Sunday, October 30, 2011

All In A Weeks Work (Or Play)

Starting the week, meaning on Monday, after some serious cleaning, we decided to take the rest of the day and go out to the village where we saw some Kente Cloth weavers earlier.  This cloth is the national cloth of Ghana, is very bright, traditional and the each color has a meaning.  It originally was made into robes and clothing for the tribal hierarchy.   Several pieces were sewn together, because the cloth is about 4" wide by about 8' long.  It is now made by a lot of weavers and sold to everyone.

 There was also a lady weaving baskets at the village, so we purchased one to use to put our muddy shoes in as we come in the front door.  There was a man asking for some money, so I asked him what he had to sell.  He said nothing, so I said that's what I'll give to you then.

 These are the names of the Elders from left to right.  Elder Anderson, from Idaho Falls, Elder Gagnon, from Salt Lake City, Elder Silika from somewhere in New Zealand and Elder Janson from Nampa.  Wednesday was transfer day so we took Elders Silika and Janson to the Mission Home in Accra and picked up two new Elders.  Elder Makandangwe (say that real fast 10 times) from Zimbabwe and Elder Imende from Kenya.

 Where's the cattle trailer?  This is how they transport their cattle here.  They just tie them up and put them in the back of a small pickup.  African ingenuity. 
 And of course we got to see baboons again, but the tro-tro driver behind me was not so happy to have me stop suddenly in front of him.  We were happy Elders Silika and Janson got to see them.  This was the first time they had seen baboons.  Some people thought it was a myth there were baboons along the road.  We have photo proof that it's true.  There have been other Elders and Sisters who have traveled that section of the highway many times and had never seen any baboons.  We have seen them twice now.  Lucky us.

 The beautiful Accra temple.

 On Thursday President Reck, the Branch President wanted us to go with him to take some provisions to Amelia (she has an easy name to remember) who lives way out in the bush.  We had gone to visit her a few weeks ago, so we started on our adventure.  When we went before, we had to cross a river twice, a small section, then a much larger section and had no problem, even though the water was high.  This time when we got to the smaller section, it was much larger.  So President Reck ventured out to see how deep the water was.  There are crocodiles here in Ghana, I just hope there aren't any in this river.  The photo shows him as he started, but when he got close to the bend in the river, it was up to his waist.  I wasn't about to take the pickup through this section of the river, because after this one, there was even a larger portion of the river where the water was moving through very fast.  We had to leave the provisions at a village that was close to the river with an alderman.  I hope he gets them to her.  So far the river has not gone down enough to cross.

 Saturday we had a baptism.  The young man named Frank was entering the waters of baptism to become the newest member of the Ho Branch.
 This is the font outside in the courtyard.  The men are holding a ladder down so the young men can get into the font.  It's a little bit different than the fonts at the stake centers in the U.S.
 This is Elder Gagnon, our district leader, next is Frank, then Franks brother and Elder Andersen .  At least the Elders look happy, the Africans don't like to smile for the camera.  You really have to work to get them to smile.  


Monday, October 24, 2011


I guess we should include a post about the missionary work we are doing, so you don't think we just party all the time.

As I have stated before, we have been called to be advisers to the Young Single Adults in the Ho branch.  There are 163 of them with about 20 or so that come to either the SA (they don't liked to be called "Young") Family Home Evening or the Institute class.  So, that leaves about 143 that we need to account for.  We have had the help of William, the Ward Mission Leader and Patrick, the Young Single Adult leader, in going through the list of names we have.  Some of them are "out of town", meaning they have moved, and some are in school, that means they are in boarding school somewhere else, or they are "traveling", meaning they are out of town for now.  There are also many that people don't even know, because sometimes a person joins the church and their family prohibits them from coming back and here the parents really have a hold on the children until they leave home and sometimes that isn't until they're in their late 20's or early 30's.  Along with very few places that have addresses, we really have our work cut out for us.

We have started visiting the SA's that are less active or those going to boarding school.  We visited a girl named Beatrice who is going to a boarding school.  She is very shy, as it seems most Ghanaians are.  So sometimes it's hard to talk to them.  But she wants us to come back because she has some friends there at school who are interested in hearing about the Book of Mormon.  We also visited Rita, who is more shy that Beatrice, if you can believe that.  She has stopped coming, even though at one time she was one of the best Seminary students, according to William.  We have encouraged her to come back and wanted her to know how much Heavenly Fadda (have to say it the way they do) loves her and is concerned for her.  These are special sisters and prayers on their behalf would be greatly encouraged.  The Lord loves each and everyone of us.  The fun part about this is we have been teaching outside under some trees or a grass shelter.  We are definitely in Africa!

We have also helped the Elders teach a few lessons to investigators and to a less active sister named Doris.  Her family was also there.  Both times we have helped, there needed to be an interpreter there because some of them didn't speak English, only Ewe.  We asked the Elders if that happened often and they said, only when we are with you.  Boy are we ever the lucky ones.  The investigators are a little family who has a daughter Shepard who is 15 and wants to join the church, but her father and mother are unsure whether they want to be baptized.  We challenged the father to set the example to his daughter by being baptized first.  He said he would try to be worthy.  They have been to church the last two weeks and really enjoy being there and feeling the Spirit.  It was kind of funny though, because when we were teaching Faustina, the mother, I asked her the question through Miriam, our Relief Society President, who was interpreting, "Do you have faith that Heavenly Father will bless you if you keep his commandments"?  She was concerned because she has a business that sell products and her best customers are those that go to the church she does and she does most of her business on Sunday after church.  Well, when Miriam posed the question to her, she went on and on and on for a few minutes.  When she was done, Faustina gave her answer and she went on and on and on.  When she was done, Miriam turned to me and said, "She says Yes".  I think there was a lot more said than that, but I could be wrong.

We were so excited this Sunday when Doris came back to church ...she even made a point of introducing her two boys to us.  We are having a great experience getting to know these wonderful people. They are very open, warm, friendly and welcoming. The General Authorities say that this is Africa's time.  It truly is!  We are glad to be here and do what we can to help.

Elder Lyon did his first baptismal interview this last Sunday for Frank a 13 year old young man who came to church with some of his friends, and his uncle is also a member.  He was very impressed with his gospel knowledge and readiness to be baptized.  Most of the African youth we have observed are very gospel oriented, love the scriptures and STUDY them.  They have great insight, great questions, and are inspiring!  Amazing what can be learned when you have very few distractions ... no TV or Internet or Play Stations or any other electronics in most homes.  Very few outside activities other than school or work, and the sun sets and rises at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. everyday.  We could learn a lot from their humble examples.

 Baptismal Font in the Courtyard of the Church.
 Our Branch President, President Reck.
 Amelia, one of our Single Adult members, who is a Community Health Nurse, way out in a very small village in the bush an hour from Ho.
 William our Ward Mission Leader helping us figure out the long list of Single Adults in our dining room.
 Young man making Fufu with his little brother trying to help while we are talking to his sister, Rita.
 The area where we taught a discussion to Shepard, and Faustina.

We are learning to be missionaries, we are enjoying the experience, and hoping to find many meaningful ways to contribute while serving here in Africa.
Keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


 Hoping to see lots of wildlife while in Africa our eyes have been peeled ... we have been blessed to see several different types of birds, (not always with camera in hand) these beautiful Woodland Kingfishers grace our back yard from time to time.
 We call this guy a "Curly Bird" because he sounds like Curly of Three Stooges fame. (we haven't been able to locate his real name yet)  We ask the people here and they say they are birds...They say the same thing when we ask the names of flowers...They are flowers...
 This particular wildlife, a rooster, will not be wild for long if he does not quit being an insomniac!!  He or one of his brothers wakes us at all hours of early morning, 1:00 am, 2:30 am, 4:00 am, 5:00 am and yes occasionally at 6:00 am.
 Most of the wildlife here are seriously the chickens and goats, they roam the entire city.  They say they are "free-range".  Left to roam freely all day long, and they say at night they go home to their owners and live with them.  It is true, they totally disappear at night, unless there has been a quick, heavy rain storm and they are huddled by the shops.  We heard some little ones bleating for their mom last night, pitifully ... but they eventually found her.  They are very small goats and end up in many meals!
 This shows how tiny they are, this little guy is barely as tall as the gutter.
 Lots of lizards here, this one is very colorful ... we thought, how cool!  Til we discovered they are so prevalent!  We evidently moved into their home, we have so many lizards we can't keep count, we find them day and night, inside and outside.  They chase each other all over the yard.  If we see one, we see many ... very common! Yes, we do have regular little geckos like we had in Arizona as well.
 Snail for soup.  We saw this one on our morning walk. It is the size of the palm of my hand.  The locals love them in soup, they say they makes the soup very sweet .... don't know if we will be brave enough to try snail soup ...
 On our way home from Accra on Elder Lyon's birthday, traffic was stopped by these cattle just roaming the streets.  Crazy ...
 My Birthday gift to Elder Lyon were these baboons!!  We were in the Shai Hills reserve area and lo and behold, there they were!!  About six of them.  Sorry for the blurriness of the photos, but you get the picture ... this may be the only "real African wildlife" we see in this part of Africa.
Here's to you Elder Lyon of Africa4Lyons!!  May you see many more while we serve among the African "Wildlife"!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The People

 Here's Jessie shopping in the produce section of the Ho Market.
 Just couldn't resist this little guy keeping an eye on us Yavoo's (Ewe for white people.) Ewe is pronounced A Way, with a long a.  It is the language spoken here.  English is their second language.  That is what they are taught in schools, but when they want to communicate with each other, they use Ewe.
 Here is a group of young children that were playing soccer, or should I say football, on their school holiday.  They love to pose for photos.
 A young man making fufu for dinner while we were visiting his mother and sister.  They are members of the church but the young woman is not active at the present time.  We are trying to get her to come back to church.
 This is a beautiful family at our church.  I love how the mothers carry their children.  They wrap a cloth around the child and themselves, then tie it up.  I guess they need to balance things out after carrying them in front for 9 months.  No strollers or car seats here.
 This is a picture of Foster.  He is the youngest of 3 children that come to visit us and have us read with them.  His older brother is Prince and his oldest sister is Abigail.  Their parents aren't members of the church but they are.  Tried to get a photo of him alone, but Prince kept putting his hand in there.  He's a tease, and a very happy boy with a great smile.
This is a group of Young Single Adults that came over to our house to clear out our back yard.  That has been quite an adventure.  We had an area in our back yard that looked really good with lots of trees, agave, and very lush green vegetation.  Then Prince and a couple of his friends wanted to come and help us make it look better.  So we gave them each a cutlass (machete) and they went to work.  They had fun, but when they were done, well, lets say, it was better before they started.  Then William a Young Single Adult came over and saw the damage that was done, so the rest of them came over on a Saturday to clear it up.  They took more of it out so now there is nothing left of the beautiful area.  But everything grows so fast here, it will be back.  They did all the work by hand and cutlass, no gloves, shovels, rakes or pruning shears. 

The people here are amazing (using that overused adjective).  They live in the worst of circumstances but are happy, very inventive and always smiling, at least most of them are.  You see very little anger of hostility.  They love it when a Yavoo says hi to them, especially the children.  They point at us and say "Yavoo, Yavoo", so I point back and say "you're a Yavoo".  They are very industrious, you see people walking everywhere, they have their own little shops where they sell whatever they can to try to make a living.  You don't see a lot of people living in the streets like the U.S.  They do have street people here in Ho, a city of about 50,000, so far I have seen 1 or 2.  We love being here to serve and getting to know and meet the people of Ho, Ghana. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Home In Ho

Wow, our computer finally downloaded some photos so I'm posting som of our home here in Ho.  They'll be more to come later.  It is okay, when I use the word okay, that means that by African standards it is good, but by American standards, well... I don't know if you can tell from the photo, we have a 2 car garage.  Only, there are steps leading up the the doors, so lots of luck parking a car in there, plus the doors are very small.  The front of our house faces the street, which is the  main road to Accra, so needless to say, it's pretty busy, and at all times of the day and night.
This is the other side of the front.  The living room is behind the archway and the end part that you see is the guest bedroom, so anyone that wants to come, we have room for you.  All you have to do is pay a huge amount for the airline tickets, get 7 different shots and you can come.
 This is the view from our backyard.  On the left there is a lime tree, sort of.  It hasn't been taken care of very well so it has fallen down.  I guess they forgot to prune and dig and graft and dung about the tree.  It has produced some fruit, but they are very small. 
But we do have a wall around our place and a front gate.  So that makes it very safe, but also a pain in the you know where, because every time we come and go, I get the pleasure of getting out of the vehicle and opening the gate, then closing it after we go through.  Plus there is a hill to go up out of our gate.  No automatic door openers here.  Although I did see one at the Vodafone store.  The man sat in a gate shack and had a rope that he pulled on to open the gate. 
 A view from our living room, into the dining room.
 The kitchen.  And you'll notice Jessie is in her appropriate place.  We are just starting to clean things up and put them away.  Or should I say, Jessie is, while I'm taking the pictures.  We have a small refrigerator, all the appliances are small here, a microwave and a propane stove.  Still looking for the dishwasher though.  Oh, I found it, he's the one taking the pictures.
And this is the bedroom.  Notice the romantic covering we have to put over our bed at night.  It is called a mosquito net.  They are mandatory, unless of course, you want to have malaria.  Not at the present.  We have still yet to get everything put away, but we are working on it. 
Well, this is going to be our home for the next 18 months, unless the mission president decides differently.  There is this little disclaimer at the bottom of our call that says all assignments are at the discretion of the mission president.  Another little secret they don't tell you. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Sorry, the so called "internet" service here won't, (or should I say I don't have the time to wait for it), upload any photos so I'll have to wait until we get a faster service or go to the mission home, because they have a faster service, to place any photos on our blog.  In the meantime-

WE ARE HERE IN AFRICA!  There are no words, pictures or stories that can even come close to describing what it's like here.  Africa is loud, yet the people are quiet.  It is like an anthill with all the people and cars going everywhere, but it is somewhat organized.  Driving is crazy, yet polite.  I know if people drove in Arizona the same way they drive here, there would be fights and shootings every day.  Yet there is not.

And the people, they are wonderful.  They have a saying here "Akwaaba".  It means "You're Welcome".  Not as we use it as a follow up to thank you, but they are saying You Are Welcome Here.  We hear it a lot and don't see to many that look like they resent us being here.  When we get sullen stares from the people, we try to do something to make them smile or laugh at us.  Most of the time it works, but there are some who refuse, just as there are anywhere.

We were informed when we received our call and when we were at the MTC, they spoke English in Ghana.  I don't know where they got their information because I have heard lots of Ghanians  (pronounced Ganayans) speak and it doesn't sound like english to me.  If they speak english at all, it is usually their second, or third or keep going, language.  There are about 50 different dialects spoken here in Ghana depending on where you are.  For example, we were introduced to a man who is a member of the church.  When we asked his name, he said in his form of english, Abott.  At least that's what I thought he said.  So we asked him again for clarification and he again said, Abott.  It sounded a lot like the last name of our daughter Mandy Abbott.  So we asked him to spell it.  A l b e r t.  Oh, you mean Albert.  No, he said, it's Abott.  I'm going to need extra help on this one.

We are now in a town called Ho.  The population is about 50,000, more or less and there is one branch here that has about 430 members but only 120 or so come to church.  Sounds a lot like the Cave Creek ward.  We will tell you more about the branch as time goes on and we get to know it better.

Things I have learned so far here in Africa:
Everything is either damp, wet or really wet.  I have never seen so many different shades of green in my life.  It's definitely not a dry heat.  When someone says "I will go to your church someday", it's a polite way of telling you "I have no interest in you church whatsoever, but have a nice day".  Everything is so expensive here.  A small bottle of Mustard is 5.50 Cedis, pronounced like cd's (their form of currency.  It takes about 1.50 cedis to make a US dollar).  They drive really crazy here, but there are a lot less accidents than at home.  I could go on and on, but in the interest of time, I will save some for later.

We are really grateful to be here and to be serving the Lord and the people of Ghana.  There are so many that made this possible it would take almost as much room to thank them all.  Picture soon, I promise.