I had never been outside of the country before, so it was such an awesome experience to have Africa be the first stamp on my passport. When we got off the plane, my first thought was how familiar it all seemed. We have cars, roads, billings, billboards, people walking on the streets, etc. I think I was expecting something more different. What was crazy, and never got any less amazing, were the people who would carry HUGE things on their heads! The people had such amazing posture, it was crazy. And my favorite thing was how they carried their babies- on their backs, and with only having the fabric wrapped around their chest.
This woman is so wonderful! I'm so sad that I didn't get her name or information. She was in the ward that we attended for church, then came to our concert. We talked for a while and she told about her delivery with her baby. She asked how my deliveries went and it was really awesome to have such normal conversations with people on the other side of the world. I don't think I really expected anything much different than that, but it was still really cool.
One day, we went to a slave castle in Elmina. The building was home to thousand of slaves before they were shipped off to other countries. We visited the castle on an incredibly hot day (all the days were dreadfully hot) and it was so humid we might as well have been swimming while we walked. There s no breeze inside the palace. Our tour guide took us to the woman dungeon. There we learned about how horrifically these women were treated. They were hardly fed enough food to survive on purpose. The women were chosen by the governor to be raped, but before that they were taken to the center of the area where everyone watched while they were stripped of the little clothing they wore and were publicly scrubbed and bathed before being taken up to the governor. These women in the dungeon grew so weak that they couldn't even make it to their designated toilet areas, and they spend days, weeks, months, laying on the ground in their own vomit, fecies, and menstral blood. Horrifying. Then we're shown the place where families were torn a part, most times never to see each other again. It was here that I had an overwhelming love for my family, my children, my husband. My knowledge of the plan of salvation and eternal families was so strengthened that moment, that I couldn't hold back the tears. I was saddened at the fact that people, humans, were so cruel. But I marveled at our father in heaven who has presented us with a way for our families to be united, FOREVER! Amazing!
Two days later, we went to the temple. I decided to do sealings, and I'm glad I did! I sat in the sealing room participating in proxy sealings of children to their parents, and I couldn't help but think about the families that had been torn a part and how the gospel allows us to defy what man does. Those families can be together, forever. It was pretty remarkable.
The trip was amazing, but those experiences stuck out to me. I thought I'd share them. As I continue to write down my thoughts, I'll try to jump on here and share them with you. Enjoy!
You can read more about the slave castle here: http://www.pbs.org/wonders/Episodes/Epi3/elmina.htm