Sunday, May 26, 2013

Continuing to Learn

I was told, when I was just starting school as a child, that I had difficulty learning to read. I don't recollect who or what was influential in my young life to change that difficulty, but I feel I have always loved to read. I have so appreciated the insight of others and have been blessed to know truth when I've read or heard it. I have difficulty putting my thoughts and feelings into words, and feel it is as much a gift to believe on the words of others as it is to have them as my own. This brings me to a small book that I have been reading to my companion as we travel to Senchi each Sunday. "To Draw Closer To God" is a collection of discourses by President Henry B. Erying. D&C 88:63 reads, "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." We have been reading how we can claim these promises and are being reminded that as we yield our hearts unto God, asking him what it is he would have us do, then we will know that he will prepare a way for us to do it, even under great difficulties. I surely do love to learn and I pray my heart is always open, because this mission in Africa is teaching me more than I ever thought possible.

I recently received the Missionary Recommendation of someone I know. My first experience with Matthew Roundy was in the High School production of Les Miserables. I was impressed with his talent and am delighted to learn that he is the grandson of the late Grover Swallow. I worked at the Swallow Pharmacy during my high school years and learned a lot from his grandfather. He is coming to the Ghana Accra Mission in September and even though he probably won't know me, I will be able to share what I know about him. Who would think someone from the same Stake would be called to this same mission. It was fun to read the priesthood leaders comments and I could just hear President Phillips and Bishop Matthew's voice as I read them. I take delight in things such as this.

I have another experience with one of the special interviews that President Judd recently had.  I was privilege to meet a delightful older women that had been taught by the missionaries for a long time. Her husband, who was with her, is one of the early pioneers of Africa that embraced the gospel. She, on the other hand, said she would never be baptized. She loved the missionaries and called them "her boys", but she refused to be baptized. Well, when one of her previous missionaries, that had loved her and worked so diligently with her, came into the office and saw her waiting her turn to be interviewed, I think the roof raised up because of the joy that was expressed. It was truly a beautiful experience.

This picture is what we experienced last week on our way back from Senchi. Thank goodness it does not happen every week!

The picture above is a common sight we see when we travel to Senchi. It is a bag full of homemade charcoal that the people use to cook with and it is placed along side the road for people to purchase.

The Sunday we traveled to Tsito and Ho, we passed through what we call  "pillow town". Colorful pillows for sale line the streets.

This is another town that sells clay pots and they also line the streets to be sold.

If you look real close (I think you can click on the picture and see it closer), there is a woman with a sewing machine in its case on her head. These dear people amaze me what heavy and bulky items they can carry on their heads.

This is a view of the beautiful green foliage that is up that area.

 When I was taking the picture above this one, I discovered this mother hen and her chicks. It was fun to watch them scratch in the weeds looking for bugs to eat. I think they were so intent on eating that they didn't even care that I was so close to them.

The goats in this land are very small and are everywhere. I watched this one for awhile while my companion and some missionaries were engaged in a activity. It would have been fun to have had a video of what I watched because she eventually moved to some small bushes with flowering stems growing up from them and how she got on her hind legs to be able to pull the long stem down so she could eat the flowers.

That was a lot of pictures all at once, but I wasn't able to add them when I first took them.

A quick update on primary today in Senchi. My companion felt so sorry for the hard time I had last week that he said if the leaders and teacher did not come today, he would come in and help me. Well the did not come, so he had a great experience. Juliana who was baptized two weeks ago, has two sons named Nelson (4) and Cephas (6). Church is such a new thing to them that they really haven't learned the slightest thing about reverence. I was able to teach the children about the obedience of Nephi in building a ship and the law of tithing. There was 25+ children today and it went well. Those two little boys were all smiles after primary because they have a great new friend who patiently encouraged them to keep their hands to themselves. I believe in time, they will adjust (we sure hope they will). The real problem is that primary leaders and teacher are not taking their calling seriously and I must have hope for them also.

It was our dear grandson Camran's birthday this last week and we express how much we love him.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Will I ever not complain!

I hope all you Mothers had a great day last week. By the time we returned from our day in Senchi, Tsito, and Ho it was 8pm and I was much too tired to go to the office. It was a good day and I was happy to serve the missionaries in those areas by bringing them their mail etc. They never complain about being so far from the Mission Home and actually enjoy being out from all the busyness of the city. I had taken pictures that I wanted to add but when we went to the office tonight to write, the  internet was off and we decided to come home. Since we only have the one computer at home, my companion said he could wait to write so I could write a little. 

It has been great but busy week with missionaries departing and new missionaries coming. It is hard to describe our small office with sooooo many missionaries needing reimbursement, requesting items for their apartments, handing in baptismal records, getting their mail, etc. They are a delight, but by the end of the day; well, you get the idea. We had another missionary that wanted to go home. President Judd spent hours with her, but she had made up her mind. But there was an Elder that was serving in Cape Coast Mission that was going to go home and at the last minute, asked himself "what am I doing? My family has disowned me for joining the church, so why am I going home. I will regret it for the rest of my life if I go home." He was able to contact Elder Dickson of the Area Seventy and change everything and is now serving in our mission and doing well.

I had the wonderful experience of meeting a young mother who came to receive her endowment in the temple. She had her baby of four months with her and he just melted my heart. He smiled and laughed when I talked to him, and now the rest of the story. He was born premature and his mother was by herself and took him with the umbilical cord still attached and got a taxi to go to the hospital. He was so tiny that he fit in the palm of Elder Dalton's hand. He was meant to live, because under those conditions he should not have. I love stories like this as it is a reminder to me He is watching over us all.

Today was a difficult day at the Senchi Branch. Last week, Sister Owusu and Duodu and I had divided up the responsibilities of teaching but they never came to do their part. The children were struggling with reverence today and with new children just about every week, we really need all of us there so when one is teaching, the others sit by the children to help with the problems. I think the language is still part of the problem. Nephi and the Brass Plates was a good story to keep their interest and they love to sing, but I didn't even try the concept of tithing. Sister Owusu was to teach that and I was not prepared with anything visual to help them understand. On the way home, we were stuck in traffic for about an hour and a half. I took pictures of the congestion that we experienced that maybe will give an idea of three lanes of traffic in one single lane. It doesn't have all the horn honking and exhaust fumes that were also experienced. I will add them in a later blog as they are on the computer in the office. 

I have to admit that there are times when I say that I would not miss Africa one bit. But I know there is so much more to it than the traffic, noisy children, and teachers that don't show up. I just have such a desire to look at a trying situation and be able to not complain and instead find something good about it. I guess in the desiring, I can have some hope that it will come.

We missed being able to skype with our Shelton family because of internet problems at the office and we can't get skype at our apartment. I want our sweet Cooper and Avery to know how much I missed seeing their sweet faces and that I love them so much. Our dear Oriana, Alexibia, Xander, Nickolas, Isabel, and Naomi emailed us tonight and it was good to hear how they are doing. We sure miss our family and love them all.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wow! month of May already

The time is sure getting close as to when our mission will be split. I only see a portion of what has to be done to make that all happen in the short time we have left. President Judd and the Assistants have so many decisions to make, in regards to placing Elders and Sisters, so that the new mission has strong missionaries to begin with. This needs to take place on this next transfer, which is the 15th of May as well as the 26th of June transfer. We have 16 new missionaries in May and 28 new missionaries in June. Because the Ghana Accra West mission will have different transfer days than us, that has to be a deciding factor also as to where to place the missionaries that are completing their mission in August. The 17 missionaries scheduled to leave in August will need their flight plans started very soon and that is one of the factors that makes this transition to a new mission challenging. If they are put in the West Mission, I arrange according to those release dates. If they are still in our mission, then I arrange according to our release dates. Needless to say, we pray for President Judd a lot!!

I keep wondering when the cooler weather is going to start, or if it will. Once in awhile, when it rains, I have hope, but it doesn't last long. Everyone here carries a cloth with them to wipe the sweat off them as they go about their daily activities. Yet, I see people wearing suits which I wonder how they can do it. Then there are those, that ride motorcycles, who wear coats on those days when the temperature is a FEW degrees cooler. But then when I think how they are wrapped in a cloth and carried on their mother's backs from the time they are first born, it makes a little more sense.

I feel grateful to have nice flowers, trees, and grass around our apartment. When I look out our kitchen window, to what could be called the back yard, it is interesting to watch the washing of clothes and hanging them to dry by Bubba mostly. His little room doesn't seem to have a place to cook, so from my observation, I believe the woman tenant cooks for him and he washes her clothes. She has a car and goes every morning at 6:30 to some kind of work and he takes care of the washing. I feel grateful also that we are on a city water line and our poly tank gets filled automatically. Many places have to have water delivered to fill their poly tanks and that it the cause of much of our missionaries water problems. The other is that we have to have pumps so that we have some water pressure so the water can flow into our apartments. Even though it is so different than home, I am so grateful for what we have.

Today was the Sunday that I think all of Ghana, if not more countries, watch a session or two of General Conference. The wards and branches receive a DVD and we watch a portion or all of the Saturday afternoon session so we can do the sustaining of the Church leaders, and then watch the Sunday morning session. It didn't quite go according to plan in Senchi, but it all worked out. We agreed with Sister Adjei that they should stop the English recording and do it in Twi so the people could understand better and that soon was taken care of; I think they were doing it just for us. After the session, we had a baptism of 2 boys and 2 girls from the same family. The parents had not had their interviews yet, so hopefully their baptism will be next Sunday. Princilla and Joy are the two girls and are in primary. I want to get them a CTR ring, Book of Mormon, and a Gospel In Action booklet to keep them moving forward in the Gospel. It happens a lot in these small branches where the programs just don't quite function as they should. I am trying to help change that, but it is a gradual process for sure.

Next Sunday after the meetings, we need to travel about 45 min. to Tsito to pick up one of Elder Thompson's suitcases so he doesn't have to pay an extra fee on the trotro. He completes his mission on the 14th of May and his father is coming to pick him up. His Dad is a brother to Jayne Smith who is our late Donna Avery's daughter-in-law. He said because we were practically family, he would bring me corn tortillas so we could make some real tacos. I wonder how it will all work, but I am so glad he is willing to try. Anyway, I am wanting to take some more pictures to put here, as we should see some more interesting country as we travel further north.

Speaking of the north, I had one of our missionaries call me and want me to find a branch in Tamale (taw-maw-lee, correction from an earlier blog). He has an investigator who will be returning to her home there and wants to connect with the Church. I first got on the Church's site to find if we even have missionaries there and we do. Tamale is in the far north of the Kumasi Mission and as of a couple of months ago, 8 missionaries were sent into that area. There is not a branch, but they have   what is called a Group. This happens quite often, I guess, where the membership is so small. Anyway, I think it is exciting and I was able to email the Kumasi Mission and get a phone number of an Elder White that was transferred to Tamale. The missionary that asked me to find all of this out, actually knows Elder White and was excited to contact him about this investigator. I continue to be amazed at all that is taking place with the gospel filling the earth, which brings me to a neat part I found out about Tamale. It is a predominately Muslim country but because there are no militant groups occupied there, and no Islamic control in the government, there is no danger to Christians there. Exciting stuff!

Well, we are back to apartment inspections tomorrow and one of the apartments is in a new area and we do not have coordinates in the GPS for that one. We will really have to rely on the missionaries to come meet us at a spot that we can get to, so it could get interesting. Happy trails to us!!

PS Our Xander was baptized and confirmed yesterday. We are so proud of him for accepting this wonderful ordinance. Our Jason graduated from Suu with honors. We are so proud of him!

With love,
Sister Avery (mom & grandma)