On Saturday, Elder Garrison and I made a trip to Obuasi to extend callings and releases to the old and the new District Presidencies. Several weeks ago, LaDawn and I visited the Tabi’s in their home and extended the call to serve as the Obuasi District President. This of course meant a release as my first counselor in the Mission Presidency. Painful for me. We arrived in Obuasi around 2:15 pm and met with Thomas Kunkyere and extended a call to him to serve as the district executive secretary. We extended a call to Matthew Adjei to serve as the new district clerk. Two of the district “high” councilors also came and we extended assignments to them for the next morning to conduct the business in two of the branches. We explained we would send them the releasing and sustaining list the next morning over WhatsApp. Elder Garrison and I then drove over to President Agyare’s home where we met with him and his wonderful wife. President Agyare has served as the district president for almost four years and he served as a counselor for three years before that. So a total of 7 years almost to the day. We are so grateful for his many years of service in the district presidency. He and his wife were both extremely gracious in accepting the release acknowledging their desire to do only what the Lord would have them do.
We then returned to the district center and released President Serebour, the first counselor. The second counselor, President Amankwah had passed away less than 2 weeks ago. We again extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends. He was a very good man with a desire to serve God all his days. And that is what he did. We had to make a couple of more calls to make sure that each branch would have a representative there to read the releases and sustaining list. We then returned home to Kumasi (it was about 1.5 hours in travel time), arriving right at 7 pm, just after he got dark.
The next morning, LaDawn and I arose early, leaving the house about 7:20 am and driving back to Obuasi and to the Obuasi 1st branch where President Tabi attends as well as his new first counselor, Adams Kumah (currently serves as the branch president). The second counselor, Ike Mensah lives in Asonkore, the next branch to the east of where we were. Matthew Adjei worships in the Fourth Branch which worships in the same building. So it was nice to have the new presidency and clerk in attendance. The new executive secretary attends the Second Branch which meets at the District Center. We had a wonderful sacrament meeting and each member of the presidency bore their testimony, as well as Sister Tabi. I had an opportunity to say a few words as well. It was a wonderful meeting.
Following sacrament meeting, we stayed in the chapel so that we could then attend the sacrament meeting for the Fourth Branch and conduct the business there. Following the meetings, we returned to the district center and I set President Tabi and both his counselors apart and then he set apart his clerk and executive secretary. Following that, we spent some time talking about their first priorities. We talked about their work as a presidency revolving around the four divinely appointed responsibilities of the work of salvation: Living the Gospel, Caring for those in Need, Inviting all to Receive the Gospel, Uniting Families for Eternity. With these 4 priorities as a backdrop, we discussed seven actions:
- Counsel together about how you will build unity in the district.
- Plan to attend sacrament meeting in each branch and speak to the members of the district. Don’t wait too long, but be clear you know the message the Lord wants you to deliver.
- Have weekly presidency meetings
- Have monthly ministering interviews with the branch presidents
- Determine how the presidency will divide the responsibilities and document them in a chart of delegations and share it with the branch presidents
- Help the branches hold weekly branch council meetings
- Have a functioning District Council
We then stepped back and took a picture of these 5 brethren together. They just naturally put their arms around each other as I snapped the picture. It was such a symbolic gesture as to how they will lead. I also can’t help but love their smiles. I did ask both the first and second counselors to be clean shaven priesthood leaders, which they both promised. 😊
We arrived back home around 3:30 pm. With zone conferences starting this week we spent some time sharpening up our instructions for the missionaries. There is never enough time to get it as good as we would like them to be so we do the best we can, we pray, and we go. I will be talking about Turning to the Lord and LaDawn will be discussing Integrity of Heart. At 7:00 pm, my Assistants, Elder Simpson and Elder Sam came over, and we talked about zone conferences and and went through through their instruction on “The Divine Companionship”. We discussed how we might add some videos of Elder Holland to their presentation. They left around 9 pm. Following a video call with a friend, I still needed to put together the weekly email to the missionaries. It took a bit longer than I had expected…
On Tuesday we drove out to Kwamo (about 30 minutes away) and joined their district council and did interviews. Elder Akpan is the district leader and he did a nice job with the meeting. I am not sure how we managed to spend so much time there that morning and not take a single photo. That is like mission leader malpractice or something. In the council were Sister Maphalala, Sister Diamonds, Sister Opare, Sister Annan, Elder Shaw, Elder Yeboah, Elder Ngwenya, and Elder Akpan. The highlight of the district council was the discussion on how the Kwamo district can improve the collective obedience of the mission through their own efforts of being exactly obedient.
On Wednesday, we drove to University Stake Center and interviewed 10 missionaries. These are happy and hardworking missionaries who are determined to gather Israel in their areas. Such a joy to be with them! Later that evening we held our final presidency meeting where President Tabi will be a part of the presidency. We will miss him, his experience, and his wisdom.
On Thursday, we did something a little different, driving first to Effiduase (1 hour 15 min) where we participated in a companion study with Elder Maulana and Elder Prah. The topic was out of Preach My Gospel on page 187 titled “Listen”. It was wonderful to be with these two quiet-spoken, but powerful missionaries. Their apartment was immaculate and the companionship study was well organized and inspiring. Following the study, they planned out the day filling it with visits, finding, and member work. Elder Maulana (Zimbabwe) has been training Elder Prah (Ghana) and they are a great team.
Once we finished the companionship study, I interviewed both elders and we were on our way to Seneagya. Seneagya is a village (hard to call it a town) that is about 20 minutes outside of Effiduasi. This is where Elder Komba and Elder Aidoo are serving. Upon arrival, I interviewed both of them and we then made three visits with them. We first stopped by to see the branch president. He works as the principle of the local elementary school and has about 335 children and 15 teachers. His name is Emmanuel Adu-Akowuah. From there, we visited with Akoase and Faustina and two of their children. They are farmers and don’t have much of the world’s goods, but they told us they have 10 children and they love all of them. The missionaries have just started teaching them. On our way to see them, we came across Thomas who was working on drying out his cocoa beans on a rack. I stopped to talk to him for a moment and when I found out we shared the same first name, I asked him if I could take a snap. He agreed. On our way back, we passed him again and the missionaries said they would like to come by around 3:30 – 4:00 and he said okay. From there we went back to the neighbors next to the missionary apartment, Gladys and Nico. Gladys speaks a dialect of Ga that Elder Aidoo, a native Ga speaker says he cannot speak. Her husband speak Twi, Ga, and English. He was quite an impressive man. Also a farmer. The spirit that radiated from these two was quite amazing. They have four children. We spoke about the Book of Mormon and the why the names are so different from those in the Bible. We loved our visit with them as well. Such a great day! These elders are doing some amazing work in this village and are really making a difference.
On Friday, we traveled to Asouyeboa Chapel and interviewed ten more missionaries who are serving in that zone. More amazing young men and young women, just trying to do their best to help gather Israel.
We made it back home in time to grab a quick bite (leftover enchiladas) and then we were off to the airport to pick up Elder Watch. Elder Watch is from New Zealand and has just over 6 months left on his mission. Because of Covid, he served the first 18 months in New Zealand, but with things opening back up he was able to make it to Kumasi. We are grateful for this kind, gentle elder who desires only to serve the Lord. We spent a couple of hours with him, giving him some lunch and as much orientation as we could in the short time we had. We then sent him off with the Office Elders to take him to his new companions in Korforidua. Because we have an odd number of elders right now, he will be in a trio for the rest of the transfer. His companions are Elder Welch and Elder Miller (see the picture above from the interviews earlier in the day). He will be working with great companions, an area with so much potential, and a supportive and hard working branch president. What more could a missionary ask?
After sending Elder Watch to his first assignment, we took some time to go with the Moomey’s and the Garrison’s to Piri Piri for dinner. This is a restaurant that is close by. They are a bakery that sells a lot of bread and they also make a really great pizza which we have had often with new missionaries. This time we just went, sat down in their huge pavilion and enjoyed a good meal and good conversation. Our wives all had a chicken salad which they loved. Elder Moomey ordered a delicious pizza, Elder Garrison about a ton of spaghetti, “hotter than a pepper sprout”, and I had the old reliable, chicken and chips. There were quite a few cats around, and it made cleaning up the chicken bones extremely easy!
And so the last week of our first full year in Kumasi comes to a close. What a whirlwind it has been. We are grateful for the hand of the Lord that we have seen daily in the mission. We are grateful for the (now) 195 missionaries that have dedicated 18-24 months of their lives to discovering their own identity as they serve the God of all creation. We are grateful for the challenges (there are plenty) and the blessings (there are more). There is no other place we would rather be than on the Lord’s errand, Together in Ghana.