Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Shoes

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

        I love shoes, I absolutely love them. I can even have some sympathy for Imelda Marcos. I really have to stay away from the shoe stores. Though feet and finances and fashion prevent the acquisition of most of the shoes I see today shoe stores are  wonderful places to dream. This week we drove back to Ho to get a pair of hand made black leather scandals that we had ordered the week before. Last week we discussed style and cost and they were measured in the most rudimentary way but let me tell you I have never been so excited to see the results. I have never ordered a pair of specially designed, hand crafted shoes before. 

        I know that you are anxious to see these very special shoes but before you think me very pretentious let me tell you that, actually, they were not for me, not even for Barry or any of you, my special readers, but I could not have been more excited if they were. They were for Wisdom. Who, you ask? Wisdom.

        Wisdom is this wonderful young man of 19 that is a member of the Church in the Tsito Branch that I have mentioned before. He lives with his grandmother and younger brother. Wisdom was born in his grandmother's house. His parents are divorced. His mother has remarried and lives near Accra. His dad is sometimes in Tsito, sometimes Accra. None of this is different from many youth and their families around the world but their are many things about Wisdom that just endear him to everyone he meets. He is nice looking, quiet, always so polite. He is the Branch Clerk so he is trusted with the branch funds. He is good with the computer and so willing to learn that he traveled once all day to Accra to get some computer training at the Area Office and then traveled back so late at night.

        He has adopted Barry as a surrogate father and calls to check in or ask questions and never fails to ask about me as well. Wisdom wants to go on a mission for the Church, to fulfill a two year commitment. Barry is helping him with his mission application and the papers needed to get a passport. All this still seems fairly normal for many 19 year olds in the Church. What makes Wisdom different is that he was born with a club foot that was never corrected. He walks on the top of his right foot and he has learned to walk very well that way. No where that you walk here is usually on any kind of a level surface so walking is always difficult. Wisdom has walked everywhere all his life. He walks the two plus miles to church each way every Sunday and often again during the week and of course all his life to school.

        These are Wisdom's first real shoes. We are experimenting to find him something that would suit him on a two year mission. He has always had to wear something that showed the severity of his foot and as we were there ordering the shoes I sensed that he would like to have it covered. There was nothing that was verbally expressed but it was a feeling that I got. It was a young man's tender feelings of some desire to be as much as possible like others.

        No shoes for myself will ever have the same impact again. No matter how much I like them they will never make me smile that big. But shoes, glorious shoes, will always make me think of a young man's first real pair of shoes and his first socks.

The beauty of pure joy.
New shoes and new socks.

Will they fit?

They fit.

Now with the socks.

When your work is a blessing to someone. Smile.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Let's Go to the Movies

Freetown the Movie

        Opening today at a cinema near you. Freetown. 

        Freetown is based on the true story of eight young Mormon missionaries and their escape from Liberia into Sierra Leone in 1989 during the outbreak of the civil war that was to last for nine years in Liberia.

        The movie was filmed here in Ghana because of the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia.

        We were invited to the world premiere at the the Accra Mall theaters. I know it is hard to believe it but I was there without a camera so the pictures that were taken of us with some of the stars are not in my possession. Lucky you. We did sit between two of the female stars. The lady in the poster above and Arlene Barrett, our mental health Service Missionary. It was a very enjoyable evening.

        The premiere night was on Thursday and then we returned Saturday treating some of the volunteers that we have become close with at the SRC. They are all returned missionaries and some brought dates. These wonderful young people are such hard working, dedicated servants. They are in their mid to late twenties. One served in Liberia and several had never been to a feature film of any kind. It was a special time for all of us.

Director, Garrett Batty, Producer, Adam Able, Frances, Famous, Richard, Morrison

Famous, Princess, Morrison, Raffael, Desmond, Frances, Comfort, Richard

The young mother whose husband was killed


Morrison and Frances
        After the movie we enjoyed frozen yogurt in the food court. Another uncommon experience. Blueberry, what's that?

        Suffice it to say that this is not an Academy Award presentation but it certainly is enjoyable enough. Please go and see it. Support independent film making but mostly it is a mini travelogue of where we live. The houses were in the neighborhood only five minutes from where we live. The village is only 20 minutes to the north of us and I am sure we have traveled through some of those pot holes. We have been on the same ferry, traveled on the Volta River and under that same white bridge. My one disclaimer is that the in the movie the dirt is cleaner and the chickens are also cleaner and fatter. Enjoy your trip through Ghana, aka Liberia.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Six Months

The Journey Marks A Milestone

        Today is the sixth month anniversary of our entrance into the MTC. It does not seem possible. Yet in many ways it seems like we have been gone for so much longer. It would not be fitting to let the day go by without some sort of recognition. 

         We had a wonderful Easter and Conference weekend. We will always have Conference to mark our mission. We celebrated October Conference in SLC with Larry and Janet. With the wonderful use of the Internet we were able to watch Conference here in Ghana as easily as we could in Arizona. Here it was live at four in the afternoon and eight at night. You do have to be amazed at how quickly this has all come about. Worldwide has a real meaning for us now.

        We hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter. We enjoyed going to church and seeing the people of many faiths going to various congregations and religious services set up in fields and dirt lots in so many villages along the road that we travel. The services that were held in a dirt area near our building in Suhum finished at noon as did our meetings. It really was like the Easter Parade to see everyone walking home along dirt streets and rutted roads in their Sunday dress. 

         We invited several couples over to watch Conference on Sunday and then had a wonderful Easter potluck dinner. It was great to not feel that we were alone on this wonderful holiday where we celebrate our Savior's Atonement and Resurrection. Then again through the miracle of technology we talked to Kristen and Julie in Dallas and Kim in Hawaii. All this from a place so far away in Africa. 

         Easter Monday is also a holiday in Ghana so with four other couples and Barry behind the wheel again we drove into the hills two hours to the north to Kofuridua. The people were out to celebrate the family day in spite of the heat. We went to Umbrella Rock, the 3 in 1 palm tree and the Akaa Falls. We finished off at the ward building where they were having a district game day. People had taken trotros from all over the area. Many people had traveled over an hour each way to enjoy the activities. My favorite was advertised as the "tag of peace". Any guesses? There was dancing, soccer, board games and an eating contest.

        We drove to the Umbrella Rock and then walked over to the palm tree a enjoyed being up close with the people, little kids and an amazing use of a cutless on a coconut.

Grave stones

A family enjoying each other and selling hard boiled eggs

He has their rap attention

        Akaa falls a nice little hike to get the muscles moving. It is awful to think how out of shape we are becoming. I don't think that it is all the heat and humidity. I really do miss my exercise.

Sister Wilde and Sister Kirkham

        The end of six months. Not many people can say they have spent time working and traveling in Africa for six months. We feel in awe and blessed at the same time, especially for the safety and the good health that we have enjoyed. We hope the same for all.