Last Friday, while at the Mission Office, a storm came up suddenly and the winds began to blow, kicking up dust and eventually bringing in the rain. It was a foreshadowing of the changes occurring in the mission.
The first change was minor and was associated with our car. Right before we came, President Webster signed a purchase order for a new vehicle to replace the Mitsubishi Pajero. While a solid car, it surely drove more like a tank than a car. When the registration expired, we drove one of the new Hilux pickup trucks we received. We really came to love that diesel powered carry-all vehicle. Last week, we received a call that the Pajero would be retired as our new Toyota Fortuner had arrived. We knew we needed to give up the Hilux as the Moomey’s and Garrison’s would be coming, so we were back to driving the Pajero and we were happy to learn that would be short-lived. After zone conference on Friday, we came to the mission office and the new vehicle was there. It is a very smooth driving SUV, but it lacks a couple of important features. First there is no cruise control, which for the amount of driving we do is important to us. We will see if we can get it added. Second, it is a 4 cylinder and we wish it were a 6. Because the majority of roads are two lane roads, the ability to pass quickly around big trucks is important to us. We will need to live with that one we think.
There was more change that occurred this week. The Moomey’s and Garrison’s arrived on Sunday evening around 7:30 pm. Because it was a Sunday, the traffic was light, for which we were very grateful. The Coombs will finish their mission at the end of the month. The Garrison’s will replace them and have the next three weeks to get familiar with their duties before handing over the reigns entirely. We served with the Moomey’s in Sierra Leone and are so grateful to have them here with us as our medical couple. We will forever be grateful to Elder and Sister Coombs for helping us get our feet wet these last four months. They have been angels in assisting us in so many ways and we are extremely grateful to them and will miss them dearly!
With the winds of change blowing, it was also good to have some constancy. This week we did the remaining three zone conferences with Bantama/Asuoyeboa on Tuesday, University/Konongo on Wednesday and Dichemso on Thursday. We followed the same themes: Effective use of the Book of Mormon, “Becoming”, and #HearHim. In addition, we talked about dress and grooming standards, Becoming Finders of the Elect (changing our weekly accountability discussions at District Council), and what it means for missionaries to keep the Sabbath Day Holy. Here are pictures from the conferences this week.
Here is a montage of pictures from the week. They won’t mean a lot to anyone accept a missionary in this mission, but we think it is good to see the attentiveness and contributing nature of our amazing missionaries. How we do love them!
Top left, Sister Donkor and Sister Chikayenda, Konongo Zone with Elder Jones and Elder Bampoe, University Zone leaders Elder Lekopa and Elder Nielsen. To the right is Elder Ross with the microphone. Below the first group at top left, Dichemso Zone Leaders Elder Toe and Elder Rasmussen and Sister Training Leaders, Sister Codjoe and Sister Arthur. To their right is a role play with Elder Nordfelt, Elder Noryan and Elder Abekyi. Below that are birthdays in Dichemso zone.
At the bottom are Bantama/Asuoyeboa Birthdays. Above to the left is Elder Riley. To his right are the Bantama zone leaders, Elder Degelbeck and Elder Mbuyi and above that is Sister Mbedzi and Sister Sister De-Heer. Above them is Elder Riley and Elder Yeboah, Asuoyeboa Zone Leaders. Above them are Elder Jones and Elder Bampoe (Konongo Zone Leaders), to their right are the birthdays for University/Konongo Zones and to their right is a role play with Sister Edigin, Sister Quartey and Elder Green with Sister De-Heer in the background.
Speaking of zones and the winds of change, this month we will receive a total of 22 new missionaries, a group even bigger than what we received in August. So these zones will change again next week as we bring in a whole new group of warriors in the battle for the souls of men, women and children.
On Saturday and Sunday, we had the Bibiani District Conference. It takes about 2 hours to get to Bibiani if you leave early in the morning and between 2.5-3 hours to come home due to increased traffic coming into Kumasi. We made the drive on both Saturday and Sunday as we really enjoy sleeping in our own bed!
Saturday morning we were up at 4:30 am and picked up our visiting Area Authority Seventy, Anthony Quaisie at 6:00 am. Elder Quaisie stayed at the Golden Tulip which is only about 7 minutes from our home. We arrived at the “District Center” (it is actually just a ward meetinghouse with an office for the District Presidency) at about 8:20, in time for our opening meeting with the District Presidency. Following a detailed self-introduction of each member of the presidency, Elder Quaisie spoke to them about where they see their strengths. It was also in this meeting that Elder Quaisie introduced what became a thread weaving through the conference in regards to the importance of Covenants and Ordinances, especially those that we make in the temple.
At the Leadership Session in the afternoon, Elder Quaisie spoke about the strength of the Church not being in our beautiful temple grounds, but in the individual testimonies of Jesus Christ of each member. And it is this desire to Come unto Christ and the act of doing so that will change our very nature to be more like Him. He spoke of council meetings needing to be focused on individuals and the ordinances they need rather than the planning of activities. He spoke of 2 Nephi 28:21 and declared along with Nephi that all is NOT well in Zion and there is much work we need to do. On Saturday, I spoke about the iterative nature of the Doctrine of Christ and on Sunday I spoke about Agency and Accountability. LaDawn spoke on Discipleship on Saturday and meaningful, effective Prayer on Sunday.
At the end of the conference, we met with all of the Branch Presidents and Elder Quaisie did a role play on how a Branch Youth Council meeting should be held. This was very valuable as not one of the 5 branch presidents even knew that this meeting existed. In the end, the District Presidency agreed on a way forward. 1) Work with Branch Presidents to implement the Youth Program. 2) Prepare and teach more members to receive temple ordinances. 3) Make sure the branch youth councils are organized and held. 4) When they go to the branches on Sundays, sit in with branch leadership and show them how to have effective branch council meetings. 5) Begin to hold weekly District Presidency Meetings. At the Sunday sessions we had a total of 231 members out of a total population of 560 members, so almost 42%. We streamed the conference to the Sefwi Bekwai and Sefwi Waiwso branches where a total of 105 members were watching over Zoom.
On Saturday after the second session, we drove Elder Quaisie, President Turkson and President Buadu (first counselor) to make two visits. The man in this picture of this family below had not been to church in some time, even though his wife faithfully attends. But after that visit from Elder Quaisie, he came and brought his whole family. Which brings me to my last point. While we really enjoyed the conference with Elder Quaisie and the District Leadership, the real blessing of the weekend was the ride on Saturday down and back being taught by this faithful Area Authority (He followed us down on Sunday in his own car so he could leave for Accra without coming back through Kumasi). He taught us much about how to help people who are struggling because they have been offended. So often, we want to bargain with the Lord. We are unhappy because things did not go the way we wanted them to go. But, as Elder Quaisie repeatedly said, we can’t bargain with the Lord. His ways are not always our ways, and we will find ourselves on the left-hand of God at the last day if we try to convince ourselves or others that somehow the commandments just don’t apply to us and that the covenants we made are not that important.
Overall, I have to say I came home edified and hopeful that the District will now begin to move in a much bigger way. Like the other districts, Bibiani was also hit hard by the Covid restrictions. There is now hope that it will begin to emerge in a better and stronger way.
As mentioned above, the road into Kumasi was really backed up on our way home Sunday afternoon. Tro Tros and taxi’s started turning off and taking a shortcut so we decided to follow them. Interesting. The road was narrow, very much gutted with rain ruts and rocks and quite the navigational challenge. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but here is a portion of the road (more like a rain-river bed) as we were following these crazy drivers (which makes me crazy too I think). When a car was coming from the other direction, it was especially troublesome! The good news is we made it and came out on the road just in front of a wreck between a big truck and a small car, which was the reason for much of the jam up in the first place.
We arrived home just in time for LaDawn to make some yummy enchiladas for ourselves and a pan each for the Moomey’s and Garrisons. We took theirs to their new apartment, traded our SUV for the van and headed to the airport to pick them up.
So that was our week, filled with zone conferences, two new couples arriving in the mission and an outstanding District Conference. Mixed in with all of that was responding to weekly missionary letters, gospel study, preparing the new apartments for the couples and even watching most of the BYU – ISU Football game. One thing that is constant and that is the change that we encounter every week. But we are grateful to be engaged in this great work. To have the confidence we have been called by the Savior to be instruments in His hands to do this great work of Gathering Israel, Together in Ghana. Hurrah for Israel!