We have officially passed the mid-point of our mission. Hard to wrap the mind around that thought. We are staying busy and learning much.
We had breakfast this morning with some of the most interesting people we have ever met (although we keep meeting more and more of those people). The Findlays are finishing their 20+ years as senior missionaries, most recently with the Humanitarian Services wheelchair project, and transitioning their responsibilities to the Christensens, who started as senior missionaries 10 years ago in the Congo. This is their third assignment. He is known as “commando” Christensen because of their experiences in the DRC during what is politely called “civil unrest”, but which included bullets flying in the streets outside their apartment. These two couples were accompanied by a younger woman who is a therapist and travels with the wheelchair project as a technical specialist & trainer.
This week we also met the Daltons who just came back to Ghana to the same MLS assignment in the same branch & district, and living in the same apartment, for the 3rd time. They were called on the phone and asked if they would consider returning to help establish a stake in that district, and they jumped at the opportunity. They are in a difficult place, under difficult physical circumstances, but they just love the people.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to visit with Pres. Assard and Bro. Affoué, who with their wives were the two founding families of the Church in Cote d’Ivoire in 1986. Each family was inspired to return to their home country from Germany and France to build up the church. Bro. Assard visited with Elder Joseph Wirthlin in Frankfort before returning and received a short list of people and addresses in Ivory Coast. He wrote to them all after arriving, but only Bro.Affoué replied and he thought that Bro. Assard must be French because of his last name. What he didn’t know is that Bro. Assard’s name had been changed by the French from Assa when he was in school. They found that they were both from the same tribe and lived in villages adjacent to each other. They started holding meetings immediately. Thirty years later there are 11 stakes and 10 districts, at last count. We pray for the announced temple in Abidjan, that they can break ground soon. Otherwise we won’t have room for them all in Accra.
We were able to watch General Conference yesterday and are waiting for the Priesthood Session to become available. Just before the first session I received a text and photo from a cousin who is an Area Seventy and attending the conference. They realized they were sitting next to our dear stake president from here, Anthony B. Quaisie, who was sustained as an Area Seventy in the afternoon session
On Wednesday a small group of Saints [3 couples and 2 single sisters] came from Liberia for their endowments and sealings. Two of the couples brought children with them. It is part of my responsibility to make sure the children are dressed completely in white and then accompany them to where their parents are waiting for the ordinance. I gave the 10 year old girl a choice between two long dresses. She was very excited about one of them and I could tell it made her feel special. After the ordinance was finished, she took my hand and asked me if when she came to the temple the next time, she could wear the same dress. Knowing [because of distance and expense] that she would not get here again for years, I replied “The next time you come, you will have your own beautiful dress”. She threw her arms around my waist and gave me a big hug.
Often, on week-ends, brides come to the temple grounds for pictures. It is a public service the church allows because the grounds and the building itself are probably the most beautiful in the city. This picture was taken out of our window yesterday.