Wednesday, October 31, 2012

                                                       A Good Week

Since I wrote earlier about our being able to attend the temple, I decided to include a picture of it.

There are so many different flowers, shrubs and trees here in Accra and most of them I have never seen before. As we go about our day, I notice them a lot, and it helps me to focus on something other than the poverty.

This is how the homes and apartments are enclosed and their is a gatekeeper or security person at all times who stays in a room next to the gate. (most of the people don't have this however.) Some homes are very nice and the security people wear uniforms. This happens to be at our Mission Office.

These are a few unique features in our humble abode, which I quickly add, are much appreciated. Toliets flush on the right side which took a little getting use to.

These next ones are pictures from our office: This is where we sort the mail for the missionaries;

This is us with Paul who takes care of any problems that may come up with the missionaries apartments, also finding new apartments and their furnishings,and much more. He has been a great help. He recently got married.

The AP Elders (Assistants to the mission president) are Elder Mudenga , who is going home to Zimbabwah(sp) in a week, and Elder Christiansen have been such a great help to us.

Elder Wiley and Elder Asay (I forgot to take a picture) are also such a great help to us. We had a special experience with them on Saturday, when after our shopping for groceries we stopped by the office because they wanted us to have our first try of FuFu. This is a main staple among the Ghanians and is made of cassava and green plaintain. It is an art, the Elders tell us, to watch how the FuFu is made and it sounds like it as they described the process. I enjoyed the fish soup part of it the best, as the FuFu is too starchy for me, but they said I don't eat it the right way because it is supposed to be swallowed rather than chewed. We didn't eat too much, as it was a lot, which turned to be a blessing. A man had come into the office and the Elders found out that he had just been released from a 21/2 year prison term. He was on his way home to Kumasi, which was a long way from Accra, when he stopped by the temple grounds and was directed to our office. We were able to give him the FuFu and some soap so he could wash his clothes and himself. Elder Wiles taught him of who he was and how God is mindful of him, and had a good feeling about the heart of this man. I have prayed for miracles for this man on his long journey home. These young missionaries are exceptional here, and they are going to have a great responsibility teaching the 18 year old missionaries that will be coming. There are 57,000 missionaries now and the church projects it will increase to 90,000 and then level off to 75,000. The Ghana mission will have an increase of 50 missionaries, so we are going to be very busy preparing for them.

President and Sister Judd are great people and I want to record one of the great responsibilities he has and the miracle that comes with it. He will be going to a village on Sunday to council with a tribal chief that will not allow the missionaries to come to his area. Yesterday he and his wife were at the hospital taking care of a missionary that was having an eye problem. While he waited he saw a man there in the waiting room and, as good missionaries do, he struck up a conversation with him. The man said he was from the very village Pres. Judd is going to on Sunday. and when Pres. Judd said he was going there, the man asked him why. Pres. Judd said he was going to meet with the chief of the village and the young man said he was the son of that very chief. Now that certainly is no coincidence. The Lord's hand is definitely in this work and I feel He is hastening His work. It is wonderful to be a part of it all.

For my grandson Davin. Peanut butter is called ground nut paste and peanuts are called ground nuts. You figure out why they call it that. Also a can of something, like a can of soup, is called a tin.

With love,
The Averys

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our First Week In Accra, Ghana

I am just now finding time to write. It has been just a week since we arrived in Accra and what a week it has been. It feels more like a month, with all the learning of what needs to be done in a mission office. Elder & Sister Barney have been great teachers and I am grateful for their patience

Some of what I do in the office:

  •  Baptismal and Confirmation records must be accurate and entered on the church's web site. The Ghanian names are a challenge as it is, but then there is the hand writing of the missionaries to decipher. I call them, when necessary, for clarification and it's interesting trying to understand their accent. I am humbled as to how precious all of God's children are to Him and what a responsibility to keep records as accurate as I can.
  • Then there is the departing missionaries to take care of with arranging with Daniel Abeo for the Africian's flight itinerary. All other missionaries I email to the church's web site. Next is letters to parents and stake presidents for Pres.Judd to sign and then email or mail them, etc. Then I have the arriving missionaries to take care of with getting their folders ready, pictures for the bulletin board and more letters to parents that their missionaries have arrived safely, etc. 
  • Referrals to call the missionaries about, and the list goes on and on.
Needless to say, I am over-whelmed, but I know in whom I rely on. I can see where my prayers will be more fervent and my listening to the Holy Spirit more intent.

Trying to describe our travel to and from the office is difficult to put into words. We have found other drivers to be fairly good about letting us in, but then we have to be on the lookout for motorcycles that come whizzing between the two lanes. There are very few stop lights and are mainly for people to be able to cross the road. Where we travel, from apartment to office, we don't have too many 'pot holes'.

Our apartment is comfortable and we are making adjustments to our area having a turn of the power being turned off for hours. It has happened twice now in the week we have been here,but we have still been able to shower an cook, due to the fact our stove is gas. Thank goodness for the 2 electrical converters we bought at the BYU bookstore, as I am able to use my hairdryer and curling iron and our computer. (not when the power is off of course) Power us 220 here and we 'blew' up our alarm clock the first night here, which was sad because it lit up and was easier to see in the dark. We needed it on a converter also. Oh well!

Our gated apartment area is nothing like I pictured. I had hoped to have an area to walk and get exercise, but it's very small. Bubba, a Muslim, is an older man that opens and closes the gate for us most every day except Friday, as that is his day for worship. It is a humbling site to see him washing and rinsing his clothes in a metal bowl outside in the yard. Then there is the small cement one room place that he lives in by the gate he opens for us and the other tenants. My little washing machine may be 'unique' but I at least have one.

I really enjoyed going to church our first Sunday here. Once thee Ghanians embrace the gospel fully, they are strong in their testimonies. They are truly pioneers in every way. I felt much emotion, as I experienced first hand, seeing the priesthood reverenced and exercised by a people once denied those blessings. The primary children and leaders did a great job in their Sacrament presentation. A boy of about 10 lead the children in their singing and did a great job. A man played the organ and did very well. The Sunday School class had lots of participation and was taught by a man from England who works in the Area office. Relief Society was a great experience too as the sisters shared much wisdom on being prepared for hard times, caring for others, and living within their means from the Teachings of Presidents manual. And this from a people who have so little to begin with. It was a good day.

I was surprised to find more variety of food than I expected and several nice grocery stores. Groceries come from various places in Europe, South Africa, and Lebanon and we did see some American brands too. We found local produce at a outdoor market and I bought quite a bit, so a pineapple and 4 green peppers were given to me and they call that a "dash". The money here is called 'cedis' and it's about 1 US dollar to 2 cedis, and they use the metric system too which makes it very interesting. When something is broken it is 'spoiled' and when there is no more of an item it is 'finished'. Fun huh!

We finished our day by going to the Accra Temple and it is BEAUTIFUL!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Last day at the Missionary Training Center

October 14, 2012
Thanks for all the birthday greetings! I can't think of a better way to spend a birthday than being here and basking in this marvelous experience.

This morning I was experiencing some nervousness, and other emotions, that only those who have been in this position could relate to. And then, as is always the case in the MTC, I was spiritually lifted by the Spirit through the talks, musical numbers, and testimonies. In our Sacrament Meeting, The Branch President told a heart-warming experience of one of his nephews, who, coming from a background of hard work on a family farm, served a mission in Russia. Here is his story: When he arrived to his mission, he was put with two Elders that were discouraged because of no success. He asked them what there goals were and they just stared at him, at which he then said they were going make 200 contacts that very day. As the day was drawing to a close, with no one interested in their message and only 4 more contacts to make to reach their goal, they saw a young teenager on a railway platform and approached him. As they proceeded to share their message they began to feel the intense interest this young man had in what they were sharing, and in time joined the church. Now go ahead five years. This nephew received a surprise phone call from this Russian convert, asking him to meet him at the Salt Lake Airport, as he was about to enter the MTC in Provo as a missionary going to serve in his own country. As he warmly greeted this young man, he saw that he had all of his belongings in a black trash bag and that the soles of his shoes had holes in them. He found that they wore the same size shoes and he insistently traded his own good shoes with the Elder. He later bought a suitcase, white shirts, ties, and another pair of shoes to be delivered to this Elder. You can image the emotion that he felt as he received this precious things that a missionary from five years ago gave to him.

Sister Linda Burton, Relief Society General President, spoke at our RS meeting. It was a delight to see what a 'down-to-earth' type of person she is. She had a Sister from the Philippines, going to the Cape Verda Mission, give her conversion story, which was amazing considering the opposition she had from her father. An senior sister missionary going to the same mission was able to share with this young sister that she was going to be her nurse, as she will be serving a medical mission in Cape Verda. It was a special connection to be able to see.

These are the missionaries that are in our computer class and our teachers. The couple in front in the first picture are going to Benin Africa, and the third couple back are going to Lagos Nigeria.

Our teachers were so patient with us and I was so impressed with their teaching ability. Great experience! Now if we can remember all they taught us when we get to our various missions.

We will be leaving for the airport at 8:30 in the morning (Monday) and will board the plane at 11:30 flying for 6 hrs to New York and then two and a half hours later we should board our plane for a 11 hour flight to Ghana landing around 11:30 Tuesday morning.

I think we are in for an adventure that will last a life time!

With love,
The Averys

Monday, October 8, 2012

We have finished our first week at the MTC and it has been great! This has been the largest group of Senior Missionaries that they have ever had and we feel privileged to be a part of it. It is hard to put into words what we experience here. I am especially impressed with these young teachers and the special spirit they bring to our training.

 We have 7 couples and 1 single sister that will be serving in an office and 3 of those, including us, will be serving in Africa. I tried to download some pictures but wasn't successful, so I will see if our young computer teachers can help me during a break tomorrow. 

I so enjoyed General Conference! We were able to watch it with our daughter Angela and new son-in-law Dave, which was a bonus. Wasn't that wonderful news about the age of missionaries being lowered and  then 2 more temples announced. Tuscon is my birthplace, so that just made it even more special.

Well, it is late and getting ready for an 8 am class, especially the fact that it is a computer class, means I need to get some sleep. In fact, Elder Avery is zonked out waiting for me to get done with the computer. 

With love,
The Averys