Christmas Tree Shopping in Ghana

On Monday, we drove over to China Mall to see if we could find a small Christmas tree for the Steinmetz’s since we would be leaving on Monday of the next week for Tamale. China Mall is an interesting store. Think of a Wal-Mart where everything is made in China and is cheap, generally both in quality and price. While we are often frustrated by the quality of the items for sale, we are also grateful that we can purchase things there we cannot easily find elsewhere. In fact, it is not uncommon for people with small shops to go there and purchase items and then resell them at higher prices. We looked over the assortment of fake Christmas trees and found a small three foot tree that was perfect for what the Steinmetz’s had room for. It happens to be the same tree that the Thompson’s have in Techiman. There were no Christmas lights for sale at China Mall that we could find, but there was plenty of tinsel. The tree cost about $2.50 and the tinsel was 43 cents and the lights we found later at Shop-Rite cost about $7.00.So for $10, we were able to get them a tree, tinsel, and lights for Christmas.

The other thing that happened on Monday was the arrival of Elder Akrashie who had been reassigned to our mission. He was supposed to come in on the 3 pm flight, but when he missed that flight in Accra, travel could only get him a flight that arrived at 7:10 pm. So LaDawn and I drove to the airport and picked him up, brought him back to the Mission Office and spent the next 1 hour and 45 minutes providing him with an abbreviated version of orientation and devotional. He slept the night at the mission office bunkhouse with two other elders involved in a small transfer adjustment. The next morning, we took him with us to the University District Council meeting where he met up with the other two companions he would be serving with for the next 5 weeks, Elder Graham and Elder Kazadi in the Atonsu Ward.

As just mentioned, on Tuesday we traveled to the University Stake Center for interviews and District Council where Elder Vi is the District Leader of the University District. The meeting was excellent. with the main instruction being on extending inspired invitations. Sister Okumah-Boyd, one of our Sister Training Leaders led the instruction based on the material in Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel. Following her, Elder Harnois, one of our assistants, talked about the 4 key points in an invitation. 1) Ask a “will you” question 2) Share an inspired promise (based on the spirit of prophecy) 3) Share a personal testimony about how the invitation being extended has blessed your own life in the past 4) Follow up on every invitation extended. This same lesson was taught in every district council across the mission. We provide at least 4 topics for every 6 week period. This keeps the mission in lockstep sync. The topics are all pulled from the new toolbox and are intended to help grow our competencies across the mission. I might add that Elder Harnois was without his companion at the meeting. Elder Amoah was in the hospital for a week with a really stubborn and less common strain of malaria. We are grateful he is back on his feet and back at the work.

We generally hold leadership training for new zone, district, and sister training leaders the day after transfers. But this transfer we moved it to follow right after the district councils across the mission on Tuesday. This was a Zoom call led by Elder Harnois since Elder Amoah was not yet fully recovered. We had already scheduled interviews for missionaries following the District Council so I only made about the last 20 minutes of the meeting. I joined Elder Vi who was in the cultural hall of the stake center on his phone. This training is really good and I am so happy with the constant updates and improvements we make each transfer. Here is the latest version.

The rest of the week was filled with interviews. After the 10 interviews at University on Tuesday, we did 14 on Wednesday at Dichemso, and 14 more for University zone on Thursday, traveling to Effiduase and Kwamo. On Friday we drove to Atafoa and then Suame (same zone) and completed 15 more. This round of interviews has really been exceptional. It is clear that the vast majority of missionaries are working hard to be better. Our biggest struggle is with the misuse of the phone. The temptation to use Messenger during the week to communicate with friends and family is overwhelming for many of these young single adults who grew up during their teen years with boundary-less technology. Placing boundaries on them now is a real struggle for many of them and for us. When a missionary shows commitment and improvement, we are gratified and continue to encourage them. When they start to hide their usage (we know how it is being done and how to detect it), then stake presidents back home will get involved. President Nelson really wants us to help inoculate these young single adults so that when they go home they are not slaves to social media. We are working hard to help them and many are responding to the call to stay focused on their purpose. We will continue to labor in this great cause.

Here are some of the pictures from interviews:

After interviews on Friday, we made it back in time for date night at Piri Piri. I had a call with our Northern Facilities Manager, Peter Amoah-Ohenakwa, so we decided to drive to Piri Piri a bit early and take the call in the car. It worked out great.

On Friday evening after dinner, Elder Derr and Elder and Sister Case came and stayed with us. They had been to Techiman and came back to Kumasi and spent the night (we are a decent bed and breakfast – and the price is right). They are self-reliance couple missionaries (Sister Derr had not been feeling well so stayed in Accra) and are doing some excellent work, especially with the young single adults in our districts. On Saturday they traveled to Konongo and then to Obuasi to do training and came back to the Mission home around 10:00 pm on Saturday night (Elder Derr is a brave “nighttime” driver).

On Saturday, LaDawn and I went over to the Mission Office in the afternoon to prepare some Christmas bags for zone conference up in Tamale. Sister Moomey and Sister Garrison both came over to help LaDawn put the finishing touches on the bags. I worked on missionary letters. We had been waiting for some stickers to come from Accra, and we thought they would come on Friday night and we could pick them up Saturday morning at the bus station, but as it turned out, they came in on the 12:10 pm bus. Elder Beck and Elder Njirayafa retrieved them for us and brought them to the Mission Home. We are so grateful for these good office elders who really do a great job for us AND they are an impressive duo who are competent in the office, but love missionary work more than being in an air conditioned room. LaDawn had done some laundry Saturday morning since we would be leaving Monday morning for Tamale when we discovered that the dryer was not drying. Clothes that had been running in the dryer for over an hour were still wet even though the dryer was very hot. Ah the joys of things that break. Something we all deal with no matter where we live.

On Sunday, we attended the Daban ward, which is the geographical ward where we live. We still had a lot of work to prepare for zone conferences and I have a backlog of work on district business. In the afternoon, we interrupted our preparations and at 2:30 pm we left the Mission Home and traveled over to St. Cyprian’s Anglican Cathedral. Elder Barton and Elder Oduro had an appointment with Dr. Albert Dua who I spoke about in our November 7, 2022 blog post titled MAGNIFICAT II. Dr. Dua had been invited to Salt Lake City to attend the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s Christmas Concert. He would leave on Tuesday and be gone for four days. He really wanted to meet with the missionaries before he left, so he made time on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. As it turned out, because of his duties as a doctor, he did not arrive until 3:30 pm. We had about 30 minutes with him. The elders did a great job teaching the restoration of the Gospel. He arranged to meet again with them on Monday. We were grateful to be with them, as these elders are masterful teachers. Dr. Dua is certainly a man who loves God. We are hoping he will find room in his very busy life to commit some time to learning more about Him, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His Church.

It is hard to believe that Christmas is already here again. Although Christmas trees and tinsel are rare sitings, the spirit of the season is evident everywhere. The last year has been a blur. We have an incredible amount of gratitude for the work coming out of the mission tour with Elder Klebingat in regards to the 17 points of consecrated obedience and the higher expectations that are blowing through the mission. This change has been a great Christmas gift to us, the missionaries, and the people we are helping to bring to the covenant path. While we still have a flare up now and again – often because a missionary is not having powerful personal study every day, but overall things are better. We feel it, the missionaries feel it, and the impact it is having on the work is evident in our key indicators. We are very grateful that heaven heard our prayers, sent us Elder Klebingat and that the Mission Leadership Council has risen to the challenge of being change leaders in the Ghana Kumasi Mission. We are so grateful for the blessing of being here entrusted with his great work of Gathering Israel one last time, Together in Ghana.

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