Thursday, February 28, 2019

02 February

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

Snowy Egret

Gomez couple leaving 

Cooking plantains

Cleaning the chapel at Awutu Breku

Filming boxing at Jamestown

African Boys

Cookies on P Day

Georginia sleeping on Elder Memmots shoulder

Birthday celebration for Belinda Bessanvi

Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 2019  

It is a new year and a new time to begin planning for the future. We are already making plans for the coming year. Our biggest plans are to finish our mission with full force and see Senya group as a branch of the Winneba stake!  Day by day we press forward with our efforts in turning the hearts of our African friends toward the Savior.

Yesterday Dawn and I celebrated the new year by riding off into the bush on our mountain bikes. I think to enforce our ability to continue to do those things that are hard yet healthy for us. Getting older is inevitable but keeping fit is an ongoing task for the aging.
Making resolutions is a given with us. They seem to be about the same thing each year. Service, temple, travel, family, ministering, reading, exercise, savings, FUN, and love for all. It is like putting a puzzle together each year by finding all the right pieces and making a picture out of a lot of possibilities. It is always good to finish it by the end of the year.

Celebration Afecio Pa (New Years) continues throughout the month of January. The Awutu Breku branch invited Senya to their New Year’s party on Saturday. There were about 200 in attendance. Dennis and Ivy came with their mother Georginia. The children danced to the music of the large speakers. They played musical chairs and I drank sobolo (ginger drink).

We ate fried rice, joloof and chicken. I took the ladies to the fufu machine to grind up the cassava. Once the cassava is placed in the machine it comes out as fufu! Wow!

We ate light soup with goat meat and fufu. It was wonderful.
On Sunday we took the Senya folks to Winneba for sacrament meeting. Also, the presidency was changed and Clarence Nelson is now the president of Winneba 2nd branch. Benard Anponsha was ordained a deacon. Now we have two boys to pass the sacrament.

Dawn and I were able to ride our bicycles on Monday over to the Archibald area. We came back after 1 ½ hours. It was good to ride our bicycles.

We are in the middle of apartment inspections before the transfer on Tuesday of next week. There is only one more transfer in March before we leave. Apartment inspections are difficult only because of the travel. It is always a challenge to drive in the city to obscure areas where the missionaries live. Often the roads are so difficult I have to use 4 wheel drive. 

We enjoy visiting with the Elders once we arrive at the apartments. Sister Russell always helps with the inspections and gives treats to the Sisters and Elders. She has baked cookies by the zillions and treats them at Christmas even better.

Our biggest delivery items are bicycles. There are always bicycles in need of repair and often I end up taking them to Accra mission office for repairs. The next abundant item, are cases of B of M and pamphlets used in teaching lessons.

Dawn is having difficulty with sleeping again. She cannot get her rest and is tired during the day. There is stress here and the heat compounds her tension. She will be glad to finish in Africa and move to a cooler climate, while I could stay and be comfortable here.

Senya group is growing, however, the challenge is finding speakers for the sacrament meeting. I would hope to get some assistance from our mother Winneba 2nd branch. It is always a challenge in finding speakers. I often end up speaking with an interpreter.
Mind you, this will be our last foreign mission. Our family members are concerned we have been away for too long. It will be almost 4 ½ years away from home when we return. My mother is aging and not in good health and my son, Ben is also challenged with serious health problems.

May I say how much we have been blessed while serving here in Africa.  No serious accidents with so many close calls while driving. No serious illnesses and no serious financial perils. I am sure prayers are said in our behalf to the extent we benefit greatly. Thank you wonderful souls who really care about our being here far away from home. Also, thanks to the Crofts for helping with our home while we are away. They are a great source of blessings for us.

Saturday and it has been a long day and a long week. In addition to completing the apartment inspections I have done 3 special interviews in Aboso, Kasoa and Odoben. The travel to these areas is difficult due to bad roads and traffic. However, I feel the spirit when talking about their serious problems to resolve before they can be baptized.

In addition to the long drive to Odoben for the interview we had three baptisms at the Awutu Breku chapel today. One was from Breku and the other two from Senya. Dawn and I were up early and cleaned the chapel in Breku today before the baptisms. It was exceptionally soiled and it took us longer than usual. Afterwards I paid little Georginia for helping clean the chapel. We pay for her weekly fees at her school (20 cedis/week and 90 cedis/term).

We had a literal “baptism by fire” today. Cecilia burnt the weed pile in front of the chapel just before we started our baptismal services and when we went to the font we noticed the fire had gotten into the neighbors field. So we hurriedly grabbed buckets of water and doused the fire. Elder Adzika was out there in his baptismal clothing helping put out the fire!!

This week there and many things happening as well and I am very tired. We are involved heavily with this mission. This may be the reason Dawn is having so much trouble with her emotional health. I tell her endure to the end and all will be well. The church should provide therapy for those serving in Africa following their mission!

There are days that are up and days that are down. Dawn is trying to come off her new medication. It seems to be causing much anxiety. Today she is settled and working hard in cleaning our apartment. She and Georgina have cleaned all the windows in and out. Last night the kids were here and we had a cookout. We fried plantains, cooked chicken sausages and ground cow. I made a huge bowl of fried rice to go with the meal. With a lot of shito they ate it all. Little Ivy had her share of the rice. I provided Rasta choco malt to drink! Olivia started the cookpot and helped with cooking as well.

I woke up at 3:00am due to a noise that sounded like someone banging on the front gate. I investigated but did not see anyone. Then this morning we went on a mountain bike ride on the south of Breku. It was early enough that heat did not bother us. Then we started back on the window screen scrubbing. While I was out back removing window screen, I heard the electric security clicking. There stretched out over 4 wires was a big green snake caught in the wire. He fell inside and was stunned. After seeing it was a green mamba I wanted to get it out of the compound. I found a long piece of pvc pipe and lifted him up over the wire onto the banana tree out back. They are fascinating animals but deadly.

We are looking forward to February!

Ishmael at the cook pot

Olivia having dinner at our home

The pink Mosque on a bike ride

Bush riding

Lion Attach!

Harmaton air filled with dust from the Sahara

Green mamba inside our compound

Elder Price has given us a Christmas present in new clothes

Ivy and I are having sobolo at the Breku party

Sister Russell has a new dress

The Fufu machine!

Food is ready at the Breku feast

Celebration the Simpson's 40th wedding anniversary at MovenPick restaurant

Saturday, December 29, 2018

December 2018

We just completed 3 days of travel doing apartment inspections. Doing the inspections is the toughest thing we have to do. The travel alone is difficult because of the traffic. The Kenishie zone is almost to Accra and the roads are crowded with cars, Tro-tros, motos, hockers, vendors and fire eaters.

We picked up 5 bicycles for repair, installed two cook stoves, changed one bike tire, adjusted handle bars on another bike, replaced light bulbs and dropped of a ton of supplies i.e. B of M, pamphlets, kitchen tools, garbage liners, etc.

We did manage to go to Odoben on Monday for an activity with the Swedru missionaries. They provided lunch and we provided the drinks.

We also managed to take Elders Dzah and Pindi to Big Millies beach restaurant. Then today we took Elder Reid and Elder Nwarokwai to lunch at the Bawjiase Sports Club restaurant. We had two very fine meals.

Sunday was our Senya sacrament meeting day. There were 25 people in attendance. Sister Belinda Bessanvi spoke in the meeting on families. The Bessanvi family of 6 come each Sunday.

We also attended a Kasoa zone activity on Monday at the Kasoa stake. Games, sports and food dominate the missionaries ideas of fun. There was a meal served of chicken and rice, which was palatable. Late after the missionaries from Ashtown finished their internet communications home they packed their belongings after a 3 day stay at the Mansion in Buduburum. I put everything into my vehicle and took them back to their apartment in Kasoa. Apparently, there was an extermination done to kill harmful insects or arachnids.

Driving is so difficult here and especially through the Liberia camp. The roads are terrible and the traffic thick with tro-tros and taxis. Some days while driving it will take over and hour to go the 1 ½ miles to home.

We met Samuel, the map guy, on the road home in heavy traffic. He was selling small plastic trains that go around a circular track. This is in preparation for Christmas. We bought two to give as “white elephant” gifts for the missionaries at our annual party.

As group leader, I am responsible to find speakers for sacrament service. It is always difficult since there are so few in the meetings that can speak to us. They must be members in good standing and have a desire to talk. There are a few youth I have called upon and mostly older sisters. We need more men to join us and take the pulpit.

Harmaton is here. Dust from the Sahara desert is blowing in over West Africa all the way to Brazil. 

Between our visit to Accra and Senya we do a lot of traveling. Today at sacrament meeting we announced the Christmas program on Saturday. We expect about 100 people to feed and entertain. We plan on a full meal set up under two canopies with 100 chairs. I will show the Christmas devotional with Pres. Nelson and the Nativity video. Sister Russell has a primary presentation and we have Father Christmas coming to visit the little ones.

Our temple trip was wonderful. I was so glad to spend quiet time in the temple doing an endowment for Benjamin Joseph Ratcliff. I met a young man from Nigeria and he asked me if I lived in the US. On inspection he wanted to know what town I live in. I said you would not know the town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. He stated, yes because he went to school there. What a coincidence.

Now, the Christmas season brings lots of activities. We have the elders from Kasoa tomorrow for Christmas dinner, about 16 of them. Then on Tuesday we are having a Christmas devotional at the Kanishie stake center for our ½ of the mission. We are singing in the program as a district and providing treats for our elders and sisters.

Then on Saturday, the 22nd is the Christmas party at Senya. The following Christmas we have a New Year’s dinner for the Buduburum missionaries on the 31st. Whew! I will be glad when the holidays end.

Fishing Ghana style. This morning very early I drove to Senya before dawn to meet up with Emanuel Bonney to fish. We took his long boat out to sea and then looked for fish to capture in the seine net on board. There were 18 men working with him. I captured the event on video. I was amazed at the operation of setting the net and drawing in the anchovies. We handed over the small fish to the owner of the boat operating the large commercial vessel at sea.

After we netted fish we were stationary and hand fished with anchovy bait. All in all it was fascinating. I saw tuna schooling the anchovy and birds feeding on the small fish. I saw all kinds of bottom fish and best of all. I saw the men work the seine net and had a good time with Emanuel.

We want to invite him and his family to the Saturday Christmas program at the DA JHS school. I will show them the video I made for the fishing trip. 

Today we went to Senya to invite our fishing friends to the Christmas activity for tomorrow. We were fortunate to find them at home along with others caring for the fish. They said they would come to the party. He and his family were there.

We had difficulty in finding the key to the headmaster’s office to get electricity to our big screen TV. Agnes was able to find Mr. Ennsuman and get the keys. I talked with him this afternoon and he said he would come to the party. We have added bobbing for apples to the fun for the children.

Father Christmas is coming to give out presents to the children.. Elder Adzika has volunteered to be Santa.

Well, another Christmas is in the annals of time. This year we were busy as always at this time of the year. Maybe, extra busy because of the Christmas dinner and party we had at the Senya group meeting. Matthew and his family stayed with us for three days to celebrate. Christmas we had many elders calling home with my ipad. Dennis and Ivy and their mother were here along with Samuel and Ishmael. As a result we ate our dinner very late.

We had our district meeting and caught up our work in  the mission. Finally the last event we attended was the celebration of the Simpson's 40th wedding anniversary. We had a lovely meal at the Moven-Pic hotel restaurant. It was an outstanding buffet. The trip to Accra somehow is worth the luncheon!

Biking through the crowd filling up on "Free Water" from the truck stuck in the mud

Momma's new baby

Dawn,, we need one of these babies!

Gone fishing !

Emanual Booney gave me a falla (Albocore tuna)

Children waiting for their Christmas dinner at the Senya chapel

Bobbing for apples at the Christmas activity

Eric and I celebrating his ordination to the Mel. Priesthood

Drying the catch of the day!

Christmas luncheon at Kaneshie stake

Elder Adzika as "Father Christmas"

Matthew, Rebecca and Synthia at the Russells

Thursday, November 29, 2018

November 2018

The beginning of this month was also the beginning of our meetings in Senya. Pres. Simpson has asked me to serve as the group leader in Senya. Our first meeting, Sunday 4 November 2018, was held in the classroom of the government grade school. We came early to set up and was delayed because security had put an additional lock on the headmaster’s door. Kwame took it off with my hammer.

The Winneba district presidency came, President Arloo Yankson, and presided. He was very helpful in explaining the program to those who came in their native language. There were a total of 24 people in attendance. After our two hour service, the district leaders (4 of them) visited with the new people we are teaching. He then asked if on this Friday we could assemble in Senya to find members and other interested people and invite them to church.

Today, Sister Russell and I picked up Eric Alya at GMAD and took him to the West Hills Mall where he got his first debit card from Standard Chartered bank. We shopped at Game (a new store in the mall) and traveled home.

Due to the proverbial delay going through the Liberia junction it took us 2 ½ hours to go less than 5 miles. Something has got to give. This delayed travel on the busiest highway in all of Ghana is a major problem.

Tomorrow is our district meeting and Elder Memmott is our district leader. He and his companion, Elder Entsie, are assigned to Senya full time. We are praying for a miracle in finding those who are ready for the gospel in their lives and we can help bring them unto Christ.

We returned from Accra after having been gone for three days. The Awutu Breku elders went to Senya and we went to say farewell to our friends the Ballsteadts. On our way to Accra we stopped at K5 and picked up a mattress and took it to the elders at K4. We then went to K3 to deliver goods and then on to Accra. We met up with Benjamin, Linda’s son, and visited her in the Accra psychiatric center. She is doing well.

Bill and Binki Hill, Elder and Sister Gomez, the Ballstaedts, the Simpsons, Ben and Matthew and his wife and daughter, met together and had dinner at the Chinese restaurant near the mission home.

On our return Saturday morning we delivered 6 bicycles, Liahonas and various and sundry items to missionaries at Odorkor, Weija, K3, K1, K2 and Bawjiase. Traveling back through Bawjiase down the Swedru rough road to the Bontrase turn off took us back to Awutu Breku. It took us 1 ½ hours and traveled 45 K. That was much better than traveling from Kasoa to Buduburam through traffic. On Tuesday when we took Eric to the West Hills mall our return trip took over 2 ½ hours from Yoo Mart to the Liberia junction. This delay is due to traffic pile-up caused by 200 yards of rough roads through the Liberia junction. Never again!

Tomorrow is our second meeting with the Senya group. As group leader, I have arranged the Sunday program and hope all will go well on set up.

Life here is much like Mitchner’s novels…the reality of things often lends itself to end in tragedy for some and joy for others, depending upon the strata of the society. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer in many instances.

Sister Russell and I have been reading Mitchner’s novels together. We have finished Centennial and are now half way through  Caribbean. We are glad to live in a time the society was not controlled by the Catholic church or tyrannical lords or emperors.
Senya! Well the first week we met there were 24 of us in the prescribed chapel of the government school room. Last week we were crowded in the same room sitting on small desks numbering 42. Today we are meeting as a zone to campus all of Senya along with those leaders from the Winneba district.
This should be a day to remember.

Beyond ourselves and our mission experiences there is plenty to do  here. We ride our mountain bikes at least weekly, exercise, go on walks seeing many in the community.  We shop at Shoprite in the West Hills Mall not to mention the Kasoa open market place. But most of our mission activities are caring for the missionaries, taking care of our Senya group and performing assignments from the president.

I have to admit life together with Dawn on the mission has been delightful. She is such a creative person and skilled in caring for the primary children, the household and the missionaries’ meals at our home and at district meetings. I love being with her throughout the day and spending nights unwinding over a game of Scrabble or Skip-bo.

I must mention our involvement with the needy. Occasionally and more often we break down and finance someone’s needs, either medical or living expenses. There are always people asking for aid. Helping Linda has been very expensive because of her medical conditions. She has been in the psychiatric hospital and now headed to the diabetes hospital for therapy. Her son, Benjamin has relied upon us to pay the expenses. However, I foresee no end to the costs ahead. Then there is Solomon needing money for his daughter, Georginia needing cedis to care for Dennis and Ivy (her children), and little Georginia needing money for school, as well as her sister Grace needing money to go to boarding school. Just to name a few.

Lastly, I must mention bicycles. The missionaries request “new” bikes each week because the used bikes they ride break down due to old replacement parts, abuse and accidents. Last week I delivered six bikes (all that would fit into the back of the vehicle) and could have used a couple more. So off to Accra soon to pick up more bicycles.  

Yesterday we spent the day at Senya. There were three districts supplying missionaries from Winneba, Kasoa and Buduburam. We met at 12:00 noon at Akoitse and caravanned to Senya. Elder Memmott supervised our plans to campus the area.

Sister Russell and I selected a side street and walked down talking to people and inviting them to come to sacrament meeting on Sunday. We visited with 8 groups of people. All of them were welcoming and would listen to us as we told them about the church.
Today we are going back to Senya to repair the DA JHS classroom. Hinges to be added to the door, desks need repaired, white boards to be hung and signs to be attached to the school. Tomorrow will be interesting to see how many will actually come to church.

Well, there were 32 at church on Sunday the 18th of November. Agnes came after we invited her to attend our services. We met her on the street and invited her to come.

Thanksgiving is over, thank heavens! It was a big event for us since we had 12 guests as the missionaries from our district all came as well as the zone leaders. Sister Russell and I started Wednesday night making apple and pumpkin pies. Then on Thursday we prepared the potatoes, beans, gravy, deviled eggs, stuffing, chicken, jello salad and vegetable rice.

Also, Thursday morning I spent time putting together the backboard for the new basketball stand. The rim was attached and the entire structure was hoisted up to the railings on the water tower. It is quite functional.

This evening we are hosting President Simpson for two nights. He is traveling to Winneba (he is the presiding authority over the Winneba district) for two days. His wife, Jinny, is in Australia for their youngest son’s wedding.

Saturday we had 6 baptisms. Five were from one family, William and Bernice and children. Also, my favorite was Samuel because he is 12 years old and eligible for the priesthood and pass the sacrament, now I will not have to conduct the meetings and pass the sacrament.

On Sunday, following the six confirmations and meetings the elder and I took William and Samuel to Winneba to be interviewed for the priesthood and put in the membership records. Like much of what happens in Africa, it took a very long time to do the interviews and hunt down someone with the password to get into the records on the computer. After 4 hours we got it all done and drove back to Senya with William and Samuel. Whew!!  At least we came home to dinner already made.

The last days of November were very warm. The hot season will be replaced by Homaton in December. The days of dust from the Sahara fill the air for several months. The only advantage is it is much cooler.

Yesterday was our transfer multi-zone conference. President Simpson is a master at teaching. The biggest problem with our missionaries is their dedication to teaching the gospel. A few are distracted by worldly things, i.e. music, entertainment, cell phone conversations. They also need to rise up in the mornings by 6:30, spend appropriate time teaching and have their companion study time each day.

Today, Sister Russell and I were up early and riding our bicycles throughout the community. We rode across the road and discovered places to ride. We visited with many folks as they do their morning chores. Sister Russell helped a lady scale fish. They are friendly even though they do not know how to speak English and we do not know Twi.

Tomorrow we will mark off the last day of November and start planning for Christmas activities with our missionaries and our Senya group.
Family moto

Riding in Breku

First Senya Meeting

Riding my Gary Fisher bike

Samuel swimming at Winton school

Elder Memmott at Senya classroom

Thanksgiving with the elders

Dawn biking through the water on the trail

Ivy's birthday party

Senya Classroom

First 6 baptized from Senya
Scaling fish for a lady

Sister Russell's primary class at Senya

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October 2018

Well, it has been a year and we needed a break. We applied for time away with the Glanfields to respite at the Coconut Grove Beach Resort in Cape Coast Ghana. Along with four other couples from the Area Office we enjoyed visiting the Elmina castle and the Kokuma National Park.

The Coconut Grove Beach Resort is a beautiful place with a spacious swimming pool, fine sandy beach and wonderful eating facilities. We met the Shepards there on retreat from GMAD. I played with the kids in the small pool the first night.

The next day we teamed up with the other couple missionaries (Glanfield, Christensen, McCullough, etc.) to spend the afternoon at the Elmina slave castle. Our guide , Akuwatse, gave us a detailed history of the original fort built by the Portuguese in 1471. The trade with the Africans included gun powder, alcohol and iron for gold, ivory and spices. The Portuguese began slave trade gradually with captives taken to Europe. Then following the discovery of the new world by Columbus the use of slaves began to grow. To where over the 400 years of Trans-Atlantic slave trade there were millions of Africans used for slave labor.

The African captives were treated cruelly and sustained a high death rate in holding before and during ship transfer. Nearly one half never made it to the new world.

The Portuguese ruled the castle for over 100 years then the Dutch defeated them and ruled for 265 year in the slave trade. Finally the British bought the castle and slavery was abolished in the 1800s.
I was appalled by the support of the Catholic church in slave trade. In the name of Christianity millions died before, during and after transport by ships owned and operated by men of that religion.

The next day we left early for Kokua Park. There our guide, Christian took us through the rain forest explaining the ecology and venues of the park. Our visit culminated in a walk along the planks of the canopy walk some 120’ above the trees. We ventured through seven walkways. We saw monkeys along the way. The park has a tree house available for overnighters and then hike to the elephant grounds. We also saw a beautiful huge tree still standing over 600 years. The other fascinating tree was the ebony. Still protected since it is a very valuable tree and in rare abundance.

While we were staying at the resort, we discovered the 18 hole golf course. Dawn and I played with our caddy, Oliver nine holes before dark one evening. We enjoyed the chance to golf again, however, on the third hole there was a crocodile hazard pond to be avoided.

Since our return from the holiday in Cape Coast we have traveled to Accra to take in bicycles and pick up Book of Mormons for the elders. The next day we traveled to Asikuma for a special interview, which never happened because the candidate was in Accra at the time of the interview.

So our month has begun quit enjoyable. We have had two good rain storms this month as apposed to no rain storms in September and just a small amount of rain in August. We are way behind in moisture.

A side note. When we got home after 4 days away we had no water. A flex hose to the wall water heater cracked and 13,000 liters of water emptied in our bathroom shower while we were away. Only in Africa!!

Tomorrow is General Conference in Kasoa. We will take Cecilia and her family to conference early in the morning then return home to feed the missionaries then back to conference at 4:00pm. 

Senya Breku—after our district meeting Elders Memmett and Curtis rode with me to Senya. The town is over 20 KM from our chapel. The members and investigators are unable to travel to church on Sunday due to the cost of the taxi. We parked our vehicle next to a tree by the Fort Good Hope. There were several men playing Ludu and a man named Charles approached. He being a little drunk asked money to cook a few fish he had in his possession. I gave him 2 cedis. He said he knew the town and wanted us to meet his mother. She was an old woman with little. We took her phone number and Charles took us to a neighbor who could help with locating a place to hold church. Sandra told us to check with the school master to rent a classroom on Sunday. We did and found a member, Agnes who attended church some months ago.

We also talked with Hannah and her family. She and Erica came twice to church in Breku. Our plan is to convince Pres. Simpson to organize a group in Senya for next transfer. It is time.

This week was busy as usual. We traveled to Accra to deliver and pick up bicycles along with the usual missionary supplies. On our way home we had the perpetual 1 ½ hour wait through the slow driving at the Liberia junction (because of the cross traffic and the terrible road condition).

One good thing happened ,,,we found two incredible bicycles at the mission office. A ladies Jamis and a Gary Fisher in perfect condition, so we now have bikes to ride in our neighborhood. Friday we rode around our town and through the wild part of our neighborhood through the mud and puddles. It felt so good to be back on a mountain bike.

Friday morning Sister Russell summonsed me to look out the bedroom window. She spotted a large green snake crawling on top of our barrier fence. It was a beautiful green mamba. I tried to photograph it but when it saw me it was gone.

Today is Saturday. We were up early and to the chapel to clean. Following the cleaning we attended the baptism of Robert Kinson. He is a large young man taught by Elders Adjika and Asako.
Lastly, I solicited Elders Curtis and Memmett to help me with Linda. She has been off her medicine and totally psychotic. We found her wandering Breku and took her home. She is really scrambled and discovered she has had injections from the nurse at the local clinic. Hopefully, the medicine will kick in and she can find peace. She is lost right now.

RAIN! Finally a big rain storm today, it lasted about one hour. I had a beautiful soft water shower under the cascading corner eve. The kids, Samuel, Olivia, Ivy and Dennis had dinner at our table during the rainstorm.

We had our first long bike ride today. Dawn and I have really good mountain bikes from the mission supply office and we held them for us and not the missionaries. Our ride today was in the southern neighborhood or Awutu Breku. How wonderful!!

Good News! President Simpson called and said he approved us opening a new area in Senya near Winneba. We have been there several times with the missionaries scouting the area. Elder Memmet and Curtis were with me as we searched for a place to hold our meetings. Then last Saturday I drove out with President Simpson. He felt good about opening it up for proselyting. The community is next to the ocean and was an original old port for slavery. The Good Hope castle still stands as a reminder of the slave trade. We have two members living there and have taught a family three lessons.

Sister Russell and I would be assigned there to establish a group under the direction of Winneba 2nd ward.  There is much to do.
Today we finished our pre-transfer apartment inspections. There are only three more transfers for us. Taking on this new assignment will keep us very busy but now that we are assigned to Senya we will be leaving our Awutu Breku branch. Sister Russell will be giving up her primary assignment and I will be leaving the Teachers Quorum.

This week was spent traveling to do special interviews in Kunastase and Aboso. Both of these locations are outside our district but I wish to help our president when he does so much travel each week.
The month has come and gone. Everyone is still in-tact here and at home. Transfer day today and all the changes we were anticipating have come to fruition. Elder Memmet and Elder Entsie are assigned to Senya and I will be the group leader. We will start tomorrow looking for a place to hold our meetings. The head-master at the local school was willing to rent space for our Sunday meetings.
We filled our vehicle with 4 beds, one refrigerator, two propane tanks and various and sundry items for the new elder’s residence next to our home.

Lastly, I have suffered from a rather severe viral lung infection. I am finally feeling much better and less coughing. Time moves us one month closer to our mission final month. It is amazing how fast we see the days go by.

Coconut Grove Resort

Elmina Slave Castle

Slave Girl

Kokua canopy walk

The Shepards

Odoben Festival

Cocoa at Asikuma

Bicycle single track near our home

Elder Tidwell has a new pillow case thanks to Sister Russell

Mountain biking in the rainy season

Transfer Day,,,,going home!