Thursday, February 26, 2015

No Electricity

"Ghana Wins Again"

          When there seems to be no way to solve a problem or change something that in the US we would consider easy, the phrase here is "Ghana wins again". Today, actually it started yesterday, was such a day. 

          In our last apartment and in this one also we have to prepay for our electricity. We go to a substation and put some money on a card and then come home and scan the meter. When we first arrived we had no electricity for the first three days because the Elders, who had been assigned the job didn't do it before we got here so we were without power for Saturday, Sunday, and until Monday afternoon. Because the water had an electric pump we didn't have water there either.

          Forward to now. Yesterday we noticed that we were getting low on electricity but figured that we had enough to last at least for three days. We have been trying to calculate how much we use so figured that three days was a good estimate. That would have been tomorrow. Thinking ahead we ventured off yesterday to buy some more. The first substation had no more to sell for yesterday. I know, strange. We didn't have time to find another one as we needed to leave for our two hour drive to Suhum but figured we would be ok.

          About 1 A.M. I heard the fan go off but figured that the generator would kick in soon. When it didn't I knew that the power was done. The rest of the night was not pleasant but we made it through and showers in cool water are not new. We got to the substation when it opened at 8 and they still could not sell any power. We went off to find another place. A few zigs and zags and we are there. Are you ready for this one? The actual office of Ghana Electricity Company has no electricity. The lady attendant is out back literally trying to hand wire, one wire at a time, the generator to get some power on in the office to run the lights and computers, to get ready for business. You just can do nothing but laugh.

          We ran a few errands at the Area Office and the Mission Home and then go back to the office of Ghana Electricity Company and buy our electricity, take it home (our card) and put it on the meter. What was so unreal is that the meter still had 40 plus cedis left on it. It just turned off, it didn't really run out. From now on there will be extra on the meter, assuming we can buy it. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Missing You

Happy Birthday

Dear Kim,

        Though we are far away you are no less in our thoughts this day. It seems so much like yesterday that you joined our family. You were a delight and a joy from that moment on. Those nightly hugs and I love yous, they still resonate with me and I think that you are still close. This is the furthest that we have ever been apart but you are no less special. Two continents, amazing technologies.

        May you enjoy your day. May you always know that we love you. May you always rise to the occasions that may challenge you. May you find true joy in knowing that you will always be our special gift. 

        Many, many hugs and best wishes.

        Mom and Dad


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Valentines Day 2015

Get Me to the Church on Time

The Guests arrived on time and the groom. What? You think he's not really ready?
        With lights out the evening before no one could get the church ready until in the morning. This is how it looked for the planned 9:00 A.M. wedding.

        By 10:30 we were getting closer.
Balloons always are a good entertainment while waiting. 

The ceremony began at 11:15 with most of the courtyard finished. They simply put the finishing touches on during the service. I had been asked to play the keyboard but because of lights out that didn't happen. Probably my first and last chance to ever play at a wedding. It's the thought that counts. Barry and I were asked to say a few remarks so that was really nice.

Spray snow. Didn't quite understand this one.

Joseph and Victoria

Lovely, Sister Grace

It was a fun day.

Sunday Go to Meetin'

Our Sunday Drive

        Missionary couples throughout Ghana are assigned to wards and branches that are in their areas or outside as they are needed. We have been assigned by President Heid to the Suhum Branch which is northeast of Accra an hour and a quarter by car over some good and some very bad roads. Luckily on Sundays the traffic is light so we fairly zip along, with the usual exhaust fumes and the marvelous ruts and potholes. They are working on the stretches that they have literally made a mess of, displaced people and made life, I would assume, even more difficult than it is already and all without any compensation.
        We really love going to this branch of about 70-90 members that come to church regularly. No one comes by car only us. They come by trotro, transport as they call it. They walk or they come by taxi. In no way is that as glamorous as it sounds. This will take up to an hour for many of these fine saints. 

        The building is rented. It appears to have been at one time a restaurant or maybe a hotel with a bar. It is all open on one side and has a courtyard in the middle. There is land for a proper chapel that when the time is right these members will have a real home. Right now they happily come during the week and clean the building and then early on Sundays, usually the young people, unassigned, will be there dusting the benches and straightening up, 

        It is a little chaotic during Sunday School and the auxiliary meetings when the noise level is a little high but no one seems to mind and they carry on. There are no amenities, tvs, projectors, wonderful colored pictures or paintings on the walls. It is humble and wonderful. Many members don't speak English so there are often two languages in the same person's talk. It is amazing to listen to those that can go from English to their native tribal language and back again without loosing a beat.  

Heading North on N1. Some of the lights that are never on.
Into the Country
Grading the road. Not a usual scene.
There are cars ahead. Reminds us of Gila Bend in a dust storm.

I think this Maesrk container is left as a symbol.
This is really Sedona red sand.
Businesses are suffering.

The sand goes so far back from the road.
The Chapel Doors Seem to Say to Me

The Chapel

Relief Society and Primary Classrooms

Young Men/ Young Women's Room

Branch Choir Rehearsal

Branch President Afasi

Mother and Baby

Before a Baptism


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Long Time

Long Time No Writing

         The New Year came in almost a full two months ago and yes, we are still here in Ghana. Four months now. It has had its highs and lows, some tears and frustrations and yet so many positives and wonderful experiences. As the future posts come up I know that you will notice that they are definitely out of order but I hope that you will enjoy them.

        We have been praying for inspiration and we hope that as we go forward we will be on a good path. We were called as PEF missionaries. PEF stands for Perpetual Education Fund. What's that you ask? Early in the history of the Church after the pioneers had settled in the Salt Lake Valley the Church began a program called the Perpetual Immigration Fund. This money helped saints from many lands have the necessary funds to immigrate to the United States and get to Utah. This money was only a loan to the new members. They would then pay it back and more members could use the funds and the cycle continued.

        In 2001 President Gordon B. Hinkley, then the President and Prophet of the Church, had the inspiration to use this idea of perpetual funds for the education of members outside the US and Canada. Initially the funds were established to help returned missionaries that went home from their missions, often to poor and underprivileged areas, where they had no great hope for the future. Now the funds are used for any church member still, outside the US and Canada, 18 to 60 that desires to educate themselves for a better life. Just as before the funds are a loan and should be payed back. The payback can be reduced by as much as 40% for things like good grades, completing the course, paying funds on time, and even getting a job after graduation. It is a marvelous program and something that we have been passionate about since its inception. 

        PEF is such a huge program that there are now church staff members that handle its operations so we don't need to function there. Next we thought that we would be working with finding resources for schools or business to hire members. In Ghana no one is hiring, governmental freezes, 34% plus inflation, bank loan rates of 50-60% level term, no power, and the list goes on. Side note: most of the country has lights off for 12 to 24 hours and then on for twelve, If there are street lights, they are never on, and believe it or not they turn the traffic lights off at night. Night time driving is unreal.

        When we got to Salt Lake we learned that PEF was now under the umbrella of Self-Reliance. The Church again through its inspired programs sees the need to help everyone become self-reliant. Our missionary tags say Self-Reliant Services. We have three programs that are taught; Education for Better Work that can lead to PEF funds if necessary in six weeks, Starting and Growing My Business, a 12 week course, and My Job Search also six weeks. We don't teach these classes they are run by facilitators that are part of the group. We do offer coaching and help in how to get the groups started but eventually they learn to do it on their own. 

        We feel that sometimes after the 12 week business class our members might need some more help. The outline in this course and the research and commitments that each person must make are extensive. There may be even too much material for some of these "small, small" businesses to assimilate. We are going through the lists of everyone that has taken these classes to see what and how they are doing and if we can mentor, encourage or coach them along to see if we can help them to grow or be more successful. It is a work in progress. I will keep you posted. We have been working on this idea the last week and feel we are inspired. We will see.

        We still miss you all and wonder what you are doing and how you are doing? To those of you that we hear from we love your emails and the fact that you keep us in the loop. May the Lord bless all of you and keep you safe.