Monday, 21 April 2014

Welcome new MTC President & Sister Robison

Our mission president invited the Robison's, the new MTC President and his wife as well as the other senior missionary couples, down to experience some of the sights in this area. First, we went to the  Elmina Slave Castle.
President & Sister Robison

The center courtyard of the fort

The Elmina Castle is a fort originally built by the Portuguese in 1471 for the protection of their trading interests in West Africa. Soon after, trading came to include slaves.
School children on the ramparts of the fort

Years passed and the fort was captured by the Dutch. It was later sold to the English. For over 400 years slaves were captured and sent off to the America's, England or elsewhere. The chiefs sold non-compliant villagers, or sent warriors out to abduct members of warring tribes, selling to the traders for Western goods.


Original bricks, worn smooth by the bare feet of innumerable slaves, are still visible in some of the rooms. There were no sleeping or toilet facilities. When asked about why they didn't take better care, and protect their "assets" we were told they wanted only the strongest
ones .... those that survived the "castle" and the voyage.

Areas where powerful events take place have a spirit about them. There is a very tangible spirit in the Tabernacle or Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. A contrasting spirit exists at the WWII concentration camps and other locations where horrible events took place. The "castle" had such an oppressive feeling, evidence that terrible atrocities took place here.

There were separate quarters for male and female slaves. Food was scarce, and fresh water was in short supply. We listened gravely as our guide gave a description of the  deplorable living conditions in the dungeon.

Room of no return

The captives that were not compliant and caused problems were put in this small room, where they
were left to die. No one ever got out alive.

Bars and doors were everywhere. Except, of course, in the governors section, the soldiers quarters, and the two churches that were eventually built within the fort.

When the ships arrived,  slaves were directed through this door, never to see their homes and families again. More people died in the castle than those exiting the door, and often, more people died during the voyage than those who arrived. The death toll over the four centuries in West African slave castles and on the ships they left in, was higher than WWII concentration camps and the Russian Gulags combined.

This would have been the view as they departed the exit door. Today, this picture shows African fishing boats and not a slave ship, but the views is the same.

The saddest thought is that "slave castles" such as this were all along the coast of Western Africa. Just to the West and within sight of this fort is the Cape Coast Castle, which is of comparable size.

This memorial plaque  speaks for itself.


Next, on a much happier and adventurous note, the couples went to the Canopy Walkway, part of the Kakum protected Rain Forest. 

The senior couples (we still cringe at being referred to as a "senior" couple) get together every few months for an activity, although not all of them are as extensive as this one. So don't get the impression that we are here on vacation.

This is the traditional "picture by the sign" that everyone was taking, although our pose was a little different .... imagine that.

When we got there we discovered it was a holiday, and many school children were on the path with us.The little ones would yell "obroni" at us and get all excited. The older ones would pass in teenage coolness.

Sister J. spent a whole lot of time looking down. Sister Schiffman was definitely not looking down. She kept asking Sister J. to sing something calming to her. Elder J. suggested "Nearer My God to Thee", and was met with definite disapproval! Sister Shulz didn't come on the walk
because of acrophobia, but later came with her son and grandkids. We are so proud of her for
     facing her fear of heights.

Looking down!

Elder & Sister Schiffman and Sister Julander walking through the canopy

Just to give you a perspective, the little trees that look like shrubs down below are the size of the largest trees in our neighborhood in Hooper, Utah.

Sister J. swinging on a vine swing. She hit the root below as she let go. Ouch!

                              And now for some random pictures we thought you would enjoy.

This is one of our alarm clocks.... usually going off around 4:30 AM. There are many chickens, roosters and baby chicks of all sizes roaming the streets. Some are quite beautiful.

 Sister J. loves the little goats here. This is a young one, (goat and boy) just about the size of a cat. When we were taking this picture, a woman, wanting to get in on the picture taking event, came over with a cat that was not very happy! Many people here like getting their pictures taken. Then they want to see themselves on the camera.

I'm not sure who was acting crazier, the cat or the woman holding it. She thought we were nuts to take a picture of a goat. Many of the Ghanaian's have a great sense of humor. I know that they like to laugh at us a lot. Sorry I missed her head in the picture but the cat was out of control and she had me laughing so hard....


Couldn't help taking a picture of this little girl....the kids here are so dang cute. Most usually smile these huge, heart melting smiles until you get out the camera. Then they hide and peek out from behind their parents, like this little one. Those that are older love to mug the camera.

 This is a main window in the Accra Ghana LDS Temple. We love the windows at night. Inside, there are marvelous doors, trim and panels from the native mahogany wood.

The Temple is small, but so very beautiful. We get to go there when we visit Accra for transfers (or the occasional truck repair).

This man in the Nkroful branch just returned to Church, and his 4 children are being taught by these wonderful missionaries - Elders Chishinji and Iwuchukwu. Yup, they're difficult for us to pronounce too. We ordained this man an Elder in the last Mission Conference.

This brother has been a member for about 6 months now. He has come to Church faithfully using two sticks to hold himself upright while walking. Two Sunday's ago, we delivered this wheelchair, which we picked up in Accra (another miracle on how that happened). The Church sends the wheelchairs to the Ghana Health Services and they distribute them. If a member is in need of one, they are available for the cost of assembly.

And finally, here is Sister Julander, trying to keep our awesome, Axim  missionaries in line. The missionaries here in Cape Coast are so good ... and strong ... and faithful ... and rule abiding ... etc., etc., etc.  We love them!!!