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November 2005: The Final Update

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Maybe its time to start cooking again!
Elder Markham misses home cooking
Elder Markham reacts to a piece of homemade cake
from Sister Armstrong

Sister Markham is a great cook. She even enjoys kitchen creativity and dining with guests. BUT when ingredients are hard to find, running water for clean up is unreliable and there is precious little horizontal space to work on, cooking becomes a chore. So Sister Markham opted for a can-of-something-over-rice diet. We did just fine. However, near the end of our mission Elder Markham started showing definite signs of missing home cooking.

October and early November were very busy as we completed the mid-year 2005 audit cycle and provided feedback to all the audit committees. This audit cycle was the third since we arrived in West Africa and it was gratifying to be able to see measurable progress. There was clear evidence that the six assistants we have worked with not only know their responsibilities, but they are truly maginifying their callings. A training template was also completed to focus the efforts for the upcoming year-end audits.

Elder Markham often says jokingly, "Sprint to the finish, you get there sooner." We stayed busy and the final days clicked down quickly. We did manage to get out and take a few snaps (Ghanaian for photographs) to record the things we will never forget, the people we truly miss, and the experiences that have changed our lives forever.

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Special thanks to Sisters Colleen Thompson and Rosemary Armstrong
for many photos used in this update.

Things We Love But Won't See Back Home

Baby on Back Head Carrying
Bobble-head Babies on Mothers' Backs Carrying the Load on Your Head

Grain and Bean Shop Sugar Cane Vendor
Grain and Bean Shop Sugar Cane Treat Vendor

Muslim Children Celebrating Colorful Shops with Happy Keepers
Muslim Children Celebrating
Id-al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)
Colorful Shops with Happy Keepers

Doggy at My Window Child in Swing
'How much is that doggy at my window'
Street Vendors
Children happily playing for hours
with any playground equipment or toy

Jolluf Rice African Souvenirs
Delicious Jolluf rice
Thanks, Faustina!
African Souvenirs

We will miss...

Tro-Tro Mate Moms and Babies
...the mates, but not the tro-tros. ...moms and babies, but not
the chickens and goats.

Shops Markets
We will miss the interesting shops... ...but not the crowded markets.

Missionary Dreams

African Fabric Perfect Vehicle for Ghana
Sister Markham: Piles of Beautiful
Hand-dyed African Fabric
Elder Markham: The Perfect Vehicle for
Ghanaian Roads and Traffic
(Cowboy Hat Included)

Our assignment involved working with local leaders in established Church units. While we often talked about the Church with people we met during the course of our activities, we would generally direct them to missionaries assigned to teach investigators. One notable exception is Peter Gyimah. At age 14, in a village in central Ghana, Peter decided he needed to find the true church in which to worship God. He had always felt strongly that there was a loving Heavenly Father. During the next several years he studied and joined two different Christian churches through baptism. But in each case he was disappointed that things taught in the New Testament, such as laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, were not currently practiced in those churches. After college he decided to stop looking for a 'true church' and just worship in his own personal way.

Professionally Peter became an officer in the Ghana National Police. In 2002 he was assigned to the security detail that accompanied the Ghanaian President, John Kuofor, on a visit to the U.N. in New York. While in the U.S., President Kuofor also visited Utah to meet with President Hinckley who had invited President Kuofor to Salt Lake City and Church Headquarters. Peter's first contact with the LDS Church was through President Hinckley. Peter was impressed by the people he met and the activities he saw on Welfare Square. A year later, while in the U.K. on a working vacation, Peter met two young LDS missionaries who had mistakenly knocked on the 'wrong door' where Peter was staying. They taught him twice before he returned to Ghana. The story of the restoration was planted in his mind and heart and he felt drawn to the message. In 2004, Peter saw two young obrunis in white shirts and ties with name tags like the missionaries he had known in the U.K. Peter stopped them and asked to be taught. The missionaries were more than willing to accommodate!

Peter was cautious about committing to join another church due to his previous experiences. He was also very busy with new assignments at work and completing a graduate program in accounting at a university. Between audit cycles, Elder Markham would use slack time to help the young missionaries with rides and other activities. He met Peter the second time these missionaries met with him. Elder Markham and Peter connected immediately, so Elder Markham offered to accompany the young missionaries each time they taught Peter. Elder Markham also took the lead in attending Sunday services with Peter since Peter lived in an area quite distant from his work where the missionaries were teaching him. Elder Markham became the continuity through several missionary changes, two work loaction changes by Peter and establishing connections to the Church unit where he lived.

Peter was 'fellowshipped' by several others along the way. When he first started the missionary discussions, he managed a visa fraud department. His primary contact in the U.S. Embassy was LDS and their personal friendship included families getting together for dinner. Peter was also contacted by the Area Public Affairs Directors to help develop contacts with V.I.P.s who Peter knew in the Ghana National Police. All these contacts helped soften the heart of Peter's wife who is still active in one of the churches Peter had previously joined. She wanted Peter to reconsider going to church with the family rather than join a new church. She also received some anti-Mormon literature that questioned the Church's family values. Gradually she was able to see what the Church teaches by seeing the lives of the members. Now she is friendly to the L.D.S. missionaries and hopefully she and the children will soon investigate the Church.

Peter was baptized on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005. The next day, Elder Markham was invited to lay hands on his head and by the authority of Melchizedek Priesthood, confirm him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and give him the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It is a very spiritually rich experience to think about Peter's 20+ year journey to find the true Church.

Peter's Baptism
Elder Ogbonna, Elder Umeh, Peter Gyimah and Elder Markham
at Peter's baptism

Things That Have Changed Our Lives

Meeting Real Pioneers
Patriarch Johnson Fo Jig
Clint Christensen with Ghanaian Pioneer,
Patriarch Joseph William Billy Johnson
Brother Christensen with Ghanaian artist
and faithful Church member, Fo Jig
During our final week in Ghana, Sister Markham was asked to help host two visiters from the Church Archives Department in Salt Lake City. They were visiting West Africa to collect Church artifacts and art work.

Our Local Unit Auditor-Trainer Assistants
Clement Baddoo Cosmos Ayernor
Clement Baddoo with wife Elizabeth
Brother Baddoo was released as an assistant
to allow him to go to law school.
Brother Cosmos Ayernor from Takoradi
Brother Ayernor was called to replace
Brother Baddoo. We trained him during
our last week in Ghana.

The Love We Felt from Friends and Co-Workers
(These are but a few examples.)
Frank Osei-Tawiah Brigham Johnson
Security Supervisor, Frank Osei-Tawiah
protesting our departure
Brother Brigham Johnson, Christiansborg
Stake Music Director, who inspired Sister
to learn and use the hymns even more

Faustina Otoo Secretaries in Physical Facilities
Faustina Otoo, who functions as a
translator, cultural advisor, spiritual
example and close friend for all
senior missionary couples
Sroda, Juliet, Wendy and Joyce, the
Physical Facilities Department secretaries
who sing in the Temple Complex Choir and
helped Sister Markham with skills and
equipment needed to do our work.

Gifts of the Magi
Emelia Ahadjie Vincentia Korkonoo
A blouse in African fabric from
Emelia Ahadjie, with a matching shirt
for Elder Markham
A beautiful necklace from Vincentia
Korkonoo, a custodian and choir member

A Fo Jig Painting for Returning Missionaries

Served with Honor

We hope this can be said of our mission in West Africa,
but that is not ours to judge. We did our best.
But we can say without hestitation,
"It was an honor to serve with the Saints of West Africa."
Elder and Sister Markham, 2004-5

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