Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Drifting Angels

  "Mama Elsie" the first day we met her.  She runs the orphanage with her husband on a shoestring budget.  She just glows from the wonderful work she is doing with the children  

 Here are some of the children as they gather to sing a welcome song to us.  As you can see the children are well cared for and loved.  They have their own farm where they grow much of their food.  The older children go to school in the town and the younger ones are taught at the orphanage by volunteers that come from various parts of the world to serve.  

 What to do?  One of the ideas we came up with was to make dolls out of socks.  So we stopped at a town named Juapong, but we call it "Pillow Town".  The pillows are stuffed with cotton grown in nearby fields.  We purchased some to use the cotton for stuffing the dolls.  Then we needed some socks to make the dolls so we went to the market shown below.

 Some of the YSA's as they enjoy a Family Home Evening making dolls.

 The finished product.  We made 32 orphan dolls.  Hopefully they will find someone to love them.

 Then the fun part came.  We wanted to make some blocks for the boys to play with, so we went all over town trying to find some square wood to make blocks with.  After having no success, we stopped at a timber market (lumber yard) and asked them if the had any 2"square wood they could cut into blocks.  We seen some 2x2 there so we asked them if they could cut them into squares.  They said it would be better to use this other wood.  They showed us a 2"x12" by 10' piece of wood and said the  the blocks could be made out of it.  Being somewhat skeptical, we gave them the go ahead.  When the finished product arrived they were blocks alright, but that was about it.  Hardly any of them were the same size and they definitely were not square, but they were Ghana good.  So all of us sanded, and sanded some more, then painted them.  The YSA's and Elder Lyon had a great time painting.  Getting the paint was another adventure, but for some other time.  Anyway, here is the finished product.

Next it was time to buy some shoes, because kids always need shoes.  We went to the market again to purchase them and the lady that sold them did not want her picture taken, as you can tell.  We took the shoes home, put them in pairs.  We got quite a few of them, as seen in the photos below.
Time to buy clothes.  We are in the same market and Sister Lyon along with a branch member named Eyram helped to pick out the clothes for both the boys and girls.
 Sister Lyon took the clothes home where she washed and sorted them to get ready for delivery.
The clothes all washed, folded, sorted and ready to go.
On Saturday, February the 11th, we loaded up the truck with all the donations and headed for Tsito.  We asked the Ho Branch for donations which they generously provided..  For people who have so little, they gave much.
 Our group, including the 4 full time Elders are ready to go.  A delicious breakfast of pumpkin muffins, bananas and water was graciously provided by Sister Lyon.

 Time to get on the tro-tro and go.

Because the road is a very difficult one to travel, the tro-tro could only take them to the junction on the main road, then they had to walk about 1km to the orphanage.
 The truck was happily unloaded by those that came to help.
 Even the little ones were involved.

 Because it was a service project, we came to serve.  So, they put us to work.  First the women were asked to help finish bathing the young ones.  Lots of soap.
 Then they helped them do the laundry.  After hanging the clothes to dry they started making food for the children and those who are out working on the farm.  Then they made small, small for us.
 Mama Elsie showing Sister Lyon the boundaries of her farm.  It was a sad occasion because someone had started a fire and burned most of the farm, including some of her mango trees.  She said they must have been evil people who did that to her farm.  Mostly it's just people trying to drive out wild animals from the bush so they can capture them for a meal and most of the time the fires get out of control.
 The men went out to the farm to help the young men from the orphanage gather and bring back wood for cooking.  Every Saturday they walk about 4 km's out to the farm, gather wood, bundle it, place it on their heads and walk back.  It was a welcomed sight for them to see our truck, so we could deliver their wood.

The truck was so full of wood, we had to tie the rest of it on top.  The young men haul this amount of wood from the farm to the orphanage twice a week so they can have enough to cook with.  There are no slackers here, they all work hard.

And then they play hard.  After the wood was unloaded and breakfast eaten, it was time for a rousing game of football (soccer).  Our guys against the orphanage guys, but we brought a ringer.  His name is Melchizedek, (in the center of the photo below) he played professional football in Africa and Europe.  Needless to say, he was good and the young men were really impressed with his skills.
 But not everyone could play football, we brought some sidewalk chalk for the children, so Elder Anderson and myself had a little drawing class.  The children had a great time drawing.
 Lucy is so proud of the house she drew. 

 The tradition in Ghana is when you bring gifts to people you present them in a formal way.  This is the customary way of transferring ownership to them.  Sister Lyon presenting the gifts to Mama Elsie.

  Everyone is gathered for a group photo at the end of a lovely day.
 This is Bernard.  A small girl named Peace was asked what she liked to play and she said dolls.  So Sister Lyon let her pick out a doll from the ones we made.  She picked out a red boy doll, then called to her good friend Bernard to come and pick out a doll.  He picked out a red girl doll to match the doll Peace had.  When asked what the names of their dolls were, Bernard said his was named Peace and Peace said hers was named Bernard.

 This is Calvin.  He is a very shy little boy and did not want to get involved at all.
Melchizedek was showing the young children how to balance a ball on their backs. Calvin was finally coaxed into trying, HE DID IT, and loved it.  He was so proud of what he accomplished and warmed up to everyone after that.  It made his day.

 We really want to thank all those that helped with this service project. The Greg and Debbie Sievers family for their generous donation.  They wanted to do something for Christmas as a family service project.  Instead of trying to send items over here, paying the shipping plus the duty, they made it possible for us to buy most of the clothes, shoes, food, soap and footballs.  Other items were donated by the members of the branch and the YSA's.  Thanks goes out to the Elders and YSA's for their generous donation of time, energy and great spirit to help make this a memorable day for everyone involved.  The people at the orphanage, especially Mama Elsie, were very grateful for what we did for them.  The workers at the orphanage kept saying over and over again, "May God bless you".

Thanks again to everyone who made this marvelous day possible.
 Mosiah 2:17,  ..."when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Then" And "Now"

The Harmattan is a dry, dusty West African Trade Wind that blows south from the Sahara Desert into the Gulf of Guinea.  It starts at the end of November and usually lasts until the middle of March.  On its passage over the desert it picks up fine dust particles and deposits them over the land.  In some countries of West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days, comparable to a heavy fog, but much drier.  This post shows the difference between the landscape when we first got here and what it looks like now in the middle of Harmattan (pronounced Hamatan, remember they don't pronounce the "r").

 This is the view from our house, "then",
 and "now".

 This is a village we pass through on our way to Accra, "then",
 and "now".

 A trail going through the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, "then",
 and "now".

 Lots of green and water, "then",
 and "now".

 A beautiful area of the countryside, "then",
 and an area in the city "now".

 This is a path we walk on some mornings (when we feel up to it), "then",
 and "now".

 Another place where we frequently walk in the mornings, (the tree on the left side is the same tree that's on the right of the photo below) "then",
 and "now".

 Not only does the Harmattan affect the sky, the dryness also affects the trees too.  These 2 photos were taken at approximately the same time in the morning, "then",
 and "now".

 Another pathway through Tafi Atome, "then",
and "now".

Harmattan is a Twi word for the dry wind that blows.  It's first known use was in 1671 by English explorers here in Ghana.  The locals call it "an ill wind that blows nobody good".  As you can see by the photos they are correct.  What a change it brings to the land and people.  Although I don't have any photos to document it, it's funny to see people in coats, hats, scarfs and sweaters because of the cold, but it's still 85+ degrees out there.  Only in Ghana.  But when the rains return, the "now" will look like the "then" once again.  The circle of life.