On Monday afternoon we left Kumasi and drove to Sunyani where we started interviews at 4:00 pm. We finished up around 7:30 pm after interviewing 10 missionaries. We missed taking a picture of Elder Boamah and Elder Uduma but here are the rest.
We stayed at the Tyco Hotel and had their delicious chicken stroganoff for dinner. They have different chefs and each one cooks it a bit differently. When we asked the waitress how the chef on duty would cook it, she sent him out to us and he made it exactly the way we asked him to. A nice added benefit!
On Tuesday morning, we attended the Fiapre District where Elder Ngwenya is the District Leader. The meeting was well structured, well led, and included much discussion and conversation. One of the new items we have added to the agenda is to spend time discussing the letter we send out each Sunday evening. This week the letter is titled, Remember. Last week it was titled the same as the blog post, The Cleansing. The instruction was based on our mission tour conferences where Elder Klebingat asked the missionaries, “What will you place on the altar”. It was excellent.
I had interviewed the zone leaders, (Elder Graham and Elder Kpornu) before district council and the other 8 missionaries in the zone afterwards. We finished about 2 pm and then made the very rough road drive to Techiman, where interviewed 8 more missionaries, finishing up around 7:30 pm. The next morning we interviewed the remaining 6 missionaries in Techiman, finishing right at noon. We jumped in the car and began the 4 hour journey to Tamale.
On the way to Tamale, we cross two large bridges. The first is the Black Volta River. The second is the White Volta. Both rivers feed Lake Volta. And while the Black Volta looked normal, the White Volta was clearly in a flood stage as it was clearly outside of its banks. Luckily, the people know enough to not build close to it, so the flooding had little impact (albeit some) on the people living in the town of Yapei
Once in Tamale, the Steinmetz’s were again kind enough to let me use their back storage room for interviews. With curtains on the walls and some other things in the room, the sound does not echo and makes it easier for me to hear. A ceiling fan is an additional bonus. Elder Steinmetz even allowed me to use his nice office chair. A very good setting for interviews. I interviewed the 8 elders from Bolgatanga and LaDawn did phone checks. I also released a returning Sister Missionary, Sister Precious Afrakoma, who had returned to Tamale the prior day from the Ghana Accra West Mission. Sister Afrakoma is 35 years old and left a good job when she heard the promptings of the spirit nudge her towards a mission. What a great missionary she was and what a great blessing she will be to her branch and the entire district.
We finished at 8 pm and then enjoyed a delicious spaghetti meal prepared by Elder and Sister Steinmetz. I slept well that night. Our regular room at Ma’s Hotel was being fixed for water problems, and so we slept in a different room and during the night LaDawn got really cold. She was curled up in a ball trying to get warm when she awoke from a half-slumber. The next night we turned up the a/c temperature and she wore a sweater to bed!
On Thursday, we did 16 interviews to conclude the interviews for the entire Tamale zone. We started at 10 am to preserve the missionaries personal study time and finished at 4:15 pm. That was a long day. A few bumps in the road, but after talking through some things with a few missionaries, things have improved. I also took some time away from the Missionary Interviews to release Basiru Adam from the Education Ridge Branch. He just completed his mission in the Ghana Accra Mission. What a luminescent countenance he has! He was a great missionary and will be a great strength to his branch and the entire district, just like Precious Afrakoma.
In addition to the two returning missionaries in Tamale that I released, President Obeng (my first counselor) was busy releasing missionaries in Kumasi. Sister Abeduni, Elder Osei, and Elder Tamaklo were all released by President Obeng and returned to the Obuasi District. President Tabi came on two successive days to Kumasi to retrieve these wonderful newly returned missionaries and take them back to their homes. That is an impressive amount of ministering as only President Tabi would think to do.
And as if releasing these three was not enough to keep him occupied, President Obeng also set apart Elder Abeka Ebenezer Justice from the Kenten Branch in Techiman to serve in the Nigeria Benin City Mission. This is how you build up the Church in Ghana!
At 4:30 pm we left and drove over to the cultural center in Tamale. Because it was getting later in the afternoon/evening, some of the shops were already closed. We walked around for an hour and LaDawn bought some trivets (she was looking for baskets but the selection was poor) and then we took the Steinmetz’s out to dinner. It was Sister Steinmetz’s birthday so we had an opportunity to celebrate with both of them at Wooden Cafe and Bakery. We all ordered Marsala Chicken which is an Indian dish that they serve that is just outstanding. We returned to the Steinmetz’s apartment and Sister Steinmetz treated us to a mint brownie that was left over from our meal the previous night. They (the brownies) were so so good.
One of the things we always enjoy doing when we visit Tamale is to snap a picture of the ever ongoing construction of the new district center. Almost all of the roofs are on and the main structures complete. Their next step will be to “dry in” the buildings and begin to do tile and electrical work.
Friday morning we left around 7:15 am and made our way back to Kumasi. We stopped in Techiman for a bathroom break and to have a quick bite to eat. LaDawn makes a mean peanut butter and raspberry jelly rice cake open sandwich. So good! We had purchased some bananas and pineapples coming into Techiman, so a fresh banana as a “side” made it even better. We made it back to Kumasi around 5:00 pm, in time to join the Garrison’s and the Moomey’s for dinner at a new Chinese restaurant inside of a nearby hotel. It was good, but I think Noble House is better. Right before we left, we had received a new mattress that the FM Group had ordered for us. The old one was tired and worn and sagging, so we asked if there was a chance they could replace it. It took about a month to get it, but we were grateful to receive it. We only wish that we could have slept on it before leaving. However, it made the return home that much sweeter to sleep in a bed that no longer sagged.
Saturday and Sunday were two of the very best days of the year. Certainly better than Christmas and Easter in Ghana! We love General Conference weekend. It is like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert. We could talk all day about the amazing doctrine taught and invitations issued. We were privileged to have the Garrison’s and the Moomey’s join us both Saturday and Sunday evening for both sessions. We watched the Saturday evening session on Sunday afternoon. There were three talks that I felt were especially important to the Ghana Kumasi Mission. Elder James McConkie III, Elder Kevin Pearson, and Elder David A. Bednar. This morning I downloaded the audio and sent these three to the entire mission and asked them to listen to them (again in most cases).
Our trips to the North are generally long, often difficult, and always rewarding. We loved being with the fabulous missionaries who serve in these northern zones. We love all the fabulous missionaries serving in the southern zones as well. The work is progressing. The missionaries are stepping up to the new expectations, and the heavens are opening with more miracles than ever as our Lord and Savior sees the efforts being made sanctify ourselves as a mission and to invite others to come unto Him. We are grateful for the challenges and the blessings that come with this assignment. We are confident of our purpose, and committed to our assignment to establish Zion and Gather Israel, Together in Ghana.