Tuesday, May 29, 2018

May 2018

The first week of May we see a change in the season, it rained twice this week and today there were many clouds. Hopefully, it will continue to rain. The dry season was very long and hot. Sister Russell and I got caught in the rain on an extended walk and we were soaked. Two families along the way invited us to take cover in their homes but we were out enjoying the warm rain.

Each Saturday we clean the chapel. Sister Russell and I are often accompanied by one or two other faithful members of the branch. We sweep every floor after the chairs are put up and then mop all the floors in the classrooms, chapel and offices. It takes us about two hours to do all the work. The last thing we do is clean windows and put chairs back for the Sunday meeting.

Missionary couples have to pay for their expenses. Our budget includes several costs. We pay our mission expense on-line through our ward account in the US. The expense for Ghana Africa West mission is $650/mo which includes our vehicle and housing. We also pay $520/mo for Aetna foreign medical insurance. We are paying half of the mission cost for Elder Alyworth and Elder Baker (our grandsons) another $400/mo. After tithing, FO, and food and living expenses our monthly total is around $3000/mo.

“Lights Out” is the phrase the local people use when there is no electricity. The rainy season brings on loss of electricity. There is often an electrical storm which damages the power supply.  We lost power for over 12 hours this week.

We moved the James Taylor family this week from GMAD to an apartment across the road.

The house construction next to our home is undergoing. The hand construction is remarkable and all without mechanical or modern tools. We are photographing the progress of this four bedroom home.

Olivia and Samuel Buffeo are two children we have grown to love. Their parents live in a small one room home with 5 people sleeping inside. Samuel recently joined the church and we see them regularly at our place. Sister Russell and I are of the opinion the government education system is no advantage to their education and are putting them into private school tomorrow. It is not expensive, around $30-40/mo for the two of them.

Next week we start the apartment inspections, 18 in total before transfers coming up. It takes us three full days of driving and carrying supplies to the missionary apartments. Unfortunately, we have to travel through the suburbs of Accra and gave up our “bush” travel to the Hills.
Lastly, I am feeling much better from virus infection that turned into a bacterial lung infection. Fortunately, I had 10 days supply of Ciprofloxin antibiotic on hand.
12 may 2018

Well, poor Samuel could not take the change in schools. He was missing his friends and did not want to change schools. So he is back into his old school. Olivia, however, is very happy to be in a new school, so she is going to continue at the new school. She will have such an advantage over her brother in the future.

The apartment inspection went well, with regards to visiting all the apartments except New Weija. The elders were not home when we could be there. The boot of our truck was completely full of supplies needed by the elders. Even so, we did not have all the items they needed and will have to return in the near future.

This weekend is Stake Conference. We will go to Kasoa Stake tomorrow.

“Transfer Day” – Well, prior to transfer day we do apartment inspections. There are 18 apartments in our three districts which we inspect. Three days time is required to travel to all the apartments. The roads are rough and the traffic is heavy. It takes a toll on my back. Then following the inspections we are very busy with transferring missionaries to their destinations or transfer stations so they can travel by tro-tros leaving our area. On Monday we took three missionaries back to Accra mission office. On Tuesday we moved Breku back to the Buduburam mansion and then Elder Mashos to Bawjiase. On the way we stopped at Kasoa 1-4 , Kaso 2 and Ashtown. We took Elders Staples, Kabaya and Bakam to the Tro terminal with all their luggage. Back from Bawjiase we brought Elder Antwi to Ashtown. By the time it was over we had spent 12 hours traveling the mission.

We have a new district leader, Elder Lundquist. After today’s district meeting we took Elders Davies and Tuatuvuki to teach Balinda in Ojobie. Then we drove to Ansufal to spray an apartment for insects and deliver a package. On the way back we picked up Eric at GMAD and had a birthday party for him. I had cooked goat light soup and bought banku with birthday cake to finish the meal. After taking him home it was way after dark.

This has been an interesting week, especially since we also had to arrange for Samuel to be put back into the better school. His parents insisted he go to a better school. We purchased shoes, backpacks and notebooks for him and his sister Olivia.

The month of May is full of events as usual. Eric from GMAD had a birthday. I took him to Yoo Marta to buy drinks and biscuits for the kids at the orphanage. Then I picked him up on Thursday to celebrate his birthday here at our home. I cooked his favorite food of goat stew and banko. Eric is a paralyzed from waist down from a car accident when he was 3 years old.  A missionary couple (Woods) ,have cared for him on their mission.

Kwime and Belinda from Ojobi are our good friends have had us to their farm several time while the family sat for missionary discussion. There is rift with him and the stake president. He claims to have never been married to the mother of 3 children before he civilly married Belinda. We have been in the middle of the debate. Ghanaian laws and traditions make or brake marriages.

Sister Russell and I have been to Swedru on several occasions from assignments from Pres. Simpson. Any time there is a serious sin we have to do a special interview to determine the worthiness for baptism. There have been very special and spiritual meeting with those wanting to be baptized.

Last week was inspection week and transfer day. Wow, busy times! We inspect three districts: Buduburam, Kasoa and Kaneshie. There are 18 apartments so it takes us three full days. Also we arrange to supply them with necessities. Transfer day was sun up to sun down work! We had to move companions in and out of apartments. We had to take missionaries to bus terminals.  We had to drive back and forth to and from apartments.

In the middle of inspections and transfer was Kasoa Stake Conference. The meetings are always an opportunity to haul members to Kasoa. We had a load of people in and in the back of our vehicle. There was standing room only. (A lady said this week that our church was a “white man’s” church. Well among the 2000 at conference I counted 7 white people. Every meeting was officiated by our black leaders.

Then on Monday, 21 May 2018 we met with Elder Nash and Elder Soares (our new apostle). We met in the auditorium of the new MTC. All three hundred missionaries (Accra and Accra West Ghana missions) shook their hands. The messages were profound with spirit. Elder Nash was so inspired to speak about Truth-Agency-Integrity and how they connect. Elder Soares spoke about the mission handbook and obedience. It was all very wonderful.

The temple trip this month was a disaster! We were expecting to take two of our friends (sister Linda and brother Daniel) have collected their family members to take to the temple. We prepared indome and egg meals for 50 people. Then Pres. Sackety called the night before to tell us it was primary kids not adults going to the temple. Wow, switch! We ended up taking 9 primary kids to the temple. Five young girls in the back seat and 4 boys in the boot, it was stop to urinate, stop to get food, stop to throw-up. The traffic was heavy and we were late. The meeting with the kids was a walk around the temple, a couple of short talks and then drawing paper to sketch the temple. We were so glad to get home and I had to take the truck down to get it cleaned up.

Our district meeting are in Buduburam every Wednesday at 11:00am. In our district there are two groups. We rotate the two groups of missionaries to dinner each Sunday evening.
This week I had invited the children to cook chicken and vegetables on the cook pot charcoal stove. Then a couple of other kids show up and it ended up in a fist fight and I had to send three boys home.

Samuel and Dennis had hair cuts costing me 3 CDs each. Then I bought an extra two flashlights for children walking home after dark. I also bought notebooks for Dennis and Ivy.

This week I had to take Elder Parker to the St. Joe hospital because he has two very ugly spider bikes. He is in trouble with the abscess and necrotic tissue loss. Spiders are nasty!

Lastly, I am in the snail farming business. Linda (our friend) has given me a number of snails to raise so we can have a feast. I had to build a box to keep them in and feed them so they will get FAT!

Elder Soares


Building new house

Temple Trip with Primary



Senya Castle

Spider bite!

Snail farm

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April 2018

General Conference today, we traveled to Kasoa Stake center to view conference. We were able to see the Saturday afternoon session and the Saturday priesthood session. To our pleasure, we listened to Pres. Nelson as he introduced the “new” ministering approach to home teaching. We also learned about the “elders” quorum being composed of both elders and high priests. We can read the other conference reports as they come to us on-line or in the Liahona.

Wednesday we had our first district meeting with our new district leader, Elder Staples. We were busy in transfers on Tuesday. I had to portage beds, missionaries, bicycles, literature and packages to Ashtown, Buduburam, Breku, Bawjisae and Kasoa. It was a very busy day for me.

Friday we began our day visiting the sister missionaries in Kasoa 5 and replacing may of their lights in and outside the apartment. 
Now for the big occasion this week. Saturday began at 7:00am as we traveled to GMAD to have our vehicle decorated for the wedding of Abu and Anita. The wedding was scheduled to be held at Kasoa stake center at 10:00am. Well we waited for the bride to be made up at GMAD until 12:00. By the time we drove her to the wedding it was nearly 1:00pm. After the wedding we drove the groom and bride back to GMAD for a grand reception. Tired we arrived home to have 7 kids over to play soccer while we took a nap.

The real reason we needed rest was the fact it started to rain at 5:00am. The first rain for months! It was a hard rain for one hour. It was most appreciated and an answer to prayers.

As we entered April it seems so sudden and now it is half way through the month and I have not realized two weeks have passed into this transfer. There has been a lot of talk about the two major policy changes made at conference.  Our new prophet, President Nelson is a shaker and a mover at 93 years of age.

This week following conference we visited Aboso (not in our assigned area) to do a special interview with a sixty-two year old lady. She had nine children and two husbands of which both had expired. The sisters of Aboso were teaching her needed a special interview due to a mistake she had made in her youth. The atonement can cover so much of what we do wrong with true repentance. We met up with Elder and Sister Hill to have dinner at the “Green” round house in Swedru.

Our Sunday meeting was the regular sacrament with primary for Sister Russell following then I joined in as the teacher of the Teachers for the last hour. It is not so difficult now since I no longer have the Priests and Deacons.

Monday Sister Russell and I took Eric from GMAD to shop at the West Hills Mall. He is the crippled boy in a wheelchair who is incontinent. We endured the smell and glad to have him with us. He is sponsored by the Woods from New Zealand, former missionaries here in Ghana.

This week we traveled to Accra to exchange bicycles and pick up supplies from the mission office. We also went to the pharmacy, then picked up two bicycles before heading to the mission office. After saying hello to Bill and Binki we traveled home. The next day we began our deliveries after our district meeting. Elder Staples, the new district leader is outstanding.

The weekend has been spent hosting the mission president (Simpson) and his wife while he interviews his missionaries in Winneba stake. Sister Simpson road along as we attended to business. Each evening we played cards to relax and enjoy their company.  He is a busy man and had to deal with the Lord’s army, right or wrong. He was heavy hearted having to send an elder home early for breaking the rules.

This weekend Bishop Eggan from Tema arrived to tell us the builders will be here Monday to finish work on the house next to our living quarters. The foundation is in place and now we are surrounded with all kinds of building materials ready to start the work. Bishop estimated about two months to completion! We shall see!

The birthday party dominated this week. Since we have been caught up following the visit of our mission president and the missionaries are settled following the transfer, the last few days have been quiet. We did take the Breku missionaries to visit a family we invited to learn about the gospel. Following the direction we prayed for on Sunday, President Sacatey visited with our missionaries in our home pleading for more families to be brought into the branch. That was Sunday. Then on Wednesday we had the birthday party for Samuel Buffo. He turned 11 years old. I ordered a cake to be made by Rose (the home econ teacher at Winton School). The family of Samuel came to the party. Samuel cooked sausages on the cook pot and I grilled chicken on the BarBQ pit. Dawn and Georgina made rice and pineapple. With the building crew, missionaries and family members we had over 20 people here. We gave Samuel his own Book of Mormon and exercise books in math and science. All in all it was a very busy and exciting time.

This week began with a busy Sunday as usual. I have the Teachers quorum third hour each Sunday. Monday we had the Shepherds family over for dinner. I picked them up at GMAD where they are staying for several months. Cody his wife, Rachel and four children are here on an extended stay. They need our help in shopping and transportation. They are struggling since the children do not like the food they are serving at the orphanage.

We spent the day in Kasoa at the multi-zone conference. It is always good to hear the president instruct us. He wants the missionaries to include temple preparation following baptism for all the new converts.

We took Cody and his family to the West Hills Mall today. Sister Russell got her hair cut by Rich the stylist. She asked about coloring her hair and he said they did but had only one color. “What might that be”, said she? He responds, “Black”.

Painting Gloryham School

Samual's birthday cake

Kite time

                       Obiya and family

New home construction

Thursday, March 29, 2018

March 2018

The beginning of March marks the 5 month of our mission. We are in a long transfer period of 9 weeks instead of 6 week period. That gives us more time to do the apartment inspections. The Hills have now moved on to Oda and so we do not have their help. This week was spent providing materials to the missionaries and taking Elder Cox to the hospital. He, Elder Christopherson and Elder Mashos all thought they had malaria, but are suffering from another infectious agent, most likely a virus.

I have been called to serve as the young mens' president for our branch. There is a new teacher for the youth Sunday School so I will be just teaching the Teachers and Deacons on Sunday. This last week there was a young mens' activity where they built money boxes at the church. What a deal! There were twenty five boys and several leaders sawing, hammering and painting their constructed boxes used to collect money. I provided all the materials and food and drinks for all.

This next week we are going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead and then the following week we are going to Winneba Beach for a day's outing. We are very busy with Awutu Breku branch activities.

In addition, Sister Russell and I do her visiting teaching of five sisters in the branch. It requires some travel each week. Basically we are on the road all the time. Each day there is usually a full schedule.

We are now planning to assist with the temple excursion on Saturday and the Luau on Monday with the Kasoa zone missionaries. Lots to do and so little time!!

The month of March is dry but no “homitan” so the air is clear and very hot. Our branch in Breku had a temple excursion to Accra Saturday and there were about 40 youth who did baptisms and confirmations for deceased family members. Dawn and I supplied meals for all which consisted of vegetable rice with one boiled egg, a dab of shito (hot spice) and two cookies wrapped. All was set in a small Styrofoam container closed with a rubber band and tucked aside was a disposable fork and napkin. No clean up required. We bought two bags of water sachets. They devoured the meals and water.

This week we had a work party here for the district elders. They helped me clean up our entrance by restacking a huge pile of construction boards back on the foundation of the unfinished apartment. We also placed 4 – 300# concrete lids on top of our sewer (tough job). Then they helped construct a 3’ concrete block wall around the Bar B Que pit we will use to cook the pigs on Monday. Finally, we moved a huge pile of granite rock from off the driveway to clear the drain path to the outside wall.
After the work party, Dawn took the elders to the Gloryham school to paint the multicolored walls in bad repair. Grahm, the headmaster of the school, bought oil based paint and what a mess it was to clean up. We still have much to do there.

Now a report on Martha….Nearly two months ago Dawn and I saw a woman sitting on the road side near our home for 4 days. Dawn gave her money to buy food, she said nothing. Then on the 5th day we saw her sitting on a rock near a neighbor's home. She had started a fire near the cassava field and the men were putting it out. We asked about her and they knew nothing concerning her. She was very unkempt and Dawn said we are going to take her home.

We walked her home and she told us her name was Martha. Dawn took off her clothes and showered with her to clean her up and shampoo her hair full of weeds. She stayed with us for two days until we could get an appointment with a psychiatrist referral from Dr. Blackwell from the mission.  After much effort and expense we were able to admit her to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, a days drive down and back. She has been there over a month under medication. We have visited her twice since she was admitted.

We found a social worker, Solomon, at Ghana Make A Difference orphanage and hired him to find out more about her. We took Solomon with us to see her and he was able to speak with her in her native language of Krobo. We found out where she had come from. Then Solomon took the next day at our expense to go to a very distant place to find out more. He was visited in Samanya proviince the community of Krobo but was unable to establish her residence as Martha said she was fromMesaoa some three hours drive on dirt from Krobo.

We three decided to all go to Krobo the next week. On our way I was convinced we needed to take Martha with us in case she could be recognized or help in the search.

Once we reached Krobo after several hours of driving, we stopped atthe same gas station Solomon had inquired about Martha the week before. While we were talking with the attendant a young lady heard our conversation and look in at Martha. She said she knew the family.

We ended up in a market place where the local people recognizedMartha. Then we were told she had family living there. We were able to take Martha to her aunt’s house and they knew who she was.

This is what they told us: Martha had been gone for 2 1/2 years. She has three children when she became mentally ill. Her husband had taken her to the same Accra Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. She returned under doctor's care and was living with her aunt because her parents have died and her husband was so far away from available medical help.

Martha stopped taking her medication and became deranged then left with nothing after a disturbing episode with the aunt.

Once we found the family in Krobo and her aunt was willing to keep her, I arranged with a pharmacist and doctor at the local Catholic hospital to make sure she got her injections and tablets. I ended up paying in advance for the medication and then added a large sum of money to help the aunt support her in our absence.

We left Krobo after Dawn read stories to the children living within the housing where Martha is staying. I brought FanIce treats for all 17 of the kids and then we departed. There were lots of tears andthank you as we departed.

The rest of the story: Today I got an early phone call from Solomon letting me know that the aunt called and they had lost Martha but found her roaming the neighborhood. She got her medication and then the aunt called me to say thank you once again and Martha was fine and would stay.
This has been a good experience for us while on the mission, notrelated to our work but related to our cause. FAMILY!

A day in the mission: this has been one of those days which lately have been coming quite often. Up before dawn getting ready to go over on Saturday morning to clean the chapel and all the classrooms, by sweeping and then wet mop all floors. We have a skeleton crew each Saturday so we really feel we must be there to help. Following the cleaning we get ready for the baptism services. Five candidates are being baptized. Two of them are people we have been fellowshipping. I am on the program and afterwards take all the wet clothing home to wash and dry. In addition, coming home with 4 missionaries in the truck and 5 youth in the back, we are always open for visitors. We fed the youth FanMilk and sent them home. The 4 missionaries ate the PBJ sandwiches I put together while Sister Russell took a nap. After cleaning up the dishes and kitchen we all relaxed until time to go again.
Sister Russell took the 4 missionaries to Glorygram school to finish painting the walls as a service project. I drove over to the branch president’s house, Pres. Sacitey and we headed to Kasoa to pick up the Relief Society president. After an hours drive through heavy traffic, we were 17 minutes late getting to Kineshie Stake center.

As the Young Men’s president I was asked to attend a 4 hour meeting on preparing the youth to serve full time missions. The Area Office provided the meeting content with Pres. Vincent presiding and Elder Quasie conducting. After extensive instruction, videos, slide show and lengthy discussions we broke for a snack before the final hour of council groups.

Following the meeting I provided a ride for the branch president, the relief society president, the first councilor and the primary president. We had to stop at Yoo Mart to pick up ice cream and supplies for the 68th birthday of my beautiful wife. Once I got everybody home and unloaded the truck I had to start the meal for tomorrow. We are having a family from Owjobi here to eat goat soup and chicken and noodles. I had to get the soup going while Sister Russell stayed up and finished her song chart for tomorrow’s primary.

Fortunately, I had got my lesson material ready for tomorrow’s priesthood class. We have lots to talk about following the meeting today. I am tired and want to go to be but first had to have Mac and Cheese since I had not eaten since morning.!!! A day in the mission!
PS. I have got to get up early before church to bake a cake and prepare chicken for the meal while we are in our meetings.  We are as busy here are we were in Marysville, CA with major callings in the church i.e. high council and RS president.

Just returned from apartment inspection in the Kasoa stake, it took us all day until 5:30pm. The Kasoa zone is spreading out. We are now driving to Bawjase north of Kasoa 45 minutes out of town. We have four elders (Helu, Ofosu Hene, Tutulavuki and Roberston) living there for the first time. Setting up the two apartments takes a lot of supplies and time. We delivered bicycles, white boards, curtains and all necessary supplies for the two apartments next to each other. I loved how the curtains were installed by Elder Helu from Tonga. He pounded nails into the curtains of the window frames and wah-la finished. These elders are not sisters!

Winneba district were here last night for tin foil dinners. The six elders put their selection of potatoes, carrots, squash, onions, pineapple and meat (hamburger and hot dogs) into the tin foil and I put them on the fire of my huge bar-b-que pit. Sister Russell supplied cookies and ice cream for desert. We played Apples to Apples to entertain the elders. After we passed out the mail and Liahona they ventured home by Tro-Tro.

Work around the house. We have done extensive work outside around the home where we live. I had a lot of help from the elders in doing the work. We put concrete lids on the septic tank (5 lids each over 300#) and cleared the driveway of lumber, large granite rock and piles of dirt. I reconstructed the bar-b-que pit and cleared off any debris. With Richard’s help in cleaning up the lawn and clearing out the weeds, it really looks much better. 

I continue to repair the walking bridge near the Glorygram school. Our service project is ongoing since the bridge gets heavy use and in need to constant repair.

We have followed up on our visits to our missionaries and have just one more day of inspections coming up the last Tuesday of the month.

I received notice Susan Marusha from H&R Block has completed the 2017 tax statements. Dennis Croft, our neighbor will take in the payments due this week and thus ends another tax year. We pay a lot of taxes both federal and state. The convenience of on line document submitting makes it possible for us to file taxes living in Africa.

The last week of March is the end of our first six month of the mission. The week has been full of entertaining KIDS! Each day after school we have 4-6 neighbor kids show up to visit us. Some have recently been baptized and some are taking the discussions. Nohad is a young boy who has dregs and is very bright. His father did not want him to join the church because he is a Moslem and Nohad will loose his inheritance.

On our walk today with Samuel (another young man we visit with) we saw two very large black Emperor Scorpions. I sent a photo to Elder Baker along with a gecko lizard in my first letter to him from Africa.

Lastly, the cultural event at the Kasoa stake center this week was grand. Each of the units represented a tribe with dancing, singing and drum playing. At the very end there was dancing to “the Twist”. Sister Russell and I got up front and showed them how to do the Twist!! So fun!

The Hills and Russells at the beach

Gorginia's Classroom

Young Men project making Money Boxes

Martha and her family

Painting Gloryham School service project

Preparing meals for the temple trip

Winneba tin foil dinner night

Sister Russell serving meals at the temple

Our yard following clean up

Saturday's baptism

Goat stew with FuFu

Lunch with Bawjiase elders

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

02 February 2018

This week we had a primary activity at the branch on Saturday. The children played several different games i.e. sack race, musical chairs, pin the tail on the goat etc. I believe we can only do this once a year because of sanity reasons. However, the popcorn and FanMilk was well accepted.
Sister Russell has had the young women over for an activity and as they arrived we had a wonderful rain storm. Much needed rain fell heavily for 30 minutes. The young women then ate noodles and veggies and popcorn as well.

The Hills were with us as we traveled to the apartments in Ansufal, Swedru, Odoben, Brakwa and Asikuma.. an all day event of over 250K. They are having a hard time with the heat and require constant air conditioning in the car and in the house.

Today Bro. Hill and I delivered light bulbs and tire pump to the Kasoa elders. Our home had visitors for two days, the Hills and the Simpsons. However, the pull on the electricity from all the AC units and fans caused the fuse to fail. So we spent the night in a warm house.  Thank heavens, I got a comfortable sleep since we did not have the cold air blowing on us.

We have visited many of our missionary apartments with Bill and Binki. We made the rounds in the Kasoa Stake to Kasoa 4 in Millennium City to pick up bicycle then on to Ashtown for deliveries. We did a small amount of shopping at the Kasoa market but Binki was not feeling well.
Saturday was the funeral for Constance. We all attended a very lovely eulogy by members of the family and message from our stake president, Pres. Simons. Finally we went to the grave site near Bonotrase.

The week of February 14 was our trip to Mole National Park. After staying with the Simpsons we left early in the morning from Accra to Tamale, then a long Land Rover ride to Mole. The scenery was different, very clean and very dry.

Our stay at Ziana Lodge was outstanding. It was first class with comfortable tent cabins of the highest quality. Each day was filled with safari style travel to see all the animals i.e. elephants, antelope, birds, crocks and a variety of monkeys. The food was exceptional and the accommodations were great. The swimming pool was beautiful above the look out area beneath a watering hole. Each day was special and our visit with 4 other couples from the Area Office was enjoyable.
Once we were back in Accra we stayed with the Simpsons and attended the Moodabi ward before traveling home. The Hills greeted us with dinner prepared. How wonderful.

The next day on Tuesday we traveled to Accra to begin the couples conference for three days. Much was given in the way of instruction and review of mission statements from the Area Office and our mission president. As always the food was plentiful and delicious. I did manage to sneak away and swim in the complex swimming pool at night. Then on Wednesday we traveled home with Bill and Binki driving as our truck was filled with bicycles and supplies.
This week Dawn and I visited for the last time the Winneba stake apartments. They will be given over to the Hills once they leave for Oda.

This week was the last week with Bill and Binki Hill. Yesterday we went to the beach near The West Hills Mall. Abraham, a young man at the beach, helped us park and then started a meal of lobster cooked over a small fire and boiling pot. Then I helped fishermen dry dock their boats. They had fish and I bought one for $20 cedi. Abraham grilled it up. We ate with our hands at a small handmade table.

This week we also traveled to Accra to visit with Martha. We had with us Solomon, a social worker from GMAD. We are making plans to take her back to her residence.

Baptism at Awutu Breku

Tin foil dinner at Russells

Binki Hill and Dawn with baby goats

Zaina Lodge safari

Swimming pool at Zaina Lodge

Elephant at Mole Park

Day at the Mole Park Animal reserve

Boat trip with the group from Accra

Inside the lodge

Friday, February 2, 2018

 January 2018

So glad to be back home in Awutu Breku for the New Year. This week we were back to business as unusual. I always say each day in Africa is filled with something unusual. Firstly, we may have solved the water problems. Elder and Sister Wood stayed with us. They are missionaries from Kamase mission in Ghana. Elder Wood showed me how to fill the polytank with water from the bore hole (well). It worked and now no more water tank truck!

Our Burduburam district meeting Wednesday got us back on track for teaching and finding. There are 4 baptisms this Saturday at the Breku branch. We also met with Linda and brought her food and clothes washing powder.

After the district meeting we took 4 missionaries out to Ghana Make A Difference for Elder Nimly to interview 2 for baptism. While there we learned Pres. Monson had passed on in an unusual way. During the interview with a sister Elder Nimly (district leader) asked if she believed that Pres. Monson was a living prophet and she said NO! He was surprised and then she explained he was dead!

A note in regards to an incident at GMAD, Elder and Sister Redlin from the welfare area office were on tour with the Hofmans. While they were there a puff adder snake was discovered on the school grounds. It was disposed of and I mentioned I knew Dr. Deberry, director of Hogle Zoo in the 60’s who died from a bite of a puff adder. Sister Redlin knew him. This was the third puff adder seen by missionaries this week.

A lot of time was spent in the Kasoa market buying supplies for the missionaries in the Winnaba stake. We also updated the apartment for the Kasoa 2 apartment for Elder Egessa and Elder Fash. We picked up a white board from them and today took it to Elders Zhoa and Lorilla in Brakwa some 200 K away. We stopped by to see Elder Briggs and Price in Asikuma and had lunch with them before driving on to Brakwa and Odoben. In Odoben we picked up mail for Elder Birtchell and replaced lights for Elder Davies.

The next stop was Aboso to repair a toilet and shower for the sister missionaries, plus we brought them many kitchen items. Then we got trapped in a “New Year’s” parade going to visit Swedru 2 missionaires, i.e. Elders Bates and Carter. We picked up their bicycles and dropped off an iron. The parade was most remarkable! There were hundreds if not a thousand marchers dressed up in elaborate costumes. There was even two on stilts.

After a long wait in the crowded streets of Swedru we drove to Winneba and stopped at Elder Beck and Keith’s to deliver dictionaries they requested. It is always enjoyable to visit with the elders. Finally in Wenneba 1&3 we brought the elders a cook top which I installed, along with a case of BofM and Restoration pamphlets. Elders McCrea, Afoso Hene, Akpan and Burnett were doing well. Elder Burnett has been out 3 weeks and adjusting well. (Some missionaries from the states have to get over the change in culture.)

The trip today took us from 7:30am to 5:00pm. We saw a parade, many children and wanderers along the roadway, a major truck accident and stopped at a roadside fruit stand to buy oranges, mangos and sweet potatoes. This is our Africa!! We love the people, the fruit and the missionaries.

The second week of January has been busy. We still have very hazy skies and now very dry. I had to water all the many flowers and plants around the property. Richard, our neighbor, came over to let me know that he put in all the plants on the property. He said the plants needed watering. Fortunately, we have bore hole water and I was able to put water on all the plants in and around the house as well as the sweet potatoes. The pump is working on the bore hole so we have water without having to have it brought by a truck.

We invited Gram and Gloria to dinner. He is the owner of a grade school in our area. He is the brother of Constance (the RS president) who died recently. He has a nice family of two children and a very nice home at the school. We want to repair the paint on the walls of his school and decorate with children’s art as a community project.

Our visit with Eric this week went well. He is learning to read quite proficiently. On our way out to the orphanage we dropped the missionaries off to teach the Alhaasn family in Ojobi near Awketsi near Breku where we live. We like to stop at the junction of the Cape Cost highway and Awketsi because we can get boiled corn and plantain bananas for lunch.

This week we made a couple of trips to Accra. We went down on Wednesday. Pres. Simpson wanted me to assist in a decision making with regards to an elder who was going home early. We stayed the night and came home Thursday. Then on Friday morning we went back to go to the temple with Elders Oldman and Kabeya.

We went to the church early Saturday morning to clean and attend a baptism at 8:00am. The baptism was at 11:00 due to a delay in Kingsley getting to the branch. Then a branch party was scheduled for 2:00pm. Basically a dinner and church video and we ate at 5:30pm. Dawn and I provided rice with veggies. I mean an entire wash tub of cooked rice. There were about 100 people and most were children. We had rice, fufu and light soup (goat stew in very spicy broth). One thing happened while Dawn and I were waiting for the food,,she walked up the road to talk to a seamstress and there were a bunch of boys along the road calling to me, “white man”. I went over and talked to them. They wanted a bicycle from me but I just showed them how to make bird calls using my cupped hands and then a shrill whistle with a grass reed between my thumbs. Then it got interesting when I asked them to catch a chicken, which they did to my surprise. I then hypnotized the creature and they were fascinated.

I took the chicken down to the branch and showed the elders how to do the same with the chicken. When I took it back up the road and let it go it shot out of sight.

Good news, Bill and Binki Hill are coming to Ghana Africa to serve in the Accra West Mission. They will be staying with us for three weeks while their apartment is being renovated.

This week we are enjoying all the activities of the mission. Fresh pineapple, mangos, papaya, etc are the norm here. The food is basically African fufu, banku  and wakwe. We still shop for American style meals. This week we fed the missionaries hot dogs and potato salad. Pres. Simpson and his wife were here for district meetings and interviews. Sister Simpson went with us to Ghana Make a Difference to meet with Eric, Raymond and Devine whom we teach English. She also went shopping with us to buy Rx for Linda who we care for each week.

This week something new happened at night at our home. The outside alarm went off (siren and flashing red lights) indicating a break in the electric protective fence. After I turned on the outside lights and looked around not seeing anyone in the compound, I started to inspect the fence. A flashing spark in one area indicated the reason for the alarm. It was a large spider trapped between wires going up in smoke. After some time I was able to stop the alarm by entering in code numbers until I hit the right one, thank heavens for tender mercies in getting the right sequence.

Elder and Sister Wood stayed with us for the last time until they go home in three weeks. They bought Eric at Ghana Make a Difference an ATV to travel around while they are gone. We also had the Kasao zone for dinner on Monday night. We had chicken BarBQ sandwiches with potato salad and pineapple. Ice cream and apple crisp was for dessert. There were 14 of them here for dinner.
This week we had a multi-zone conference at Kineshe stake building. Pres. Simpson called the conference on account of contention among the missionaries. Although the mission is baptizing almost 30 new members/week there is much concern over the difficulties between companions. At the end of this month we will have been in Africa for four months.

The days are getting longer but time is getting shorter. We had a busy week doing apartment inspections before the transfer date. Every six weeks we visit each facility and assist in the upkeep. This requires extensive travel through distant communities. We feel like the Fuller Brush Man coming with all kinds of supplies and products. Plus I am the Fix-It man as well. I have rebuilt beds, caulked sinks, plumber work, replaced cook tops, replaced propane regulators etc. and Dawn is really strict on apartment cleanliness.

Today we had scheduled a service project at Graham's School in our community. However, the head master did not show up with the paint so we scrapped off the old paint and went down and repaired the community bridge. Later we gathered at our place and built a Bar-B-Q pit and cooked foil dinners for 14 missionaries. I wanted to repay them because we did not have a chance to paint.

My thoughts are with my mother as she is turning 90 years old the end of January. I have great respect for her. She is such a wonderful person and a good friend. I hope she will continue to do well.
We called and talked with Julia. She was recoving from G.I. problems but in good spirits.

The last week of January here in Africa, it is still warm and dry, very dry. We have been busy as usual but in an unusual way. Four days we saw a lady sitting on the curb of an adjacent street. Then while walking in the morning on Tuesday she was sitting on a rock with three men nearby putting out a fire she had started. They said she was troubled and could have started a large fire and burn the crops. Dawn talked with her and then picked her up and we brought her home. She was extremely dirty and un-kempt.  Dawn showered with her and washed her up. Her hair contained many grass awns and burrs. Here clothes were so worn and dirty so I washed them a couple of times and disposed of the rest of her belongings which were beyond repair or cleaning. Her name was Martha. We called Dr. Blackwell for advice and she put us in contact with a psychiatrist in Accra. Wednesday we took her to the mission home where she slept at the foot of our bed and the next day Dawn admitted her in at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital. The procedure started at 9:00am and ending at 3:00pm. Martha is a lost soul and deranged. She will spend one month there and hope to locate a relative or she will be back on the street. There were over 400 patients living at the institution. Mental illness is here to stay here in Africa.   

Foil dinner with Kasoa elders

The Garden of Eden

Black on White

Saturday baptisms

Our Linda breast cancer survivor

Our RS president died of diabetes


Vendor sleeping above the freeway
on top of the world!

Famous coffin maker

Creative coffins