Saturday, March 2, 2013

Back to West Africa

Well, here we are, back in a place we love.  As any other Sr. Missionary couple would tell you, there is no time to "get your feet wet" by dipping the toes into the water!  No siree!  You jump off the high dive, hopefully in a beautiful swan dive and not a belly-flop-straight into the deep end - and hope you know how to swim.

Our assignment to develop activities for the YSAs and youth has several aspects.  There are 53,000 Young Single Adults in these seven countries and almost 23,000  youth.  The total number of members is around 203,000 so the percentages of our responsibility are rather high.
Some, but probably not to many, of the 72 stakes and districts have active YSA Stake Committees - and they only hold activities sporatically.  The Area Presidency realizes that this age group is the future of the Church here and the fact is - they need to be able to meet socially so that they can find marriage partners.  It is such a different set of circumstances than in the U.S. with travel being so costly, and distances far in so many cases.   Our main focus is to develop Multi-Stake Summits which will be held annualy for the YSAs.  Sub-focuses will then be to help each Stake and District to have an active YSA committee which has monthly if not twice-monthly activities.  We also will be working on getting ALL Stakes and Districts to hold annual Youth conferences, with every 3rd year of so being a Multi-Stake, several day event like unto the Summit.
We are working through the Area Seventies and their coordinating councils.  Right now, we have 10 councils, but since there will be 3 new missions here starting in July, we will have 13. We will be traveling to the various countries to train and help in carrying out activities.
This Area baptizes about 1200 a month, and many of those are YSAs, so this work is vital.

We also have been given the responsibility to get an Area LDS website going.  We have a webmaster in place and some suggestions for reporters and editors, but we need to put them all in place and get it up and running.  We will manage the content of the postings, with all links to various organizations like Family History, YSA, Youth, Self-Reliance, and so forth, as well as the Area Presidency message.   Being novices at this, we know it will be a challenge - but IT WILL HAPPEN.

We had the  opportunity to do some training with all of the Area Institute Coordinators who came to Accra this week.  We will be working with them in developing activities for Institute and especially 6 times a year when they re-broadcast the CES Firesides.  So- we played several of the games with them that we had put into their April "Game - o - Mania" TV show activity.  They had a ball, and made so many comments about using these same games in FHE, etc.  The culture is so different here.  They don't have a whole menu of games and activities to turn to....but love them when they are introduced.

Here we are playing a Minute to Win It game where you place a cookie on your forehead and have a minute to get it into your mouth, using only your face.  Most of them were successful.
Playing Ready Spaghetti, loading 5 penne noodles onto a piece of spaghetti

Top photo...playing Name That Hymn....bottom  "Stick the Landing" - throwing water bottles onto the table and trying to land them upright.  Three of them succeeded.
Jessie - secretary to the Area Institute Director - she is always dressed to the nines - not often in African garb, but this day she was  ----stunning
Our second Saturday here, we went to an old favorite...Mama Mias Pizza.  Mmmmm good!
 Almost every taxi or trotro has a religious sign on the back.  The West Africans are a VERY openly religious people.   That makes it easy to do missionary work here.
That's about it for the month of February.  We are loving our assignment and those we work with.  It's been awesome to renew friendships with those who work here at the office.  We are blessed beyond measure to be having this experience.