On Saturday morning, we left about 6:15 am and traveled to Bibiani for their fall district conference. Our visiting Area Authority was Elder Samuel Annan-Simons, who serves as the recorder in the Accra Ghana Temple. It was such a wonderful and refreshing two days. Even though we were tired from having traveled for 9 days with only 2 days in our own beds, we were so grateful for the outpouring of the spirit. The district is lead by President Samuel Ewusie, a long time church pioneer in Bibiani. He was called earlier in the year, just two weeks before the prior district president passed away. It is always hard for a district to adjust to a new leader, and here it often seems even more difficult, but President Ewusie, his first counselor James Buadu and second counselor, Francis Arthur have done some amazing work over the last 5 months and there was a significant feeling of unity and love in the conference.
On Saturday morning, we started at 9:00 am with a meeting with the District Presidency, where Elder Simons led a discussion on the successes and needs of the district. Ministering was identified immediately as one of those needs.
Following the meeting with the district presidency, we moved into the leadership meeting with the branch councils. Here is a list of the topics covered by the speakers.
- Tithes and Offerings
- Daily repentance and the importance of partaking of the sacrament each week
- Straightway – the concept of immediately leaving our “nets” when the Lord calls us to do his work
- Educating our desires through a study of the scriptures
- Standing extra tall in our roles of members of the Lord’s church to be an example to others and invite them to participate with us
- The role of the branch presidency as the Presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood
In the adult session we started a few minutes late at 12:40 pm. The topics covered were:
- Strengthening the rising generation through the Children and Youth Program and Mission Preparation. The focus was on the youth taking more accountability for their own spiritual nourishment and strength
- The Gathering of Israel on both sides of the veil and the importance of holding a current temple recommend
- Exercising faith in Jesus Christ in order to receive and act upon personal revelation
- Building and living upon a firm foundation
- A call to help missionaries be better prepared by parents and families expecting more of their children and likewise being an example for them
- The Lord has already given us the answers on how to better prepare our children for missions and future service. Children and Youth Program, Mission Preparation, Ministering assignments. All of these are us “being about our Father’s business”
On Sunday, we met in the Bibiani Senior High School Auditorium. It was wonderful to have so much space. The sound was good and the attendance of 331 was a record for the District. Topics in this session included:
- Being obedient to what has already been revealed to us. Prepare our children better for missions, keep the Sabbath Day holy, continually hold fast to the iron rod, and ask ourselves the question, “Are we members or are we disciples?”
- No matter what our heritage, we must all come to know for ourselves that the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true
- We must seek learning by study and by faith. To do this, we must be doers of the word. Knowing is not enough.
- Much of the conference has been about exercising faith in Jesus Christ and recommitting ourselves to studying our scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. To develop faith in Christ we should follow President Nelson’s council to study the scriptures, act in faith, and participate worthily in sacred ordinances.
On Saturday night we decided to stay in Bibiani rather than drive the 2+ hours back to Kumasi and then drive back again first thing Sunday morning. We stayed at the Aduaddai Hotel, where we have stayed before. The hotel would probably only get a 2 star rating, but the owners are just so kind and we love their (limited) food (the chicken and especially the fried rice is excellent). The rooms are small but adequate, like most beds in Ghanaian Hotels, the bed was hard, but we are sort of getting used to it. They put us on the first floor and we really liked not having to lug things up and down the stairs.
After the Saturday sessions, I interviewed the four Bibiani missionaries before going to the hotel for dinner. I brought our wireless internet router to be able to do some work (and to watch some of the BYU football game against Utah Tech), but the internet was so unstable I didn’t get much of the game in and when it did start to work, it was half-time so I went to bed.
As part of the conference, we released both of President Ewusie’s counselors and then sustained Francis Arthur as the first counselor (he had been the second counselor) and Ernest Abekyi as the new second counselor. Ernest was a missionary in the Ghana Kumasi Mission, serving for a time under us as one of our zone leaders. He recently returned back to Bibiani. He is 28 years old and loves the gospel and the church. President Buadu (the former first counselor) recently lost his wife and we wanted to give him some time to mourn and figure out what is next. We have already identified a new assignment for him, once things get a bit easier for himself and his family. I am sad that I forgot to get a picture of the new presidency. After the conference we all met with Elder Annan-Simons, counseling together for a few minutes before setting these new counselors apart. As a result of the counseling we did, we came up with three areas of focus for the next 6 months. 1) Ministering. 2) Getting Seminaries and Institute working more effectively, and 3) Working more diligently on implementing a home based, church supported Come Follow Me program. Much work to do, but we now have momentum and direction.
The Bibiani conference has to be the highlight of last week. When I see a district start to move again after being stagnant for an extended period, it is a time to rejoice and recognize the hand of the Lord in selecting and sending qualified leaders to help the district move forward. Looking forward to great things in Bibiani!
On Monday morning, as mentioned last week, we drove from Tamale to Techiman and spent the night with the Thompson’s. It is so great to have a couple in that home again and the Thompson’s are a perfect addition to the mission and to Techiman. We left Tamale just before 10:00 am and arrived in Techiman about 2:30 pm. At 3:00 pm we had our monthly medical zoom call with the Area Medical Advisor (Elder Davis), the Area Mental Health Advisor (Elder Middleton), and our Area dentist (Dr. Shane) who is in the USA and of significant help to us. We started interviews at 4:00 pm and finished shortly after 6 pm having completed the 8 interviews. These are good missionaries who are really working hard to be successful in their efforts to invite and bring others to Christ. We had a nice meal Monday night with the Thompson’s as she made an Hawaiian chicken and rice recipe that was fabulous!
On Tuesday morning, we had the 6 remaining sisters in Techiman come to the Thompson’s home and we interviewed each of them. How we love these sisters!
After finishing the interviews we drove to Sunyani on our best and favorite road in Ghana. We say that with our tongue in cheek as it is the worst road that we drive on a regular basis. Fortunately the 6 km before coming in Sunyani had been graded somewhat making that last section drivable. We arrived around 2 pm, went to KFC and ate some lunch, and then drove to the Glamossay Hotel where we stayed the night. The Tyco Hotel where we usually stay was completely sold out, so we were grateful to have this “overflow” hotel. There were others also staying there because the Tyco was full. It seems to happen every year in November and December.
After getting checked into the hotel, we drove back to the district center and did 8 more interviews. The Sunyani district center is one of my favorite places to do interviews because I have found a spot near the rear of the district center where it is shielded from much of the road noise and noises coming from other churches in the vicinity. These interviews went well and by 6:15 pm were were finished. Pictures below left to right: Sister Irem and Sister Umoren, Sister Nkashama and Sister Ehigie, Elder Dibatayi and Elder Kierstead, Elder Lenge and Elder Griffin.
The next morning, we held our final zone conference. We usually don’t have so much time between the first zone conference and the last, but because of the Tamale district conference and the two new missionaries that came in on November 8, along with the Thompson’s the same day, we had to spread them out a bit. The conference was excellent and every bit as good as the other 4. Sister Opa and Sister Kakou, our Sister Training Leaders for these two zones gave instruction using the same theme they encouraged the sisters in Tamale to use, “Now is Our Time”. It was just simply outstanding.
We did all of the rest of the same things from the prior conferences. Moomey’s talked about health and safety, LaDawn talked about 2 Nephi 2, I spoke about The Power of the Word, the Assistants talked about Educating our Desires. We also did some role-plays on how to profile the people we are teaching to determine whether they are interested in following the truth. All in all, another great conference! We did have one hiccup. Elder Bloomfield and Elder Niando are serving in Kenyasi, a gold mining town about an hour out of Sunyani where we have a small branch. The day before the conference, fighting broke out between the “legitimate” gold miners, and the “illegitimate” miners in the area. The police became involved and there was gunfire. The missionaries were told to go to their apartment and not leave. The roads between Kenyasi and Sunyani were supposedly blocked by the “bad guys” and the missionaries were told it was unsafe to travel. While it was really hard to know what was true and not true, we did not want to take any chances and so we told the elders to stay in Kenyasi and we would stream the zone conference to them over a Zoom call. In the morning hours especially, we had trouble with the internet staying up and so had to restart the call a number of times, but it finally became stable after about 2 hours and was good the rest of the day. At the end of the conference I asked Elder Bloomfield what percent of the conference they were able to understand and learn from and the response was 80%. Much better than I had thought was possible. Another miracle for sure. By the next day, the police had restored order and all was quiet in Kenyasi.
Following the conference, I interviewed 4 more missionaries and we returned to the hotel. Again I had taken our wireless router with us so I could do some work, but the internet in Sunyani was horrible, just as we had experienced in Bibiani. Not sure why all of the issues suddenly, but it made getting work done a challenge. The Moomey’s also stayed over on Wednesday evening and we had a nice meal of bolognese in the hotel restaurant. It was either that or chicken and rice. 😊
Thursday morning, we traveled to the Fiapre branch and interviewed the four remaining elders. We failed to snap a picture of Elder Smith and Elder Negone, but we did take one of Elder Kpronu and Elder Graham, our Sunyani zone leaders. After the interviews we headed home after nearly 9 days of being on the road. It was good to come home and sleep in our our bed for a couple of nights before heading to Bibiani for the conference over the weekend.
On Friday, we traveled the 20 minutes to the Asouyeboa building and interviewed 9 more missionaries who work in Korforidua, Abuakwa, and the Asouyeboa First and Second Wards. It was another great day of interviews. That evening we joined the Garrison’s and Moomey’s at Piri Piri for dinner after mission the previous week’s “night out”
Below are the missionaries we interviewed on Friday. Top left is Elder Watch and Elder Nsama, Top right is Elder Donohoe and Elder Maulana. Bottom left is Sister Mukwaira and Sister Diamonds. Bottom right is Sister Nelson, Sister Yula, and Sister Konoekor.
November has been a whirlwind month for us with zone conferences, interviews, two district conferences, a mission devotional, new missionaries arriving off transfer, a new senior couple, and travel required to make it all happen. And yet, there is no place we would rather be. We know this is the Lord’s Church, restored here upon the earth in these last days to prepare for the Second Coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. We bear solemn witness that we know He lives and is at the head of this Church and directs this work. We feel it every day as we do what to us seems far beyond our capacities and capabilities, and yet we do it gladly with smiles and with joy, Together in Ghana.