Last Tuesday, I was able to spend 3 hours with the Assistants in their area. It is called Kwanwoma. This is an area started earlier by Elder Binene and Elder Yancey, and each of my Assistants have continued to work there. It started with a member (Sister Konadu) inviting people to her house to learn about the Church. It soon turned into a Group connected to the Daban Ward. It is now a stand alone Branch and part of the University Stake. It is amazing to see the growth and the interest of the people in the Church that live in that area. This week as I went with my Assistants, I met so many amazing people in this small area. Elder Simpson and Elder Sam call it their “100 Meter Box”. In the three hours we were together, we spent 95% of the time in this small box outlined in red. I actually think the box is smaller than that but I drew it a bit bigger to show how much work can be done in a small area. In that short time I met Victor, Isaac, Akwesi (both father and son), Akwesi’s quadruplets (I too was surprised), Precious, Eunice, Janet, Elizabeth, Emmanuel, Victor’s mom and more – I do not remember their names. These were not random people, these are people who, if old enough, are progressing towards baptism. It was astounding to me how many people knew and loved these two elders. And even after I left, they had more people they needed to go see, all in this “100 meter box”. No need for transportation once in the area. They are just constantly contacting and teaching the people. The Church building is just to the left of the bottom of the picture. No burden for people to come, they can simply walk across the road. It is the way missionary work is to be done!
I should have taken more pictures, but I didn’t want to be a tourist. These people are simply lovely and many have already been to the Church. More came on Sunday. The Elders teach seminary Tuesday – Friday at the chapel and have about 15-20 youth that come every evening. Some are members, most are still learning. What these two elders are doing, building on the work of especially Elder Yeboah and Elder Morgan, is nothing short of amazing. (I think Elder Simpson is tired of being called Elder Morgan). This is a 21st century miracle and it has happened in less than a year.
On Saturday, I asked Elder Simpson and Elder Sam to go out with two of our missionaries who have been struggling in their area. They found a similar situation (many people in a 100 meter box) in the elders’ area and as they approached it, Elder Sam told one of the elders “this is the place we will find people to baptize”. The response was priceless, “How do you know”?. Elder Sam just knew, because he knows the value of working inside a 100 meter box. All four missionaries worked in that box for 5 hours on Saturday and only once did one set of elders talk to someone the other elders had already met. I am confident when these other elders catch the vision of this concept, they will have their own 21st century miracle.
Before going out with my Assistants on Tuesday afternoon, we attended District Council with the Bantama District where Elder Beck is the District Leader. Such a great group of missionaries and a wonderful District Council meeting. SIster Okuma-Boyd led a discussion on “How can we show God that we love him?”. It was marvelous and each companionship talked about things they will be doing just a little bit better. Elder Beck then provided instruction on Turning to the Lord based on a talk by Elder Eduardo Gavarret from April General Conference titled, “A Mighty Change of Heart”. We were all greatly edified by his inspired preparation. I did four interviews before the council and then six more afterwards. We managed to take a picture of the entire district after the meeting. Elder and Sister Garrison also joined us.
On Wednesday we made our big journey out to the Konongo Zone. We decided to drive to Akoasi and interview Elder Awortwi and Elder Kalombo. It is a new branch about 20 minutes from Nkawkaw. They recently moved into a new building and when the contractor painted the floor, he either used the wrong paint or prepared the surface incorrectly. The paint on the floor was a mess. The red paint was coming up and sticking to shoes and leaving a trail. I contacted the FM immediately and he said they were already on it and it would be fixed within two weeks. Fingers crossed it actually gets fixed properly. It will take a lot of work to solve that problem!
From there we went into Nkawkaw and interviewed the Mpraeso and Nkawkaw elders.
Then back in the car to Juaso, where we met Elder Heaton and Elder Witte. Then over to Konongo where we met the remaining of the Konongo missionaries at the Low Cost chapel. On our way back home we stopped at Starbites and had some “linner”. We have sort of started a tradition of getting some “dating time” on our way back from the Konongo Zone interviews each transfer period.
On Thursday afternoon we held our couples council. This is a zoom meeting we hold each month with our couples in order to give them a “state of the mission” review and then discuss the ways we can work together to further the efforts of the mission. We talked about organizational training and gospel literacy. We also welcomed additional insights the couples have about how we can improve the mission overall. It is time that we greatly cherish each month. How blessed we are to have the Steinmetz’s, the Garrison’s, and the Moomey’s! I was actually at the Mission Office and LaDawn was at the Mission Home. I had a meeting with a returned missionary from one of our mission branches right after the couples council meeting so I decided to join the meeting from the mission office. I worked on the transfer board the rest of the day and met with the Assistants late in the evening to review it.
Friday morning, we held our transfer meeting at the office with the Assistants, the Office Elders, the Moomey’s, the Garrison’s, and our mission driver, Alex Cobbina. I met with the Assistants just prior to the meeting on the transfer board as I had made a couple of changes since we had met the night before. We went over the whole board and then knelt and petitioned the Lord for his final confirmation that these changes were aligned with His will. In the transfer meeting we reviewed all of the logistics for the week, including the Mission Leadership Council which we will hold on Thursday, after transfers on Wednesday. We really like doing this because it saves the zone leaders and sister training leaders who come in from from Techiman, Sunyani, and Tamale an extra trip.
On Saturday, we attended the first ever graduation for the BYU Pathway students from the Kumasi Coordinating Council. There were about 150 people in attendance and it was held at the Bantama Stake Center. We had 9 from our member districts, limited primarily by the cost of travel. Anyone completing even one semester of the program receives a certificate as a way to keep the motivation high for the students. This graduation covered back to 2017. Because there were not enough graduation gowns for everyone, occasionally a graduate after receiving their recognition, would go to the back of the chapel and give the gown to someone else. I love the spirit of sharing and caring that is so prevalent here. We were also able to meet Elder and Sister Duke who are the Area Pathway specialists. They are a delightful and energetic senior missionary couple.
On Sunday, we attended the Aputuagya Ward in the University Stake. This is where Elder Clarke and Elder Morris are serving. We had a delightful church experience in the ward. The meeting was half in Twi and half in English. To my delight, Elder’s Quorum was entirely in English. The ward is preparing for a temple trip in September and so both the men and the women reviewed the talk from October 2021 from President Nelson titled, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation”. The class was taught by a returned missionary and it was excellent from beginning to end. While we are still early in the history of the Church here in Ghana, when I see a ward functioning so well, it gives me great hope for the future!
After Church we came back over to the Daban ward not far from the Mission Office and witnessed the baptisms of some of those young men from Elder Simpson’s and Elder Sam’s “100 Meter Box”. Emmanuel, Samuel, and Francis were baptized. Emmanuel’s and Samuel’s mom has been less active. Francis is a cousin to the other boys. One of the greatest blessings we see is when we are able to unite families in the Church. Emmanuel and Samuel have little, they live in a makeshift house, but those boys are smart and powerful young men. They will add much to the Sunday services in Kwanwoma as the branch will now have deacons to pass the sacrament. We also witnessed the baptism of Clementia, a woman the office elders have been working with for some time now (they serve the Daban Ward).
I mentioned earlier, that Elder Witte and Elder Heaton baptized 9 on Sunday. I asked them to send me a picture. We also had four baptized in Pankrono by Elder Griffin and Elder Baldwin. The significant thing about the latter story is there has not been a baptism in Pankrono for over a year. Elder Griffin went into the ward with strong faith and a belief that he could make a difference. Elder Baldwin has been with him one transfer and is still training. What they have done is a miracle in itself. The ward is coming back to life after attending dwindling to less than 10 each week. It was a good day for Elder Appianti (our area authority – kneeling in front) to attend that ward with the stake president, Kofi Sosu. The good that one faith-filled, obedient missionary can make is not to be underestimated. The good that two faith-filled obedient missionaries can make is even greater! It was a joy to see Elder Baldwin be the one to the perform the baptisms.
Sunday evening we met with the Assistants in preparation for our MLC this week. I am grateful for Elder Simpson and Elder Sam, their energy, their testimonies, their desires, and their leadership. They are powerful missionaries and they are helping the entire mission be better.
What gratitude we feel for this work we are engaged in! How we rejoice with these missionaries who have the vision of who they are and an understanding of why this work is so important. How grateful we are for a kind and loving Savior who is constantly guiding this effort. We testify that this is His Church and that through a living prophet he leads and guides us along the path. As the world gets ever darker with wickedness, wars, and a departure from truth, we stand as witnesses, along with our 197 missionaries, of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Together in Ghana.