, but they are beginning to modernize slowly but surely.

It was a rainy, but warm day.  It didn’t stop us from having a good time.

Heidi and a dignified missionary sitting on the school merry-go-round.

At the end of the tour, they sat us down and cut open some coconuts and gave us a refreshing drink of coconut milk.

This is a picture of how they recharge the villager’s batteries.  Can you imagine how great it is to have even one electric light bulb in your house when you have been in total darkness or with only a candle to light the house?   How much we take for granted.

To finish our little day trip, we stopped off at a crocodile preserve.  We decided not to pet the animals, but here is a picture of one of them.  They are not behind any kind of fence, so we didn’t stay long just in case they got hungry.