Welcome to Ben and Julie's Missionary Page
January 2005 Update

This Month's Features:
The Holidays and Harmattan

A Train in Greater Accra
Click to jump directly to the Train

Holiday Events
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'Tis the Season for White Stuff to Fall Out of the Sky

Cresent Moon and Light Tree
But in Ghana, we only saw clear skies for the holidays.

Ella found snow in Virginia!
It made her very happy.
Ella in Snow

Surfside Snowman

Our surfer nephews Matt and Andy Owen
built a snowman in Surfside, Texas!!
And Melanie with her dad and brothers
built one in Lake Jackson, Texas!
Everybody got white stuff, but us!!
Lake Jackson Snowman

Julie Pretends It helped Sister Markham be happy
when Ella (and her Mom) sent
some beautiful snow flakes!

Then suddenly on January 7, we got
our own dose of white stuff.
This is Harmattan!

Winds from the Sahara Desert (1000 miles away) carry fine dust down the west coast of Africa. This wind pattern happens for several weeks a year in January and February. Visibility drops as low as 100 yards. The dust haze blocks the sun which drops the temperature. The humidity is much lower, so except for the dust it feels good! In some West African villages, Harmattan is called "The Doctor" because the cooler weather and low humidity make people feel better. When we breathe through our mouths there is a faint dusty, salty taste. Because the dust has come so far, the larger particles have already settled somewhere else. What is left is a very fine dust. It is like the angels are sprinkling baby powder from the sky. It settles everywhere, so keeping things clean is almost impossible. The fine dust actually makes some floors feel slick. You'll notice the haze in many of the pictures in this update.

Here is a mouseover of before and after pictures
of a train station sign taken exactly one week apart.
The dust is very thick, all the time.
Harmattan Dust
Mouseover to see the white stuff in Ghana!

Speaking of Trains, We Found One (for Uncle Mike) in Accra

Train Arrives
The morning commuter train from Nsawam arriving at Accra's Odaw Station

Click the button to see more pictures
and video clips of the train in Greater Accra.

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We took some fun animal pictures this month.

Cattle in the Road Turkeys
We saw cows with big horns in the raod. We saw turkeys strutting around.

Doberman Puppy Goats on Tro-Tro
There is a new Doberman puppy
named Sheba at our apartment.
We saw this Tro-Tro with small
goats (or sheep) on top.

Our favorite animal picture this week was
a big goat cruising around Accra while standing on a Tro-Tro.
Big Goat Tro-Tro Surfing
What a beautiful animal! Will Tro-Tro surfing become popular?

Guess what Santa Claus brought us for Christmas?
New Office with a Door New Office
Sister Markham got a real door
with a nice new office attached.
And it is next to Sister Armstrong.
What a perfect Christmas!
Elder Markham got a new office, too.
It is in a suite with Sister Markham.

We are now on the ground floor, just opposite the temple entrance. The area where our small office and cubical had been was remodeled to provide offices for department managers. Elder Skelton and Elder Markham miss being close enough to maintain a running debate on some obscure point (tease each other) all day long. They will find ways to compensate. Office Construction
Elder Skelton inspects Elder Markham
inspecting the new construction!

Just like all of you, we ate well, too well, over the holidays. Christmas dinner at the Whisenants with the area missionaries was delicious. All the sisters have figured out the ingredients for their favorite dishes. Sister Markham made Flemming's potatoes. It was flattering to see the Medical Director, Elder Merrill, literally scrape the pan. Elder Markham's belt buckle, which had been gobbling up holes like Pacman, stopped and even reversed direction a notch.

Christmas Dinner at Whisenants
Christmas dinner at the Whisenants with the area missionaries

Heavenly Brownies Money Counters
Sister Markham with 'heavenly' brownies
Her sister Susan stashed a wonderful
mix in the Huff's (new missionary couple)
luggage as they left Centerville.
The Elders count cedis to pay the bill
The area missionaries tried a new
Indian restaurant recently---maybe
preparing for their next missions.

Sister Markham has also become skilled with local ingredients
Fruit Salad
Mouseover to see this papaya (paw-paw), mango,
and Cape Coast pineapple become a fabulous fruit salad!

As we drive in Ghana we still learn a lot and see many interesting things.
Full Load Mammy Truck
Many Ghanaians travel to their home
villages during the holidays. Tro-Tros
were all full of people and presents
going to and from thee villages.
Mammy trucks were used before Tro-Tros.
The holiday crowds brought some
of these back into temporary service.

Large Load Large Load
'Holiday crush' takes a new meaning!
All the loads seemed...
...a little larger during the holidays.

Large Load Large Load
And, of course, the transportation... ...got a little more creative.
Thanks to Joseph Larbie of Facilities Maintenance
for these pictures.

Sewing Shop Sewing Shop
Walk-up sewing shops are common... ...along roads through larger villages.

Fufu Pots Fufu Sticks
Most roadside vending is food related.
These are new fufu pots for making the
West African staple.
These are fufu sticks to use with the pots.
Click the button to review fufu manufacture.

Palm Oil Termite Mound
Most villages have a specialty product
sold by different vendors along the road.
This village sells palm oil.
This fruit and veggie vendor has his
shop around a giant termite mound.
We trust the mound is abandoned!

Reptile for Sale Mammals for Sale
Along the rural roads, you can buy
local favorites, whether it be reptilian...
...or a warm blooded critter.
All are fresh, catch of the day!

Chef Baba
Chef Baba is preparing grilled
chicken for the landlord's family.
Ghanaians relax with family and friends
during the holidays. Traditional clothes
and good food are the norm.

It is time for the shop/sign of the month contest.
Click below to see this month's results.

This month we are featuring hairdos in lieu of flowers.

A clerk at our favorite grocery store
with a new holiday 'do'.

Like many North American women, West African women like to go to the beauty shop every week or two. The beauticians here are very creative, and the women are patient enough to have elaborate braids and twists done to their hair. The cost in terms of time and money is significant, but the results are beautiful. There were many new "do's" for the holidays, so Sister Markham caught poses from some of our friends.
Click below to see more African hairstyles.

What Does a Ghanaian Pioneer Patriarch do on His 70th Birthday?

This one dances!

Click below to see more picture from
Patriarch Joseph William Billy Johnson's 70th Birthday Party

The fondest memories of our Christmas in Ghana will be from the
missionary conference and the employee holiday party we attended.

Dessert Table Santa and Vern
The dessert table was very popular
at the missionary conference.
Santa points a finger at Elder Whisenant.
Has he been naughty??
Click below to see and hear more from these events.

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An employee we work with is Bishop of a ward on the outskirts of Accra. He related an interesting story. Just a few weeks after being evacuated from Ivory Coast, an Elder from Tonga stood up in testimony meeting and bore his testimony in the Twi language. This is a native tongue in Ghana, but not Ivory Coast. The members were mesmerized. As he sat down, they began to applaud--something we are asked not to do in the chapels. The Bishop said, "I didn't know what to do! I said a silent prayer for guidance, then----applauded too!" We recently met Elder Taumoepeau. You get the impression very quickly that "impossible" is not in his vocabulary. It felt like meeting a modern son of Helaman. Elder Taumoepeau
Elder Taumoepeau

Starting in January we attend the North Ridge Ward when we are not traveling. On our last week in Adenta Ward Sister Markham could not resist capturing a bit of their choir singing prelude. She stood by the side door to the chapel and held the camera down low. The video was not good, so it has been replaced by a still photo. The audio is worth a listen.

Adenta Ward Choir

The mission president, President Gay, is using some experienced Elders, the injection of missionaries from Ivory Coast, and couple missionaries to open new proselyting areas. These are called groups at first. The growth in these groups is inspiring. In a few weeks' time they go from a handful of members to 50-100 attendance at worship services. It is another clear indication of the Lord's Spirit being poured out on the African people.

Nkawkaw Saints
Members from Nkawkaw group at the Temple for Baptisms
with "their" missionaries.

Elders Stirland and Ainge Baby Kweku
Elder Stirland and Elder Ainge helped
establish a thriving group in Nkawkaw.
Elder Stirland was evacuated from Ivory
Coast, but never missed a beat in service!
Elder Ainge, from the basketball family,
completes his mission soon. He leaves an
exemplary legacy of love and service.
There was a very pregnant sister with the
saints from Nkwakwa. Sister Markham and
Sister Armstrong worried about the bumpy,
3 hour ride home. Sister Markham helped
her and her husband get names ready for
baptism in the temple. Three weeks later
in Nkwakwa, Sister Markham got to hold
2 day old Kweku, meaning Wednesday.
It is West African tradition to use
the birth day in the name.

5 pm sun
Harmattan Sun Silhouettes Moroni!

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