Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Monday was our Christmas FHE.  We ate, sang carols and gifted each other with white elephant gifts. There were almost 60 of us involved. People liked my choices and I ended up opening 8 different presents because someone would take what I had unwrapped.  My favorite part of the evening was introducing the group to “In The Bleak Mid-winter” one of our families cherished carols.  

We laughed a lot in opening presents and taking from others.

Two bus loads of French patrons from Benin arrived at our building Monday evening. The first Stake was organized in that country in Sept.  of this year and over 100 came to the temple for 3 days. One sister who I worked with spoke Fang [combination of 3 dialects—none of them French].  She was very attentive but  did not understand any words although she knew what was happening. Two days later, when I worked with her again, I was amazed at how much she had improved—she could repeat almost all of the French words needed. Can you imagine the challenges of a  33 year-old stake president with the majority of his members being baptized in the last 3 years?
Friday, I was able to surprise our two full time laundresses with some Lindor chocolate.  Big smiles from them reaffirmed that small things can give joy to both the receiver and the giver.  Saturday, the two men who mop the floors in our building were just as appreciative.

Christmas eve we spent at the pool next to the residence of the Area Presidency and the Temple President. We grilled chicken, baked salmon, and gobbled home made french fries along with salads and desserts. I followed Pudges’ example and served fresh pineapple slush with Canada Dry.  It was lovely to be outside even though it was still close to 90 degrees F. and was very relaxing.  It culminated with Pres. Stanfill sharing his testimony.  He grew up in Montana and shares similar experience with ours in S. Alberta.  Tom and I were grateful to listen to Handel’s Messiah from Kings College Cambridge as we went to sleep.

Pool party for Christmas Eve

Notice the all-natural table decorations!

NZ Poi ball demonstration by Srs. Webster and Simpson

She's in shape!

Our first Siamese twin bananas

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Week Before Christmas, Dec. 18 2016

It has been a great week for us.  Christmas concerts, Christmas music at home, patrons from Togo and new missionaries to take care of.   The highlight was attending the Church employee devotional last Tuesday morning.  Elder Nash was the concluding speaker.  I wish all of you readers could have been there to feel the spirit.  Trying to recapture for you the power of that experience is not possible, but we will try to share as much as we can.

He spoke about peace.  That is a major concept in this part of the world, where we continue to have major civil conflicts today (see recent news about Gambia , South Sudan, and the DRC) and other civil wars are still in people’s recent memory.  

Isaiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called wonderful…..the prince of peace.”  He shared the story of Helaman’s letter to Moroni from Alma 58, where Helamen and his band of 2000 stripling warriors were in dire straits.  They were outnumbered by the enemy and running so short of provisions that they feared starvation.  In our terms, they lacked resources, faced overwhelming odds, and were doomed to failure and personal destruction.  In those difficult circumstances they poured out their souls in prayer to God, and “he did speak peace unto our souls”, which gave them faith and hope for deliverance.  “And we did take courage…and thus we did go forth…”  He will do the same for us.

After the crucifixion, with the body of Christ missing from the tomb, his disciples were gathered together with the doors shut for fear of the Jews.  Christ came and stood in their midst and said, ”Peace be unto you.”

Elder Nash shared a very personal experience of visiting a hospital room of a young woman who had died suddenly of an infection, and with her family present a prayer was offered.   Light and peace came and filled the room.  After that the family was still in mourning, but they were not grieving.

He read from Matthew 11.  “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you…and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  Peace is rest to the weary, worried soul.  His yoke that we take on us is the yoke of discipleship.  We are to look to help  others, and then we will find peace for ourselves.  

And from the gospel of John: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you.”   We can receive His peace even when our environment is not peaceful, even when we are struggling, even when we face great difficulties.  And His peace brings with it faith and hope and courage to move ahead in our discipleship to help others.

May you have peace this Christmas as you celebrate His birth!

 Temple patrons from French-speaking Togo staying in our building. 
Sue is in her exercise clothes. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

December 11, 2016

Last Sunday we went along with the temple president and matron to a district conference at Asamankese.  The conference was somewhat challenging for us since several participants spoke in Twi.  Pres. Simpson, the mission president, gave an inspired talk to close the meeting. He discussed the four things that the district needs do to qualify to become a stake within the coming year.  
A young girl at district conference

The journey itself was very interesting.  The 2 hour drive was through beautiful countryside, with some big hills.  The foliage could have been anywhere in Central America or the South Pacific.  We had rough gravel roads for about 1/4 of the trip.  The truly unique part was the enthusiastic political rally for the ruling party that we came upon as we traveled along.

A common mode of travel

Ghana held a presidential and parliamentary election this past Wednesday where the ruling party for the last seven years was defeated.  For many weeks we have heard the prayers by Ghanaians that this would be a peaceful election, whatever the outcome.  We also had warnings from US embassy email alert system about specific areas in Accra and elsewhere to avoid during the election day and until results were clear, so it was not without a bit of concern when we came across this demonstration.

There was danger that someone might fall off a truck or get hit by a passing vehicle, but otherwise it was just an exuberant display.  We almost captured the drums and horns in this video:

Prayers were answered in that things have been peaceful during and since the election.  We hope the transition will be the same.  The new president is to be inaugurated on Jan. 7.  

In the evening we enjoyed a progressive dinner at Alema Court with several missionary couples.  Our favorite part was the sharing of Christmas traditions and caroling.  Elder Peine told of Christmas as a child in Germany just after WWII and those who could sang along with Stille Nacht.  It was very touching.

A handwoven tablecloth

We found a walking stick (while we were walking, of course) and thought he deserved his photo here.  Sue had never seen one before.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Merry December! Dec 4, 2016

We had a marvelous Thanksgiving, found turkeys that cost 5$ a lb but everyone donated to the meat so it wouldn’t have to be chicken which we eat often. They were brined and delicious although not the perfect shape of those in America. The MTC cafeteria made us 20 lbs of mashed potatoes, and the 59 people who attended, brought vegetables, salads, stuffing,[my favorite with dried apricots and fresh cranberries and thyme], gravy, hot rolls and cranberry orange muffins. We are including a picture of the dessert table with many kinds of pie, fudge cake, banana cake and pumpkin bars.  I think everyone felt like it was Thanksgiving.
Last night was our Temple Christmas devotional which we have been practicing for. Tom accompanied the choir on the piano and organ for traditional carols and drums were added for our three African carols : 
OYE   sung in Fante  the title means  It is Good 
NYAME YE KESE sung in Twi and means God is Great  
JESU KA WO HO sung in Twi and means The Lord is with you

Elder Vern Stanfill of the Seventy was the guest speaker and gave a masterful talk of what Christmas and the atonement really mean. A gift was given to all the Temple workers—a kilo of rice and a liter of cooking oil. Everyone was delighted. Our President and his wife were delighted with how the evening went and how many attended. I spent some time taking pictures of our fellow workers. Most of them we only see in white. Their personalities definitely came out in their clothing.

The percussion section

The accompanist and conductor

Sister Antwi, assistant matron

Pres. and Sister Graham

Pres. Antwi

Pres.and Sister Assard

          We hope each of you enjoy your Christmas preparations!  We are looking forward to the broadcast from Salt Lake in the morning.  If we watch it live it will be 1 AM here.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nov. 26, 2016 - Still Giving Thanks!

On Wednesday morning in the temple, we had very few men workers and about 25 missionaries from the MTC scheduled for their own endowments during the shift.  As we were preparing for the 8:30 session I offered a brief silent prayer asking the Lord if it were possible that he send us just one more male temple worker to help out.  15 minutes later one walked in the door and went to change into his white clothing.  I told him he was an answer to prayer.  Later, when I realized we were still stretched very thin, I thought, ”Oh ye of little faith.  You should have asked for three!”  

It is still Thanksgiving in Ghana even though the holiday doesn’t exist here.  We actually took our ward missionaries out to dine at a local establishment (burgers and fries were chosen by 3/4 of the diners).  It was very fun getting to know them better.  One has home base as Columbia, SC although he was born in China and raised mostly in China and Malaysia (father is with the state dep't.)  The other is from Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  His father joined the Church in 1984 before the Church officially came to DRC so this missionary and his 7 sibs were raised in the Church.  Both missionaries were very impressive and  seemed to have a lot in common.  It was fun to chat with them about their area and the ward.  They make a lot of contacts but have trouble getting people to teach since a lot of people who work in our boundaries live elsewhere.

Thursday we slept in, did some exercise, and took it easy during the morning. It actually felt like a holiday.  Our regular shift started at 1:15 pm.  Our official Thanksgiving dinner will be on Monday at home evening with the other senior missionaries, the temple presidency, and the area presidency.  The menu is actually coordinated,  and has some of the traditional things like turkey and dressing.  The group consists of people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and England in addition to the Americans who traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving this week in November.  We always enjoy getting together!  We hope you all had a memorable day with family and friends.

Today I had the opportunity to chat in the temple with an elderly man from Cape Coast, in western Ghana.  He was in the temple for only the second time and said he really enjoyed being there.  As we visited he told me some of his story.  His wife and daughter joined the church in the late 1970’s and were among the first to do so in the country.  He is a retired school teacher, headmaster, and preacher for another Christian denomination.  He said he would occasionally use the Book of Mormon for the basis of his sermons (without attribution) and that when he did the sermons were always well-received.  He finally decided to join the church just over a year ago and is very happy that he did.  He is 87 years old.  I wish I had been able to capture more of his life story.  He has seen a lot of change in Ghana.  

Sue has just about finished her latest read which she highly recommends.  “Planted  — Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt” Patrick Q Mason.  It was given to us by Ben before we left and is written by the chair of the Mormon Studies Dept. at Claremont Graduate University in California.  He has some fascinating insights into our age of faith crises and even if you don’t agree with all he says, it is worth reading.  Wendy Roth, sorry I forgot your birthday.  Happy almost December!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

An Interesting Visitor - Nov. 20, 2016

We were invited to a unique meeting last Sunday evening to hear Bro. Georges Bonnet speak about some of his experiences in helping with the approval and the building of the temple  here about 15 years ago.  Bro. Bonnet has worked for many years for the Presiding Bishopric and still does.  He has been involved with Africa beginning in 1990 when he was the first director of Temporal Affairs for the Africa Area of the church, living in South Africa.  At that time there were no direct flights from S. Africa to west Africa.  They had to fly to London from Johannesburg and then turnaround and fly back to west Africa.   They also had no direct telephone lines from there to here.  However, within six months of the area office being established, direct flights became a reality and the telephone communication was also improved.  In 1990 there were only five stakes in Africa, all in South Africa, all with caucasian stake presidents.

Elder Faust, the apostle assigned to Africa in 1990, shared this thought when he came that year for leadership training: “Let us not take counsel from our fears.” (It was also the theme of an article he wrote in 2002 - link here:  Remember that this would have been during the famous “freeze” in Ghana.  Shortly after the freeze was lifted, the first two stakes were created in Ghana in April of 1991.  At that time, Elder Faust said, “The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over Africa”. 

In February of ’98 Pres. Hinckley announced a temple in Ghana during a big tour of Africa.  But there were lots of issues and problems in getting the site approved by the government. The Minister of Religion was concerned that the church would “descend upon our people with your materialistic ideas”.  In early 2000 Bro. Bonnet was asked to transfer back to be the DTA here in the Africa West Area with the specific assignment of getting approval of the temple. He was concerned about how his wife and family would react to his new assignment.  Arriving home that evening, to his surprise, he found his children and his wife dancing and singing “we are going to Ghana”.  They had been told nothing by the Brethren. Later he asked his wife when she had learned they would be going back to Africa.  Her answer was - "last November".  After much fasting and prayer [including him kneeling alone, in the dirt, in the dark, on the temple site, pleading with the Lord that He would open the way] and many small miracles, the temple was approved, and eventually dedicated in January of 2004, just 12 years ago.  Just before the dedication of the temple, Pres. Eyring came on a visit to west Africa for training meetings, and said, “The Lord is in a hurry here.  He will condense what took years elsewhere.”  We now have 72 stakes in the Africa West Area, an increase of 16 this year, with 15 more districts created this year.  

Bro. Bonnet’s  involvement in getting our temple approved is all the more interesting to us because of his start in the church in France.  He joined the church as a teenager in southern France around the time that Tom was a missionary there.  Tom had heard of and met this young man, who received a mission call to serve in Tahiti.  How influential one new convert can be! 

I have been taking pictures of the beautiful flowers on the temple grounds. It is basically summer here - temperatures around 92 degrees in the daytime. It feels very much like Florida in the summer. We are glad to have air conditioning but the patrons in the temple wear sweaters because they are cold.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 13, 2016

Tom: besides our usual work here in Ghana, the week was dominated for us by the news of the US election results and the arrival of Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the USA) - an interesting juxtaposition.  A good friend had commented to us that he was voting for the second most odious person in the country.  Probably most people in the country thought they were voting for the second most odious person, but the electorate was clearly divided almost in half about which candidate that actually was.

So about half of the country is happy that the most odious person didn’t win, and the other half are upset that the second most odious person (based on the electoral college) did.  And now we hear about demonstrations turning into riots, fears of racism, etc. etc.  It reminded me of the comment made by Rodney King, the black resident of LA who was brutally beaten by police during an arrest.  When their acquittal on charges of excessive force led to riots in LA in 1992, he said. “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out.”  If he could say that, can’t we?

We have started listening to one of the Great Courses, on archeology and history of the Middle East - a very interesting series of lectures.   We heard this week about Alexander Jannaeus, one of the Hasmonean kings who reigned from 103-76 BC.  He incurred the ire of his subjects when he broke Jewish law by becoming king as well as the hereditary high priest.  During the festival of Sukkot in Jerusalem, when he poured the water on the ground instead of on the altar, the pilgrims at the festival showed their displeasure by pelting him with citrons they were carrying as part of the celebration.  In his anger, the king killed 6,000 of the pilgrims.  At least things aren’t that bad.

Sue:  Two women made this week memorable for me.  I met “Eve” of Adam and Eve in the bathroom of the women’s changing room.  I had seen her in the temple every day doing ordinances and finally asked who she was.  She introduced herself as a member visiting from Nigeria. It took a while for my mind to compute that she must be one of the Nigerian team who were recording, in Igbo and Efik, the voices for the newest films to be used in the Aba Temple. There are now 39 Stakes who that temple serves. The technical recording team came from Salt Lake City  but the voices came from Nigeria.  

The second woman had come to the Accra Temple for the first time and is a member of a new Stake which was organized last Sunday.  She was the skinniest woman I had ever seen and I found myself hoping that she was not starving to death. She had a beautiful face but her bones, especially clavicles, were very prominent. It made me grateful for my lentil soup at home in the crockpot and my understanding that she was learning to know her Savior.

I put a new app on my phone this week—the Book of Mormon in French and English side by side. I have a goal to it read in French by June.  It is very hard work but I can do hard things.

I was also asked this week to lead the organization and planning of Thanskgiving dinner for 60.  That will take place at our usual Family Home Evening on Nov. 28th.  We have found 7kg Turkeys for US $60 each.  We may be having chicken instead!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 6, 2016

It is difficult to write about some of the experiences we have as we work in the temple.  As Tom works in the larger sessions, it is interesting to sense the variation in feelings that each group seems to generate.  He was able to participate in a session filled with the Area presidency, 16 mission presidents, and wives, which was the culmination of a three-day seminar and training meeting for them.  The sense of spiritual maturity, love of God, and desire for magnification of their service could be felt.  Two days later, he officiated in a similar session with a large group of mostly young single adults.  They were obviously less mature in age and experience, and had many more concerns about their futures: work, education, marriage, etc. but had a similar spirit of reverence and devotion.  

One of the assignments for the officiators in those meetings is, toward the end, to lead a group prayer.  While there are few specific guidelines about what should be included in those prayers, it seems that one of the responsibilities of the officiators might be to gain a sense of the needs and concerns of the group - as far as that is possible - and to include those in the prayer.  And sometimes when there are two brothers assisting in the session, both prepare spiritually for the prayer but only one can be the voice, at which point the silent assistant should be praying for the other to be led by the spirit.  It is all a wonderful experience but takes a great deal of internal energy.

The temple is a place where many languages are used.  For West Africa, as we have written before, English and French are second languages for many.  Their first language could be Twi, Ewe, Fante, Ga, or - less often - Amharic, Mande, or others.  Above all is the language of the spirit.  At times a smile or a gentle touch can communicate so much more than sounds.  And sometimes that is the only way to communicate.

Sue met a woman this week who reminded her of the actress known as “Bloody Mary”  in that classic musical, “South Pacific”.  She had the same hairdo, the same eyes, the same face shape and body shape.  She was a wonderful, delightful woman.  Externalities are generally not a good way to determine what is on the inside.  First impressions are not things that we have control over but we need to put them the shelf before we make judgments about people.

Sue has finished the Book of Mormon in English, again, and is now working with a useful app that has English scriptures on one side and French on the other. 

 We spent the afternoon at the MTC helping with Family History in French.  Sue has learned that she needs a different French vocabulary to be useful.  We did meet two missionaries from the States.  One is the grandson of an “ancien” missionary from Paris and knows many Hickens in Heber City.  The other is the youngest son of a former stake president in Iowa that we have been sailing with.  It continues to surprise us that we have so many connections, even in Africa!  

We are happy to hear from you.  Some of you have commented on the blog.  Others have sent emails or called on Skype.  Thanks for your words, support, and prayers!  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Birthday Season

We have been thinking about our children — four of the five celebrate birthdays between Oct.28 and Dec. 22 and at home we referred to this as the birthday season. [We threw in Thanksgiving on the side].  Originally, Tom and I were told we would never have children. However after our daughter and first son were born, the obstetrician changed his prognosis. We were grateful that the Lord trusted us with two, and we thought our family complete. Five years later we were blessed with another son and 17 months later another.  Such delight—Erin and Ben developed their “teaching” skills, and Neal, though still a baby himself became the protector of his little brudder. To our great joy, after 5 more years and with much difficulty, we added another son, Tal. We all knew that he was  destined to be part of us and Hugh readily accepted his new role as big brother.  As we contemplate that our oldest will be 42 and our youngest 29, I am reminded of  the truthfulness of the song from the musical Fiddler On The Roof:

Where is the little girl I carried ?
Where is the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall ?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise, sunset, quickly go the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

We have had many seasons of happiness and some of struggle and disappointment but  have realized the necessity to  “Be still and know that I am God”.  From our five we have learned about agency, diligence, patience, love, humor, trust, and to hang on for the ride of our lives. Oh, the places we’ll go and the places we’ve been.  We pay tribute to them and to their extraordinary spouses, and are eternally grateful that our children continue to care for each other and share a deep mutual affection.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23, 2016

This week we passed the six month milestone of our mission.  Tempus fugit!    It does’t seem like a longtime but we don’t easily relate to our former life.  We feel very comfortable here.  Lately we’ve noticed that there are anti-littering signs, less trash, and even some filling of potholes and paving of roads in the neighborhood. 

We received our absentee ballots for the US presidential election in the mail.  It has been interesting to observe this cycle from afar.  The internet is both a blessing and a curse - we have access to lots of information but much less wisdom.  And we remember the famous quote of Abraham Lincoln that you can’t believe everything that you read there.  We do have serious concerns about how the country will possibly be governed whoever wins.  Dishonesty, deceit, manipulation, and disregard for the rule of law seem to have infiltrated previously respected government institutions.  Failure of discourse has led to extreme polarization on the important issues that desperately need legislative attention.  We are becoming a culture driven by tweets and headlines instead of serious discussion.  Reading the Book of Mormon suggests that things will only get worse unless as a nation we can determine what we really want and are willing to repent to get there.  

Ghana is also holding a presidential election this year, in December.  We frequently hear prayers that this country may remain peaceful.  In stake conference this morning, our president quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Jehovah to Solomon after the dedication of the temple): “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  Ghana is not the only country that needs healing.

We are spending more time on companion language study, mostly Sue reading the Book of Mormon aloud in French and then trying to translate, verse by verse.  We have made it through two chapters of I Néphi so far.  The passé simple makes it difficult but thanks to the repetitive phrases she already has conquered “Car voici”, and “Il arriva que…”.

Sue purchased a new tablecloth for us - it’s actually a woman’s shawl - our first piece of kente cloth.  It probably came from Cote D’Ivoire.  These fabrics are hand-woven tribal patterns that are famous in West Africa for their designs and symbolism.   More here: .  Several missionary couples collect them to take home.  Pres. Brubaker is hoping to use them to decorate inside the new MTC.
As you can see, we eat a lot of fresh fruit.  Papaya is now in season and is great with a squeeze of fresh lime.  The pineapples here are different from Hawaiian or Central American varieties.  They are smaller, much less acidic, whiter flesh, and sweeter.

Many collect these brightly colored hand-woven baskets.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Traditions - Oct 16, 2016

We’ve had some great experiences this week that seem to come together loosely under this title.  The missionary couple mentioned last week who are serving in Tamale wrote on their blog about bride price and how it is affecting their young singles' plans for marriage.  Bride price, in Ghana, is the money or goods that the groom pays to the bride's family to receive their permission to marry.  There are some positive things about this tradition, mostly that the negotiations bring together the two families.  There are also a lot of negatives, one being that a young couple often has to wait years to marry while saving up for the bride price.  The Church is teaching against the tradition and encouraging members to not require the young people to wait for this to marry, but change takes time.

Here are some thoughts from Elder Renfroe:  

“Consider a time and place when a man's productive ability peaks early in his twenties and is based on his physical strength to kill animals or to till the earth. He will carry the burden of supporting the elderly and fathers of girls will exact a high price for the hand of their daughters to allow them to expect a comfortable retirement. Then the modern world descends upon the third world and the new norm tears at the basis of the family upon which the very existence of this world depends.

In today's world a man's (or woman's) productivity will not peak until their mid 50's or even 60's and the early years are spent in poverty getting educated and gaining experience to allow them to exact a high price for their skill. Suddenly we exchange a strong back for a strong head in the ability to provide support without changing the culture of expectations, and the timing of productivity out of sync with demands.

Bride price, the retirement program for the village culture, is strangling the new society. While scrambling to scrape together the price exacted, the biological clock is ticking. For some they will wait so long for their ship to come in, that their pier will fall down.

If this current generation of African members of the church can survive long enough to build their own families, I am confident that they will break the chains of slavery forged from their tribal traditions. But in the mean time, things are really tough.”

Here is a link to a longer discussion on the topic:

Yesterday at the temple we had a number of ordinances performed, including sealings of families, from a branch located over an hour from the temple where Elder and Sr. Clark taught the temple preparation classes.  This is the new tradition of the members, and it is always a joy to see the smiles as they experience the promise of couples and families being together in eternity.

This afternoon was our opportunity to travel to the MTC again to help the missionaries in training to prepare names of deceased family members for the temple ordinances.  They are a bright and eager group!  Out of the current group, at least three will be sealed to their deceased parents (yes, they are orphans) in the coming week.  Wars, ebola, and other circumstances have taken a toll on African families.  We often hear them offer prayers of thanks for their lives and the lives of their families.

Working on Family Tree


Progress on construction of the new MTC, located next door.

In our ward today, Tom was sustained as Sunday School Advisor - not a calling that is found in the Handbook.  The new president is a talented, young, returned missionary, eager to serve.  Tom will help as a mentor and trainer.  We also met two new “friends of the Church".  One is a disabled  artist who travels about West Africa raising awareness and advancing the cause of services for those who have disability, or as he terms it, “this ability”, emphasizing what they can contribute when their basic needs are met.  The other new friend is an expat from Edmonton who is here on a work assignment and hadn’t yet found a church she wanted to attend.  She decided to visit the local LDS congregation because she has friends in the Church and knows a lot about it.  We were able to welcome her and introduce her to a few others.
This week Sue had her first encounter with tribal tattoos. A woman from northern Sierra Leone had a permanent dot on her forehead and a vertical line between her bottom lip and her chin. She was very serious as she participated in the ordinances but at the end when Sue gave her a hug, she responded with a  smile. Another woman asked if we could pray for her mother who is very ill. Sue explained that she could put her mother’s name on the prayer roll and then everyone in the Temple would be praying for her.  Another asked if you could put names of people who were deceased on the prayer roll. She said most of her family was dead. Sue explained  that the prayer roll was only for the living but that she need not be concerned about her brother and her mother. If they did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in this life, they would have that opportunity where they were now in the spirit world. The Lord includes everyone in His plan of happiness.

This is of our Primary program today.  The music conductor is the 5 year old on the far right!

Apologies for the strange formatting today.