Monday, July 30, 2018

1 July 2018

Today we are half way through the mission. Also, I was able to talk to Julia through Skype. She is struggling with heart compensation and atrial fibrillation. Aging rapidly, she is slow to get around and still has much of her mind. We see she has lost weight and is very weak.

Our fast and testimony meeting was rather exciting with 60 some young people from GMAD. The chapel is filled with new recruits at the orphanage. We have talked with the branch president about what can be done because we have no room for investigators.

Our family from Senya continues to come to our meetings. It is quite remarkable because they live so far away. We also went to Fetteh last week and taught lessons to two contacts. There is one member living in Fetteh and we talked with her on the cell phone. We needed a member who is a contact. Just before we departed a man approached me introducing himself as a member from Cape Coast but his father lives in Fetteh. We hope a group would be started there soon.

Just a note as to what we did today. Sister Russell and I spent the day in Accra at the mission office. We got started on publishing the Accra Ghana West Mission cook book. We nearly assembled sixty copies. The goal is 200 so we have a ways to go. The next multi-zone conference is on the 17th of this month. We hope to have them completed by then.

There is life after the recipe book! We hosted the Wood family while they were here visiting Eric. We have assisted them with Eric by taking him to the Winneba hospital .

When we went to the chapel on Saturday to clean there were three rooms at the chapel flooded due to an overflow on the toilet. It took 4 of us an hour scooping the water off the floor of three classrooms.

We had the missionaries over for Sunday meal. We try to rotate the missionaries between Breku and Buduburam. Since it was the 4th of July we spent time talking about our freedom and independence. Several of the African missionaries told about their countries independence.

On the 10th of July we took the Ballsteadts and Sister Simpson to dinner at the Cantonments Chinese restaurant. The food was delicious and we wanted to treat the office help since we had used their facilities for the cook book.

Each month I am privileged to escort Sister Russell and Sister Acoletche while they minister to sisters in our branch. Cecilia and her three boys live in Ojobi not far from Breku. They are anticipation a move into our town. We travel to Bontrose and south Breku to visit sisters in our branch.

We escorted Sister Acoletche and Sister Sacketi to the Accra temple. We did sealings before the session. There were 40 people in the sealing room and they had provided their family names. The sealer spoke in English and French when appropriate to those family members at the alter.

As always we deliver supplies and pick up spoiled bikes and fans to our missionaries.

I did a special interview to Jacob in Winneba. Pres. Simpson askes me to preform interviews for the candidate have had serious sin. Nearly all the interviews are associated with abortion. It is so common for women to have an abortion when not married and not able to care for young babies.

Brother and Sister Hill visited us and we spent time at the beach. While we were there I helped the local fishermen pull in a large net. I worked for 45 minutes and the buoys were still a long ways away. Everything is done by hand here. The Hills stayed overnight and we had a wonderful time with them.

We have had a multi-zone conference here in Kasoa. Sunday we had branch conference with visiting stake officers. The chapel was completely filled but mainly with children from GMAD. Pres. Simons attended the Teachers Quorum meeting. We had a great time.

Water Woes! Sunday we came home to a water spray behind the house from a broken water pipe. The poly tank was empties (13,000 liters) again. I was disturbed and Monday I replaced any of the inferior water PVC pipe with quality pipe. This is about the fourth time we have had pipes broke.

Sister Belinda was finally baptized after months of disputes over whether they were married legally. After evidence was presented to allow her to be baptized, they were relieved. 

We have started apartment inspections again before the 6 week transfer. There was a twist to apartment cleaning since Pres. Simpson sent out instructions to all missionaries of “Deep Cleaning Monday”. He presented an extensive list of things to clean including windows, cabinets, interior and exterior apartment structures. Sister Russell and I assisted the Awutu Breku elders in cleaning for several hours on Monday.

We are finding about half the mission apartments are being cleaned thoroughly.

Today we treated the Winneba elders to dinner at Connie’s. The 8 of enjoyed our meal while our vehicle was being washed across the street. Oh Happy Day.
Ministering with Sister Cecilia

Meals with the missionaries

My new scorpion

The Wood family visit

Dawn's wall hanging coming together

Playing Ludu with Senya locals

Belinda's baptism

Visit with the Hills

Sunday, July 8, 2018

06 June 2018

06 June 2018

Today, I just finished burying a young African cobra found dead in the flower bed. Our gardener, Linda, found it and was terrified. This is the fourth venomous snake we have seen in our neighborhood. The first was a carpet viper on the trail above our home, the second was a green mamba across from the Odoben chapel, the third was a puff adder at the GMAD school and today a young cobra, which gives us cause to be cautious when out and about.

Fortunately, the folks in our community are so kind and gentle we have no problems with our neighbors. It is such a delight to live in Ghana.

This week was the multi-zone conference in Kasoa. Each conference is filled with instruction and the spirit of revelation. Our missionaries instruct as well as our mission president. We were also shown a video of Pres. Nelson’s conference talk on “receiving revelation”. In addition, we also saw Elder LeGrand Curtis’ talk on the Book of Mormon and the church established in West Africa.
Also, we just returned from a three day stay with the Hills in Oda. We left our home due to the fumigation efforts of our apartment managers using Dursban organophosphate insecticide. The agent is too powerful for us to stay until it is diminished.

Oda is higher elevation and slightly cooler. We visited the community of Kokobeng, where there is a group started attached to Ansini branch. We attended the baptism of two new members from that area on Saturday. We visited the bakery, market and the beautiful Oda ward chapel. On our way home we stopped to see the West Africa Giant Tree.

Dawn is struggling with sleep issues. I am very concerned since she cannot get good sleep and is very anxious during the day. Her problem comes from using other sleep agents that begin to show serious side effects and then withdrawals follow. She also suffers from the heat and humidity common in Ghana.  I seem to do better.
There is much more to be said about the growth of the church here in our part of the mission and the business of caring for the missionary needs. This is regular service for us and it has become routine.

There is another part of our living here that I can mention that takes up much of our time and resources. The children and some adults that are in need, tend to congregate at the Russell’s home. We feed them, work them, care for their school needs and often clothes that need repair or replaced. Care for the poor and needy is truly a part of this mission that needs to be managed well.

Moving right along in mission progress, next week is inspection week and then six week transfers once again. Progress has been made on the mission cook book. Sister Russell has refined it for printing after including all the recipes received from our missionaries. There are some eighty pages of fine entries. Now we have to print it and assemble it before delivery. Pres. Simpson has encouraged us to follow his directions in putting it together.

We visited Sena Breku with four of our full time missionaries. The community is about 40 minutes toward the ocean near Winneba. We have taught two lessons to a family and talked with several others in the community. We are hoping to start a group meeting soon. In Senya there is an old Dutch fort, Fort Good Hope. The facility was used to collect slaves and considered one of the nicest holding on the African coast.  So sad to think what happened in the slave trade here in Africa.

The construction of the second home on the property is still underway. It will not be too long and the second story with be constructed. We hope it will be complete before we leave.
I returned from a long trip with Solomon, social worker, to Krobo to visit with Martha. She is doing well and we continue to support her care and medicine needs. The success lies in the fact the family are pleased to have her back and functional and Martha is as happy as can be expected.

Between our recent multi-zone conference and district meetings we get to be among the greatest missionaries in the church.

The beginning of another week here in Awutu Breku serving in the Accra Ghana Africa West mission and we are busy supporting the mission. This last week we visited all the apartments in our assigned three zones. There were 18 in all. We are still unsure of the locations of the apartments in the Kanishie zone. It is so difficult to find Gbawe ( Weija) and New Gbawe because the streets are not marked and are not streets but auto paths. Our GPS will indicate a road and there is no road.

This week is transfers and we assist missionaries in coming and going in our assigned area. Besides picking up elders and sisters we pick up spoiled bicycles and take them to Accra.
Brother and Sister Wood are here from New Zealand and will be staying with us for two weeks. They are arranging to move Eric (a crippled young man). They were missionaries in Kumasi for nearly two years. A lesson to be learned, whenever you assist anyone here it never ends as to the amount of help they need. We are assisting three young people with their education expenses. It will not end until we leave Africa.

Home! All is well with Julia and Ben to date. We want so much to have their health sustained while we are away. We put their names on the temple rolls this month. On the other hand, Joshua has caused us considerable grief. He is accusing us as abandoning our responsibilities as parents and grandparents to him and his children. It stems from his misfit ideas on the importance of families above all else in life and in church doctrine. He is disgruntled with the bishop of his ward and has withdrawn his support and trust. He has established strict belief in what members should do to preserve their families and excluded or altered doctrine to support his new beliefs. As a result of our serving a mission and not being there for his family, we have been labeled neglectful. Robyn had similar feelings but seems to accept us more for our service here and not so much as being neglectful. All the other children seem to be OK with us being here.

The end of June marks the half way mark in our mission. We have been here 9 months and 9 more to go. I am concerned because it is going by way to fast

Yoo Mart lunch!

Senya family discussion

Elder Tualuva and Davies at Fort Good Hope

Snail ranch!


Oda hardwoods

Oda chapel

Giant tree of West Africa

Senya proselyting

Contacts at Fort Good Hope

Martha is doing well!


Linda cutting the grass

Mission 2018

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