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

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There is a unique bonding among missionaries serving in West Africa. Some say it is due to the diversity of the missionaries. Others credit the adversity that they face together each day. We believe another factor is the verasity of the gospel. But sometimes it may be simply a voracious appetite!

Elder and Sister Markham were leaving a mission fireside at about 8 pm one night when our friend Elder Hegsted asked if we could give some Elders a ride to nearby Osu. Elder Markham agreed and Elder Hegsted asked how many we'd be willing to take. Elder Markham answered with a profound question, "How many Elders can fit in the back seat of a 2000 Toyota Corolla?"

How many Elders can fit in the back seat of a 2000 Toyota Corolla?
How many Elders fit in the back seat of a Toyota Corolla?

Being on meager budgets, Elders travel in crowded tro-tros and 'shared' taxis.
So the art of 'cramming in' is an important missionary skill. All olfactory senses become muted.
The Toyota is Full The Toyota is Full
"OK Elders, let's work on
synchronized breathing."
Who can breathe!!"

How do we get out? How do we get out?
"How do we get out?" "I can see my foot.
Now if I could just feel it!"

The answer is: About 1000 pounds of Elder.
The answer: About 1000 pounds of Elders!
Elders: Kale, Allen, Spencer, Hegsted, Richards, Kissi

And what is the purpose of this masochistic behavior?


Web Site Update Content
When we finished the last web site update a month ago, we thought we might have to skip a month to be able to accumulate enough photos and stories for another update. Since then we have witnessed: final preparation for the Aba Nigeria Temple openhouse; seven missionary couples complete their service here; two members of the Area Presidency and three employee families be reassigned; a new hearing clinic open at Korle-bu Hospital; the BYU student nurses learn through service; other humanitarian volunteers pass through; the Temple Complex choir perform; an African dance at our stake center; trips to Lagos and Takoradi for our work; family history visits to Buduburam and Nsawam; first time Temple patrons including some Church pioneers; more beautiful African flowers; batiks, beads, and other beautiful things; some interesting signs and shop names; and the Ghana Accra Mission being divided to create the new Ghana Cape Coast Mission.

It turns out there is plenty of material for this update!

Click the buttons below to sample the smorgasbord.

Highway Construction Through a Market
As we drove to Takoradi in May, the highway construction progress was very evident. We were on paved roads all the way. The highway is being widened to four lanes for most of the way, and two lanes are completed. The construction passes through some large markets where the effect of this project on the lives of people can be easily seen. There are pluses and minuses to this progress. Jobs and opportunity are created, but businesses are disrupted. It reminds us of the many challenges still facing Ghana and the Church members here.

Moving Sand Moving Sand
Moving a load of sand from point A
to point B...
...involves hiring 3 or 4 men
with shovels,...

Moving Sand Moving Sand
..and 10 to 12 women
with dish pans.
Labor is very cheap due to
high unemployment.

Around highway construction where large amounts of earth are being moved there are always piles of rocks. People collect rocks to sell as gravel. Since big rocks are more plentiful than small rocks, they sort and hand chip to make the more valuable smaller sizes. We don't know the price of gravel, but the many people who hand produce gravel seem happy to have any cash income. Gravel Production
Gravel Production Gravel Production

Sewing Machine Trucking a Fridge
A mobile business is good. A business of moving is too.

Market Market
Food markets are totally portable. Bundles of used clothing
are sorted and sold on the spot.

Market Market
These two pictures are classic market
scenes. This one shows rock pile
opportunities and fuel on the move.
This mother has rice on her head,
a baby on her back, and a cooking
oil container in her hand.

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Rainy Season Weather Remains Pleasantly Cool

This young man has a new 'hoodie' to keep him warm.
Well maybe not completely warm!

Sleeping Sleeping
There is no official siesta time
in Ghana. But, people can and do
sleep anytime and anywhere.
Elder Markham has stopped complaining
about how hard our mattress is!

Polio Victims on Skateboards
Polio Victim Polio Victim
We see polio victims begging on
many busy streets. Great efforts
are under way in West Africa to
eliminate this terrible disease.
This is John, seen through our windshield
on a rainy day. He always asks about
'madame' if Elder Markham drives by alone.
He comes to his spot on a hand driven
tricycle, then switches to his skateboard
to better negotiate the busy traffic.

David Hill Hill Family
David Hill, the Church Controller
in West Africa for four years, has
accepted a transfer back to Salt Lake.
Solomon Aliche (far right) from Nigeria,
has become the first Area Controller
from Africa in the Church.
The Hill family has been a great
role model to Church members here.
They will be missed.

Brother and Sister Akpan
Brother and Sister Akpan from Abeokuta District in Nigeria
We were doing family file sealings in the temple
when this couple came to be sealed. We were privilged
to witness their eternal marriage.

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The Obinnas---Nigerian Pioneers
When the first LDS missionaries arrived in Nigeria in November of 1978, Anthony Obinna was a leader of a congregation in Nigeria that had assumed the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At that point, Brother Obinna had been waiting for missionaries for 13 years. The missionaries were Edwin Cannon (Sister Markham’s father’s cousin) and Rendell Mabey, and their wives. The problem was finding Anthony Obinna. All they knew was the name of the village where he lived. They traveled to the area and began asking if anyone knew Anthony Obinna. They finally found a man who said he would travel with them to the village, only three miles away. This man took them to a little church with painted words over the door, “Nigerian Latter-Day Saints.” In the little chapel they found a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants, three paperback editions of the Book of Mormon and a copy of Gospel Principles. They also saw stacks of the Ensign and several issues of the Church News. A picture of the Twelve Apostles was on one wall.

Anthony Obinna arrived and welcomed them with the words, “It has been a long, difficult wait, but that doesn’t matter now. You have come at last.” He explained to them that he had been directed in dreams to find the true Gospel. He finally learned about the LDS Church through an old copy of Reader’s Digest. He subsequently met some American businessmen in Nigeria who were members of the Church. They gave him information and literature. Brother Obinna prayed and studied and wrote letters to Salt Lake, asking for missionaries. He worked with his three brothers to organize a church based on Mormon principles and doctrines. Even though the Church was not officially organized in Africa, they wanted to live by its precepts. A few days after meeting with Elders Cannon and Mabey, about fifteen people were interviewed and found to have strong testimonies and to be worthy. On November 21, 1978, they were baptized. Included in this group were Anthony, his wife Fidelia, and his brothers Francis and Raymond. After the baptismal service the three Obinna brothers were ordained Priests and set apart as the leaders of the first authorized branch of the Church in West Africa. (The whole story can be found in the book Brother to Brother by Rendell N. Mabrey and Gordon T. Allred.)

Anthony has since died, but the three surviving brothers and their wives (the youngest brother is Albert) came in June from Owerri Stake to the temple in Accra. We asked why they came to Ghana when the temple will be dedicated in Nigeria in August. They told us they had made several previous attempts to come to Ghana to receive their endowments but had not been successful. They kept trying. They made the decision not to postpone until the Aba Temple was completed because they wanted to set the example for their family members that attending the temple is important. Four younger family members are currently serving missions in West Africa. Two are in Nigeria and two are in Ghana.

These are true pioneers.

The Obinna Brothers with wives and Aera Presidency
The Obinna Pioneers
From left: Francis, Rita, Raymond, Elizabeth, Florence, Albert
Back: Pres. Workman (1st C), Pres. Child (Area President), Pres. Schultz (2nd C)

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