Christmas in Ghana 2022

The week running up to Christmas found us holding the three zone conferences in Kumasi. We followed the same format as the two from the previous week. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we started at 9:00 am and finished each day around 4 pm. On Wednesday and Thursday, I interviewed 8 and 4 missionaries respectively. The remainder we will travel to over the next two weeks. We tried to minimize the time the missionaries had to stay around after the conference so they could get home before it became dark. As I have said before, we are not so keen on night travel here in Ghana.

On Tuesday, we held the Obuasi, Bibiani, and Bantama Zone Conference. We had some excellent talents. Here are some pictures.

In the Dichemso / Suame zone conference on Wednesday, we only had one talent. There was a misunderstanding somewhere along the way. We were grateful to be treated to a duet by Sister Lalugba and Sister Damsa who sang “O Come All Ye Unfaithful”. They ended up representing both zones. On Thursday, we were with the University and Konongo zones and they put on a nice show with 7 different talents. At the end, the University zone did a song/skit about the 17 points of consecrated obedience to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Elder Skyles pulled that together. Very creative!

We played the same games that we did the previous week. True or False, Name that Tune (with Do Do Do’s), The Shoe Relay Game, and the Animal Game. We all had great fun all three days.

Following the talents and games, we moved back into the instructional portion of our zone conferences. We did something different starting in the Dichemso / Suame Conference. When we did the role play on extending invitations, we took some time and asked everyone to turn around and practice extending an invitation to the person behind them. This was a 1:1 role play and after 5 minutes we reversed the inviter and the invitee. I wish we would have done this at all the conferences instead of just the last two. It was extremely helpful to practice what they had just learned.

Practicing extending inspired invitations

The instructions by the zone leaders across the 7 remaining zones last week was outstanding. The Assistants continued to get better and better at their part as well (one of the benefits of repetition!)

We also had three more Warriors of Light put on the Whole Armor of God.

LaDawn again shared her Christmas story about the elements of the nativity. I put a link to her narrative in last week’s post. I loved the expressions of the missionaries as she spoke. Some of these pictures go back to the prior week’s conferences, but they are so good they deserve a second chance at being posted.

At the end of each conference, LaDawn and I again sang “Star Bright”. That was fun for us and as we asked the missionaries to join in on the chorus after the 3rd verse, it was amazing. We loved the spirit we felt in each of the conferences and the desire it left within us to be better Mission Leaders and better disciples of Jesus Christ.

Here are the zone pictures:

Following the completion of the zone conferences on Thursday, it was time to get back to interviews with the missionaries. On Friday morning, we drove over to the Asouyeboa building and interviewed 8 missionaries. I got a bit behind on the schedule and we didn’t finish until after 12:30 pm. Later that afternoon the Thompson’s arrived from Techiman. They spent some time over at the Mission Office helping the Office Elders to organize things. That evening, we enjoyed a delicious Christmas spaghetti meal with the Garrison’s, the Moomey’s, and the Thompson’s at the Garrison’s apartment.

Saturday morning we played pickleball. Sister Thompson opted out but Elder Thompson came. LaDawn is nursing a sore achilles tendon so she is taking care not to injure it further. Always good to get out and get some blood pumping!

Elder Thompson, Elder Garrison, Elder Moomey, Sister Moomey, Sister Thompson, Me

Saturday was Christmas Eve and things began to slow down a bit for us, for which we were grateful. After pickleball early that morning, the Steinmetz’s arrived from Accra about 9:45 am. They had been with members of the Tamale District all week at the temple. Alex (mission driver) picked them up from the airport and brought them to our home. It was great having both the Thompson’s and the Steinmetz’s with us for a few days. That meant all of our couples were in one place – something that has not happened since they have all arrived.

Saturday afternoon I began to work on missionary letters. There were over 125 letters still unread due to the busy week. I could not see a way that I would be able to respond to all of them, so I sent a letter to everyone who had written to me and included an audio track of the Tabernacle Choir singing “For Unto Us A Child is Born”. Several of the missionaries brought that scripture as their ‘memorized scripture on Christ’ to our interview. The vast majority had never heard Handel’s masterpiece, so as a thank-you for writing, I sent the song. With between 125 – 160 letters every week, I simply cannot respond to all of them, and yet, I want the missionaries to know each week that I am reading their letters and appreciate the time they take to write to me. I did manage to get through all of them by Sunday afternoon responding here and there.

Saturday evening, we all went to Piri Piri and had dinner together. Always a fun meal. Following dinner, we came back to the Mission Home and had a nice Christmas Eve program. Everyone was able to share a favorite Christmas memory or story. Elder Thompson read us a book he had illustrated of a poem his great grandmother had written about Santa Claus getting stuck in a chimney. We sang, we prayed, we laughed, we remembered. It was wonderful.

On Sunday, we attended the Kwanwoma Branch where Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah serve. There were only about 40 there when the meeting started, but by the end there were more than 70. Quite some progress considering the branch is only 1 year old. The Branch President gathered everyone together after sacrament meeting and we took a picture of this incredible group of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday was not only Christmas, but also Sister Garrison’s birthday, so all of the couples got together at the Mission Home and celebrated her birthday and Christmas with a Mexican Meal. Sister Moomey made some delicious burritos. In addition we had salad, guacamole, and homemade tortilla chips (cut from local flatbread and baked), salad, beans, Spanish rice and salsa. All of this had to be made from local ingredients by our amazing Senior Missionary Sisters – including LaDawn – and to be honest it turned out to be a feast. For dessert, Sister Moomey made her famous chocolate cake. We had a great time celebrating both Christmas and Sister Garrison’s birthday.

And so another Christmas in Ghana has come and has gone. We really love the opportunity to be with the missionaries and the members at this incredible time of the year when so many are focused on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are grateful for the lack of commercialization of Christmas here and the ability to just stay focused on the simple, pure and life changing doctrine of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We love the increasing faith of the missionaries and the continued miracles they see each day that they are out doing the work they have been called to do. In the weekly letter I send out each Sunday evening, we decided it was time to build upon the progress we have made as a mission, so we invited the missionaries to participate in a 30 day fast. Not exactly what it sounds like. If you are interested you can read about it here. We continue. to be grateful to be engaged in this great work, Together in Ghana.

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