While this week was consumed with travel to the North to complete the last two zone conferences and interviews for 58 missionaries, we managed to get back to Sunyani on our way home from Tamale on Saturday, July 9th and train the District Relief Society and Primary presidencies, along with a few branch leaders as well. This is training prepared by Elder and Sister Dance who came to Ghana on a six month mission to help organize and develop simplified training for our organizational leaders. This was rolled out at our Mission Leader Seminar in April. You can read about it here. We had planned to train the YW leaders as well, but they were not able to attend. Here is a picture of Sister Garrison (she and Elder Garrison came to Sunyani on Saturday and met us there) with the District Relief Society Presidency and some of the branch Relief Society leaders. LaDawn taught the Primary leaders. Sister Moomey waited for the Young Women but they did not come. Fortunately, the next day the Moomey’s attended church in Fiapre and met the District Young Women’s president and arranged to train her during our next zone conference in Sunyani.
While the training was occurring, I met with President Obeng (he had also arrived from Kumasi), and the new District President, Samuel Asare-Boahen, and we held a membership council for a man who needed help to repent for some mistakes he had made. I am always grateful for the spirit of these councils where the Lord makes His will known about how best to help an individual. We all finished between 6:00 – 6:30 pm and then met together at the Tyco Hotel for dinner. It was wonderful having President Obeng and the Garrison’s with us as it is usually just us and the Moomey’s. The food at the Tyco is quite exceptional – and we are grateful. It was also good for the Garrison’s to get out of Kumasi and see a bit more of the mission. Now we just need to get them to Tamale!
On Sunday, LaDawn and I attended the Nkwabeng Branch in the Sunyani DIstrict where Elder Driscoll and Elder Kierstead serve. They were both scheduled to speak that day so it was a double bonus. We really enjoyed visiting the branch. The District is planning a large temple trip the end of the month and so both President Obeng and to a lesser degree me, completed a number of temple recommend interviews. While at Nkwabeng, I was able to do four. I love the simple humility of the Ghanaian Saints. It is a privilege to interview them for such a magnificent opportunity to attend the temple. One sister I interviewed was a 44 year old widow with three children. Already endowed, she will take the children and be sealed to her deceased husband. Such a sweet and touching story.
Unfortunately, LaDawn and I had to miss the baptism so that we could go back to the District Center. I had one more membership council that should have been held three years ago, but due to a number of reasons it never happened. The man continued to suffer and came to a point in his life where he needed to feel relief from the guilt that had plagued him. Sunday was the beginning of a whole new chapter of his life and he left so very happy, even though there is still work he needs to do.
We left Sunyani around 2 pm and arrived home at 4:30 pm. At 6:00 pm my Assistants arrived and we met until 8:00 pm, discussing the upcoming virtual MLC on Tuesday and working through some housekeeping items relating to zone conferences and exchanges. At 8:00 pm I had an opportunity to join a gospel discussion over Zoom with some friends. Here are the questions we discussed:
- Guilt occurs as a result of the loss of light due to sin. What other feelings do we experience as the amount of light within us changes up or down?
- What is it in our American culture (or Church culture) that needs attention when it comes to “exact” obedience?
- How has an increase in your own personal light brought greater comprehension to you? (see D&C 88:67).
- What is required in order for us to sanctify ourselves as described in D&C 88:68?
- Coming unto Christ denotes movement (note: all things of God are in motion). Why is motion so important? What is it about motion that denotes progress? What motion might denote regression?
- What determines the amount of His glory that He reveals to us? (see Moses 1:5)
- We know that the sacrament is not one of the saving ordinance, and yet it seems to save us. How is this possible?
With all of the travel, zone conferences, and interviews, coupled with extremely poor (zero) internet in the hotels in the evening, I still had 38 missionary letters to read and respond to. It is such a privilege to write to each one of these young men and young women who take the time to write to me each week, so I make it a priority to respond to each one of them. I have admit, however, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen this week. Sitting down at 10 pm to finish these letters was a bit distressing for me after a very long day, but I am grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord which enabled me to finish them before going to bed. Just one more of the many ways I feel the sustaining hand of the Lord in our work as mission leaders.
Once a month on usually the first Monday of the month we hold a mission health council with the Area Medical Advisor, the Moomey’s and ourselves. Our gratitude for the work that Elder and Sister Moomey do to keep the missionaries healthy continues to be significant. It is a big undertaking and we will be lost when they leave next year. Any doctors or nurses out there who want to serve a mission in the Ghana Kumasi Mission starting about April of next year? In that council we discuss those missionaries with recurring or ongoing health needs that need to be reviewed and discussed. I also meet once a month with the South Kumasi Facilities Manager Aaron Allotey. He covers the Obuasi District and the Mission Office and Mission Home. We are grateful for his service to the mission and appreciate all that he does to keep the mission and the Obuasi District humming. One more item about Monday. We ran some errands earlier in the day and as we were leaving China Mall (think of a Wal-Mart where everything is made in China) we met a herd of cows coming down the road. So we pulled over and gave them the right of way (the right thing to do as their horns were much bigger than the horn on our Fortuner). I couldn’t help but snap a picture out the window.
On Tuesday we left early and drove to Sunyani for Interviews starting at 10:00 am. We arrived around 9:30 am, so we started early, but during the morning I still fell behind. Below are the missionaries we interviewed (left to right) Elder Agyare and Elder Bai; Elder Boamah and Elder Lawson; Elder Driscoll and Elder Kierstead; Sister Nelson and Sister Komugisa; Sister Da-Wariboko and Sister Ehigie.
After interviews, we wanted to go out and proselyte with Elder Bai and Elder Agyare. Since it was past noon, we drove to Kentucky Fried Chicken (one of five in the mission) and treated them to lunch. When we got ready to go out with them they told us they were going to help a family dig a trench out at their farm. We dropped them at the house of the family and then went back to the hotel and worked on missionary letters. We did notice that they told us this AFTER we fed them a delicious lunch. 😊
On Wednesday we held the conference. Same themes as last week. The Divine Companionship, Pray with Faith, Listen, Integrity, and Turning to the Lord. We finished close to 2 pm.
Following the conference we did 10 more interviews and then went back to the hotel and had dinner.
The next morning we arose early, ate breakfast and left for Techiman about 6:30 am. We arrived just after 8:00 pm, a few minutes later than we had intended. We were surprised at the early morning traffic in the city which really slowed us down. We went to the Techiman couples apartment where the Allred’s stayed (but are now home) and used it as a place to do 14 more interviews. We finished about noon and were on our way to Tamale, about 4.5 hours north of Techiman. Here are some of the interviews. Somehow I managed to miss Sister Umoren and Sister Lazwala as well as Sister Muzambwe and Sister Clarke.
We arrived in Tamale just before 4:30 pm and immediately started interviews with the Bolgatanga Elders (8) and then the four sisters who live next door to the Steinmetz’s. These are some amazing sisters. Can you see it in their countenance?
We had a delicous spaghetti dinner that Elder and Sister Steinmetz prepared for us and the Moomey’s. We were grateful. Unfortunately I didn’t finish the interviews until everyone else had eaten, but they waited for me patiently at the table and so I was able to enjoy good food and better company when I finished.
The next morning, we started zone conference about 15 minutes early as everyone was already there. We didn’t end until 2 pm and that was with an early start. But the conference is always one of our favorites. The setting is intimate as the room is smaller and everyone who wants to participate has opportunity to do so (and some who don’t want to 😊). The Assistants taught the Divine Companionship one last time and it was their best instruction of the 5 conferences (in my opinion). Learning how to make the Holy Ghost the senior companion is a powerful concept. They used many of Elder Holland’s quotes and concepts from his 2009 and 2017 talks titled “The Divine Companionship” that he gave to new mission leaders. It was excellent. Since we do not have Sister Training Leaders in Tamale, Sister Arthur and Sister Moyo gave the instruction on “Pray with Faith”. It was outstanding. Elder Walker and Elder Bangura also did a great job on “Listen”. It was a terrific conference from top to bottom. Here are some pictures.
During the Assistant’s instruction, I stepped out and visited with my new second counselor and his wife. Joseph and Priscilla have been married less than a year. They are intelligent, motivated, and hard working. I can’t believe I failed to take a picture of them. President Asante’s very first responsibility as my new second counselor was to release a missionary returning from the Sierra Leone Mission. Elder Obed Babu served faithfully and was returning during the time we were in Sunyani for zone conference. So we had Church Travel fly him directly from Accra to Tamale where Elder Steinmetz picked him at the airport and brought him to President Asante to release. I was fortunate to meet Obed on Friday before we left the Kanvilli Branch compound where the Steinmetz’s live.
Following zone conference and a delicious lunch catered by a local member with the help of the Steinmetz’s, I did 12 more interviews while LaDawn did phone checks. Our desire is to help these young men and young women learn how to use social media responsibly. It is an uphill battle but we refuse to give up the fight. We see many of them change their habits and begin to be more responsible in sharing messages of hope and inspiration as contributors rather than consumers. We love their commitment to being better and doing better. LaDawn has become quite the expert on the Android operating system in terms of discovering issues that she needs to raise with companionships. I am so grateful for the time she takes to review the phones and the time she has taken to learn the complexities of the system. Most often missionaries are her best teachers!
Because zone conference went long and then the interviews went long, the Steinmetz’s, the Moomey’s and LaDawn went to Wooden Bakery without me, but brought me back a nice Hawaiian pizza that I enjoyed. I finished the interviews right before they returned so the timing was perfect. I slept especially well Friday night. Since the internet was not working, we went to bed before 10 pm and enjoyed a good night’s sleep. The small hotel where we stay in Tamale may not have great internet, but they definitely have the best beds.
The next morning as we left Tamale, I stopped for a moment and snapped a picture on the progress of the new district center. It is supposed to be done by October, in time for the fall district conference. I am so hopeful that it will actually happen. It is coming along nicely and the red bricks are an especially nice touch. Not something we have seen before here.
As the mission continues to increase in the number of missionaries, we are working hard to find the right places where they can help to establish and grow the Church. We are keeping our Facilities Manager for the mission, Cooper, very busy these days with finding and furnishing new apartments. We now have 196 missionaries and will add 10 more at the end of the month. It is a challenge to keep up, but we rejoice in the impact these young men and young women will have here in the Ghana Kumasi Mission and even more so when they go home. We are doing everything we can to teach them there is only way to return to Heavenly Father and to have happy families and successful lives: Keep the commandments of God and develop a personal and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. How grateful we are to be engaged in this great work of gathering Israel and teaching and working with our amazing missionaries, Together in Ghana.