Yesterday was the first day of February and I started the month with one very long and hard mountain bike ride. Dawn stayed home while I ventured off to my “Wilderness Trail”. Through the neighborhood and into the foot trails of the bush north of here, I rode to the top of the mountain. The last leg was “bush whacking” through brush on the advise of a man who said I could get to the other side. Well, there was no other side but just more bush and thorns and stickers!
On my way back I rode the trail to the main road from Awutu Breku to Bonetrase. It was up hill all the way on the paved road to the cut off to home.
After a shower and several sachets of water, I laid on the bed to cool down!! What a way to start the new month.
Senya elders had three baptized today at the Awutu Breku chapel. Florence, Justice and Richmond joined up with the saints in Senya. Tomorrow is Fast Sunday and we are meeting in Winneba with the 2nd branch. The branch president will arrange for interviews with our new members for a temple trip on the 23rd of February.
The Simpsons are staying with us tonight, as President Simpson has meeting today and tomorrow in Winneba. It is always a delight to have them with us. I made Bar B Que chicken wings, fresh green beans and bacon along with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Mountain bike riding in Africa is a challenge, not so much due to the terrain but due to so many people, goats, chickens and motos on the trails we ride. There is only one area where we live that we can ride and not dodge people walking, of bicycles or taxis in areas that cars are not usually seen.
Dawn and I rode to an outlying area called Nkwanetantane, not by design but because we were lost. Thinking we would come to the end of a housing community we rode to the top of a distant hill. Once we arrived we could see houses scattered for miles across the hills. Only about ¼th of all the houses are ever completely finished. There are no organized roads or streets with signs or house numbers. There is no mail service in all of Africa. There are no rules as to where a person can put his garbage or set a post. It is basically hundreds of thousands of people living in every available space with whatever material means they can acquire.
The missionaries can barely scratch the surface in talking with all the people in their areas. They are led by the spirit to seek after the righteous and willing souls. The rest will have to be sorted out in the millennium.
The missionaries have no way of keeping track of people’s addresses, only by landmarks and GPS coordinates. I am impressed by how far they travel and who they contact. Each person has a story and a life, some are willing to listen and some are willing to sacrifice their time and energy in attending our meetings on Sunday. Each Sunday we have new people show up to our meetings. Last Sunday there were 53 in attendance, 29 were primary children.
Last night was a cook out for the neighbor kids. Dennis and Ransford helped me wash the car. Olivia, Ivy and Samuel came later to help prepare the meal. Samuel and Dennis were off to find plantains to fry and banku for the ground nut soup. When they returned we prepared the cook pot by filling it with charcoal and lit it with the black plastic bag (called a rubber) filled with charcoal. They sliced up 7 plantains and soaked them in salt water while the oil in the pan was heating. Once hot, they tossed in the sections and watched them sizzle. It takes a long time for them to turn crispy brown.
The children sat on the floor of the porch and dipped their banku into the ground nut soup placed on the top of a B of M cardboard box. I cooked fried rice and they ate it last for dessert. Ransford’s sister showed up just in time to eat any of the left overs. There was a scramble for the last of the fried plantains.
We live in an enclosed compound topped with 5 wire electric security system. The wires are a few inches apart. Some animal got inside last night and tipped over the cook pot and licked all the grease from the top and the cement where it had spilled. I needed my game campers to see what is breaching our security system. I suspect it is a cat, a very talented, acrobatic cat.
Guess what?! It was not a cat! I went back out in the evening and noticed a trail of army ants at our front steps. They were headed to the sardine can I had placed there to see if an animal would finish it at night. There were thousands of ants on the can….maybe a million. They were the creatures that took off all the oil off the cement the night before.
Well, I sprayed them heavily with an insect spray and the huge ball of ants scattered, many dropping in their tracks.
Today we returned from a trip to Accra to visit with Christian Derais. He was a former missionary with us in Mozambique. He is here working with a crew from Utah doing a documentary on boxing in Ghana. We met him at the temple and then visited the boxing training center in Jamestown. This area is famous for the boxers who have received world titles.
Our visit to the mission office is always a challenge. Traveling to Accra is very stressful for me. The traffic is congested and difficult driving. Our stay with the Simpsons was restful. We played dominos with Sister Simpson until Pres. Simpson returned from Obomosu (a very long ways away!) He was gone all day doing missionary interviews.
Valentine’s Day and “lights off”, meaning there is no electricity in all of Central Ghana. It is 9:00 PM and very, very hot. The sweat is running off me and no hope of relief. Africa can be difficult at times.
Today we visited the Amponsah family in Senya. Sister Russell taught Mary and Sandra how to lead the music. We will provide an MP3 player and speakers so they will have music to lead when we leave.
This family is very poor. They live together with the chickens. We set on old wooden benches in the central part of their apartment. It is humbling to visit them but they are spiritual and the last shall be first and the first shall be last.
It was a very busy week last week and very busy week ahead. We were called to Swedru for a special interview and to do inspections for the Hills. Since we are short of couple missionaries we are dividing up the inspections. Starting tomorrow we will be doing our routine inspections. We have two additional apartments since there has been a movement with two companionships.
Yesterday was our Winneba District Conference at Ansaful. There were about thirty Senya members attending. The growth of our district will soon qualify a change is the leadership to a stake. Pres. Simpson and his wife stayed with us two days while they were here for the conference.
The bore hole is finished, no more water. It is the dry season and all the wells dry up since they are not drilled very deep. Fine, because the water is so full of iron and other minerals it is causing problems with the lines, filters and toilet function. Today the water truck will come and the crew will clean our tank (it is full of sediment and slime from past water trucks getting the water from the streams!)
The missionaries are here for their P-day cooking cookies. They are also anticipating calling their families since there has been a new policy change so they can call or messenger weekly.
The day finally came to go to the Accra Ghana temple with our recent converts from Senya. Months ago we planned on having our new members have a temple experience. We had arranged for the male members to be ordained to the priesthood by the officials of the Winneba 2nd branch. All the candidates who were interviewed, both male and female had waited to receive their limited use temple recommend.
We had planned for transportation and a meal for all those who qualify to go to the temple.
Well, the time had come and we were still waiting for the recommends to be issued to our members. The branch clerk of the 2nd Winneba branch had entered the names from help of Elder Banza and Elder Memmot. He had printed out several and was to get the rest to us before we left for the temple. The night before he had not gotten all printed and so we pressed to get them done.
I was extremely busy Friday before the temple trip. Pres Simpson asked if I could do special interviews at Kasoa stake, which I did at 3:00pm after waiting to hear form the Winneba clerk. I did four special interviews and got word from Elder Memmot the recommends were printed and needed to be picked up, so I drove from Kasoa through the Liberia junction (one hour wait in traffic) all the way to Winneba. I picked up four recommends and headed home in the dark.
Today, early we picked up the Bessanvi’s (Belinda, Lovya and Janet) and discovered the missionaries did not have their recommends and had to arrange for the branch president to go to the church and print them off, then photo transfer over the phone their recommends.
When we got to Senya we planned on about 17 people to go to the temple. There were over 30, most of them kids. There were supposed to be no kids on the trip. They were all dressed up and ready to go. So, I forfeited our place on the tro-tro and decided to drive to Accra with the Bessanvis.
Once at the temple we grouped and eventually collected all with recommends to the temple. Florence refused to go in. She was disillusioned about what we were going to do in the temple and stayed behind.
A member of the temple presidency explained to all why we do work for our dead ancestors. It was very good for all to hear. Then dressed and began baptizing the boys first then the girls. There were three names of relatives of the group baptized. I was the recorder. It was a great experience.
Afterwards we collected in the eating hall above the distribution center and had our prepared meal of Jolof rice, chicken wings, boiled egg, light salad, stew on the rice and a biscuit (cookie).
Our trip to Accra proved even better because I was able to pick up three bicycles and pamphlets we needed for the missionaries. It saved me a trip, come Tuesday.
I cannot tell you of all the worry and difficulty we had in gathering up all the saints for the temple and dealing with how to care for a boat load of kids once we arrived. It was amazing that all worked out well, except for Florence!
I paid for the food, Sister Russell and I cooked for the trip and supplied the drinks, Styrofoam boxes, spoons, napkins and drinks for all. We also paid for the tro-tro down and back. All was well spent.
However, we are done! One trip is enough for this couple missionary. It reminds me of the time we took the primary kids to the temple. That is another story!
We celebrated the birthday of Belinda Bessanvi this week by hosting a family diner at the local Spa Garden outdoors restaurant.
The six members of the family along with four missionaries met at the eating place near GMAD and we all had banku, fufu and our choice of light soup or palm nut soup. How wonderful.
This is the last day in February. Tomorrow will begin the last month we are here in Africa. The mission we are called to serve is nearly over. There has been mixed feelings with family members because we have been away so many years on full time missions. My feelings are we have served where we can do the most good for the Lord.
|Gloryham school family|
|Gomez couple leaving|
|Cleaning the chapel at Awutu Breku|
|Filming boxing at Jamestown|
|Cookies on P Day|
|Georginia sleeping on Elder Memmots shoulder|
|Birthday celebration for Belinda Bessanvi|