Tuesday, August 26, 2014

24/August/2014 Finally a chance to breath.

Well I need to apologize for falling behind on my posting, but under the circumstances, I think you can understand. Today is Sunday and we just returned from the Obuasi District. We attended Sacrament Meeting there and then I did an audit with the District President. Everything was shipshape. What a great leader. President Bawa has been a member for several years, and I could really feel of his desire to serve the Lord.
I think it's going to be real easy to make the transition to Ghana from Sierra Leone. We truly fell head over heels in love with the people of Sierra Leone, and I see the same strengths and desire to do whats right in the faces of the people of the Ghana Kumasi Mission.
This has been a whirlwind week with President and Sister Holmes, just like Sierra Leone, we drove for three days and visited all 160 missionaries. We got to introduce ourselves and take the reins for medical from Sister Holmes. I really think she was just as anxious as Sister Ostler to receive some medical support.
We have had an interesting couple of days. 
We met our neighbor and he told us that his brother died two weeks ago. They are having his funeral next door and he told us that we were invited so that we could see how they do funerals in Ghana. He told us, on Thursday, that the funeral was from 1pm to 6pm on Friday. Well surprise...surprise... not much happened on Friday and we thought that that was anti-climactic. BUT at 4:30 am on Saturday, the music started. They have tents set up, the street blocked, and several hundred chairs set up. They use speakers the size of small vans. The glass in the windows was vibrating, and I had to disable our car alarm because it kept going off. They play all sorts of music. Some of it sounds traditional African, some of it sounds Spanish, but the fact is I cant understand a word they are singing. BUT we do think its cool the way they are doing it. They are all dressed in traditional tribal clothing. They do stuff around the clock for two full days. The neighbor said they expect over 800 in attendance. I bet it was way over that. 
Ghana is definitely different than Sierra Leone, but in so many ways the same! I think when we get use to this area it will probably be better as far a Westernized, it is more developed than Salone (what the Sierra Leonians called Sierra Leone) by a ways. I liked driving in Salone better than here. The local police here try to shake strangers down a lot more. There are just enough driving rules that at any given time you are breaking something. Yesterday we were at a market with the Preaters (they were driving) and they parked along the street (with a lot of other cars) and a rather large female cop came by and said we were parked in the wrong place and wanted 5 CDs (Ghanain dollars) so Elder Preater gave her .50 (1/2 CD) and she pocketed it and walked away. We weren't even shore she was a real officer of the law. 
Sometimes the couples get pulled over and asked for bibles and things like that. So we always have a Book of Mormon and other pamphlets to pay fines with. :-)
There is a small chance that we might be moving out to Sunyani. It's about 2 hours North West of Kumasi. A couple named Dever are coming from Accra and they work the Humanitarian side, they need to be in Kumasi and there is not an apartment for them. But there is one in Sunyani, so Sue and I volunteered to go out there. We'll see what President Holmes has to say about it today I'm thinking.
Well I better stop rambling and add some pictures. Some From Accra Ghana, then some from here in The Ghana Kumasi Mission.  Enjoy! You should Google Earth some of these locations.

 This is downtown Accra, the capital of Ghana. They have nice wide sidewalks.
 Some weary travelers... L to R - Prisident Kirkham from Liberia,
President Ostler from Sierra Leone, Sister Ostler, Sister Kirkham, 
and the lovely Sister Barney. All homeless.
 The Accra Temple. What a beautiful temple and grounds.
We got to attend while there. It was a real shot in the arm for all of us.
 The chapel located on the Temple / Area compound.
 We visited a local market, and found this Ghanaian version of Moroni 
(I think)
 Check out the writing on the horn.
 On the wall of the clinic....Self explanatory.
 In order to get papers to stay in Ghana, we needed a physical to prove
that we are in good health and wont be a burden to society.
They loaded us into a small van and headed out for what we thought was a short
jaunt to a local clinic. SURPRISE... it was an hour and a half one way.
We started out with Sister Barney "one cheeking" the bench in the van, but she
got more comfortable after a half hour and questioning the driver.
 Kids are the same everywhere. They were happy to see so many
white people in one location.
 Here we set in the clinic waiting room.
L to R - E&S Dever, E&S Seader, E&S Cant remember, E&S Still Cant Remember,
 and E&S Barney in the rear. The check up was an experience that every Scout has experienced.
"I see that you are breathing, You have a heartbeat, NEXT.

 This is the chapel in Kechiman where we met with one of the Zones.
Four Elders have an apartment in this building.
Kechiman is about 2.5 hours north of Kumasi. There is a Senior couple there
by the name of Olsen.
 This is one of the Chapels in Tamale. Another 3 hours farther north from 
Kechiman. Four Elders also have an apartment here in part of the building.
 This is the front door (inside) of our apartment here in Kumasi.
 Our apartment looking in from the front door.
 This is the area that Sister Barney can turn the darnedest things into
a meal fit for a king (me).
 Our back door.
 Our bedroom with some unpacking completed.
Notice my stuff is all hung up, nice and neat, and my companions stuff
is spread out all over...;-)
 This is a small bakery down the street from our apartment.
It's called Reggies Bakery. We buy our bread from her.
 Yea Yea, but how do you know it's at 350?
 This is Ken. He claims to be Reggies nephew. He is interesting to say the least.
When he sees us pull up to the bakery, he comes out like a spider and follows us 
around explaining that he use to live in London, New York, and lots of other places.
He said the US denied him a Visa (no kidding) so he's mad at the US.
It's amazing and sad what drugs can do to the human mind.
 This is Reggie. Her and her family are putting bread and rolls into bags
that will be distributed to vendors on the street, and to stores that buy from her.
 This is one of the chapels in Obuasi. It's about 1.5 hours south of Kumasi.
President Holmes vehicle is parked in his special spot.?
 The jungle across the lane from the chapel...
I keep expecting some sort of wild creature to spring out. 
 One of the chapels in Kumasi. Sort of nice Aye?
 Another chapel in Kumasi.
 This is the chapel in Sunyani. It's 4X4 only to get the 100 yards or so 
up the hill to this chapel.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Aug 2014 Who'll turn the lights out???

We we are finally able to take a breath. We went to church here in Accra at the Chapel next to the Temple. We are going to meet at the Patron Housing building in the am tomorrow and get some laundry done. They want $5 american here at the hotel to launder a T-Shirt...I'm afraid to ask what a white shirt would cost. Sister Barney and I have been assigned to the Ghana Kumasi Mission. It's North West of the capital, Accra, and we were talking to one of the guards at the Temple compound who said the church is growing like crazy up there. I think that is the norm for West Africa. We are putting out all kinds of feelers to see if someone can somehow help us get our luggage out of Freetown and into our needy hands. We had to leave 2/3 of our luggage in the mission home. The last chance will be when they ship President and Sister Ostlers possessions back to Virginia, our bags will be sent along with their stuff and we can get it home from there. The only problem is that there are lots of things that we can use here. We are just happy that all the missionaries made it out safe.

Enjoy the pics

 This vehicle id leaning against about a 4" sapling and hovering about
25' above a porch of the house below. It's been there for two days.
 "Kissy" zone conference. Front row on chairs: Barneys, Ostlers, Elder and Sister Vinson of the 70,
and the Kanzlers.
 A couple of inches of rain in just a few minutes.
 Kissy chapel parking lot with lots of garbage and dirt  from the rain.
 Kissy Chapel and the FJ. I'll miss it lots.
 Elder and Sister Kanzler taking pics from their slider.
 Zone Conf at the Mission Office. Ostlers and Vinsons seated.
 President Ostler has his phone in his ear around the clock these days.
Wonder why??
 The first group of 50 Elders and Sisters are arriving in the am.
The Sisters will go to a local Motel and the Elders will stay here at the Mission Office.
Elder Tucker and Elder Stanford are building an outdoor shower.
 Elder Evans and Elder Kvist getting travel packs ready.
 Jokella is a local member that does some of the "Brooking" (laundry)
 for the Elders, and grocery shopping for all the rest of us. She will 
be out of work when we leave. And extremely sad!
 Elders getting a bite to eat. Sister Barney and a couple of the Elders
kept huge pots of rice on the stove, it seems, around the clock.
Sister Barney and I with the APs would run to a local market and buy 
36 loaves of bread, 30 jars of jam, 30 jars of peanut butter, and 
laughing cow cheese to hold them between meals. 
 Sister Barney....I have a "Runny Tummy"
 We started stacking luggage in the gated entrance of the Mission Home.
We didn't want any of it to walk off. Things tend to do that here.
 More Rice.....
 A quick meeting to explain the departing schedule for this group.
4am loading for the Sea Coach.
 Still more luggage arrives. Each Elder or Sister is allowed to check one 30kg bag
and carry on one "Ghana Must Go Bag" (please google Ghana Must Go Bag) at 10kg
and their backpack.
 These are "Sachets".  And they do not do the French pronunciation. They actually say "sa chets".  A small bag of water that is sold on the
streets. People buy them to drink, then toss the bags on the ground.
I love to run over them. They make a loud pop. Oddly enough, the water is not clean. It must still go through a filter bottle. 
 Another group getting marching orders for morning.
 3:30 load up, and off to Sea Coach.
 Elder Jest and Elder Kanzler with missionaries at Sea Coach.
Elder and Sister Jest returned to England and were re-assigned to Birmingham.
About 2 and a 1/2 hours from their home.
 Catching some ZZZZ's before tackling the mighty Atlantic.
Actually he is a luggage handler waiting for the boat.
 This is one of my favorite pictures, but it doesn't really catch the real story.
We had 33 Sister Missionaries in Sierra Leone and at least 15 pair of shoes per Sister.
With the weight limit, they would load a bag with what they figured they absolutely needed, then they would stack shoes and other stuff on top and start taking shoes away until the scale dropped to the allowable weight. I thought I'd die laughing at the decisions that were being made about essential items.
 Last minute snaps with another group leaving.
 Everyone loves to pose when they see a camera.
 "PodaPoda" waiting to transport missionaries.
 Now it's our turn... what should we take? We each brought 4 bags. No we can each  take 2! This is crazy decisions, especially with so little sleep. Honestly this was the 4th time in a few days that we had to rethink and repack. At this point we did not know where we were even going. Home?  Another Mission? Africa?  Stateside? Medical? How can one decide under these circumstances?  3 piles: Necessary.  Nice.   Never to be seen again. 
 More snaps
 Even more rice.
 Our good friend Ali Kargbo (arm in the air) transporting missionaries in the Mission van.
Ali is a Branch President in Kossohtown and drives for the mission.
 More snaps and more tears.
 A taxi picking up Elders.
 This is the next to last group loading up for the Sea Coach.
 More tears.
 Our bags set in priority. We were told that we could take everything...
Then we were told on two checked bags, then we were told only one.
 Loading the last of us at SC.
Barneys, Ostlers, and Kanzlers.
 Crossing the bay on Sea Coach heading for Lungi Airport.
 The end of the pier.
 Walking to the bus loading to transport from Sea Coach to Airport.
 Bus load of sad / excited missionaries.
 Captain Ostler is the last to unload.
 All of us had our temp checked at the airport.
They didn't want any of those little Ebola critters to sneak out of the country.
 Here comes the jet...every one line up.
 The charter from Kenya Air
 Is that a bunch of happy campers or what...
 The airport in Ghana. Were not even sure if we can gain entrance into
the country.
 Our Hotel in Accra while we wait for more paper work.
 The mission Presidents from Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the Barneys
in the hotel dinning room. Left to right...President Kirkham going home to SLC,
President Ostler going home to Virginia, Sister Ostler, Sister Kirkham, and Sister Barney
Elder Barney is in his room rocking back and forth in the corner...NOT.
 The Ghana Accra Temple.
 Isn't it beautiful!
The Chapel on the Temple Compound.