Saturday, December 28, 2013

If it's Saturday, there must be a baptism!

Baptisms at the Duala District Center 

Here I am in the hall with our Bushrod Island District missionaries before the baptism.
L to R - Elders Guymon, Bangura, Erickson, Zaugg, me, Zolo, Montgomery, Fairwell, Pearmain, Humpherys, Gunnell, and Backman.  

I had just handed out the Christmas cards and candy our family had sent for the missionaries.  Of course the package containing the candy that was mailed clear back in November didn't arrive till after Christmas, but I think the missionaries were still pleased to get them.

11 people were baptized today.  Some members along with three of our missionaries did the baptizing.
See the three with name tags?  They are -  Front - Elders Humpherys, and Price.  
Back - Elder Montgomery.

Hotel Africa

Received this picture from our grandson Blake.  You can see a boy on a surfboard with a giant wave in front of him.  It says -
"I love you to the people in Africa."

This is just how we feel - We love the people in Africa, too!

The day after Christmas we took a 'field trip' with Elder and Sister Hezseltine and drove to what was once the Hotel Africa.  The road leading to the hotel had been a nicely paved 2 lane road with an island and lights down the middle.  Now though, you can only drive on one side of the road, the lights no longer work, and the road is in disrepair.

Sign at the entrance to the hotel grounds.

(The following information about the hotel is taken from the website 'FayzFiles from Liberia')

At one time the Hotel Africa was a 5-star hotel.  It was built for a large Pan-African Conference in the mid-80's.  There were 50 separate villas for each head of state.  

The hotel continued in service right up to the l990's but then the war began and eventually the hotel was looted and has laid in ruins ever since.

The pool was built in the shape of the map of Africa.  We thought this looked like it might be a bar built into the pool where people could be served drinks while still in the water.

View from what was once the hot tub back to the hotel.
It must have been a beautiful hotel when it opened and it is still a very solid structure.

Some local boys walked with us around the hotel ruins.  Elder Berrett asked them what these markings were on their necks and arms.  They told us their fathers' had drawn them to keep away snakes. We asked where they see snakes and they pointed all around us.  I thought to myself,  "There's snakes around here?!  Do I need some stars on my neck??"

We couldn't resist a walk on the beautiful beach.  Even found some sea glass to add to our collection.

Down the beach from the hotel were these fishing boats.  It was interesting to watch them put the boats into the water.  The boats were made of hollowed out logs.

Also close to the hotel was an 18 hole golf course.  Elder Berrett had to check it out.  It's $15 to play and $10 to rent clubs.  Instead of 'greens' they have 'browns'.  Here they are showing us how they smooth the dirt out before you try and putt your ball into the hole.

I have a feeling we'll be coming back for a return visit to the Hotel Africa.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas in Liberia - 2013

Spent Christmas Eve at Ryan and Shannon Busby's.  He's in the country working for Chevron Oil.  She teaches music at the international school. What a feast we had!!  Best meal yet in Liberia.  So much food and it was all good!!  Thanks for such a nice night.

L to R - Back - you can barely see Elder and Sister Miles' faces, Shannon and Ryan Busby, Alex Deressa (Pediatrician from Ethiopia), Shelia (a teacher at Shannon's school), Sister and Elder Miles
Front - Yvonne (Gynecologist from Liberia), Elder Berrett, Sister Hezseltin, Sister Berrett, Godwin and his parents, Brother and Sister Turgboh

all the Senior Couples met at the Mission Home for a wonderful lunch, fun games, puzzle building, and much laughter.  We were all far from home, but being with everyone made for an enjoyable day.

Front - L to R - Elder and Sister Miles AND the other Sister and Elder Miles
(Elder and Elder Miles are brothers)
Back - Elder and Sister Berrett, President and Sister Kirkham, Sister Hezseltine
(Elder Hezseltine was home ill. )

Before Christmas - as we visited the missionaries, we noticed several of them had fun paper Christmas trees that their families had sent them.  Here's Elder Witehira with his tree.

Here's Elder Gunnell and his Christmas tree.  Each ornament has a picture of a family member.

The Elders in the Logan Town apartments hung their stockings with care.  

The Logan Town Elders made Elder Berrett and I this giant Christmas card.  They each wrote us a note and wished us a Merry Christmas.  The fact that they took time to remember us, meant a lot to us.

This is a picture of a giant Christmas tree on Bushrod Island.  This tree gets put up each Christmas.  Since we're not out much at night, we aren't sure if it lights up or not.  Funny to see this big tree right in the middle of all the traffic.

We were told that the children in Liberia really don't worry about Santa Claus.  For Christmas they get new clothes.  Christmas day, they visit family members who give them money, which they then take to the stores to do some shopping.  As we traveled home from the Mission Home on Christmas, we saw the streets crowded with young people all decked out in their new clothes, going from shop to shop.  Then the evening is when the adults go out and celebrate.  Think we'll be staying in tonight!

We're still amazed when we realize that we're celebrating Christmas in Liberia - Africa!  It was different, but still good.  We love you all and feel of your prayers in our behalf.

Friday, December 20, 2013

We wish you a Merry Christmas….

Hard to believe we're in Liberia, Africa for Christmas!  It doesn't even feel like Christmas to us yet.  Maybe because there's no snow.  Maybe because it's so hot and humid.  Maybe because it's come so quickly.  Maybe because we're not with you.  :(  

We're well and happy (Really!  We are!).  And grateful for this opportunity to serve our Heavenly Father and the wonderful people of Liberia.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and the Best New Year yet!
Love to you all  -
Elder and Sister Berrett
Denney and Lorene
Mom and Dad
Grandma and Grandpa

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Zone Conference for Bushrod Island Missionaries

Logan Town and Doe Community Districts
Front - Elders Humpherys and Zaugg
Back - Elders Gunnell, Guymon, Backman, Erickson, Obeng-Poku, Khasiahi

New Kru Town and Point 4 Districts
Front - Sisters Iwenofu, Addo, Nyamekye, Okeke
Back - Elders Pearmain, Fairwell, Price, Manqana

Banjor District
Elders Bowring, Freeman, Inyang, Enwukweri

Brewerville District
Elders Cooper, Montgomery, Marondera, Bosomtwe

Duala District
Elders Nakale, Ideh, Anderson, Egbu

Caldwell District
Front - Elder Tolar
Back - Elders Jensen, Godi, Falemai

Caldwell New Georgia District
Elders Bangura, Zolo, Sekirime, Ngobi

Upper Caldwell District
Elders Jemba, Osayi, Witehira, Conners

 President and Sister Kirkham gave each Elder a new pair of socks.  The Sisters got fans and wash cloths. And they all got a phone card to use to call home on Christmas.
Here's Elders Backman and Erickson enjoying their new Christmas socks.

The first day of Conference was a 'fun' day.  We played games and enjoyed the talents of the missionaries. For lunch we had great sandwiches from Stop and Shop, real corn chips, and bottles of soda.  Sister Hezseltine and I made homemade treats for dessert.

The second day was a more spiritual day.  Elder Berrett and I did a presentation on 'Eyes up - Do the Work'.  The AP's and President and Sister Kirkham also did presentations.  We had African food for lunch.  It was good, but I think I still enjoy American better!

I loved being able to look around the room and know the names of everyone of the missionaries.  Made me a little teary eyed to realize how far away from home we all are but how happy everyone is to be in Liberia serving their Heavenly Father and sharing the gospel with the good people here.  We love these missionaries and are grateful to be serving with them.  We know they will have an amazing Christmas.


Elders Fairwell and Pearmain for the wonderful banana bread they made for us.  It really was good!  Can you see on the wrapping paper where they've written 'Mice Keep Out'? We're glad the mice could read and we were able to enjoy the bread instead of them.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stop and Shop

There's actually a store here in Monrovia called 'Stop and Shop' BUT you can also stop and shop when you pull up to a red light!

Vendors walk between the cars selling anything from boxes of kleenex, windshield wipers, dog leashes - which is interesting because I've never seen anyone here walk a dog - to water, or as they say 'wata', in sachets - which are like sandwich sized plastic bags filled with water.
Look down this row of cars and you can see 3 different vendors.
 They really have to watch the traffic and lights so that they can get back to the side of the road when the light turns green.

Here's a young boy selling cookies or what they call 'biscuits'.  Elder Berrett and I buy a biscuit every Wednesday on our way to teach our Marriage Prep Class.  

These biscuits cost 20 Liberian Dollars.  That makes them about $.25 US.  They are not as sweet as a cookie but really quite good.

Why you can even buy a Christmas tree - already decorated - while you sit in you car at a red light.  Talk about convenient!  Who wouldn't want one of these beautifully decorated trees?  This could really make Christmas shopping so much easier - you could do it all from the convenience of your car.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

100 Days in Liberia

Can you believe it!!

  It's been 100 days since our family and friends wished us good luck and sent us on our way to Liberia.

We've now been in Liberia for parts of 5 different months now!!

We arrived at the Robert's Airport on August 28, 2013.  Tired and scared to 
death.  But, since then we have learned much…..

We've learned that there are only two seasons in Liberia -  the 'Rainy Season' and  the 'Dry Season'.
Here I am learning about the Rainy Season by stepping in mud up to my ankles as we made our way into church.  We are now in the Dry Season which started on October 15 and is very hot and humid. 

We've learned you can go to church in the humblest of circumstances, like in our Logan Town Branch, and still feel the spirit.  

We've learned that Liberian children don't need fancy toys to play with.  They can make cars they pull around on a string, from an empty oil can for the body and 4 small cans for the wheels. 

We've learned that any patch of dirt can be a football (soccer) pitch and that you don't even need shoes to play or a ball with air in it.

We learned that we love the children and….

the missionaries.
(Elders Skouson and Pentreath - the AP's)

We've learned that Liberian missionaries are true 'Warriors' - serving under hard conditions.  We greatly admire their dedication and examples.

We've learned that we love the ocean no matter what country we're in.

We've learned that we like to eat barracuda.  It's one ugly fish, but it sure tastes good. 
No, Elder Miles and Elder Berrett did NOT catch the fish. They bought it from a 'fish market' on the side of the road.  Quite the experience but because...
we've learned that you never pay the full asking price, they were able to make a fair deal.  


We've learned that there's a girl who works at Monroe Chicken whose name is the same as mine, just spelled a little differently. (Monroe Chicken is a fast food restaurant similar to Kentucky Fried Chicken.)

We've learned there's no fresh milk here.  It comes in a box that you can store on a shelf.  And that if it's cold, it's not too bad. 

We've learned that you can't trust the butcher at Harbel's when he tells you, "Yes, those are hamburger patties."  We have no idea what it 'really' was except it was NOT hamburger!

We've learned that you don't have to have a 'real' Christmas tree for Christmas.
(Got this idea from Elder Ngobi's Christmas tie.)
We've learned that we're not missing the snow for Christmas.

We've learned that we like being missionary companions.

We've learned all this and a lot more.  But probably the biggest things we've learned is we better enjoy this time and work hard because it's going by so quickly.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Are you aware?

Last Tuesday we got a call from Elder Humpherys telling us the sealant the dentist had put on his chipped tooth two weeks earlier had fallen off.  So back to the dentist we went on Wednesday morning.  We checked in with the receptionist and sat down to wait.  We had been waiting for just a few minutes when in walks Dr. Neal, the dentist.  He recognizes me and asks, "Do you have someone here to see me?"  I tell him, "Yes, a returning patient."  He says, "Wednesday is my day off.  I usually teach at the University, but they are closed today.  I just stopped by the office for a minute, but I will see him."

Really?  Why hadn't the receptionist told me he wasn't in?  That it was his day off?   Dr. Neal has Elder Humpherys come right in and again fixes his tooth.  I'd been nervous to ask the cost, even though I knew we shouldn't be charged again.  So when Dr. Neal tells me, "No charge",  I was relived.

As he walked out of the dentist's office, into the waiting room, Elder Humpherys looks at his companion, Elder Zaugg, and says, "Miracle number 3!"  Come to find out they had been given rides to the dentist's office that morning by two nice people who hadn't charged them a cent.  Now he'd come to the dentist's office just a few minutes before the dentist who shouldn't have been in that morning and gotten his tooth fixed for no additional charge.
The Elders were aware of the miracles that had taken place in their lives that day.  They were already up to 3 and it was just noon!  

It got me thinking.  Do I recognize those 'miracles' - tender mercies - that occur every day in my life?  I think I need to be more aware and grateful.  Thanks for the reminder Elders.  And thanks Dr. Neal!!

Elders Humpherys and Zaugg leaving the dentist's office.

So, what to do for Thanksgiving?

Since a 15 pound, frozen turkey at Harbels costs $100, no one knows how long it's been frozen, and no one has an oven big enough to cook a turkey in anyway, the Senior Missionaries all decided to go to the Royal Hotel for Thursday's buffet - Italian!  Nice way to celebrate a good old American Holiday, don't you think?  Actually, it was very good.  We all enjoyed ourselves and ate till we were stuffed, which is what you do for Thanksgiving, right?
So what are we thankful for this Thanksgiving?
*Family and Friends - We feel of your love and support.
*To be missionary companions in Liberia and the other missionaries we serve with.
*For a good place to live, good food to eat, and good water to drink.
*The gospel in our lives and the peace and happiness it brings us.

Left side of table front to back - Elder and Sister Hezseltine, Elder and Sister Berrett
Right side of table front to back - Sister Miles (you can just see the top of Elder Miles' head behind Sister Miles), President and Sister Kirkham, The other Sister and Elder Miles.

Before our Thanksgiving feast, we made a delivery to the Logan Town apartments.  As we were getting ready to leave, several of the Elders were standing at the curb in front of their apartment building, trying to get a taxi so they could go to their areas to work for the day.  The work goes on, even on Thanksgiving.  Dedicated, hard working missionaries!
L to R - Elders Humpherys, Zaugg, Fairwell, Pearmain, Erickson, Guymon, Backman, Gunnell

With Thanksgiving over, it's time to decorate for Christmas.
In the package we received from home were homemade Christmas cards from our grandchildren.  We decided to open one a day to extend the fun.  All the cards have been opened now, so of course they have to go up on the wall.  

See our cute wreath.  Those are my grandchildren's hands.

Look at the fun snowflakes they also sent.  
(Hey, Berrett grandchildren, see if you can find your snowflake and card.)

Thanks for the decorations, family. 
Our apartment looks quite festive, thanks to you.   

I taught the children in my Logan Town Branch to sing, "Once there was a snowman".  They love the part that says, 'in the sun he melted' and then you pretend to melt.  Only thing is, they have no idea what snow, a snowman, or even what cold is.  I asked them what color they thought snow was and they all shouted, "black!" Well, not at first it isn't!