Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 2015 MTC

The fall has arrived, and we again welcome new missionaries.  Our dear senior missionaries always come to help us get these newbies registered and started on their family history.  It is an exciting time for all of us, as we get acquainted with these sweet, dedicated new missionaries.  They are a little bit like deer with headlights in their eyes, but that doesn't last long.  We can't imagine why they would be frightened of our teacher, David Acquaye,  just because he wears a Dracula cape.

Once again, we give them our little gift of health

The sisters always let us know how much we are appreciated.

Ghana holds a traditional festival some distance from Accra, that features the people of the area tribes and the chiefs, wearing the beautiful Kente cloth that was introduced many years ago.  It features a weaving contest and shows off the beautiful colorful material.

Of course when Temple day arrives, I must put my clothes in my African Kente print temple bag, gather the missionaries and head through the Temple Gates. 

This sister and I, coincidentally, both wore our "Helping Hands" fabric print.  For some unknown reason, it was only my hair that blew around in the wind.

Devotional time for us and the missionaries really enjoy shaking the visiting authority's hand.  There are some advantages in being the tall one in the group.

Elder Curtis, the West African Area President and his wife, spoke with us, and it was, as usual, a most enjoyable meeting.

Here is the group picture.

The tall white man sitting next to Sister Robison, is Bro. Mills, and was visiting us from Utah.  He has responsibilities for all international MTC's.  

He served in Japan on his mission, so the MTC staff took him out to the closest Asian restaurant we could find.  It was Korean style, but he still seemed to enjoy it and so did we. 

We are often busy as can be in our offices, but now and again we take a moment to say Hi to our friends at the MTC.

This is one of our instructors who came by my office. She is a big help to me in doing my job.

And some of our sister missionaries came by my office too. Often, they just want to say Hi.

Evans' Wedding

One of the kitchen staff named Evans adu Boateng, invited us to his wedding.  Here, they often have a cultural wedding, then a ceremony in the Church and then a sealing in the Temple.  We had never been to the first of these, so we were delighted for the cultural experience.  

We traveled several hours for the first part of the ceremony, which was held in the bride's cultural village.  Her family are not members of the Church.  The trip itself was interesting, because we got to see the area outside of the city we live in.  This area is in the mountains and quite beautiful with green hillsides and villages along the way.

As we walked to the house where the ceremony was held, I took a few pictures of the neighborhood folks.

 These ladies were pounding something, probably cassava.   They love to have their pictures taken.  Aren't their children cute!

When I stopped to take a picture, they offered me a bite, but I declined.   Maybe you would you like a bite?

While we were waiting for things to start, I walked around and these ladies wanted their picture taken with the "obrunie" lady (white lady).  This happens a lot.  They don't even know me, but they want to be in the picture.

We went with our MTC friend Cyril Mensah plus the lovely wife and darling little boy of our MTC manager Patrick and one of the instructors.   Cyril is a Bishop, so he was asked to do part of the traditional ceremony and then later the wedding at the Chapel.

At first, we sat in the chairs under the canopy,  in the yard of the house.  I took a few pictures of the preparations going on, and pictures of some of the guests.  I didn't get much of a picture of the house, only the yard, out buildings and porch area.  The house seemed quite nice and was built from concrete, but I didn't see inside.

I'm guessing that this outbuilding is either a bathroom or the kitchen. The house is on the right where you see the orange porch.

Here they are carrying various items outside to the celebration.  Of course, they carry everything on their heads, except their babies, whom they carry on their backs.

This may be a 2nd world country, but that doesn't mean that the little kids don't know about cell phones.  His mom gave him a cell phone, to have something to play with.  I saw her hand him the cell phone, and he worked on it until he got it turned on and he used his little thumbs to point and try to make it work.  There was no signal, but he liked the noise it made anyway.  He isn't even two years old yet.

After waiting for things to start, we were welcomed and asked to move to the porch, where family and closer friends were invited to sit for the ceremony.  We moved to the "groom's" family and friend's side, while the other side was for the bride's family and friends.

And now the negotiations began between the chiefs of the bride with the chief of the groom.  It was all in their native language, so we didn't understand much of the words, but we got the idea.  Fortunately, a young woman who sat next to us explained what was going on.  I could tell from what she said that she was a member of the Church and was very helpful.  Tradition here is that the groom offers certain gifts and money to show that he can care for his new bride, and  it is called "Bride Price".  The custom still prevails, but many are trying to get away from it as they modernize. The negotiations went back and forth for some time and finally the deal was struck. It took several hours. 

Finally, the real celebration could begin, with the groom arriving first and the bride being given to her groom, amidst clapping and drum beating .

The groom and friend

The groom is welcomed officially by one of the chiefs.

He waits for the arrival of his bride.

At last, they are ready for the ceremony, and so are we.  

Bishop Mensah conducted this part of the  ceremony.

Now it was time for stage two.  We adjourned to drive a little way to the Chapel for the religious ceremony and the reception.

It was cloudy, but warm.  The stake center is set in a beautiful, green mountain area.  Bishop Mensah gave a great talk and then performed the ceremony.

While we were there, we saw some of our MTC missionaries, who are now serving in the area.  It is always fun to see how they are doing, once they actually get into the field.  They say they are doing great and love serving.

The reception then followed, and we said our goodbyes until the next day.  

It was a long ride and a long day, but well worth the experience.  We attended their temple sealing the next day and that was the best of all.  The comparison was over whelming! Some said it was the Telestial, Terrestrial and then the Celestial experiences.

Back to Work

It's always nice to be back "home" at our MTC and be greeted by some of our lovely sisters.  

We had a little time before the newest arrivals, so we walked over to get our hair cuts and Gerald's nap.  We got a lot more than we expected.

The walk home was beautiful until Gerald stepped across a drainage ditch and reached back to help me across, and he fell into the concrete wall.  He hurt his legs very badly, but didn't break anything, which is surprising for how hard he hit.  He is slowly recovering, but it will be several weeks before the bruising goes away.  Lesson learned, don't help your wife.

He is blessed that he didn't break any bones.

Intake Day

Although he was hurting, intake day for the new missionaries came anyway, and he got through it.  He tried to minimize the number of times he had to climb the stairs to our apartment, which is on the 3rd floor.  He is doing much better now.

Our dear senior missionaries came to help the new missionaries with family history .  It is always fun to have them come.  
This is our dear friend, Sister Stutz and her new missionary badge.

One of our newest missionaries is Elder Cruz, who is from France. He is the handsome one on the left.   It took the handsome one on the right, back to the days when he was a young new missionary in France.  What fun to see missionaries from all areas of the world.

Shot Day

Shot day seems to roll around so quickly and before we know it, we are giving the immunizations again.  It's one of the few things they don't like about being here, but a necessary one.  We do try to make it fun for them.  We always have the Sisters come in first and the Elders wait in the hall for their turn.  Elder Sanders asked the sisters, after they were done, to give a united scream.  When I opened the door to let them out in the hall where the Elders were waiting, you should have seen the faces on the Elders.  We almost didn't get them to come in, but they finally did and it wasn't as bad as they thought.

Do I have too???

A Frenchman is brave!

Oh, this will be fun.

Easy for you to say!

I will try to act like a lady.

Yeah, right..

I don't care, I'm outa here.

This isn't as bad as I thought.

I made it in one piece.  Thanks guys.

Family History Workshop

With every new group, Gerald has many Family History questions to help them with.  They spend a lot of their free time learning what needs to be done, and then they may be able to do some of the temple work for their family.

More often than not, when I come into our office, this is what I find.  A bunch of missionaries gathered around Elder Malmrose's desk. 

 I got this picture of some of them all together.  We call it our "Oreo Cookie" picture. They are a close group.

Trip to the Textile Market

When we get a chance between our many responsibilities, we take short shopping trips.  One of the malls is right down by the beach, so here is a picture we snapped on a holiday, when the beach was full of people.

And here is what a tree lined street near the temple, looks like in Accra.

On one trip, we saw a cow chow line.  It reminded us of the MTC cafeteria.

Sister Robison and I also went to a local textiles market with two of our senior sister friends, Sister Wilde and Sister Curtis.  We are always impressed with the creativity of these artists.

Missionary Training

While all these other things are going on, the classes and training continue for the missionaries day in and day out.

It doesn't take long before they have great camaraderie. These Elders are all from Madagascar.  If you could see their names, you wouldn't believe how long they are.  Try to pronounce these:
                     Rakotoarimanga, Ramanantsoa, Randriamala, Razafiarimanana, etc., etc.
I just call them Elder.

Who says we don't have fun at the MTC?

Temple Trip

The joy of our next temple days arrived for us.

When we arrived at the temple on this day, we were greeted by a number of our MTC graduates who were at the temple.  It is always enjoyable to meet up with them and find out how they are doing.  All is well, they tell us.

What was really fun for us was meeting with Elder Despain, from our home ward in Washington.  He will be released soon, so we got to say goodbye to him and have him say Hi to the ward for us.

Senior Couple Trip

The senior couples invited us to go with them on a day trip to the Botanical Gardens and wood carver and bead markets. 

The gardens were fascinating.  The trees are unbelievable.      They have one that has been carved and is very interesting to see.

This gives some perspective.

A cinnamon tree that smelled great.

We came back later and got Sister Robison out of the tree, so we could have her in the picture of the carved tree..

Can you imagine the amount of time that went into this carving?

 We had to stop and check out the bead factory and then of course, stop for lunch at a beautiful resort in the mountains.

The brothers really enjoy this part of the outing, can't you tell.

 Actually, they do enjoy the camaraderie.

It is interesting to see how they crush old bottles by hand, and then make them into beads that they put in their handmade ovens.  Of course, all painting is done by hand, and they turn out beautiful. It might be boring work, unless of course, one has a cell phone.

I tried to get a job doing this, but they weren't interested.  I would have lasted about one day, if that.  What patience.

 All that walking made us really ready for lunch.  What a beautiful place.

Area Devotional

Another devotional for all of us.  Elder Koranteng, an Area Seventy, spoke to us.  As I recall, he speaks something like six languages.  What bright people there are here, and it's wonderful to see how they have embraced the Gospel.

We sure do come to love each of these wonderful young missionaries.  Many challenges lie ahead for them, but they are well prepared, and we have high hopes for them.

One of our elders from Madagascar, has a beautiful tenor voice.  We sang with him in a trio and that was such fun. 

By-Weekly Send-off

Once again, we send them off into the mission field to put into practice what they have learned.  We can see a lot of growth in just a few short weeks of training.  We have a farewell meeting the night before they leave, where each district sings a musical number for the rest of the missionaries.  

We usually give a little goodbye poem and say a few words.  This time Gerald told them a little about us and that I had been the girl back home, while he served his young mission in France.  When Pres. Robison got up after, he told them that we had been married for over 50 years.  They all stood up and cheered and applauded and the roof almost blew off.  What fun!