When we were kids, a-gogo referred to a funky style of music from the 1970’s. It also referred to what was known as discos or discotheques and the energetic music and dancing found at those places. There are other meanings for the word, but they are not missionary appropriate so I will exclude them. It apparently has a french origin meaning “abundant” and it is that word that seems to most appropriately describe this bustling city about 90 minutes from the mission home and is sort of out in the middle of nowhere. It is actually kind of surprising to drive into Agogo, to see just how big it is despite being on something less than a main road and 30 minutes northeast of Konongo, which is the home of the Konongo Stake Center.
On Sunday we drove out to Agogo to attend the first ever meeting of the Agogo group that was authorized in 2021 while President & Sister Webster were still here. Because of covid, the group was never able to meet and Sunday was the official start. President Boakye, the first counselor in the Konongo Stake Presidency is married to the daughter of the town chief of a small town outside of Agogo called Hwidiem (I would try to explain the pronounciation, but the “hw” sound just doesn’t exist in English). If you look at the map, inside the circle is a small marker. That was the meeting place on Sunday in this smaller town. Because of the connections to the chief, he arranged for us to have a place to meet and even honored us with his presence.
There were 40 people in attendance, but only 13 of them were from Agogo. Most of them currently attend the Domeabra branch which is about 20 minutes this side of Hwidiem. After sacrament meeting we went for a drive to get a feel for the actual town of Agogo. Having never been there before, we were surprised to discover just how big this place is. As home to two significant universities, Agogo is, according to some locals, a city of choice for many. Below are some pictures of the city, including Elder Brigham and Elder Dibatayi who have been serving both Domeabra and Agogo. Also a picture looking into the sacrament meeting from a window outside.
The spirit we felt there was refreshing. As President Tabi (my first counselor), intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receivth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light;…(see Doctrine & Covenants 88:40) meaning because this is a city that embraces intelligence, wisdom and truth through the universities, they will also recognize the truths of the gospel. Both LaDawn and I felt the goodness of the city and we believe we can grow the church quickly there by working with the members and finding an apartment for missionaries closer to the city center. We have already assigned a set of Elders to work exclusively in Agogo. Elder Ross and Elder Abeo. We are looking forward to abundant success in Agogo!
The other significant highlight from the week was an all Mission devotional over Zoom. This is the first time we have done this and it was a wonderful success. Our good friend Kevin Ball who lives in Houston gave a powerful presentation on the doctrine of being born again. Often as missionaries we think of those we are teaching when we contemplate this doctrine, but what made this such a powerful experience for the missionaries is Kevin focused the discussion on them…and us and how we might each be born again to become a “new creature in Christ”. (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). This is something we will continue to do each transfer as a way to uplift and inspire the entire mission. Thank you Kevin!
A couple other items we will mention. This week I was able to do companionship study with two of our companionships. Elder Degelbeck and Elder Boamah we did over the phone. It is never perfect to do it over a voice call, but I am always amazed just how good an experience it actually is. As we talk, I imagine sitting at the table with them in their apartment. It was a wonderful discussion. Later in the week I drove out to Abuakwa to be with Elder Riley and Elder Abekyi. Sister Moomey, Sister Garrison and LaDawn made a trip down to Obuasi to visit and check out the hospital there and also to meet with a woman to have some items made from the kente cloth we had purchased earlier, so I figured it was a perfect time to visit these amazing elders. Turned out they had quite a collection of shoes!
Speaking of shoes, I can’t help but share a picture of the shoes of Elder Boamah, one of our zone leaders. These shoes have previously been repaired, but this time they were beyond saving. We are so proud of all of our missionaries who labor tirelessly in this work. Dusty roads (dry season), being caught in the rain and the mud (wet season) and yet they labor on, bringing the good news of the gospel to the people of Ghana. We joy with them as they wear out their shoes (and their lives) in bringing light to this people (see D&C 123:13).
On Tuesday, we had a Zoom meeting with the Area Presidency along with all of the other mission presidents and companions across West Africa. Topics included the roll out of English Connect (especially for our missionaries), creating and maintaining a Christ-centered culture, making sure all of the missionary lessons are taught prior to baptism, and information and updates on the member mapping project where the goal is to map the latitudes and longitudes of all of the members in West Africa. This is a huge undertaking but since addresses here are non-existent, these codes can help us minister to our members in a much better way.
Later on Tuesday we had a meeting with Lane Steinagel, our Area Mission Specialist, and the Worldwide Finding Manager in the missionary department, Matthew Godfrey. We were eager to learn more about the reports available to us and had discovered some inconsistencies we hoped could be explained. Turns out these reports are still a work in progress so some of our issues were known and some were not. It was a good discussion. Here are some interesting statistics from our mission over the last year. A sure sign that we need to be engaged in doing more work with our wonderful members!
- 71% of the referrals from Ward/Branch Council members are baptized
- 58% of the people who seek out the church themselves are baptized
- 55% of the referrals from new and existing members are baptized (excluding ward/branch council members)
- 44% of the referrals from the people we are teaching (not yet members) are baptized
- 30% of the referrals from less-active members are baptized
Another week gone in the Ghana Kumasi Mission. Transfer week is next and it is going to be busy with 11 missionaries going home and 22 missionaries coming. We are looking forward to the challenges and the changes as we continue to build the Church and establish Zion, Together in Ghana!