Sunday, March 31, 2013


If I had time to think about it, I would really miss the traditional family activities for holidays such as this.  The Ghanians really celebrate Easter but in a long drawn out sort of way. The holiday starts Friday (not all the people do this), and on Saturday they wear black, then on Sunday they wear white, and on Monday they go to the beach in Labadi. We could hear parties going on all around us. It has been nice to not have so much traffic, although it will resume to normal after Monday.

I finally remembered to take a picture of Linda, my piano student. She is a sweet young woman and will be finishing her schooling in May. I hope she will then have more time to practice, because she is not progressing as much as I hoped she would.

I had an experience with a referral that I wanted to share. I often get referrals from the MTC referral center and sometimes I email back and forth with them about questions they have or that I have. I received a referral a few weeks back for a Mildred Lamptey who runs an orphanage. I gave the referral to Elder Osur and, hoping, as I always do,  that he and his companion will call and then report. About a week later, I received an email from the referral center that Mildred had contacted them and said she had not been contacted by the missionaries. I got right on the phone and called Elder Osur and explained to him how important this was and that I wanted to hear from him right away. He called me back a short time later and said they had an appointment at 3:00 that afternoon. Well,to make a fairly long story short, Mildred, some of the teachers and children have a baptism date in April. I think he said there was eleven in all. When Elder Osur was in the office for a Trainers meeting, I asked him to remember this experience and share it with other missionaries so that, hopefully we have more of them doing better at contacting and reporting back to me. It is not that they don't have plenty of people they are contacting, because they do, but just think what an
experience he is having now.

Our Sunday in Senchi was unique as usual. Last week Sister Owusu, Sister Dwodu and I divided up the lesson between us. I then prayed all week that they would spend some time in their preparation; and I must say that I am having a lot of experience learning the virtue of patience! I know they have not had experience with any of this and don't know how much the district leaders train or even if they themselves know. When I stop my over-zealousness and think about a room full of primary children in Ghana, then I can simply be amazed about it all. Being able to teach and bear testimony about our Savior and what Easter is all about was really more important than how it was done anyway. How blessed I feel for this knowledge and being able to share it with these precious children and pray we understand each other. That is why, above all else, I need to have the spirit with me as that is when the understanding takes place.
We visited a family after meetings today and I was surprised to see that it was Emmanual's family. He comes every Sunday and is the sweetest boy and he sang "If the Savior stood Beside Me," with me and knew every word. I was hoping it would touch his less-active mother's heart even if she only speaks Ewe. His older brother, who is eighteen years old, has not shown an interest in the church and he probably felt bombarded by all of us sharing with him. I was amazed how gracious he was through it all and hopefully a seed was planted.

Well, it is back to apartment inspections tomorrow morning and hopefully we can be back by no later than 2:00. I have a fruit salad to make for the departing missionaries dinner at 6:00 (I need the mangoes to ripen faster) and do the final check-out with three of them. The other five departing missionaries I will do Tuesday, as their flights did not leave as early as the three. They will all attend the Accra Temple Tuesday morning before they return home. Writing all these schedules kind of makes my head  'swim', and I will be grateful when the transfer days for the departing missionaries is in line with the arriving missionaries without having to do so much arranging of schedules. Because of all the changes in the transfer days, which happened when the age for serving missions was lowered, we have to send missionaries home a few weeks earlier than their original release date.This adjustment will probably go on until we ourselves are complete with our mission and then some. I don't have the transfer days past March of 2014, so I don't know when they will start to line up but they should in time. Anyway, it keeps this 'old gal' from going senile for at least another year ha ha.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We love those baptisms!

This picture is in front of the Senchi Branch Church. Left is: Elder Amumi, Ceasar, Elder Nyarko, and Prosper. Prosper is 19 years old and was baptized today by Ceasar. Emmanuel Ofori was also baptized but he left before I could get his picture. Brother Ofori was who I spoke of last week when we visited him and his wife Angela. Most of the branch stays to the baptisms, so they are very supportive.

We had the privilege of delivering Ceasar his mission call, which he has been waiting for quite some time. He was called to Nigeria Enugu Mission and leaves in 2 months. Elder Nyarko said Ceasar was somewhat disappointed in the call, so we all encouraged him that all would be well. Ceasar is quite timid and because of some civil unrest that takes place at times in Nigeria, he could be reluctant because of this.

 Elder Beaufeaux and Elder Bichanga, who live in the mission office compound, came in the office all excited about their baptism. Their area includes a section where many Chinese people live, and they had the privilege of baptizing Wang Ziu Ping, also know as Susie. It was fun entering in her baptism record and seeing all those delightful Chinese names. When the Elders asked about the birth dates of her parents, she knew them without hesitation. The Chinese are very diligent in keeping records and can trace their lineage very easily. Her husband is slowly coming around and their son Jason was baptized yesterday. I don't know his Chinese name but will when I enter his baptism record. Wonderful , wonderful!!

Trying to get smiles out of this primary children was like pulling teeth. I guess they don't get their picture taken very often. There were quite a few more that came after the picture was taken. I am trying so hard to put names to faces, and because of similarities in features, I find some harder than others. Some of the names are: Emmanuel, Charity, Princilla, Comfort, Unice, Erica, Akpene, Justice, Faith, Belinda, Emefa, Jennifer, Matilda, Gerald, John, Millicent, and many others. They are very warm and loving children. This is the only classroom that we have to meet in and the lesson and sharing time are all taught here. Oh how we should be a grateful people!

 When the Elders told us that there was about twenty baptism certificates that had not been given out, because the branch president did not have a computer monitor that worked, we were able to contact those responsible for the branches and districts and got them a monitor. Today in Sacrament Meeting, the baptism certificates were given out, and many of those were to primary age and the youth.

After the baptisms after church, we went to visit two more families with Elder Amumi and Elder Nyarko (it was his birthday today). John was one of the first to be baptized in Senchi back in 2000, making him a member for thirteen years. He has become less active over the years and we were happy to be a part of asking him and his family to come back to strengthen the branch. He and Elder Avery share the same name (minus the L), and the same month of birth, and the same 66 years of age. It was fun to talk about this and it seemed to please John. The father of the next family is a much older and has been blind for many years. He cannot come to church if his grandchildren do not walk him there. He has a desire to be endowed in the temple and was concerned about having the help he needs to do that, so we talked of how we can arrange with the temple workers for that and, if need be, Elder Avery could assist. It was interesting how all of this was communicated; Elder Nyarko asking the wife in Twi (another dialect), and then she talking with her husband in Ewe, and then back to Elder Nyarko in Twi. Again I speak of the humble circumstances these dear people live in, and I have to really work on myself to not be discouraged by it all.

One last picture for all the baboon lovers. There were not many out this morning, at least not the younger ones. Most of the others went into the trees except this one who seemed to want to have his picture taken today.

I found this picture in the files on the computer, which must have been taken when we first arrived in Ghana. We didn't know then what we were in for, but we are still smiling (most of the time).

With love,
Sister Avery (mom & grandma)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It has been a very full but good week! The missionaries have enjoyed attending the temple, which some of them said they had not been for seven months. They have had good instruction and the apartment awards have been given out. The awards was my first experience at deciding which apartment won the cleanest award and which was the most improved. We convinced Sister Judd that the missionaries, who won, needed a candy bar along with a certificate and it was fun seeing them eating their reward. I hope it is an incentive, but actually I have seen better effort this quarter, and it is going to be more difficult to make a decision.

We received sixteen more missionary recommendations early this week, putting us at eleven for May, twenty eight for June, fifteen for August, with our twenty five for April 3rd. It is a very challenging experience, with many of the African missionaries, to know where to mail their welcome letters and the letters to the parents when they arrive at the mission home. I just do the best I can and hope they get them.The same goes for when I need to get the flight itinerary to the family when the missionaries are being released. I have had some interesting experiences and they have always worked out.

I receive many referrals for people wanting to know more about the church. These come from the mtc call center, referral manager, missionaries within the mission, Cape Coast Mission, Kumasi Mission, and even missions in Europe. I recently had one that needed to go to Germany and I was pleased how fast the Germany Berlin Mission took care of this when it wasn't even in their area. Last week I received a referral for a Mildred Lamptey who runs an orphanage and wanted the children to know more about Jesus Christ. I referred her to Elder Osur and Elder Ray and they didn't get around to calling her, so she called the referral center and complained that she had not been contacted. I called the missionaries again and explained the situation and that they must act now. They called back a while later and said they had an appointment at 3pm. After the appointment, they called me and were so excited because Mildred was coming to church on Sunday and was bringing 10 of the older children plus some of the staff. If it went well, they would bring all the children the following week. The missionaries committed themselves to doing a service project at the orphanage a day every week. I asked the missionaries to keep me posted on this wonderful opportunity they are having and reminded them that they almost missed out on a great experience.

Primary went well today and the children are a delight. I will take pictures next week so you can see the children and the humble church they meet in to worship. Sister Owusu still feels like she needs to interpret for the children and I think they understand, or will if given time, more than she may think they do. Anyway, the lesson was of the Savior's Resurrection, and as she repeated what I would say, Miriam asked a question in Ewe (A-way), and I asked what she was asking because I had a feeling I should. Apparently Sister Owusu was telling the children that when they die, if they have not been good, they will go to hell and burn in a fire there. I immediately told the children that was not true and explained more to put their young minds at ease. I kindly shared with Sister Owusu that she was telling them incorrect doctrine. I went to her after class hoping I had not offended her. She was kind and said that she appreciated me teaching her this because she did not know it to be different that what she had told the children. After our church meetings, we went with Elder Nyarko and Elder Amumi to visit some families. I am quite tired by this time, but as I visit with these dear people in their humble circumstances, I am lifted beyond my own concerns. Brother Ofori is planning to be baptized next Sunday and his dear wife, Angela, is awesome. He had a stroke 4 years ago and has not been able to work. Angela goes to the river near by and catches these tiny, tiny fish which she fries up, in a way I didn't quite understand, and sells them to make their living. She is Catholic, but is encouraging him to be baptized. Their daughter brought us a packet of cold filtered water to drink and this had to be a sacrifice for them to do for us. They just drink the water they fetch, but to pay money to buy water for us was such a token of respect, and I was deeply moved by it. Another family was a young mother, with her toddler sitting by her,  washing her clothes under a tree and her daughter laying out the clothes to dry on the gravel. This is a practice we see very often as well as laying their clothes on bushes, fences, and whatever they can find. I have said it before, but this mission experience has caused me to be more grateful, more aware of my blessings, and to not take anything or anyone for granted."And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him. Even an hundred fold, yea, more." D&C 78:19.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom grandma)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Missionaries, and more Missionaries!

Every time I receive that wonderful missionary recommendation email, I say good news, and I also say ohhh more work.  We have 25 coming 3 April, 9 the 15th of May, 24 the 26th of June, and 5 (so far) for the 7th of August.We are supposed to be over 200 missionaries by the time the mission divides the 1st of July. We are at 168 now so I guess the figures do add up to that. We will have about 17 that will be finishing their missions by the 1st of July, so there is definitely more coming than going. Anyway it is all good and keeps us needing to stay on our "toes" every minute.

We have had a full week with one new missionary, that arrived Wednesday, who had postponed for a few weeks, 40 missionary Zone interviews with President Judd and 40 going to the temple. It is neat to see how the Assistants organize this and it all goes so smoothly. We will have two days this coming week that will be 78 missionaries doing the same thing, and the next week there will be two days with 48 missionaries. President Judd meets with each one individually and it amazes me all the more as to what goes in to making a mission function and to think this goes on all over the world. When I call the Temple Recorder to set up the visits there, I was so grateful that members who were coming from the Cape Coast Mission would need the 10:30 session and we needed the 8:30 and 12:30 sessions. I have to look at little things like that as enormous blessings.

We had a good day in Senchi today and feel very blessed to be serving with these good people. The attendance was better and we had the opportunity of sitting in on the Branch Council meeting.  Elder Avery will be working with the Young Men and I will be in the Primary helping sweet Sister Owusu. She has poor eye sight and is probably in her seventies. I wish there were more of the dedicated ones because we need some younger women serving in Primary. I had prepared the lesson and sharing time just in case she wanted help and she asked me to do it all. Because of the language, she interpreted a lot of what I said. I really feel the children need to learn their English better, so I had them repeat what I said from the scriptures and from the lesson I prepared, and they saw that it was possible for them and I to communicate They need that experience from the scriptures, so that they know from where we hear the word of God.The music time was fun and I need to spend a little more time preparing for that as well as the lessons as they enjoy music a lot. Oh by-the-way, all 25 children that were there today range from nursery age to probably 9 or 10 years of age, and it is a small room..They have to be all together because there are not enough rooms and not enough teachers. I think that quite a few of the children come from homes where the parents are not members but they like to come so it is wonderful to have the opportunity to share the gospel with them. Learning all their names is a challenge but one that I need to accomplish.

Well, it has been a long, but good day. I had some later nights this week getting some curtains hemmed so the Oda Elders could have them when they came for their interviews, so I need to try to get to bed earlier. I also am doctoring a sore throat and feel I need to get some more rest. I am most grateful for the great companion I have and it is a blessing to be serving with him.

Love to you all,
Sister Avery (mom & grandma)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Trip to Tsito

One of this days I will put the pictures in the right places so I can write about each one individually. I think that will take being smarter than the computer, and as much as I am learning, I am obviously not there yet.

On Monday we went with Elder and Sister Lyon, Elder and Sister Scoville, and Elder Dalton (Sister Dalton had sprained her ankle the night before) to Tsito to help set up the portable baptismal font and to get the Church ready for opening the Branch there. The second picture shows the font and the happy members who are so excited to have their own Branch. We also helped take all the shipping wrap off the chairs and the last picture is my try at using a "broom" to sweep up the trash. It was a great experience being with these good people and the pride they were taking in their building. The men and women were trying to decide which room should be for the Relief Society and for the Priesthood to meet. I happened by the room that they both were wanting and said that I think it should be for the Relief Society and the women were happy that I said so, but the men were not. I am not sure who actually won but I am sure they will be happy no matter who goes where. President Judd dedicated the building and set the Branch Presidency apart today and I would have loved to have been there.

The rest of the afternoon was spend driving across the bridge (I wished I had taken a picture) over the Volta River and on to a restaurant/hotel to have some lunch.  It was a beautiful drive and felt so good to be out of the city for a change. The drive up to the hotel reminded me of Michigan with all of the thick trees and bushes. It was so wonderful to not see garbage everywhere, as that is what we see a lot of in the populated areas. The only way the day could have been better was if we could have stayed longer and taken a tour in the textile factory and the place where they make beads for jewelry.

We had an interesting but good day with the Senchi Branch members. I was able to play the keyboard as was planned and even though there were not as many there as last week, the testimonies were sincere even if they were mostly given in the language Ewe (pronounced A-way). These is  the challenge with the people in the semi-bush and bush areas, they are slow to change the traditions that hold them back from their full potential. I was bombarded by the young woman to come to their Sunday School class so I did for that time and then I went to the Primary the rest of the time. The Primary President, Sister Elizabeth Owusu, was the only leader there and doesn't feel confident with the music part, so I helped with that. I also had taken paper and crayons and the children were delighted to draw and color. There is a lot of growth that needs to come in the teaching methods as it is all about rote repetition and memorization and no gospel application in the process. I guess that is how they are taught in school. I don't know my history very well, but it sounds like the British influence during the late 1800's is the type of teaching that they do here. It is more the concept of being acted upon rather that acting. Anyway it will be a challenge, but with patience, love, and, lots of prayer, we hope for more spiritual learning. We were able to see Baboons again and sure we will every Sunday, and we even saw some on the way home, which is unusual in the afternoon.

Well it has been a long day and we have apartment inspections tomorrow so sweet dreams for me and the rest of you, enjoy your Sabbath afternoon.

With love,
Sister Avery (Mom, & Grandma)