Sunday, January 15, 2017

9-15 January 2017

Lunch out with great friends at one of our favorite restaurants in Accra on the day we flew home.  Such wonderful people - we'll miss them very much.  The Peines let us hang out for the afternoon after lunch at their place before taking us to the airport that night.  I hated saying good-bye to the Brubakers - what an adventure we've had together in Africa!

A selfie with Ishmael, one of our favorite MTC staff.

After our last temple day together with the Brubakers.  It was an amazing day, filled with family history temple work and topped off with a sealing of a sister missionary to her parents.  Very touching to be able to have this be our last ordinance in the Ghana Temple.

And wonderful to serve one last day in the temple
with the Hills, our replacements.  They will be

The men at our last lunch in Accra the day we flew home.  Great people.  

I snapped this picture of Loel checking
in our 6 bags of luggage at the Ghana airport,
right before he found out they were
going to charge us an extra $200 for
a bag - then he wasn't smiling anymore.

Happy reunion!  Lots of tears and hugs.

Airport pictures with some of the grandkids.

Emily and Thomas made this cute banner.  It was so wonderful to have so many of our kids and grandkids there - what a happy time.  

And part of being home is going to a BYU tennis
match with Brad and his two cute kids!  We
have so many memories here and plan to make
a lot more with the grandkids.

So we're home now - we gave our homecoming talks today and had a nice open house afterwards.  We were so happy to see several senior couples from our Africa Mission - Stutz, Bodines, and Sanders, as well as the Beckstrands from our Belgium Mission and some of our young missionary friends from that mission, too.  Wonderful to see so many other friends, family, cousins, and ward members - one of my mission companions from NC even came - we served in 1975 together!  It's great to be home, but we will always hold a special place in our hearts for the African people and the missionaries at the Ghana MTC.

(Loel)  This has been a great ride.  We didn't anticipate this mission, but it was a wonderful introduction to the Ghanaian people and the Church in Ghana. We come away richer for the experience.  I don't want to forget how blessed I am and that many in the world are in need.  President Brubaker sent this picture yesterday and I want this to be as strong a memory of Ghana as any I have.  This is Kofi, an orphan living in a sanctuary near Cassua.  He lived on the streets fending for himself until he was picked up and placed in sanctuary. As you look at his leg, this is the result of an injury sustained when he was run over by a car. He speaks very little English and he is starved for affection.  He is one of thousands in Ghana who live a very disadvantaged life.  I must never forget this.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2-8 January 2017

We had a really fun gathering last Monday where we invited all the senior couples to the MTC for a pot luck lunch and an African demonstration.  Here are many of us in the chapel.  We told everyone to wear African clothes and we all did.

The Brubakers had our favorite Kente weavers
make us these beautiful banners that they often
do when people leave - but ours were
exceptionally nice as the Brubakers designed
them and had them made with our names,
Ghana MTC, dates of service and some really
nice symbols like the key for "Love is the Key,"
etc.  We were really emotional, all four of us and
then they asked us to speak, which was really
hard.  I talked about the things I love here in
Africa and the things I would miss and bore my
testimony. We have made so many incredible friends.

Aba and James came to do the
African demonstrations.  Here is
James, showing us how the men
wear their Kente robes.

Aba showing us one of many cool ways that the
Africans wear their headscarves.  I later bought one
of these at the market.  Aba surprised me a few days later with farewell gifts of
fabric, placemats, a colorful bag, and a beautiful silver
necklace in the shape of Africa.  

One of our kitchen workers brought her baby and showed us how to tie him on to her back like they all do here.  

Two of our teachers wanted pictures of us with our
Kente banners.

One day I rode the MTC van home with the missionaries from the temple as I needed to go with a sister missionary to a cardiology apt who had been in the hospital.  Wow, what an eye opening experience.  I'm glad I've never had to go to a hospital here.  They don't supply any food, you have to bring food to people you have staying there, they wouldn't give her companion any pillow or blankets to use as she had to stay with her, there is no AC so it was very hot, kind of stinky, etc.  The cardiologist cancelled our apt, but no one told us, so we had to go back the next day, etc.  Things are just a little behind here.

Kids selling tomatoes at the Tema market.

I planned a final trip to the Tema Market for us and invited others to come.  We ended up with 8 of us obrunies (white people) and Selasi as our guide.  We had a great time together and bought lots of fabric and fruit and other things, and got roasting hot.  I'm sure we looked pretty funny, 8 white ladies following our African housekeeper through the market - and of course, we were the only white people there.

We lasted about 2.5 hours in the heat - here is Rosely
and I in front of a bead booth.  

The Brubakers took us out to dinner as a farewell Sat night - we went to a VERY nice Japanese restaurant and the food was spectacular.  This is a picture of these crazy looking, but super yummy tempura vegetables.  I think this was the best meal I've had in Ghana.

Our last time together with the Obengs and the Acquayes in the hot laundry room, sorting through donations and putting away clothes!  When we finished, we had to take a picture and yell hurray!  You can see all the white shirts behind us, but we also have tons of other clothes and shoes now for the missionaries.

We were asked to bear our testimonies today in Sacrament meeting (it was our testimony meeting) today.  I got emotional as I looked into these missionaries' faces and into their eyes and saw their sweet smiles and felt their beautiful spirits.  I told them how I loved seeing their dark hands clasped in my light one and how it made me know that we are all God's children and it doesn't matter what country we come from or what color we are.  They were nodding along as I spoke.  It was a really touching moment for me.

After the meeting, practically the whole MTC came up with hugs and handshakes and missionaries thanking us for our service, telling us how much they would miss us and how much they loved us.  And we've only known them for about 9 days.

Later on, Aba made a delicious farewell dinner for us, the Brubakers, Hills, Obengs, Acquayes, and Peines.  Again, Scott had us say a few words, but I didn't cry this time.  What a bittersweet time this is for us now as we're getting close to leaving.

This is Loel.  I echo everything Paula has written. As we approach leaving the feelings are very tender.  We are reminded several times a day that we have made life long and eternal friends. It's hard to realize we will never see some of these friends again in this lifetime.  And it's hard when they realize the same thing.  We have become very close to some of the teachers and in some ways almost parent figures.  Friends in the temple are also very special.  But the reality is that we committed for one year and as the close of the year approaches, leaving feels right.

Monday, January 2, 2017

26 December 2016-1 January 2017

A favorite elder from Montreal who served as our translator for the whole time he was here since he spoke both French and English.  When we said good-bye after our farewell devotional, I had a few tears in my eyes and he looked at me and said, "Are we allowed to hug senior missionaries?"  I said, "Sure," and we gave each other a hug.  This is our last farewell night we'll experience.  

Sister Hill and her husband have arrived and we're
now training them for two weeks to take our
places.  They are a wonderful couple from Bountiful;
so positive and happy and willing to serve.  They
LOVE the missionaries; it's heartwarming to see.
These are two teachers with us on intake day.

I had to post this picture since this is the first American sister we've ever had in a year and the first South Korean sister!  They are both learning French and will be serving in the
Madagascar Mission on Reunion Island.

Sister Hill is learning quickly about
immunizations with the help of Comfort,
the nurse, and Rodaline, the teacher.  It's
the changing of the guard.

Sister Hill is very compassionate but
also very matter of fact.  I love it!

Before the Hills arrived, we took Aba and James
out to dinner with the Brubakers.  It ended up
being a sports bar!

I had to get a picture of this distraught elder at my last immunization day.
He survived.  
We wanted to share some of our favorite pictures from the past year

Monday, December 26, 2016

19-25 December 2016

Our friends, the Brobbey's from the Netherlands  They invited us over for a wonderful day full of visiting with their 3 beautiful daughters and a delicious Dutch meal.  Victor is from Ghana but lived most of his life in the Netherlands.  He brought his family back to Ghana to experience life here.  We had a wonderful visit with them.  It had been 6 years since we'd seen them on our previous mission.

This is a sister from Sierra Leone who was sealed
to her parents.  We were proxy for them and she was
very emotional and happy.

We're all in our MTC tee shirts for our service activity with the primary kids on the day before Christmas. The goal was to teac them things they my need to know as a missionary.

One activity was teaching kids how to learn how to
tie a tie - they call it "fixing a tie" here.  First, the
sisters had to learn to do it themselves, then teach
the kids.  This little boy didn't really get it.

A cute African primary kid.

Another activity was teaching kids how to sew on
a button. Of course, we had to teach the missionaries
how to thread a needle and the correct way to sew on a button. 

Another was teaching them to lace and tie their shoes.

And how to polish their shoes - even if they're

Cyril was Santa - I felt so sorry for him in this hot Santa suit in Africa.  He was a real trooper.  Many of these primary kids were from his ward where he's the bishop.

We had some fun relay games - carrying
limes on spoons.  These little girls just
held their limes on the spoons as they ran.

Our French Congo and Cote d'Voire missionaries had a great
time singing, dancing, and chanting their
country's soccer team song.  They were
pretty wild!

Our whole group - it's a small one this time.
Only 57 missionaries.
Downtown Accra - you have to look closely, but there were two goats on top of this big truck as we went driving by.  You see it all here.

We made gift bags with the Brubakers
one night for the staff here - we made about
48 of them with things we each had brought.
Thanks to Matt for all his Altoids, Starbursts,
and lifesaver mints!  The Brubakers added a
can of hot green chilis, some almonds and
red licorice.  

Here's our finished product.
A close-up.  Of course, Sis Brubaker had the nice
gift bag and cool ties and tags to attach.

This is our gardner with his gift bag.  He was so happy to receive it.

The kitchen staff with their gift bags.  They don't
do too much for Christmas here and the way they
were so happy to receive these, you'd think we'd
given then keys to a new car.  They were so sweet.
It was really very heart-warming as we really
wondered if for some, this might have been their
only gift.   

A couple of our teachers who wanted
to take a selfie with us.  We look kind of washed out.

One of our French elders is a pastry chef so he made
some cakes for us to eat on Christmas day.

The finished product.

Aba outdid herself for our Christmas
buffet.  It was incredible with her staff
all dressed up.

They re-arranged all the tables, put on
tablecloths and centerpieces and made it
a very beautiful, delicious, enjoyable lunch.
We sat with Elder and Sister Stanfill, along
with the Brubakers, the Obengs and Acquayes at the end.  

Christmas Eve we had a nativity program with
the missionaries acting out the nativity, some
scriptures and lots of songs.  The costumes and
props were contributed by many!

Christmas Day was a spiritual feast with a 3 hour meeting with the Elder and Sister Stanfill from the Area presidency.  We were all in tears at the end as he gave a beautiful blessing.  I hadn't felt like I had experienced much of Christmas before this, but Christmas Day in the Ghana MTC was really a beautiful, spiritual experience and one I will always remember.