Monday, 17 February 2014

We are getting busier each week, as we learn what we're doing and where we're going. We have a hand drawn map that helps us get around. Few of the streets have names, and even fewer have addresses, so you have to know what you're looking for or have someone with you that knows where they're going. Sister J. is gradually getting the apartment cleaned to her satisfaction, although she has had to lower her standards a bit. The wind up North in the Sahara blows a fine, red dust all the way down here. After the floor is mopped, it immediately becomes coated again. We both prefer to be "barefoot" at home so we must wear shoes or wash our feet often.

We are including some views of our apartment hoping to entice some of you to come and see if our "blue paradise" is real! We have two furnished bedrooms, so there's usually one available. The Mission President and his wife stay in one when they comes for interviews and conferences. Oh, and we drive a Nissan Navarro. It's a truck with 4 wheel drive which we use every day because of the roads we travel to get to the Elders apartments and to our own. We included a picture in our first blog, but it has rained several times since then and the ruts have grown deeper.

                                                                 OK, our apartment:

This is our living room. The top picture was taken from the kitchen and the one directly above from the front door. If we didn't both love the color blue before, we certainly do now. The entire building is constructed using cement. They pour the floor and support columns, then the next floor and support columns, and so on. Then they build the walls with cement blocks which are made on site and then plastered over with a coat of mortar cement. So everything you see is made of cement. The only exceptions are the doors, furniture and floor tiles. The wood furniture you see is made of solid mahogany. We would pay a fortune for this wood back home, but here it's very common and quite inexpensive. Elder J. cringes when he sees a bridge over a ditch made from a 2" or 3" x 12" piece of solid mahogany. It's almost heresy to walk on a piece of wood like that.

This is our long, narrow hall going into the other rooms. Are you noticing the color scheme in the apartment? The floor is tile, and the center part is a matrix of broken tile of various colors....which is a nice way to use up scrap tile. The building is cement because of the country's ideal environment for termites. We have seen termite mounds (3 to 6 feet high) on the road to the mission home, and evidence of them in the doors of some of the apartments we've visited.

We are glad that this area of the world does not have natural disasters, because if an earthquake hit here, it would be a huge devastation.

Because of the high interest rate (around 30%) no one can afford to borrow money to build, so they save up until they can begin work on a home or an apartment, building as much as they can with the available money. They then save more until they can finish the 1st floor and move in. Then they save more to finish the next level, and so forth. Consequently there are a lot of unfinished places ( some have been sitting for years or completely abandoned) and a lot of continuous building going on.

 These men are building cement blocks. They mix the dry cement into sand with a little water to moisten it, then shovel it into the form and pack it down with the shovel. The form is then emptied, and the block is watered for a few days to cure and harden. (But they are still somewhat soft.) These are used to build the walls of the house, retaining walls and fences.

This is the foundation of a home. They use the re-bar (poking up in the floor) for the support pillars they will use - as well as Bamboo poles -
to hold up the floors of additional levels. All the concrete is mixed on site, with a wheel barrow and shovel. The Bamboo is amazingly strong and
very plentiful in the jungle.

They build larger buildings in the same way, using a small cement mixer on the site. They plaster the walls with mortar mix to give it a smooth look, and then paint it. I don't think
I'd like to work on this building if I had to
stand on that scaffolding.

(On new road construction they use a small, man-powered mixer to make the concrete for bridges and culverts, even on a 4 lane, main highway going West to Ivory Coast.)

This is a picture of a home around the corner from us with the first floor completed and occupied and the second one started. They are waiting until they have more money to go any further, but you can see the support pillars and the blocks filling in to form the walls, windows, doors, etc. Most work is done by the owners, but they sometimes hire workers to help. Notice the used Bamboo poles in the foreground.

OK, back to the interior of our home. 

To the right is our "guest" bedroom. It does have an air conditioning unit, and is very comfortable. The mattresses are made locally from latex foam rubber and are quite nice. There are, however, no fitted sheets! (grrrr) The bed and night stands are solid mahogany (Elder J. just can't get over that) but the dresser is made in China and is printed paper over some very light-weight particle board type material (similar to a lot of the cheaper furniture we see in the states.) There are no closets in this room.

The bathroom, a short step up, is attached to the guest room. Don't worry, it does have a toilet, which you can barely see through the crack in the door. This is a luxury in Ghana where only 20% of the people have access to indoor flush toilets. A member of the Church in Accra (capitol of Ghana) has developed an aerobic toilet that uses no water, doesn't smell foul, and never needs to be cleaned out. The Gates (as in Bill) Foundation is looking at it for use in other 3rd world countries. There are about 10,000 units here in Ghana and all are working great. Ours uses  water - a lot of water. During the dry time (right now) we have to have water trucked in periodically, so we have been putting pop bottles filled with water in the tanks to reduce the flow. The white unit you see high up on the blue wall is the water heater. It heats up very quickly...if we remember to turn it on!

This is our little laundry room with a great view. It hangs out off the side of our apartment (please refer to the picture published in an earlier blog). The windows don't open, so we try to dry clothes when it's cooler - usually at night. Sister J. thinks the "little tiny washer and dryer" are cute, even though it takes more loads to do our wash. Most of the Elders and Sisters do their wash by hand in large plastic tubs, so we feel very pampered. The dryer has a hard time drying our sheets - they just tumble into a big ball inside - so we hang them where ever we can find a place.

This shot of our bedroom is taken from the bathroom doorway. The bed is a good size, but we're not used to it being so low to the floor. Since it is hot, sister J. doesn't need to put her cold feet on Elder J. to keep them warm anymore, so we keep to our "neutral corners". Both of us are sleeping quite well, but due to the high volume of water consumed we are both up several times each night. Notice how high the hanger bar is located in the closet....we have yet to determined why....but anyone shorter would have to wear the same clothes every day because they couldn't reach the clean ones.

This is Sister J. sitting on the edge of the shower, just waiting for Elder J. to take her picture before she washes the red dust off of her feet. The tile drives her a little crazy because each is a different size and they don't match up. Elder J. is just happy the floor isn't dirt.
Since arriving in Ghana, Sister J's hair has decided to be cruly-frizz! After a lifetime of learning to deal with straight, flat hair, she has decided to adopt Sister Shulz's  philosophy of "WAwa" (West Africa wins again) and just let it go.

 And finally, our kitchen. This is our tiny little stove, with its glass cover over the burners and the tiny little oven. There is no temperature control on the oven, just a high flame and a low flame, so baking takes some watching. You can see the water filter on the right, which filters all of our drinking and cooking water. This is the only filtered water in the apartment, which explains why our toothbrushes are in the kitchen. We have a little fridge to match our oven, but it's not quite as exciting to see. Since there's not a lot of fast food or conveniently processed food here, thank goodness, we cook from scratch and do a lot of food preparation. Sister J. sliced her finger, again (heavy sigh), while cutting an onion. She blames it on the dullness of the knife, but the last time she cut her finger the knife was very sharp, so......... Anyway, we didn't dare go to the clinic, so we bandaged it as best we could. She will probably live.

We are so blessed to have such a luxurious apartment here in Ghana and the blessing of being involved in such a great work. We love
our mission and are surprised by how fast the time goes. We have not been too homesick, and have been blessed to remain mindful of our purpose here. We are so grateful for modern technology that allows us to keep in touch with those we love. And we are thankful that we have a little more leeway than the young missionaries in using it.

Much Love to all
Elder and Sister Julander

                                We have included a few more somewhat random pictures.
This is our Gazebo, (off the living room thru its own door) but is too hot & dusty to use

Axim Resort Beach

Axim Resort

Sister & Elder J. at the beautiful Axim Beach Resort

A scene on the side of the road on our way to Takaradi
Picture of our tiny deck off the kitchen. Below and to the right is the Elders apartment

   Some Elders we visited had a coconut tree and they gave us two! Sister J. whacked the outside fiber off with a knife, then     used a hammer and screw driver to make a hole in the top to drain the water and scrape out the meat. It was wonderful!


  1. That post is awesome! This blog is priceless. You're going to be glad you did it when you get home. Great job. We love you. Take care

  2. I had to copy and paste the answer to the security question as it wouldn't take any typing in the box. But nothing stops me. Ha ha ha

  3. Hi, Loretta! I just read all of your blogs up to now and loved them! Thanks for sharing your experience there in Ghana. I know you are doing a great job for the mission. So proud of you and I will be reading whenever you write. Take care!
    Love, Jeri Howard

  4. It is so good to hear all about your exciting adventure in Ghana. I enjoyed reading your blog. Keep the news coming. You both look so good. I miss seeing you in your yard as the weather is getting better...I know you would be out there today. Love and Miss you both, the Hill's

  5. Hi, Elder and Sister J. Thanks for the updates. We're loving hearing about your adventure and seeing the many photos. Can you get some of that mahogany sent to Santa Clara? Our love and prayers are with you. Those lucky Africans! Joni & Dave

  6. Hi Julanders, Jan shared your blog with us & so luckily, now we'll be following you on your mission. We leave in 1 month for Costa Rica. Okay, we'll buck up...if you can do the heat in Ghana, we'll try to do the same in C.R....Soon-to-be, Elder & Hermana Val & Diane Petersen

  7. Hey love your apartment -much better than imagined. you both look great and healthy. Went snow shoeing in the full moon and thought of you. Do they speak any french?? what is a regular day like? love the blog .... gets us excited.
    miss you guys Que Dieu te benisse Brent Jan