What joy this week brought! On Friday evening, we were honored to have dinner with Doug and Nancy Dance. Actually, it is Elder and Sister Dance. They are here for a 5 month project reporting to the Area Presidency. Why was it so joyful to be with them? Rewind 50 years to high school. Doug, Nancy and I all graduated in 1975 from Blackfoot High School in Idaho. LaDawn was a year behind us in 1976. Back in those days I was still Catholic and trying to figure out my life.
Doug and Nancy were sterling examples of what true Latter-day Saint youth should be. Our recollection is that they also dated in high school. After graduating, Doug served a mission to Sapporo Japan and after returning home he married Nancy and they both finished their educations at BYU. They lived in a number of different places in the USA as he was involved with a media company, which he eventually left to strike out on his own. After living in several states with the original company, they ended up in Minnesota. Fast forward to 2008 and Doug was called as the Mission President in the Baltic Mission encompassing Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. After completing their mission in 2011, life eventually led them to Midway, UT and in 2016 he was called to serve as an Area Authority Seventy where part of his responsibility included a number of BYU Young Single Adult Stakes. In 2018, Nancy was called as a member of the Primary General Board. After Doug’s release last year, they were recruited by their good friend and Doug’s former business partner, Elder Larry Kacher (a member of out Area Presidency) to come on a 6 month mission to Ghana.
Their call is to help establish, instruct and encourage the Africa West Area Organizational Advisors that were put in place by the Church at the April 2021 General Conference. On Saturday, our Area Authority, Elder Patrick Appianti, came to Kumasi for a coordinating council meeting with the mission and stake presidents. This time, stake organizational leaders from Relief Society, Young Women and Primary also attended along with Sister Sampson, our Area Organizational Advisor. The Dance’s were here to attend that same meeting and work with Sister Sampson.
We were fortunate enough on Friday night to have them over for dinner and spend time catching up on the last 50 years since high school. It was such a joyous and happy reunion. What is the chance that four graduates from Blackfoot High School would find themselves Together in Ghana serving missions at the same time?
This week was almost totally dedicated to missionary interviews. Tuesday we were in Bantama, Wednesday we were in Suame, Thursday we were in Obuasi and Friday we were in Dichemso. Obuasi is the farthest away and that takes about 75 minutes to get there. The other stake centers were all within an hour, so compared to the previous week, it was a low travel-mile week. We had 10 interviews in Bantama, 12 interviews in Suame, 16 in Obuasi and 14 in Dichemso. I am a slow interviewer, so each one takes about 15 minutes. If I can finish within 30 minutes of our target end time, I am feeling accomplished. It is just so wonderful to be with these missionaries and hear their stories of faith, perseverance and miracles. It is also a great experience to share and discuss our memorized scriptures about Jesus Christ. While I do the interviews, LaDawn does phone checks as we try to help the missionaries learn self-mastery over these troublesome yet necessary devices. These are some of the best days of our mission.
On Wednesday night we had our bi-weekly mission presidency meeting. It feels like we are really starting to find our stride with the districts and mission branches. Each unit has now established 2022 goals and plans on how to accomplish those goals, including the names of the individuals they will help go to the temple for the first time, prepare for missions, advance in the priesthood, and begin attending church again. Putting together the letter to the district presidents on the roles of my counselors and our expectations of how they will work with the Priesthood leaders has been extremely helpful, especially to me. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am so grateful for President Tabi and President Obeng who serve so faithfully as my counselors. Right now we are working on a number of potential new groups in our districts. Zuarungo in Bolga, Humjibre in Sefwi Bekwai, Kyekyewere in Dunkwa, and perhaps a group outside of Wa away from the city where the members actually live. There is so much opportunity for growth here, we just have to make sure that whatever we do, we do it strategically.
On Sunday, we attended the Daban Ward because the Branch that was formed from it, the Kwamwoma Branch, does not yet have a building with a font. This new branch is where our assistants, Elder Morgan and Elder Yeboah serve and on Sunday they had 5 baptisms. Our office elders, Elder Mubu and Elder Ferry also had a baptism for the Daban Ward. It was such a wonderful day.
We appreciate the weeks after traveling where we can come back home, sleep in our own bed, and attend to interviews in the Kumasi area. It gives us opportunities to prepare for the next Mission Leadership Council and the subsequent zone conferences. We continue to stay with our Mission Vision themes of The Doctrine of Christ, Owning the Word of God, Exact Obedience, Experiencing Miracles through the concepts of high love for others and high expectations of ourselves, and becoming Finders of the Elect through loving, serving, teaching, and baptizing those the Lord has prepared for us. It is a magnificent work and we are grateful to be engaged in this great cause, Together in Ghana.
Since this is a rather short post this week, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share 5 recent miracles that our missionaries experienced in their work to gather Israel.
One miracle from this week was how we were able to get in touch with someone I had visited before. There is one girl named Ivy that I met with my previous companion. At that time my companion and I helped her pound some fufu, and shared something small with her as well as a pamphlet. We went back again to teach her, but it was obvious that she didn’t want to, or wasn’t ready to except the Gospel at that time. Now fast forward 4 months to this week, my companion and I were in an area to visit a less active member. I had only been to this house once before, and wasn’t super familiar with the area. I knew we were in the right area, but just couldn’t quite find the house. I took a turn that I felt like I should and was almost sure it was, it was the wrong turn, but this is where we met Ivy. She remembered me, greeted us and we started talking to her. She showed us to her place, and we were able to have a quick talk with her. As well as her inviting us back to learn more. This Ivy was almost a different person than the Ivy I had met before, and I felt prompted that she is now ready to receive the Gospel. I suspect that the small act of service my former companion and I did, planted a seed for the Gospel in her. And looking back at the situation, I definitely don’t believe it was a coincidence that we took that wrong turn, that put her in our path.
On Saturday before going out I gave a prayer as companions to go out and I said the Lord should help us achieve our transfer goal since the people we were hoping for are having some small challenges so on Sunday just after sacrament meeting a woman who has been coming to church for two years came to us with the Bishop and said she wants to be a member and the Sunday school instructors wife came and said the same thing..this made me realise how the Lord answers our prayers if we trust in him. We are hoping to have a good week.
Last two week a woman and her three children came to church but by themselves but we couldn’t really talk to her. So we visited her last week and helped her with some washing. She was really happy that day, it was Thursday and she came to church on Sunday. We had the opportunity to teach her lesson one and she accepted to be baptised next two weeks.
We went out during the week with the intend of going to render services to our fellow men and also to invite our interested people to. On Sunday, we tried calling our investigators to church and none was able to answer our calls. I then began to cry speaking to myself is what I’m doing not enough? We took our journey to church and to our surprise we met a gentleman who can to church by himself saying he had a feeling to come to this church. It was so amazing. We then had three new people to even shared something with them. I felt that God brought those people to church for me to know that he is seeing whatever effort I’m putting in his work. I have a strong faith that those four people will progress.
This week has been so amazing I want to share a miracle that we experienced this last week, it was on Tuesday, we went to go teach Lucy, (we have been teaching her since the beginning of this transfer) and we had a really great lesson with her, we shared a message about the plan of Salvation and helped her understand some questions she had been having, and at the end of the lesson she asked us about baptism and told us she wanted to be baptized so we invited her to be baptized last Sunday, it was amazing I know she was truly prepared by the Lord, at the beginning of this transfer when we set our goal, we had no idea who would be the Elect but as we showed faith the Lord has blessed us so much and I know that as we continue to rely on the Lord’s strength and not our own we will continue to have experiences like this and meet more people like Lucy who are prepared.