From December through to February, the harmattan is the north-easterly Sahara trade winds which from time to time blow in desert-like sandstorms. Often it leaves our skin a bit drier and our lips just a bit more chapped, but most evident is the extremely fine dust that it brings. The mornings tend to be a bit cooler and visibility is reduced as moisture and dust mix to create eery fog like scenes.
This was the week we headed north for our zone conferences in Sunyani and Tamale. We left early Tuesday morning and arrived back home on Saturday afternoon. The picture here of the sun through the dusty skies was taken Saturday evening after our return. It is caused by the harmattan, a cool dry wind that blows from the northeast. If you are interested to learn more, here is a link to a short article on britannica.com. It does tend to create some pretty amazing sunrises and sunsets as the dust turns the light a pale tannish brown color. The good news is it tends to keep the days just a bit cooler and in a place like Ghana, anything that shields one from the Sun is seen as a good thing!
In Sunyani, we stayed at a different hotel, because both the Tyco Hotel and the Eusbett were full. We are guessing it had something to do with the Christmas season as we have never experienced that before. The hotel was called the Glamossay Hotel. I would give it a solid 2 stars. It took us a few tries to get a room with a working air conditioner, but we finally managed. Elder and Sister Moomey were with us and so we had to find two rooms with working A/C units, and that was a bit more challenging. The beds were hard, but “sleepable”. Our bathroom had a leaky inlet to the toilet and so we had water on the bathroom floor the whole time we were there, but for the money we spent it was okay. We also have to say that the food in the restaurant (we were the only ones in there) was actually quite good.
We did some interviews on Tuesday morning and into the early afternoon. At 5:00 pm I met with the District Presidency and had a wonderful visit with President Ofosu-Appiah and President Mills as well as their district clerk. We only spent an hour, but I was able to share with them the highlights from the Coordinating Council Meeting which just happened to be exactly the counsel they were looking for relative to some of the challenges they are facing. Such a nice “coincidence”.
On Wednesday we held the Techiman / Sunyani zone conference. We will be splitting the zone this week back into two. As the number of missionaries increase, by the end of the month there will be a total of 36 missionaries in what is now the Techiman Zone. That is a big task for anyone! In any case, we had a wonderful conference. Elder Morgan and Elder Yeboah led a discussion on becoming finders of the elect. This time the discussion focused on 1) Love to Charity, 2) Profile of an Elect and 3) From Serving to Teaching. It was so good. I then spent some time talking about collective obedience and some of the things we are still struggling with as a mission that we need to work on. From there we enjoyed some zone talent and then played some games and had lunch. Without a doubt, the highlight of the talents was Sister Ita singing “O Holy Night”. We were all captivated and this short video just does not do the performance justice.
After the talents, we played some fun games: The name game, Simon Says, Fruit basket upset, and a shoe relay were the focus of the day. We had a lot of fun.
Lunch was 30 minutes late, but we had built the schedule with enough flexibility to make it all work. We returned to our seats at 2 pm, sang another Christmas hymn and then I talked about Lehi’s Vision asking the missionaries to ask themselves, “Where am I in Lehi’s Vision”. There are 5 places we can find ourselves:
- On the path but lost in the mists of darkness
- Clinging to the rod of iron, making it to the tree, partaking of the fruit and being ashamed
- In the great and spacious building mocking those partaking of the fruit
- Feeling the way to the great and spacious building, slipping and falling and then drowning in the depths of the filthy fountain of water
- Continually holding fast to the rod of iron, making the way to the tree, falling down and partaking of the fruit
To close the conference, LaDawn shared the story of the birth of Christ, led a discussion on the many names by which Jesus Christ is known and then ended with a beautiful video of pictures and paintings from the life of the Savior underscored by BYU’s Noteworthy singing “How Great Thou Art”. The spirit that it left in the room was amazing. As we ended, we took a picture of the zone, did a few more interviews and then packed up and traveled to Techiman where we stayed the night with the Allred’s. It is always such a joy to be with them and this visit was no exception.
For dinner the Allred’s fixed a delicious meal of spaghetti without the red sauce but every bit as delicious. I am sure there is a name for it, but I can’t remember. The Moomey’s also joined us and then spent the night in a close by hotel since they preferred that to having one of us couples sleeping on the floor. 😊
Thursday morning we interviewed the Techiman elders and sisters and then helped a young man and his branch president finish their missionary paperwork. It also gave me an opportunity to interview the prospective missionary prior to submitting his paperwork. We got away a little later than we had planned, but we made our way to Tamale and arrived there around 5:30 pm. I was able to interview the Bolgatanga Elders and the Sisters that are now in the Kanvilli apartment that evening. We and the Moomey’s went to Wooden Bakery for dinner. I had the boneless chicken strips and french fries. They tend to overcook most of their meats and this was no exception.
Friday morning we had zone conference. It was wonderful. In addition to all of the things we did in Sunyani, we did a small role play about how to issue a “soft” baptismal challenge. It was “in the moment” and turned out extremely well. We will build that into the remaining two conferences. We then had some lovely talents presented and then played most of the same games we played in Sunyani plus we added a game called Telestrations. It was such a good day to be with these amazing missionaries!
Afterwards we completed the rest of the interviews, I did an additional interview with a member in the district and then the Moomey’s and we went to Oasis for a nice dinner. There were a lot of people there, but then it was a Friday night. I really love their ground nut soup there so took the opportunity again to enjoy a bowl with some rice. LaDawn had some Tilapia with mashed potatoes and peas. Of course, being an Idaho girl, potatoes were the main draw to order the meal.
Saturday morning we left Tamale around 7:45 am. We stopped in Offinso and tried to meet with Elder Tingba and Elder Nielsen, but they were out of their apartment (as they should be) and didn’t call back until we were out of the area. We always appreciate being in an area, seeing an apartment and getting a feel for the opportunities there. Offinso is a large area and we will put two more missionaries there in two weeks. We arrived back home by 3:00 pm. It is always a treat to come back home to our own bed, our own food and our own internet!
On Sunday, we attended the University Ward where our Sister Training Leaders, Sister Donkon and Sister Chikayenda serve. They had prepared Sister Dorcas and Sister Abigail for baptism and following church, they were baptized. These are amazing sisters who set a sterling example. Many of the members stayed after church for the meeting and we know it made both Abigail and Dorcas feel loved, just as it should be.
After we arrived home, I worked on both the mid-transfer transfer as well as the one on the 28th of this month when we will be receiving another 18 missionaries. By the end of the month we will be up to 174 missionaries and by the next transfer we will be up to 185, five above our approved complement of 180 young missionaries.
We also had the opportunity to listen to our granddaughter Madalyn give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. We are amazed at how poised, confident and powerfully she spoke. We love you Maddie!
At 5:30 pm, we went over to the mission office where I met with two of our missionaries who have been struggling in their relationship which is spilling over into the work. We spent about 90 minutes together and left with a plan to improve. Later in the evening, I had an opportunity to speak with my good friend Kevin Ball who brainstormed with me on some ideas that we are working on for our upcoming Mission Leadership Council. We also had an amazing opportunity to talk about Justice and Mercy and how the temple teaches these important concepts. How grateful I am to have such a good friend who helps me to continue to learn and grow on gospel topics that are often outside of what Sister Kunz and I are learning together.
We always enjoy the weeks that we have zone conferences. While the travel itself is often difficult, the opportunity to be with these wonderful young servants of God more than offsets the travel inconveniences. How we love them and pray for them and encourage them to continue to grow. It is such a magnificent experience to be engaged in this great cause, Together in Ghana.