West Africa Ghana MissionI received a surprise West Africa Ghana Mission Update this morning, and wanted to get it posted before I left town this afternoon to travel down to our ward L.A. Temple trip. The email and photos as always are beyond description. I am truly humbled by the lives the saints and others in this part of the world live. They are an inspiration . I hope you enjoy this update. The email is below and immediately following will be the photos.  You can see other posts on this mission here.  Just scroll down to see all the prior posts.

Dear family and friends. I find myself with temporary internet access and will forward a quick update of some of our activities. Pictures numbered 1 through 4 are sent as separate emails.

12-3-06: We went to a village funeral today for the senior brother (older siblings are referred to as “senior”) of one of our branch members. It was a traditional Ghanian funeral. Funerals are a very big event here. It may seem strange, but they are one of the most visible industries in Ghana. The rental of space, chairs, sound systems, video equipment, canopies, taxies, and funeral related
posters, T-shirts, and clothing, is a big business here.

When we arrived we met about 15 other branch members and formed into a group, and then a single file column, men first, followed by women, according to Ghanian custom.

The funeral was held in a large open field. At various locations around the perimeter, family and interested parties were seated under canopies in separate groups. We filed by each group, shaking hands with those seated on plastic chairs in the front rows. The Ghanians dress in black or red for their funerals.

After greeting each group, chairs were set up for us and we sat down as a separate group under a large shade tree. Shade is essential for survival here. At this point others who arrived after us made the rounds, including filing by our group and our shaking hands.

After this procedure, the deceased’s brother came to us and, as tradition dictates, asked what was the purpose of our visit. A spokesman for our group introduced us and explained our purpose. Since everything was spoken in Twi (the local language) I don’t know what was said. After our presence was explained, the brother announced over a microphone who we were and why we were there to all present.

It was at this point that our respects were deemed paid, and we left, but not before a customary and expected donation was made to the family of the deceased by members of our group.

The funerals go on all day, and often extend into multiple days. They occur according to an area schedule. Some areas have their funerals on one day, other areas on another day so as not to conflict with each other. That’s why on certain days you see so many funerals taking place in one town. They are obvious because they are held outdoors and you see hundreds of people milling about in their funeral attire.

The interaction between the people, i.e. the hand shaking and announcements, does seem to diminish the grieving process. To what extent I really don’t know, but most people appear to be enjoying themselves and are smiling at funerals.

Hope all is well with all of you. We miss everyone immensely and thank you for your prayers and efforts in our behalf.

Pictures follow on this and separate emails.

You can see these photos in their original size on my flickr page. I would recommend you also take a look there and click to enlarge them. They are breathtaking.

African sunsets are among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. This one was viewed from our front porch in Anyinam.

A common occurrence at the side of the road. I have no idea who these kids were, but you can see the curiosity on their faces as they check us out. Sometimes they run up and touch us, then run away laughing, as if completing a dare.

A recent branch pool side baptismal service at the Rojo Hotel. The candidates for baptism are dressed in white. Our branch holds two baptism services per month. Seven were baptized at this one; eleven at the one before. By the end of the year the Ghana Accra Mission will have baptized approximately 3000 people. People come up to us all the
time and say they want to join our church. The Spirit is very strong over Ghana.

A ground level view of our branch nursery. We have twelve children in the nursery and 30 in the primary. They come to church neat, clean, and button cute. From the picture you would never know this is an area of extreme poverty. This little girl and I are building a tower with plastic blocks purchased with donated funds. Like children everywhere, they love it when the tower tips over.

In an earlier email I tried to describe the Ghanian version of a toy car. These three boys were cruising along the side of the road with their toy cars as we drove by, while a fourth boy, a non-driver looks on. It is unlikely that these kids will ever own or drive a real car in their lifetime.

Religious and biblical sayings appear everywhere in Ghana. They are on buses, trucks, taxis, businesses, you name it. Here is one of literally countless examples.

Women in Ghana carry very heavy loads on their heads; often while carrying a baby on their backs as this woman was when she walked by us. They fold a rag on their heads to cushion the weight. The babies are held in place by wrapping them in something like a shawl which is also rapped around the mother as you can see in this picture. There is nothing keeping the baby from falling but a few folds in the material. No pins, velcro, knots, or snaps In such a hot climate, I imagine the extra material around mother and child must only make them hotter. The woman was headed up a long steep incline that was difficult for me to climb even without carrying a tree and a baby.

Religious and biblical sayings appear everywhere in Ghana. They are on buses, trucks, taxis, businesses, you name it. Here is one of literally countless examples.