Sunyani

On Sunday we drove the 2 hours 10 minutes to Sunyani where we participated in a branch conference. We left Kumasi at 6:30 am and arrived at 8:40 am. The traffic was light, but just over half way there we encountered quite a bit of dense fog. Not that unusual for this time of year, but the denseness surprised us. Fortunately it only lasted about 5 miles and then it was gone. We attended the Nkwabeng Branch conference where the branch president, Michael Osei, was being released and a new president, Edmund Kwakye, who was serving as a member of the District Council was called and sustained. President Osei has served for almost 5 years and it was time for a change. The entire district presidency was there. I love the unity of this District Presidency and how they work together so well to make things better. After sacrament meeting I spent some time with the newly released branch president and then LaDawn and I drove over to the District Center for two more interviews.

One of the things we look for when we visit a branch is the “state of the building”. We want these buildings to be conducive to the Spirit of the Lord and be inviting. In the Nkwabeng building we have lighting and landscaping issues, something that Peter Amoah-Ohenakwa, our northern facilities manager, will quickly remedy.

Below is the new Branch President Edmund Kwakye and to the right of it is a snapshot of some of the fog we encountered on the way to Sunyani.

Felix Kofi Dza

At the district center, I interviewed Felix Kofi Dza. He is currently serving as the branch clerk of the Penkwase Branch and has been preparing for a mission. He now had everything together and was ready for his final interview with me. Since the publishing of the 17 points, and the foundation document from the Area Presidency on the importance of consecrated obedience by missionaries across the 17 missions in the area, I spend more time in the interview, going over each of the 17 points that we expect our missionaries to uphold. Since our 17 points are derived from the Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ and Preach My Gospel and the documents from the Area Presidency, I commit them to keep each of these points before I am willing to even start with the missionary interview. There is so much more we can do to help create and build expectations of missionary life long before they begin their service in the field. This is my attempt to do more. We have ordered the small booklets on the Missionary Standards for each of our districts to use in their missionary preparation classes so we see this only getting more engrained into the culture of missionary service. Like many places in the world, some care more about being a Returned Missionary than they do about being a Disciplined and Consecrated Missionary in the field. I only want to send those young men and young women out who are clear on their purpose and the “why” of their service.

I had another productive interview following this one with a member of the district that has had plenty of bumps in his road. I was grateful for his desire to turn off his existing road and onto one that has fewer bumps and a much better view.

The zone leaders had been asked to attend a leadership meeting with the district presidency and the branch presidents, so I took an opportunity to say hello to them and take a quick snapshot before we departed to head back home.

Elder Akpan and Elder Panton – our Sunyani Zone Leaders

On our way home, we stopped in Duayaw Nkwanta where we are currently building a new chapel. These buildings are so much more superior than the homes that we convert to meeting houses. We need more of them. We were really excited to see the progress on this building and the size and layout which will be an incredible blessing to the saints in that town.

We arrived back at the mission home around 3:45 pm. That gave me an opportunity to finish up the missionary letters and LaDawn time to work on the 2022 mission history and fix a delicious meal of quiche and bran muffins.

This past week was our transfer week, so quite a bit of activity through Thursday when we finished with the Mission Leadership Council. On Monday, we had the departing missionaries come into the Mission Office. They were supposed to be here by 3 pm, for a presentation and discussion on the resources the Church has to help a returning missionary land on his/her feet back home. This is especially relevant for the West African Missionaries. Unfortunately two of the elders went to get a haircut and missed the whole presentation. Two others were coming from Tamale and their bus was late. For the 5 who attended, they reported that this was extremely helpful to them.

Elder Franklin, Elder Sorbley, Sister Ngabola, Elder Mulambo, Elder Ipantiar – all returning missionaries participating in the Self-Reliance discussion

Following the discussion on Self-Reliance, we moved over to the Mission Home and enjoyed a delicious meal from Aboude’s. After about an hour of Preach My Gospel jeopardy, we presented each returning missionary with their scarf. For missionaries returning home, this is clearly an important occasion that they look forward to for 18 – 24 months. Their smiling faces say it all!

Back: Elder Mulambo (DR Congo), Elder Sorbley (Ghana), Elder Watch (New Zealand), Elder Sam (Ghana), Elder Adu (Ghana), Elder Franklin (Nigeria). Front: Elder Kabasubabu (DR Congo), Sister Ngabola (Zimbabwe), Elder Ipantiar (DR Congo)

As these 9 missionaries left, we had 16 new missionaries arrive the next morning at 10:20 am at the airport. All were coming from the MTC in Accra. This transfer marks a bit of a first for us, as we received 7 young men from Tonga, two of which have been serving for about a year in their country – due to trouble with visas. We are grateful for these young men, all born of goodly parents where the gospel was taught to them from a young age. We should also mention Elder Del Campo, our first Filipino missionary. We were to received a second Filipino who has already been serving, but his visa was delayed so he will come either this week or next. We were expecting to have to have a trio of elders, but on Saturday we received word that a missionary would be reassigned to our mission making our numbers even again. We love when that happens. This is a good group of missionaries. Based on interviews, interactions in the Orientation and Devotional, and their overall desire to do the work, we are grateful to be sent these young missionaries ready to get out and gather Israel.

Back: Elder Halahingano (Tonga), Elder Motuliki (Tonga), Elder Polaulu (Tonga), Elder Kangana (DR Congo), Elder Swaray (Liberia), Elder Mbala (DR Congo), Elder Togba (Liberia), Elder Taufu’i (Tonga) , Elder Lose (Tonga), Elder Brown (Tonga), Elder Lui (Tonga). Front: Elder Del Campo (Philippines), Sister Jallah (Liberia), Sister Alfian (Ghana), Sister Zimunhu (Zimbabwe), Sister Enokela (Nigeria)

After transfers on Wednesday, we learned that our three proposals for new groups had been approved by the Area Presidency. This was great news as it allows us to move missionaries to these places and significantly increase the growth of the Districts. Bosomioso in Bibiani, Nkoransa in Techiman, and Akrofuom in Obuasi have all been approved. We are now working on places for them to meet and apartments for the missionaries. We have more of these we need to do and are grateful to see the movement and growth of the Church in the Districts. The rest of the day on Wednesday, I worked on MLC for the next day (baptismal statistics for the month and year, transfer goal results, Vision refresh discussion, preparing for role plays, and one minute drills while LaDawn worked on scheduling interviews for the transfer.

On Thursday, we had a wonderful Mission Leadership Council. We welcomed four new zone leaders (Elder Sehi, Elder Diakulayi, Elder Ross, and Elder Toe). The Assistants gave a wonderful instruction titled, “Onto the Next….”. This was focused on how we should be using our time effectively. It was wonderful. Here is what the Agenda looked like for the day.

Introductions and Welcome
Vision Refresh (5 scriptures in relation to “Facing the Savior” – the centerpiece of our Vision)
Fulfilling our Purpose through Technology (MLC’s use of their phones and how to lift the mission away from this personal dependency on chatting with friends and family all week)
Accountability (Transfer goals and statistics)
Training on new key indicators (Two new key indicators introduced. Lessons with members and new converts attending sacrament meeting)
On to the Next – Assistants (Effective use of our time)
Revelatory Planning – Follow-up (Helping our missionaries with better daily planning)
The Perfect Exchange (Preparing for exchanges with inspired goals and topics)
Upcoming Zone Conferences (Schedule of Jan – Feb zone conferences)
Lunch
Role Plays and 1 minute drills (Role-plays: Companionship Inventory, Extending invitations. 1 minute drills on: The Great Apostasy, Faith in Jesus Christ, The Creation )
Back: Elder Tano, Elder Anderson, Elder Bayles, Elder Ross, Elder Griffin, Elder Buchanan, Elder Lucero, Elder Clegg, Elder Toe, Elder Hale, Elder Amoah, Elder Komba. Middle: Elder Harnois, Elder Sehi, Elder Akpan, Elder Panton, Elder Brima, Elder Diakulayi, Elder Oduro, Elder Barton, Elder Brigham, Elder Nelson. Front: Sister Opa, Sister Kakou, Sister Diamonds, Sister Mukwaira, Sister Okumah-Boyd, Sister Apana, Sister Opare, Sister Damsa.

You might also notice in the picture that we have added a “17 points” flag. It is just one more way we are trying to keep the new wind blowing. A special thanks to Sister Moomey who arranged with a seamstress to have it designed and made to match the picture that Elder Doug Thompson painted for us.

This past week, there was a significant problem with electricity in the entire area where we live. The 220 volts of power that come into homes here is three phase power. One of the phases dropped and for a while we only had 115 volts. Which would be okay in the states, but here everything runs on 220 volts, so it was as if there was no power. It started on Wednesday afternoon when the power began to fluctuate and we had to run the generator from then until sometime Sunday (we were in Sunyani when the power came back on). Interestingly enough, our prepaid power was low, so we knew we needed to buy more power. We went to two places were we can purchase it, but because the power was out for them (do you see the irony in this?) they could not sell us power, which quite honestly wasn’t available anyway. We finally found a small store with a generator that could sell us the power. Usually the network carries the purchased amount directly to our meter, but because there was no power, we had to use the card that has our meter number on it (we present it when we buy power) on Sunday by touching it to the meter and allowing the meter to read the new amount of purchased electricity. It is actually quite sophisticated – much more so than the electrical grid itself.

On Friday we became concerned as the diesel in the generator was getting low. The guards and the man who does the landscaping (President Duah – he serves as the branch president of the Adankwame Branch) emptied the last of the diesel stored in 55 gallon drums and put it into the generator (the old fashioned way). I knew unless we would get diesel on Saturday, the generator would run out before the day was over. Fortunately, our southern facilities manager, Aaron Allotey was able to get a guy to come over in his “bike truck” on Saturday morning and with one of our guards went and filled the barrels back up with diesel and brought them back. The Saturday afternoon guards then refilled the generator.

On Friday morning I also had my bi-monthly 1:1 meeting with Elder Klebingat. These are such great meetings, albeit only 30 minutes long. It is a chance to talk through some of the challenges we are having in the Districts and get his advice on how to address them. His influence on this mission with the creation of the 17 points and keeping the new wind blowing has been “life-mission” changing. Surely he was sent to Africa, among other things, “for such a time as this” to provide direction and encouragement to change mission cultures in all of the Africa West Area to one of greater discipleship. We will forever be grateful for our mission tour this year with both him and Sister Klebingat where these changes were highlighted and implementation started.

With the passing of the week, we completed our 14th transfer since our arrival. How things have changed since we first came! The biggest change is mostly in us as we continue to learn how to be better and more effective mission leaders. We have also seen the changes in the mission as the missionaries become more committed to their missionary purpose. With the changing of all four district presidents and the creation of the 5th district, we have 5 new district presidents that are breathing new life into their districts and branches. We have so far to go as a mission before we are where the Lord wants us to be – and where the Church needs to be – in order to be considered fully established, but we are on the right path and progress is visible. We are grateful to be a part of this amazing effort to gather Israel, one last time, Together in Ghana.

One thought on “Sunyani

  1. Great progress.

    Interesting to see the sources of the latest arrivals, especially Tonga and Liberia. So great that there are worthy willing to serve from those areas.

    Appreciated you sharing the energy challenges. We take things like that so much for granted. Many will be taken aback over the next year as such things will become more of a challenge. Kudos to those who live with those challenges already. They are prepared.

    Thanks for sharing your journaling of your experiences. Much to be gleaned from.

    Like

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