Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Couples P - Day

Every once in awhile we refresh ourselves by taking a mini vacation also known as an extended Preparation Day.  We went to Koforidua to spend some time with the other Couple Missionaries of the Ghana Accra Mission.  They are the Baker's from Idaho serving in Koforidua, the Barney's the office couple from Arizona, the Dalton's serving in Abomoso from Utah and of course, the Lyon's present residence unknown serving in Ho.
 As with any trip in Ghana, we see many beautiful things as we travel.  This mud home is very typical of many we see along the mountainous journey to Koforidua.

 About an hour from Koforidua is the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, in a village named Tafo-Akim.  This was our first destination of the day.  Cocoa is the number two export of Ghana.  The whole industry is controlled by the Cocoa Institute, they employ over 1000 people.  They also oversee other mandated crops like the Shea Nut, Kola Nut and Cashew.

 Who knew cocoa came from such interesting origins.  Mr. Quarshie, the man in the illustration, introduced cocoa as a crop to Ghana.  The Institute does research for improvement of the species, oversees the many farms all over Ghana, helps control all aspects of the farming and production of cocoa.  The "A MAZE IN" hybrid cocoa pod was introduced later.  When we saw this display we realized they meant Amazon!

 These are the bins the cocoa beans are placed in for 5-10 days for the sweating process.

 First the the cocoa pods are broken open and the beans removed. They are covered in a silky, white, slimy, sweet membrane.  All of this work is done by hand. They could probably mechanize the process but they say they prefer to employ many hands.

 After the sweating process the beans are dried in the sun for 5 to 10 days. We were able to break a few open to taste, a very dark bitter chocolate flavor!

 This is Elder Baker raking the beans to help the drying process along.

 Cocoa pods growing on the tree.  The pods grow on the trunks, not in the tree tops, very interesting!

 All cocoa trees start here in the Cocoa Research Institute before they are taken to the farms to be planted.  They have scientifically engineered cocoa trees that now take 18 months to 3 years to produce cocoa rather than the original trees that did not produce for 8 years.  The sapling trees are planted 436 per acre along with 436 plantain tree saplings for shade and a barrier of citrus trees to keep the bugs that damage them away.

 After learning so much we feasted on a potluck picnic at the Bunso Arboretum.  This felt like a family reunion feast. Or maybe we were all just thinking of the many family outings at home we are missing.

 The trees and plants in the Bunso Arboretum are simply beautiful.  We were very happy to find out the many trees we see do have names.  Almost everyone you ask what kind of tree you are seeing will reply, "Oh, that is a tree."

 Notice the trunk of this tree, it is very wide and much of it is above ground.

 The red tree on the right side of this photo is called the Devil Tree because of it's redness.  We learned a couple of the huge trees we see along our travels are Odem and Ofur trees.

 Elder Lyon gives a little perspective to the massiveness of the trunk of this Odem tree.  The visit to the Arboretum was cut short so that the Barney's could get back to Accra before night fall and Sister Dalton was getting eaten by mosquitoes.  We really want to come again, bring bug spray and spend more time hiking and learning the names of the trees.  We loved this beautiful place.

 We spent the night with the Baker's so we could see Boti Falls the next morning.  Luckily we missed the turn and were able to see this beautiful countryside. The landscape and vistas are amazing.  Our photography can't do justice to this lush, green place.

 We were also pleasantly surprised to see many of these Fire Crowned Bishops.  We enjoy the opportunity to see unusual birds.

 This beautiful tree with waxy, yellow flowers was waiting to show off for us at Boti Falls.

 We walked down about 300 steps to get to Boti Falls.  What a fantastic, lush forest!

 Our first peek at the falls on our trek down the steps.

 Boti Falls is actually two different falls right next to each other.  They say one is male and one female.  This one is the male falls.

Female on the left, Male on the right.  Beautiful.  Heavenly Father really outdid himself here in Ghana.

 The handsome monkey in the tree ... Elder Lyon of course.  We were enthralled with the trunks of the trees which wound over and around in every direction.

 I see you.

Another view of the stairs and greenery.  We are now on our way back up.

We certainly were refreshed, rejuvenated, and overwhelmed with gratitude at the beauty created by Our Heavenly Father, just for us!  We also really enjoy our new, dear friends, Elder and Sister Baker, Elder and Sister Barney, Elder and Sister Dalton.  They call us the African Lyon's because we are the only lions they will see.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Is How We Roll

 This is where we begin and end each day.  The lovely net is for keeping the malaria mosquitos away.  Elder Lyon's knot tying skills have come in very handy, notice the rod for his shirts.

 If we do not have to travel or attend an early morning meeting, we go for a walk just behind our home and up the hill.  We love the beautiful view which is the incentive for trudging so far.

 We are amazed at the huge trees and other wonders of nature.  Thank you Heavenly Father for creating such a beautiful world!

 Breakfast of champions!  Milk and juice in boxes that are unrefrigerated in the stores.  We love to read the labels to see where the products come from.  The milk is from South Africa, the juice is from Cypress.  Yes, we take our vitamins every day too.  We are trying to stay healthy and have been very blessed!

 Scripture study is a great way to begin the day.  We are really enjoying the Book of Mormon, reading a chapter, then discussing what we learned from the verses.  Our testimonies of the truthfulness of this sacred scripture increase each day.

 Our automatic dishwasher and food scrubber!  Elder Lyon is the best, we'll see if we can manufacture him when we get home.  All of the windows in the house are louvered, they have screens to keep mosquitoes and other bugs out, and metal bars for protection.  They are a pain to clean.  All food is cleaned in a clorox solution before going into the fridge.  More time is spent cooking and cleaning than we imagined.  No fast food here.

 Thank heaven for technology that helps keep us in touch with family, friends and the world outside of Ghana.  Each day we hope to receive updates and photos of grandchildren.  We miss everyone so very much.  We appreciate and love being able to get glimpses of life at home.

 District meetings and Branch Mission Coordination meetings keep us busy two mornings each week.  This one was held in our home.  The only thing our TV gets used for is holding up the District white board with the numbers and names of people being taught.

 Once a transfer (every 6 weeks) we feed the Elders breakfast after district meeting.  They love it and we are always amazed at how much they eat.  Never any leftovers!

 Some mornings you might find Elder Lyon working in the back yard garden.  Sister Lyon usually is busy in the house, but enjoys coming out to see the progress of the plants and harvest the beans!
The large pumpkin plant on the right side "disappointed".  Lots of blossoms, but no fruit, even after Elder Lyon hand pollinated them.

 Every time we come or go, the gate has to be unlocked, opened, and relocked.  Tedious yes, but Elder Lyon is a trouper, keeping us safe.  Our house is right on the main road into town, the traffic is always busy and pedestrians are continually passing by.

 Good thing Elder Lyon is a good driver and loves to drive.  He has said that when he gets home if the road is bumpy, narrow, or hard to travel on, he better be heading to a fishing hole!

 Traffic in Ho on Market Day, which is every four days. A small, two lane road becomes a four lane road with cars going every direction and hundreds of people walking every where.  We are glad our mirrors are higher than most of the other vehicles otherwise, they probably would have been scraped off by now.  There is no personal space for people or vehicles.  This is where we come to buy most of our fresh fruits and veggies.

 Our favorite place to buy green bananas.  This sweet lady speaks no English but she loves to see our truck pull up and is very happy to sell us only the green bananas.  Unlike the women in the big market who do not want to separate the green bananas from the ripe ones.
 This little store has been a life saver, it carries a few of the staples we are used to ... at least in a "somehow" sort of way.  You know like ice cream (3 flavors only), cheese, eggs that we know are "somehow" fresh, whole wheat sliced bread and a few other random items.  We try to shop in Accra for major staples and items that can not be found in Ho.  Interesting side note, the building is two stories.  The top story is the storage area, they carry all goods upstairs from the truck, then bring them downstairs to stock the shelves.

 Mingling with the shoppers at the big Ho market on market day.

 We have our main meal around 1 or 2 o'clock, complete with Doxycycline to prevent malaria.  We usually have a lite snack like popcorn later in the evening, because we are too hot or tired to cook.  The food in the black "rubber" is fried yam, one of the few cooked foods we occasionally buy on the street.  Everything sold is put into black plastic bags, you see them littering the streets everywhere.  They call them "rubbers".

 Many of our days are filled with various ways of teaching with the Elders. This was a visit to a less active member where she sells rice and chicken to the public. We are with Elders Gagnon and Anderson, Sister Avonyo and Justice, a Branch missionary.

 We drive to Kpong every week or two so that Elder Lyon can interview baptismal candidates.  Elder Kyremetang and Shults serve there.  We follow them all over town to find the people that need an interview.  Quite the adventure.

 These two Elders (Thompson and Smith) in Senchi are awating our arrival to deliver them some much anticipated mail.  They love receiving mail from home, especially packages.

 The Elders in Kpong arranged for us to "enjoy" fufu with them at the home of a sister they are teaching.  You never know what new experience awaits when working with these brave young men.  They give us courage to try new things.  Yes, we all eat from the same bowl, with our fingers.  This is fufu, with light soup and talapia. The table in the left corner is where the woman is making bread she sells four days a week.

 Sometimes we take the Elders on a P-day excursion.  This is Wli Falls.  They love getting the chance to get out of Ho and see the sights of Ghana.

 Many of our days find us interacting with the Young Single Adults we advise.  This was after an early morning "health walk".  We walked 7.8 kilometers to and from the chapel, up a beautiful hillside, then returned to have bread and "tea".  They call any warm beverage tea, this was actually warm cocoa.

 We visit members homes.  Meet Nephi, he is the oldest son of a good branch member.

 These investigators were busy cracking palm nuts when we arrived to visit them.  Bernice is so happy to see us and have her photo taken.  The palms nuts are cracked and shelled.  Then the nuts are taken to market and sold so they can be made into palm nut oil.

 We go over this bridge on every trip to Accra.  This bridge crosses Volta Lake, the largest man made lake in the world.  Catherine and Justine are happy walking on it.  Even though they have crossed  it many times in a tro-tro they have never walked across, because tro-tros do not stop.  On the way home from taking them to the Accra temple to receive their own endowments, we stopped so they could walk across the bridge for the first time. (Tro-tros are vans that take people and their goods everywhere. Most people do not have their own vehicles and travel primarily by tro-tro or taxi.) Tro-tro is short for trouble-trouble, at least that's what we say.

 Jessie and Jesse.  He was born about the same time we arrived on mission.  He still does not know what to think of us "Yavoo's" (white people).  This is in the church building in Kpong where we attend meetings for the newly created Kpong District, which Ho is now part of.  We wish Ho had a nice building and not just a rented one. "Someday, Someday."

 A typical Sunday with the Young Women of Ho Branch.

 After Church meetings, these children usually come to our home to get help with homework, Personal Progress and their Duty to God goals.  We call them our "Porch Children".  Their parents are not members and they were introduced to the gospel by the previous couple missionaries.  After they finish their "work" we play Book of Mormon Old Maid. 

 Every once in a while we find a day to relax and see some of the sights in Ghana, like Bojo Beach.

At the end of the day we often unwind by playing a game of Scrabble.  We found this french version from a street hawker.  Every once in a while Elder Lyon lets Sister Lyon win ...

Every day we ask the Lord to guide is in the paths he wants us to go, help us find those he wants us to find and serve those who need to be served.  We love being in such a unique place where we have the opportunity to do the Lord's will.  We never know what each new day will bring...