Temple blessings in West Africa

Saints in Sierra Leone travel five days by bus to reach Ghana

ACCRA, Ghana — For many months, Latter-day Saints in Bo District, Sierra Leone, had looked forward to attending the Accra Ghana Temple.

There is unrest in Ivory Coast, so they decided for safety to take the long way, going around Ivory Coast instead of through it. They traveled by bus and drove both day and night from Bo, Sierra Leone, through Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and finally into Ghana. Forty adults came to receive their own endowments and be sealed as husbands and wives and have their children sealed to them. They left Friday morning, Oct. 27, and arrived in Accra five days later, on Nov. 1, at 3 a.m. Two drivers and one mechanic accompanied them. Because space was limited, some sacrificed to let others come

Each person was responsible for his or her own food. They did not realize the trip would take so long; they ran out of food and water on the third day.

They would occasionally stop along the way to rest, and at one stop they had family home evening, during which Bo Sierra Leone District President Solomon Khan likened this trip to the Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains, sometimes being without food and water. They shared stories they had heard about the pioneers being in a similar circumstance to their own. They sang songs and had a prayer to help strengthen them for the remainder of the trip.

They could not bathe or change clothing, and slept only on the bus with no air conditioning. As they drove up to the temple gate, and saw the lights on the temple in the early morning hour, they all fell silent, gazing out the windows of the bus at what they had been yearning to see for the long 113 hours on the road. No one spoke. They were so grateful to be there. Before leaving the bus, they bowed their heads and gave thanks to their Heavenly Father for the safe journey.

Sleep was not a priority. They needed water and food. They anxiously went to the wash room to begin cleaning their clothes that were caked with five days of road dust. Because they didn't know how to use the washing machines, they were washing their clothes in the basin. A missionary showed them how to use the machines and helped wash their clothes. Some of them had only one change of clothing, their nice clothes for the temple, and a set of clothes for the bus ride.

According to President Khan, in spite of the long journey, members kept the Spirit because they were determined to receive the blessings. When they arrived and had their prayer of thanks in the bus, they were spiritually moved. They wanted the sealing blessings of the temple. They had faith they could do it. When they saw the temple they were in awe, the Spirit overcame them and it was a highly spiritual moment.

Brother Albert Sawyerr, who is a counselor to President Khan, said, "They were so happy to get here. They came with a prayer in their hearts, knowing the great blessings they were about to receive."

President Khan said at that moment they forgot the sacrifice they made to get to the temple. During the three days they were at the temple, they all received their endowments and sealings. It was a dream come true for them.

Ghana Accra Mission President Robert Gay and his wife, Sister Lynette Gay, brought food for their return trip to Sierra Leone. The members left singing and rejoicing because of the unforgettable experience of finally being in the Lord's House.

The Church had its beginnings in Sierra Leone in 1988. Today, it is part of the Accra Ghana Mission with two districts, the Bo district with seven branches, and Freetown district with 10 branches.

— Elder and Sister Hales served as Africa West Area public affairs missionaries. They returned home to Utah this month.

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