Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 28, 2017

It was a very busy week, starting with temple visitors from Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  We love meeting the saints that come from all over West Africa.  It did get a little tricky when we had a couple of women who spoke only their tribal language; fortunately there were a two other women in their group who could translate for them.  Later in the week we had a lot of patrons from Cape Coast, with several who spoke Twi or Fante and not much English.  This is a wonderful place for a polyglot.  Unfortunately we speak only a couple of languages, with a few other foreign words to add in.  Our new temple recorder reminded us that he speaks ten languages.  Wow!

An unusual thing happened this week.  We had a couple who came to the temple to be sealed, (to follow her endowment).  They arrived late (compared to their appointment time) and after getting their records checked they decided that they needed to go out for lunch.  Eventually they returned and received all the planned ordinances, but much later than originally planned.  Schedules and planning are a foreign concept for people who don’t pay a lot of attention to clocks.  That’s not a bad thing, unless you come too late or can’t stay overnight because the housing is full and you didn’t make a reservation.  

The temple was very busy yesterday.  There were so many patrons that we had to hold two simultaneous proxy sealing sessions (thanks to the two sealers who came in) to accommodate those who couldn’t attend the already full endowment sessions.  If I have time, I’m going to actually count the number of patrons in the temple at once on that kind of day.  It is my impression that every space is filled: ordinance rooms, dressing rooms, offices, foyer, waiting room, baptistry, and more outside the door waiting to come in.  We dream of having a chapel or another waiting room or more space to accommodate the patrons, but eventually (3-4 years?) the temple in Ivory Coast will be built and that will ease the pressure - perhaps. It is a wonderful challenge to have!

Our ward has had a very supportive relationship with the New Horizons School, through some involved members who volunteer there.  This is a private facility to educate and work with the less-abled young and older children in Accra.  There is no government-sponsored special education in the country.  We held a program in our stake center yesterday to recognize the families and teachers who work with them.  The students and others performed, with songs & dance, etc.  The founder, who is now 88 years old, was in attendance and received special recognition for her pioneering efforts that began 66 years ago with her oldest child.  She formed a cooperative group to help educate and care for their children, some whom are now senior citizens.  It was a wonderful, noisy, happy event.

In other news, you may have seen the report of Elder Bednar’s visit to West Africa.  He is the first apostle to visit Senegal, Mali, and Gambia, where the church is in beginning phases.  The report (with great pictures) can be found here: .

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21, 2017 Good Things

We had an unusual experience Friday night.  A family was being sealed following the endowments of the parents.  The children were ages 5, 3, and 1 and were staying in the Ancillary Building (where there is a play area) with someone from their group watching over them.  A temple worker called over and asked that they be brought to the temple to be dressed in white so they could go to the sealing room at the appropriate time.  A man brought four children to the temple and dropped them in the waiting room.  One, a small boy, was really wailing.  Eventually the five year old sister confirmed that he was not part of the family and he was retrieved.  The calm of the temple was restored.  We joked that he was screaming because he had been kidnapped!

Sue was dressing a one year old for a family sealing while his two older sisters were dressing themselves.  He gave her a big smile and started to babble, telling her a story and actually giggling.  He is the first child who has come to the temple who was not afraid of her white skin.  She almost always has a Ghanaian temple worker with her who is the “correct” color and speaks a tribal language.
This morning we met with the Christiansborg Ward at their building, because another stake was using our building for their conference.  The church is growing so fast here that every stake does not have their own building.  Sue was planning on having a holiday from teaching her single adult class.  She had looked at the topic (Sabbath Day) and remembered the conference talk from Elder Nelson in 2015 (The Sabbath:A Delight).  It was a talk that had made a difference to her perspective on honoring the Sabbath.  During the week she listened to it.  Then she remembered that she would not be teaching this week.  Today during the Sacrament she had the impression that she would be teaching today and accessed the talk on the iPad.  She wrote down the 3 scriptures used (D&C 59:9, Ezekiel 20:12, and Isaiah 58:13-14).  When the last speaker concluded, the representative of the YSA leaned over and asked if she could teach today.  She responded that she would be happy to, and had over 40 in her class.  She was grateful for the Lord’s tender mercies this week.

Thanks to the temple department, this week we received the keys to a new Honda Civic which will be shared between the Piersons and ourselves.  This will really help to do the shopping and for other short excursions.  Mentally it is a big change: feeling less confined to the compound.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017 Happy Mother's Day

I have been thinking about nurturing and mothering this week.  I remember little about my mother because she died when I was in my early teens, but I do remember that she was always happy. She did not have an easy life with my father either gone churching or working most of the time. She felt it an honor that the Lord would ask him to serve and never complained about him being gone and leaving her with most of the responsibilities of home.  For many years I have identified with her, although I never knew her as an adult.  It will be marvelous when we can share our stories with each other.

Mother’s Day is actually celebrated in Africa. One of the temple workers explained that if people can afford it, they take their mothers out to dinner. I think the women here may be the hardest working I have ever seen.  I have included two pictures of women doing their jobs with their babies on their backs. One works on the grounds of the area presidents’ condo. She starts before sunrise and sweeps all the walkways clear of leaves and dirt.  She always has her child on her back. 

The other is from the bead factory and works all day making glass beads and stringing them.  The children are happiest with their mothers and are most comfortable carried this way.

This morning in Sacrament meeting, one of the  speakers referred to studies correlating  students' success among the 10,000 in the school district where he served for 16 years.  There were only two factors that the students had in common: how much their parents spoke to them and what words they heard, and secondly how much they had been read to.  I pay tribute to my daughter and daughters-in-law who may produce the smartest grand children of the generation because of their verbal communication with their children and reading to them every day of their lives.

The primary from our ward came to RS to sing to us today.  They are holding pictures of mothers, kneeling with their children to pray. 

Note the age of the conductor. He was pretty cute.

Hope you all had a wonderful day and remembered your mothers!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017 Musings

I was fascinated by an article a couple of weeks ago that talked about why cats like boxes, and why they will sometimes be very content to stay put in a circle done on the floor.  It has to do with the presence in a litter of other kitten bodies all pressed together in a confined space, and the release of endorphins related to their safety, contentment, etc.

It reminded me of my freshman year at BYU when I would occasionally find a chalk circle around the statue of Karl G. Maeser outside the science building (it has since been moved), placed there as a joke of sorts to remind everyone of what he had once said about honor.  “Place me behind prison walls - walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground - there is a possibility that in some way or other I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it.  Can I get out of the circle?  No, never!  I’d die first.”  I am told that when the statue was moved there wasn’t a chalk circle around it, so he didn’t have to break his word.

Boundaries are interesting.  They are very useful for defining where one thing ends and another  begins, like countries, acceptable behavior, oil and water, etc. etc.  We find them comforting sometimes, like the kitty, even though they are mostly imaginary.  They give us a feeling of security and contentment.  But they can also be confining, as when we define ourselves as less than we really are, or when we put people on the other side of a boundary and define them as “other”.  

Those who are willing to cross a boundary into another country or culture learn many new things which can be stimulating, interesting, and enriching to our own sense of identity and purpose.  But in that crossing we also run the risk of being changed in unpredictable ways.  We had an interesting discussion last night with other Canadian expats who decided to stay in the U.S., eventually.  What was once home became instead a place of wonderful memories, and what was once different became home.

It would be healthy for all who are living comfortably at home to spend time in a third world country.  Yes, you run the risk of having to deal with those in poverty, or without education, or with a different worldview.  But the potential blessings of gratitude, service, greater understanding, and love of others is well worth the risk.  And if you are possibly thinking about serving a mission, prepare now.  If possible, pray about it and then send in your application.  There’s a big world out there, and kitty needs to get outside the box.