Sunday, December 29, 2013

We had an enjoyable and very simple Christmas Day. It started at 7:30 am feeding breakfast to Elders Oguche, Udofia, Nelson and Brother Dornor (ward missionary preparing for mission). They live next door to us as we never received the missionary couple that was scheduled to live there. We had a ham breakfast casserole, fruit salad of all the fresh fruits we can get here, and a chocolate bread.The missionaries ate hearty and then went to their "White Christmas", which means a baptism. It is truly a special thing when the missionaries have a baptism on Christmas Day. Christmas celebrations, if there is any, are very simple here,  and so to take that day and be baptized does not take them away from any other activity.
I did some laundry after breakfast and then we came to the office to do some things and prepare to skype with some of our children. Sister Judd, after the baptisms, asked us, the Assistants, and the Office Elders over for a Brunch and we enjoyed visiting with each other.
It was so fun to see the Escobedo family, Hipple family, and Nolan's family as they showed us their presents and just being able to look into their homes and enjoy the sweet spirit there. Jason emailed us of the delightful but crazy Christmas morning with his children. Ryan and two of his boys skyped with us the next day. The Shelton's just moved into their home and did not have internet so we will look forward to when we can connect with them. We will be skyping with Nathan's family tonight from Texas instead of Michigan, as they are visiting family there for the Holidays. So grateful for our family!

The picture below was taken at our Christmas Conference. There sure is a lot of us and the backdrop of the Accra Temple is barely visible. I did not really pay attention to how many US missionaries we had until I saw this picture. These are all special missionaries and we are proud to serve with them. (picture can be clicked on to enlarge)

I was disappointed with our Sacrament Meeting today. I am really grateful that last week when the Minister of another church visited Senchi that is was not today. It was more the kind of talks that should have been given in a 5th Sunday Priesthood, Relief Society meeting where instruction and correction is given. Oh the baby steps that have to be taken and I want them to take giant ones. I am sure getting lots of lessons in patience.

After reading Elder Perry's talk given during the Priesthood Session of General Conference, I decided that the primary children needed to be serious about learning the Articles of Faith. It will be a slow process but we need to be consistent and the learning will come.
Elder Ballard's talk on member missionary work/hastening the work of salvation was inspiring. Even though we have had experiences where we have opened our mouths and shared the gospel here in Ghana, I want to make sure that I continue with that same attitude when I return home.

Saturday morning we had the choice opportunity of attending the sealing of the young couple, Richard and Akpene, that was married a while ago. I had pictures of their traditional wedding on the blog. We also attended the session with them and sure would have like to see the new film but there was one woman that needed the language headset. Oh well, hopefully another time.What a blessing to have the Accra Temple to attend. Our first mission we could not attend for the full year that we were there as it was outside our mission boundaries. We appreciate blessings more when we experience having to be without them for a time. I hope I always remember that.

We will skype very soon so must be ready.
With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, December 22, 2013


I have to admit that I am so glad this will be the last Christmas, since we began this mission, that I will have to spend away from my family. Once again, I express gratitude for technology that makes possible emailing and skyping.  My dear brother Chad has been so generous with his kind uplifting words in responding to every blog post that I write.  I have so appreciated his words of love and encouragement and it is no wonder he was born on Christmas Day.

To reach my blog post, I go through the Church website, and I get so involved in watching the wonderful videos there that it is hard to stop. I just watched were some young women were inspired by President Grant's story of the time he gave his brand new red coat to a little boy. They started a project of collecting coats and took them to homeless shelters. What a blessing it is to give of our time and means to lift others. I so appreciate President Monson's directive to us as our Prophet and how he lives what he teaches.

From our recent reading of the Conference talks: "An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment"; "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith"; "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him"; "Mortality is meant to be difficult and "opposition in all things" is not a flaw in the plan of salvation. Rather, opposition strengthens our will and refines our choices"; "It is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself "; "There is one life that sustains those who are troubled or beset with sorrow and grief--even the Lord Jesus Christ."

Our dear friends the Scovilles had to leave on a medical emergency. Elder Scoville had an accident where his eye was injured very seriously and the proper care was not available here. Because he needed to be attended to as quickly as possible, the flights to the US were not within the time frame he needed, so he was flown to London. There they experienced socialized medicine (scary possibility in our lives) for the first time and it took a lot of effort to make it all happen. He finally had the first of several surgeries, which was successful in saving his eye. They are now in the US and he will continue to have the care that he needs. Obviously they will not be returning to Ghana and now it is the task to get their luggage sent to them. We miss them very much.

We had a minister from another church in Koforidua visit us today in Senchi. We are doing some speculating here, but the missionaries in Koforidua gave the phone number of our missionaries in Senchi to this minister and he called to say he was coming. We wonder if he didn't want his congregation to know he attended an LDS Church in Koforidua and so he came to Senchi. I hope he felt the spirit there because I sure did. The singing was wonderful, the talks were on forgiveness and counting our blessings in difficult times. I was asked to bear my testimony on the Liahona (Ensign) and shared from some notes I had written when I read the message that Elder Holland gave in the December Liahona on "Preparing for the Second Coming."  The children in Primary have been learning in Sharing Time this very theme. I hope there is more to learn about this minister in the future.

Our Christmas Conference went very well and I am quite sure that the "senior couples" got the most applause and hollers from our rendition of missionary words to "Lion Sleeps tonight." The missionary apartments all received a gift of a blender to help make their cooking a little easier and more nutritious, we hope. The missionaries all seemed to enjoy themselves and they continue to amaze me in their ability to tirelessly share the gospel. They will definitely appreciate washing machines, air conditioning, and microwaves when they return home, but will personally never be the same because of what they gained from this service.

In spite of being away from family this time of year, I am so grateful for the Christmas season. In primary today, I read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2. But I started first with chapter 1 where Zacharias and Elizabeth were told by an angel of the coming forth of their son John to prepare the way for the coming of our Savior. I asked the children to listen to how many times the angel Gabriel said the words "Fear Not", through those two chapters, to hopefully help them to listen, and to teach an important lesson about life. I know that God loves us for who we are and for who we can become. He sent His Son to show us the way, and because of our Savior's Atoning Sacrifice, we do not need to fear. Of this I most certainly know.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This past Tuesday we said good-bye to Elder Larsen, Elder Gann, Sister Turhirirwe and Sister Otwane, having completed their missions. On Wednesday, we welcomed one Sister and one Elder to begin theirs. Elder Gann had his parents come to get him as he told them the best way for him to describe his mission is for them to come and experience a little of it for themselves. They will fly home tonight. The parents of Elder Larsen kept it a surprise for the other members of the family, saying that they were preparing his room for guests that would come for Christmas (he was not due home until January). I emailed to see if he had arrived home as he traveled a longer route through Frankfurt Germany. His family said that the surprise went very well. It is so fun to hear of times when families reunite and wish I could hear of our African missionaries as well.

We are looking forward to our Christmas Conference this Thursday. It takes a lot of planning, especially by President and Sister Judd. All the missionaries will be coming in and 56 of them, because of not traveling back to their areas late at night, will spend the night in the mission complex. They will sleep on mats throughout our office, mission home, and living area of the Office Elders and Assistants. Each apartment will be given a gift of a blender to help make the preparing of their food easier and hopefully eat healthier. The food, talent to be shared, singing the Christmas hymns, and spiritual instruction, will give us all a lift and soften the difficulty of not being with our families. These young men and women really amaze me as they leave family and friends, and make a wonderful contribution of devoting their lives to missionary work.

I decided that I would purchase a keyboard instruction book for Patrick and start working with him while my companion is in meetings on Sundays. He was very excited when I told him I would do this and committed himself to the time it would demand of him. He will visit with President Ampomah about using the keyboard in the chapel on Saturdays to practice as that is the only way for him. I would appreciate prayers on his behalf for his ability to understand everything he needs to learn so he can be a blessing to the Branch. He also needs to be able to teach others as well, as that will help to solidify what he is learning. He is about 24 years of age and is from Nigeria and is in the Sunday School Presidency and also teaches the "Come Follow Me" program to the youth. The missionaries really appreciate him as he goes with them a lot to visit the less active.

One would think Christmas is coming with all the packages that continue to arrive. I feel for Elder Lloyd and Elder Benans-Hillard, the Office Elders, but they never complain. They also were responsible for getting all the variety of phone chips so the missionaries can call home for Christmas. They have worked hard to get it all right and I hope there are no problems so the missionaries have this opportunity. It is such a privilege to work with these young men and see how they take on such responsibility and do it well. I have to share another situation that happens quite often here, especially this time of year. The police stopped them (has happened more than once) and comes up with a ridiculous law when in reality they are doing it to get paid for not arresting them. They calmly talked to the 3 policemen and they seemed very happy to receive a Book of Mormon each and let them go on their way. Similar situations have happen before, although sometimes a money bribe has to be given because there is no other way. It goes against everything we believe but because of the unfairness of some of the policemen to get something for themselves, it happens sometimes.

Well, the satisfaction of the peanut butter sandwich and apple have begun to wear off and daylight has passed. It has been a good Sabbath Day and even though there is much growth that needs to take place in the Senchi Branch, the people love the Lord and they will succeed. I also have needed to grow and this experience is giving me that opportunity. With the Lord's help, I too will succeed.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Liahona for November finally arrived and it was good to read the talks this morning as we traveled. I mentioned last week about our couples conference and was not sure why it was called a conference. After reading Elder Hales talk, I feel it must be about strengthening faith and testimony, in the lives of each other no matter what setting we are in. If we are receptive to the Holy Spirit, our faith and testimonies are certainly strengthened by each others experiences whether on a mission or not. I am grateful for the wisdom our leaders, and a bonus is that it helps to take my mind off the traffic as we travel.

As we go to the different areas to do apartment inspections etc., I have found the names of the small business along side the road to be quite interesting. I started writing a few of them down and thought I would put them here so I would remember them when I write my history of serving in Ghana: God is King Metal Work, God's Favor Cold Store (where meat is kept cold for purchasing), God is Great (on an air tank for when people have flat tires), Merciful God Vulcanizing (repairs tires I think), Jesus is the Way P.O.P Shop (not sure what the initials are for), Glory Land Landscaping, Zion Brothers Barbering Salon (sometimes we see salon spelled as saloon), His Excellency Farms, God's Finger Farm, The Synagogue Boutique, First Star Shoe Shop, God is Able Enterprises. The schools have interesting names too but I only have a couple of them: Rising Soul School, and Goodness and Mercy Academy.  I feel these names reflect their belief and even shows their gratitude for the opportunity to have a way to make a living.

Transfers are on Tuesday and Wednesday and we only have four departing and two arriving. We don't know quite how to act with such a small group compared to the 29 missionaries we had come in October. I haven't had as many letters and file folders to prepare, and we can hold the training at the Mission Home rather than scheduling the Area Office. It actually brings a feeling of relief at this time.

Two new Branches, Odumase and Asutsuare, were created last week in the Kpong District, which is the district Senchi is in. I know the Church is growing here but still the Branches struggle with new converts remaining active. I am sure this is world-wide for there to be so much emphasis put on member missionary work. I sometimes wonder if the people here all had access to the websites the Church has if it would make a difference. They just don't have that blessing, but I must hope for a future time for them. I hope my children and grandchildren are taking advantage of the technology and strengthening themselves with the powerful messages that are at their finger tips.

In the Mission Home Complex we have two very faded banners and I have been assigned to have new ones made to replace them. One of the banners (ideas from President and Sister Judd) will read, "The Great Test of This Life is Obedience" which comes from President Monson's April 2013 Conference talk. The second banner will be a picture of the Christus and will have the scripture from Moroni 10:32 on it. This is my first experience in this and with the help of others, I was successful in finding a business to do this and will meet with him tomorrow to finalize how it is to be done. I hope we can communicate well enough to get this right. Sometimes the things I am ask to do stretch me more than I think I am capable of, but I have learned by going forward and hope this will have the same outcome.

Sing along with me to "Lion sleeps tonight": In our mission, our mighty mission we always choose the right. In our mission, the Accra mission we serve with all our might. (Awee mo eh 16 times then Wee de de de de de de de de de we always obey 2 times.) In the handbook, our small white handbook our conduct is outlined. In the handbook, the mission handbook the world is left behind.(repeat the above) Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon is not for just a few. Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon we testify it's true! Hup Hup  (repeat the above).
I think us old couples will be a hit at the Christmas Conference Ha Ha.

I felt the children in Primary today had a spiritual experience with the Law of Tithing. I am grateful I could bear testimony of the truthfulness of this and express to the children that I have always paid tithing from the time I was the age of some of them. I told them that the blessings are not the same for each of us, but the Lords blesses us with what we need. I asked them to trust Heavenly Father. They listened intently to the stories of others who have been blessed by paying tithing. They learned that the one tenth we pay comes back to us in the way of temples, church buildings, lesson books, etc., and how much their Heavenly Father and Savior love them. Such choice children!

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

We had a wonderful conference with the eight of us that are serving in the Ghana Accra Mission. I am not sure why it is called a conference but then maybe I don't know the meaning of the word. It was so good to socialize and share the experiences we are having with each other. Each couple has quite different responsibilities in many ways, yet alike in our purpose in serving the Lord while we serve His children.
Each couple was asked to take an hour and talk of our life's lessons. It was so delightful getting to know each other this way. At first we thought how can we possibly take an hour, but actually, how can anyone share what they have learned or are learning in an hour.
 We talked about doing a number as couples for our upcoming Christmas Conference and voted that different words put to the tune of  "The Lion sleeps tonight" from Lion King would really delight our missionaries. Now we just need to find time to practice so we do a fun but hopefully well rehearsed song.

Between the Area Office couples, Area Presidency, and the two missions in the Greater Accra area, there was about sixty people enjoying a great Thanksgiving dinner. My sweet potato casserole made out of butternut squash turn out good. The pies included pumpkin, pecan, coconut cream, banana cream, apple, and chocolate cream pie, which tells what ingredients we can find here. The turkey and maybe some other items came from Utah with Elder and Sister Curtis when they were there for General Conference, but I have been amazed at what is available here.

The Christmas packages for the missionaries have been coming and Elder Lloyd, and Elder Benans-Hillard (office elders) are being kept even more busy. I wonder where they find the energy to do what they do on a day to day basis and still make time to do missionary work. President Judd requires that of them and the Assistants and it is wonderful to hear of their experiences teaching as well as seeing all they do to help take things to the missionaries, arrange meals on transfer days, keep the stock of teaching supplies filled, do the mail, and much more.

We enjoyed skyping with some of our children during Thanksgiving and hopefully during the Christmas Holidays we can with the rest of them. I think they grow a lot when we are not around to see them changing. It is so fun to hear of their accomplishments and what they are learning. There is so much to help our children grow in light and truth to help them make the right choices. The December Liahona has an article on helping our children recognize the Holy Ghost in their lives, that I found very enlightening. According to the message, it is important that we know how our children learn so we can give them those experiences with the Holy Ghost where they will recognize it and feel it more fully. I so appreciate the insights of others through their own experiences with the Spirit teaching them. I am so grateful we have this blessing in our lives and that we are never alone in this journey.

Well, it's getting late and I am ready to close this good Sabbath Day. I taught the older children about the Law of the Fast today in Senchi and I added a little different explanation that most teaching would not need. I told them that Fasting is when we have enough food to eat and we choose not eat so we can help others through our Offerings. I hope they all have enough food but I do not know their circumstances at all. I hope they understood when I told a story, they could relate to, of farmers fasting for rain so their seeds would grow. I always testify to the truths and let the spirit confirm that in their hearts.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Ghana does not celebrate Thanksgiving, yet we have a turkey somewhere close to us that gobbles almost constantly. How many of you have ever had that experience at Thanksgiving time? At first we laughed about it, but now it is beginning to be annoying. I hope someone eats that turkey very soon.

I think I am actually missing the cold weather everyone is having. It just doesn't feel like I want it to feel at this time of year. The stores are all decorated with Christmas, but it takes more than that to bring that feeling. Two Thanksgivings and two Christmas being away from loved ones is hard, but I am okay; just thinking of family and needed to express it.

We will be having a couples conference this coming Wednesday and Thursday. The Scovilles, Cosgraves, Judds, and us will be enjoying good food and good company. The couples have each been asked to take one hour and share their life's lessons. I could sum it up in just a few minutes saying I am still in the process of learning and wonder if I will ever 'get it'. 
Thursday afternoon we will go to the home of President and Sister Hill who are over the Ghana Accra West Mission that split from us in July. All the couples in the Area Office, Area Presidency, and both missions will be together for a Thanksgiving dinner. We are all contributing food for this and I need to find the time and energy to make my sweet potato casserole made out of butternut squash. I soooo miss the sweet potatoes from home but the squash is a good enough substitute. I have saved enough pecans that my family has sent me to put in the crumb topping.

I hope our November Liahona comes soon as I miss reading the talks as we travel to Senchi. I feel it helps the drive go faster and keeps me spiritually centered. The Branch has its struggles and my patience is low after today. It is still the problem of teachers not coming every week and I never know what to count on. I reminded the Primary President today that we need to have good reliable people in there but she doesn't know everyone as she should and I certainly don't know them.  Some of the strong ones that have recently joined the church have been called to serve the Young Women. It is the Lord's work, so somehow it will flourish in spite of our human weaknesses. 

I read a quote from James E. Faust that I have added to my list of ones to be repeated as often as needed (which is a lot). "Your criticism may be worse than the conduct you are trying to correct." (Mark 7:15-16)  The Lord's ways are the only way to true and lasting happiness, so why do we find them so hard to live (I'm sure I am not alone in this). I just keep reading the scriptures, strive to follow the council within them, and hope that there are times my life is pleasing unto the Lord.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and please be safe in your travels. May the Lord bless you and your families with all the righteous desires of your hearts.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This is the wedding we attended last week. The groom is in the green wiping his face as it is very hot and people always carry a cloth for that purpose. His parents are sitting directly behind him. His mother was a striking woman and had facial features more characteristic of the island people like Samoa.

This is Richard and Akpene. We saw him a few days after the wedding and he really is very happy even though his face here is serious. We have been impressed with his positive attitude about their future and they both are working very hard to accomplish their goals together. He has visited with the Temple President to make the arrangements for them to be sealed the 31st of December. This country does not recognize a Temple Marriage so they must be married civilly/traditionally first, and if they make arrangements within two weeks of their marriage, they can be married in the temple. 

This is that sweet boy who found his way to my companion's lap. I was not quick enough to get the picture of him touching his ear. My camera was having battery problems and I was lucky to get these.
The woman with the orange microphone is Akpene's mother and is giving them advice.

We just received another wedding invite from William, who is one of the security people at the mission home. I am glad these young people are getting married at a much younger age than most Ghanians. The Gospel is making a difference with that.

I recently read on the lds website that the Relief Society and Young Women's general meetings are being replace with a semi-annual General Women's Meeting. It will now include the young girls from the age of 8 years and up, where before it was 12 and up. I think that is a wonderful change and feel there will be great blessing come from that. I am sad, though, that these meeting are not seen by the most of the people here because not that many have access to or can afford computers and internet. Senchi now has a young mother who is the Young women's President and she is doing a wonderful job. She is knowledgeable with computers and should be able to download meetings like this and show them to the women/girls of the branch. I want to at least hope for that possibility.

If I am caught up on entering baptismal records, etc., I will watch the mormon message videos, youth videos, and bible videos, which I so enjoy. I hope my grandchildren take time to watch these with their parents as they would certainly help them to follow our Savior by making the choice to  courageously Stand in Holy Places at all times. I hope they are also participating in their classes by sharing their thoughts and feelings, because they will have something to say that will benefit themselves and quite possibly someone else as well. Oh how I love my grandchildren!!

The Doglow children in Senchi, who I have come to love and enjoy, lost their father this past Monday. Brother Ahiabor announced the passing of an elder son of an older member, but I did not understand that it was these dear children's father until later during primary. I have no idea what this means for these children and their future, but they will be in my prayers.

I think it is time to end a good Sabbath day. I am grateful for my blessings and find that in expressing gratitude, I discover even more to be thankful for (even in Africa).

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We had our first and last experience attending a 'traditional wedding'. It was interesting but very long and most of it spoken in Twi.  A young man we know from the Kpong Branch interpreted for us briefly what each part of the ceremony meant. I understand this was a mild version of what most of these traditional weddings are. If you are interested at all, I am sure you can google it as it is quite lengthy to explain.
The groom has worked for us in getting items for our missionary apartments, so we have got to know him quite well. He also has worked for the West Mission so he invited Elder and Sister Wall also. They are the office couple that we trained back in June. The wedding was in the Kpong area and since we know that area we took the Walls' with us.
After the 'traditional wedding', there was a marriage at the church also, where the branch counselor married them and certificates were signed. It also was lengthy even though the speakers had good advice for the couple. We left after this was over and didn't wait for the picture taking event.
We decided to stop at a restaurant that we heard had good food, as we had not eaten since we left Accra and it was now 2:30. Sister Wall and I made a good choice but the men were not as pleased with their meal. We joked about how long it took to get our food, saying that they must have had to catch the chicken and fish before they could prepare it (actually we understand that all the restaurants here take a long time.)
I took some pictures but my camera is at the apartment as we came directly to the office after arriving back from Senchi. The headresses that the woman wear are exquisite and they look so good in them. I would look simply silly! The picture that was the most delightful to me, was of a small boy who found his way to my companion's lap and stayed for the longest time, laying back against his chest and touching his ear. Some of the children here won't even shake our hands, but then others do just what this little boy did and it is something to treasure for sure.

Other than our usual Monday apartment inspections, helping with the constant apartment and missionary problems, missionary life has slowed down somewhat. We have only two new missionaries coming in December and 4 going home. Our January and March list has a few coming and will probably grow, and so far, these have been only Africans. We have people, in areas where there are no missionaries yet, interested in the gospel. They are finding out through facebook and other internet sites. This, of course, is wonderful but can be disappointing when we have to inform them that they will have to wait for the time to come.

 All of the couples for the whole mission are getting together for a Thanksgiving dinner which will be nice and help somewhat with not being with family. Christmas is just around the corner and we will have all the missionaries come to Accra for a mission Christmas Conference on December 19th. Christmas just doesn't seem like Christmas without cold weather and bare trees, but that just doesn't happen here. With as many people that basically live on the streets, it is good that they have the weather they have.

This week will be sandwiches for lunch because being gone Saturday left no time to cook. I am sure grateful my companion doesn't complain and certainly has not gone hungry. We really do feel blessed and it really is not as bad as some might think. I am just grateful that there is quite a lot of variety that has come to Accra from Europe and other places. The prices of everything is really going up though, as I am sure they are at home too.

Well, it has been a good Sabbath Day and I am grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I still have much to learn and understand, but I feel my heart is in the right place. Life is really hard sometimes, but then it is only hard, not impossible.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The last of the Big Transfers!

Wednesday brought 29 new missionaries and I think this will be the last of the big transfers for my companion and I for our mission.  In the June, August, September, and October transfers we have had 26+ missionaries. It is truly a choice experience and especially when we meet them later in the field, working very hard. If a young man or woman is a consecrated missionary, they will gain more in the 2 years and 18 months they will serve, than in any academic institution for the years that will entail.
Elder and Sister Scoville, the couple serving in Koforidua, have been an enormous help during these transfers. These missionaries are in cultural shock as it is and then the early hour they arise to come and receive more instruction is a lot to absorb in such a short time. Their families can certainly be proud of them and we find all of them to be a wonderful addition to the missionary force here in Ghana. I  have to admit that we find some interesting personalities, even in the short time we see them this first day, but it just adds variety to the mix.

We were able to watch the Saturday afternoon of General Conference today and we heard it in Twi. We felt that we could read and listen on the internet, so we encouraged the leaders to do that. I felt bad that our 4 American missionaries didn't have the opportunity, but when the Liahona comes, they will be able to read them. We had some Confirmations first and then the typical thing happened; the power went off. While they hooked up the generator, I was asked to lead them in hymn singing and I wish you could hear them sing. They love music, and especially the words of the hymns in praising our Savior.

Amid all the good things we experience, there always comes those not-so-good things that challenge us to the deepest center of our soul. Where will I go with this ache in my heart? What will I learn from this that I may progress further? So many questions arise during those times. I do not know the answers, but I do know that our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ love us totally and completely. Our Savior's Atonement covers every trial we will ever experience and we can find comfort and even peace in knowing this. I am grateful for mercy, repentance, forgiveness, and His Grace that can make us more than we can ever be on our own.

The following are long over-due pictures of our trip to Boti Falls.
A School house in the Bush.
Trail to Umbrella Rock.
We may try to do some more outings before our mission is complete, but that is not what we came here for so we will be content. This area, we are serving in, may be a very small part of Africa, but we definitely know we have been in Africa. A Safari doesn't sound the least bit interesting as there are documentaries that make it as real as I will ever want. The people is what is the very very best part of Africa; they I will always treasure.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It is five o'clock and we just arrived back in Accra from spending our Sabbath day in Senchi. The children did well in the Sacrament Program and I hope they remember this experience for the years to come. It was the first time a Primary Sacrament Program had been done there and I hope it will not be the last. Sister Duodo said that now they know how it is to be done that they will do it. I had to make last minute changes when children did not come and others came that had not been there for some time. Sorry to say, but I only had the time during the passing of the Sacrament to do this, so my focus was not where it should have been. Hydielynn was running a fever since Saturday, but she was determined to come and do her part and sing her solo verse. Her mother did very well leading the children in singing and I hope she grew in confidence during the experience. Sister Duodo held the microphone for the children and helped them with their parts when they needed it. I am really working with these dear sisters in taking the leadership role and decision making more and more.
Brother Coleman, who is over the church buildings, had a new microphone system (cordless) installed and it made everything so much better. The mic didn't have static or stop working at any given moment like the old system. The primary room and young women room now have nice bulletin boards which he had installed also this week. I feel that these improvements and others that have been made in the past few months, really help these dear saints to feel they are recognized and appreciated.
We had four baptisms today and then PEC meeting after that. Then we had our first experience of going to Odumase to deliver three packages for a missionary serving there. Just when I think we have seen all the deeply rutted roads there can possibly be, we have to go and find more. Wow! what a ride. But, we are always blessed to help bring a little bit of home to these missionaries, especially when there is Captain Crunch cereal in the packages.

We have missionaries that also serve from Ghana and they have to fill out the Missionary Recommendation forms like any other missionary. I am responsible for checking them over for completion, and making sure they are the correct forms. Missionaries serving from their own country use a 'short form' and some of the church units have not been using this form. I then have to call and inform them that after November 30th, the old forms will not be accepted. This last group of Recommendations to come in had incorrect birth years when checked by the Area Presidency Office with their Church records. I made several phone calls in order to correct the errors. It actually amazes me that in this land, so far away from Church Headquarters, that all of this goes as well as it does.

The referrals continue to come, baptisms take place, Branches/Wards/Groups are organized, and with 29 new missionaries coming this Wednesday, more areas are opened, more districts created, and more young missionaries are training these new young missionaries. I know this goes on all over the world, although I don't know if to the same degree that we are experiencing. It is an exciting time and almost exhausting challenge for our Mission President, as we see this up close and personal serving in this capacity. He and his dear wife just keep pressing forward with energy that can only come from their faith in our Savior and there love for Him and His work.

I think I will close with a quote from C.S. Lewis that was in Elder Soares Conference talk. I feel this is so vital to a world that is struggling with so many 'ills'. "Our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires...It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own." (Mere Christianity, p.189)
I find it difficult to explain why this impacted me so much, but I am sure I am not the only one who will give this a lot of pondering.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

We had Kpong District Conference this weekend, so another Saturday not spent as a preparation day. Senchi is in this district, so we needed to be involved on Saturday as well as Sunday. It is so good to be among these good people and hear their strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel. President Mahmud Labinjo, 1st counselor to President Judd, spoke on Tithes and Offerings and I have not heard a better testimony of this principle. He was raised only by his mother and his background is Muslim. When he was able to attend school, he was made fun of when his mother could not attend the school programs because she had to sell on the streets to provide a living for them. He wanted his family life to be different than what he had and he has and is accomplishing that because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had a time, before he joined the Church, that his wife did not like her life with him because his ambitions were not about the family, but about him. It is hard to write the words he shared, only to say that I felt he was grateful that he was a changed man.
A young Aaronic Priesthood holder named John, from the Senchi Branch, spoke on his responsibility to strengthen  his Quorum. He spoke a lot about being an example and he certainly was, as he did not know where the Church was in Kpong, yet because he made the commitment he found his own way there.
We also had a young woman speak about Testimony bearing and how it should not be a sermon, or colorful stores, but simply testify of the gospel in meekness and heartfelt sincerity so others may be strengthened.
President Andam, a counselor in the Accra Temple Presidency, briefly expressed to the people to not speak about the scarcity in their lives, but to keep the commandments and the Lord has promised they will prosper in the land.
Sister Judd spoke more to the youth and to study the Strength of Youth book and live by it; especially the laws of chastity.
The overall theme for this conference and throughout the world, is "Hastening the Work", which was emphasized by President Judd. He spoke of the growth of the Church in Kpong District and how in 2011 there were only 2 missionaries and now there are 30. Soon we will have the Ho District organized and several more branches. President Judd received a call from a man who lives at Ada, the coastal region to the east, where the Volta River empties into the ocean. This man and 3 others living in Ada are members and want to have someone come so they can partake of the Sacrament. We have been to this place and took a boat ride where I remember speaking with the two young men guiding our boat. I shared with them that one day there would be missionaries come to there land and bring them a wonderful message. It is still in the future, but there is the need and so it will be fulfilled.
A few more thoughts given: Whenever we read the words "Nevertheless" in the scriptures, look for a great doctrine to follow the scripture; Always seek to do the will of God; God knows each one of us; There is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved than the name of Jesus.

We finished the book entitled "The Fortunate Fall" and I have been given much to ponder about through the process. The commandment 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' was expressed in a way I have not heard before. President Kimball provided examples of idolatry among the Saints which we have heard before: clothes, homes, businesses, etc., but I have never thought that harboring a lot of grief, sadness, and loneliness could be considered a false god. The person who shared this said that, "instead of placing complete faith in my Heavenly Father, I allow sadness to guide me, and that only leads me to despair. It's as though, I choose self-pity and sorrow over Heavenly Father."I will be doing some self-reflection on what my false gods might be.
I really like this counsel by Elder Boyd K. Packer: "Do not try merely to discard a bad habit or a bad thought. Replace it. When you try to eliminate a bad habit, if the spot where it used to be is left open it will sneak back and crawl again into that empty space. It grew there; it will struggle to stay there....Replace it with unselfish thoughts,with unselfish acts. Then, if an evil habit or addiction tries to return, it will have to fight for attention....Your are in charge of you. I repeat, it is very, very difficult to eliminate a bad habit (or false god) just by trying to discard it. Replace it."

I have so much still to learn in this mortal journey and I continually become aware of my weaknesses in the process. I know that weaknesses can be made into strengths if we turn our lives over to our Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ is the sure foundation that I must continually build my life  on and not rely on my own strength. I am grateful for the examples of those in the scriptures who lived lives of faith and hope in Jesus Christ and painstakingly wrote those words for us to hear and see, if we will have ears to hear and eyes to see.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Our weekend was spent differently this time. We usually clean, shop for groceries, and I spend a good part of the afternoon cooking some meals to take for our lunches during the coming week. There was to be training on the youth "Come Follow Me" program, to held in Kpong on Saturday. Kpong is only a short distance from Senchi, so it was our very familiar road trip again. Elder and Sister Call have recently arrived in Ghana, and there responsibility, among many, is to train the various wards and branches on this program. I sat in the hallway reading from the Liahona, but could hear and see most of the training. My companion was in a branch presidency training while all of this was taking place. It was delightful to see one of the missionaries serving in Kpong on the video segment the Calls' showed; this must have taken place before his mission.
Today, the Calls' visited Senchi Branch to observe the teaching of those who attended the training. Elder Avery said that Patrick did 100% better, and the youth participated more than they every have.
Elder and Sister Call were asked to share their testimony in Sacrament Meeting and their message was on the Book of Mormon. They had been in Ho on Friday doing the same training and Sister Call shared a great experience. They came in contact with the missionaries as they were on their way to an appointment and pulled over to say hi. These missionaries introduced a man that was with them who had just recently started investigating the church. His story is unique and starts with his attending the Accra Temple open house before it was dedicated. I think that was in 2003 or close to that. He received a Book of Mormon at the open house and when returning home, starting to read it. He found it difficult because of the small writing and took it to a copier and had it made into a large copy (sounded like the size of those old family bibles some of us have seen). That had to cost him a small fortune. When he read in it that the Church would be called the Church of Christ, he found a church by that name, but they did not have the Book of Mormon, so he started his search again. The missionaries did not know how they came about getting this man's name, but when they contacted him, he knew his search was over and is excited about becoming a member after so long a time. He had even been sharing the message with others, so there will probably be more baptisms because of this. I love seeing the Lord's hand in the lives of others and how they are being prepared to receive this wonderful gospel message.

Two weeks ago I wrote about President and Sister Judd's visit to Kpando where they spent Sunday with a 'Group' of Saints there. October 7th, President Judd received an email from the Brethren requesting him to formally organize a unit of the Church in Kpando. It is a goal the Mission has had for 2 years, and was an answer to prayers and hard work. I do not understand the process of it all, but I am sure we will have missionaries there in the near future. Other areas to open in the future include Mamfe (where Elder Avery and I took a unplanned mountain road trip a month or so ago), which is in the mountains between Accra and Koforidua, and HoHoe, which is north of Kpando.

The Primary Sacrament Meeting practice went very well today. I am so proud of the children and the leaders. Sister Boateng was there to lead the children in the music and I think she had a positive experience that will build her confidence for the future. These children are simply choice spirits and I certainly feel it and am grateful for the opportunity. Because some of the children were not there, I had other children say a second part. On the 27th, when we do our program, who knows what changes we will still have to make, but it will all be just fine.

One of our missionaries, that was coming in October, is from Angola. It is a Portuguese speaking country and we just received notice that he is going to the Provo MTC and won't arrive until the December transfer. I am assuming he needs to learn English, as his Missionary recommendation was in that language. Also for October, we will have 2 sisters and 1 elder from Cote d' Ivoire and their recommendations were in French but I think they know at least some English. We also have 2 sisters from Fiji, 3 from South Africa, 2 from Uganda, 3 from Nigeria, and 16 from the USA. What an interesting mixture of missionaries coming and what a blessing they will be.

There is a wonderful article in the September Liahona (Ensign) magazine written by Brad Wilcox on Grace. He writes, so it is very understandable, by comparing grace to taking piano lessons. I think this would be a great family home evening lesson for my grandchildren as most of them have had piano lessons. It is a principle that is very important for all of us to have a greater understanding of. I learn and gain greater understanding of our Savior's Gospel every day. Some days I have to strive more diligently to have an open heart to be receptive to the teachings of the Spirit, but I am always rewarded with greater understanding. I have listened to a few of the Conference talks when I have had a moment now and then. You know, we are such a blessed people to have this every 6 months. I really enjoyed Elder Holland's talk on mental illness as well as others I have listened too.

Our Eden celebrated her third Birthday, Ethan's team just won the Soccer championship and there was a nice article in their local newspaper, Cooper loves Pre-School, and I am sure many more things about my dear family.

Well, as the hymn says, the day is over, night has drawn nigh, and the shadows of the evening have long left this part of the sky.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We are in the October Era!

A few months back, a church photographer came into our office to meet with the Assistants in planning where he would go to take pictures for an article to be published in the October Era on the life of a missionary. We are delighted that some of our very missionaries are in some of the photos. Pages 18, 19 are Elder Ballard and Elder Reed; Elder Reed has completed his mission and Elder Ballard is the grandson of Elder M. Russel Ballard. Page 22 in the upper left hand corner is our Sister Tuhirirwe and the other sister I cannot remember as she was one that went to the West Mission when we split. Page 23, the picture with two missionaries shaking hands with a man, is our Assistant Elder Chaffetz and Elder Kyremateng, who went to the West Mission as an Assistant and recently completed his mission. Page 25 shows Elder Ballard and Elder Reed again doing service by carrying water containers for a woman. There was quite a 'buzz' among the  missionaries when it was discovered that some of our missionaries were in the magazine. It was special to meet the man who took these pictures and converse with him about what it takes to travel to other countries and bring news of the Church in those countries.

My companion and I were recently involved with a young man who was in the process of putting in his application for a mission. He is from Ghana and did not allow himself to be discouraged when his Stake President told him that he had to have an X-ray to rule out tuberculosis. He has very little money and did not know where to go for this. His father disowned him when he joined the Church and would not allow his wife to help her son with food or anything else. I won't go into all the details as to how we came to know this young man, but we are grateful we did because we were able to help him get this X-ray. We were able to have the mission doctor read it, and get a letter from him to the young man's bishop stating that he could proceed with his application. The bishop was leaving town in two days and would be gone for over a month, but said he would get the application in the hands of the stake president before he left. This was all done in a matter of about 45 minutes and we were thankful it was so close to our office, as time was of the essence.We felt the gratitude of this young missionary-to-be, and were especially pleased when he recognized the Lord's hand in making this happen.

The Primary program is in the count-down stages. Next week we trade places with the adults so we can practice in the chapel. The following week is District Conference in Kpong, so we will need lots of prayers that not having that Sunday to practice will not hinder us. October 27th, the day of the program, will hopefully prove to the leaders and the children that they can do it again next year. Our microphones are a bit unstable, but we will hope that all will be well. I just hope most of the children will show, as we were missing quite a few today. I asked the children to please tell them when they see them at school that we really need them. I also told them that they might have to do another part that they haven't practiced. I hope they really felt the spirit (I sure did) as I gave the lesson on the Good Samaritan to illustrate that by serving others, we are serving God. I also talked about Heber J. Grant, whose father died when he was an infant, and how his mother provided a living for them by sewing for other people. She made him a warm coat for his birthday, which he gave away to a little boy in need. That was the quietest the children have ever been and I really feel they felt something.
I have about five of the children that will soon need to start going to YW and YM  and Sunday School class, and I will miss them in class so much.

I want to write down these 7 principles of effective teaching that President Judd teaches to the missionaries, so I will remember them and use them. 1. Prepare diligently 2. Ask inspired questions 3. Listen to the Spirit and to the investigator 4. Discern and follow Spiritual direction 5. Teach and testify of the Doctrine 6. Check for understanding 7. Invite commitment.
I have heard some of the missionaries share some wonderful experiences using these principles.

When I prepared the calendar for the month of October, I felt how quickly it would pass. President Judd has personal interviews with all 152 missionaries, which will take four days over a two week period. We also arrange for them to attend the temple during the same day of their interview. Then President Judd and Sister Judd will attend a Mission Presidents Seminar for three days and get back in time to hold a Trainer's Council preparing for the 30 new missionaries that will be coming October 30th. I know the Lord sustains all involved in this great work because it could not be done without it. I don't even come near to describing what all takes place to have a mission function. My eyes have sure been opened to the magnitude of it all.

I have sure missed being able to watch General Conference, and even though I always appreciated the blessing of watching it at home or in Salt Lake, I will be even more grateful when I can do the same again. I can, at least, look forward to reading the talks as we travel to Senchi.
That reminds me. We have been reading, as we travel each Sunday, a book written by President Daniel K Judd (our mission president). It is entitled "The Fortunate Fall" and I recommend it highly.  He gave us a signed copy and we are learning so much. What a gift to have such a knowledge and yet be so humble about it, and to sacrifice so much to serve as a Mission President in Ghana. It has been a privilege to serve with him and Sister Judd.

Well, apartment inspections tomorrow, Yea! After the October transfer of new missionaries, we will be back up to our number of apartments to inspect before the mission split.
All my grandchildren, preparing for missions, need to brush up on their cleaning and cooking skills. It will really make mission life so much easier if they don't have to spend the time thinking about how to do it, I promise them that.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Yesterday was a good but extra long day. By 2pm we left Senchi and took supplies, mail, and reimbursement to missionaries in Kpong, Akuse, Odumase, and, of course, Senchi. These areas are within a 10-15 mile radius of each other. We want to help these young men as much as we can, yet assist them in being self-reliant. It is interesting to see how differently each one of them experience their mission. There is no doubt that this probably is the greatest challenge they have had so far in their lives, but those that greet their work with a cheerful heart, are a great example to those who don't.
I have to say that the drive to Senchi is becoming as familiar now as our trips from Caliente to St. George. To describe the first one, however, would put the second one in the 'boring' category. I know I am going to thoroughly enjoy those trips to St. George from now on.

We skyped with Angela and Dave after we got back from Senchi and are excited that we will now have another grandchild. We will not be home in time for the birth of Ruth and Ben's baby girl, but we hope to be for Angela and Dave's baby. Our family is growing and we are excited for these babies to come.

Where else can I get phone calls from Switzerland than in Africa.  A young medical student is coming to Koforidua to do an internship and her father wanted to let someone in the church there know she is coming. He tried to reach the district president but the number would not go through. He just wanted her to have that contact to put his mind at ease. I was glad that we were in the office on Sunday to be able to take his call and I gave him Elder and Sister Scoville's number. They are the missionary couple serving in Koforidua and I believe Elder Scoville serves in the district presidency there. I look forward to hearing more about this from them.

President and Sister Judd went to Kpando this weekend to meet with what is called a Group. It is much smaller than a Branch and the Group had not yet been formally organized so they could have the Sacrament ordinance.The members were able to partake of the Sacrament for the first time and will now be able to every Sunday. Ho and Tsito are north of Senchi by about an hour, and Kpando is  farther north in the Volta Region. The Church is growing here and it takes a lot of work and organizing, but it is exciting to behold it happening.

The Ghana Accra West Mission (divided from us July1) has been holding an open house this month in all their chapels. About 90% of the referrals they have been getting are in our mission and I have not been able to keep up with all of them. Juliana, a delightful woman, is employed by the Church and helps Sister Judd at the Mission Home. Sister Judd has taught her to sew and she has made curtains for the missionary apartments. She already has wonderful cooking skills and is grateful to be developing so many more. Because of all these referrals, she also has been a blessing to me in making calls to the missionaries to help me get these names out so they can be contacted.

With 30 missionaries coming October 30th, we have to start yesterday in order to be ready. We will reach well our limit of missionaries by then, so I am grateful that the December transfer has only two missionaries coming. Speaking of December, I am looking to playing Christmas music while I work in the office. I just might start playing it any day now, which the Office Elders very much approved of.
 We sure enjoy the missionaries and so admire their dedication to the Lord's work. The love they have for the people of Africa shows in their desire to live in conditions when the light is off (no electricity), when the poly tank is empty and the water truck is late in coming, when the toilets don't function well, when cockroaches and ants threaten to take over their apartments, and the threat of malaria is ever present. We have really been blessed to not have much sickness with as many missionaries as we have. Sister Judd really stresses health issues with them and we keep encouraging them on the apartment cleaning. It takes all of us to do the Lord's work and willingly give our will to him. It is so special to see 'ebony and ivory' working side by side in bringing souls unto Christ. What a blessing!

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Temperature is rising!

When I feel the sweat run down the small of my back, I know what is coming. We will probably have a couple of weeks more with some rain, but then it will be as I remember it almost one year ago. It amazes me how much we have adjusted to this land and its climate and culture. The horn honking doesn't even affect me any more and I no longer have a desire to roll down my window and scold the trotros and taxis as they try to get ahead of us on the road. I will add very quickly, however, that I will not miss it either.

What a great group of missionaries we greeted on Wednesday. They were full of enthusiasm and ready to go to work, even when I told them I looked forward to seeing them washing their clothes by hand when we inspect their apartments. We had one missionary that had to go to the Provo MTC because his visa had been delayed. He was the first new missionary, that I know of, that got to eat the farewell dinner of missionaries going home. He arrived the day before the missionaries come from the Ghana MTC, but he will adjust and fit right in very quickly.

We have had missionaries lose family members this past week. Some were expected losses, but not all. A missionary, that arrived in the August transfer, had his father pass away very suddenly just this week. I am sad to admit it, but I have been in the learning process of the purpose of trials and affliction for much too long. Since we received this news, I have been reading even more about the tests of this life. I appreciate the words of those who have greater faith than I do, and I long to be as they are. These wise words say that God in His omniscience knows what is in our heart, but we need the same knowledge for ourselves. Elder Orson F. Whitney said, "No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our heart, expands our soul, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God...and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven." This total trust and acceptance is what I diligently strive for each day.  I do not know if this young missionary will go home or if he will stay, but he first response was to stay.

Elder Curtis, West Africa Area President, and his dear wife visited Senchi today. They travel to Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and other West Africa countries often, but when they do not travel they like to visit a ward or a branch. We were blessed to have them choose to visit us today. Sister Curtis came into sharing time and I was so proud of the children as they said their parts for the Sacrament Program and sang as I have never heard them sing. I told them last week that a child that sings is a happy child and I asked them if they believe they are happy children and they all said yes!
Our program is not until October 27th, but when children have not done a program like this before, I felt we needed to start early (we have District Conference one of the Sundays). These children do not seem to get bored with repetition as that is the way they are taught in their schools. We will practice in the chapel (you would be so grateful for the chapel you have) one of the Sundays and the children are excited to speak into the microphone. Stay tuned to the final report on the 27th, and maybe you will pray that all will go well right along with me.

Well, earlier mornings to Senchi, now that my companion is in the branch presidency, make one tired couple by this time of day. We have apartment inspections tomorrow and some more catching up to do this week. We are skyping with our Shelton family in a few minutes. Some missionaries just came into the office and said couples get quite a few 'perks', and we said it would be something for them to look forward to some day; sure are delightful young men.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I wonder if Sunday is the end of a good week or the beginning of a good week. I guess it doesn't really matter as long as it is thought of as good. This is not always easy here in Africa, but I also believe it is as easy as I make it. It truly was a good Sabbath day, for many reasons, but the best is because the children here just make it so. You would all love the children I guarantee it.
 They do throw tantrums though, so you would think you where right at home. (example) Our chapel at Senchi is in an area where people in the area need to pass close by the building to go to an area where they can get on the trotros when they want to travel. Today as I was playing the keyboard, a mother and her very young son were passing by and he was yelling at the top of his lungs and trying to hit his mom (sound familiar). She just kept walking and would look back at him with a big smile on her face and soon they were out of sight and hearing.

My companion and I traveled to Koforidua yesterday to take a dryer to Elder and Sister Scoville. We have been wanting to visit them and see the beautiful country there, and besides, it would really help Paul ,who is over-whelmed with getting the apartments ready for the new missionaries. The GPS always takes the shortest route, and because we had never been there before, we followed it faithfully. Well, we had an adventurous ride over a mountain road that I simply had to laugh about because I knew the Scovilles do not take that every time they come to Accra. We kept going and as we came down the other side of the mountain, we came to some farming areas and saw people in their homes. They probably will be telling the story amongst themselves for sometime about how these two obrunis' came down their mountain road. At one place, I saw a young boy up in a tree and caught his attention and waved as we passed. He had the biggest smile and waved back.
We did arrive at the Scovilles and thank goodness the cell phones had service. They took us to Boti Falls which was like we were right in a jungle. It was beautiful! We descended many stairs, to get to the Falls and came back the same way so we have very sore muscles.  We also went to another place that is called umbrella rock and what a view to behold from that rock. We took pictures on the Scoville's camera and they will bring them to us this week and put on our computer so I can share. There are various organizations that build simple schools and educate those who are willing to teach the children, as this was a very remote area where we were. I think my grandchildren would really appreciate the schools they have when they see the one we saw.
There were 3 young women from Germany and 1 from Nigeria, who were doing some medical internship, that we saw at both the Falls and the umbrella rock. They had hired a guide, as they walked from the Falls to umbrella rock, where we drove the truck. It rained off and on and so we offered them a ride part of the way back to town. They had to ride in the back of the truck except the young women from Nigeria sat next to me. We had a delightful visit about what we do as missionaries and she was amazed that all four of us had been married as long as we have. She wasn't interested in having the missionaries contact her when she returned to Nigeria to continue her studies, but maybe we 'planted a seed'.
Our trip back to Accra was certainly not the same way we went but we have to have an adventure once in awhile, so it was worth it.

This coming week we will send 5 missionaries home after two years of dedicated service. We will also welcome 27 missionaries to begin their service. It will be a busy week but is such a good way to spend a week.

I have had more unique experiences with emailing referrals to other missions. I have met Sister Langston who is serving in Canada(I forgot what mission), that was delighted to hear from a mission in Africa. We have emailed back and forth a little and shared information about our individual missions. I hope other couples will come to know that serving a mission may be hard at times,(especially being away from family), but there is just too many wonderful experiences that I don't think can be found in any other way.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I have had more time lately to call on the referrals I receive from the missionaries(there are many) as well as other missions. I received a reply from one I sent to New Zealand Auckland Mission and read how delighted they were to receive a referral from Ghana. The individual I referred was not in their mission, but they sent it on to the New Zealand Hamilton Mission. I have had many experiences getting to know other office couples serving in other missions through emailing referrals.
 I am also getting referrals for people who are living where we do not have missionaries yet. President Judd has asked me to give him those names and where they live because he is wanting to open more areas in the future.
 I have a word document for referrals that I try to keep updated regularly. When I call the missionaries where I have referred someone, I often find that they have decided to drop the individual because of lack of interest. The other side of that is when I have just finished entering a baptismal record and later have time to do some calling on the referrals and find the name I had just entered as being baptized and confirmed.  Life brings many bitter/sweet moments and these certainly help me to appreciate more fully the sweet ones.

Last Monday we spent the day at the Area Office with the missionaries in the Greater Accra Region applying for our Ghanaian non-residency permits. Apparently the government here had passed a law saying that anyone who is not from Ghana has to carry a photo ID card with them permitting them to be here in Ghana. There were 206 missionaries(including couples, spouses and children of Area Presidency and church employees) and it literally took all day and well into the evening. Our missionaries in the Kpong and Koforidua Zones still need to be done and a mobile unit will need to go to these areas. It has been an expensive thing to have to do, but we always want to be obedient to the laws of the land.

We know we are not too far away from the hot humid weather season of Ghana, but we are still enjoying some rainfall and somewhat cooler temperatures. We have started to notice more the 'sticky' feeling of our skin and hair that does not want to hold a curl for even long enough to get out the front door. I can't complain, though, because it was the hot season when we arrived in October last year and we survived, which means we will again. I have found that life here in this part of the world is much better than I prepared myself for. I had read the book "Safe Journey" before our mission, when missionaries were here in the 70's and 80's, and they were real pioneers in my eyes. I am so grateful that I am experiencing Ghana in 2013-2014, because I don't know if I would have been as strong as they were.

I am missing the mangoes already! We finished up the last this morning and the new season will not begin until about the time we are released from our mission. I wished I liked papaya as this fruit always seems to be around. I did have a missionary couple, with the same feelings, tell me they have squeezed passion fruit on it and they liked it, so we bought some Saturday to try it out.
This season being what could be called the fall/winter season, we can find butternut squash and other  winter type squash. It is fun when we go to the vegetable/fruit market and find out that all this type of squash is called pumpkin, but they don't look like the pumpkins we know. We call our winter squash names like acorn, hubbard, banana and the list goes on, but they just call all of theirs pumpkin. They really are very good and add a nice variety to our menu. In fact, I was assigned to take a side dish to our family home evening tomorrow and I decided to take some butter/sweetened pumpkin as my dish.

I learned something about myself today as I was reading Elder Holland's talk from the last Conference issue. It was entitled, "Lord, I Believe". I have related often to the man in the account found in Mark chapter 9 when he said to Jesus, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." I so appreciated Elder Holland's inspired understanding of this and many other scripture accounts on the subject of belief and faith. I found that I have held fast to what I already know and stood strong until additional knowledge came. I found that I do have more faith than I thought I did because of what the Book of Mormon calls "the greatness of the evidences." Jesus said, "ye shall know them by their fruits," and the fruit of living the gospel is evident in my life and in your life. I took great comfort in being taught that what we know will always trump what we do not know because all of us are to walk by faith. In primary we sing a song with the words, "faith is like a little seed, if planted it will grow", and I believe it can grow from a seed of belief into the tree of life. I am still on this journey, but I have hope and will continue to fan the flame of my faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week was "Ghana Good"!

"Ghana good" is a term used among the senior missionaries that explains that life here may not be what we would like, or are use to, but it is still good. Sometimes we even declare something "Ghana great", and I am sure I have felt that at times.

Monday the senior missionaries went to the home of Elder Curtis (Area President) to enjoy a Home Evening together. We all had food assignments and the meal was very good and the company was even better. Elder Cannon and Sister Cannon shared with us the history of his parents and their service as missionaries soon after the revelation, announced in 1978, was given that all worthy males would receive the priesthood. His parents found a large congregation of people who had been waiting 14 years for the gospel to come to them in Africa. Joseph Billy Johnson had been given a Book of Mormon (don't remember every detail) and had embraced the teachings in that book and begun to teach the people. I believe that their is a documentary that has been shown on BYU TV entitled something like, "Saints in Africa". Elder Cannon drew a parallel of the baptizing of these first African Saints to an ancestor who was a captain of a ship that took Africans and sold them as slaves in Jamaica, England, and other places. He shared that the baptisms of these African Saints that his parents knew and loved, took place in the very waters where Captain Cannon loaded these slaves for a life they did not deserve, to where their progenitors were able to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ; The only true freedom that any of us have. It was a most spiritual experience to hear this account and the joy expressed by Elder Cannon when they opened their mission call letter and saw that it was the very place where his parents had served many years before.

Wednesday, we attended Zone Conference and thoroughly enjoyed the spirit of the missionaries and the teachings of President and Sister Judd, as well as the Assistants to the President. I share one quote that really stood out to me. "Part of the afflictions that come to us in life is because we forget things we should remember and remember the things we should forget." I thought of Helaman 5:12 when this was given. I was very impressed with the discussion on  how to teach the gospel to our investigators more effectively. I think this applies to all teaching, even in our families, and is good to remember: 1) Ask inspired questions, 2)Listen to the investigator and the Spirit, 3) Discern spiritual direction, 4)Teach the doctrine, 5) Check for understanding. I found great wisdom in this type of teaching and could really see the benefits of it being applied in our families as well as in all aspects of our lives.

Saturday we went with a group of senior missionaries to Aburi, where we walked through a botanical garden and later had lunch at a outdoor restaurant. The weather was so enjoyable as well as the company. It was good getting acquainted with the missionaries that serve in Perpetual Education, Young Single Adult program, Public Affairs, and others. I wanted to put in a picture of how the cocoa tree grows but I left my camera in my church bag in the apartment. We use the office to do this as the internet is better here. Anyway, the cocoa pod starts as a tiny bud on the trunk of the tree and grows until it is ready to be harvested. I have been told the process of the making of cocoa from this pod, but cannot remember enough to explain. I so found it interesting that it grows on the trunk of the tree and not from the branches. We finally saw a bamboo tree and that was interesting as well. There are many places to buy souvenirs that are made by the local people and see the wonderful talent they have. The wood carving and painting on the wood was beautiful and I bought some fruit bowls. The It was nice to have a diversion from the normal routine and learn more about this interesting land.

Today, my companion was made the second counselor in the branch presidency. We don't have a lot of time left on our mission, but there has been a lot of progress already, and we hope to see even more. I have been asking for a cabinet to put our primary things in so I don't have to keep bringing so much with me every week. It was finally delivered in Senchi Friday and it was so good to go through the materials that had been stacked in boxes and organize them in the cabinet. I love to have things organized and I really think the primary presidency was grateful also. I am just so delighted with how the primary leaders are progressing and taking more responsibility for their callings. I met Sister Appiah, the other counselor, today and she is a sweetheart. Sister Enu wasn't there, as well as Sister Boateng, but I am trying to remain positive. The Sacrament Program is scheduled for October 27th and with working on it each week, we should be ready. I just don't have a lot of the same children every week so it is going to be interesting if there is last minute changes. With these delightful children, how can we not be successful. The parents will be so pleased and the message is wonderful, so it will all be well. It has been fun bringing the keyboard in the primary and having the children sing with that. I told the children that in a few weeks we will practice with the microphone so that they get use to that. These children are just adorable and are helping to soften the missing of my grandchildren. I am seeing their unique personalities blossom as they become more and more comfortable with me and at being able to understand me also. So many good things happening in the Senchi Branch and it is fun being a part of it. I just love the people and their goodness.

Well, it has been a good week in Ghana and made even better when the Supreme Court here made the decision that the past election was clean and there were no demonstrations of any kind that I know of. I have read of African countries that have had the military take over and I am so glad that that did not happen here. To add to this, the Accra Temple has been busy this past month with bus loads of families from Cote d' Ivoire come to do baptisms, etc., in the temple. It is neat to hear their French language as they greet us when we walk around the temple grounds for exercise. The Church is really growing in that part of Africa as well and when I think of the distance they have to travel to come to the temple and then stay for the week, it amazes me. Several times we saw a bus driver, who must be Muslim, with his prayer rug and bowing to the east, by the side of the bus. You probably won't see that anywhere but in Africa.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Importance of Journal writing!

I appreciate this opportunity to write a brief history of what has happened during the week.The ideal is to write every day and especially during my scripture study, so as to remember those feelings that come during that process. I did this regularly at home, but have yet to accomplish it here . The thought I really want to share is, that when I begin to write my thoughts and feelings about the week, I notice that my words come out differently than what I was feeling before I started to write. It is like I begin to look at things with more understanding and gratitude. I remember when my children were young, my Mother gave me a journal and encouraged me to write. I took her advice and found, that my words expressed blessings, rather than all the things that I thought had gone wrong. I received the strength to do it all again the next day, and it has been a blessing in my life ever since.

I so enjoy the talks that are given at the Priesthood session of General Conference and I just finished reading those today as we traveled to and from Senchi. I shed tears while reading President Monson's talk, which he entitled, Come, all ye sons of God. He spoke of a formula for success in missionary work which consisted of four things: Search the scriptures with diligence, plan our lives with purpose, teach the truth with testimony, and serve the Lord with love.We don't have to be on a full-time mission to apply these in our lives. He told of the time that a young man and his mother came into his office prior to the young man going on a mission to Australia.The father did not come that day. This family was dear friends of his and as the young man spoke of the love he had for his parents and his hope that somehow, and in some way, his father would be touched by the spirit and open his heart to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Monson(as he was called then) prayed for inspiration concerning how such a desire might be fulfilled. The inspiration came and he said, "Serve the Lord with all your heart. Be obedient to your sacred calling. Each week write a letter to your parents, and on occasion, write to Dad personally, and let him know how much you love him, and tell him shy you're grateful to be his son."  The young missionary faithfully did this and as it was coming to the close of his mission, his mother told Elder Monson that her husband stood in testimony meeting and told everyone that he was going to be baptized and that he and his wife would travel to Australia at the conclusion of their son's mission and he would be his son's final baptism as a full-time missionary. This so touched me and it truly is the power of love and we should never underestimate it.

I was certainly surprised in Sacrament meeting today when all the primary leaders were released. But the biggest surprise(actually it was stronger emotions than that) was when no new leaders were sustained. I was going to talk to President Ampomah right after church and ask him how he thought that was going to help primary. Well, as usual, I was getting concerned about something that would be resolved, but required patience. Towards the end of the meeting, President Ampomah realized, or it was brought to his attention, that he had not sustained any new primary leaders. Sister Duodo was called as the president (she had been serving as a counselor and teaching the younger children), Sister Enu was called as first counselor and the other counselor was gone so I haven't met her yet. Sister Boateng was released as a counselor and called as a teacher and Sister Owusu was release as president and called as a teacher.  I may still be the teacher most of the time, as these two have rarely been there. But I must be positive and will find out for myself the impact of the power of love. I had the keyboard brought into primary today and we sang all the songs in our primary presentation. The children gathered around me as I played and they sang and it was delightful. I gave each of them and opportunity to play the keyboard a little and I think we may have some future piano players; Now if they only had the opportunity to learn. I wished there was a mission for only teaching piano (I guess it's possible), because it is not feasible with the responsibilities I already have. So often I am asked to teach a youth and even an adult and I am so sad to say that I can't. President and Sister Judd came to Senchi today and I always enjoy hearing them share their testimonies. We went visiting with Elder Royce and Elder Nash and had a special experience as they blessed the Sacrament while kneeling on a woven mat laid on a dirt floor.  A dear sister was ill today but desired to have the Sacrament brought to her. She was also given a Priesthood blessing. I am always humbled by these wonderful people. We also visited a young man who is investigating the church, and even though there was a lot of distractions, the missionaries taught with the spirit. My companion and I sat at one end of the bench as the middle sagged and would not hold any weight, and Elder Nash at the other end. We surprised Elder Nash when we both stood up at the same time and almost set him on the ground. We did not know that would happen but he reacted quick and caught himself. We all chuckled over that.

Well I probably haven't said all I wanted to remember about this day, but it is late and my dear companion will certainly want something to eat. I just want to confirm my feelings about journal writing because I feel much better now than when I first began.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

There is always something different about each week in the mission field. We have the usual things, such as baptismal entries, referrals to send to the missionaries, and the taking care of missionary apartment problems. This past week we had a delightful couple come from Alpine, Utah and we were able to take some time out of the office to show them places to shop and get them somewhat acquainted to Africa. We also spent time teaching them about the apartments they will need to inspect and all the other responsibilities of couples. Elder and Sister Cosgrave will be a great addition to the Ho area and a blessing to the missionaries and people there. He is a family practitioner in Utah and he took a leave of absence long enough for he and his wife to serve a mission. He served in the bishopric of one of the wards in the Missionary Training Center in Provo and felt the great enthusiasm for missionary work there. On Saturday, President and Sister Judd drove to Ho to show them the way and to have them introduced to the branch on Sunday. I feel they will adapt well and their love for missionary work will strengthen us as well as the people in Ho.

We are starting the week out good with having to call Henry about problems with the electrical meter in the office. My companion has to buy the power for the electrical meter and this is the second month in a row that we have had problems with this. The first time it was the person in the power office that caused problems by not entering the amount correctly on the card and it looks like it might be something similar to that. We are so grateful Henry is willing to come in on a Sunday and help figure it all out. I wonder what else will make something different about this week.

Every six weeks there is some activity in the mission that has to be planned for. President and Sister Judd and the Assistants are continually in the process of this planning. There are transfers of new missionaries, Zone interviews, Zone conferences, and then it starts all over again. There usually is only a couple of weeks time between each of these, so it is very constant, and I am amazed at how it all goes as well as it does. We like to make sure we help out in all the ways we are asked, and we feel blessed to be able to develop talents we didn't even know were possible. Already we are planning for our couples conference around Thanksgiving, and the Christmas Mission Conference.

I have been gathering the necessary information for those missionaries who have not had patriarchal blessings to be able to get them. These are always the African missionaries because they joined the church at a older age. My filling out the form helps President Judd make the interview process easier so he can spend the time with the missionary and not in filling out the form.It is a blessing that they can get this while they are serving their mission.

The primary president, Sister Owusu, finally returned from being gone for four months. She was with a daughter who had a baby helping her during that time. Things had changed in primary with the younger and older class being divided, so she was a bit confused today. I decided to not dwell on anything negative about being gone for so long and got her back in the swing of things by having her take an assignment for next week. I asked her to invite President Ampomah to speak to the children about prayer next week in sharing time and he told me that she had asked him. That is something I wanted a member of the branch presidency to be doing, so maybe this will be the start. It is taking patience and small steps, but we are seeing progress. I always need to remember that I have know these things for a long time, and these dear people are so new to the gospel, yet are so willing if done in love. I still am amazed at how the church is growing throughout the world and the little that we do to help with that is a great opportunity. I have been bearing my testimony about the doctrine I am teaching the children and have not worried about whether they understand my words or not. I feel I am seeing a difference because I am doing this. The Holy Ghost is testifying to them and that is what they must feel in order for the words to have any meaning at all to them. They are just so delightful and fun to be with.

Well dear family and friends, it has been a long day and apartment inspections are tomorrow. The peanut butter sandwich on the way home from Senchi satisfied me then but has long worn off. Always remember to count your blessings, naming them one by one, and you will be surprised at what the Lord has done.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It is Tuesday morning and I thought I would write just a few things before I forget. Sunday was a long day and by the time we arrived home at 6:30, then fixed something for us to eat, I was ready for bed.
We had a good week with 27 new missionaries arriving on Wednesday. It is a busy time but a truly wonderful experience to welcome these great young men (yes we are now having the 18 year old missionaries). We have a new office elder by the name of Elder Lloyd from Idaho who just arrived April 3rd. I think that says a lot about a young man to be called to this position so soon. We opened up several new apartments to help house some of these new missionaries. It takes a lot of team effort to have these apartments ready for these new missionaries. Elder Hall from the US is serving in one of these new areas called Akuse. I mention him because he shared with me on Wednesday that his brother was called to this mission 4 years ago and went inactive just before the time to leave. Elder Hall has always wanted to come on this mission since that time and was so excited when he opened his call letter. I couldn't help but feel some emotion over that. Akuse is close to Senchi, so we took a toilet seat and few other supplies to them. It is beautiful area, even if a good share of the road is deeply rutted. In places, the trees touch each other over the road making a lovely canopy of green.

We had a couple named Robin and Elizabeth Grey come by for a visit at our office this past week. They are from England and are sponsoring some children here in Ghana and come once or twice a year for visits. They know two of our missionaries that are serving from England and brought a package for them. We enjoyed our brief visit.

I have been working on the Primary Sacrament Program with the children and they responding very well. I promised them that this coming Sunday I would have a picture with the lesson for them to color. They love to color and so I thought we could take a break from practicing as the program is not until October 27. I just know that doing this program would be so new to them and felt we needed to start early.  Sister Boateng did not show this week but Sister Duodu was back to teach the younger class. We had a meeting with the Branch Presidency after they attended a training meeting in Kpong where we discussed some of the concerns about primary and other matters. We just keep trying to get them to take baby steps in making changes and strive to have lots of patience. While they were at the meeting in Kpong, we drove up the road to the Volta Dam and went to the area where we could walk out on the dock. It was truly beautiful with a cloud cover and fog in the distance adding to the scenery. They previously had a boat that took people out on what is known as the largest man-made river in the world. The boat caught fire quite some time ago and they will start the tour service again in December. We visited briefly with the security man there whose name was Benjamin. His father had investigated the church at one time and had some books and pamphlets in the home. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and to come to Senchi to church. He said that he would like to attend the branch when his shift changed to evenings rather than days. I hope he does come, and that I remember his face so I can greet him. Seeing someone just once, and then my memory not being what I would like, makes it difficult.
During the meeting with the branch presidency, I helped little Joann open her peanuts so you could eat them. It is so fun to be with the children and do things for them as I miss my grandchildren a lot.

Elder and Sister Cosgrave should be arriving very soon and we will spend some time with them tonight and all have a little supper together with President and Sister Judd. They will be serving in Ho which is about an hours drive from Senchi. The missionaries will be so excited to have them there; we are excited to have them there.

I need to warm up our lunch so will close with what a joy it is to be part of all of this. Even when I get an urgent email from the travel people at the Area Office asking for a list of all the non-Ghanaian missionaries to be sent ASAP. It is all good and I am always blessed to do my duty and strive to do it with a smile and a cheerful heart.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)