A once in a mission experience happened this week when the entire mission gathered to hear from Elder and Sister Klebingat, 2nd counselor in the Area Presidency and a General Authority.
It was a wonderful meeting. Elder Klebingat spoke extensively about the premortal existence, the choices we made there and how that translated into the role of the House of Israel in the history of the world and the Church. Sister Klebingat spoke about not making excuses. LaDawn talked about Joy and I discussed Agency and Accountability.
At our Mission Leadership Conference (MLC) on Wednesday, we did a debrief to determine what the leaders of the mission took away from the conference. Here is the list:
- MLC is responsible for a lot more than our own righteousness.
- Change your ways – do you want to be here?
- We claim the promises of Abrahamic Covenant when we are sealed in the Temple
- Full purpose of heart -> Causes us to act in righteousness
- Worry less about what I want and more about what the Lord wants
- As missionaries we have agency and accountability. We cannot chose consequences.
- The gathering of Israel – our purpose as missionaries is a lot bigger than we realized
- Proverbs 26:20 – Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
- Don’t go thru the motions. Become the Lord’s missionary
- Focus on the Book of Mormon. Find the “Pearl” within
- Get rid of excuses
- Joy – what brings us joy?
- Sometimes we forget who we are (and were in the pre-mortal life)
- Wrong choices lead to excuses
- We need to let the spirit teach us – studying the scriptures
- Am I still holy? (referencing the choices we made in the pre-mortal existence)
- 2 Nephi 2:14 – Things to act and things to be acted upon. We must be those who act.
- What are we doing with what we know to be true?
- We choose what we do when we go home. If we are not faithful now, we will not be faithful then.
- No decision is a decision
And here are a few more things that I noted:
- We cannot hide anything from the Lord
- The House of Israel is God’s chosen people. Due to wickedness, they were scattered and now they are being gathered. The scattering resulted in the blood of Israel being spread even further and many have the believing blood (Isaiah 29:4) which constitute the elect of God.
- The Savior’s joy was full because of the faith of the people in Him. (3 Ne 17)
- When we make excuses, we limit ourselves
- Perhaps the most important thing we can do in this life is to educate our desires because ultimately, at the Judgment we will receive exactly what we desire
- “God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not” (TPJS p187)
- No one gets baptized until they have their own witness of the Book of Mormon
- We must love the Book of Mormon
- We are not fulfilling our missionary purpose if we are in the apartment and not working
Overall, it was a marvelous day and we so enjoyed the time we spent with the Klebingat’s. At the end of the conference, Elder Klebingat met with the MLC for a few minutes and explained to them the high expectations the Lord has of them.
On Thursday we traveled out to Effiduasi, a small town about 90 minutes northeast of Kumasi. From there we picked up the 4 Elders that live there, along with Daniel, a counselor in the Effiduasi Branch Presidency and then traveled another 45 minutes east to a small village (literally in the bush) call Addokrom. The spelling of the village varies depending who you ask, but since this is the spelling I actually saw on a building, I will go with that for now. In this village is a woman named Florence Apam. Florence is a faithful member of the Church who moved there three years ago to provide for her family. She buys a type of grain in Effiduasi and then processes it into a breakfast cereal and sells it to the people who live there. They are all farmers. She makes about $1.50 a day. When I asked how did she end up in Addokrum, she said she didn’t really know. A friend suggested it as a place she might find work among the farmers. She has no family there other than her 7 children. When she and her husband split, she needed to find a way support her children, and this is where she ended up. You will not meet a happier woman despite the hardship of her life. She shared with me some amazing spiritual experiences many years ago that brought her to the Church after being a member of the Jehovah Witnesses for about 15 years. All I will say is that her life has been filled with spiritual manifestations from messengers who have come to her to provide guidance and encouragement to find the Church and follow the commandments.
Similar to our experience with Sister Messie in Tongo Field, Sierra Leone (you can read about her here), Sister Florence would not rest until missionaries arrived in the village to teach the 50 people that she has prepared to hear the restored gospel. And she has only started her work! Because the area falls under the University Stake and not the Mission, the decision to expand to this village rests with the Stake President. If they feel they can support it, then we are happy to send missionaries from Effiduasi there once a week to teach the people. It was an amazing visit.
Since they are all farmers, work is constantly at their doorstep, but a number of them still gathered for a short meeting where I had the opportunity to speak to them about the restoration of the gospel and the book of Mormon. Very little English is spoken here – Sister Florence is the exception. Daniel was kind enough to translate for me. After the brief meeting and a few pictures, we walked about a little over a half a mile back into the bush. There we met a most lovely man and his wife Alice. I did not ask the man’s name, he is simply the chief elder of the Pentecostal Church that is in the village with by far the nicest building around. He did not see us as competitors, but fellow laborers in the same cause. He has been a member of his church for 48 years and is a faithful, God fearing man. He also does not speak English, but is filled with faith and the fire of the Spirit. Our visit was wonderful. I felt like I had found a long lost brother. As good as the meeting was with the people, there was something very special about this man and his wife. He lives in a mud home and works the land like everyone else. Often preachers here have the biggest houses, the nicest cars and wear the newest clothes. Not this man. He is a hard working commoner, just like the rest of us.
Later that evening we said goodbye to Elder Yancey and Elder Latapu. Elder Yancey has been serving as one of my assistants and Elder Latapu as an office elder. Both have served faithfully and successfully in helping to gather Israel. We love these young men and look forward to their progression as the marry, attend school and begin to raise their own families.
On Saturday, I spent most of the day working on reconciling baptismal reports. We are now part of a pilot of 50 missions where the missionaries are to fill out baptismal forms in Area Book on their phones and then submit it. Area Book then sends the data to the clerks in the wards and branches. They need to just accept the information into their membership file and print out a baptism and confirmation certificate. Unfortunately we do not quite have the process down. What I learned on Saturday was that 24 records have made it to the membership rolls with a membership number but were never recorded in Area Book. It is not a critical flaw, but it means we do not have the process working quite right. There is no easy way to fix this except to identify the missionaries and clerks that are not fully understanding the process and then work with them to correct the problem.
Also on Saturday we met with President Obeng, the Stake President of the Dichemso Stake. Rather than meet in person, we did so over Zoom. This allowed us to have all three members of the stake presidency, our zone leaders responsible for the missionaries serving in that stake, as well as LaDawn and me. We met for one hour and I was very happy with the commitment of the stake presidency and the zone leaders to help us move the work of gathering of Israel ahead.
The only other thing worth mentioning on Saturday (and it is only barely worth mentioning) was the time we took to watch the BYU vs Baylor game. Not a great game for a BYU fan, but it was nice to relax for a few hours and cheer on the boys in Blue.
On Sunday we attended Church in the Bantama Stake as we wanted to attend the baptisms in the Bantama First Ward at 11:30. The sacrament meeting was well planned and well executed. Since the second ward meets right after the first ward, we decided to attend it as well. However, hear the end of the meeting Elder Mbuyi came in and said they were waiting on us to begin the baptism, so we took our leave and moved to the room with the baptismal font. This is actually the first indoor baptismal font we have seen in either Sierra Leone or Ghana. It was nice to have the whole meeting inside. We even managed to snap the picture before the service started. Usually the pictures happen right before the baptism, but we are working on changing that so there is no disruption to the Spirit that attends these sacred ordinances.
So that was our week. A powerful mission conference, a mission leadership council, an incredible visit to a remote village filled with amazing people, the sendoff of two of our very best missionaries, a stake missionary coordination meeting and a baptism of some lovely people. We love our assignment and the opportunity to be Together in Ghana, doing the Lord’s work of gathering Israel.