Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Big Batch of Missionaries Goes Home

Six weeks ago we had our first missionary go home, Elder Iyiewuare.
Tomorrow we have 5 going home and 6 arriving! Even though we have not
been here long each of these missionaries has touched our lives and
written their name in our hearts. Each has a story of faith, sacrifice,
loss and triumph. They are so strong at such a young age.
Sister Akwuruoha, Elder Addo, President Roggia, Elder Akwah, Elder Boakye, Sister Agbonifo

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Traditional Wedding

Today on our way home from church at Kakata we were invited to a
traditional Liberian wedding. It was supposed to start at 3:00 we got
there at 4:00 and it started a few minutes later.It ended a little after 6:00.  Both
 the bride and groom were members of the church so the branch choir sang 
while we were waiting and was also part of the program.

The families of both the bride and groom take turns talking about them and
their courtship. They start placing money on the table for all
different sorts of reasons. At different times throught out the ceremony
people from the audience would bring money up and place it on the table.
Then there is a kind of "skit" where they bring out someone veiled (
3-4 veils from head to toe) and the groom's family has to figure out if it is
the right bride. This happens 3 times. Then from around the back of the building
comes the "Majestical March" where the bridesmaids usher in the bride and
another imposter. Again, the grooms family must figure out which is the
right bride for him (her red platform shoes were the giveaway). Once
the imposter is figured out and sent away the bride must stand on "the
mat" before she can be unveiled. Once unveiled and found to be the
bride the groomsmen take the groom out into the crowd and appear to be
talking to him. They then escort him back with shouting and chanting.
At this point the bride must sit on the mat. The dowry is laid on the
mat and accepted. They are then considered married in the eyes of all
those there. Because they are members of the church they wanted to do a
ring ceremony. A prayer and blessing on the union and the ring was made
and the groom put the ring on the brides finger. Eeveryone wanted to
see them kiss. They obliged. They then sat in chairs and members of
the family brought out a table and placed it in front of them with the
"Certificate of Marriage" on it. They both signed it which then made
the marriage legal in the eyes of the Liberian government. They ended
the formal part of the ceremony with a song by the choir then the party
really began. There was music, dancing, sandwiches and drinks were
handed out, gifts were walked up and given to the couple and everyone
was in a party mood.

Monday, April 15, 2013

P-Day Soccer Game

Monday Elder Hezseltine was invited to play soccer with the missionaries
as part of their P-Day activities. I thought P-Day stood for Play Day
but I was corrected and told it is Preparation Day. Not sure how soccer
plays into that! Elder Hezseltine played half the game and then found some new friends.

It was a community affair. It involved the
missionaries from several districts, members from the Duala Branch and
the community. Lots of people showed up to play 1 1/2 hours late -
Mormon standard time coupled with African time. Vendors came to sell
water, treats and homemade food. It truly was a party.

The game was played on a regulation size field with goal posts cemented in the ground
and a referee with a whistle. This was serious. The field as you can
see in the pictures was dirt, weeds and pretty rough.

There were tons of children watching and waiting to get out on the field
at half time and at the end of the game.

Our First Package - Thanks Bea!

We got our first package today! Just like our first snail mail it was
as exciting as Christmas morning!! We had to wait at the post office
for an hour while they did all the paper work so we could take it and 2
other packages. It is amazing how many times they have to log it in and
then we have to sign for it here and sign for it there. Everything is
done by hand. If the value is over $5.00 they add an additional 17%
tax. We can't quite figure that one out as we end up paying more than
17%. I have seen a lot of money exchange hands at the post office so not
sure if they are adding a bribe amount to the customs amount as we don't
do that.Yes, it had been opened.

The post office is always an adventure.  Today as we were waiting someone brought in a huge tub of dried fish.  They catch it and dry it whole (head, fins, tail and ALL) with some spices.  Once you pay for the postage the post office workers will pack it for you.  It was all going to AMERICA.

We have found out that once we have the Mission Office set up and
someone there to receive mail we can pay $50.00 a month and have our
mail delivered. That will be so nice and save so much time!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Harbel Branch Sisters

Went to church at Harbel Branch on the Firestone Plantation. The people
are so beautiful! I am the most under-dressed person there! Every
prayer is a strong testimony of God and Jesus Christ. The members are
so strong and their love for everyone all inclusive!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

VOA Refugee Camp

Today we visited the young missionaries taking them supplies and mail.  It's always a great experience to visit these young men and women. We often marvel at what they our doing at this young age in there life compared to what many of their friends are doing and the sacrifice they make.

After visiting the missionaries we continued on to the VOA Refugee Camp with the Humanitarian couple Elder and Sister Miles.  They have been building wells and latrines at the camp - see news article in previous post.  There are about 30,000 refugees in the camp.  They are mostly Muslim and from the civil war in Sierra Leone. Even though the war ended 5 years ago the camp is still there.  We questioned why they have not returned now there is peace.  They have no family there as many where killed during the war, their homes destroyed.  There is nothing to go back to.

You can not walk too far before this happens:
Check out his smile

All the kids say: "white man here, white man here!"
What a great day.

Bird Nest Tree

No those are not coconut, they are bird nests! They are called "Rice
Birds" by the locals because they steal all the rice out of the fields.
The nests swing and sway in the breeze. I can't figure out how they are

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Church in Harbel

Today Elder Hezseltine and I attended church in Harbel. The
services are in an old school room on the Firestone Plantation. As in
Kakata, the chairs, hymn books, Sacrament table and trays are all stored
elsewhere and carried each Sunday to the old school. The numbers were
few but the spirit was strong. They have 10 people who are
investigating the church that were in attendance.
Harbel has no missionaries but we are hoping that will change.
While in Harbel we drove to Cotton Tree which is just off the Firestone Plantation.
We stopped by a house that could house 4 sets of Elders. It
sits on a hill and looks out on the beautiful countryside. While there
a neighbor whom we had met earlier in the week came by and gave us a
gift - a live chicken!