Having lived in Houston, Texas for most of our lives, we have experienced several hurricanes. We live far enough inland that the brunt of the storms never quite reach us, but we do experience high winds and plenty of rain. Once a hurricane passes through our area, there is always a period following the storm where we are needed to clean up the aftermath that the storms bring. Broken and fallen trees, mud, flooded homes, leaking roofs, blocked roads, and more. It takes real effort to clean up after a hard wind and accompanying rain. It is no different in the Ghana Kumasi Mission. A new wind is blowing and there is now a cleansing process taking place.
Let us explain. We all make mistakes. It is part of our mortal journey.
‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
One of the things that Elder Klebingat shared with us during the mission tour was this important statement: “There is a difference between weakness and rebellion.” As we searched a bit more, we discovered that in an October 2013 conference talk titled “Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ”, Elder Richard G. Scott gave us a more complete statement on this same theme. “The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.”
As a mission leadership council, we agreed on the 17 points of collective obedience that we sent out last week. Further, the leadership of the mission has made a commitment to live each of these principles themselves. These have been reviewed and endorsed by Elder Klebingat. I called him the other night on another matter, and he answered the phone saying he was getting ready to speak to the missionaries at the MTC and he would call me back shortly. When he returned my call, he told me when I had called, he had just started speaking and was sharing the 17 points (without mentioning our mission). He loved sharing with the missionaries that the very mission president where this new wind is blowing called him just as he started sharing the 17 points. What is the chance of that happening?
Back to the cleansing. In my interviews over the past week, I have been reviewing these 17 points with each missionary and have asked them to share with me where they are having trouble. I then give each one an opportunity to make a new commitment to improve in that area where they are struggling. I take notes so that I can follow-up at the next interview. I ask how I can help them. Where appropriate I ask their companion to help them. It has been wonderful to see the genuine desire for change. The genuine desire to strengthen weaknesses that they want to overcome. Weakness with a desire to change engenders mercy. We hope this spirit of improvement will continue.
In a few cases, even before the interview, missionaries were showing signs of rebellion and defensiveness. In these cases, stake presidents are being contacted and a conversation and decision ensue about whether the missionary is to remain in the mission field or if they would prefer to go home where they will not need to abide by the 17 points.
We love this scripture in Psalm 19:12 “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” In other words, we can only understand and fix our errors – and be cleansed from them, if we no longer hide them. That is the beauty of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
On Monday, our week started with a bit of a surprise. We had taken the Garrison’s and the Moomey’s out to dinner at Noble House as a way to show our appreciation to them for all that they do for the mission. We had no sooner ordered our meals when I received a frantic phone call from a missionary in Kumasi. His companion had taken a nasty spill on his bike and appeared to be unconscious. I tried to calm him down (he responded well) and encouraged him to get him to the nearest hospital. 15 minutes later he called me back, said his companion was awake and the hospital was helping him. Turns out that a number of people saw the accident and hurried to their aid. The companion left the bikes and his companion’s helmet, got a taxi and went to the hospital. The friendly people helped them immensely. A couple of days later when it was all over, they went back to get the bikes. They knew nobody in that area, but someone took the bikes and the helmet and kept them safe for them. This is one of our favorite things about Ghana, when someone is in trouble, everyone runs to help. As they collected the bikes, the man asked the missionaries, “where is the other one?”. The companion said, “What do you mean?”. The man said, “There were three of you”. The companion replied, “No, there are only the two of us”. The man insisted, “No, there were three”. The companion then realized that indeed they had had heavenly help that night.
We quickly ate our meal and then the Moomey’s and we drove over to the hospital. It was about 15 minutes away. We were grateful that the injured missionary appeared to be okay. He had landed on one of his front teeth and broke it off. The rest of that tooth had to be pulled later because it was cracked. His elbow was sore where he used it to brake his fall, and he had some scrapes and an obvious concussion from the fall, but miraculously nothing more. We were grateful. Our area medical advisor recommended a CT scan to make sure there was no bleeding in his brain, but that is tough to do at 9 pm in Kumasi. We eventually checked him out of that hospital and took him over to the Asafo Boakye Hospital where honor the Church insurance card. The facility is much better and it is closer to the Mission Office and the Moomey’s. The next morning Sister Moomey had the CT scan done and everything came back normal. Prayers of gratitude. We are working on a fix for the tooth that he lost. Clearly the Lord is watching over his missionaries.
On Tuesday we attended the University District Council where Elder Nuwagaba (born in Ethiopia) is the district leader. It was a very well done District Council. We were grateful for the preparation and effort of each missionary who participated in the discussions.
Following the District Council we had 12 interviews, finishing around 3:30 pm. With the review of the 17 points, each interview took a bit longer, but the additional time was worth it.
On Wednesday, we drove to Agona and interviewed the missionaries serving in Mampong, Agona, Offinso, and Asamang. I sat outside in front of the building and I am pretty sure Agona is one of the noisiest cities in Ghana. These were good interviews and the missionaries serving in these three cities (towns?) are doing good work. We were grateful to be with them.
We finished at 1:15 pm and made our way back to the Mission Home where we held a training for all of the District Leaders in the Mission. With the new wind blowing, we wanted to make sure that our District Leaders understood the expectations we have of them and provide them the tools and information they would need to be successful. Elder Simpson and Elder Sam conducted the training.
We covered 5 areas in the training. 1) Well prepared and spirit-filled District Council Meetings. 2) Experiencing and teaching powerful scripture study. 3) Knowing and understanding each of the district members and their issues and concerns associated with their areas. 4) Setting an example (model area, adherence to the schedule, being a leader who does what needs to be done even when they don’t want to do it, raising the praise). 5) Helping those missionaries who are struggling with their commitment, their skillset, and their testimony through phone calls, exchanges, and District Council Meetings.
On Thursday, we made the long drive down to Sefwi Wiawso. We left shortly after 6 am and arrived in Sefwi Waiwso at 9:20 am. We interviewed the four elders there and then came back to Sefwi Bekwai and did the same and then to Bibiani to do the same there. Unfortunately we missed taking pictures of Elder Twum and Elder Kampanga in Bekwai. We made it back home around 6:00 pm. It was a great day and we loved getting to see these great missionaries.
On Friday morning, we started interviews at 10:00 am at Dichemso. We finished at 4:45 pm after completing the 16 interviews. These took a lot longer than we had anticipated due to a few bumps in the road, but we were glad to spend the time with these wonderful missionaries who are really trying to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
On Friday evening, we were able to go to Piri Piri’s for dinner with the Moomey’s and Garrison’s. Hawaiian Pizza and salad. Seem to be our mainstays. It is always good to have a couple of hours of unwind time after a busy week.
On Saturday morning we were back to interviews. We made the drive out to Effiduase where we interviewed the Effiduase and Seneagya Elders. From there we drove back to Kwamo and interviewed 12 more missionaries. If Agona is one of the noisiest cities in Ghana, then Kwamo has to be the most noisy. It is right on N8 between Kumasi and Konongo and it is very loud with all the street noise from heavy traffic. Fortunately, the Bishop from Kwamo 1 was there for a youth activity and allowed me to use his office. Air Conditioning and some sound deadening curtains, despite the road noise made the interviews so much better. I was grateful. On Saturday we finished at 5:00 pm and made it back home before 6 pm. Another really great day, albeit long.
Because of the extremely busy schedule associated with the mission tour, followed by these long interviews, I really struggled to get through all the missionary letters. I received over 180 letters and getting them read and responded to was impossible. By Sunday evening, I had read and responded to 95 of them. For the remaining 85, I sent a bulk email out to each one of them (the system has a nice facility for doing this) telling them I wasn’t going to be able to respond to all the letters I had received, but I promised I would read them. Because we traveled north on the following Monday for more interviews, I couldn’t finish them until Wednesday morning. One of the reasons it took me so long is that I was snipping the sections from each letter where they talked about what they learned at the mission tour conference and what their commitment would be to improve going forward. I ended up with 33 pages of these snippets! They are magnificent commitments by these wonderful missionaries, promising to be even better in the future. We are extremely grateful that each of them feels the call to rise to these newly clarified expectations.
Sunday morning we attended the Bantama Stake Conference where Elder Richard Ahadje was the visiting Area Authority Seventy. We first met Elder Ahadjie in Sierra Leone and then later he presided at a District Conference in Sunyani. It felt like we were seeing old friends as he also brought his lovely wife Amelia. The conference was just outstanding. We will spare you all of the topics, but trust us when we say it was good. Perhaps the highlight for us was a talk give by 17-year-old Marjorie Frimpong. That is one impressive young woman! She gave a talk that was much ore mature than her 17 years of life should have allowed. Two recently returned missionaries had borne their testimonies earlier in the program, and we have to say, Majorie was more impressive. We need more young men and young women like Marjorie who are fully preparing (and already prepared) to be great missionaries.
LaDawn and I had a few minutes to speak as well. LaDawn talked about not allowing anyone else to determine our level of commitment and testimony. She said even though she is a 6th generation member of the church, she has always known she cannot depend on their testimony or their sacrifice. She had to have her own testimony and make her own sacrifices in order to be steadfast and immovable. I spent 10 minutes talking about a comment Elder Klebingat made at one of our conferences. He said, “If we do not give the Lord everything, we have given Him nothing.” I tied that into laying our wills upon the altar and following “the Son with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent…” (2 Nephi 31:13). It was great to see all of the missionaries serving in the Bantama Zone, always an extra bonus for us when we attend a stake conference on a Sunday.
Sunday night we met with the Assistants and began to put together a “toolbox” for the mission. This toolbox will contain the most important skills that we need missionaries to possess. Once we have this finalized, we will begin to do a lot more role plays in zone conferences to improve our skills in each area. While not yet final, here is a preliminary list of contents of the toolbox.
- Finding the Elect thru service
- Revelatory Planning
- Teach for Commitment & Conversion
- Teach for understanding
- Asking inspired questions
- Overcoming concerns
- Building relationships of Trust
- Inspired baptismal invitations
- Introducing the Book of Mormon
- Conversion using the Book of Mormon
- Questions of the Soul
- 42 PMG principles
- Setting the stage for a lesson
- Companionship Inventory
- Teaching the Law of Chastity
This has been another busy, productive, and rewarding week as the cleansing process in the Ghana Kumasi Mission gets fully underway. We have been gratified by the response of the missionaries to do better and be better. We see greater light flowing into the mission as each missionary makes more effort to consecrate themselves to this great work. We are so grateful for the visit of the Klebingat’s. That visit was an answer to our prayers and has filled us with hope that we can truly be a celestial mission as we gather Israel with a sense of urgency, Together in Ghana.
2 thoughts on “The Cleansing”
This experience is sincerely great and wonderful I wish you and your wife well and your missionaries to follow the 17 point that will bring light unto their lives.
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