Our Ethiopian Sister Returns Home

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Today our Abidjan East Mission lost a bright shining star.  Soeur Beyene has returned to her home in Ethiopia.  We learned of a flight from Abidjan to Addis Ababa yesterday and today we spent the morning at the airport procuring a ticket for her.  We are sad to see her go, but happy to return her to her parents there.

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Pres and Sis Binene

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Soeur Beyene speaks English beautifully, as well as the language on the Ethiopian Air sign–called  Amharic.  Amharic is the second most widely spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic.  There are 25 million speakers, mostly in Ethiopia.  Soeur Beyene showed me how the letters in their alphabet work.  There area bout 260 letters!  The language sounds fluid and beautiful.   Here are a few of the letters and how they combine with the vowels.


Ethiopa has 83 different languages and up to 200 different dialects!

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Soeur Beyene’s parents joined the church 17 years ago in Ethiopia.  They were taught by missionaries there.  Her father has been a Branch President for the last 10 years.  Right now there is a District in Ethiopia with 4 Branches.  They are part of the Uganda Mission, but soon a new Mission will be opened in Ethiopia.

Before coming on her mission to Cote d’Ivoire, Soeur helped teach the missionaries serving in Ethiopia to read and write the local Amharic language.  She has a gift for languages.  Her French is beautiful and she’s only been here 6 months.  I asked if she had ever done any translating and she quietly told me that before coming on her mission she was employed by the Church as an interpreter for visiting Authorities to Ethiopia.  She also worked as a translator for the Church, translating the Liahona magazines into Amharic.

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Soeur Beyene has been accepted to go to school at BYU-I after she completes her missionary service.  For now, she will return home, be in strict isolation and quarantine for 14 days, then report to the Mission President in Uganda to learn about her next assignment.  We are sad to see her go.  She has been such a bright light here.

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The airport was empty today.  This flight came from Addis Ababa, and returned there again late tonight.  There were only a handful of people here flying out.

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We enjoyed some Burger King food while we spent the day waiting.

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The flight finally departed this afternoon.  Here is our send-off for Sis Beyene.  We wish her well and send her with our love.

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Meet Brother Mathieu Brou Baah


Meet brother Brou Baah!  He has been called by the Area Presidency in Accra to teach and promote family history throughout all the church units of Côte d’Ivoire. He often spends time in the mission office to have access to a computer and the internet.  We met together this week to talk about ideas for a new training based on our latest instructional video (February) from Salt Lake.

We listened to the training and talked about it and planed ways he might teach these beautiful concepts to the members here.  Then I showed him how to enter a memory into FamilySearch for his grandfather.  He was excited to try it.  He spent the rest of the afternoon writing memories and labeling and tagging all of the photos he has added to FamilySearch.

As we were working together, Pres Sossou phoned him asking if today, on our worldwide day of fasting, he might come visit his family to teach them about family history.  He said “Yes!”

Here are some of the photos Pres Sossou sent me today of Bro Brou Baah teaching his family the things we talked about today.  Both were so excited.  I was so happy.  Oh, how I love Family History work!!

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Elder Ilori, Mission Financial Secretary

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Meet Elder Ilori, who has been serving in the office as our Financial Secretary.  He departed today with the rest of our Nigerian missionaries.  Elder Ilori has done a great job protecting the funds of the church.  This is a big job in a society that works with constant cash flow and handwritten receipts.  He had 3 hours to explain to us all the things he does and how he does them.  We (mostly John) will try to take it from here!

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Thank you for your service, Elder Ilori!

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Elder Kwizera from Burundi

We took some time in the middle of this crazy storm to conduct an oral interview for our Church History friends with Elder Jean Claude Kwizera from Burundi.  He is the only missionary currently serving from his country, where there are only 2 branches.

Each missionary here has an amazing story to tell.  I wish there were a way to hear every single story and record it for future generations.

Meet Josephine Kouadio, Literacy Teacher in Abidjan

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I love meeting remarkable people who are changing the world.  Josephine is one doing just that.  She’s been teaching people to read for many many years.  She’s the president of an educational group that oversees NGOs in our Cocody area.  She is also a member of our Riviera 2 Ward.

Today Josephine came over to explain to us the work she is doing here, teaching friends and students how to read.  She starts where people are and builds on what they know.  I found it interesting that she uses familiar shapes–like a corn kernel, a lemon, a pestle and a calabash–to teach the alphabet and how letters are formed.  She said it works beautifully.

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Josephine’s son-in-law, Nick is the first counselor in our Riviera 2 Ward.  He’s been helping us with some jobs around our apartment.

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Here are some of the materials Josephine uses in her literacy classes:

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I feel filled with hope when I meet women like Josephine.  I love what she is doing.  I’d like to be more like her.

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Meet Bernice Ankrah from Accra

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About 15 years ago I started buying beautiful Ghanaian bags from a friend who served a mission in Ghana.  They were made by a gal in Accra named Bernice.  I love fabric, Africa and quilting, and these bags had it all.  Six years ago I visited Accra for the first time and I made a point to find and meet Bernice.  We became fast friends and have kept in touch all these years.  I’ve been selling her bags and aprons to my friends by the hundreds.  Her aprons have become our Days for Girls signature outfits and her bags and beautiful placemats and decor went with me on our last mission.  I just love her work.

So of course, on this visit, Sister Shepherd and I went to see Bernice and her shop.  We had such a great time.  I love Bernice and I was thrilled to see her this week.

Here’s a look at some of the things she sells in her shop, which is only a few minutes from the temple compound.

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Bernice has a small sewing room behind the store and another larger space at her home where she has several sewing machines and helpers.

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I learned to sew on exactly the same Pfaff machine Bernice uses.  It was like seeing an old friend again!

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Here are some of the beautiful things that went home with me this time, along with some batik fabrics Bernice designed:

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How wonderful it was to run into Bernice in the temple today, where she officiated while I received ordinances for some of my ancestors!  The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings all the best of everything we know together!

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