Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The On and the Off of It

It Is Coming

        I think that I have mentioned before the problem with electricity here in Ghana. When we first got here we spent our first two nights and quite a few after that without any electricity hence no air conditioning and no fans either, of course. The Acosombo Dam, built in the 1960's, thanks to the USA, is not able to put out the capacity needed for a country that had five million people then and has 28 million people now. The government took no steps to prepare for the future and for the most part they still are not. Drought has also contributed to the lack of necessary water and Burkina Faso to the north has also restricted the flow of water into the Volta River.
The Acosombo Dam

Northern part of the river.

        We have been in our "new" apartment since Thanksgiving. We have both electricity through Ghana Electric and when that is not working our complex has a diesel powered generator that switches on in a minute or two so we have never suffered like the average person that can't sleep at night because it's too hot or must get up in the middle of the night when the power comes on to do their ironing or wash the clothes for their laundry business and irritate the neighbors that are trying to sleep. Usually we have 12 hour shifts, alternating electricity and generator. Yesterday, 28 hours generator and less than 12 with electricity. You don't even want to know what the diesel bill is. Astronomical!

       The lack of electricity is wrecking havoc with the entire country, personally and professionally. So many businesses have had to lay off employees because they have no electricity to run their business. Valco Aluminum Manufacturing could produce five lines of aluminum but has only been running one because there is not enough power and now we understand that they will be reducing staff because there is often not enough for even one line. It is so unfortunate.

        Help maybe on the way. Ghana is considering renting power ships. These are special purpose marine vehicles on which a power plant is installed as a short-term solution to solve the energy crisis. The government has requested two power ships from a Turkish energy producer. Instead of diesel power ships use heavy oil to generate electricity. The technology allows a station to operate for twelve hours a day in a twelve day cycle and, when out of power, draws energy from a ship moored next to it. The ships can be ready in 60 to 180 days and will need an onshore substation to feed the powership. Everyone is excited that by October the dumsor, lights out, will be over. However, they say that then we will have 80% of the necessary power. I sense a slight problem here...maybe it's just me. We shall see.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chocolate, Anyone?

Cocoa Research

        Tetteh Quarshie was the Ghanaian farmer directly responsible for the introduction of cocoa into Ghana. He brought some cocoa beans from Equitorial Guinea where he worked as a blacksmith. Although he was uneducated he was well traveled and he envisaged the large scale of cocoa. Other farmers bought pods from his farm and the cultivation spread from his farm in Mampong, Akuapim to all over the Eastern Region and through the Southern Region as well. The first shipment of cocoa from the Gold Coast was made in 1885. Volumes grew rapidly to 20,000 metric tons in 1908. By the early 1920’s Ghana supplied about 40% of the world’s production reaching its peak in the 1930’s. Within ten years production started to decline due to severe outbreaks of capsid pests and the cocoa swollen shoot virus disease.
        The quality of cocoa products, primarily cocoa powder is determined by the quality of the raw cocoa. Fully ripened and correctly fermented cocoa beans are brown to a dark red color. This grading system was introduced following the rejection in the United States in 1926 of Gold Coast cocoa. Laws were passed forbidding the importation of cocoa below a specified standard of quality.
        The Cocoa Research Institute was established in Tafo in the Eastern Region in 1938. The aim was to investigate problems related to pests and diseases which had considerably reduced the cocoa production. The institute has four main objectives: 1) Provide the farmer with practices and technology in order to realize better yields and higher economic returns under better environmental conditions. 2) Conduct research and develop techniques for the processing of cocoa, coffee, cola, sheanut and cashew. 3) Develop by-products from residue or waste parts of the crops to give farmers more income from their crops. 4) To establish a link between research and the farmer.
        We had a great visit to this area with the Browns and the Parkes. Besides being quite interesting it is in a beautiful setting.

Learning about the different types of cocoa pods.

        The Institute's main achievement has been a hybrid cocoa plant that now bears fruit in only two to three years. The Institute now also researches into coffee, kola, shea and cashew.

A forest of cocoa trees.

Elder Parke, Barry and Elder Brown

Tiny cocoa pods.

Growing cocoa pods and new little blossoms.
The white membrane around the cocoa bean is tasty when you suck on it.
Cocoa processing explained.

The dried pods can be used as feed for cattle.

Cocoa beans dry in the sun and ferment. The smell is strong. 

A cola plant. I didn't know there was one.

If it's raining the beans can dry in this shelter.

With Sister Parke and Sister Brown.
Coffee Fields
Coffee blossoms.

Ripening Coffee beans.
        We may not drink coffee but it sure was pretty in this natural state.

Selective Service

All Africa Helping Hands

         Saturday, August 15, was designated as All Africa Helping Hands day, a day of service. I have to admit that when I first heard about it I thought that that meant for all Africans and I was truly  in awe that this could happen. However, it was all Church service day. The different areas, stakes or districts were to pick a service project that would benefit the community in which the members live. There was beach clean up, hospital grounds clean up, blood drives, market cleaning and gutter clean out. We chose to go with Elder and Sister Wilde to the town called Ashaiman, to the east about 45 minutes.
         Members and missionaries, Elders and Sisters, turned out to clean out the gutters along one of the major streets in the middle of town. This was about a mile stretch along the road. I had to admire the willingness with which the members and the young missionaries worked. I have learned to walk by, over and around these types of areas but I could not help with the actual clean out. We bought brooms and swept along the same areas. We have come to understand how really awful plastic bags are for the environment. They are everywhere buried in the sand and dirt that serve as walks and roads. There are no refuse containers where one could throw trash so it just goes on the ground and stays there. The sludge would be picked up in a container and disposed of but the black water was still there. One of the African members said that this clean out would last about two months and then it would be full again. That is so sad. So much of the attitude here could be changed.

At the Chapel, ready to go.

Walking into town. Barry in the red hat. Always ahead.

Standing in....

The Wildes, while we waited for a lady to go buy us brooms.

Rice, probably 10 types, yellow saffron rice from Nigeria.

Shoveling it into these metal bowls that are used to carry everything in Ghana.

We donated our brooms to the pile for another time.

This walkway is used for people and for taxi drop off.

One doesn't need to go to the circus to see balancing acts. They are all free here. 

"I lost my broom."


You are great examples of hard working missionaries.

Missionary bonding. Does it get any better than that?

Domestic Tourism. Someone needs a vacation. Where can we get the shirts? Loved it!
        To all those who could give of their time and their backs it was worth the effort. Service always helps, no matter how small.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When We're Helping We're Happy


        President Heid has assigned us and the other senior couples in the mission to attend different district meetings every Tuesday. This is an opportunity to meet with four to six Elders or Sisters when they join together to discuss what is happening in the area to which they have been assigned. Last week we were in Tema New Town and this week we were in Teshie. Here we met with Elders Sibeko from South Africa, Fayeampah from Ghana (remember we delivered him to the MTC a few weeks ago), Liiongitau from Tonga and Elder Tukuafu who is also Tongan but was born and raised in Australia. This is a wonderful chance to get to know these young people that give two years to serve others and to help bring people to Christ. Besides discussing the members or investigators that they have seen during the week there is a gospel discussion or lesson that is prepared entirely by one of the missionaries. This Tuesday Elder Liogitau was in charge and the topic that he had chosen was service. He did a fantastic job. These young people who are only eighteen or no more than in their early twenties are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and dedicated.
        As we discussed many thoughts about what and how to give service we realized that the best example of service is the Savior who is the ultimate servant having given all for all of us. The only way that we can even begin to repay our debt is by also serving. One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Book of Mormon, in the Book of Mosiah, chapter 2 verse 17. In part it reads; …that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. To me this relates very closely to the second of the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.
        The people here in Ghana are easy to love. They have been nothing but kind to us and we marvel each day that we have been given the opportunity to come here. We are finding our own little pockets where we too can serve. We try to find opportunities to fulfill the answer to …Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?
         After we left the Elders we came back to the Temple to pick up President Azumah of the Tema New Town Branch. I have introduced you to him before when at the first of the year we had a service project at the school that he runs in Tema New Town. A few months back we helped spear head a drive to collect funds to purchase an ATV for him so that he could get back and forth from his home to his school and help fulfill is family and church responsibilities. Last week we borrowed a truck and delivered the ATV back here to Accra to the Mitsubishi dealership for servicing and this week we delivered it and President Azumah back to New Town. Barry has not lost his touch when it comes to strapping down a vehicle. These kinds of activities make us grateful beyond measure for what we have and what we can do, no matter how small.

Loading the ATV for a trip to the dealership.

Tie down.
They don't get too many of these. Brought everyone out.

After a week a short test drive.

A Dealership with a ramp? Really now.

Arrival back home wife and son bring boards to make a ramp to unload
We got some men passing by to help.

Made it.
We made a good show for these little spectators.

They are adding gutters to the "road".

        In the process of putting in the new gutters some how the sewer line got cut. We were only stuck for a moment. Luckily Gilbert's truck that we had borrowed had four wheel drive. I hope that you know how blessed we felt as we drove away. Though the day was long and the traffic a mess, especially trying to get back to Tema, we felt extremely rewarded.