It was a busy week in the temple with new missionaries in the MTC and a stake from Cote d’Ivoire. Tuesday was not as busy as we had projected because the Ivoiriens, traveling on four large buses, were detained at the border for some technicality. They didn’t arrive until Wednesday morning at 2 AM (we could tell the time of their arrival by the number of loudly closing doors on the floor). During Tuesday and Wednesday over 75 own endowments were received.
It is interesting comparing the English of the Ghanaians with the French of the Ivoiriens. Ghana has 9 government-sponsored languages and we have been told that in some parts of the country, children don’t begin learning English until they are 8 or 9 years old. (It is very common in our ward to have prayers and sometimes lessons given in Twi.) Many Ghanaians have a very strong accent and/or have difficulty understanding and speaking English. Ivory Coast has about 70 indigenous languages - so many that French is the only language that is common to all the country. Ivoirien mothers begin speaking French to their infants as soon as they are born, since it is a great advantage to their children to be fluent in French. Thus although there is much greater linguistic diversity, because their children learn the language earlier, the French is generally more clear than the English.
We were invited to adjudicate a stake choir festival on Friday evening. There were five wards who participated. We were asked to compliment them on the good and give encouragement as to how they could improve. This was no small feat of diplomacy. It was held in a new stake center designed with a local plan and materials that save 60% of the cost of earlier stake centers here, which has allowed twice as many buildings to be planned. The goal is to have one owned building in each stake within two years. Due to the rapid growth many members meet in rented facilities. The best choir in the festival was revealed when the power went off and they had to sing a cappella in the dim emergency lighting. They did quite well!
We were able to shake hands with Presiding Bishop Causse during his visit this week to install a new Director of Temporal Affairs for West Africa. He is from Ghana but has been trained for this position in South Africa and Salt Lake over several years. It was exciting to see the transition to a local man who in this position has responsibilities in 7 countries.
We were delighted to hear of two other dear couples who received mission calls this week, one to California and the other to the Ukraine. Each will bring a lifetime of experience to their assignments.
We may be the only missionaries in the Church who will be on vacation for the month of July (due to the temple being closed for renovations). With permission from the Temple Department, we are leaving tonight for Italy where we will meet Neal, Candice, and kids for a few days and visit Elder and Sr. Ferrara in Florence. Then on to England and Scotland until the end of July. We have wanted to travel there for many years and were surprised that as missionaries we now have that opportunity. We are hoping to see where Spackmans and Hickens came from and will try to keep up the posts while on the move.
Departing Pres. and Sr. Curtis with their happy/sad faces on