Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas In Cape Coast

This Christmas was spent without family, presents, lights, or snow but we were surrounded with love and the spirit of Christmas. We are grateful for the birth and life of our Savior and for the opportunity to teach the people of Ghana about His restored gospel. Here are a few highlights of our Christmas. Christmas morning we went to Pra-Ewusi, a village in our Branch boundaries, to deliver bowls of "goodies" (flour, rice, and fresh vegetables). Elder Saunders tried to carry the bowl the Ghanaian way but still uses one hand to balance (needs a little more practice). He is also a "kid magnet", whenever we walk into a village the children surround him. He soon has them chanting, clapping, and laughing. They also love to have their picture taken but usually don't smile for it. But they really are a happy bunch!

We took a drive out to "Baptism Beach" with the other couples in our mission. We are here with Fifi Imbrah one of the "pioneers' of Ghana. He was baptized 30 years ago when the first missionaries came to Ghana. He told us that sixty saints were baptized that day at this beach.

Elder Saunders with Alice, our primary president in our branch. They are standing in front of her goat pen. We take Alice, her husband, and grandchildren to church every week. She is a dear friend and we love visiting with her.

Alice gave us some cashews for Christmas from her cashew tree. I had never seen how they grow before. One nut grows on a piece of fruit (cashew apple). They are in extremely hard shells and are hard to break. No wonder a jar of cashew nuts is so expensive. Ghana is the sixth highest producer of cashew nuts. The fruit is sweet but a little bitter. It is usually used to make juice because it is difficult to transport due to it having a very thin skin.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Villages and People of the Abakrampa Branch.

Margaret visiting and shaking hands with one of our members mother who is 96 years old. She was using a rock to smash some kernels of corn when we approached her. The robe around her shoulder was thrown around her right before the picture was taken. Good thing, it wasn't a pretty site.

This is a picture of one of the part member families in our little Branch. The husband, Mathew is very faithful in his church responsibilities and now his wife Agnes has agreed to be baptized after having the discussions. She has come to church two weeks in a row and bore her testimony at the last fast meeting. The couple live in one of the Little Villages which attend our branch. Note the little cement houses that dot the hillside behind them. A crowd of about 15 small children had gathered behind me to see the "White people".

Here Margaret is visiting with seven members of the branch and several villagers. Any time a camera comes out they rush to get into the picture. We have to disguise our intent and then hurry and snap the photo. This was during a village service project to clean up the local medical facility. They called it a Hospital, but I told Margaret to shoot me before ever taking me to it.

A look at the kitchen, bathroom, sheep pen and laundry at one of the homes of a member. The home is very small with no furniture. The husband and wife (both in their late 60's) and a old lady walked to the service project in Abakrampa which is over 5 miles away. They started walking at 5:00 am and got there just before us at 8:15 am. We gave them a ride home to their village afterwards. This is the village where Margaret met the woman's 96 year old mother. The people are very poor, but don't know they are. They are by far the happiest people we have ever met. We consider it an honor to work with such loving people. They have accepted us whole heartily.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day By Day We're Learning the Ghanaian Way

We want to share a few highlights of another week in Ghana. We are keeping busy and enjoying the people, the weather, and being involved in missionary work.
We attended our first Ghanaian wedding on Saturday. It was held in the Ola Chapel. Everyone came in their finest clothes. Except myself and Sister Sabey who wear our missionary attire to ALL events.

All the "Aunties" of the bride wear homemade hats. They are made of starched fabric and are quite amazing.

Elder and Sister Turner, Elder and Sister Saunders, Sister and President Sabey taking a time out to go to dinner. There are some nice restaurants at beach resorts. We enjoy going to dinner with the other couples and watching the amazing sunsets on the beach.

The children love us and we love them. This little boy is in our branch and is constantly moving. He finally held still for a picture with Sister Saunders.

We were invited to the Imbrahs home for a "fufu" dinner. We were taught to eat with our hands out of the same bowl. Elder Saunders is catching on a little faster than Sister Saunders who still prefers her own bowl and a spoon. Fufu is a Ghanaian favorite and was served with hot chicken soup. Bro. Imbrah was surprised when we did not eat the chicken bones and explained that is the best part of the chicken. Elder Saunders tried a bone to be polite....he is much braver than I am!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thankful for Good Food and Good Friends

Thanksgiving dinner with good food and good friends. From left to right; Lanaya (a humanitarian volunteer from the states), Sister and Elder Turner, Elder Woodhouse and Elder Odom (the assistants), Sister and President Sabey at the mission home. We went to dinner expecting "cranberry chicken" and was surprised with turkey and all the trimmings. We are so grateful for the blessings of being involved in missionary work and being surrounded by people who love and serve the Lord.

We have new neighbors! Dr. Angel from Atlanta Georgia and Dr. Lee from San Diego California. They moved in to the apartment above us. They recently completed school and came to Ghana to open up a chiropractic clinic. They invited us over for a fish dinner. The food was delicious and we had fun getting to know them. Elder Saunders is holding our roll of napkins (I never knew there were so many uses for toilet paper!)

We attended our first baptism. Eleven were baptised! Sister Saunders with four of the girls from our branch. The two older girls on the left, Georgina and Regina and the girl in the black dress in the middle, Mary were baptised at the Yamaronsa Chapel. It is a beautiful building that sets up on a hill overlooking the town of Yamaronsa. It is about 20 miles from Abakrampa where we meet.

Some branch members and the eleven that were baptised. Elder Saunders and I were sitting quietly in the baptism service when it was announced that we would give talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost. Of course we didn't know ahead of time but we are learning very quickly not to be is the African way. We were also both asked to be the witnesses (oops!) Elder Saunders explained that I would not be able to do that. We love the people in our branch and feel it a privilege to worship with them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day trip to the Jungles of Africa

Here is another photo of the walkway we walked in the KaKum forest. There are elephants in this forest, but we did not see any on this day. We had a great time regardless. The day was very hot and humid (about 95 degrees with 99 % humidity). We spent the rest of our preparation day doing cleaning and laundry.

Jungles of Africa high above the ground.

Here is the start of our adventure into the jungles of KaKum forest. This is a hanging walkway that is about 100 feet above the ground. It is hard to see the bottom because the trees are so thick. A very hot day and very humid. The walkway is approximately 3 football fields long.

The picture doesn't reflect how hot it is, but we assure you we were soaking wet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our Home Away From Home

We thought you might like to see where we spend most of our time. We arrive every week day at the mission office and work from 8:00 a.m. till 5-6:00 p.m. Most days we only have each other's company. This was the day of Zone Council so many of the Zone Leaders came into the office before the meeting. We also attended Zone Council and than went to lunch with the Zone Leaders! That's when this job is FUN!

Sister Saunders at her little corner, working diligently!

Elder Saunders goofing off as usual!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Day At The Beach

This weekend we needed to get away from our apartment due to a very LOUD wedding celebration just outside our gate. So we decided to take a stroll down the beach. It was very beautiful from the road. But when we walked along the beach we were amazed at the garbage everywhere and the smell of rotting fish in the breeze. Not quite Hawaii!
These boys were playing volleyball using this old fishing boat as the net. They used a small flat ball and seemed to be having a great time! The children are very friendly and seem to be quite fascinated by us "o-brunies". That's what the children yell with delight whenever they see us.
Many fishing boats line the shore. When they are no longer usable the broken pieces remain on the shore as well as the other boats, nets and fishing gear and of course all the fisherman's
garbage that they have thrown in the ocean and on the beach!

Sister Saunders in her missionary beach attire enjoying the "beautiful" (and smelly) surroundings!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our New World

Our apartment is the bottom floor of this old office complex. We have to unlock seven locks and lock five to get in and out of our apartment. Yes, we feel safe but it is quite the process. If the locks are not enough the nails sticking up on the wall and the metal bars on the windows and doors should discourage any intruders!

Compare our lovely home with a typical home in downtown Elmina, a fishing village just outside of Cape Coast.

Every day life in Ghana.

Our first Zone Conference with Elder Cardon of the Seventy. He is the President of the Area Authority for West Africa. This is five zones and more than half of the missionaries are from Africa.

Elder and Sister Saunders with some of the members of the Abakrampa Branch. We will be members of this branch while we are in Ghana. We attended last Sunday for our first time and were welcomed with opened arms. We may not speak the same language but we certainly feel the same spirit. They have a keyboard and were thrilled to learn that I could play. So I guess I have become the branch organist. I know my skill is very limited but even if I need to play with one hand they will be thrilled to have music at their meetings. We look forward to working closely with the members to help the branch grow and teach the gospel to investigators. Some of the younger members speak a little English and we can use an interpreter to teach and communicate. Maybe we will even learn a little Fante along the way!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our 9th day in Ghana

It has now been 9 days since we arrived in Ghana. It is very hard to post anything to the Blog, due to the Internet constantly going down. It is down more than it is up. We are just now getting use to the culture. Very different, but the same in a lot of respects. We still have a hard time with the depth of the poverty that exists. Its beyond words. They eek out a living by selling and buying every kind of thing you can imagine. They stand by the side of the roads and sell rats, rodents, crayfish, fish, fruit, vegetables, and everything possible. All for about $ 500 us dollars per year. As we drive by their little rickety stands they wave for us to stop. When there is a intersection with a stop sign they walk between all the stopped cars trying to sell you items. Lots of pineapples, banana's, apples, mango, papaya and vegetables are available. They sell a lot of boiled eggs from off their heads that they crack and peel for you. As of yet, we have not tried the eggs.

We are starting to grasp the office duties that we are responsible for. The mission is really spread out, so getting the mail and funds to the individual missionaries can be quite troublesome. The mail for the entire mission is delivered here to Cape Coast. We try to get the packages and mail to the missionaries when someone is traveling to the village or town. Tomorrow we will have our first zone conference in a little city called "Ola". There will be five zones come to the conference, thus we will be able to deliver a lot of paperwork, mail, packages etc. We have a general authority who is here touring the mission. Elder Cardon is the President of the West Africa Area and will be at our zone conference tomorrow!

We Have Arrived!

This is our second week in Ghana! The Internet has been down most of that time and when it is working it is very slow and I have not been able to download pictures. But today is a good day so I will give a quick update before it is down again!

The flight was long and crowded. We are still adjusting but each day becomes a little easier. We are living in an apartment that was once an office building. There is a long wide hall with offices on each side that have been turned into a kitchen, bedrooms, living room, and bathroom. We do have air conditioning in our bedroom and living room but we need to keep the doors closed to keep the room cool. So the rest of the apartment is hot and muggy. We do feel safe however, we have to unlock 13 locks counting the fence and double doors to get in and out. We have a nice vehicle to use and spend our days at the mission office trying to learn our many responsibilities. Everyone we meet are friendly and welcoming. Little children love must be our shiny white faces!

We attended our first church services on Sunday. For English being the official language not many speak it and if they do I'm not understanding it very well. I do however recognize the spirit and it was very strong at the meeting. The members have strong testimonies and our very committed to the gospel. Dave and I attended the investigators Sunday school and the room was packed. I love being a missionary and look forward to many future adventures!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Last Day at the MTC

We leave tomorrow morning at 5:00 to begin our journey to Ghana. I have had very mixed feelings today. No fear but extreme excitement for new adventures and opportunities, some sadness in leaving my family and the country I love and an overwhelming love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity to share it with the people of Ghana.

I have loved my experience at the MTC. Being surrounded by young men, women, and couples who have chosen to sacrifice their time to serve the Lord has been in itself a privilege and honor. We have met some amazing couples and have become great friends in a short 2 weeks. Today we met a couple who are also going to Ghana but they are going to the Accra Mission. This will be their forth mission since they were our age. AMAZING. My next post will come from Cape Coast GHANA...things should get a little more interesting as we begin to adjust to a new culture, new country, and new way of life! Stay tuned,the best is yet to come!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We Have Arrived at the MTC!

I think the hardest is behind us...saying goodbye to our sons, daughters, grandchildren, family and friends. We said our goodbyes to Jack, Ty, Havyn and Krew on Sunday. I didn't know how I was going to make it easy on Havyn since earlier she had pronounced "I will cry and cry when Granma and Granpa go to Ghana". It so happened she was enjoying an ice cream cone as she was being buckled into her car seat and I was saying my goodbyes. It's amazing how ice cream seems to make everything OK. She simply kissed me goodbye and took a big bite and life remained good! Krew of course didn't have a clue so that one was much harder for me. He will change so much in 2 years. Mike and Brian stopped by on their way to work Monday morning and we were able to say our goodbyes with simple hugs and a few tears (on my part). I love them both so much.

On our way to Provo we stopped to say goodbye to my wonderful parents. It was hard for me to think I just might not see them again but I know if my mother understood where I was going she would be so very proud and supportive. She always taught me to love and serve the Lord and it will be a joyous reunion when we see them again weather it will be in this life or the next.

James, Marci, and Bowen drove us to the MTC in Provo on Monday. Saying goodbye to them was also extremely difficult. Bowen will tell anyone when asked, that "Ga-ma" and "Pa-Pa" are going to "Ga-na". He will than get a quizzical look on his face and ask "Why?". His sweet Mom simply explains, "because they love Jesus" and that seems to make perfect since to his 2 year-old mind. We said our tearful goodbyes and jumped right into the job of training as full time missionaries.

This experience has been incredible and has kept us very busy! We met for training every day with 16 other couples and single sisters who are preparing to travel to London, Kenya, Mexico City, Italy, Australia, Ethiopia, Arizona Indian Reservations, Manhattan and Boston to just name a few. As we have gotten to know the other couples I realized we have all left beloved family and yes, precious grandchildren to serve the Lord all over the world. There is no moping or looking back. We are all excited and grateful for this amazing opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are searching for the truth! Dave and I have never felt closer as companions and the spirit has been bearing witness everyday to the truthfulness of the gospel! I know I will always consider our experience at the MTC sacred!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Countdown: Five Days

We enter the MTC in less than one week! Everything seems to be falling into place. This last couple of weeks have been a lesson on putting one of my favorite scriptures into practice: "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding...He shall direct thy path for good". We had 2 houses that needed to be sold, loose ends at the office needed to be tied up, shopping, packing, cleaning. sorting ect. ect. To stop from being completely overwhelmed I would repeat to my self "trust in the Lord...all will work out". Yes both houses sold, the house is just about ready to turn over to Marci, the shopping is completed and the packing has begun. Now I am free to concentrate on what really matters: spending time with my amazing children beautiful grandchildren and our dear friends. Dave's office threw a great surprise party for him at the Logan Golf and Country Club. We feel so blessed to have so many friends and family support us and we'll miss them all!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Countdown: 2 weeks

I can't believe we only have 2 weeks left before we enter the MTC! We are getting excited but have not had much time to really ponder the reality of living in Africa for 2 years. I have been cleaning out drawers, cupboards, and closets. I had no idea I was such a pack rat! We have been spending time with the grand kids and making memories to last me the next 2 years. I also decided I needed to get a new family picture seeing that the last picture was missing 2 of the 3 grand kids. We had a photographer come to the back yard and take our picture. I also had her take separate pictures of the kids for me to take with me to Ghana. Dave bought a laptop, webcam and set up skype on the laptop and our home computer. So we will be able to watch our beautiful grandchildren grow from across the world. Thank goodness for modern technology. My first picture will be one of my loving and supportive family.