Keys and Bananas

This week we held our third set of zone conferences since arriving.  Tuesday was University and Konongo, Wednesday was Dichemso, and Thursday was Bantama and Asuoyeboa.  Next week we will drive to Tamale and Techiman/Sunyani to complete the circuit.

While our focus this week was on keys and bananas, they are only metaphors for the real message:  Obedience and Integrity.  LaDawn started each of the conferences with a powerful discussion on Obedience.  She discussed the Savior’s obedience and why our own Obedience is so important.  Here are some of the great quotes she used, “Obedience grows our faith” – Elder Holland.  “The great test of this life is Obedience” – President Monson.  “Obedience is the most important attribute for a missionary” – N. Eldon Tanner.  “Obedience brings success, exact Obedience brings miracles!” – Pres Nelson.  She also introduced a phrase that was coined by Elder Ted E. Brewerton in regards to the protection of the men in Zion’s Camp on the banks of Fishing River ford.  He said the reason that the men were protected by the storm from the mob was because of their “Collective Obedience”.  We love this phrase as we think it has direct application for the Ghana Kumasi Mission as it relates to experiencing a significant increase in miracles associated with finding and baptizing those who have been prepared by the Spirit of the Lord.

After LaDawn’s discussion, I build on the foundation she had laid by talking about keys and bananas.  The essence of the discussion is what it means to make a commitment to act a certain way and then to be confused by events that occur that make us unsure about what the right thing to do actually is. We also talked about hypothermia.  While this is not a problem people in Africa face, it is a real problem for those in very cold climates.  Hypothermia results when a person’s body temperature drops faster than it can create heat.  One of the very first things that happens is the person’s ability to think clearly diminishes significantly.  In fact, a study of hypothermia cases has shown that some people get so confused they believe they are burning up and so they take off their clothes and run outside, only to find a short time later that death is at their door.  We then discuss Spiritual Hypothermia.  This is akin to the physical hypothermia that results from the cold.  It happens when a missionary is not thinking clearly about what is right and what is wrong.  To save a person from hyperthermia, it takes a partner who can get them up and moving to generate their own heat.  To save a missionary from spiritual hypothermia, it takes a companion who is willing to “awaken” their companion themself, or to get them help from a mission leader if they resist changing.  I end the discussion with my favorite quote about integrity and honor.  It is from Karl G. Maeser:  

“I have been asked what I mean by ‘word of honor.’ I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls–walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground–there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I’d die first!”  

We will be forever grateful to President and Sister Hillam, former mission leaders in the Cape Coast Mission (and our assigned mentors) for their insights and help in preparing us to deliver this important message. Much of the original thinking about these concepts came from them. We love the Hillams!

After this instruction, we take a quick break and then come back and learn how to become “Finders of the Elect”.  While we have tried to share what Elder Mbuyi and Elder Morgan have been doing in their area in the past, it has never been received quite as well as we had hoped.  We realized the problem was in the way we were presenting it.  If you read last week’s post, you will know we referred to this as “5 in 5”.  In other words, 5 baptisms in 5 weeks.  However, as the concept is spreading in the mission, we realized that not every companionship will set the same goal.  And thus, we have coined the term, “Finders of the Elect”.  We held the discussion the same way as we did at Mission Leadership Council.  I essentially interviewed them for 30-45 minutes about all of the things they are doing to see the success they are seeing.  It has been marvelous to watch how other companionships are now beginning to trust more in the Lord and less on their own ways of thinking. This method of loving, finding, teaching, and baptizing is starting to have a significant effect on the mission.  Missionaries are seeing more miracles and they are having greater experiences as missionaries.  It is becoming easier to focus on others and more enjoyable being out with the people finding ways to serve them.  It is such an obvious method of sharing the gospel in a way that invites others to want to know why we are so happy and filled with joy and love.

Singing” Happy Birthday to You”

Before we end the zone conferences, we hear testimonies from the missionaries who are leaving, celebrate the birthdays of those whose month it is, and we watch a safety video to remind all of us to practice situational awareness, obedience and respect.

A couple of other items worth mentioning from this week.  Our experience with water continues, although this week it was a minor problem instead of a major problem.  Our water filter in the kitchen made a firecracker-like “POP!” with the result being a broken filter casing.  It was quite strange to see (and hear) how the casing broke.  Unfortunately, the water in the filter immediately ran out and into kitchen drawers and under the sink.  Thank goodness it was not a 5000 liter tank!

Cracked water filter casing

The only other item worth mentioning is that the foundation for the water tank has now been entirely encased in concrete and is looking like a real foundation.  I think this one will hold.  Makes me want to break out in song, “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord….”

A firmer foundation

Because the post this week is short, I want to share with you a few “miracles” that were reported to me in the weekly letters.  I will leave off names of the missionaries submitting them and remove the names of places.  We hope you will enjoy reading them.

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“A tender mercy that I saw this week was that while we were out finding, we walked past a lady because she seemed busy on the phone, and we didn’t want to disturb her. The spirit said distinctly to go back, so we did. We waited for her to finish her call, then when she got off we started talking. She let us teach her the restoration. She told us she’s heard a lot about our church, and is interested in joining, but has always been scared to just go in on her own. She said that it was a blessing that us missionaries from the church would talk to her. We taught her that day, then went back 2 days later, and taught her again. She told us that she is super interested, and wants to come and see what we are about.”

“One miracle that happened this week was, we were teaching a lesson and the person just wanted to small talk after so we chatted for a while but I wanted to make the most of our time and go to another appointment, but we talked for longer than I wanted to. But then we ran into a guy that was waiting for a trotro who had been taught by missionaries in the Accra west mission, and he wanted to resume lessons. The cool part is he confronted us and gave us his phone number. If we wouldn’t have stayed talking to the person we might not have ever run into the man from Accra. God provides a way, and he has a plan.”

“One thing I saw that I really liked was a little girl and how she treated others. We were at a fireside being put on for the youth and I noticed a little girl and her brother in the front row. Her brother was starting to get tired and started to lay his head on her lap. She got up and adjusted her chair so that it was closer to him, took the bag that she was sitting on and put it on her lap so he could have somewhere to rest his head. Then she rubbed his back as he layed on her lap. When it was time to leave she took her brother by the hand and they left together. I think everyone could learn a thing or two from that little girl.”

“This week I learned a lot about the power of prayer. We are constantly challenging those we teach to pray, “by the power for the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things”. As we challenge, I often feel the spirit the strongest. We recently met a man named Prince. He was sitting all alone at the bus stop. We were at the bus stop about to meet a teenage boy that we often proselyte with. So, we didn’t have much time but I felt a strong spiritual prompting that we were supposed to teach the man sitting at the bench. Consequently, I sat by him, asked his name, and proceeded to ask if we could share a message, he agreed (in very good English). We later learned that he was a nondenominational preacher from the north of Ghana and is here preaching about Jesus Christ. We began teaching the First Vision, the spirit was very strong throughout the lesson, and he asked some great questions (something we don’t often get). As the lesson closed, we read with him Moroni 10 4 and 5. The Holy Ghost then, through me testified powerfully to Prince that I knew without a doubt that what we had taught him was true and by praying he too could know of its truthfulness. As I finished testifying there were tears in both our eyes. He then asked if he could preach with us – haha. We asked him to come to church with us the following day (which is an invitation we extend to almost everyone). He was 25 minutes early to fast and testimony meeting and stayed for Sunday school! After church we asked him how he felt about the church service, and he told us it was “wonderful”. We gave him a Book of Mormon and asked him to read the introduction and 3 Nephi chap. 11 in preparation for our next lesson on Tuesday.”

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