Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27, 2016

Dear Friends,

This will be a very short post.  I am leaving in 20 minutes to accompany an injured missionary home to Salt Lake.  He was in a car accident 2 days ago and will need surgery which will be best done there.  It is an unexpected opportunity for service outside the temple but I'm looking forward to it even though I will have only a few hours in Salt Lake before turning around.  We aren't sure if we will post again before September.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 21, 2016

There were several medical events this week in which Tom was involved because the patients were all Francophones and the Area Medical Advisor doesn’t speak French.  A brother’s wife was ill with stomach pains, so they were asked to come (slowly) to the Area office where there is a small exam room.  She had been told she had “ulcers” in the past (but apparently a lot of people get that diagnosis locally without any evidence to support it).  She also had a fever, had thrown up (no blood), and the pain was going into her back.  Her temp was 38.5 C, mid/upper abdominal tenderness but no guarding or rebound.  Normal bowel sounds.  We were able to do a spot test for malaria which was negative.  We had a working differential diagnosis of GI flu versus gallstones, with an outside chance of early pancreatitis.  What to do?  The labs used locally were closed by then and the hospital would be too expensive (no option for a WBC count or amylase or ultrasound).  We loaded her up with antacids and an H1 blocker, and added a pain killer with instructions to take her to the hospital if things got a lot worse overnight.  The next day she was much better.  Another young sister fainted in the temple after a session.  Without any other signs or symptoms and a brief exam, she was advised to go back to the Ancillary building to rest and take some fluids.  She did another session later the same day.  The AMA saw some other patients from the group and did diagnose one case of malaria.

A local church leader from Kumasi, the only member in his family, went home last Saturday for the funeral of his older brother.  Funerals are a big event in Ghana.  Sometimes the deceased are kept in a cooler for months while the family saves up enough for the traditional events.  As part of the ceremonies for this family, the men remove their shirts and go bare-chested.  In order to avoid having to do that, because of the garment, he decided to wear a jumpsuit.  When he arrived, he was kidded about wearing a jumpsuit like the first Ghanaian president (Nkrumah) liked to do, but he didn’t go bare-chested.  The next morning he decided to slip in to the local stake conference, where Elder Bednar was speaking.  He was recognised by someone on the stand, invited to sit there, and later in the meeting was asked by the Area President to speak spontaneously on “tradition versus the gospel”.  He had some wonderful things to say about his own experience. 

As part of the Africa Wide Day of Service yesterday, our ward went to a local school for handicapped children to do some general cleaning.  There are no government-provided services for the handicapped in Ghana so this is a private school.  Children are currently out for summer vacation until Sept. 5.  We were provided the famous yellow Helping Hands vests and did a lot of sweeping of rooms, dusting, washing windows, mowing lawns, etc.  Although by the time school starts again there will probably be more dust and leaves to gather up, we did expend lots of energy and felt it was a much cleaner place when we left.  On our way home we passed another group in yellow vests cleaning up a roundabout.

Tom was working in the temple one evening when the proxy presented a deceased name of Anna -with a distinctly Ukrainian family name - who was born in 1908 in Alberta.  Her parents would have been in the first wave of Ukrainian immigrants to Canada.  How that name came to the Accra Temple is a mystery (neither of us has seen temple file names from Alberta before) but Tom felt that she was present in spirit to be a part of that ordinance, and that he was privileged to participate, being one of the few here who would have any connection to her name. 

Sue recently concluded the washings and anointing  for 2 women on the Proctor line from 1688. Friday evening we were in a Temple Sealing  with Elder Nash from the AWA Presidency.  At the altar, I could feel those women saying thank you . It is with deep humility that we participate in the Lord’s work.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

August 14, 2016

There were some days this week that Sue felt so tired at the end of the shift that she didn’t think she could walk the 100 feet from the temple to our apartment.  Tuesday and Wednesday were very busy days with many missionaries receiving their own ordinances.  We also had a stake here from Ivory Coast.  A new 7 AM session was added every day and will continue indefinitely to accommodate all the patrons.

Monday at Home Evening for the senior missionaries we welcomed Elder and Sr. Nash, the new counselor in the area presidency, and the Jones from Calgary, who are serving in the Accra Mission.  We also said farewell to the Ridges, who are concluding their 4th mission and were assigned to the Pathway program.  For the activity we played temple quiz trivia, and were surprised to win since we didn’t know how many temples were in Mexico (11), the order of the five temples built in Australia, or the smallest temple (Colonia Juarez, Mexico).   We didn’t even know the 99th temple, dedicated in 1999, which is just off Highway 99 (that would be Fresno, CA).  You get the gist…

We did catch a bit of the Olympics on the big screen in the temple president’s apartment - men’s gymnastics and dressage.  Tom decided he is in training for the 2020 Senior 
Olympics.  He wants to compete in power napping (has that sport been approved yet?).  

Today we were invited to help at the MTC.  Every third Sunday the couple in charge of Family History travels there to help the missionaries enter information and request ordinances for their own family members who are deceased.  It is surprising to us how many are orphans, or have had one parent die and have been raised by relatives.  Many are also the only members in their family.  We had access to ten laptops and were very busy for about 90 minutes as they clustered around to set up their own accounts, enter their information, and reserve the ordinances.  About 25 French-speaking elders and sisters were there and Tom was the only senior missionary who spoke French and knew enough to help them.  They will bring these names to the temple on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Several will be sealed to deceased parents, which is always a sweet experience to witness.  

Elder Bednar is in West Africa this weekend, visiting Nigeria, speaking to the Youth, at the MTC, to all missionaries in the area, and also to Young Singles.  Some meetings will be broadcast within the Area.  We are not sure we will hear him speak due to our work schedule, but everyone is excited that he is here.  It sounds like an exhausting schedule, but sweet is the work...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

August 7, 2016

We knew we were really back in Africa when we attended a class taught by the 2nd counselor in our bishopric about self-reliance.  His first question was, “How do we prepare for famine?”  The second, “How do you earn money when you don’t have a job?”, and the third: ”How do we prepare for disruptions during the elections?”  (Ghana has a national election this fall.)  This brother had his own definition of wants and needs.  A need was something that your life depended on: enough clean water, enough food, and clothes on your back.  He continued to tell us that he has three white shirts and doesn’t need any more.  I will never look at this man the same way again.

Two stakes from Ivory Coast, about 200 people, attended the temple Tuesday through Friday.  They came on four huge buses and arrived after nine hours of travel.  The Ancillary Building accommodations were full, with overflow to the stake center - 80 mattresses on the cultural hall floor - and an additional 28 beds booked in a nearby hotel.  The Ivoiriens bring food, cooking pots, some bedding, and everything they might need while here.  They cook in a huge kitchen on the 2nd floor of our building.  We hear doors closing around 5 AM as they begin preparations for the day.  The temple began holding 7 AM sessions every day to help accommodate them and this will continue indefinitely.  Almost every session was full and overflowing (50 patrons with 10 folding chairs added).  We were delighted to work with these wonderful committed people, their leaders, and their prepared workers.

It is good to be in a routine again.  Sue taught the Sisters Scripture Study group on Monday morning.  Her lesson was based around D&C 88:78, 79, &118 and this quote from Brigham Young: “The object of our mortal existence is to learn”.  She referred to many of Elder Bednar’s ideas from his two talks “Learning to Love Learning” and “Learning by Study and By Faith”.

During the sealing session on Friday evening, the sealer commented on an experience at the recent YSA Conference when a young adult complimented him on holding hands with his wife throughout the meeting.  The sealer wondered what this young man would think if he could see the sealing room full of elderly couple missionaries holding hands.  We have never thought of ourselves before as elderly but after checking the definition and looking in the mirror, we qualify.   

I posted this sign we saw last week in Scotland but didn’t comment.  I think the original meaning was that the driver should be aware of elderly people walking nearby.  My meaning is “Look out!  These elderly people can do great things!”   Many of the senior missionaries here are between 70 and 80 and are very effective in their assignments.  If you, dear reader, are old enough to serve as a senior missionary, please give it prayerful consideration.  It may be the greatest experience of your retirement.  If you are still too young, plan for one or more missions when you have grown “a foot or two”!  We are blessed to be here.

ps. We love the flowers we found in Great Britain!