Couples!

What a great week we had! We started with our next round of zone conferences, this time the central theme was faith in Jesus Christ. The spirit that has accompanied this topic in each of the three conferences has been life changing, at least for us. How we love these faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and their desire and strivings to be better every single day. We are grateful for them and the opportunity to be here, Together in Ghana doing this great work.

On Tuesday, we held the Dichemso Zone Conference. Dichemso is our largest zone, led by Elder Sunday and Elder Awuku as zone leaders and Sister Donkon and Sister Arthur as Sister Training Leaders. They led a discussion on Faith that was just outstanding. With the focus on increasing our faith to become Finders of the Elect, each of the three zone conferences offered insights and discussion that were helpful. We are so appreciative of the time each of them took to prayerfully prepare and deliver such excellent instructions to their zones.

Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders working together to deliver an inspired discussion on increasing our Faith in Jesus Christ.
Sister Donkon and Sister Arthur, two of our extraordinary Sister Training Leaders

While the missionaries were engaged in discussions about faith, Elder and Sister Moomey were putting their faith into action as they refurbished and revised each of the medical kits of the missionaries in the Dichemso Zone. Having medicine kits in the apartments can be very helpful when a symptom arises that could easily be addressed by the proper medication. Having these kits, however, is dependent on the missionaries only accessing the medication when directed by Sister or Elder Moomey or by LaDawn (if they are unavailable). We are so grateful to have the Moomey’s with us. Their focus and expertise on health and safety is really helping the mission significantly.

LaDawn talked about Nephi (son of Lehi), the Brother of Jared, Mary (the mother of Jesus) and their common attributes as mentioned or implied in the scriptures. She then invited each of us to become more like them.

I then spent about 45 minutes talking about the condescension of God and why that is important to us as missionaries. I also shared a couple of videos that really helped to make the point. We will talk more about both of these next week once we have completed the remaining two conferences this week in Sunyani and Tamale.

Following the conference I was able to hold a number of interviews of those missionaries who live further out. Mampong, Agona, Offinso specifically.

Clockwise starting in the top left: Elder Nielsen and Elder Heaton, Elder Clarke and Elder Tingba, Elder Aidoo and Elder Noryan, Elder Lima and Elder Morris.

On Wednesday, we traveled to the Bantama Stake Center and met with the Asuoyeboa and Bantama Zones. The focus was the same, increasing our faith in Jesus Christ. The zone leaders in Asuoyeboa are Elder Riley and Elder Abekyi. The zone leaders in Bantama are Elder Degelbeck and Elder Boamah. The Sister training leaders that support these two zones are Sister Vandy and Sister Edigin. We first had the Sister Training Leaders provide some instruction and then the two zones broke out and the zone leaders took over.

Again following the conference, we had a nice lunch provided by Veronica who used to be the mission housekeeper and cook, I was able to complete the interviews for the Sefwi and Bibiani districts. Unfortunately I failed to snap pictures of the Bibiani Elders (Elder Gyamfi, Elder Jonjo, Elder Fomby and Elder Kanyinda).

Elder Bangura takes the Covid-19 vaccine

We then began the waiting game. We had arranged with the nurse at the hospital where the missionaries get their vaccines to be at the Bantama building by 2:00 pm to administer a covid vaccine to the missionaries who had not yet received it, but were desirous to do so. Even though our mission driver, Alex Cobbinah, provided the transportation, they were not able to arrive until 3:30 pm. It is difficult to fully understand what the delay was caused by, but it is fair to say that it had to do with the nurse doing her work at the hospital and having to get freed up to be able to come and do the vaccines for us. While we were willing to bring the missionaries to them, they were concerned that local people might feel that the vaccines were being given to non-Ghanaians, which is ironic considering that the vaccines were provided by the United Stakes in the first place. I guess explaining that to anyone who is thinking about fairness just wasn’t worth it for the hospital staff. Plus, we have agreed to pay them to come to us to save our missionaries time. Not as much as we paid last time, but certainly enough to be worth their trouble.

Wednesday night was our regular presidency meeting. The topics remain the same. How do we accelerate the establishment of the Church here in the Mission? Plenty of opportunities to progress the work!

On Thursday, we had the final Kumasi area zone conference. This was the University and Konongo zones combined. The University Zone leaders are Elder Sam and Elder Awortwi and the Konongo Zone leaders are Elder Jones and Elder Bampoe. The Sister Training leaders are Sister Chikayenda and Sister Koomson. They too did an excellent job of developing a discussion around how we can increase our faith and why it is so important to become Finders of the Elect. It was a marvelous conference.

And once again, following the conference I was able to do some interviews and again we waited for the nurse to come with the vaccines.

Elder Moomey does his best impression of an “ouch!”

This time it was our fault as our mission driver got delayed transporting missionaries back to Obuasi. When the nurse arrived with the vaccines, we learned another distressing bit of information. The pharmacy at the hospital would not dispense the Johnson and Johnson vaccines to the nurse to provide them to us. The J&J vaccine is more valuable because it is a one shot dose. So the dispensary folks decided that this nurse was providing these J&J vaccines to a “rich” American church and they wanted to be paid to dispense it. Frustrating, especially when we already had an agreement with the hospital (or so we thought). The nurse was very unhappy as well, and brought the two shot versions of AstraZeneca as well as Pfizer boosters for the Moomey’s and for us. While we are happy to get the AZ vaccines, it will mean more logistical trouble for us in order for them to get their second shot in the next 4-6 weeks. The nurse was going to petition the hospital controller and we are hoping we will get J&J vaccines this week in Sunyani.

On Saturday we did some shopping at Melcom’s for items that we knew the Steinmetz will need in their apartment in Tamale. Since the last couple was living there, missionaries stayed in the apartment and many of the kitchen utensils found their way to new homes. From Melcom’s we drove out to the Atafoa Ward which is part of the Suame Stake. Sister Diamonds and Sister Ofusua are the missionaries who work in that war and in her weekly letter Sister Diamonds mentioned that they would have a 3 generational baptism on Saturday, so we decided to go. It was wonderful. The three generations consist of Georgina, her daughter Maggie and Maggie’s son, Marvin. In addition, a young man who lives with his sister because his parents have died, was also baptized. He is 8 years old, but not a child of record.

It is actually quite an inspiring story. Georgina’s young sister lives in the U.S. and retired there as a nurse a few years back. In August she came back to Ghana for an extended visit. While here, she invited Maggie (her niece) and Marvin to come and stay with her and while they were together she shared the gospel with them. Georgina has been around the church for some period of time, and even attends regularly, but has never joined. With Margaret here and her daughter and grandson being baptized, she figured it was time she came to the Church as well. Jorgeson was another story. The Bishop invited him to be baptized with the other three, perhaps not even realizing he was not a child of record. Jorgeson has been coming to church since he was 5. At first the missionaries were concerned thinking it would be impossible to prepare him quickly enough, but then they met and taught him and realized this young man was exceptional! They were able to teach him (he already knew almost everything he needed to know to be baptized) and then the district leader interviewed him and he joined the baptismal service. It was such a wonderful moment for these individuals and their families…and for us!

I want to mention one more item in conjunction with the baptism. There was another man who was there related to Georgina and Margaret (possibly through marriage). His name is Kofi Jima and he is a member of the Assemblies of God church and teaches Sunday School for them. He is a really great man with a strong spirit and a kind heart. I loved the opportunity to talk to him about the restoration of the gospel and why it was such an important event for him to know and understand. He stayed for the service and seemed to enjoy himself. I love meeting honorable men like Kofi who deserve the fullness of the gospel because they have been so faithful to the truths they already know. It will be hard for him to leave behind what he loves so much and where he has such a responsible call to teach. But maybe, just perhaps, somewhere along the road in the future, he will discover the greater joy that the Lord’s church could bring into his life.

Sunday was another great day. We drove to Obuasi and attended the 1st Branch. I needed to speak to a member who attends there and as it turns out there was another young man I needed to speak to as well. Both discussions were exceptionally fruitful. I was given a few minutes in sacrament meeting and I had no idea what the message was that I was to deliver. The first speaker, Sister Johnson, spoke about missionary work and that resonated with me (I mean, I am the mission president 😊). In any case, as I stood, I mentioned that 53% of the referrals from members to our missionaries are baptized. That is an incredible statistic alone, but it opened up an an opportunity (and the spirit just flowed at that point), to talk about loving and serving those in their families who have not yet found the joy of the restored gospel. I have to say, that I myself was amazed at the message of hope, sharing the gospel, and the importance of eternal families. How I know that the Lord is in the details of this work!

After arriving home, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed off to the airport to pick up Elder and Sister Steinmetz. These are good friends that we came to know and love while working together every Thursday in the Houston Temple during the Covid-19 protocols. We were the only two couples working that day each week in addition to a couple from the temple presidency. We had great experiences together and we are so happy that we are now going to serve together in the Ghana Kumasi Mission. The Moomey’s and the Garrison’s also came to the airport to help with the luggage.

We are also grateful to the Steinmetz’s for bringing some supplies that we needed from home and are grateful for our sister-in-law, Susan Ogden for gathering the things together, packing it in a suitcase and then finding her sister-in-law, Heather, who was willing to deliver it to the MTC as they suffered at home with Omicron. Thank you so much for everyone who helped make all of that happen!

It was all we could do to keep the Steinmetz’s up as late as possible so they could get over their jet lag as quickly as possible. But by 8:30 pm they were fading fast so we relented and let them go to bed 😀.

Such a great week to be able to have these wonderful zone conferences, vaccinate the unvaccinated, attend this three generational baptism and then be reunited with friends who bring additional strength, testimony and energy to the work. We are so very grateful for all of our senior couples who work together like a well-oiled machine. To the Allred’s, the Garrison’s, the Moomey’s and now the Steinmetz’s we say thank you for coming to Ghana to work with us and these amazing young missionaries in an effort to build Zion and establish the Church. We love you so much!

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