Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas week….

 No, the sky is not filled with flying birds….these are bats!  
Whenever we are in Accra and drive by Hospital 37, which is a few kilometers from the Temple, we always look up in the branches of the the big trees that are there to see if we can spot any of the hundreds of bats that hang on the branches.  We just happened to be there this day when the bats were flying around.

On Wednesday, Nana Welbeck, our Branch Clerk, who is known for being a good cook, came over to teach me how to make Jollof rice for the Christmas dinner we had planned for the Elders.  
You need a little rice, spaghetti noodles (which he called macaroni), tomato paste, onions, carrots, oil, and corned beef.  I tried to get him to make it without any meat in it, but he was adamant that it needed either tuna or corned beef for a 'good base'.  

That night, our Branch went Christmas caroling.  We started out with about 20 but by the time we finished there were at least 40 people singing with us.  People came out of their houses to listen and then joined in the singing.  It was a great way to spend Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day we had 'our' 10 Elders over for Tacos - something they wouldn't have a chance to make for themselves here.  We had flour shell tacos with all the trimmings.  It was the first time I've bought lettuce since coming to Africa.  Since we're not able to find corn chips, we had plantain chips with salsa.  Really good!  I made homemade tomato salsa and a mango pineapple salsa.  We had brownies for dessert.

Here's 'our' Elders
Left side of table - front to back - Elders Cartwright, Bengel, Snyder, Obasogie, Bass
Right side of table - front to back - Elders Peterson, Ridenour, Beacom, Uwadi, Bianucci

This was Elders Obasogie and Uwadi's (both from Nigeria) first time to have tacos.  
They must have liked them because they went back for seconds.

Elder Peterson was the taco eating champ.  He ate 6.
(That's 6 big, flour shell tacos!)

We did a White Elephant exchange.  Elder Bianucci got this great looking bow tie.  We told him he looked like a waiter, so he struck this pose.

I just thought this was a nice picture of the whole Christmas Day group.
Front row- L to R - Elders Obasogie, Bianucci, Uwadi, Beacom
Back row - L to R - Elders Peterson, Ridenour, Snyder Cartwright, Bass, Bengel and us

We love these Elders and were grateful to be able to spend a few hours with them on Christmas before they left to go call home.

Christmas Day also meant calls home for us.  No electricity tonight or as they say here 'light out'.

Went into Accra on Friday.  These costumed young men were at the fruit stand we stopped at.  We asked a girl working at the stand what they were supposed to be.  She told us they dress up like that to beg for money after Christmas.  We paid them a little to let us take their picture.

We stayed over night at the Mission Office with the Keeles and then on Saturday took them on a drive to Kpong - the area we were first assigned to when we got to Ghana and were in the Ghana Accra Mission.  We love this part of Ghana.  I think this is the 3rd time we've taken one of the Senior Couples on a ride to show them the area.

We went to the Senchi Hotel and took the boat ride and had lunch.

We love the beauty of the Volta River.   
So relaxing and such great scenery. 

Had to stop and take a picture on the John Deere tractor.  
Don't you think Elder Berrett looks right at home?

Sunday at church, everyone was wearing their new Christmas outfits.  
Here are Joyce and Justice Kumordzie.  She's the Relief Society President and he's the Elder's Quorum President.  I told them they looked so nice that we needed to take their picture. 

It's been a week of celebration that will continue through this week and the new year.  
The 'Happy Ur Self Spot' across the street from us, where you can also buy 'tyres',  has added several of the largest  speakers I have even seen out front and have been playing music non-stop.

New Year's Eve is called Crossover.  It will be interesting to see how that is celebrated here!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

T'was the week before Christmas...

The week started with a farewell dinner and temple session 
for three of our Elders who were returning home.
(L to R - Elder and Sister Keele (our office couple) Elders Hansen, Poland, Finaro, and us)

A mini transfer on Wednesday and …...

Wednesday night, our Branch 'Mid-Week' Activity.  
We met at the church to practice singing Christmas carols in preparation for the Christmas Eve Caroling the Branch will do at the round-about in Nsawam.  Two of our new Elders - just one month out - took charge of the activity.  Elder Cartwright led the singing and Elder Bengel played the keyboard.

Who knew?  
Our Branch President - President Quansah - can play the keyboard. A man of many talents!

We had a good turn out.  Wish you could have heard us sing.  We sound pretty good!

Thursday our apartment and compound was fumigated.  Hope it helps with the mosquitos.

Here's Elder Berrett getting ready to go lock our apartment door after it was sprayed.  

Then, because we had to stay out of our apartment for 3 hours, we drove into Nsawam to pick up the drinks for our 'Movie Night' on Friday.  While downtown, we saw Kate from our branch.  She sells women and children's clothing.  I was fascinated by the large bag she was able to balance on her head while carrying the little girls' dresses that were for sale.

Elder Berrett was able to teach with the Elders this week.  First, a stop to teach Darius who is deaf.  Darius is Elders Beacom and Peterson's investigator but because Elder Ridenour knows sign language, he and his companion Elder Bengel came along to help. Look closely and you can see Elder Ridenour signing.
(L to R - Elders Bengel, Beacom, Ridenour, Peterson)

Then, Elders Bengel, Berrett, and Beacom taught Celestina, an investigator.  
What a beautiful setting! 

Nana, our Branch Clerk, brought us more pineapples this week.  They were huge AND sooooo good.  Notice the pineapple in the front on the right.  It has two tops.  Never seen that before.  One of the ward members told me you can break the top of a pineapple off, stick it in the ground, and it will grow.  I think I'll give it a try.  I'll let you know if it grows.

Our 'Movie Night' on Friday was a big success.  We had about 75 ward members and investigators who watched the movie "The Nativity".  A nice movie to watch just before Christmas.

Saturday was an important day in the Adoagyiri Branch.  The first baptism in our new outdoor, plastic font took place.  Sandra Aryeetey was baptized by Elder Ridenour.

The font was filled with water that morning.  However, the font has a leak.  Between the rain and the leak, we were worried that the baptism would not take place.  But, everything worked out great.   

Sunday, we were short one teacher in Primary, so I got to teach the CTR class of 4-7 year olds.  
Then I was able to do a special Sharing Time.  Our daughter Kari's Primary in Herriman, Utah had sent a package to our Adoagyiri Primary.  In the package were crayons, stickers, Article of Faith cards, pictures of their Primary, and notes from the children to ours.

So I wrapped everything up to surprise the children.  They were so excited.  It was fun to unwrap the package and show them what was inside.

Charity and Charlotte received the cards from my little granddaughters Kate and Claire.

Took a picture to send back to the Herriman 4th Ward Primary to thank them for their wonderful gift.  Notice the children are all doing the "I love you" sign.  

Here's some our Primary children using the new crayons to make Thank You cards to send with our picture.

It was a busy week that went by very quickly.  
We really are having a hard time realizing it will be Christmas next Thursday.  Maybe a little snow would help get us in the mood!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Well, it's almost Christmas!!!

This week, Elder Berrett and I were able to go with Elders Cartwright and Snyder to teach a lesson to Kristianna.  Here she is holding her little grandson.  Most teaching is done outside.  

Kristianna was busy making fu-fu when we arrived.  I asked her if I could help with the pounding of the fu-fu and she told me, 'No.' But, she would let me get my picture taken looking like I was doing the pounding. 

As one person pounds, the other person reaches in the 'bowl' and turns the mixture over.  I think maybe Kristianna was afraid I would pound her hand!

Fu-fu is made from cassava and plantain that is pounded and pounded with this long stick till it's a thick dough.  They eat balls of the dough with their hands, just swallowing it whole.  No chewing!

Next to Kristianna's home is a large rock.  Elders Berrett, Cartwright and Snyder climbed it to check out the view.

AND…..the view was beautiful.  You could see so far.  Notice the pinkish colored building on the right, that's where we live.

This is Ben Botwe, his wife Solace Pearl, and their new baby Gareth.  Ben is in charge of maintenance of the missionary apartments for the mission.

Isn't he cute!

Driving into Accra or from Accra back to Adoagyiri, we drive on the George W. Bush Highway.  Guess his administration must have donated some money for this road in Ghana.  It really is a nice highway…no potholes!  

This week was the Mission Christmas Conference.  Because the mission is so big - around 170 missionaries - they had to divide the missionary zones into three groups and hold 3 different conferences on three different days.  We watched the movie "Meet the Mormons"………

had a nice meal…..

and, entertainment.

Here are 'our' missionaries from Adoagyiri and Nsawam singing for us.  
L to R - Elders Snyder, Bowring, Kamisese, Ridenour, Cartwright, and Bass.
Not pictured is Elder Peterson who was playing the piano. 

Last year we sent Christmas greetings from Liberia never imagining that next Christmas we'd be doing it in Ghana.  What a wild few months we've had!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and prayers for a wonderful New Year.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Can you believe it's December!

Well, the tree is up!
This is the closest we'll get to having a Christmas tree.  It's a smaller version of the one I made last Christmas in Liberia.

I've bought a few Christmas ornaments.  These are made from corn husks and wire.

Put one of our nativities out.
We've got several, all different.  We didn't have a place to put the nativity so stopped at a little roadside business to buy a small table.  The best part of buying the table was we got a referral for the missionaries from the shop owner.

Here's our Christmas stockings that we bought from Bernice's shop in Accra.  
We're all set now for Christmas.  Think Santa will be able to find us?

Tuesday was Adoagyiri's District Meeting and their turn for root beer floats.  They all seemed pretty happy to get their own can of A&W root beer.  It was fun to be able to do this for them.
L to R - Elders Uwadi, Cartwright, Kamisese, Snyder

Our next door Elders have no curtains on their windows.  Living in the church compound means they have no privacy.  So I decided to make them some curtains for their bedroom window.  Went to Nsawam outdoor market and bought the fabric.  This is one of those times I wish I had a sewing machine, but was able to do an OK job by hand. 

Friday went on a ride to Aburi with Elder and Sister Latham to visit the craft market and 'do' lunch at the Hilburi restaurant.  We all got Obama cheese burgers (don't you love the name!) with fries and a coke.  Tasted just like home.

The drive to Aburi is beautiful.  Aburi is on a mountain top.  It was so green and cooler there with a nice breeze.  There were a lot of beautiful, big homes.  We wouldn't mind being the Senior Couple assigned there!!

Elder Snyder and Elder Cartwright on their way to email home.  They never know when they get to the internet cafe if the power will be on and they'll be able to email or not.  It was a good day - power on!  In fact, it's been a great week for power.  (Hope I didn't just jinx myself by saying that.)

In the compound there are several bird nests in the strangest places.  Here's one in some wires that were tied together and just hanging outside the Branch President's office.  

This is the nest on our porch.  There was just a small hole in the cement wall and the birds were able to build a nest in it.  Boy, do they make a mess on the porch!

Elder Berrett has named one of the birds Bob because whenever he 'talks' to it, the bird will turn to look at him and his tail will 'bob' up and down.  

Ghana has some of the most beautiful flowers.  This flower is right outside our apartment.  Every Sunday after church, the children pick all the flowers and by the next Sunday, the plant is covered again.

Another beautiful flower.  This one is outside the Mission Office.  
Most of the flowers we've found are beautiful, but have no smell to them. 

It's been hard to realize it's almost Christmas with it being so warm here.  Guess you'll just have to enjoy the snow and cool weather for us!