Saturday, November 21, 2015

Joyful Good-bye

Sister Hill

        This picture stood outside the doors to the Chapel in Accra, Ghana, where the memorial service was held just a week ago for Sister Raelene Hill, wife of President Norman Hill of the Ghana Accra West Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is young men and women like these in this depiction of missionary life that were so loved by Sister Hill. She also had left her home to go into the world and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

President Hill
        President Hill used this time to give messages to his missionaries that this was the beginning not the end. He reminded them that Sister Hill's message was "You can do hard things". He continued saying that she believed that when we came into this life it was as if you bought a ticket for a ride and that ride would have its twists and turns and its ups and downs. It might not be how or where we wanted the ride to take us or how we wanted it to be but it was taking us to brighter things. 
Choir of Missionaries singing a medley of songs, ending with How Great Thou Art in Twi

        Services for her are being held today in Ogden, Utah. There will be her earthly resting place but not her final resting place. It is the testimony that we share that this earth life is our time to prepare to return to our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

William Wordsworth penned these words that were published in 1807:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:

The Angel Moroni atop the Ghana Accra Temple.
           We do believe that we did come from God who was our home and after this life we do return to that same God our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. As wonderful as that is we who are members of the LDS Church further believe that through the Restored Gospel, as first proclaimed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, families can be sealed together for eternity in Temples like this one in Accra. Sister Hill has simply gone to rejoice with family and friends that proceeded her and to wait for her loved ones that she has left behind for a time. 
Not many obrunis have African drummers that offer to come and pay tribute.

The Ghana Accra West Mission

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Latta-day Saints"

International Diabetes Day

        There is no end to the humanitarian work that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is engaged in around the world. Here in Ghana it is no exception. Sometimes referred to as welfare services or LDS charities or any other number of titles, including Helping Hands, it is all an effort to help those in need. I have made mention before about the wheel chairs that are donated to the government free of charge and then the government distributes them. We have helped people that have severe disabilities find access to these chairs. Our welfare department was in charge of getting the eyeglasses' project up and running.

        Our calling is Self-Reliance Services so we feel that is an umbrella for everything so no matter what we are asked to do we think it is just an extension of our calling in self-reliance. Last week we were asked to represent our Area President, President Curtis, at the Ghana kick off for 2015 for International Diabetes Day. Naturally we were happy to accept. We traveled two hours north to Koforidua for the ceremonies. We met some of the government ministers of the Eastern Region and the Diabetes Association presidency and doctors and nurses that were in attendance and the Health Minister for Ghana representing President Mahama. Barry got to give a brief address representing the Church. Everyone that spoke gave nothing but compliments to the "Latta-day Saints". (Rs are hard to pronounce here.) It was wonderful to be invited guests.

        What the Church has been doing here in Ghana is to provide funding and the test kits for the testing of high school students for diabetes. It is felt that this is a good section of the people because they are getting educated and will spread this knowledge to others as they grow further into adulthood. So far the high schools in the Central Region have been done and efforts are on going to finish the greater Accra area and then on to the rest of the country. It is no small undertaking.

No African activity begins without the traditional drums and dancers.

Barry representing President Curtis and being called the Area President
Dr. Martin Engmann of the Office of the President launching the official year.
With Dr. Engmann outside the Eastern Region Official Residence. 

Vivian Adokpa, RN and Dr. Samuel Akamah from Akosombo VRA Hospital

These young people have diabetes and represent the youth that are the focus of the diabetes testing.
Abigail Baaba Boison and Asanate Bamfo Richmond
        As a side note we have not been invited yet to the "Veterinarian's Convention on safe-feeding of animals". We had a very lovely luncheon inside the official residence and at the end the nurse that was sitting next to me ask for the left over fish bones and chicken bones to take home to her dog. I mentioned that I didn't think that those bones were good for dogs but she assured me that they were. We have learned so much here. 

The Six Thousand

People Doing Wonderful Things

         We had the opportunity to assist with the set up and functioning of a humanitarian project recently. Three optometrists from Utah came to give vision screenings for three days, two half days and two full days. This functioned because of many hands and many hours. There were hours of preparation and set up before the actual start and many hours of coordination during and after.

          From Monday noon until Thursday noon approximately 1300 people were seen by a doctor and about 1000 pairs of glasses were distributed. People were showing up on the Temple grounds as early as four in the morning in hopes of getting a chance to see the doctors. Unfortunately almost the same number of people had to be turned away as those that got a spot. Those that did finally get to see the doctors had to have the patience of Job as they waited. There were just not enough hours. These doctors have been to other places in the world and said that this was the first time they have ever had to turn people away. Approximately 6000 pairs of glasses were sent to Ghana through missionaries and travelers coming here. They had been collected through Eagle projects and other such activities.

        It was estimated that the full time missionaries gave about 525 hours of service, senior missionaries 370 hours, other volunteers about 60 hours for a total of about 955 hours. After the initial 1000 pairs of glasses that were distributed, 500 were given to other West African missions and the rest were donated to a group here in Ghana called Unite for Sight. They have clinics that meet on various days on a rotating basis all over Ghana. It is to their clinic that we have been going with one of our members for the last six months. They were so excited to receive those glasses and we know that they will be put to good use.

Early morning registration with Sister Terry, Elder Smith and Sister Baker.

Upstairs to wait in the chapel.

Trotros arrived bringing many people hoping to see the doctors.

Barry talking to President Azuma.

Our blind friend Wakiki (left in the white shirt).

Sometimes it was controlled chaos.

Beautiful days with the Temple always in the background.

This lovely little Sister was our St. Peter at the gate.

School will be more fun with glasses to help.

To help pass the time these four Elders sang.

People of patience once they were in the chapel.

Little one. This was way too long.

The end of one long day. 

Packing up the glasses that were no used.

Almost ready to give away.

Unite for Sight

Joseph was so appreciative.

Packing it in.

Packed to the roof.

News from Ghana


      We all know how it is when we get behind on a project. It seems extra hard to get back at it. That is what has happened with my writings for our blog about our journey in Ghana. Sometimes we have been too busy so I have been too tired to respond to situations. Sometimes I have felt more like the accidental tourist and have felt that I should be accomplishing something wonderful before I wrote. In the end as happens nothing gets done so I am starting again and letting you know about our experiences.

       I want today to introduce you to Emelia Amoah. Emelia has been my piano student since February. Emelia graduated from the University of Ghana last June with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Last Saturday was her commencement. Graduates of two and four year schools must give a year of National Service in a private company or government agency. Rarely is the service in a field related to your education. Students are assigned by the government as to where they will serve. Emelia is working at the National Standards Board.

        Emelia has been a real highlight in my visit to Ghana. She is a delight as a person and such a hard worker. She always worked to support herself as she went to the University. This is a custom that we have at home but is not the norm here. She had jobs at the police hospital, a nursery school and at a private clinic among other things. She is a go getter and a straight A student and I treasure her as a friend and hope for the very best for her always.