Last week flew by! I couldn't even remember what day of the week it was most of the time.
Highlights include: Family Home Evening at the Temple President's home with most of the missionary couples from both missions, and the Area Office workers. I met a couple from Melbourne, Australia and the wife was born in England like me! We have two other Aussie couples and Sister Graham the Temple President's wife is also from England.
we spent 10 hours driving in the car and three hours sitting in meetings. We arrived home suffering from TB (tired bottoms!) This road trip took us out into the bush on red dirt/sand roads. We also assisted at a SR meeting in Mankissim, a small town where many of the people speak Fante, so someone had to translate our comments. Prior to the meeting we had done research on the internet on businesses that may be profitable in the bush, namely raising Grasscutters and growing mushrooms. (Thanks for your input, Hubbards!) Without access to the internet it is hard for these people to learn what to do to undertake such a project. However we were reassured that they most likely know someone, who knows someone (networking works great, even in the bush!) who can educate them, and we offered some training also.
we evaluated Thursdays experience and wrote a report. In the evening we attended the Temple. we explored the University of Ghana's Botanical Gardens. Wooooh!!!!! We loved it! Closest thing to heaven right now. It reminds me of is the Military Park in Pea Ridge, AK. Trails weaving through the trees, birds flying overhead, and so peaceful. Just what we needed to decompress after a busy week.
Today we attended Church in Gbawe ward for the second time. Because the Church is growing so fast in Ghana, and most people don't have cars, the church is taken to the people, creating many small wards and branches. These are often housed in large, converted homes on the backstreets of neighborhoods. The back streets are not paved and potholes have swallowed many elephants (jk!) and damaged the underneath of many a vehicle. To find one of these buildings we try using GPS but even that doesn't always work and with few roads signposted it is always an adventure. After church the Elders directed us to the New Gbawe branch. Here are the instructions, "Look for house numbered zero, go to the top of the hill, look for the Telcom tower (there were 5 of them) and ask people where the church is, it's within 100 yards of the tower." We did eventually find the building, but, oh the maze!
Some of you have asked if Ghanaians use electronic devises. The answer is "Yes" The members use their phones or I-pads to pull up the scriptures, lessons and hymns. Parents here are just as concerned about the effect of social media on the youth as we are. We may have made the impression in our last email that everyone here is poor. That is certainly not the case. There is a middle class that live in very comfortable homes not that much different than ours except averaging about half the size. Some would have a car parked in front. There are some who are quite wealthy and live in homes that average about the size of an average Utah home. The big difference is they are in gated, guarded communities. We are in one of those. The biggest difference in the social classes here are the huge numbers of poor. In Utah you are homeless usually because of mental illness, laziness, unfortunate circumstances, or just some poor choices. In Ghana I am sure some are in trouble because of some of those same factors but most are poor just because there is not enough money to go around and the competition for a piece of the pie is fierce.
Lastly, may we testify of the joy we feel this Christmas season. It may not be a traditional Christmas with tree, gifts, snow and family but that is not our focus. Elder Lambert shared his perspective with the High Priests... "The lesson was on keeping Christ at the center of our lives. The discussion had been good as it always is with the members here. They get the gospel and have deep faith and testimonies of it. However, I decided to share a reason to keep the Savior at the center of our lives that was quite different than the general direction of the their thoughts. I told them of the time when I was Church centered. As a young poorly prepared Bishop I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the calling and spent enormous amounts of time trying do it right. As a result my family suffered. I have also seen people who were Family Centered, family is everything even to the exclusion of the church. We can't be at churchbecause we like to watch football together or enjoy recreation together. I mentioned that its easy for us to become work centered trying to be more and more successful or accumulate more money. There are many things we can center our lives on but if we can become Christ Centered all that is good, right, and needed can be placed in its proper perspective and receive its proper attention and time. He becomes the hub of the wheel of our lives with the spokes being all the rest that makes our lives complete and our time on Earth enjoyable and successful. As with all gospel truths these wonderful brethren got it and appreciated a fresh perspective they had not considered. I love the Savior, He is the only sure foundation on which to build our lives."
Pictures #1 Training in Mankissim, #2 & #3 U of G Botanical Gardens