Thursday, December 17, 2009

December Excursions

We went on a two day 'getaway' with the Cardons and Dicksons. Here we're in the swimming pool at the Coconut Grove Hotel in Cape Coast - a beautiful town two hours to the west of Accra. These university students wanted us to teach them how to swim - so we did!!! The young man to the right of me is Patrick. He just came to the office today to visit and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and will attend church with us on Sunday.
This is a slave castle where the African slaves were held while awaiting the ships which took them to the Americas. It was heart wrenching to find out how many there were and how many died at various stages of their journey. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned is how they would sell each other. Tribal battle winners would sell the losing tribe as slaves to countries north of Africa - even long before Europeans became involved. Criminals were also sold. There were at least 11 million slaves sold and traded. To find out more, look up trans-Atlantic slave trade on google.
The dungeon - actually 5 small rooms where many died during occupancy. The conditions were deplorable. They sometimes were here for two months waiting for the ship. About a third died before even leaving here.
Elder Dickson and Arlon looking out over the cannons to the Atlantic ocean.
The European governor and soldiers lived on the upper floors. There was a church as well, with the dungeon directly below it.

Sister Dickson and me at the women's dungeon door.

Groups of school children go on many field trips. They love to wave at us "obrunis (white people)" and are really fun to talk to.

This is a fishing village right outside the "door of no return" where slaves were led onto ships. This is a very common sight along the coast - a LOT of fishing villages.

The next day we went to Kakum national park which has a canopy walk. It is comprised of 7 rope bridges about 120 feet above the rain forest floor with the trees and vegetation also rising far above the bridges. You can see that it is a 2" x 12" that we walked across between the trees. A bit scary but fun as well. Sister Cardon is just about to depart.

The Dicksons on one of the bridges

Sister Cardon making her way across the swaying bridge.

We take a moment to rest and enjoy the panoramic view of the rain forest. It was very, very humid!!!

Monday found us on another two day excursion with the same couples. We traveled northeast of Accra to the Volta region. Here is Arlon on the balcony of the hotel. It overlooks the dam which creates the largest man made lake in the world (below)

Travel is never dull here. All along the country roads are people walking between villages, many with their goods to sell.

They really know how to load their vehicles. There are a lot of breakdowns both in the country and in the city.

Typical village home although many have thatched roofs as well as having the mud or adobe sides.
we passed at least two to three dozen schools in our 1 1/2 hour drive towards the monkey sanctuary. The kids all wear uniforms and below they are getting ready to line up outside for the pledge to the flag and a song. Then they marched to drum beats into their classrooms.

Several pictures of the monkeys. There were about 50 that came to greet and eat our bananas.

After leaving the monkey santuary we drove another hour and a half then took a 45 minute, humid hike into the Wli Falls....180 feet high. It was beautiful. We hiked out then headed for home. What fun it is to see some of the interesting African sights.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving - A Great Day 2009

The Antwis are a dear couple who are from Cape Coast, three hours away. They are Temple missionaries.
Arlon carving the turkey we cooked. It was one of four....we hardly finished two, so lots of leftovers were taken home. Isn't that how it always many side dishes that there is left over turkey. I have made a turkey pot pie and there are always sandwiches!
Elder Cardon and Golden....good kitchen help preparing the spread.

Debbie Cardon and Florence taking the just done turkeys out of the oven.

Sister Jill Johnson (my audio-visual teacher) sneaking a bite.

President Harmon, Sister Uduma, Sister Antwi, Sister Harmon

Mmmmm. so much pie, so little time!

Bagging up the leftovers. Debbie's all smiles.

Sister Dickson and Sister Golden carving leftover turkey.

How sweet it is. Perfect ending of a perfect meal.

We met at the Cardon's home with a group of 32 people - the Area Presidency and missionaries. The meal was completely traditional: turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce (someone happened to have one can), sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans, fresh fruit platter (watermelon, pineapple, banana, papaya, kiwi, grapes), cauliflower au gratin, jello salad, green salad, peas and carrots, homemade rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, pumpkin delight, berry trifle and delicious apple cider/sprite as a beverage. Wow, who could have asked for more?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mission Presidents Seminar

These are the drummers that welcomed the general authorities and their wives into the dinner.. they have 'talking drums' wherein the words that are spoken in welcome are translated into a drum cadence. It was an interesting introduction to African culture.

This is my dear friend Emelia Ahadjie, wife of Elder Ahadjie, an Area Seventy. She works in our office building as the travel, hospitality coordinator and is a great help to me in finding resources for the project I'm working on for the Area youth Activity. She was dressed in the traditional clothing this evening and had President/Sister Ayekoue's little 17 month old on her back, African style. Baby's name: Happy As you can see on her closeup, she is aptly named. Elder Cardon asked President Ayekoue how much he would charge per person for all the grandmas and grandpas (missing their own grandchildren) to get to hold her for a few minutes.

Of the 8 mission Presidents, the Squires, Sabeys, Smiths and Boggesses are all North Americans. The Neuders are originally from America but have lived in Nigeria for the past 10 years before being called. The Ayekoues (French speaking and assigned to Cote d'Ivoire, and the Egbos and Adebayos are all Africans. All three are young couples with young families. We are very impressed with their maturity and their abilities. We were humbled to associate with so many wonderful, consecrated and devoted couples.

This picture of us with Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife Kathy was taken Saturday afternoon after attending a Temple session with the Mission Presidents, Elder/Sister Andersen, Elder/Sister Hallstrom, the Area Presidency and the Temple Presidency. It was a unique and spiritual ocassion.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kente Cloth Weaving

This is Bob Dennis. His family has been weaving for generations in the Volta Region near the Volta Lake and Togo border. He is well educated and has written and published a book on Ewe Kente cloth weaving. He began weaving at the age of 9 and was a master weaver by the age of 12. He showed us each piece of equipment and each step of the process. I will never look at a piece of this beautiful art without a great appreciation for the skill involved and the hard work it takes to produce it. I bought the book and a table topper.
Most looms weave strips that are 4-5 inches wide and the length is determined by what it will be made into. For instance, if they are making place mats they would have a shorter piece than if they were to make a king sized bedspread. They cut and sew side by side many strips to make the place mats, table runners, table cloths and various sizes of bedspreads. There are custom looms which will weave a piece wider so that there are no strips sewn together. My table runner is a wide one.
These are just two of the 20 or so employees at this outdoor factory owned by Bob Dennis. He has hired weavers and then inservice trained them in the finer points of Ewe Kente. They get paid by the amount of fabric they produce. It may take three to four days to produce a four inch wide by 62 foot piece. It is impossible to describe in this blog the whole process. They do coordinate the treadle with their feet (see below) moving the two layers of warp threads up and down as they shoot the shuttle with the weft threads back and forth. All of this while they are counting how many rows of each color or changing for different designs. I could not have been more impressed!
This is a double weave (above) It requires many more warp threads and more work. The result is that you don't see the warp threads in the end... only the weft and the bottom (he has turned it over so we could see) is the more colorful.
This is a more complicated weave. See that the warp threads are in strips of several colors. The resulting patterns are beautiful.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trip to Cape Coast Sept 27-28

We left for our little getaway with Elder and Sister Cobb. They serve in the Temple and since it is closed on Monday, they had time to go away. The Area Presidency is away for General Conference in Utah and thus, we had an opportunity to take Monday off and go with them. We left early Sunday morning and drove for 2 and a half hours, stopping to pick up a couple who are assigned to attend a small branch to help with leadership. A few miles from the branch we stopped and picked up these two boys who were waiting with their grandmother for a ride to the church. The one on the left is Ishmael who is 13. The other is Shadrach who is 10. They seemed excited to get to ride with the white missionaries! We met Sarah as we got there and were ready to take the picture. Ishmael was the only deacon.
This is the small but very faithful branch we attended. Picture was taken before the meeting. About 40 members came to church. All four of us were asked to speak when we got there. I spoke on living after the manner of happiness in our families and Arlon spoke on the healing power of the Savior.
Elder and Sister Cobb
After church we traveled to visit another good friend of the Cobbs who works in the Temple
The outdoor oven where bread is made for those at the school
as well as his family.

This brother joined the church many years ago. He attended a university in America for his Masters and returned home where he settled on a huge track of land and built a home. He named it Lehi Villa. From there, he built homes for several other family members and then others started moving there and building. He built a school and continues to add to it. He now has about 1200 students. There are no public schools here. Parents pay to send their kids to these private schools or to boarding schools where the kids stay for about 9 months with just a few vacation weeks to come home. This brother also has an orphanage here at the school. We met about 10 teenagers from the orphanage who are all members of the church.

Next we stopped in to visit this couple...Brother and Sister Eshon. He is a medical assistant who owns and runs a clinic. They have been building a new home for 2 years and wanted to show the Cobbs. People here do not take out loans for homes. The acquire the land and then build a little at a time as they have the cash. Arlon found that they have orange trees. Here in Africa the oranges stay green even when ripe. We had freshly squeezed juice at our hotel the next two mornings. Mmmmm..good! Brother Eshon invited us in and related his incredible conversion story which I hope to record and write about later. I'll take a picture of us together at that time.

These are just two of the children who came up to us while meeting with some of the people during our several stops on Sunday. They were so darling.

What a beautiful beach. We both love the sound of the ocean - very relaxing. We checked into the Elmina Bay Resort by the very bustling fishing village of Elmina.

The view from the big window of our room.
Palms everywhere in this part of Ghana.

We may come back this way again as the Cape Coast Stake is where the first baptisms took place in Ghana and there are several people living here who were among the first members in 1978 when missionaries came. One of those is William Fifi Imbrah who had lunch with us on Monday. He also shared his conversion (he is on the film "Pioneers of Africa" which is sometimes shown between Conference sessions). He works at the Temple on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings and has agreed to have me interview him and write about his conversion and experiences between 1964 when he first read the Book of Mormon and his baptism. The faith of these saints is very powerful and it is a privilege to get to know them.