Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 2015


They say, whoever "they" are, that time flies on wings, and so it seems as we enter the last month of this year.  Truly, the time is flying by as we approach the holiday season. 

Our new group has arrived, and it is one of the largest groups we have ever had.  We are at full capacity and some of the American missionaries had to be sent to the Provo MTC, rather than to us because of space limitations.  Now we know why the Church is building a much bigger MTC in Accra.  We won't see it finished, but we have been watching it grow.  The Lord's work is truly expanding here in Africa.

We love them all short or tall!  These two sisters are companions, and it's fun to see them interact together.

Missionary Vaccanations

Upon their arrival, most of the missionaries get the little gift of health, and we always make it as much fun as can be, under the circumstances.

We're all in this thing together!

Temple Trip

At the first of the month, both the 2 week and the 6 week missionaries prepare to go into the mission field.  

We took them to the temple one more time before they head out..  It is so delightful to spend time with the sisters and of course the elders too.  

While we were at the temple, one of the Elders whom Elder Malmrose had helped do some of his family history, had grandparents that he wanted to have temple work done.  He asked us to stand in as proxy for his grandparents at the sealing, and we did so.  From then on, he called us "Grandpa and Grandma".  It was a privilege to do it for him.

The Sisters

We sure have come to love these good people.  What a joy it is to serve here with them and feel of their sweet testimonies of the Savior and His work.  And no, the blue colored clothes weren't planned, just inspired.

Our Relief Society is lots of fun, that's for sure.

Apartment Fridge Display

We make the best use of our small space here in the apartment, so the fridge gets lots of use.  We have pictures not only on the front, but on the sides as well.   Just a little reminder of home and how much we miss our family.

Two Week Break

After departures this time, we have a  two week break that is scheduled for maintenance, until just before Christmas.  This is the time that some of the senior couples take a break and travel or go home for a short time.  The Robisons decided to go to France and see their many friends.  They had to leave just before the missionaries were scheduled to depart, so they asked Elder Malmrose to conduct the Farewell Meeting.  This last group has been a fun and enthusiastic group, as well as a very large number, as we were at full capacity.  This made the program of each district singing a farewell song for the group, quite an experience.  We have never heard such enthusiasm in singing the songs of Zion.  What fun to share these precious moments with these wonderful young saints.

We stayed in the MTC for most of the time, but did plan a short few days away to see some of the sights that we had not as yet seen. Our dear friends the Sanders, invited us to go with them to a place called Ho.  We thought it was appropriate to visit a place with such a name, at this time of year.  It is a four hour drive north of where we live.  We were able to drive through many small villages and towns to see the "bush".  It is somewhat of a contrast to the city we live in.  The houses are simpler, some made of concrete and others made of mud with thatch roofs.  Even in the smaller villages, the people seem to be busy selling and doing things to keep busy.  They are an industrious people, and that's good to see.

The hotel we stayed in, is a brand new one that sits up on the hillside and overlooks the city.  It was clean, since we are one of the first to stay in it, and that was nice.  This time of year, the air is very hazy, something like smog.  It blows down from the deserts up north.

This is where our hotel room was. Even the nice hotel has thatched roofs.

It had a nice pool and a little restaurant. No missionary attire required.

We joined up with our senior couple friends, the Bodines, who are serving in the area.  They too, are lots of fun.  On our way up to a waterfall, we stopped at the young missionaries house.  The little branch meets here too, but they are in the process of finding a new place to meet.

We really liked their baptismal font.

We drove up to hike to the beautiful waterfall.  It was quite a hike, but well worth the effort. You probably can't tell from the picture, but there were hundreds of bats flying and hanging around on the left side of the waterfall.

 The local school children come up there to play and wade into the water and just have fun.  They were very friendly to us "Obrunies".

The hike was quite long, but had beautiful jungle scenery along the way.  We met other tourists from Germany along the trail, and visited with them while we took a well needed break.

This is a huge termite tower.  They use the clay from these to make the kilns and ovens.  These should be used as an example of patience and team work.

Now, on to the monkey preserve.  These cute little creatures were waiting for us humans to bring them some bananas, so we obliged.  For some reason, they liked the men better than the women.  Gerald wanted to pet them, but they usually just grabbed the banana and jumped away.  They wouldn't even take the fruit from me.  They must have been females.  All in all, we had a lot of fun just watching them play around.  What cute faces they have.  They look like someone drew eyeglasses around their eyes.  They seem almost human.

"Hey mister, I'm really hungry."

"Can I go home with you?"

"Gemmie, gemmie, gemmie."

"What do you mean, you are out of bananas?"

 It was a lot of fun to see these cute little creatures.

We stopped on the way back, at one of the members houses, where she has a bakery.  She provides a lot of bread for the people to sell around the area.  As you can imagine, the place smelled delightful.  She has quite a thriving business and for good reason.  They gave us a sample and it was delicious.

High tech ovens.

I wonder where they learn to do this?

Maybe they start early.

While we were sitting around, this little boy came up and adopted Gerald.  When we were ready to leave, the little boy didn't want him to go.  I guess he misses his grandpa.  Monkeys and children, all like Gerald.

On our way back, we also stopped by the tailor, who does work for some of the missionaries.  Gerald ordered a couple of ties from him and that will be fun to bring them home with us.

Back at the Sander's apartment, we had a little Christmas cheer with their Christmas giraffe.  What wonderful friends we have made here.

Christmas time intake

We had our intake day when the missionaries arrived.  Elder Malmrose surprised the missionaries by bringing in Santa to make the announcement about their getting their shots.  They were excited until he told him what he was there for.

Of course, we have to give them the little gift, but the Sander's made it fun for them by inviting Santa and Mrs. Claus along, They gave them a little lollipop for their bravery.  It was almost worth it.

"I like lollypops."

"We are soooo glad that it's over!"

Doctor and Sister Hill had their family visiting with them, so they brought them out to meet us.  Because of the distance, not too many of our families get this chance.  They said they are having a wonderful visit here in Ghana.  Neat experiences for them to share with their friends at home.

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve, we had a fun evening with the missionaries.  They presented some of their Christmas traditions from the many different countries around Africa such as Congo,  Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, and even, of all places, the USA.  Gerald presented them with his family tradition where his Dad always had them listen to "My Birthday Comes on Christmas", and he played the video from last year where he lip-synced and danced to the song.  They roared with pleasure

Christmas Day Devotional

The next day, we had a neat devotional with Elder and Sister Curtis, where they reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas.

As a gift from the MTC, they gave the missionaries a new journal and an MTC tee-shirt.  They are always thankful of any gifts they get.  Many of them come from rather poor circumstances, and they really do appreciate it, when others are thoughtful to them. They changed into their sports clothes and wore their new tees and played some fun games during the morning and early afternoon.

Do you think they were stoked?

Some of our sweet senior couples brought special food for our Christmas feasts.  It had been a long time since we had bread stuffing and it was a wonderful taste of home.  It think the missionaries liked it too.

We spent the afternoon playing board games, just for fun.  We noticed that some of the seniors seemed to be enjoying themselves even more than the young missionaries.  Strange how that happens.

 Don't worry, I'll keep her away. This is serious business.

Game over!

After that, they changed back into their missionary clothes and had an early dinner before a live broadcast devotional from Elder Bednar from the Provo MTC, which was broadcast to the Chili and Ghana MTCs.  But, the highlight of the missionaries day, was that they got to call their families back home.

That was the highlight of our day too.  Audra, David and Maggie Skyped us, and we got to see them face to face.  They will be picking us up when we fly home on February 1st, but who is counting.  We do miss our family and friends, but it won't be long now.

So, for our Christmas Greeting, here is a picture of one of the neat African Nativities.  They don't celebrate as much as we do in the States, but they do have their neat traditions.

We will use the more traditional nativity to send our greetings to you.

Wishing you joy, peace and love this Christmas season and the New Year to come.  It is truly about Him, our beloved Savior, and we celebrate his birth and life and his unparalleled gift of the Atonement to each one of us. 

 May we follow in His way and become more like Him, day by day.

Merry Christmas and much love from Africa.    Love,  The Malmroses