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)