Heartfelt Service - From Sisters to Sisters

Heartfelt Service - From Sisters to Sisters

It was a beautiful picture.  Over thirty African sisters modestly posing in front of the Accra Ghana Temple, happily showing off the beautiful temple bags they had received from fellow sisters from another continent.

It all began soon after the arrival of an observant sister (in October 2012) who noted that the sisters’ dressing room in the Accra Temple was a little noisier than expected.  The noise was from the rustling of plastic bags which the Distribution Center provided for carrying purchased Temple clothing.

Caring Karen Cooper, a senior sister Missionary, immediately started thinking of what she could do to help reduce or eliminate the noise.  She got the idea that simple fabric temple bags could be presented to each sister as they receive their own endowments.  She discussed this with the Temple President and Matron who happily approved of such a project.  It took a while for Sister Cooper to source reasonably priced materials and create a bag pattern that was suitable for the purpose.   With a machine and other inputs ready, Sister Cooper began sewing the bags herself after the New Year.  Soon after she began working on the bags, she met Brother and Sister Dildine, a couple from Idaho who were on a short trip to Ghana.  Tricia Dildine got so interested in the bag project that she shared the idea with the Relief Society and Young women of her home ward and got them involved in the project.  On their return to Accra a few months later, Tricia and her husband brought with them 125 nicely sewn temple bags!

Sister Jennifer Slater, who lives in Accra with her husband, an attorney for the Church in Africa West, heard about the bag project and asked if her ward in Utah could help.  She thought it would be a great service project for the sisters who had been thinking of something they could do to help their sisters in Africa.  The sisters in her home stake were delighted.  In July, Sister Slater returned to Ghana with 400 nicely stitched bags!

Most of the 400 bags came from four wards in Sister Slater’s home stake in the Washington Utah Buena Vista area.  However, 50 of the bags were made by a special group of elderly ladies in an assisted living facility in Spring Gardens, St. George, Utah.  Mary Louise Mortensen, a close friend to Sister Slater, organized the elderly ladies to help with this project.  With the approval of the CEO of the facility and the support of other colleagues, fabrics and equipment were assembled and soon the delighted ladies were busy cutting, pinning and stitching!

 What was so remarkable about this was that these sisters had various disabilities and handicaps - some were in wheelchairs while many others had limited functionality of their hands; yet, they were not deterred. After a few weeks, 50 bags had been beautifully assembled and stitched by these charitable and determined elderly sisters, ready to be shipped to their sisters 7,000 miles away.

In Africa West, sisters from neighboring Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone have to travel long hours and sometimes days to get to the Accra Temple - a trip they find spiritually rewarding.  Obviously, from the smiles of gratitude on the faces of the sisters in the photograph one could tell that they were saying a big “thank you” to their loving sisters on the other side of the globe.