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

Monday, January 1, 2018


The week of the first of December has brought about many new experiences. I have been known to say “Each day we get up we will see something we have never seen before!”  We saw a prison today in Winneba and spoke to the CHIEF named Ebanezer. He was a referral from Elder Ballsteadt. We also met Rose and her husband Ike on our walk today and invited them to church. We also invited our neighbor Felicity to listen to the missionaries. Then there was Florence whom we gave a ride to her home from the Police Academy in Winneba. She also agreed to talk to the missionaries. We have sat in on discussions while the missionaries taught Elizabeth’s sons in Bontrase. Elizabeth gave us a huge bunch of monkey bananas and plantains. They have a children’s school on property covered with huge banana trees. We stayed late and drove home in the dark.

This week we also met with Eric (Elder and Sister Wood‘s boy). Dawn is helping him learn English. He is handicapped and uses his upper body since he is paralyzed from the waist down. We also visited the Bessambi family to interview Anna who was baptized on Saturday. Also, baptized was Greggory from Ghana Make a Difference.

I am now called to teach the Young Men each Sunday. Sister Russell is teaching the primary of about 20 kids. I have about 15 boys in the priesthood class of all three offices.
We met a couple from Idaho today staying with the Hofmans from Ghana Make a Difference. Tomorrow we are taking them around our area to introduce them to our mission tasks. They are interested in serving in Ghana as a mission couple.

It finally rained! I was so worried about my sweet potato garden because it was so dry. However, God loves the people of Ghana (especially the farmers) so he sends rain when they need it!
We have spent the week caring for a missionary who has damaged his knee and is unable to walk his area. After taking him to Accra for diagnostic MRI then back following the result, it looks like he will be going home early to have surgery to repair a meniscus in his right knee.

We also spent a day with the Moomey family (Ron and Ellie) from Star, Idaho. They are seriously considering a mission here in Ghana. We would hope so because they are very capable people.
We had a recent baptism (2 actually) last week and then Sister Russell hosted the YW to a bead making activity at our home. They were delightful youth. We picked up a large amount of supplies from the distribution center in Accra as well as the mission office. This next week we start our travels to inspect apartments and also have a mission tour event on Wednesday with Elder Nash and our mission president. Busy times.

For the last 3 days I have been hearing reports on my son, Ben. He has fallen and severely injured his head. He has been in ICU for three days. I finally talked to him but he is so weak I could hardly understand him. Family members are very concerned that I am not there to assist. There is great concern and I have requested from the mission president to start the process of emergency leave to see Ben before he passes on. This is a difficult time since we are involved with a huge task of providing for the mission tour meeting tomorrow. Elder Nash and accompanying party will be here to meet with all the missionaries of the Accra Africa West mission.
We are starting the apartment inspections and will complete them this week. Today we were in Swedru and Winneba visiting the missionary living quarters. We also had lunch with the Swedru district (12 of us). We took a bicycle to Elder Keith and a refrigerator to Ansaful house. We also picked up a bunk bed from Ansaful (Elder Beck and Cox)
I am very tired.

Today I was able to talk to Ben quite a bit. He was alone and had a chance to let me know how things are going. He has had a stoke which has affected his speech but he has no paralysis of any other sort. He is still at Stanford but will be released tomorrow. He will stay at Rebecca’s for a month before returning to Stanford.

Stanford med center will not operate on him to repair the mitral valve or even try to remedy the occlusion on his circumflex heart artery which gives him pain. Getting on a list for transplant is his only hope at this point.

His biggest concern is stress. He is convinced the high blood pressure due to anxiety (domestic not work) caused increased heart rate to fibrillation and clots to the head. He fell in the bathroom and hit his head on the tub. Nearly killed him and the scratches on his head was from the dogs as he lay there two days!

We have requested leave to go see him and are making plans to depart Accra on the 19th, however, I am unable to make the large payment using my card out of country. I will call travel at SLC mission to see if they can help. I don’t know the circumstances there and will only make a one way ticket and then make arrangements to return when I know all is well. This is a big deal for us to get there and return soon after.

We got back from California late last night Christmas eve. We were two days traveling to Sacramento and two days with Ben and two days back to Africa. Big Trip! We flew on marvelous aircraft, the most impressive was the KLM 787 Airbus Dreamliner named “The Flying Dutchman.”  There were over 400 passengers on board.

Ben is doing much better. He is on the right medicine to control his blood pressure which caused the incident. The high blood pressure caused his heart to fibrillate and he passed out and hit the bath tub and laid unconscious for two full days.

I gave Ben a father’s blessing before we left. We had lunch with Sage and Ben at the Nugget deli in El Dorado Hills then off to the movies with Robyn and Indy. We are feeling much better now that the wounds are healed.

We are looking forward to a new year and continued service here in Ghana.

Christmas in Ghana

Dawn bringing food for our friend Linda

Sister Russell buying slippers for Sage

Kwime Ahsanna has coconuts

Visited Bill and Binki while in California

Indy and the "Dude"

Lunch with Ben and Sage in El Dorado Hills California

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 2017

 Wow time flies!  We are back from travel with elders all the way to Asikuma. We took elders and supplies to the farthest part on the mission. Then we returned with elders traveling in this direction. It was an all day event. We had our first branch missionary correlation meeting with our new elders and branch mission leader. The president was there as well as the elders quorum president.

Water Woes! Since we have been here we have run out of water 3x in less than a month. Come to find out the water pipes (pvc) are separating beneath the concrete surfaces around the house. We have lost nearly 7000 gallons of water to leaks! We have had no running water to bath or do the dishes let alone the laundry. Hopefully it will remedy with surface pipe installed.

Also, I have put in our sweet potato garden. I noticed our neighbor hoeing up the field next door and planting sweet potato vines. I purchased a hoe and rake and put in our own garden. Hard work! We need rain to recover the newly planted tops to the sweet potatoes.

Did I mention we went to Accra to the temple and a visit to the doctor for Dawn. Well on the way we were rear ended by a Tro Tro, but suffered little damage (to an already damaged truck from scraping the left side door and fender as Dawn drove too close to the entrance barrier). Then we attended to temple since the doctor was not in. It was a wonderful time, so quiet and peaceful in this hectic African country.

Time is really moving along here in Ghana because we stay so busy. Actually, yesterday was the first day here that we did not go far from our home. We have been to Accra twice this month. The last trip 3 days ago we took five bicycles and 4 floor fans to be exchanged at the mission office. We picked up 3 bicycles and it was difficult getting them into the truck since the mission had a canopy put on the back of the truck bed. 

Our branch mission leader had a correlation meeting at his home for the first time in the branch. We also have a new investigator from our neighborhood. Also, I am reporting a community service project which we as a district completed today. As we walk in the morning we cross a stream by a foot bridge which was in need of serious repair. Our 10 missionaries and Sister Russell and I took on the task of putting in major repairs on the bridge. It took us working hard all afternoon in replacing the boards and straightening the foundation. Wow what a task but we accomplished it. Standing in mud and hot sun was tough but our elders did well.

Thanksgiving is coming next week. In payment for the wonderful service the missionaries give we are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at our home.

This week end we had house guests! Elder and Sister Wood stayed with us Saturday night and attended church at the Breku branch. They were taking Eric, a crippled boy to Ghana Make A Difference. Eric had just returned from Utah where he underwent reconstructive surgery. He had been in an auto accident as a baby and was paralyzed from the waist down. The Woods are serving in the Kamasi mission living in Techniman. They are from New Zealand and such a delightful couple.

Tomorrow we are headed to Accra to deliver bicycles and attend an art demonstration in making boutiques and kente cloth. I hope to be back before dark.

Thanksgiving was a big event at the Russells. We had over 11 missionaries for dinner. Sister Russell cooked an entire meal of all the Thanksgiving items we could, including mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, stuffing and roasted chickens (2). Apple pie for desert and whipped cream topping was the last item on the menu.

Since we are missionaries we get to visit many investigators. We invite many to come unto Christ as we travel and walk our neighborhood. This is stake conference weekend and we have invited the queen of Awutu Breku to attend. Her good friend, Samuel is receiving the Melchizedek priesthood this Sunday. 
We are finally getting internet service that is affordable. It is so difficult to purchase services without paying an extremely high price.

 This is the end of the month and time to look back at a month of mission life. Sunday was the Kasoa Stake conference. Samuel Tibo ( my good friend) was sustained to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. I ordained him following the meeting. Pres. Simons asked if I would comment on the support of the Aaronic priesthood holders. He is training the ward and branch leadership to see the young men advance in the priesthood. They are the “Rising Generation”. The speakers were assigned the atonement. Pres. Simpson (Accra Ghana West mission president) and his wife spoke 2Nephi27:13-16. The choir sang beautifully. I was so impressed with the quality of presentations. Africa is the place to be.

We also, had a Kasoa zone activity. Our ZL had a well-planned inside and outside activities, including jump rope, football, a fine meal and we were asked to give our testimonies. The leadership in this mission is outstanding.

Zone Leader Nebrotzky in Swedru 
Sister Russell at cocoa rack

Breku Young Women

Our Neighbor

Corn lunch with missionaries at Akuwksi
Community bridge before repairs
Missionary Service Project

District missionaries tearing bridge apart

Replacing old boards

My service project crew!

Finished project

Elder and Sister Wood with Eric

Cocoa tree

Plantain bananas

Asikuma road

My sweet potato garden

Thanksgiving meal prep

Our district missionaries

On our way to Asikuma

Package from home

New skirt for Sister Russell
Thanksgiving guests!

Helping during Thanksgiving meal

Stake choir

President and Sister Simpson
Zone Activity