Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 26, 2017

When we were preparing to come to Ghana we were advised that this was a cash society.  A year ago it was a major event to get to the right ATM so we could get out enough cash to survive a couple of weeks.  However, we have found more and more grocery stores are accepting of credit cards and now can use them weekly on our provisioning trips. This is very convenient for record keeping.

We have commented in past blogs about the challenge of the young singles in this culture to marry, given the tradition of bride-price, etc.  Our ward conference today focused on the importance of celestial marriage, both preparing for and receiving the ordinance and also including God in the relationship.  Sacrament Meeting was longer than normal.  Our classroom was locked and by the time it was opened we were limited to 20 minutes, so my young singles explained to me the intricacies of dating and marriage in Ghana. It was fascinating to me to hear the difference in perspective between the women  and the men, both completely misunderstanding the other. It made me appreciate the necessity of honest communication even though it makes one vulnerable.

We are looking forward to General Conference next Saturday and Sunday.  We will get four sessions live (although that will be at 4pm and 8pm after working a full day at the temple). We will watch the Priesthood Session delayed because it is live at midnight. We were very moved by the talks in the Women’s Session which we listened to this afternoon. They will all be worth two or three re-readings.  Joe Junior will now have competition for his definition of “leaning”, at least in the church.

Next week-end is also when our friends from Rochester, the Redlins, arrive. They will be serving a humanitarian mission. We have become good friends with the Piersons who have been temple missionaries for a month.  They still call me Anne most of the time because they knew my older sister, but I think of it as a compliment.

We had a long day yesterday, but it was worth the effort to help the many groups and individuals who filled the temple and who also filled the temple grounds while waiting for their turn to enter.  Officially the temple closes at 3:30 pm on Saturday but the doors weren’t actually locked until almost 5 pm because of a late proxy sealing session officiated by our most elderly sealer.  He wanted to help a group who had come a long distance to do proxy work for their deceased family members and he just kept going.  

Blessings to you for the coming week!

A bus we saw recently.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 19, 2017

We’ve had some interesting experiences helping patrons with their ordinances.  We had a woman who came wanting to do her mother’s work.  Her mother was one of the earliest baptisms in the church in Ghana.  Record-keeping in those days was spotty so when she wanted to come to the temple the records couldn’t be found and it took some time to get that straightened out.  Eventually she had her recommend, but two days before the planned trip (they live 4 hours away), she passed away unexpectedly.  That was two months ago.  The family had requested and received permission from the 1st Presidency to have her ordinances done.  However, when the daughter came a week ago on Saturday we couldn’t figure out how to print the ordinance card.  Church headquarters being 7 hours behind GST that day, we also couldn't find anyone who knew the solution.  

I was assigned to follow up and late on Tuesday afternoon was able to connect with the right folks in Salt Lake.  They quickly printed the card there, and then emailed it to the temple president.  The daughter was back yesterday and shared her joyful, tearful, thankful smile after having completed her mother’s ordinances.

Another concern was a brother from Ivory Coast who wanted to be sealed to his new wife.  In scheduling that event, the computer reminded us that he needed a permission letter from the 1st Presidency since he had been sealed to his first wife and there was no death recorded.  In discussing that with Pres. Assard he said, “Oh, I know him.  His first wife died.”  Death is more common than divorce as a source of remarriage in the church here.

Another man with the group from Ivory Coast asked me this week if his son could be sealed to his wife and himself.  His son was to be endowed that day.  I replied that I thought they would still need a recommend for an ordinance for a living person signed by the stake president and the bishop.  I knew that the stake president was with the group but I didn’t know about the bishop.  The brother replied that getting the recommend wouldn't be a problem, since I was already looking at the bishop!   

One of our concerns is making sure, as much as possible, that people who travel long distances to receive temple ordinances qualify for and already have the appropriate recommend needed.  I have seen a couple of instances when good people who haven't yet been in the church for at least a year have come with recommends.  It’s very sad for them and for us when we can’t proceed with the ordinances because of leaders’ errors.  That is one of the challenges of rapid growth - training leaders who haven’t had much time to absorb all that they need to know and who aren’t naturally inclined to read the handbooks carefully.

With a wonderful group of saints from Ivory Coast, on the temple steps.  Happy and tired and ready to go home.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 12, 2017 - A Walk in the Park

Last Monday was the 60th anniversary of Ghana Independence Day.  The Grahams invited us on a short road trip to visit the Aburi Botanical Gardens and we enjoyed the outing.  About an hour north of Accra the road climbs up into some high hills, with views of the countryside.  We followed the directions of the GPS and of course ended up out in the middle of nowhere, which was Sue’s favorite part - no people, no garbage, no city.  It was very beautiful and lush.

Eventually we did find the garden, which was opened during the colonial era about 125 years ago and has mostly trees and bushes of various types.  There are also some “restaurants” in the park.  We encountered several groups of people who were dancing, singing, praying, and eating as part of their celebrations.

 Two huge roots

Note what is available at the restaurant.  I've never actually had gizzard sauce on the continent...  The women are preparing to set up food for sale.

This man is pounding cassava to make banku, a local staple.  On the right is a cocoa pod.  They grow from the little flowers that you can see on the trunk.

Monday evening while we were doing a load of laundry, the washer didn't turn off (failed solenoid) and sent a stream onto the floor and down the hall before it was discovered.  Obviously the drain was not the lowest point in the room.  These are high class sweepers and moppers:  Elder Pierson & Tom on the left and Pres. Antwi & Sr. Pierson on the right.  It only took about 15 minutes to clean up.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Welcome to March

It was a good week for our new roles in the temple. The load was light.  Nevertheless, things went smoothly.  As Pres. Assard said, “Il n’y avait pas de sable dans la boîte à vitesse”.  (Translation: there wasn’t any sand in the transmission).  He was an engineer for Mercedes-Benz in Germany before resigning to return to Ivory Coast many years ago to share the gospel message in his homeland.

Tom caught a cold and missed a day and a half in the temple trying to get better.  Since it was a head cold, the most likely pathogen was the rhinovirus.  It is among the smallest of viruses and with 99 recognized human types it has been very difficult to create a vaccine.  Given that we are in Africa, he decided that this must be an African rhinovirus, or with a bit of editing, an African Rhino virus.  That sounds much more exotic than the common cold, but it isn’t.

As we have explained in the past, one of our joys is helping young missionaries in the MTC help navigate the website to prepare names of deceased parents or siblings for proxy work in the temple.  This week, Tom was able to help one of the office workers in the temple.  Her father’s death had not been properly recorded in church records and she fussed that it had made it difficult to navigate the program and perform some of his work.  As they talked about that, he said, “Let’s take a look”, so she logged on to her account to check her father’s information.  His death date was recorded there and it said he had temple work which could be done.  With a few mouse clicks, she was able to print out the slip with his name so that she could have him sealed to his parents.  A simple bit of serendipity perhaps, but she had a big smile when she left the office.

One of the senior missionary couples who teach temple preparation classes brought 5 people with whom they had been working to the temple yesterday to receive their own ordinances. One of them was a young blind man.  It was heart-warming to see how he was carefully guided about by different people in the process. There is a blind woman who attends  the temple 2-3 times every month. She is very faithful and happy to be there. It makes one wonder if what we see in the temple has anything to do with physical eyes.

Sue had a scare this week when her CPAP machine quit blowing air. She has used it four years and during one sleepless night was panicked about oxygen getting to her heart. Elder Pierson [Mr. Fix-it] and Tom took the machine apart and figured out that the machine was fine but the plastic ribbing supporting the hose was broken, and this allowed the hose to twist and cut off the air flow. They used some medical tape from our first aid kit to fix it.  What  a great relief it was for her to sleep 8 hours last night.

Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of Ghanaian independence from Britain. There will be many celebrations throughout the country with fireworks in the evening. We will most likely not leave the compound but have a quiet day near the pool.  Welcome to March! 1/6 of 2017 is already over.