Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dec. 10, 2017

Last week we talked about getting our pictures taken to renew our passports.  We had our appointment at the embassy this week.  After finding the huge building (there aren’t signs to get you there) we struggled to find a place to park.  The visitor parking lot is under construction so we were told to park on the street, and found a place far away near a construction site.  After arriving at the correct entry, we were immediately told we had to take Sue’s purse and our cellphones back to the car.  I guess we should have read somewhere that they weren’t allowed…Then after getting through security we found our way to the correct person who shortly told us our photographs could not be scanned and that we should go to one of the photo “shops” nearby.  Which we did.  Another walk in the hot sun…Actually the shop we found was in a tent by the side of the road and looked more flakey than where we got our original photos (and cost twice as much).  But they could be scanned when we took them back.  Overall, once you get past the feeling that you are trying to enter a facility that doesn’t want you to get in, the people we interacted with were very pleasant.  And we should have the passports in a couple of weeks.  No pictures on this one - of course, they are not allowed!

The Harmattan has officially arrived - the dust clouds from the Sahara - so it must be Christmas!  Red sunrises and sunsets for the foreseeable future, with red dust everywhere and occasional difficulty breathing outside.  

Our Christmas decorations are up.  We found an 18"bare tree left in the cupboard  It is decorated with buttons from the fabric store and a wooden star from the grocery store.We bought this hand carved Nativity last spring because of the facial expressions and eyebrows of the people.  It is so  African and is one of the few things that we will bring home.

We also had our annual Christmas Devotional for temple workers yesterday.  Everyone dressed up, with the women being the most colorful.  

 Elder and Sr. Pierson, Rosine, and Sue.  Rosine is a friend from Benin and a returned missionary who came to Ghana to learn English and participate in Pathway.  She supports herself as a street vendor.

The choir sang 5 traditional songs: Tsie! Abofo Ndze Deedew N' (Listen to the Voice of the Angels), Yeye Ahene Baasa (Three Wise Men), and others, ending with Afrenhyiapa, (translated as Happy New Year, but literally means "I wish you a good meeting of the year", i.e. the year has gone full cycle).  There were wonderful comments by the temple leadership couples and lots of carols, some presents (a carry bag with a kilo of rice and a liter of oil) and a meat pie and drink for the ride home in the trotro.

Tom accompanying the choir

Bro. Atto Brown, our very talented conductor.  His wife and mother were both buried last week.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dec 3, 2017

It is already December and the wonderful Christmas Season.  We are so grateful for a computer which allows us to listen to the music which we love so dearly.  John Rutter is my favorite composer of the last 50 years.  His creations, Candlelight Carol and Wexford Carol flood me with emotion.  I remember other pieces,  Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming, In the Bleak Midwinter and O Come, O Come Emmanuel and can understand why Good Christian Men Rejoice.  Tom and I listened this morning to Messiah with the London Symphony, Sir Colin Davies conducting.  It was the most appropriate way to begin our Sabbath. We hope you all have access to the inspiring music of the season.

It is always humbling to hear what people here are grateful for. A brother this morning referred to his fear of Christmas and New Years. Many leave the city during this time to visit their childhood village homes in the bush.  He said the roads are so bad that there are always many accidents and deaths. His wish for all the congregation was the blessing of living through this time. Another said, “This is all I have to eat.  What will I eat tomorrow?” In his mind, his response was to be thankful you are still alive. He concluded with “For me and my household, we have lived through this year".  Another testified that he knew that eventually all would be well.

I am grateful that my brother Jack, has lived through quadruple bi-pass surgery and is beginning the road to recovery. As I walked around the temple one evening, I was trying to imagine my world without Jack. I could not. He has had an immense impact on my life and I am relieved that he may be with us several more years.

We need to renew our passports to have enough pages for some planned travel on our way home next year.  This was our visit to the local passport photo vendor.  He also carries a lot of textbooks and other school supplies because of the high school nearby.  On the right, you have his studio, with the bench in front of the white background for the photos, next to the motorcycle.  And just behind, next door, is the "shoemaker" who repaired my dress shoes with a couple of stitches and fixed a loose strap on one of Sue's shoes.  Their prices are very reasonable!

We were most interested in the #LighttheWorld campaign ( ) encouraging service and giving in new ways each day of the season.  We especially liked the vending machine in the JS Memorial Building in Salt Lake where one can donate to buy a goat or chickens or eyeglasses through NGOs and other charities around the world.

These are wonderful opportunities to share and serve if you are looking for ideas.  We should also remember that sometimes those in greatest need of a kind word or deed are next door or across the street.