Sunday, December 30, 2012

"White Christmas" in Ghana?

We did indeed have our "White Christmas" when Ethel, Paul's wife, was baptized. It was the best way to start Christmas morning and there where many ward members that were there to support her. Paul and Ethel were so grateful to have so many there and were surprised and pleased that we came. I was very impressed with the Bishop of the Adenta Ward. I understand that there were other baptisms on Christmas Day, so it was a "White Christmas" in Ghana.

Brother and Sister Ahadjie are wonderful people to open their home to all the missionaries and what a feast they gave. The shared their conversion stories with us all and to hear how he was called as a Branch President about 2 months after his baptism, says a lot about him. He later served in the Stake Presidency and eventually in the Area Presidency. He is a contractor and is probably the best in Ghana. He wife has a catering school and works in the Area Office in the travel department. They have a beautiful, beautiful home.

We were able to skype with most of our children and grandchildren and it was good to see that they all had a good Christmas. Our little Presli was home for Christmas and is doing better every day. I understand that she was anemic which made her so suseptible to a virus infection, and so finding that out is a good thing. Naomi and family are adjusting very nicely to their place of residence in Provo. It was so fun to see Cooper and Avery playing with their toys. Eden and Davin sent us a package with delightful things they had made and it is was fun to see how Eden acted as we skyped. Nolan had another experience with the motel sprinkling system malfunctioning but had a great attitude about it. The newly weds are doing well and Angela is so happy to be done with school, so now it is Dave's turn. Nathan and family are wanting to send us some of their cold weather as Holly keeps track of our weather down here often. Ryan is doing very well in school and Tammy is hoping for a promotion soon. Jason only has one more semester in nursing school left and then wonderful possibilites should await him and his family.

In Sacrament Meeting today, a speaker,who has not been a member very long, shared a scripture in Proverbs about not withholding correction from a child and if he is beaten with a rod he will not die. I felt he did not understand and was very grateful when the Stake President, who taught the 5th Sunday lesson about the Power of the Word of God, reminded us what the rod in the scriptures represents. I don't know if he planned it or was guided by the spirit, but he brought out very powerfully how the rod spoken of in the scriptures is the word of God and that is what we use with our children. It was a wonderful way to teach this man without criticising him, and I hope he understood.

I just read today the Conference talk by Elder Craig Christensen on the Holy Ghost and so much was added to my understanding. Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith taught "the Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with Heavenly beings." Elder Christensen said we all have experiences with the Holy Ghost, even though we may not always recognize them. This really impacted me to know this as I have wondered how the Spirit speaks to me and if he really does.
The experience with his son as they visited a temple open house, caused me to think of my grandchildren and how I hope they are having experiences with the Holy Spirit and that their parents are preparing them for such experiences.

Elder Avery went today with Elder Christensen and Elder Boateng to visit Peter and teach him and see how interested he really is in the church. He had quite a story to tell and the gospel would bring such meaning and purpose into his life if he will let it. I hope we don't have to be firm with him, as he knows where we live and came to our apartment needing food. We gave him a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread, but need to let him know in the future that he has to strive to be self-reliant and not feel like the world is against him.

Speaking of missionary work; a letter from the missionary department to President Judd said that by February, the count of missionaries will increase to 61,500 and by July there could be 70,000 missionaries, and that new missions will be created in July. I know it sure keeps me busy in the office as I received seven more applications this past week. That makes 9 for Feb 20, 17 for April 3, and 5 for May 15 so far. It is an exciting time to be serving.

I pray that this new year will find us increasing in our desire to share this wonderful gospel!

With love,
Sister Avery

Sunday, December 23, 2012


It sure is hard to not be doing the traditional baking or candy-making at this time of the year. I did make my hubby some chocolate no-bake cookies today which will be my present to him. When I get my eggs tomorrow I thought I would try a brownie recipe I found. I don't bake much as it heats up the apartment, that's why the no-bake cookies. The Ghanian chocolate is wonderful and is called Brown Gold. If the government didn't own it, the people could actually make money off it. The no-bake cookies reminds me of our son Nathan, as he use to make these because they were quick and he simply liked them. I didn't have room or weight to bring recipe books and with not all the same canned goods available, I do quite a bit of creating our food dishes. We are not going hungry anyway.

We just got word that our sweet Presli is in the hospital with a viral infection and needs a blood transfusion. Some of our other children have also had trials that are hard to bare. Emotions flood over me as I pray for faith to see the Lord's tender mercies inspite of the challenges. It sometimes takes much searching to see the blessings, and because of my weakness, I find myself coming up short. I must plead for strength for all us to "press forward with steadfastness in Christ and to have a perfect brightness of hope."

Paul, who is an employee that helps so much with missionaries apartments, will be baptizing his new bride on Christmas day at 7:30 am. We will attend this, spend time skyping with our children and enjoy a brunch with Pres.& Sis Judd, the office Elders Asay & Smith, and the APs' Elders Christenson, Boateng, Angelos, and Mawela. It should be a good day.

I have so many referrals that I need to be doing so I think I had better spend Wednesday (Ghana has a two day holiday) calling the missionaries. We actually have a referral of our own to give to the missionaries. His name is Peter and we are anxious to see if he is really interested or wants a hand-out. We have also given out a couple of Book of Mormons. All missionaries are also invited to the Ahadjie family home for dinner on Wednesday which ought to be interesting.

There has recently been a sign put up on the outside of the gate around the Temple that invites people to sign up for tours. Elder Gurr and Brother Tofah, a young ward missionary will do the tours. I am to be available to take the information on people inquiring about a tour. Eventually there will be a room in the Stake center that will be like a visitor center where people can get information, watch church videos, etc.

We finally got the November  Liahona and I have started reading it. We are getting these 18 year olds starting Feb 20 and April 3 so far. I even got one for May 15 so that will probably be the next transfer day. Because we are growing rapidly, it is predicted the the Ghana Accra Mission will be split possibly in July, making 4 missions in Ghana. We are starting to see the influence of the world more with some tatoos, saggy pants, and piercings. The missionaries are being instructed by President Judd to not waste time because the window is starting to narrow. This was once a great christian nation and is becoming more secularized. Elder Cook quoted a highly respected Baptist theologian who said,,"The spiritual immune system of an entire civilization has been wounded." C.S. Lewis was quoted as saying that Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness; but until people know and feel they need forgiveness, Christianity does not speak to them. He stated, "When you know you are sick, you will listen to othe doctor."

When we got home from church today there was a loud pounding noise just outside our kitchen, so Elder Avery went to see and it was Bubba and a women tenant making the traditional fufu. It was interesting to see the wooden bowl and stick they do this with. I am sure I will have the opportunity to try Banku, a stickly corn & cassava dough balls served with a soup usually, and red red, a mixture of beans and fried ripe plantain. I think that tapioca is made from the cassava plant.  It is a blessing that the Ghanians can grow year round here, so anyone who is willing to work should not go hungry. They may not have much in the material sense, but there is an abundance of food.

Pressing forward,
 Sister Avery

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mango Season!

December is when the mango trees start producing this delicious fruit, and goes for three or four months. I am not fond of papaya, so I am enjoying this additional fruit to our already abundant pineapple and bananas. Vegetables are grown year round here and we go every Saturday to a large outdoor place and can choose from a great variety of produce. I have been very pleased with what we have been able to buy here in grocery stores, as I thought it would be very difficult finding items to fix meals. I want to taste more of the Ghanian traditional foods, but one time with fufu was enough for me.

We started our Saturday by attending a baptism of two young men and a women. One of the men, Sylvanus Sabah,  was a referral that came from the Referral Center in Utah. I get these referrals pretty much every day and assign them out as soon as I can.  Elder Gurr and Elder Probst, in the Cantoments area, were the two missionaries who taught him. It is so rewarding for me to refer someone and a month later to participate in their baptism. I was able to play the music for the baptism, and Sister Judd and I sang a duet. President Judd baptized these three choice people, and it was touching to watch as he showed them how to plug their nose and bend and sit to make the baptism easier. Miriam was nervous but President Judd has a way with people and he is a very loving man. It truly was a choice experience to see the fruits of a simple phone call and to have the missionaries act on it and do what they committed to do. It is one I hope to see again, although some of the areas are so far from us, that attending baptisms will not always be possible.

We had a wonderful Christmas Conference this last Thursday. We enjoyed great food, a testimony meeting and instruction from Pres. and Sis. Judd, as well as a talent show by many missionaries. The Island missionaries from Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji, did (I can't remember the name of it) dance that Elder Avery and I saw in the Polynesian Center in Hawaii years ago. All 158 missionaries were in attendance and that includes four couple missionaries and Pres. and Sis. Judd.

We have transfers this coming week with 3 missionaries (one Elder and two Sisters) going home and twelve Elders coming in. Four are from the USA, four from Nigeria, one from Fiji, one from the UK, and two from New Zealand. We have missionaries serving already from these countries and it is delightful to hear the New Zealand and English accent. Transfer days are very busy but yet very rewarding. Elder and Sister Dalton will be staying with us a couple of days as they will be bringing Elder Henderson in so he will be able to fly home. They serve in Abomosu (a 'bush' area) and have quite the experiences to share.

We added two more clothes lines to a room where we hang our clothes, etc., to dry. One side is actually just window type screens with the tradtional metal bars so intruders can't break in. Even with the humidity, things dry quite fast. We have an interesting dryer in this room, but we try to save on the power and very seldom use it.

We were blessed last Saturday to have a man at a grocery store tell us we had a low tire. As we looked closer, we found a screw in our tire and were able to get it fixed. We probably would have notice it but not in time to make it as easy of a fix as it was. With apartment inspections on Monday, I am very grateful it didn't happen then because those inspections, and the travel to get to them, is stressful enough.

I have to admit that I am quite home-sad this time of year. When we read of all the family things on facebook, it tugs at the heart-strings quite a bit. I then look at all the missionaries and how they just press forward, as they certainly must miss their families too. We pray always that our family will be blessed, and if they had time to tell us more often, I am sure we would see that they are. This mission is increasing my faith every day and I am grateful for that.

With love,
Sister Avery

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Never a boring day!

I will say it again; there is never a boring minute, hour, day, week, or month, when you are serving a mission. I haven't done a year yet, so don't know about that one. Ever so often I will look around me and say to my husband, "are we really in Africa?" It truly is being a wonderful experience here, and I have probably said it before, but a mission changes a person. It is the most challenging yet rewarding work I have ever done, next to raising a family, of course. I am growing in ways I didn't know I could, and I think the best is yet to come.

We had a great Fast and Testimony meeting this last week. I have to listen very carefully to understand a lot of the saints here, but it is worth doing so. Elder Sitati, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and his wife visited our Sacrament Meeting. You can see a picture of him in the Ensign Conference issue. We haven't been assigned to a Branch yet, but probably will be after the first of the new year.

I can tell what time it is each morning by the birds that start singing around 5:30. It is just barely starting to get light at that time and I really don't think I hear this one particular bird song at any other time but then. There are birds that are very similar in size, color, and sound as our ravens at home. They have some white on them but are mostly black and oh how they can squawk. We also have a male peacock next door, and I think I saw a female one just a few days ago. That particular day they were giving their bird call which is very distinct. I haven't been able to get a picture yet as they are not always where they can be seen.

The Ghanians just had there election for President yesterday and everything still seems to be peaceful. Yesterday there was hardly any traffic, which was nice, but we did have to go a different way home as a section of the road was blocked off where we usually travel. Thursday the traffic was terrible and there were all kinds of rallies going on. I hope they have a good President that will care about the people and use their resources of oil and chocolate to see that the children all have a good education.

I think we are finally learning what to look for on our power meter so we know when to buy kilowatt hours. We had to learn the hard way this past week, and thank goodness it rained that night, so it wasn't as unpleasant as it could have been. We pay for our power in advance and it is put on a device that looks like a thumb drive and then we scan it to our meter to add the hours to it. It has been hard trying to decipher how much power we will use in a given time, so we will always have hours on our device so when it runs out, we just scan it and it starts up again. That doesn't help us when the power goes off for other reasons, but that hasn't been quite as often lately.

Our last apartment inspection for the year is on Monday and it will take us to Nsawam, which is a great distance away. On Thursday we will have a Christmas Conference/Social with all the missionaries. It will be great to have everyone all together as it is such a big mission area-wise.
The missionaries will all be given phone chips, so they can call home for Christmas, at this activity. I am excited to hear the talent numbers that will be performing as Sister Judd had auditions for it and said they were really good.

I need to include a picture before I close. It is of Joseph, our maintainence person, and a rat that he caught in a trap at the misson office compound where we work. He said it wasn't dead but was just pretending to be. I couldn't believe the size of that thing!

Now you know why I can say there is never a dull moment here!!!

With love,
Sister Avery

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Life is Good in Ghana!

While everyone at home is experiencing the beginning of winter, we are now heading into the hottest and most humid season of the year. But then, we haven't been here long enough to really know what is actually the most humid season and to be able to really notice a difference between them. However, life is good in Ghana.

A couple of blogs ago, I mentioned that President Judd had an experience of meeting a chief's son when he was attending to a missionary and his medical problem. He was able to finally meet with this Chief and many leaders of Tsito, in the Volta Region of the Mission. The meeting went well and the Tsito Branch will soon be organized with the support of the Chief and other leaders of the community. A copy of the Book of Mormon and a brief introduction of it, was presented to the Chief. President Judd wasn't sure if the chief felt the truth of his testimony, but he believes some of the Council of Elders felt the truth of his testimony. He gave these good men his business card and an invitation to join with us in this great work. President Judd said he felt the spirit testify of the words he spoke as he pronounced a blessing on the Chief, the other leaders, and the people of Tsito.

President Judd told the Missionaries, in his weekly letter, that some of them will be serving in Tsito in the months ahead and will be part of the fulfillment of that blessing. Others will have similar experiences with President Judd in the villages and cities north of Tsito and Ho. President Judd said he dreams about these places and the people who live in them. He can feel the influence of the ancestors of these people, from centuries past, who are in the spirit world and waiting for their work to be done. The restored gospel has never been in these areas and taking the Restoration to these people is our responsibility and privilege.

WOW! That is incredible for me to hear! I just put together the files and letters for five more missionaries this week; one from Kenya, one from Sierra Leone, and three from USA. This makes thirteen that I have personally received since I have been here and since President Monson was inspired to make the change in age for missionaries, and nine are from the USA. The missionaries already here are going to have a great responsibility to prepare for and teach these new Elders.  That great 'stone' that is spoken of in the scriptures, is rolling forth. Yes, life is good in Ghana.

Along with progress, there are always challenges and Elder Avery has plenty. Keeping up with the temporal problems that happen with missionary apartments, lost phone chips, dealing with the repair people who work for the mission, and a cities rules and regulations, really keep him busy. He had a experience where a man who owns an apartment come in to collect money for the water bill, when Joseph (works for the mission) said that we should wait until Paul (also works for the mission) comes in to verify it all. We later found out that we no longer rented this particular apartment and we felt blessed that we were guided to wait and hopefully people will learn to not take advantage of the Church. But life is still good in Ghana.

With love,
Sister Avery