On Saturday, I had a few minutes in the evening and thought I would get an early start on this post. I was trying to figure out what to title it. We had been north to Sunyani, Techiman, and Tamale for zone conferences and interviews and to be honest nothing new had really happened, so I simply started the post with the title “Blog Post” as a placeholder. We knew we would be going to a new branch in Adansi Asokwa down in the Obuasi District on Sunday, and I was thinking maybe something about that trip would be memorable and worth writing about. Well, that turned out to be prophetic, but not in the way I had thought.
We left about 7:15 am on Sunday morning and while the map shown here indicates one route being much faster than the other, on Sunday morning they were the same. So we drove the route we knew best (gray route in picture), turning off to go to Bekwai (a different Bekwai than I wrote about two weeks ago – lots of common names for towns repetitively used) just past Ofoase. It was a beautiful drive. Lots of plush plants and trees and even a small mountain (hill?) pass. We arrived at the branch around 8:40 am and enjoyed a wonderful fast and testimony meeting. Afterwards we were able to stay and participate in the baptism of three individuals that Elder Witte and Elder Amoah had taught and were now prepared to enter the covenant path. It was a great morning all the way around!
On the way home, I decided it would be nice to try a different route, just to get a better feel for the areas we would pass through on the way back to Kumasi. So we decided to take the blue route (pictured in the map), all the way home. We knew it would go past a missionary apartment in Aputuagya, a place we have been before and we knew there was a back road from that apartment that comes out near the mission office. That was the road we wanted to take. Just as I was turning left, a car came speeding from behind over a small rise in the road and tried to pass. He hit us pretty hard in the left back fender and pushed us about 30 feet past the road I was turning into and then into a cement drainage ditch. Miraculously, the front tire missed a raised concrete curb that would surely have caused extensive damage, but the running board somehow caught the curb, pushing it backwards and into the left rear tire, flattening it immediately. It all happened so quickly it is hard to replay it exactly as it occurred. When our car came to rest, the driver and passenger of the car jumped out with golf ball sized eyes looked at me in disbelief. LaDawn and I just sat in the car for a few moments trying to figure out what had just happened. I eventually opened the door, looked at the two men and asked if they were okay. They replied yes. I told them we were okay as well. There was no yelling or discussing of blame. An accident occurred and we both felt bad that it had happened. I made a phone call to Cooper, our Facilities and Mission Fleet manager, and he made a few phone calls. Soon I received a phone call from the Area Fleet Manager and he spoke to the other driver and we all agreed we could work through this without involving the police (which would have complicated matters significantly). What happened next was amazing.
Over the next two hours no fewer than 20 men stopped and pitched in to help figure out how to get our car out of the ditch. Cooper sent one of his contractors over, Bishop Boakye of the Daban ward. Elder and Sister Moomey came to pick us up, as we initially thought the car was not drivable.
To make a long story short, these men figured out how to pound the running board far enough forward that they could get the flat tire off of the car and the spare tire back on. Once we did that, we were able to put the car into four wheel drive and back it out of the ditch (a board was placed for the tire to drive on over the ditch opening). Amazingly we were able to drive the car home. The driver of the other car is a man named Seidu Issah. He stayed the whole time and was ultimately the man who put the spare tire onto our car. His own car lost its front bumper and may have put a hole in the radiator. We exchanged information and he contacted me once last night and again this morning to make sure we were okay. Not a single one of these men asked for money for helping us. They did it out of the goodness of their hearts. One man came up to me from nowhere just to reassure me that it would be all okay and that I should not worry. When we finished, several of them asked if it was okay for them to go. Such courtesy and kindness. Just one more reason why we love the Ghanaian people so much.
The car will require some work, and we may be without it for a few weeks, but when we got home we were so filled with gratitude that nothing worse had happened that we dropped to our knees and expressed our gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father for his tender mercy and care.
Compared to our Sunday, the rest of the week was routine. We drove to Sunyani on Tuesday morning and did some interviews (pictures below) and then stayed over for zone conference the next morning. The Moomey’s joined us Tuesday evening and we had a nice dinner at the Tyco Hotel where we stayed (Hamburger, Chicken Sandwich, and some Chicken Stroganoff.)
On Wednesday we had the zone conference with the combined Techiman and Sunyani zones. It was a great meeting. Sister and Elder Allred kicked it off with a wonderful discussion about prayer. Sister Allred talked about how we can make our lives “tight like unto a dish”. Elder Allred told of a time he was building a camp cook box for Boy Scouts late on a Saturday night when he discovered he needed 20 more washers. It was too late to go to the store and Scout Camp started on Monday. He went to the corner of the shop (which used to be his father’s shop) and knelt in prayer. As he prayed, he remembered an experience from 40 years prior when he disassembled a piece of furniture and placed the washers and bolts from that project in a small black box in the bottom of a cabinet in that same shop. As he got off his knees and made his way to the old cabinet, he had to move a few things but there on the back of the shelf was that black box. When he opened it, he found 32 of the exact washers that he needed. It was a powerful story of how God cares about things that are important to us.
The Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders then spoke to their respective zones about becoming Planners of the Elect. Planning effectively has been an issue for some time in the mission. I was so happy that we finally got around to figuring it out so that it could be presented by the leaders. Credit to Elder Morgan and Elder Yeboah who laid the groundwork for this powerful process of planning the transfer, planning the week, and planning the day. Elder Sunday and Elder Belnap worked with Sister Freeman and Sister Annan worked with Elder Abakah and Elder Simpson.
LaDawn then did a review of the 8 zone conferences we have had since coming and what she taught at each one. She then gave a quiz to the missionaries to see how well they listened and took notes. Everyone had a lot of fun during the review.
After the conference, I finished the interviews with the Sunyani Zone, we stayed another night at the Tyco Hotel and left early the next morning for Techiman to complete the Techiman Zone interviews at the Allred’s apartment.
We left Techiman around noon and made our way to Tamale, arriving just after 4:30. That evening I interviewed the 8 elders who work in Bolga (see the pictures below) and then we made our way to The Oasis for dinner. After dinner, we went to Ma’s Hotel where we usually stay, but they had no water. It is not clear what the problem was but there seemed to be an option to change the water piping from a tank they had, but when he went out to do it, the rain started coming down in sheets. Bottom line is, we had to find another place to stay. We called another small hotel we had heard good things about, but they had no rooms. We then drove about 2 miles to Modern City Hotel where we found two available rooms. The a/c units didn’t work so great and the night was rather warm, but we managed to get enough sleep to go another day. The room was spacious but the a/c unit just couldn’t cool it. When we left we mentioned it to them and the second night was much much better.
On Friday, we held the Tamale Zone Conference. This time the Elder & Sister Steinmetz did a presentation. Sister Steinmetz talked about incremental improvement based on a General Conference talk by Elder Michael Dunn titled One Percent Better. Elder Steinmetz did a fun object lesson on teamwork and rewards using arm wrestling of all things. He then based his comments off Elder Clark Gilbert’s Parable of the Slope. Both did an outstanding job. The zone leaders then led an excellent discussion on being Planners of the Elect. I spoke about the new mission schedule and LaDawn did a review again of her zone conference discussions.
This time there was sufficient time for me to do the same. I have pulled together a puzzle to highlight the key messages that have been delivered around which we have built our mission vision. It is likely to change again, but for now it is a good representation of the last 9 months. The items in the green boxes are topics shared by LaDawn and the one on “No Excuses” was shared by Sister Klebingat. We think this is a good roadmap of where we have been with the Vision Sticker being the roadmap for where we are going.
Following zone conference we had a delicious meal and I finished the interviews with the elders (I will interview the sisters in two weeks when we go back for district conference). We went back to the hotel for one more night and then got up at 5:00 am on Saturday, drove to Techiman (arrived at 9:30) and then set apart Emmanuel Hene, the new branch president of the Krobo branch. We left about 10:40 am and made it back home right before 1:30 pm. I finished reading and responding to the missionary letters from Monday and then spent a couple of hours posting the week’s pictures on the Mission Facebook page. We were in bed before 10:00 pm.
We stand as witnesses of the divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. We are so grateful to be called by Him to serve the amazing people of Ghana. We are grateful for these missionaries who are becoming more consecrated every day. We are grateful for the Senior Couples who labor alongside of us and who make this work so much easier and the load so much lighter. We are grateful for the men and women who labor in these districts and branches, many new to the Church, yet with willing hearts and helping hands labor to establish Zion. We bear witness of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as administered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are most especially grateful that we are on this journey as husband and wife, Together in Ghana.