Saturday, November 24, 2012

"In Everything Give Thanks"

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! The couples that I spoke of in my last blog were such good cooks and we truly enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving. Sister Judd arranged about 3 weeks ago to have frozen turkey breasts come from the United States in a suitcase of someone she knew that was coming to Accra. Sister Scoville made rolls that were so light and fluffy and a apple cake with carmel sauce; Sister Lyon made a sweet potato casserole out of butternut squash that was scrumptous, and green beans from her garden; Sister Dalton made apple pies; I made mashed potatoes and helped with the stuffing; Sister Judd made the pumpkin pies a few days ahead and made all the other meals we had in our couples conference. Elder Avery really missed his traditional creamed corn we always do as a family. Our corn was eaten by the deer this year, so I wasn't able to dry any to bring with us. Plus life was kinda 'crazy' back then and I just didn't make other arrangements. Anyway it was great food and great company, and I am thankful.

The other couple's missionary assignment is member-leadership support. I so enjoyed hearing of what they do in their areas to strengthen the wards and also seeing how perfectly they fit their assignments. The Lord really knows where to place us as couples and then patiently guides us in 'growing where we are planted'. Elder and Sister Lyon, who are serving in Ho, have been instrumental in organizing the youth in service projects and other great activities. Ho is a distance of at least 3 hours from us and I hope we can make the trip sometime, even if Elder Asay described the roads as horrible. They are in areas where the monkeys and baboons are seen and it would be fun to have pictures for our grandchildren. We had some great spiritual instruction a we all met together for 2 days, and I am thankful.

This next picture is the African Nativity set that we purchased from a wood carver named Wisdom. He was going to get us a copy of the meaning of the four figures besides Mary and Joseph and I can't remember the kind of wood either. I enjoy having it in our home to remind us of what this work is all about. The Ghanaians are a very spiritual-minded people and have a great love for God and Jesus Christ, so it is not hard for the missionaries as they bear testimony, and I am thankful.

Our power went out this morning around 9:30, so we decided to come to the office as there is always things to do. We had to get a new mission office safe as the old one got to a point where it could not be opened with the combination and had to always use a key. Elder Wiley and Elder Asay helped Elder Avery figure out how to program it and I don't know what we would do without those two. They are kept so busy with all that is required of office elders and still make time for teaching the gospel.This mission experience, if all missionaries do their duty, makes men out of boys and great husbands and fathers for the future, and I am thankful.

I hope our power will not be off for too long as I need to finish the load of washing that didn't get quite finished, shop for groceries, and prepare for the Sabbath. In spite of it all, the power hasn't been off as much as it could, and I am thankful.

With love,
Sister Avery

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"My Priesthood is in Africa"

We attended Stake Conference today and the Stake Center was full. It was a Regional meeting where the brethren speak from Salt Lake and was shown throughout West and South Africa. Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy spoke, as well as Mary N. Cook, 1st Councilor in the YW General Presidency, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, and our beloved prophet President Monson. Just a few highlights from the speakers: Elder Cardon spoke of the time when he served for 5 years in the Area Presidency and on first arriving to Africa, fell quite ill. He was given a promised blessing of healing from two very confident and humble Africans. He proceded with the planned schedule, even though he was very weak. The road was very rough to drive on, but he immediately fell into a very deep sleep. When they arrived to their destination, his fever had broken and he was well and stayed well the whole 5 years that he served. The impression he had, through that experience, was of "My Priesthood is in Africa." As I experience how well the Stake President conducted the meeting and the sustaining of at least 20 new elders, and a partriarch, the Lord's priesthood is certainly in this land. Sister Cook spoke of the "light" that is in each of us and how we need to let that light grow through gaining an education, learning the gospel doctrines, obedience to the commandments and to Smile and a radiate their love for the gospel. Elder Christofferson spoke of President Monson council to to missionary service, rescue those who have wandered from the church fellowship, importance of marrying and having children and strengthening the home, and help our youth to stand in holy places and be spiritually self-reliant. Both Elder Cardon and Elder Christofferson spoke of how the African "bride price" inhibits the Lord's way. President Monson spoke with many examples of rescuing those that are lost, aged, sick, lonely, or offended. He reminded us all that people can change and that we are to be doers of the word and not hearers only. The music from the stake choir was very nice and there was a beautiful spirit in the room.

Last week, we met the new temple presidency, which are all Ghanians now. The temple matron spoke of how she felt when she and her husband received this calling. She compared it to when Jesus called his apostles and they left their "canoes and oars" and followed the Savior. She felt that way in accepting this calling with her husband and expressed her willingness to do so.

I want to share a little of what Elder Avery does: Any time there is a problem with the missionary apartments, he is responsible to contact those that work for us to get these problems taken care. With as many as 146 missionaries and with 34 apartments, (doesn't include the couples) there seems to continually be problems. We feel that is so important that these missionaries be able to concentrate on teaching the gospel rather than whether they have a faucet or toliet,etc., that works. He is also over all the money that goes to the missionaries, paying the bills, and the financial reports that need to go to Salt Lake. Of course, there is an etc. in there also.

This coming Wednesday and Thursday we will be in a couple's conference where we will also get to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that we all will contribute to. It will be good to get together and receive spiritual training from Pres. and Sister Judd and share our concerns and incites about how to be better. The couples are Elder and Sister: Lyon, Scoville, and Dalton. Elder and Sister Scott are the medical personel and will instruct us in health issues; We meet them in the MTC. We are looking forward to this time together as those couples serve quite far from us and we don't see them very often.

We had our first car fender-bender when we were hit from behind going the hang-on-for-dear life circle that is between our apartment and the office. Thank goodness Afasi, who is our person that deals with police matters, came very quickly to our rescue because there was some pretty hot-headed men trying to get money out of us, saying it was out fault. Anyway, it all turned out okay but was a longer night getting home than we wanted.  There wasn't much damage done to the car, but it will still need to be fixed.

Well, tomorrow is another full day of apartment inspections and after last weeks adventure, I am preparing myself for somewhat of the same. When there are no street names or addresses, we get to the general area and then call the missionaries to come out to the street and guide us in. Last week, two elders even had to take the trotro to get to where we were and then they guided us to their apartment. I hope I am better at smiling through it all than I was last week.

Just a quick note to show how much the church is growing here; I enter anywhere from 45 to 50 plus baptisms a week and sometime I'll describe that process. But, it is getting late and we have an early full day tomorrow.

With love,
Sister Avery

Friday, November 9, 2012

Transfer Week

Five departing and six arriving missionaries, as well as an office full of missionaries transfering within the mission, and we made it with flying colors. It takes a lot of team work to make all of that happen and it is most exciting to see the Lord's work moving forward. (Inspite of how the election turned out) Next month we will have three missionaries departing and twelve arriving, so I am glad we had it a little easier our first time around. (four are from the USA, four from Nigeria, two from New Zealand, one from the UK, and one from Fiji.) I think it will only continue to increase.

I was privileged to attend the temple with the departing missionaries on Tuesday. I had a wonderful surprise, when Sister Dalton, YW General President, and Sister Burton, RS General President were in that session also. They have been visiting West Africa and their flight got cancelled to Sierra Leone, so they went to the temple. They were such personable women and I felt such an over-whelming feeling for the love they and the Lord has for the women of His church.

We had our first missionary apartment inspections on Monday and what an experience. We did just four apartments but there were seven companionships as three apartments has four missionaries in them. These young men  and women are incredible! They have no hot water tanks, and they wash their clothes in buckets by hand and hang their clothes, bedding, and mosquito nets to dry. Some have cement floors and some are lucky to have tiled floors. They never complain and they are sharing the gospel like crazy. I entered 30 baptisms this week and 50 last week. Anyway, we have 30 apartments to inspect in a quarter and how we get to these places is an adventure all of its own. Indescrible!!

I will continually be amazed at how the women, occasionally men, carry what they do on their heads. I hope some day to get a picture as it is really special to see. When we go to an outdoor market for our fruit and vegies, there is this cute baby on his mother's back as she works in the market. He just watches everyone from his perfect perch.Occasionally she, and other mothers too, stop and nurse their babies and they do it very openly. It's quite precious really.

Last Sunday we watched a session of General Conference for our meetings a they receive a DVD to show to their members. Sure made me even more grateful for the blessings I have had in my life to watch it all so conveniently. I was impressed with how attentive the people were, and even the older children. The sound wasn't very loud, and we have to have windows open and fans going, as there is no air conditioning, but they were listening and gave very audible amens. Good experience! I am anxious to get the Liahona (that will be our magazine) to read all the talks again.

Well it has been a good, but busy week. We plan on getting some exercise this weekend as we have sat way to much. We walk within the temple grounds as we feel safer there when we walk at night.

With love,
The Averys