Monday, April 20, 2015

The interesting people we meet...

Sunday & Monday, April 19 & 20, 2015

On Sunday Dever’s picked us up at 8:30 and took us to a closer building, one the church has built.  We had a nice meeting. One man from the Stake preached a good sermon and covered many subjects.  A woman and a young man spoke earlier, giving great talks.  The Africans can preach, any of them, very well.  Also a new Sister missionary gave her testimony who had just been assigned to their Branch.  She is from Ghana, her companion from Nigeria.

At church the little boy above sat in front of us.  He wouldn’t smile, but he was not afraid of us.  And the little girl below—they always know how to pose for the camera-- no matter how young.

Afterwards we ate lunch at the hotel, and talked about the places we’d been so that we could turn in a trip report to John Buah, the Area Welfare Manager and based in Accra, and also our new boss in SLC (they changed our boss, again).  The next morning they picked us up to take us to the airport.  We bid a fond farewell to the Dever’s and the Golden Bean Hotel (sigh). 

Our plane was late, but it is a short 30-minute flight, so not a big deal.  While waiting in the lounge for our plane to arive I began to read my book.  It was one I had borrowed from my sister-in-law, Nancy Haslam.  It is called “The Lincoln Hypothesis” by Timothy Ballard.  He is a Mormon, works for the CIA and has captured many a slave trader in Operation Underground Railroad, a private organization ‘dedicated to the physical extraction and liberation of children who have been kidnapped, trafficked and exploited throughout the world’.  He also studies history and decided with years of research a possible connection between Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Abraham Lincoln, who we as Mormons think a lot of because of his stance to abolish slavery.

The father off these two little girls is a policeman in Ghana.  He is leaving soon to go to Kenya to train policemen there.  He said he would be there for one year.

Because of the book, the Ghanaian man sitting behind me asked what I was reading.  I showed him the cover and then he told me that he had a friend named Eric from Utah that was an Elder in the Mormon Church and had shared our beliefs with him.  The gentleman said that he had lived and taught tennis in the East, primarily in Boston, for a number of years and had citizenship in the U.S.  Two years ago he came back to Ghana to start his church (presumed it was his own because I had never heard of it before).  He also had to do business because he had to earn money and that was why he was going to Accra.  He lives in Kumasi.  He has since married and their first baby is on the way.  We had a fine conversation.  I am so interested in this book since I had just watched a show on the Discovery channel about all the miracles that happened that helped us win the Revolutionary War that gave us our freedoms.  Much of this is written about in this book. 

After our flight we saw our driver from the Novotel there to pick us up, but we had to wait in the van for others to arrive.  One man got in the van that was from Iran, there for a summit meeting.  Apparently Ghana is now in the oil and gas business, and this man knew all about off-shore drilling and platforms.  He has lived in the UK for many years.  We still had to wait for one more man and it turned out that he was from Kenya.  Then we had plenty to talk about with him too.  He was born in the Machakos area where we had drilled wells long ago during our full-time mission.  He was with a bank and lived in Nairobi and was in Accra for a conference also.  We got stuck in traffic, but the company was interesting.  I never think I want to write in my journal, and then I find something that I find interesting to write about that I don’t want to forget.  We feel privileged to meet so many people in our travels from all walks of life.

Back at the Novotel we wrote e-mails about our reports that we wrote yesterday evening.  There is lots of paperwork in our very near future.

Love, from the Novotel

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A few pictures from Kenroses Hotel and the Golden Bean Hotel

Above and below: the Golden Bean Hotel has lots of weddings.  This one was set up with all white and gold decorations.  Even though this photo doesn't show it, all those chairs are a bright gold.  

Note the red walkway provided for the newlyweds to walk on.  They play loud music till about 10:30 PM during these weddings, which don't bother us.  Jim just sleeps, and I'm awake anyway.

The Golden Bean also has these tent buildings used for other large activities, and often save the day when it rains, as it often does here during the season at night.

This is just part of a millipede, which we saw while eating breakfast at the Kenroses Hotel.  We often saw corpses in the villages we were at, but this one was living and moving fast. 

When we were serving in Peru in the summertime especially, we had to deal with massive amounts of flies while preparing and eating our food.  Each morning at the Kenroses we would sit at the table waiting for our food.  Already there were flies on the table without food, no doubt from the night before.  They wipe off the tables, but I think I'd like to introduce the staff to Lysol Spray.  So while eating each morning we would bat flies with one hand and eat with the other.  Sometimes we'd try to lure them to another spot on the table to keep them away from our breakfast.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Back to Kumasi, Ghana

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Last night about dinnertime, just before we received our ordered dinner, it began to rain.  April Dever and I were in the office since it is cooler there, but when we got our food delivered into the hot building where they eat (we eat outside) it began to rain in buckets.  We got drenched just walking the few steps from the one building to the other.  We both looked like drowned rats.  We were so thankful that this didn’t happen on our site visits because the roads might have become impassable. 

After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, we had wanted to meet with the district to go over what we had seen, what we thought about the different communities, and to give them an idea of how they can get their communities ready for a water project, or not.  It is so sad that the most needy communities may not take care of their wells unless they show us that they can become more organized, earn their money, fix what they have, or show us some leadership skills.  It has been our sad experience in the past that sometimes the needier they are, the less likely they are to keep the project going.  Education and training are the keys to success.  It was also sad that only one man showed up for the meeting because they don’t meet on Saturday and many live far away from the office.  The man we met with just took notes because he wasn’t really the best one to talk to.  Not a good showing on their part either.

If you look closely, you’ll see that these logs have been dug out to use for boats. 

Our lovely room, soft bed, at the Golden Bean Hotel

After our meeting we drove back to Kumasi to see if the Golden Bean Hotel understood that we needed one day added to our stay.  Even Clarence had a hard time making them understand, and he knows the language!  We were grateful to learn that we did have a reservation for that extra night!  This time we have a superior room; other than not having the extra TV or balcony, it is large and beautiful.  They even have an official office chair at the computer desk and their rugs are fluffy—one of my favorite parts.  There is also another soft chair/piece of furniture/full length mirror.  This place is awesome!  I think we could live here awhile.  Two nights here, church tomorrow, one night in Accra, fly back late Tuesday night, arrive home Wednesday.

Love, from the Golden Bean Hotel

Friday, April 17, 2015

Last pictures from Sefwi

These next few pictures are of the same community.  This is what they call a bicycle pump, because it is like pumping up a bicycle tire.  It is very dirty around the well.

Also, the pump handle is missing some parts.

And this is their soak-away.  It is interesting that their community looks very clean, but they need some hygiene training.  This soak-away is a mosquito breeding pond and this bad water goes back into the earth where eventually it will spoil the clean water that they are getting from the well.  My favorite soak-away is when they plant a small garden where the run-off water can do some good and not cause problems.

This is the same community; they are also having a problem with a leaking latrine.

In this same community someone gave them a solar powered pump that gets the water into the tank above.  The only problem with solar power is that when it breaks, it is too technical for them to fix.  So we are having them fix their hand pump problems, and we are going to attach power to the pump to get water up to this tank for a mechanized system.
This community pulls water from the stream until it goes dry, after which they dig until they get water again.  They let the dirt settle to the bottom and use the top of it for drinking without boiling (they say the taste is not good when they boil--you have to put air back into it by shaking it up a bit or stirring but they don't know this).  They get diarrhea a lot they say (ya think?!)

Same community.

Check out the interesting hair on the lady on the back row in pink--love it!
I love the hair on this cute little girl.  I love how the dads here obviously adore their little children.

If you check closely you will see that this dress sparkles.  We don't usually see such a pretty dress in these back villages--she looks like she is going to a dance.

Last Days in Sefwi

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I am back to my happy place.  Today was so much better.  It was not that we didn’t sweat a lot, but the day was so much easier because: we got back at about 2 PM, we only saw 5 sites, one of the places had fans, it was early enough in the day to be a bit cooler and the ‘fans place’ happened in the middle of the day when we needed them the most.  It appears that I’m going to live after all…I even had time to do some wash.

Interesting facts: (1) small, black butterflies hatch this time of year to eat the mangoes.  There are swarms of them but we can’t seem to capture a picture of them.  We hope birds eat them so that they don’t destroy the mango crop.

(2) Clarence is actually in a line that he could become a chief—too bad he doesn’t have time!  He used to have time when he was young to be an artist.  His grandfather was a renowned artist.  His aunt was the first to join the church, along with some of her family, and Clarence spent time with her so he also joined.  He met his wife at a church activity.  He said it was actually called ‘fishing’.  She fished, he said, and she caught him.  We think she used fufu as bait.  Have you heard of African fufu?

(3) Did I tell you that on the forms for water committee meetings that they have a place for an opening and closing prayer?  These are religious people here in Africa.
This is a cooking stove made out of clay.  It has 3 points and the wood or coals are put inside under the pot.  These are all outside.

Friday, April 17, 2015

This morning I woke up at 4 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep so I did some more washing.  I have to endure one more night on this bed.  Clarence is staying at the same hotel but is in another building.  Jim said that there was a pool table in his building.  I think they made a mistake and put the pool table in my room—oh, my aching back!

Above & below: Our last meeting Friday was held in this church.  See if you can see how beautiful the ceiling is.  We got to sit on the cushy chairs.    

Friday afternoon:  We got back just before 4 PM, but the reason the day was not so difficult is because we were driving a long way to get to the areas and had plenty of time to cool off in the air conditioning.  Because of my lack of sleep, I did have trouble at one place trying to stay awake.  It was a pleasant day in comparison.  We will be meeting with the District in the morning and then driving to Kumasi.  After tonight, a soft bed is in my forecast.

Love, from the Kenroses Hotel.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pictures, Sefwi Wiaswo, Ghana

Above and below: the outdoor kitchen.

We had no trouble crossing bridges like these, but Elder Dever wondered how a big drilling rig would get over some of the dicier spots.  Someone from the region, Clarence said, would have to widen and strengthen some of the areas so that they could get through.  

I'm really fascinated by these chairs that they use for all the chiefs in the larger communities.   The seats appear to be goat leather or perhaps cowhide.

These cushions have been added for the older chiefs.

Aren't they pretty?  They all have different symbols on them.

All the big chiefs have a spokesman.  It is not that they do not speak at all, but they always have someone that does most of the speaking for them, such as this man standing.  Notice he has on a very fine gold necklace.
I thought this was a crab--they said that this was a dead scorpion missing most of its tail.
We saw several logging trucks--they have some mighty big trees here!

I took this picture to show you the ceiling fans.  There are three.  In the middle of the day we got to sit in this chiefs' building and they turned them on--just the perfect time when we needed them the most.  Our skin was wet but the fans saved us.  This is obviously the main chief because he is sitting at the high point.  It is the first time in a long time that we noticed that everyone stood when he walked into the room and didn't sit till he did.  They have a huge area, and there were many chiefs there.  They are very organized and have working committees so it is a perfect area to do projects because they take care of them.  Sadly, some of the most needy communities will not take care of their wells regardless of the dire need.  The District will have some work to do to get them ready.

Jim said we could move to Ghana and he would get a fleet of these mini-trucks and rent them out and I could be the 'queen mother'.  He is so funny.

Beautiful mom with beautiful baby.

While we were having one of our meetings, right next to us the health officer was there weighing the babies.  They take a grain sack and put the baby into it and then hang it on the weighing machine by the straps.  At one point the women began to argue an we thought it was serious, but there were smiles on their faces--something about whose turn it was.  It was the most entertaining of any of the meetings we had been to.

We went from one small community to another in this one section and they were not that far from each other.  Some of the men wanted to go to all of these meetings, so they would hitch a ride in the back of the District truck.

This is the scale used by the cocoa bean purchasers to weigh the beans that the community has prepared.  Jim stood on the scale to find that he weighed about what he did in college--it was weighing about 15-20 lbs. light.  We noticed in several communities that some of the cocoa bean purchasers put a hand pump well as a 'thank you' to the community.  Was this to assuage their guilt for cheating the communities?  All we know is that they do not do any training for the well, so it is doubtful they will last very long.

A long hard day in Ghana

Wednesday, April 15, 2015:  The real work begins.
I woke up constantly all night long from sore hips and an air conditioner that kept going off.  We got up at 6:30 and ate at 7:00.  Breakfast was complimentary with the hotel: small Western omelet, dry toast (no butter or jam), and pork and beans (a staple here in Africa).  We met the district people at their offices at 8AM.  Jim, April Dever and I were cramped in the back seat, with me straddling the middle.  The District had about 4 people in their truck all day, with different councilors coming and going depending on which community we would be visiting.  We needed to see if communities would agree to our criteria and to see if we wanted to do a water project there.  The plan was to visit 6 communities.  We visited 9.  We spent 11 hours driving around and having 30-45 minute meetings in each area.  In the morning we were happy and cool enough to be cheerful.  By mid-day we wanted to shoot ourselves we were so hot.  I became so sleepy that I began wearing my very dark sunglasses in the shade or building so that they couldn’t see that my eyes were closed.

April Dever and I with the head chief—the others were over other sections of a very large community of over 16,000 people.  The chief wanted us to be in a picture with him and said that we would be the ‘Queen Mothers’.  Clarence said that the queen mothers have more power than the chief and ask her opinion on important matters.  She comes from an inherited line and will often be involved in naming a chief.  Her offspring will be in line to be a chief or a queen mother, but even they are somehow elected or appointed from among the inherited line.  I had never heard this before.

These children are more interested than I am—I am falling asleep.  There were people hanging through the windows and doors trying to hear what was being said.

Then the afternoon came and a breath of wind blew by to cheer us up again.  But later the air no longer moved and we wanted to die.  The lack of sleep and heat left us exhausted.  All we could think of as our entire bodies from head to toe were moist with sweat is how much we’d like to sit in the air conditioned truck; then we began to fantasize about what a shower would feel like.  We began not to care what they said; we didn’t care if they balked at being asked to save 10% of the job before we’d do anything (it is for them to keep to use in repairs for their future water system).  All we wanted to do was get back to the hotel.

It is not too often that you see a fancy homemade toy like this in Africa.

When we got back we ordered our food, knowing it would take about an hour to get. Some of us ordered fish.  That sounds good till you realize it is deep fried and there isn’t much meat but there are a lot of bones—it was good, just hard to get at.  But I love the vegetable rice we get in Africa—it is always good. Before eating we went up to our rooms to thoroughly wash our hands with soap and water, just like in our hygiene training—somehow the hand sanitizer just doesn’t feel like it’s doing its job.  They have this tradition here: you get there and shake everyone’s hand--all the leaders and chiefs and committee members, etc.  So first we shake their hands, and then they walk around and shake ours right afterwards.  Then we give our spiel, and then they talk it to death (in a language we can’t understand so it is unusually boring for us) and then once again when we are ready to leave they shake our hands again!  The communities must be full of each other’s germs! 
It’s interesting that in some very large communities with lots of people to contribute to their 10 percent sometimes balk at it while tiny communities quickly agree, and their contribution would be more because there are less of them.  We love small communities best because they also seem to be cleaner, even their outhouses. Some groups will have to be mentored by the District in order for them to organize themselves into committees and begin saving their monies if they want us to do a project for them.  Only time will tell.

These cell phones are being charged at the bottom of a solar powered light pole in this small community.

One of the interesting things is that Africa loves speed bumps.  We know this from when we served in Kenya.  But the speed bumps in this area had three little ones in a row, and for some reason they beat us to death each time we had to cross them no matter how slowly we drove, and they had them everywhere! 

After our long day I decided we needed to get paid overtime…my feet have once again swollen like I was 9 months along.  The best news for me is this: my cough is gone, and I thought it would last a very long time like it has for my grandson.  Last week when we were with ‘our’ Joseph, he said that the African sun would burn the cough out of me—I didn’t believe him; now I do!

Two more days to go, we hope not like this one.

Till tomorrow.

Love, from parts unknown, in Ghana

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Getting to Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

This morning we met Dever’s in the hotel lobby at 9 AM and checked out of our beautiful spot of heaven.  We picked up Clarence, who is with us to interpret as we visit a new area to see if we will do water projects.  We stopped by to see Stanley, one of the men who is drilling wells for us in Amansie West, the project we are working on now.  We drove till 2 PM when we arrived at a recommended hotel, the Kenroses in the Sefwi Wiawso District.  We were glad to know that they put us in the suites or else we would not have known how special they were (just kidding).  I suspect I’ve become a spoiled brat at the Coffee Bean Hotel.  The room is large, with a king sized bed.  The mattress is brick hard, but not unusual for here.  The air conditioner works very well.  The fridge works.  They have a standing closet for our clothes with both shelves and a place to hang our clothes.  There is a small table for our computers.  They have a tiny hot water heater above the tub, which means our showers will be warm.  The main floor tile looks quite good so I think they have done some refurbishing.  The sink is new, the toilet and tub are old.  The bathroom has a unique kaleidoscope of tiles, some on top of each other, with odd little objects sticking out of the tile that they no longer use.  The toilet seat is broken, but this is also typical.  They have Wi-Fi, which took a bit of trouble to hook up (and for them to fix) and it is a bit slow.  I just have to become patient again.  Jim tells me the TV has 3 channels.  We don’t see a pool so Clarence will be sad.  We have a balcony, so I can wash and hang out some clothes, and already got some washed and dried before dinner.  Since we will be here most of the week I get to unpack once again.  There are always things to be very happy about!  As for the bed, we’ll just pack our hips with extra pillows.

The Kenroses Hotel, looking rather pristine from this picture.


The eating area. The enclosed eating area that they do not bother to air condition, so we eat outside as it is cooler there, cooler, not cool. 

We went down for dinner and all ordered something different and all got the same food, almost exactly.  After dinner I tried out the shower.  It has a nice wand that has good spray, but it got away from me a couple of times (no shower curtain) and I ended up with a wet floor, a wet makeup bag, and wet hair (I had decided not to wash my hair).  So I washed my hair.  I had to have the gal come and mop the floor—embarrassing.  We were off to a good start in the Sefwi Wiawso District.

Above and below: In Africa they are quite religious, and among their many billboards a great many of them advertise special events like Easter, revivals, general things like Christ is coming with a scripture reference.  The Pentecostal Church must be the most attended because they seem to have a church in every little place we drive through.

Till tomorrow: sure to be a long, sweaty, hard day.

Love, mom & dad, Jim & Karen, E/S Greding

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pictures in Amansie West

They loaded up Sister Dever with fruits from their trees.

Beautiful African children.

These children were happy to pose for us, even the little one on the left with the heart on her T-shirt.  Normally younger children cry and run away from us.

Children go a bit crazy when we bring out our cameras...

I wondered if that was a termite mound next to the hut or some kind of kiln.

Elder Dever with the children--they always brighten up our day.

Girl with a Ghanaian apple--they are different than ours.

Above and below, someone is building a rather grand house!