Normalcy

The picture for this post is a painting by Nicholas Strohm titled “Path to Normalcy”. It is a photograph, but has been edited to look like an oil painting. It is an area near Yorkshire where he loves to run. You can see more of his art here. I found him while looking for a photograph to represent normalcy and was pleased to find he has some nice work.

The other thing I learned while looking for something associated with normalcy was that Warren G. Harding (29th President of the United States) ran for president in the 1920 election based on a platform of “Return to Normalcy”. He won in a landslide. He promoted the growth of American Industry free from foreign influence, made a separate peace treaty with Germany to end World War I, and reduced government spending and reduced taxes. In 1920, that constituted a “return to normalcy”.

For us, it was simply a week without a lot of anything other than simply missionary work. We did interviews, held zone conferences, interviewed and set apart prospective missionaries, traveled to and from Tamale, and then on Saturday enjoyed a day without any scheduled events, giving us a chance to catch our breaths.

Elder Graham and Elder Sunday

After the District Conference last weekend, we stayed in Sunyani on Sunday evening and spent much of Monday working on missionary letters from the previous week that I still had not been able to read and respond to. I also worked a bit on getting the blog post for the previous week completed. At 2:30 pm we drove over to the district center and did 10 interviews. The last two were with the zone leaders, Elder Graham and Elder Sunday. The Moomey’s arrived from Kumasi around 4 pm and later that evening we enjoyed a nice meal together at the Tyco Hotel.

On Tuesday we held zone conference in Sunyani. The only variation in the topics was that of the zone leaders. They prepared well and ended up presenting the same topics to both zones titled, “How to Keep the Fire Burning”. The Moomey’s demonstrated the 7 minute workout and the Assistants led a discussion on Overcoming Concerns of those we teach. This included two role plays where I was the person being taught. We paused frequently as the missionaries were learning how to ask an inspired question rather than prove to me as the investigator that they were right and I was wrong.

Dignified Missionaries of the Sunyani and Techiman Zones

LaDawn then led a masterful discussion on building a firm foundation, using the story of the wise man and the foolish man coupled with the story our poly tank when we first arrived. Its foundation was built out of sand and did not endure the 11,000 pounds of water constantly in the tank. I concluded the day with a discussion on the Good Shepherd and how each missionary needs to be more willing to take risk when it comes to helping their companion if they lose their way and start to do things that drive away the spirit. Overall a great conference! We love spending time with these missionaries. After the conference, I interviewed the Wa elders (Elder Brima and Elder Strong) and we packed up and headed to Techiman.

Upon our arrival in Techiman we headed over to the Dwumoh apartment and interviewed the four elders who serve in that branch.

Dwumoh Elders: Elder Udo, Elder Agyare, Elder Uzoigwe, and Elder Hoyt
Ebenezer Justice

After the interviews, we returned to the Techiman Couple’s Apartment (it is currently empty) and enjoyed a nice dinner of Kentucky Fried Chicken that the Moomey’s had picked up in Sunyani before leaving. Sister Moomey added a nice fruit salad of fresh mangoes and pineapples. It was a delicious meal. Around 8:30 pm, Ebenezer Justice, a prospective missionary arrived for his missionary interview with me. He is an impressive 23 year old. He has a degree and is currently teaching school. He decided he needed to serve a mission (he and his two brothers are members but his parents are not). He will be a great missionary and it was an honor to spend some time with him discussing all of the requirements to serve a mission. At the end of the interview I had him push the “submit” button to send his papers to the Area for their review.

The next morning, we started interviews a bit before 8:30 am and finished just after 11:00 am. We then jumped back in the car and drove the four hours to Tamale. Unfortunately, I missed the picture with Elder Akwa and Elder Thompson who serve in the Krobo Branch but I did get the rest!

Once we arrived in Tamale, we went over and spent a few minutes with the Steinmetz’s. The Bolgatanga elders were not yet there so it gave us a few moments to relax. However, within 20 minutes, four of the elders had arrived and I began the interviews. By the time I finished, the rest had arrived. The Steinmetz’s were kind enough to allow me to use their back storage room and it was so much better than the room in the chapel next door that I usually interview in. With the curtains and shelves in that room, the sound does not bounce around so much, making it much easier for me to hear (especially because of my hearing aids). I was grateful for their kindness. I used the same room for the interviews after zone conference the next day and the four sister interviews on Friday morning. Such a better venue!

Thursday was the Tamale zone conference. Always cozy in the small chapel with 32 of us attending. The zone leaders presentation was on being “Quick to Observe and to Learn”. Elder Walker and Elder Bangura did a great job leading the discussion and we were all strengthened by a discussion on how to be better at doing these things. Everything else was pretty much the same.

Thursday night, we went with the the Steinmetz’s and the Moomey’s to Wooden Cafe and Bakery for dinner. We have discovered their Indian food menu and the Tiki Marsala is just outstanding (based on what I had for dinner).

Friday morning we awoke to thunder which soon turned to rain, rain and more rain for the next 6 hours. Fortunately it was seldom heavy. The good news is that the motorcycles in Tamale and the police with their radar guns (still not sure if they work) on the road to Techiman were all in hibernation rather than fight the rain. It made for a pleasant drive to Techiman where we stopped at the couples apartment to make and eat a quick lunch and then proceed to Kumasi. We stopped in Offinso to see if we could figure out the phone of Elder Jant and Elder Toe that was giving them trouble. I think we found a workaround. We returned home by 5:30 pm and then joined the Garrison’s and the Moomey’s at Piri Piri for our Friday date night. I love their Hawaiian pizza and LaDawn loves their chicken salad. We were tired but so grateful to be sleeping in our own beds.

Saturday morning was the All African Day of Service for the Church. Congregations across Africa came together to provide service to the communities in which they live. Here are some pictures from Obuasi, Tamale, and Bibiani Districts. One of the most needed and necessary service projects is the cleaning out of the cement gutter ditches that line most roads. People throw all kinds of trash in these gutters and then the water does not flow freely when it rains – thus causing flooding. There is no end to the need for this type of work. Landscaping is also a much needed service. In Bibiani they had a lawn mower and helped make a community building look like it was being used instead of abandoned. We are so proud of our missionaries and these member districts that did such great work on Saturday!

On Saturday night, the Garrison’s invited us, the Moomey’s and the Derr’s who are a self-reliance senior missionary couple from Accra to join them for her famous meatloaf and mashed potatoes. So delicious. We even managed to snap a picture after dinner.

The Moomey’s, the Garrison’s, us, and the Derrs. Great food and great company.

On Sunday we arose early and left about 6:45 am and travel the 90 minutes to Dunkwa in the Obuasi District. There were about 50 people in attendance. The people there are simply lovely and we always enjoy visiting them. Elder Clegg and Elder Mba are two great missionaries who are serving there and working hard to help the branch grow and become better. Both LaDawn and I had an opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting. LaDawn shared a brief message about how we can show God that we love Him. I talked about following the culture of Christ and setting aside our regional culture where there is a clash. We have a lot of work to do to help people understand that the gospel culture must come first if they want to find peace and joy in this life. We also stayed for Sunday School, but most of it was in Twi so difficult for us to follow. It didn’t stop us from reading along in the English version of Come Follow Me and gaining our own insights.

This week my letter to the missionaries was on the Power of the Word of God. We are really trying to help the missionaries catch the vision of powerful personal study and consistent companionship study. I send out a letter every Sunday night so it is there when they sit down on Monday to write to me. I was grateful to have some time on Saturday to get it done.

A welcomed week of normalcy. Despite the travel and the hard hotel beds, we are always grateful to be able to spend time with the amazing missionaries of the Ghana Kumasi Mission. We express our love and our appreciation to our senior couples: The Steinmetz’s, the Moomey’s, and the Garrison’s. We simply could not do half of what gets done without their help, encouragement, and inspiration. We are grateful for our Mission Leadership Council consisting of Assistants, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders. We are grateful for the District Leaders who prepare each week to present an inspiring and helpful district council. It takes all of us in the mission to establish Zion and build up the Church. We are grateful that we are able to work with all of these wonderful leaders and missionaries, Together in Ghana!

2 thoughts on “Normalcy

  1. Tom and LaDawn….it was so great talking with you, thanks for taking my call! We’ve enjoyed reading lots about Africa and ALL your adventures and good works! You two are impressive. We are still working on our papers and trying to find a good fit where we can all benefit and serve! Who knows where we will end up. Thanks for your example!

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