Monday, January 18, 2016

New Year's Resolution

Pope Francis' List

        Today is January 18, 2016. My recent blog posts have all been looking back. It is time to look forward. The biggest thing coming way too quickly is the ending of our eighteen month mission in Ghana. What big or small event will come after, that is part of the unknown. We will be saddened to leave this experience and wonder what will come next but we will be grateful to see family and friends again. The following is my retelling of an article that appeared in one of the Ghana newspapers last Friday by Terry Mante, a Ghanaian life coach, motivational speaker and writer. He consolidated an article by a Filipino writer that had distilled the key teachings of Pope Francis into 10 resolutions we would all do well to live by.
        These thoughts are some ideas for a brighter 2016. There are no pounds to loose and no gyms to attend. We don't have to give up sugar or chocolate. We don't even have to schedule a certain amount of time each day to accomplish our resolutions. I believe that we just have to think a little harder about being the people we want to be. I hope that you find some thoughts in here to enlighten your mind and soften your hearts so that we make the world a little better place. I have not changed any of the British spelling despite the computer constantly underlining the words in red.

1.  Don't Gossip: "If you want to improve your life, invest your time wisely. Don't be a participant of meaningless chatter. Be a propagator of ideas that inspire and make the world a better place."

2.  Finish Your Meals: "Needless to say, food is a basic necessity of life. As basic as it is, not all people...have the blessing....According to the World Food in eight 'do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.' Ironically, enough food is produced to feed all 7 billion people on earth. Apart from the poverty trap, low investment in agriculture, climate change and weather, war and displacement as well as unstable markets. the WFP also identifies wastage as one of the factors which cause hunger....It is estimated that one-third of all food produced (1.3 billion tons) never gets consumed. 
        Make it your business to clear your plate....You must know how much you can consume and have no more that that on your plate. Don't waste food. Finish your meals."

3. Make Time for Others: "It is not good to be without rich relationships. Good relationships improve social capital, enhance emotional wellbeing and sanitise our minds.
        Call someone, Visit them, Go out with you family. Listen to your friends. Comfort those who are weak. Make it your business to put a smile on the faces of others."

4. Choose the More Humble Purchase: "There is nothing wrong with being wealthy and owning assets. ...access to wealth could lead us to be unnecessarily extravagant. ...avoid ostentatious display.... Such behaviour is vain and tends to be vexations."

5. Meet the Poor 'in the flesh': "An encouraging word, a smile or a pat on the back could be a great boost for people in need but sometimes, what people need is real, tangible, material assistance. Give cash to someone who needs it. Give clothes. Give food. Offer shelter. Don't just be an encourager. Be a giver."

6. Stop Judging Others: "Usually, we do that (judge others) because we think that they are so wrong and we are so right. We feel that they should know better. ...consider what you would do in the same situation....Rather that being quick to judge others, be considerate and show empathy."

7. Befriend Those Who Disagree: "When people sing our tune, it is easy to dance along with them. Not everybody who disagrees with you is an enemy. If you look beyond the disagreement, you can build some useful bridges."

8. Make Commitments: "Commitments make you honourable. They give you stability and project your character. Some things are seasonal. Others are forever. (Pope) Francis specifically mentions marraige....Apart from marriage, causes such as mentoring, charity, and serving are noble enough to commit to. Commitments help us to live meaningfully and significantly."

9. Make it a Habit to 'Ask the Lord': "Prayer is the mechanism. ...there will always be factors that are outside our control....Asking the Lord helps us deal with the daunting challenges of our lives. He is answer us in ways that best serve our interests. Pray often. Pray always."

10. Be Happy: "Happiness has therapeutic effects which impact on your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Don't be hemmed in by negative experiences. In your heart, always choose joy. Even if what is going on around you or in your life is not great, don't let your heart be troubled. Happiness will preserve you."

       A mission really helps put extra focus on these life lessons. It's keeping these in the forefront of our minds and forever in our hearts that helps to make us a little better and happier but it is the exercising of these principles that makes the world a better and happier place. Happy Continuing New Year.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ashanti Region


        The Northern part of Ghana is the Ashanti Region. In 1701 The newly established Ashanti Empire of Kumasi defeated the Akan Empire called Denkyira, who had been the main people with gold-working skills and were the center of the gold trade on the coast. The Ashanti grew in power with almost every passing year. They captured much of what is now Burkina Faso and the northern regions of Ghana. While in this area we stopped and were wildly welcomed by a group of children going home from school and some that did not attend school.

"Giddy-up, you jerry can."

Showing off for Sister Cannon.

In awe of their pictures on an i-pad.

Showing off new bracelets Katelynne and Lizzie had made for me to bring over.

School kids in their blue and white uniforms. Shoes not required.

Fixing a flip flop, called slippers here.

Shoes of many styles.

All girls love to pose.

A taste of home, even if it is UofA.

See the bracelet, but look at the eyes.


This beautiful girl had to work, no schooling for her.

Morning in the Savanna

17 December 2014

        As we continue our look back we are in Mole, day two. An early breakfast and we met up with Robert for another walk back into the Savanna in search of elephants. This would be our last chance if we were to see them. We were to be rewarded.
Robert found a recently killed warthog.

Every so often a bloom.

"Really, you again?"

Different vegetation.

A buzzard.

"You coming?"

You could see the wheels turning inside that head.
Mission Success

The back.

An Ear.

A trunk. We were so amazingly close.

By the watering hole, mother and baby.

        As we hiked back up to the top of the hill we saw in the largest watering hole mother and baby taking their morning swim.

        We were all so pleased that with Robert's navigation and with luck on our side we had this wonderful once in a lifetime experience. We have walked were African elephants walk. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Afternoon in the Savanna

Hunting with Cameras

        We all gathered at the ranger station to get our Guide and Ranger, Robert. He has been with the park service for seventeen years and was very knowledgeable. Elder Call thought he might take over the gun toting responsibilities.

        We set off for a two hour walk through the outback. December is the beginning of the harmatan, the dust that blows down from the Sahara Desert and fills the skies all through Ghana. It is the driest time of the year so everything is terribly parched but that is also what brings the animals down to the watering holes so we were hoping to see them as we walked.

We are off.
Decisions, decisions.

A little tuff.

          We walked through various types of brush and terrain. I even managed to find some flowering brush.

        Ghana is full of termites that build the most interesting mounds, sand castle like structures.

They were here. Where are they now?

These trackers, Sister Wilde and Elder Watson, might get lost in the tracks.

Two different watering holes.

        We walked til almost sunset but did not find any animals other that monkeys, baboons and a few birds but we will be out again in the morning. It was quite a different anniversary.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Looking Back to December 2014

Day One: December 15,  Kumasi

        A year has gone since these events so it's time to catch up on some good times that failed to get posted. Six couples were heading to the north of Ghana during the middle of December 2014. We got permission from President Heid and headed off. There were the Watsons and the Calls, the Packs and the Cannons and us and the Wildes. As with anything relating to distance here in Ghana it always takes longer than you expect because of bad roads and too much traffic. We made our first day's journey as far as Kumasi. This is the sight of another one of the four missions in Ghana, now presided over by President and Sister Cosgrave, who were back in Utah at this time and waiting to return to Ghana in July of 2015 and the mission that our friends from the MTC, the Brinks, are assigned to, though they are even farther to the north in Tamale. Looks like tamale, our Spanish word, and yes, I would love some tamales right now, but is ta-ma-lay. Only three more months until Mexican food.
Following trucks piled high.
The trees here have amazing trunks.

Always following black carbon. Don't talk to me about emission control.

Some interesting churches along the way.

         In the villages fruits and vegetables that are not grown locally are brought in by semis and then dumped in piles by the side of the road. I don't know how anyone knows how much is theirs and how they pay for their goods. It's an interesting custom.

A Truck full of Plantains

It's always fun to see how people perch on trucks.

We stayed at a new hotel called the Golden Bean.

Wades, Wildes, Canons, Calls, Watsons, & Packs

        The afternoon in Kumasi took us to the Arts and Crafts Cultural Center. They have demonstrations of weaving, batik making, pottery making, drum making and other crafts native to Ghana. It was late in the day so we missed most of the actual demonstrations but we got the idea.

Gorgeous hand weaving

Gathering in the batik that had been drying in the sun.

More batik.

Batik printing blocks.

Pottery kiln.

The Wildes

The Packs

Mothers and babies passing through the market.

Ghana is one large sidewalk sale.

Kumasi streets like anywhere in Ghana, full of vendors and interesting sights.
        That was our day from Accra to Kumasi.