Welcome to Ben and Julie's Missionary Page
July 2004 Activities in the Accra region--adjusting to life in West Africa

Accra Temple at night
The Accra Temple at night--there is no building more beautiful in Accra!

We attended the Accra temple. We’d heard other senior missionaries say it is the prettiest of all the temples, but everyone says that about their own temple, so we discounted their comments. We were stunned to see how beautiful it really is. The colors of the couches, chairs and rugs are in bold purples, greens and turquoise. Many of the walls are paneled with dark African woods. The stained glass windows have a beautiful Tree of Life theme. We were both speechless – a rare event for either of us – when we saw how magnificent it was. No one would use the adjectives sedate, tame, or calm to describe the decorating. ‘African’ is the descriptive word here.

Baba and Mario Baba's Sabbath dinner
Our guard and handyman, Baba
with the neighbor's daughter, Marion
Baba's Sabbath dinner of fufu and a stew
As a Muslim, Baba takes Friday off, but often he is around the premises. We open and close the gate ourselves on Fridays. When we got home one Friday he was all dressed up. I asked him if I could take his picture. The little girl who lives upstairs wanted to pose with him. Baba also wanted to show me his Sabbath dinner. It is ground corn, which he uses as a scoop for his stew, which he called okra.

Sister Markham likes to snap pictures out the window of our car.
These are candid shots of life in Accra.

A Mobil c-store Another Mobil Retail Store
It is good to see "the company" here. The Mobil c-stores are very nice and popular
We had lunch one Saturday at a Mobil “On the Run” store. We’d heard from other missionaries that it was a safe, clean place to eat. Elder Markham chose to wash his hands before eating there, and he returned exclaiming that the bathroom there in the gas station was nicer than the one in our apartment! Elder Markham ordered a hamburger. Sister Markham had chicken kabobs. We both had chips, which is what the Ghanaians call French Fries.

Fun signs Fun signs
Reading signs is fun to do... ...fun to do...

Wig advertisement
...to do...

Car Wash SignThe Wall
...to do!
Baba keeps our car clean, but this sounds interesting

Are these goats really Smart??
Are these goats really smart??

BMW shop Benz shop
Most shops are small specialized operations. Once when we were temporarily off route
we found this street of car repair shops.

Osu market A typical shop
Entering the Osu marketplace A typical shop
The main shopping areas are markets like these. They are made up of literally hundreds of stalls that sell different wares. Because of all the people that gather there, and the fact that traffic is slowed because of all the pedestrians, there are hawkers that work the people and the traffic. From our car window, we could purchase toilet paper, loaves of bread, crackers, cookies, dried plantains, frozen treats, candy, tools, various car accessories such as mats and seat covers, peanuts, popcorn, or car stickers.

Osu is a shopping district near us, the nicest we have seen in Accra, which is the capital city of Ghana. There is a lot to buy. Elder Markham spent several days making sure everything was in working order in our apartment. He needed a special cable to get reception for the TV. [If you know Elder Markham well, this is totally in character with him. Never mind that we otherwise have not turned on the television!] After asking around, he found an electronics expert who ran a shop out of a store the size of a telephone booth. The proprietor did not have the cable with the right connections in stock, but he was able to make one while we waited. Sister Markham enjoyed watching chickens banter and peck at her feet while he worked. The proprietor then walked about seventy-five feet away to another shop where there were two wires and a lightbulb. He tested the cable to make sure it worked. Up to this point, that is Elder Markham’s favorite shopping experience.

African art A super Mario's market
An African art shop Does this place sell video games??
A super Mario's market

A Tailor's Shop
A tailor's shop for traditional clothing

Julie Enterprise
Julie Enterprise

Don’t worry, Sister Markham doesn’t have a business on the side. We assume that Julie, the proprietress, is the woman fanning herself before opening up shop for the day.

Delivery Motorcycles
Some things remind us of Japan!

The wall
The wall

Coconut Lane Mansion on Coconut Lane
Coconut Lane Mansion on Coconut Lane
While exploring one Saturday, we found ourselves on Coconut Lane in a luxurious part of Accra. This is a mansion compared to any other homes we’ve seen. Notice the satellite dish on the upstairs porch.

There is beauty all around!!

Flowers Flowers
The flowers continue to amaze us These flowers are all over a large tree

Flowers We are continually amazed at the beautiful flowers and vegetation here that is new to us. There are huge bushes along the roads often covered with flowers. These white flowers are at the temple site. The red flowers were hanging from a gigantic tree at the Lartebiokorshie Stake Center. The pawpaws are hanging from a coconut looking tree also in Lartebiokorshie. We are told they have orange fruit inside.
Pawpaw Tree

Cactus babaies Speckled Flower
Sister Markham calls these flowers Cactus Babies.
The new plants grow on the outer edge of the leaves.
They look like little flowers at first,
but they have roots and leaves
and drop off to grow new plants.
A delicate speckled flower

Clam Plant
Clam Plant

Sister Markham's favorite plant on the Temple grounds so far is this plant that she has named the Clam plant. Notice the little flowers blooming out of the long leaves of the plant, which are coiled to look like clam shells. The blossoms here are as abundant as the goats.

Vulture Cats
The friendly neighborhood vulture
eating the Doberman's dinner!
In the last website update,
Elder Markham referred to the vulture
as a buzzard. Sorry for the error!!
The local feral cats won't get close,
but they do pose for pictures!

Pineapple and Bananas Breakfast
Our favorite fruits Missionary breakfast
After a few weeks of not feeling our best, we have given up anything fresh and are now sticking to canned goods. Two exceptions are bananas and Cape Coast pineapple. The pineapple is very inexpensive – about 50 cents each. It’s sweet and not tart at all. The bananas are grown here in Accra and were ripened on the tree. They are equally as inexpensive. However, Elder Markham still washes the outside of these fruits in a Clorox solution before we eat them.

Sister Markham was not interested in drinking milk from a box, even though her Aunt Marilyn drank it on her mission in Mexico. But finally Elder Markham convinced Sister Markham that she needed the calcium and it wasn’t that bad. And you know what? It wasn’t. We are adapting to Ghana.

Our Toyota Corolla Books of Mormon---the tools of the trade
Our red 2001 Toyota Corolla The Book of Mormon---tool of the trade
While doing errands, Sister Markham was approached by a man who asked her about her name tag. He was interested in religion and quickly agreed to accept a Book of Mormon and read it. While they chatted, Elder Markham returned and joined in the conversation. Another man approached who had heard of the Mormons and said he would also like a Book of Mormon. Elder and Sister Markham walked to their car and retrieved the only two copies they had, returned to the shop, and there stood a third man who had become engaged in conversation with the first two men. If Elder and Sister Markham had had a third book, he would have accepted it. So, the next week, they purchased several copies of Book of Mormon so as to not be unprepared for a future opportunity. Their neighbors are the Mission Office couple who said the mission averages around 250 baptisms each month. There are currently 103 missionaries here. The missionaries spend most of their time teaching, not tracting.

Wash day Julie washing by hand
Our neighbor hires this woman
to wash laundry each week.
We have a small washing machine,
but Sister Markham still likes to do
a few items African style!

One Saturday after running a load of laundry, the power went out. After two hours, Sister Markham hung a clothesline on our porch so Elder Markham’s socks could dry. The power was out for six hours. We are learning this is not uncommon. The living room has large doors on two sides, which when opened created an unexpected cool breeze during the heat of the day. Our biggest concern was the 5 liter container of ice cream we had in the freezer. Unfortunately, it survived just fine and Elder and Sister Markham didn’t get to eat it all that day! It survived the next day when the power went out again for seven hours. We have learned that the neighbors don’t buy large containers of ice cream for this reason. Clothesline

Tro-tro tow The mass transit system in Ghana is made up of private vans called tro-tros. The cost is minimal. We have yet to see one not jam packed with people. Usually the vans have religious sayings on the back window. We often see the vans driving along with so many passengers that the last one in is holding the door, which can’t be shut.
Tro-tro tow
Tro-tro Tro-tro
Religious saying on the tro-tros Some things remind us of Texas!

***It is the people here who are making our experience so wonderful!!***

Mom and baby
Mom and baby

Peanuts for sale
Peanuts (called ground nuts here) for sale
This is the road to our favorite (very nice) Chinese restaurant--the yellow sign at the end.

Graceful women with babies on their backs and platters or containers on their heads are a common sight, but they never cease to amaze us. Sister Markham is as discreet as she can be when she snaps a picture. We have seen quite a few women with peanuts on their heads. The peanuts are taken off a few at a time as the woman sells them. Notice they are carefully stacked by hand in rows on the platter.

Victor the clerk Snap handshake
At Lartebiokorshie Stake Center for training
Victor is a ward clerk
Brother Larbie teaches Elder Markham the
snap handshake--slide off the handshake
and snap fingers just as contact is broken.
It is very common here.

Tro-tro Tro-tro
Young men at our ward The "eternal" seminary teacher!
These youth at church saw Sister Markham’s camera and all wanted to pose for pictures. The only way she could get them a picture was to email it to them. No problem, every one of them has a yahoo.com email address they access through an Internet Café.

Flint Mensah Mercy
Flint Mensah, an MSR employee, stake clerk
and our good friend
Flint Mensah works in the Area Office in Member and Statistical Records (MSR). He is also the clerk for Lartebiokorshie Stake. [We worked for an entire week to learn to say that name.] We taught a training session for that stake on financial procedures – what we were called to do. We are teaching the stakes near Accra first.

Mercy sat next to Sister Markham in Sacrament Meeting recently. A toddler out in the foyer was crying and disturbing the meeting, and the father wasn’t fast enough in getting him outside. Mercy got up from the meeting and picked up the child and walked him outside.

Flowers This poster was on a bulletin board outside the Lartebiokorshie Stake Center. We asked about it after reading that this man died in April but the funeral wasn’t being held until the middle of July. We were told that this is very common. The deceased are kept in the mortuary for up to two years while family members from various countries in Africa make plans to return to Ghana for the funeral. They were astonished when we told him that rarely is a funeral held later than a week after a death in the United States.
Funeral Poster

Emilia, Julie, Faustina
Emilia Ahadjie, Sister Markham, and Faustina Otoo
We see these sisters every day at work and every week at Church
They are wonderful!!

We are having fun meeting people and are enjoying church. The members have rock solid testimonies. The Ghanaians take religion very seriously, and this is reflected in lessons. There are no intellectual side discussions. No one makes quotes from commentaries they have read. The comments are basic, filled with scripture, testimony and experience, and to the point. This is the reason many senior missionaries request to return to Ghana. We have been assigned to attend the Adenta Ward on the outskirts of Accra.

LUAT lunch
Local Unit Auditor Trainer (LUAT) Assistants at lunch

In the first part of July, Elder and Sister Markham had a training seminar for their assistant auditors. Three are from Nigeria, two are from the Ivory Coast, and one from Ghana. We took them to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch. A few Church employees whose work interacts with the auditing we do also came to lunch. While our training session went very well, we enjoyed talking about how how each had joined the Church while we ate lunch. Most joined through family or friends. One man became concerned after his wife and seven children joined the Church. He decided to investigate the Church to see if he should allow them to continue attending. He asked the missionaries for reading material, and after studying the Family Home Evening manual, he asked his wife and the missionaries if they could have Family Home Evening together. He joined the Church not long after that. Another man was on a business trip in Switzerland in 1980 and met the missionaries there and joined the church. One of the men was visiting family in Maryland in 2000, met the missionaries and joined the Church before he returned to Nigeria. He was astounded to find the church very strong in West Africa – he’d just never noticed before. Another man, also from Nigeria, came across an issue of Reader’s Digest in 1983 that had an insert the Church had placed there. He filled out a referral card and mailed it off to Salt Lake City. One year later a missionary couple in Lagos contacted him and his brother, and they joined the Church shortly after that. Another man was a Catholic who met missionaries while at college. He said they seemed to have a “glow" about them, so he decided to attend church. He really liked the open discussion that took place in the classes. He soon joined.

Celestine Nwoko
Celestine Nwoko

Celestine Nwoko traveled five hours from Aba, Nigeria, to Lagos to catch the plane to Ghana to attend our seminar. Although he was in Lagos an hour early, his seat had already been sold to someone else by the airline – a common practice. He was out of luck with no way to get to Ghana by air. We were very sad on Friday that he wasn’t there because the seminar was going so well. Late Friday night we learned that instead of taking a bus back to Aba, he chose to travel via a series of buses to get to Accra, crossing three borders. He arrived at the hotel late in the evening and one of the other Nigerians called us to tell us he had come! We agreed to meet with him the next morning to give him personal training before he returned with the others that night by air. There are two lessons that can be learned. Are you dedicated enough to travel for over 24 hours, through three countries, to attend a training session? Second – is the meeting you have planned good enough that it’s worth someone traveling a great distance to attend? We have been humbled by the faith and dedication of all the members we have met. They take religion very seriously.

Counting a million
It takes three to count the cash for lunch---a million

Ghana is a cash society – there are no credit cards and few checks. [Of course, this makes balancing church accounts difficult for those who always use cash or barter for their goods. That’s why we are here.] The currency is called cedis [seedees]. Lunch for the seminar cost over one million cedis. The largest denomination is 20,000. This is not a staged photograph. Two waiters and Elder Markham spent five minutes counting the bills to make sure the correct amount was paid. Money is kept in Sister Markham’s purse which is large enough to hold all the necessary bills.

Melanie One morning our son David was helping 23 month old Melanie bless the food. At the end of the prayer he said, “In the name....” Melanie then said what sounded like, “Purple fin.” David was concerned so he repeated “In the name” two more times. Each time Melanie said, “Purple fin.” Finally Dave realized she wanted to ask Heavenly Father to bless Papa Ben.
Melanie Prays for "Purple Fin" Pray for the Missionaries!! We need it.

Celestial Room stained glass from the outside
The Accra Temple at night--Celestial Room stained glass from the outside

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