Thursday, August 6, 2015

July 2015 Update

We saved a few pictures from later last month, to be included in this month's update because the MTC is closed for cleaning and repairs during part of July.  The Robisons are on a well deserved vacation on a safari in South Africa, but we chose to stay home and get caught up on a number of things that needed our attention.  It was a little strange to be in this big building, especially at night when we were the only ones here.  At least during the day, we could hear all the workmen busily engaged in their tasks.  We also had some staff here during the day, so that was nice, but the nights were a little eerie, since we have been used to having so many missionaries, etc. coming and going day and night.

Gerald has really enjoyed his Sunday School class of missionaries who are learning English.  They are here for 6 weeks, and he said that they have done very well learning a new language in such a short time.  There really is a "gift of tongues" manifested here.

We took a picture of this good Elder Adams with Elder Malmrose, because the other missionaries thought that he looked like Elder Malmrose must have looked when he was a young missionary.  It must be the smile, winning personality and the blond hair.

 And our beautiful sisters are always delightful.

Love those hairdos.  From time to time, they try to get me to let them braid my hair, but I haven't given in, yet.

I'm afraid, if I fall asleep in the car, they will do this to me.

We have come to love the great staff we have here.  They are full time employees, who administer many of the day to day operations of the MTC.  This is our manager, Brother Appianti and his beautiful wife and little boy in his cool high top tennies.

We had the Robisons up to our apartment for dinner and a little break in our routine. What nice folks we work with. It's the closet thing to family we have here.

One of our dearest senior couples, the Watson's, are nearing the end of their mission and will be heading home soon.  They have been a great support in family history for Gerald and made our job much easier, and we will miss them a great deal.

We got to see Elder Despain again when he came to deliver something to the MTC.  It's always fun to see someone from home.  Can you tell which one he is?

Temple Trip

It was time again for a trip to the temple, just before our missionaries headed out into the mission field. The grounds were beautiful, as usual, and so were the sister missionaries.

And the Elders weren't too shabby either.

A great experience for one and all.  It's good to keep our eyes on heaven.

We can always depend on our staff to do the most difficult tasks.

For a fourth of July celebration, we went to the American Embassy for a little carnival with hamburgers and hot dogs and other American traditional food.  They had a good turn out.  They put up a number of booths for the kids like face painting and kids rides.  All we needed was an American passport and a pre-purchased ticket to get in, but it was a no picture taking zone.  It was literally, a little taste of home.

In honor of the 4th, Sister Robison made me a red, white and blue necklace from the locally made beads, which I was happy to wear to church.   Thanks Diane, for being so thoughtful and talented!

Group Departure

The time finally came, for our missionaries to graduate, so to speak.  Both the 2 week and the 6 weekers are ready for the next stage of their mission.  We send them off with a lot of love, and know that they will return with honor.

We especially enjoy having Pacific Islanders come to us, because they always come bearing gifts, usually beautiful necklaces.  They have such giving spirits.

Some time ago, I bought a little African doll to sit on our bed.  I named her Esmerelda.  And lo and behold, this sweet sister arrived with the same first name, and she is a doll too.  She is the 2nd missionary from the country of Namibia.  Her brother was the first missionary from that African country.

Margaret's Departure

We sent our missionaries off, and at the same time another era came to an end.  Our sweet Margaret, who caters the meals in the cafeteria, is moving on to other pursuits.  She has been so generous and kind to us for the year we have been here, and we will miss her.  I wrote a poem for her about a Kitchen Angel and Sister Robison put it into a nice card, that we gave to her as we said our goodbyes.  We know that we will meet again, and hope it isn't too long before we do.

Our Kitchen Angel

MTC Building Maintenance

The maintenance on our MTC is progressing, day by day.  We couldn't believe it when we saw them putting up the scaffolding by hand, piece by piece.  The workers are barefooted, and climb up and down, attaching the metal bars and then the planks that they paint and work from.  It seems very dangerous, but we haven't heard any screams of falling workers, as yet.  Good thing we pray a lot.

Area Office Visit

Gerald needed to go to the area office to meet with Brother Terry, who supervises computer services.  During this break, Gerald is working hard to organize the computer programs so that the staff here can take over when we go home.  He has developed some good programs to make things run more efficiently.  Bro. Terry is always helpful, and we thanked him by going out to lunch, as if we needed any excuse.  Our other senior couple friends, the Sanders and Sue Hill along with Cyril Mensah, also went with us.  We went to a small Thai restaurant that they recommended.  It was good and clean, and that's important anywhere.

Elder Terry claims that this is a soft drink.  Hmmmmm.

A couple of very nice geeks.

Tema, Ghana Ward visit

We normally have church services here at the MTC on Sundays, with the missionaries.  But since we were on break, we attended one of the Ghana wards in the ward building on this property.  It was a very nice meeting, that is until they called us up out of the congregation to bear our testimonies.  We did so and of course, had to sing a little duet for them.  There is no rest for the weary, or something like that.

I really enjoyed being with the sisters in Relief Society.  The strange thing is that it felt like every other relief society meeting I have been to, all over the world.  Strange how that works.  The Asian sister is from Korea, where she joined the Church.  They were very welcoming to me.

Neighberhood Visit

While we were out running errands, we asked our staff driver if he would drive us around one of the neighborhoods near the MTC.  We only get to see them from the highway, and we wanted to see things up close.  We didn't want to go into one of the shanty towns, but into one of the many nice housing areas.  Our city of Tema, is considered an industry town, and we see many businesses and storehouses and manufacturing buildings.  Our driver told us that when the city was planned, it was done with the idea to encourage people to buy land and build homes near where they were working.  Here are a few pictures of the homes we saw.

There are small hotels scattered in the neighborhoods too.

As you can see, the nicer homes are built out of concrete.

We were in the neighborhood of our kitchen angel friend Margaret, so we surprised her and knocked on her door.  She was delighted to see us, as we were to see her.

Just as we were leaving the neighborhood, we noticed this sign.  So glad that they are encouraging home teaching!

When we got back to the MTC, we were greeted by some of our neighbors, whom we see regularly.  They were checking out the scaffolding.

Fabric Open Market visit

We had a few days before the missionaries started to arrive again.  We took a day and went to a huge fabric mall.  The fabrics here are so bright and beautiful.  It almost makes me want to sew.  Fortunately, there are many ladies here that will do the sewing for a very reasonable price.  Sister Wilde, Sister Robison and I did a lot of looking and a little bit of buying.  It was so fun just to walk around and appreciate the wonderful crafts and the interesting people.

Sister Robison's favorite sentence, "I'll take that one!"

Of course, we brought our body guards, or maybe they were just our bag carriers.

Next Missionary Group.

Intake day finally arrived and we are off and rolling again.  We have a lot of new missionaries from the States, which is unusual.  It is wonderful to see how they integrate with our Africans, as well as those from other parts of the world.

Take off day.  Goodbye for 2 years.

New experiences and new friends

This is our group from Zimbabwe.

Tall or small, we luv em all.

We have black, white and even some red.

Even the wind wanted to get in the act.

Maybe we should adopt this Elder Peters into our family clan? 
He looks like he could belong.

And, what is more important, the missionaries come to love each other!

Intake Immunizataions

They did get settled in and of course, looked forward to our giving them their immunizations, or as we call them, a "little gift of health".  For some reason, they don't seem to rush to the front of the line like they do at dinner. Guess they are just trying to be polite.

Isn't he brave! Getting his polio immunization.

Some even smile.

Do I have to??

Some are more stoic.

But, they usually forgive us, and some actually thank us.

Family History Intake Helpers

We have lunch with our medical helpers, the Sanders and with the other senior couples, who are so gracious to come help out on intake day.  The Wades, the Stutzs, and Sister Hill help Gerald with setting up the missionaries on Family Search, so that they may be able to do some temple work for their family, if they have time with all the other things going on.  Some of the missionaries serve where there isn't a temple, so they are anxious to do what they can, while they are here.  

The missionaries have a very busy schedule while they are in training here.  They do really enjoy e-mailing home and also getting outside at sports time in the afternoons.  I always tell them not to break anything, because they don't want to spend the next few weeks in the hospital.

"Hi Mom, I made it."

Sports Activity

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport, with basketball most popular with the Americans, but volleyball is starting to become a favorite, at least here in Ghana. 

Relief Society

We love having the sisters too.  Sometimes we have a few and other times we have a lot.  They either speak English or French.  This is our Relief Society group.

The Relief Society Presidency plus.

Visitors from Ivory Coast

Occasionally, we have bus loads of visitors come from the Stakes in Africa.  The most recent was from Ivory Coast, and they wanted their youth to see the MTC and start thinking about serving a mission.  They seem to enjoy the tour, and we love seeing them.

Our future missionaries from the Ivory Coast.

Area Devotional

Our devotional with the Area Presidency Counselor, Elder Vinson and his sweet wife was great.  They are serving here from Australia.  We sang a duet in French, that they all seemed to enjoy.  Music is such an important part of bringing the Spirit into our meetings.

 The visiting authority always greets each of our missionaries, with a welcoming handshake.  Later on when the missionaries are in the field, they will meet up again when the area authorities tour their mission areas.

Sister Vinson, Sister Robison and I all just happened to be dressed in our African print dresses, so we took this picture of the African queens, just for fun.  There are no coincidences! 

Medical Immunizations with departure

Soon, it is time for Dr. Hill and me, to send our  missionaries off with another small gift of health.

We don't like to say goodbye, but we know it is time to let them go. More wonderful memories for all of us.  

Who says they are glad to be moving on?