Another busy but rewarding week has slipped by and finding time to write about it is proving challenging. It was our third transfer week and like all transfer weeks it was filled with missionaries coming and going. Since last week was about water, it seemed only proper that this week should be about bread.
Perhaps the highlight of our week (and there were many) was our early Sunday drive to Dunkwa On-Offin. It is the city that is the furthest south in the mission and is a part of the Obuasi District. It sits right next to the Offin River. Elder Awortwi and Elder Brima serve there. It is a beautiful area and rivals the beauty of Mpraeso, which is the city that is the furthest east in the mission.
We left about 6:30 am and made it in almost exactly 2 hours. The church building is new so we didn’t have the GPS coordinates. Fortunately it was clearly marked on the main road and we found it easily once we arrived in the city. The District President was on his way to conduct some business in the branch as the former branch president was released and a new one was called. He had some car trouble so we started on time and once he arrived he conducted the business. After sacrament meeting we moved to the branch presidents office for the setting about of President Papa Ekow Nyarko.
Before we started, these four cute girls came into the office looking for the former branch president to receive a treat. You know how some bishops have a stash of candy in their drawer? So did the former Branch President. But this was different. In this branch the kids came for a piece of bread. As Pres Williams opened the top desk drawer there was bread in some plastic. He broke off a piece for each little girl and sent them on their way. But the girl closest to the door wouldn’t go. She insisted on a piece of bread for her little sister. It was so appropriate as these children received bread, their first thought was how to share it. I love this very natural and loving attribute that we find in most of the children here. It is a lesson for us all.
After church I did a couple of temple recommend interviews and then interviewed Elder Brima and Elder Awortwi who serve in the branch. I had the best possible office for the interviews, in the shade under a beautiful tree. How lucky can I get?
Two wonderful elders serving in Dunkwa, Elder Awortwi and Elder Brima (the latter from our hometown in Sierra Leone)
The people in the branch are among the warmest and most lovely people we have met in Africa. They made us feel so welcome and were so kind in so many ways. Since it was fast and testimony meeting, I had the opportunity to bear my testimony at the end. I talked briefly about John 15:1-2, where we learn that Jesus is the true vine. On the property, there is an old piece of equipment being overgrown with a vine. I spoke about how the true vine is Jesus Christ and that we as members of His Church have the responsibility to spread the gospel just as that vine was growing. If you read vs. 2 it talks about the branches of the vine. And who are the branches? It is us. And we must bring forth good fruit. The verse uses the word “purgeth”, and if you check the footnote you will see it says, “test” or “purifies”. In other words the Lord tests us and through that testing purifies us and because we are pure, the fruit we bear is very compelling to those around us. They will want to know why we are so different and why we carry so much light with us. And as we share the gospel, more fruit grows.
On Monday evening, we said goodbye to Sister Letsie and five elders whose service came to an end. Elder Flomo, Elder Feinga, Elder Mavungu, Elder Muhlestein and Elder Ikpeti. We now consistently hold these farewell dinners in our home, ordering delicious food from Aboude’s. We teach them about receiving personal revelation and then send them back home with faith that they will apply everything they learned on the mission to the rest of the lives.
On Tuesday, we received our first group of elders and one sister. They came directly from the MTC in Ghana. We are hopeful this will become the norm for our next transfer as all Missionaries coming to our mission will now go through the Ghana MTC. On Thursday we received 5 more elders and on Friday morning we received a sister who came in from Zimbabwe. These 11 new missionaries are full of desire and commitment to get out in the field and do the work. Four of them (Elder Nordfelt, Elder Ross, Elder Acheampong, and Sister Muzambwe) have already served some months of their missions, mostly in their home countries, but are new to the Ghana Kumasi Mission. They join the remaining 7 in this grand new adventure.
On Wednesday we did the training for the new missionaries and then headed over to the Bantama Stake Center where those being transferred met, picked up their new companion and headed to their area. Six weeks ago we tried to change the process around transfers so that we would not all meet at one location, but it caused more disruption than just doing it all in one day. So we went back to a central meeting spot, with the adaptation that those living in the North receiving a new companion would meet them at the bus station in their city rather than travel all the way to Kumasi. It is still probably not the most efficient transfer method, but with difficult roads, incomplete addresses and maps, and unreliable public transport, it is probably the best we can do for now. Here are a few pictures from the transfer meeting at Bantama.
The missionaries who came in on Tuesday we sent on Wednesday to locations outside of Kumasi. For those who came in on Thursday late and Friday early, we sent to areas inside Kumasi Friday afternoon.
In the midst of all the transfers in and out, we had two valiant missionaries return home to member districts in the mission. Elder Adali-Mortey and Elder Addo both completed honorable missions and returned home. It was an honor to speak with them and release them from their dedicated service. The Sunyani District and the Vatican City Branch in Techiman both just became a little stronger with these valiant elders completing their service. We are so proud of both of them.
On Thursday, Elder Binene and my new assistant Elder Morgan did the training for the new Sister Training Leaders, Zone Leaders and District Leaders. I was so proud of them for leading this discussion on leadership examples from the scriptures. We are grateful for the technology (Zoom) to be able to do this without having to bring everyone into Kumasi, or do it multiple times.
The only other item worth mentioning was a trip to Sunyani bright and early on Saturday morning to convene a membership council there. I picked up my first counselor, Thomas Tabi, near the Santasi Roundabout not far from our home at 6:15 am and then met my second counselor, Edmund Obeng, at the District Center in Sunyani. The trip to Sunyani is usually about 2 hours and 15 minutes when we leave that early in the morning. But Pres Tabi and I got to talking and when we came across a detour we never managed to make our way back to the main road. 30 minutes into the detour, Pres Tabi said, “I don’t recognize this road”. It took us a full hour longer than it should have, but we finally arrived. We conducted the council with an incredible outpouring of the spirit. I then had an opportunity to meet with a missionary companionship and one of the branch presidents in the Districts. We were back on the road to Kumasi before 1 pm. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
Saturday night we took the opportunity to take a break and watch the BYU game vs Boise State. Let’s just say that was not a highlight of the week.
We continue to be grateful to be engaged in this great work of salvation. It is making a difference in our lives, in the lives of the missionaries and in the lives of those who are coming to the Church and entering the gate of baptism onto the covenant path. We are also working hard to help the members stretch just a little more to realize all of the promised privileges and blessings of devoted membership in the Lord’s kingdom. Together in Ghana we are experiencing great joy. We testify that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life and that when we partake of the enabling and strengthening power of the atonement, we need never hunger for spiritual nourishment.