Welcome to Ben and Julie's Missionary Page
August 2004 (second update)--and the beat goes on.......

Alma the Younger
Two year old Alma the Younger inspects Elder Markham's car!

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission
This young man with a Book of Mormon name seems ready to join the missionary force!
We checked and learned there is no Alma Sr., but his name is indeed "Alma the Younger."
Mom and Dad just wanted to use a Book of Mormon name---Bible names are common.

The Children Continue to Delight Us

Amelia in Nigeria Moani in Nigeria
Amelia in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Moani, 3 months, with Elder Markham
It was in the mid 70's in Nigeria
The baby is bundled up,
but notice the sweat on Elder Markham's face!

Giftie and Monkey Fokar
Giftie (remember her?)
on a bad hair day
retrieving her pet monkey.
Fokar, an active child
who stopped just long enough
to pose for Sister Markham
while Elder Markham was auditing with her Dad.

Helene and Kingsley Brother Baddoo and Ernest
Kingsley with Mom, Helene
Kingsley was blessed today.
Helene makes her own clothes.
Brother Baddoo and Ernest

When Kingsley's Father brought him to the front of the chapel to bless him, he was not very happy. In fact, for being such a little guy, he can make a lot of noise! So Dad cut the blessing very short and took the crying baby back to Mom. After Kingsley had spent a few minutes eating, then strapped on Helene's back, he was peacefully asleep. The Bishop got up and announced the baby has calmed down so the blessing would be done again. So Dad brought up Kingsley and gave him a beautiful, full length blessing. The Ghanaians are practical!

A few weeks ago Elder Markham trained two auditors during a ward audit. One of them, Clement Baddoo, is an assistant to us and brought his six year old grandson, Ernest. Ernest is a typical six year old Ghanaian child, used to sitting still at meetings. Sister Markham was quietly sitting on a soft chair along the wall, naming photos on her lap top. She made a place for Ernest on the seat next to her. Ernest was very helpful, teaching Sister Markham that the man with the tall box on his head was selling frozen yogurt, and telling her that the nuts on the womanís head were called ground nuts [not peanuts]. When the pictures were named, Sister Markham showed Ernest photos of her grandchildren during zoo trips in the past year. Ernest recognized most of the animals, although he did not recognize a bear. He had not seen a tattoo that showed up in one photo [tattoos are not popular in West Africa,] and Ernest had never seen a drinking fountain before.

Marion the neighbor Louisa, Freda, and Patience
Our neighbor, Marion Louisa, Freda, and Patience

Marion is the five year old granddaughter of the landlord and lives above Elder and Sister Markham. She is often outside chatting with Baba and occasionally regales Sister Markham with stories. She told Sister Markham about the two new baby kittens recently born to one of the feral cats. These kittens live at the base of the banana tree, under a stone. Marion taught Sister Markham that the Dobermanís name is Sport, not Port, as she had previously understood from Baba. Marion likes to tell tall tales, as any five year old does. One day Marion terrified Sister Markham with reports of snakes in the yard. Fortunately, Baba knew enough English to reassure Sister Markham that there were never any snakes. Marion goes to school during the day and likes to read books with her grandmother in the evenings. She also makes Sister Markham extremely homesick for Willie, who started Kindergarten in August.

At a Weavers' Shop

Weaver 1 Weaver 2
This is an African weaver
making Kente cloth which is used
for ties, scripture covers, purses, etc.
Another weaver at work with his son.
School is out for one month in August.

Weaver set up Resistance
The weaving setup is primitive,
but it works well---this is typical.
Ghanaians make do with what they have!
The weaver needs constant tension on the warp strings,
but also needs to roll up the finshed cloth.
A weighted skid device in the dirt does the job!

If you want to see a very short movie of these amazing weavers in action,
click the button below. This is about 500kb so it takes a while to load after you press play.

A New Bore Hole for Clean Water

In many African countries, clean drinking water is a critical need and a key to improved health of the people in villages. LDS Church Humanitarian Services supports bore hole projects throughout the world, and West Africa is one of the high activity areas. A bore hole is a well drilled through the top soil (often 10-20 meters) and then through a layer of rock to a depth of 30-100 meters where a clean aquafer can be found. Typically, deep well hand pumps are installed to allow people to get the clean water. Without bore holes, villagers resort to "hand dugs," which are just holes in the ground 2-3 meters deep. Since the water table is high, it is easy to reach water, but the water is almost aways contaminated from surface activities. However, many Ghanaians have no choice but to use this or river water to drink, clean, and cook.

The Humanitarian Services missionaries work to find local partners to leverage the efforts. Often it is very cost effective to repair existing bore holes. At a minimum, local villagers are trained to maintain their bore holes and a supply of spare parts is left for their use. The success rate is not great, but improving. The principle of self-reliance is the foundation of all LDS Church aid.

We watched the start of a new bore hole on the University of Ghana campus. The university will provide electric power for a pump and a pipe to a collection tank from this well. The site is a corn field on the edge of university property. Previous bore holes contributed by the church now supply the dorms with running, clean water. That project was very well received by administration and students alike!!

The drilling rig Sisters watching the action from a safe distance
The drilling rig was
made in America.
The church contracts for the drilling service.
Sisters Markham and Armstrong viewing
the action from a safe distance.

The drilling starts
Mouseover to see the drilling start!

The Humanitarian Missionaries in Ghana are Elder and Sister Walker from North Carolina. He is a farmer, she is a nurse, both are converts to the church, somewhat past retirement age, and FANTASTIC!!! They work hard, are fearless, and know how to get things done. What a privilege to be surrounded by people like this.

Joking with contractors Corn stocks for 'drilling mud'
Elders Walker and Markham tease the boss
about not getting out of the way.
Soft, wet top soil makes initial drilling messy.
Corn stocks being stuffed around
the well casing in an attempt to secure
the casing through the top soil.

Hand Dug Well Elder Markham by the hand dug
'Hand dug' near the new bore hole "Does this meet OSHA standards?"

Click the button below to see a video of the drilling rig in action.
(This is about 500kb so it takes a while to load after you press play.)

Elder Markham by the rig Farmer watering oniions
Elder Markham flirts with the mud! A local farmer on the university
grounds uses water from the
hand dug well for a new onion crop
planeted at the edge of his corn.

Palm Avenue The University of Ghana campus was established about 50 years ago by the British. They laid out an ambitiously large site with tree lined roads and beautiful gardens. Only a portion of the site is used today. Here we see Palm Avenue, near the new bore hole site. The original trees have grown majestically, but the expanded campus has not yet arrived.
Palm Avenue

That a corn field, or more appropriately a corn patch, existed on the site of the new bore hole is no surprise. Corn patches are all over. It grows nicely year around and is a food staple. Anywhere there is an open piece of land, a corn patch is planted. Corn Patches
A corn patch along the road
near our apartment in Accra

The Friut Bats Are Coming Back

Alma the Younger
The flying foxes are returning to the Accra area,
how many can you count in the tree?

We hear that by Novemebr the sky will get dark with thousands of these bats of unusual size. We are looking forward to getting some good pictures. This picture, like most of our candid shots, was taken through the car window as we drove by. You can see a raindrop or two from the windshield.

The five cats Kittens
The five cats that live at our building Two new kittens

Butterfly Rooster
This butterfly showed up in our apartment,
we caught it and let it go outside.
Elder Markham is so gentle.
But when Elder Markham sees a rooster by the road
in our neighborhood, he tries to run it down!
This violent behavior is related to the crowing
that starts every morning about 2:00 am!
Most Senior Missionaries are thinking
"rooster for Thanksgiving!!"

Termite An old termite mound (or maybe ant hill, we don't look that closely). Termite mounds and giant ant hills are all over. Ernest told Sister Markham that there is a monster that lives in them. If you go too close, the monster will eat you. But sometimes big men pour poison on the hill to kill the monster. Clearly, Ernest's Mom wanted him to stay far away from ant hills. These ants are known as army ants, and can kill small animals.
Palm Avenue

And Still More Flowers!

Flowers Flowers
These plastic looking flowers grow on
a spine covered bush with hedge type leaves.
This canna lily is beautiful!

Flowers Colorful Shrubbery
Shrubs with these blue flowers
surround the Accra Temple.
This vivid red and yellow shrubbery grows along
one of the walls of the Temple Compound.

In an effort to allow our readers to balance beauty and boredom for themselves, we are only showing a few flowers on this main page. Click the button for a page of flowers, just flowers. Since we don't know anything about them, we provided no commentary.

Accra is located in a tropical forest. We see reminders of this everywhere.
Bananas Ficus Plant
Bananas right out our kitchen window Fugative Ficus Plant
This ficus tree was once a potted plant growing inside our apartment. When it grew too big, it was placed outside, where it broke the pot with its roots and and is now growing firmly in place.

Garden A Hill in Ghana
The next door neighbor's vegetable garden North of Accra is hill country.
This one reminded us of Cumorah.

The more we interact with the people, the more fun we have!

Baba in a sweater Williams and Cutlass
Though slightly north of the equator,
Accra's "cool" season is
June through September (go figure.)
At 73 degrees on an August afternoon
Baba needs a sweater to keep warm!
The yard man, Williams,
uses a cutlass to mow, edge, and trim.
While his work is excellent,
would you complain if it were not?

Peanut Vendor Pastry Case
A close up of a ground nut (peanut) vendor This women has a pastry case on her head.

Lawn Care Hawkers
Lawn care service expert,
complete with non-mulching blade
(left hand side)
and bagging attachment!
Hawkers at work on the street.
Most anything is available!

Carrying on Top Carrying on Top
A shop keeper on the way to work Delivery service

Driveway Sweeper Sunday at the Tro Tro Stop
Driveway Sweeper Sunday at the Tro Tro Stop

Brooms on her head Frozen Yogurt
Taking brooms to the shop The box on his head is waterproofed
with plastic and insulated inside.
He is selling frozen yogurt bars
on the street.

Tro Tro Mate Diane
The mate on a tro tro handles
all the business while the driver drives.
(which Elder Markham believes
is a full time job in Ghana!)
This one is making room for one more passenger!
Diane Bailey and Sister Markham

Ghana Airways (GA) is having problems. First, it was prohited from the United States pending security improvements, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded there. If that werenít enough, Sierra Leone banned it after an airliner broke down while landing on the runway there. Now Nigeria has asked it to stop flying there. Diane Bailey is a student from California who studied at the University of Ghana this summer. Having flown here on GA, she suddenly found herself stranded. She managed to get a ticket from GA on another airline and got back to California in time for the Fall semester. GA is the airline the Markhamís are planning to take to Sierra Leone in September. Sister Markham, sometimes faith-challenged, is not praying for them to get back into business anytime soon.

What you have all been waiting for--
The Sign/Shop of the Month Contest!

Clean Hands Washing Hands
Public health is a priority in Ghana He that hath clean hands....

Ark Foundation Tax Ad
A good cause An ad for taxes bumper sticker

Esso Mobil
Elder Markham likes this one! For the brethren back in Fairfax!

God First Motors Jesus is Coming
Religious names... ...and slogans abound

Tro Tro Sign All Shall Pass
Tro Tros are often "by the (hi)way,"
broken down
Ever try to pass a Ghanaian Taxi???

Alafia Bitters Faith A/C
Would you try this health drink? Appropriately named repair shop (fitter)

A Tie for the Bronze
Nice to be nice He ain't Heavy
Ghanaian Street Wisdom at its Best What can I say!

A Solid Performance for the Silver

Praise the Gospel of Sewing...Machines

Solid Gold---This Month's Winner

Signs of the Times
The President, VP, and Secretary of State?

These signs were actually in front of a sign making shop. The arrangement caught our eye. On the left is the President of Ghana, John Kufuor. He is an active Catholic, shows friendship to the LDS Church, has traveled to Salt Lake, and he asked President Hinckley to offer a prayer with all the Ghanaian government ministers on national TV. In the center is Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the Vice President. He is Muslim, and was a staunch ally of the LDS Church during the process to get permits for the temple construction, which he refered to as "my project" on more than one occasion. Both attended the temple openhouse. These men are running for re-election in December, so these signs were likely ordered for the campaign. The far right shows the shop owner's sense of humor---or maybe he thinks Colin Powell is doing a great job for the US and Ghana would benefit from a similar Secretary of State!

Paul Arko, stake auditor Edward and Abbot, clerks
Elder Markham with Brother Paul Arko,
an auditor in Christiansborg Stake
Edward Wallace and Abbot Kwei,
clerks in two wards being audited.
Note the sweat--Markham is tough!
Have you ever wondered what the Markhams are doing on their mission? Here is Elder Markham and Paul Arko, a stake auditor for the Christiansborg Stake, auditing the Cantonments Ward financial records. Elder Markham teaches stake auditors to focus on the entire process, not just the numbers. The process of handling funds in the church is designed not only to protect the sacred funds of the church, but to protect Priesthood leaders, also.

Ekpo Family Ekpo Daughters
Ekpo Family
Idongesit, Mbuotidem and Edidiong Ekpo
Recently, as we were leaving the office building, we saw three beautiful young girls.† Sister Markham is getting bolder about taking pictures and†asked if she could take their picture.† They were happy to pose.† While she took their pictures, Elder Markham chatted with their parents across the room.† They had traveled from Nigeria by rented car (12 hours, across three borders on rough roads) so the family could be sealed in the temple. He is a Branch President near the Nigerian Capital of Abuja.

Charles and Joseph
Elder Markham with Joseph Okoronkwo and Charles Adebayo

In mid August we were invited to accompany the Area President and his wife to Nigeria for a leadership training session with the two stakes in Port Harcourt. After landing in Lagos, we visited the local service center, where church employees work who handle the temporal affairs of the church in Nigeria. Joseph Okoronkwo and Charles Adebayo handle membership and statistical records. We work closely with these two brethren and their counterparts in Accra. Elder Markham showed them the training he has been giving to Priesthood leaders in Ghana. They also talked about the Church in Nigeria and how itís growing. There are currently 29 stakes, districts and missions in Nigeria, with 60,000+ members. A temple is under construction in Aba. Lagos is about eight hours by car west of Aba, and 8 hours east of Accra, Ghana. Both Charles and Joseph were sealed to their wives in the Johannesburg Temple. Charles couldnít afford to take his three children to South Africa, so he is saving money to take them to either the Accra or the Aba Temple as soon as possible. Charles was attending college in Yugoslavia where he first met Mormons and joined the Church. Joseph was also a university student when he joined the church. Typically in West Africa, men are the first to be interested in the church. The wife or girlfriend is often converted after the man has been baptized. Friday evening we flew to Port Harcourt, spending the night in the Port Harcourt Mission Home. Saturday we taught clerks and stake auditors in the Port Harcourt and Port Harcourt West Stakes.

Ivory Coast Buses Ivory Coast Saints
Temple Trip Buses from Ivory Coast
Some Saints from Ivory Coast
In mid August four huge chartered buses came from the Ivory Coast with youth and adults to attend the temple, the first time for most of them. They stayed four days.† The group overfilled the ancillary building which has small rooms with three bunk beds in each room. Many slept on the floor of the stake center that is also part of the temple complex.† Many had to bathe in the hose behind the ancillary building.† Food was very simple--rice, bread.† But they were smiling and laughing, taking turns caring for kids to let each other do temple sessions all week.† It was fun to watch.

Tro tro to the Temple
A Tro Tro from Buduburam Branch

Late one afternoon, Elder Markham saw a tro tro pull up.† We had never seen a tro tro on the temple grounds before.† A tro tro is a 12 passenger van that is used for public transportation.† We†started counting the people that got out of the tro tro.†† We lost count, though.† Sister Markham started taking pictures, and from the pictures we could count 25 people, plus the driver, who had climbed out of the van.† Maybe a handful were children, but still, 25!!† We learned they had come from a refugee camp in Ghana for Liberians.† There is a branch of the church †at the camp.† In fact, we are going to that camp on August 22 to attend church and audit the branch records.††† You know, sometimes people think everything has to be going great in their lives before they can take the time to attend the temple.† We have a feeling that these Saints from the refugee camp werenít waiting.

How fast can an African Mom attach a baby to her back?

Hard Benches Victoria
The pews in Adenta Ward are very hard. Victoria on the Adenta Ward benches
The benches we sit on for church are hard and not comfortable. The room is hot and humid, no A/C, just ceiling fans. The windows are open so the noise from the street can drown out the speakers at times. But the perspective one gets from the faithful saints here takes away any right to complain about such trivial temporal matters!

Willie misses Dewey Rebecca and Aba
Our grandson, Will, started
kindergarten this week.
Rebecca and Aba stayed at our apartment
Aba was baptized for her mother
who died a year ago. Two sons
(one an RM and one on a mission) were also
able to see their mother's temple work be done.
There are some things we really miss, but also some things we are so happy to be able to experience. Most of all we know the Lord is mindful of us. Your support and prayers are appreciated.

Aba Temple
The soon to be completed Aba Nigeria Temple

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