On Sunday morning we arose early, leaving at 7:00 am and making the 2.5 hour trip to Techiman for the creation of the Techiman Ghana District. The four branches in Techiman were created in 2014 and have slowly been building strength in order to become a district. This was both an historic and much prayed for day for and by the members of these four branches. When we came through Techiman on November 14th from Tamale, after some missionary interviews, Elder Thompson (senior couple in Techiman) and I went over in the evening and visited with Tony and his wife Esther. President Adu has served as the branch president of the Dwumoh Branch for the last 8 years and graciously and humbly accepted the call to serve as the new district president. I then gave him some time to recommend counselors, which he did. Once the counselors were called by my second counselor, Joseph Asante who lives in Tamale – but visits Techiman regularly, they were able to counsel together and agree on names for four district “high” councilors, a district relief society president, and replacements for the three members of the presidency – since all three were serving as branch presidents. By Saturday evening, President Asante was able to meet and extend callings to all those that needed to be called by a member of the mission presidency.
After the 2 hour conference meeting, it took us as a mission presidency about an hour to either set apart or help set apart the presidency, the “high” counselors, the new branch presidents, and the Relief Society president. We spent another 30 minutes giving them some high level training to get them started. We used an outline given to us by our Area Seventy, Elder Appianti. Here are the points we covered.
- Testify of Christ and teach the doctrines of the kingdom as taught in the scriptures and by the living prophets. Emphasize the importance of the priorities of the living prophets.
- Emphasize personal righteousness as the foundation of gospel leadership.
- Stress family responsibilities as a high priority.
- Use all sources of help and guidance (i.e., prayer, following the prompting of the Spirit, the scriptures, handbooks, Worldwide Leadership Training materials, area and local coordinating councils, etc.)
- Teach principles of presidency (i.e., keys, unity, keeping confidences, etc.) and the importance of stake and ward councils.
- Establish the Church through real growth.
- Reassure and testify.
I was grateful to have both of my counselors present. President Obeng served over the Techiman branches for more than 3 years, so it was great to have him be able to come as well. We finished up around 1:40 pm and then LaDawn and I made our way over to the Thompson’s apartment where Sister Thompson fed us quick lunch, before getting on our our way back to Kumasi. We arrived at 5:00 pm and then enjoyed a nice meal with the Garrison’s and Moomey’s. Sister Garrison had cooked some chicken stroganoff and had invited us and the Moomey’s over. We continue to be grateful for all four of our senior couples who bless our lives and that of the missionaries in so very many ways.
After dinner, we returned to the mission home where I met with my Assistants. Elder Simpson and Elder Sam have served faithfully for 7 months and 6 months respectively. They have been amazing leaders and examples of how to share the gospel across the mission. Elder Harnois joined Elder Simpson and Elder Sam three weeks ago as a third assistant. This allowed Elder Simpson to go out and do exchanges with many different companionships over the three week period. He really helped each companionship catch the vision of what it means to be a consecrated and bold missionary. Elder Harnois and Elder Sam stayed in their area and did exchanges with the zone leaders. This transfer, I brought in Elder Amoah, a Ghanaian who has been serving as a district leader. He has been a stellar missionary and when I went to the Lord to find out who should replace Elder Sam, the answer came in the name of Elder Amoah. Although he has not been a zone leader, his leadership, commitment, and desire to share the gospel makes him the perfect candidate as one of my Assistants. We will miss Elder Simpson and Elder Sam and are grateful for the willingness to serve and for the talents Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah bring to these important positions of trust and leadership.
We will now back up to the start of the week. On Monday, I was able to play some basketball with the Assistants and Office Elders. It is something I have not done for over a year now. I am probably a step slower and less likely to hit a three pointer these days, but I have to admit, it was a lot of fun just to get out and shoot some hoops. I do love the game of basketball.
Monday evening we drove to Agric and interviewed the 10 missionaries who serve in the Bantama Zone. Sister Kekula, Sister Forkpah, Sister Ilulu, Sister Ita, Elder Uzoigwe, Elder Bonnett, Elder Andabo, Elder Call, Elder Barton, and Elder Brigham.
On Tuesday, we attended the Dichemso District Council where Elder Driscoll is the district leader. He did a great job leading the meeting and providing instruction on “Educating Our Desires”. This was a take off from the instruction given by the Assistants at the last zone conferences, and he did a nice job of going beyond what they taught as he discussed the differences between a bad seed (desire) and a good seed (desire). He also talked about growing pains when we let the seed of our desires work and grow within us. We also stepped next door and took a snap of the Boukram District which is led by Elder Lawson.
After the meeting I took the opportunity to sit down with a couple of missionaries and talk through a few things with them. We really loved our time with these disciples of Jesus Christ who are doing their best to become even better.
On Wednesday, we made our every six-week drive to Nkawkaw, Juaso, and Konongo. This is a really long day for us as it is 2 hours out and 2 hours back with 18 interviews along the way. We found most of the missionaries to be happy and diligent in their calls to gather Israel. And those who need a bit of encouragement, I offered that as well. Here are the elders we met with in Nkawkaw.
We arrived back home at 5 pm and slept well that night!
The next day was Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful feast with the Moomey’s, the Thompson’s, and the Garrison’s. The only thing that would of made it better would have been the Steinmetz’s. It is a 7 hour drive from Tamale to Kumasi and not really worth it even for a delicious meal, but we were thinking of them and wishing we could all be together.
After dinner, we watched the replay of the BYU vs. USC game. BYU made it interesting at the end, but still came up short in a 82-76 loss at the Paradise Island Imperial Area in the Bahamas where they were playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Watching a basketball game is a bit of a luxury for us and not something that happens very often, but it was nice to do after a delicious Thanksgiving feast.
On Friday, we made our last interview trip for the transfer down to Dunkwa and then back through Obuasi, Asonkore, and over to Adansi Asokwa. We had 15 interviews on that day. We will only include two pictures to represent that day of interviews. The first is from Dunkwa, where Elder Walker is serving as the Branch President of the Dunkwa Branch. He is our only missionary serving in such a calling and he is doing a great job. We are grateful for all of our missionaries who come to serve in any manner and in any location to which they are called to serve. The second picture is of those serving in Obuasi. We met them at the Obuasi District Center.
On Friday we made it back home again right at 5 pm (seems to be a favorite arrival time) and made our way over to Piri Piri for a Friday night date dinner along with the Moomey’s and Garrison’s. After the meal we returned to the Mission Home and all three of my Assistants came over and we finalized the transfer, making a few last minute changes that needed to be made.
Most of Saturday was spent getting caught up with missionary letters from Monday, writing a new letter to go out to missionaries on Sunday evening (so there would be time to get it translated into French), and preparing for the transfer by calling all of the new leaders, releasing some of the old leaders, and getting our trainers in place for the new missionaries coming next Tuesday. Efforts also included preparing a sustaining list for the Techiman District creation as well as a releasing and sustaining list for the impacted branches. We had originally planned on going to Techiman on Saturday and help with making some of the calls, but President Asante did a great job getting all of the callings made earlier on Saturday so we could just travel up and back on Sunday. I am grateful for his excellent help.
We are spending a lot of time right now as a mission presidency and district presidencies to figure out the long term strategic growth plan for the districts. Today we are baptizing enough people in these 5 districts to create a new branch every other month. It takes some time and effort to figure out how best to grow the Church, making sure we have the proper priesthood strength, and experienced members to do so. The process for creating a branch or even a Group, takes time and effort to know the people that would be included (we don’t always know where the members live) and then figure out how to grow that Group into a branch. We are grateful to have these problems and know that the Lord will continue to inspire the men and women of these districts, as well as us as a mission presidency, so that we can manage this growth in His way and not our own, Together in Ghana.