As we write, many of you are just waking up to greet the first day of the New Year. We went out to celebrate last night with a large group of missionary couples at a Chinese restaurant nearby and enjoyed visiting and sharing stories after with a smaller group. The fireworks in the neighborhood at midnight were not visually impressive but they did go on for a long time! Tom remembers Chinese food for New Year’s Eve long ago when his parents drove the family 50 miles to Lethbridge to eat out. The special treat was dipping a fork in soy sauce and then in some toasted sesame seeds. Yum! It is interesting what we recall (and what we can’t) from our youth.
The Harmattan has been with us for about a week (see reference here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmattan). The weather has been noticeably cooler, with hazy skies that remind us of the late summer smoke from forest fires in the western US and Canada. The sunsets would be beautiful if we could see them through the haze…Dust collects on the cars outside overnight and sometimes as you drive. Running outside has been more pleasant - no negative respiratory effects so far. Sue has discovered the swimming pool next door and is doing water aerobics on the days that she is too tired to work out. Therapeutic!
The afternoon sun through the haze
We heard of new mission presidents and their assignments this week. The Clarks, who have been here as area auditors, are leaving early to go home to Texas and prepare for their 3 year calling in Liberia. Bret and JeaNette Smith will be going to the Dominican Republic for their assignment. He has served as president of the YSA Branch in Jacksonville since being released from the stake presidency. Both of these wonderful couples will be dealing with poverty, illiteracy and all the other challenges of developing countries.
We have heard of many other mission calls for friends: Charlie and Linda Redlin will be joining us here on their 2nd mission, Kathy Currit will be serving soon in the PCC in Hawaii, and Brian and Cindy Pitcher will be serving in the new Paris Temple in May. It is a wonderful time of life when we can serve in this way.
We are hoping to learn as much in 2017 as we have in the past year. Our Sacrament meeting this morning was a great start. The ward leaders and area leaders each took a few minutes to give a New Years message. These were the challenges: incorporating the pattern of 4 Nephi into our individual lives, becoming more peculiar, keeping the truths we know, seeking Jesus and following Him, understanding weaknesses and becoming more humble, rejoicing in what the Lord has provided, and being one. We love the people here and what they teach us.
Colorful blanket that we saw in a home
We haven’t completed our year-end review yet but did find that since coming to Ghana we have completed ordinances for 145 people in our family history, with another 21 to finish and 52 more to print and start. Our personal goals for this year are all included in the following scripture in D&C 136:
“And this shall be our covenant, that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord”.
May you have an “ interesting” new year.
The temple lights in the Harmattan haze