Complexity

Between August 25 – September 16, 2021 we received 23 missionaries. That was our largest transfer, but it pales in comparison to the week we just experienced where we received 23 missionaries in one day. Complicating the transfer even more was that thirteen of them were French speakers, with very little English language experience. Fortunately, all came directly from the Missionary Training Center, including the 12 missionaries from DR Congo who had already been serving as missionaries in their home country for 3 – 17 months. We had one newly called missionary from Cote d’Ivorie who was our thirteenth French speaker. Here are the demographics: 8 elders from DR Congo; 1 elder from Nigeria; 1 elder from Malawi (our first); 5 elders from USA; 1 elder from Fiji (our first); 1 elder from Cote d’Ivorie; 4 sisters from DR Congo; 2 sisters from Liberia.

Before we left the airport, I gathered the missionaries and had a brief discussion with them about how their mission in Ghana was about to become a reality. Knowing that the thing they needed more than anything else was the presence of the Holy Ghost, I asked them to consider, for the next 30 minutes as we made our way to the mission office, if there was anything we needed to talk about regarding worthiness before they started their service. I told them that I would interview each one of them and give them an opportunity to clear up any remaining issues so that they could be fully committed to their missionary purpose without feeling the tug of past sins.

Elder Moomey

Once we were back at the Mission Office, I began to interview each missionary as they filled out some required paperwork and ate some pizza. My Assistants played Elder Klebingat’s Provo MTC devotional for them (it is powerful), even though we knew that less than half of them would be able to follow the English. They had been up since 3 a.m. since many had Nigerian companions who had to be at the airport very early, so they were tired and valued the few minutes they had to rest their heads on the tables in front of them. Right after lunch, we took the opportunity to snap our first picture together. I would be negligent not to mention how grateful we are to Elder Moomey who is in charge of taking both the individual and group pictures.

Back LtoR: Elder Mukuna, Elder Kabonzo, Elder Andabo, Elder Reynolds, Elder Tshimanga, Elder Holiday, Elder Ta’ase, Elder Beck, Elder Reynolds. Middle: Elder Sandukira, Elder Niacadie’, Elder Bingabinga, Elder Nsama, Elder Kazadi, Elder Wakaya, Elder Kapalala, Elder Roland. Front: Sister Whorway, Sister Nkashama, Sister Kabama, Sister Toe, Sister Ngalamulume, Sister Kapya.

In order to accommodate this large group of French speakers, we invited Sister Lenga and Sister Kakou to come into the office and translate for us. We had some of the more important slides translated into French that we shared with them during orientation and the rest we relied upon these two amazing sisters to help with the understanding and clarifications. They did a terrific job.

Orientation

After dinner, we divided into 2 groups in order to do the mission devotional. This meeting lasts about 1 hour and 15 minutes and is focused on integrity and obedience, two key attributes a missionary must have if they are to be successful. Elder Simpson and Elder Sam taught the French speakers with the help of Sister Lenga and Sister Kakou. All of the materials were translated into French. I took the remaining 10 English speakers and taught them. We were all very pleased with the way this turned out. Usually we just leave all of the missionaries together and position the translators behind them (this is what we did for orientation), but this was a much better model, especially with the number of French speakers we had.

The next morning, we brought in ALL of the companions “trainers” of these 23 missionaries, even though 12 of the newly arrived missionaries had already been serving. We felt it so important to make sure we helped the English speaking companions understand how best to help their French speaking missionaries. It was really a good session. We spent a significant amount of time picking scriptures on Jesus Christ from the topical guide and then asking inspired questions about the verses. We want to improve our companionship studies by asking and then finding answers to inspired questions. To be a great missionary, we need to develop an understanding and relationship with our Savior, and these scriptures are a great way to do just that.

While I was working with these “trainers”, Elder Sam had all of the new French speaking missionaries and Elder Simpson had all of the new English speaking missionaries and they were teaching them how to be “Finders of the Elect”. We are trying so hard to teach missionaries how to have the faith required to find by the Spirit. We are slowly making progress. Because of the three different breakout sessions, I was relegated to the porch on the second floor. We had hoped to moved down to the sports court where we play pickleball, but it was gently raining so we opted for the tight squeeze of the veranda.

Following the training on Wednesday morning, we matched each of the new missionaries with their trainer and then headed off to Bantama Stake Center where they could be sent to their respective areas, usually with the rest of the missionaries from that district or zone. By noon, nearly all of the missionaries had departed and after 2 very busy days, things began to slow down.

New companionships!

We stopped at KFC for some lunch (their drive thru service actually works quite well) and then headed back to the mission home. At 4:00 pm we had a Zoom video call with the new Area Presidency and all of the Mission Leaders in the Africa West Area. It was a great meeting and addressed some of the concerns that were gathered by our Area Mission Specialist (David Wade) through a short survey sent out the previous evening. It was amazing how much territory was covered in just one hour.

This is a great group of leaders!

I should also mention while we were busy here in Kumasi, President Joseph Asante, my second counselor in the mission presidency was busy up in Tamale. We had three missionaries from Bolgatanga who were set apart that evening. They were able to catch a flight directly from Tamale to Accra the next morning as they began their training at the MTC, saving them the 10 hour bus ride to Kumasi.

LtoR: President Martey (1st counselor in the Tamale District Presidency), Godwin Nsobila, Jennifer Adongyine, President Asante, Maxwell Nsoh.

On Thursday, we did our virtual leadership training for the new Sister Training Leaders, Zone Leaders and District Leaders. It lasted 1.5 hours. Elder Simpson and Elder Sam did a terrific job once again! We continue to improve each transfer on the content of the training. Our latest version is here.

On Thursday evening, we had a throwback to some of our early days in the Mission Home. We were working in our office when we heard a “pop” and then a rush of water. We hurried into the kitchen to find that the hose from the hot water heater to the sink had burst at one of the fittings. The water was really spewing forth! I tried to go out and shut off the water at the value to the kitchen, but it wouldn’t stop. I tried to tighten it as much as I could and it eventually gave way and became useless. I then had no option but to turn the water off to the entire house. LaDawn and I had some good “together time” as we worked to scoop, soak, and mop all of the water from the floor. It was not an incidental amount. After we got it all cleaned up and the handyman called to come the next morning to fix it, we realized we were going to be without water until midway through the next morning. That didn’t seem so great, so I finally decided to disconnect the hose going into the heater and connect it to the good fitting of the hose going to the sink, bypassing the heater, but bringing water back to the house. It worked with no leaks – such a relief. We hauled some hot water from the shower into the kitchen so LaDawn could do the dishes and all was again right with the world. šŸ˜Š

On Saturday, LaDawn, Sister Moomey and Sister Garrison and I traveled to Bibiani to do the Organizational Leader training provided by the Area. This is the training that was prepared by Elder and Sister Dance when they came for their 6 month mission to Accra earlier in the year. We had a great turnout and we were even able to include some of the priesthood leaders who need to understand better the role of these women leaders and their organizational responsibilities. Once again, Sister Garrison taught the Relief Society leaders, Sister Moomey the Young Women leaders as well as the branch presidents, and LaDawn taught the Primary leaders and a few branch presidency counselors over the primary. Overall it was a great success.

Prince Donkor

While they were training, I took the opportunity to interview Price Donkor, a young man from the Sefwi Bekwai branch, for his mission. He is a great young man and will be a good missionary. It is always such a joy to interview these prospective missionaries to serve a full-time mission. We finished up close to noon and headed back to Kumasi. On our way home, we stopped in a village called Nzema Nkwanta to look at two potential apartments to house missionaries who would work in the next village over where we have a branch (Kuffour Camp). But it didn’t take us long to realize this village was too remote with no services, not to mention there was no cell phone service either. We could not even find a road that led to either house and so called our Facilities Manager and asked him to keep looking.

Our new bishop back home, Mark Rittman.

Sunday was a quiet day. We attended 2 sacrament meetings in Asouyeboa First and Second Wards which are part of the Bantama Stake. We have six sisters serving there and it was great to be with them. Sister Damsa, Sister Diamonds, Sister Yenga, Sister Kekula, Sister Nelson and Sister Konoekor. In the afternoon, we joined our sacrament meeting from the Magnolia First Ward back home on Zoom and witnessed Bishop McClellan’s release after serving faithfully for the last 5 years. Our new bishop is Mark Rittman. He is son of one of LaDawn’s best friends on the planet who only recently moved into the ward. We are grateful for Bishop McClellan’s service and the tender mercy of bringing Mark and his wife Jenn and their two children to the Ward just in time to receive this call.

On Sunday evening I met with the Assistants for about 90 minutes as we made one last review of the week and everything that needs to happen so that we have a successful mission tour. These two young men are extraordinary and I am grateful for their commitment to the Church, to the Gospel, and more than anything else, our Savior. They are making a huge difference in the Ghana Kumasi Mission. One of the things we reviewed was a 30 minute instruction they will give on Friday in our Mission Leadership Council titled, “Conviction vs. Conversion”. Their preparation has been thorough and succinct.

With all of the activity associated with bringing in 23 new missionaries, I cannot neglect expressing appreciation for the 10 that went home. They came in on Monday afternoon, I interviewed each one last time (some more than others) and we then enjoyed a wonderful dinner from Aboude’s at the Mission Home followed by a game of Preach My Gospel Jeopardy. Definitely the best scores since we have arrived. I will make special note of Elder Awuku who knew a lot of answers that other missionaries usually miss. All in all it was a fun evening and we ended with one last picture before they departed the next morning. I might add that Sister Pitlagano had to stay an extra couple of days because the area travel office delayed in booking her ticket and the flights on the day she was to leave were all full. In the end, they all made it home safely and we are grateful for their contributions to the mission over the last 2 years / 18 months.

Back: Elder Dossia, Elder Donkor, Elder Gyamfi, Elder Lawson, Elder Gyasi, Elder Bampoe. Front: Elder Riley, Sister Da-Wariboko, Sister Pitlagano, Elder Awuku.

The complexity of leading a mission can be daunting at times, there is no doubt about that, but we continue to see the hand of the Lord in this work. Sometimes when we look at the upcoming events of a week or even a month we wonder how we will ever get through it, but somehow it always goes better than planned. Such was the case this week when over 70 companionships were involved in transfers so we could best accommodate these 23 new missionaries. We recognize that this is His work and not ours. We are merely trying to be instruments in His hands as we navigate the challenges and complexities of the Kumasi Mission, Together in Ghana.

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