Perhaps the highlight of the week was our mission devotional. A couple of months ago, I contacted Tyler Griffin. He is an associate dean at BYU in ancient scriptures and part of the team with Taylor Halverson who do the weekly Come Follow Me Insights on YouTube as part of Book of Mormon Central. I watch their videos on the Old Testament as often as I can – as I exercise on our elliptical. I figured it was a long shot to get Tyler to be our guest, but I knew if I didn’t ask I would never know. Because he serves in a stake presidency, I was able to find him in the Church Directory of Leaders and sent him an email. He responded the same day and graciously agreed to do it. What I didn’t realize at the time is that because he is employed by BYU, he has to have approvals from his superiors as well as the Area Presidency. Fortunately all of that was granted and we were treated to a feast on Friday.
I had initially asked him to speak on “Covenants”, thinking that would be a great topic for our missionaries, but when he presented he spoke on an entirely different subject, one that was exactly what the missionaries would most benefit from. When I contacted him after the devotional, here was his response as to why it changed. “I should add that I lost sleep last night feeling like I needed to take a different angle on our agreed-upon topic but I didn’t know why or exactly what angel to take instead. Consequently, I came into the devotional this morning a little scatter-brained as I was scrambling to follow the Spirit on an unfolding journey in real-time😳“. The great news is that he was inspired to go another direction and did so at the last minute, trusting in the Lord that He would reveal the needed message. The interesting thing is that he ended up talking about two subjects that I had just written letters to the missionaries on over the last two week – except he came at it from such a different angle that it was reinforcing rather than repetitive. What gratitude we have for such a devoted servant of the Lord. Here are a few bullet points of his message.
- We find out how stiff a wind is when we walk against it. Those who try to progress will feel this wind and opposition.
- 1 Nephi 2:3 – The word “wherefore” in the scriptures shows cause and effect
- 1 Nephi 2:14 – Laman and Lemuel did the right thing, but it was out of fear and not faith
- 3 Nephi 17:2 – Christ was still being obedient to the Father’s will, even though he was now resurrected and perfected.
- Commandments are a gift of God’s grace. They help us to better understand Christ’s attributes so we can be more like him.
- Why does Heavenly Father keep us out of our comfort zone?
- Being in the right place with the right people is not going to guarantee us exaltation. We have to do more.
- People are happy when they are on a journey and moving on the covenant path.
- 1 Nephi 1:1 – Nephi’s parents did not teach Nephi everything – only “somewhat” in the learning of his father. Our parents did not stop us from walking because they were afraid we would fall.
- The word “nevertheless” is a word that means “despite THIS, I will still do THAT”. This is what it means to be obedient. Despite whatever obstacle we encounter, we will still be obedient to the will of the Lord.
- If we will look for His hand in our lives, then we too can say “I am highly favored” for we will see His influence in our life.
- Moses 6:31 – God knew that Enoch was slow of speech, that people hated him and that he was “only a lad”, yet in verse 32 He still commanded him to “go forth and open His mouth”.
- In Moses 6:32, the Lord promised Enoch that His spirit would be upon him and then invited Enoch to “Walk with Me”.
It was such a wonderful devotional. At the end of Tyler’s comments, his son Benjamin played a series of sacred hymns on the piano. Wow, can he play the piano! I had watched and listened to him play after the Come Follow Me Insights episode 32 covering the book of Job. I was so impressed with his talent I asked Tyler if he would ask Benjamin to bear his testimony, and he said he would. Benjamin agreed and then asked if there was anything else we would like him to do. I asked him about playing something at the end and how grateful we are that he said yes. That young man is talented! All in all we were edified, uplifted, and made just a little bit better on Friday thanks to the Griffin family. You can hear what he played here. Even over Zoom it was amazing.
The other highlight of the week was the Suame Stake Conference. Now that normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but it was especially fun because we were able to spend some time with Elder Kyungu, the second counselor in the Area Presidency. He was sustained in April 2021 as a General Authority and spent one year at Church HQ before being sent to West Africa to serve in the Area Presidency. He is originally from DR Congo. He is a native French speaker and joined the Church in 1991. We had the privilege of bringing him back to his hotel after the Saturday afternoon conference and then we picked him up from the hotel on Sunday morning, brought him back to the Mission Home for a light lunch, and then took him to the airport to catch his 5 pm flight. We enjoyed every minute of our time with him.
The conference itself was good. Both LaDawn and I spoke at the Saturday afternoon session, she spoke on building a firm foundation and I spoke about raising children to be powerful missionaries. The basis of my comments was the need for the parents to step up their game, to live the Doctrine of Christ, to discover the joy of daily repentance, and to come unto Christ so their children will have the same desire. When the meeting first started, I had pulled up the presentation about repentance I had used at zone conference. I had planned on sharing President Nelson’s comments about the meaning of repentance and the Greek word metanoeo. But as the time drew nearer to my turn, I decided that was the wrong message, so I changed it and built upon LaDawn’s comments. Turns out that Elder Kyungu spoke about repentance and used a picture of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly in his slide show based on the root word “meta”. I was grateful I had changed my topic.
The Sunday session was equally good. We did not speak, but were there to enjoy the spirit of the day. It was also a great day to see all of our missionaries serving in the Suame zone, an added bonus. After the conference, a baptism was held where three people were baptized by Elder Sehi (the one with the name tag on). Three different sets of missionaries prepared these wonderful men for baptism.
On Sunday evening, we were treated to dinner at the Moomey’s. It was LaDawn’s birthday and we were so grateful to celebrate it with the Moomey’s and the Garrison’s. The meal was delicious (hamburger steak with baked potatoes, glazed carrots, and salad). For dessert we had tapioca pudding. It was the only thing LaDawn asked for her birthday. Somehow I seem to the go to guy for making tapioca in our family (I follow the instructions on the box) so that was my small gift to LaDawn. She loves it warm instead of cold, so I made a double batch after dinner and we ate all of it.
The rest of the week was filled with interviews and preparation for transfer week. On Tuesday we drove to Obuasi and interviewed 16 missionaries and attended the district council where Elder Clegg is the district leader. We started at the District Center and finished at the Asonkore building. It was a very good day.
On Wednesday we drove out to Nkawkaw, Juaso, and Patriensa, and interviewed the 18 missionaries who serve in and around those three cities which are all part of the Konongo zone. We arrived back into Kumasi about 5:30 pm and decided to enjoy a hamburger at Starbites since it was on our way home. The food was delivered to our table in record time and we were very grateful for the time to sit, eat, enjoy each other, and talk about the events of the day.
Much of Thursday was spent working on the transfer board and I met with the Assistants that evening to review and finalize it (well, pending the interviews with the new missionaries coming in). In the afternoon we held our Couple’s Council and talked about the mission and how we can continue to move the work forward. It is such a delight to work with the Steinmetz’s, the Moomey’s, and the Garrison’s.
The only other event of the week was taking Elder Simpson and Elder Sam out for hamburgers at Aboude’s for their excellent work on the logistics associated with the July transfer. We owed them for sure. They really do some great work in this mission and we are so grateful for them. Unfortunately I ordered a crispy chicken sandwich that never came. I ended up just taking it home and eating it since everyone else was done eating by that time. Just part of the experience of life in Kumasi.
Next week will be a big week for us with 23 new missionaries coming in and 10 missionaries going home. We have come to realize just how much it takes to run a mission and we are grateful for so many who do so much to make it as good as it can be. We love it when we can have great mission devotional speakers who bear witness of these same truths we work so hard to teach our wonderful missionaries. This is the work we are called to do, and we are grateful for the trust and the opportunity to serve, Together in Ghana.