Perhaps a bit of a unique title for our blog post this week, especially during a regularly scheduled transfer week. But it is appropriate because this past week we did something we have not done before. For those missionaries returning home, Elder and Sister Case from the Area Office, who are serving as self-reliance missionaries, made a presentation to the 10 missionaries going home from the Ghana Kumasi Mission about all of the opportunities and resources that exist to help them when they return home. The Church is making a significant effort to help these newly returned missionaries get a solid start in school, skill development, social life, and continued spiritual development. The 1 hour and 20 minutes that we spent with the Case’s over Zoom was overwhelmingly appreciated by the returning missionaries. This is a presentation that we will do in the future, as it will generate more discussion in a face to face environment and we understand the resources well enough to be able to explain them.
Following the presentation and discussion, we took the missionaries over to the Mission Home and there we enjoyed a nice meal from Aboude’s and then a game of Preach My Gospel Jeopardy. It is always a nice evening. Of course the event that the missionaries look forward to more than anything is the moment they receive their mission sashes. This is quite a tradition in the African Missions and the receipt of such a sash is representative of a significant accomplishment.
On Tuesday morning early, our mission driver Alex and the Office Elders (Elder Beck and Elder Njirayafa) drove the missionaries and their luggage to the airport, made sure they boarded their plane, and then returned back home before 8:00 am. We are so grateful for Alex and the Office Elders who sacrifice a lot during transfer week to help get everyone where they need to be.
At 9:20 am we were at the airport to pick up our three arriving missionaries. Our new Assistants, Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah also came to the airport to take the luggage back to the Mission Office in their truck. The last three transfers have been significantly smaller than the first 10 that we experienced since arriving in Kumasi. It is interesting though that it takes about the same amount of time to orient 3 missionaries as it does 23, although the time it takes to interview all of them is significantly shorter. For each transfer in, we do an orientation (medical, finances, mission vision), a devotional (exact obedience and integrity of heart), and a train the trainer session (becoming a finder of the elect). We usually do the first two on Tuesday and the third one on Wednesday morning. However, with the smaller number and the reduced time required for interviews, we did all three on Tuesday, finishing up around 7:30 pm. This made Wednesday a lot easier because we were able to start the transfer by 9:00 am and by 11:00 am nearly everyone was on their way to their new areas.
On Thursday we held our Mission Leadership Council. This transfer we expanded the zones to 10 by adding Bibiani and Obuasi and combining Asouyeboa and Bantama. Since Bibiani and Obuasi were part of the other two zones, when they became their own zone, the other two were combined as their geography represents the Bantama Stake. Right now every zone is exactly aligned with a District or a Stake. The one exception is the Wa Mission Branch is part of the Techiman Zone, even though it is not part of the Techiman district. The University Zone is the largest with 14 companionships and the Bibiani Zone is the smallest with 7 companionships, although we hope to grow that early next year.
Here is the agenda for the MLC
|Introductions and Welcome|
|A New Wind is Blowing…. We introduced a new visual and spoke about the symbolism therein|
|Fulfilling our Purpose through Technology – We discussed the phone checks of members of the MLC where there is improvement in the use of Technoloogy|
|Accountability – We discussed the baptismal goal for the October Transfer and the actuals|
|Mission Toolbox – greatest needs? – Agreed that the two greatest needs we have in the toolbox are 1) extending inspired invitations and 2) companionship inventory. We will bring this into the zone conferences to practice them.|
|Faith Over Fear – Assistants – With Elder Amoah down with malaria, Elder Harnois presented instruction on how we develop faith over fear. We will bring this discussion into our zone conferences. Elder Amoah joined us just before lunch.|
|Revelatory Planning – Follow-up – We discussed the need for more revelatory planning experiences in exchanges between the MLC and the missionaries.|
|The Perfect Exchange – We discussed the outline for the perfect exchange, especially since we had 5 new members in the MLC.|
|Upcoming Zone Conferences – discussed the upcoming dates and plans for zone conferences.|
|Lunch – delicious ground nut soup with rice and banku|
|Role Plays and 1 minute drills (Profiling, Law of Chastity, Repentance, Agency & the Fall, The Atonement of Jesus Christ)|
In the past, I have mentioned the Mission Toolbox that is currently in development. We are getting close to having something that we can share more broadly with the missionaries. I think this concept is profoundly helpful in our efforts to not only be faithful, but faithful and competent.
On Friday, my new assistant, Elder Amoah ended up back in the hospital. He had tested negative for malaria on Wednesday, but since he had all the symptoms, they treated him as if he had it. The next morning he was feeling good enough to join us just before lunch at the MLC (it is difficult becoming an Assistant and then missing your first MLC). But on Friday morning, he was feeling sick again, so he went back to the hospital and this time tested positive for malaria. It appears he has been suffering from a less common strain that the doctors have now isolated. At the time of this writing he is in full recovery mode. This means Elder Harnois was spending time with the office elders since his companion was in the hospital with the three of them trying to cover both of their areas which are extremely busy right now with many people being taught and prepared for baptism. Elder and Sister Moomey attended church with Elder Harnois on Sunday in Kwanwoma since his companion was not available. We are grateful for this extra service that the Moomey’s rendered on Sunday.
On Friday afternoon, we welcomed Sister Houana from South Africa. Sister Houana had recently been reassigned to our mission from the Uganda Kampala Mission due to an Ebola Outbreak in Kampala. We don’t know how long she will be with us, but the Church wants to make sure the outbreak is completely controlled before sending any new missionaries there. We thought she was coming in on the 9:20 am flight Friday morning, but it turns out she was on the next flight arriving at 10:00 am. We brought her back to the Mission Office, interviewed her and then went through the orientation process. We invited her trainer, Sister Lalugba from Sierra Leone to join us. We finished up about 3:30 pm and had our mission driver, Alex Cobbina return to them to their area (it is in the Dichemso stake here in Kumasi). We are grateful to have her as she will be a great addition to the mission.
Friday evening, we had our almost weekly date at Piri Piri. Even though it is now December, with generally very little if any rain as we enter the dry season, it really poured for about an hour. And while pictures never really do justice to the rain and its intensity, I couldn’t help but snap this picture of where we parked the Fortuner. Fortunately, by the time we finished dinner, the rain had subsided and we were able to get back into the car without getting our feet soaked.
Saturday was a quiet day with a chance to get caught up on missionary letters and begin the preparations for the next round of zone conferences. We played pickelball in the morning, which is always a nice break for us when we are able to do it. Saturday evening we were invited to the Moomey’s along with the Garrison’s for an amazing meal of lasagna. One of the side benefits of having couple missionaries who are excellent cooks!
On Sunday, we drove to Obuasi for church and attended the Asonkore branch. It was fast and testimony meeting and it was a wonderful meeting. There were 60 people in attendance. We have had some electrical problems in the building for some time now and it impacts the pump that sends water to the washrooms as well as the number of ceiling fans they can have on during sacrament meeting. It is sometimes disappointing to me that when a mission president experiences these kinds of maintenance issues, they seem to get corrected much faster than when they are reported in the Facility Incident Reporting tool by the leaders of the branch. I was happy to bring this to the attention of our Facility Manager for the souther half of the mission in order to get some immediate attention to solve the problem. During Sunday School, I interviewed Elikem Edem, the branch clerk and a young man who is desirous of serving a mission. This young single adult is extraordinary. He is currently a teacher at a private school and has done well to make his own way in the world. He joined the church when he was 15 and he is now 24. He will be an amazing missionary. His papers have been submitted, reviewed by the Area and are now in Salt Lake City awaiting assignment. I love seeing these incredible young men making a significant sacrifice knowing the blessings that will follow as a result.
We started this blog with the discussion on self-reliance for returning missionaries, helping them to get established when they get home and capable of providing for themselves so they can marry and raise a righteous family. Things are not easy in Africa, but for those young men and young women who truly love the Lord, miracles happen and opportunities are manifest. Self-reliance means being able to take care of oneself and a family without any church or other social intervention. However, there is another side of self-reliance that we actually discourage. That is when a person thinks they can do everything themselves without the need of help from God. In the Ghana Kumasi Mission, we teach total dependance upon Jesus Christ as our Savior, Redeemer, Mentor, and Friend. When a person learns to rely on the Savior, miracles occur in that person’s life. He will always make more of us than we will make of ourselves. That is our experience as we serve, Together in Ghana.