In 1973, the Carpenters released a song titled “Yesterday Once More”. I must have listened to that album 100 times that summer of 1973. And while the song had to do with listening to “old songs” on the radio, there are a few lines that we can apply to this week.
Those were such happy times
And not so long ago
How I wondered where they’d gone
But they’re back again
Just like a long-lost friend
Now we do not mean that these are words that we would be singing right now, but it made us think about how we might feel 5-7 years from now. On Saturday night we were privileged to host Mike and Cindy Cosgrave. They served as the second set of Mission Leaders in the Ghana Kumasi Mission from 2015 – 2018. They are back in Ghana for a few days as part of an NGO that develops schoolyard merry go rounds that generate electricity as the students play on them. This electricity is then used to charge battery powered lanterns that the students take home so they can study in the evenings after it gets dark. This project targets schools in remote areas where electricity is unavailable. The Konongo Stake Clerk, Richard Koomson, works for the company called EPI for short, but the company’s name is Empower Playgrounds Inc. The Cosgrave’s are involved in the project and made the trip to Ghana to attend some meetings. Richard mentioned that the company has already installed some 68 playgrounds in Ghana and are looking to do more. A lot more! What a terrific project. Upon further research, it turns out these merry go rounds were developed by BYU engineering students. You can read more about that here.
While most of the week was filled with missionary interviews, we did have an unusual Zoom meeting on Friday night with the Area Presidency and the Area Seventies. The Area Seventies meet on a regular interval with the Area Presidency to get direction and training. On Friday, the missionary department introduced two new tools that were released the prior day to the missions and stakes in West Africa. The first is called Covenant Path Tracker. It is built into Area Book for missionaries and into Member Tools for districts and stakes. This “app” helps to track the progress of members (are they attending sacrament meeting, do they have a calling, have they made friends, etc). An individual can track their own progress through member tools and opt out if they prefer. The second is called My Covenant Path and is a part of Gospel Library under “Adults” and then “New or Returning Members”. This is an excellent resource that can really help a newly baptized member or even a returning member who has been away for a time, understand the church organization, resources, and principles much better. It covers everything from learning about Gospel Study resources to what it means to be Self-Reliant. It is an excellent resource!
On Tuesday, we attended the University District Council where Elder E. Smith is the District Leader. The meeting was well planned and well run. Elder Hoyt was asked to provide the instruction on the two new key indicators that missionaries are now tracking. In addition to the new tools mentioned above, missionaries are now asked to track the number of lessons with a member present and the sacrament meeting attendance of new converts up to 12 months after their baptism. These two new key indicators, along with the previously mentioned new tools will go a long way to make sure we nourish new converts so that they not only come and see, but that they come and stay. The Atonsu District doesn’t usually meet at the stake center, but because we had interviews that day, they held their district council in the room across the hall from the University District. We have to say these 12 interviews were just excellent. These missionaries are working hard to be disciples of Jesus Christ and it shows in their countenance, in their smiles, and in their efforts – and even in their phone checks!
On Wednesday, we drove to the Dichemso Stake Center and held 12 more interviews. Unfortunately we forgot to snap pictures of the first four (Sister Lalugba, Sister Houana, Sister Konoekor, and Sister Cinguta). These also were great interviews.
On Thursday we traveled to Effiduase and Kwamo for the remainder of the 14 missionaries serving in the University Zone. Another long day, but really good. We love the feel of the mission right now and the direction the missionaries are taking it with their desire to love, serve, teach, and baptize the elect.
On Friday we traveled first to Atafoa and interviewed the 6 missionaries serving there and then we drove out to the Suame Stake Center where we had to climb over the cement block fence to get in since all of the gates were locked and none of the missionaries had a key. It wasn’t the first time. This was our longest day of the week, interviewing 18 missionaries. So while I was sure we took pictures of everyone, they are not on either of our phones. Another mystery (or I am getting forgetful – or both!). Those not in these pictures are Elder Udo and Elder Medina, Elder Wakaya and Elder Farley, Elder Ndala and Elder von Niederhausern, and zone leaders Elder Brima, and Elder Ross.
On Saturday, we had a chance to spend some time preparing for zone conferences that will start next Tuesday. I was also able to finish reading and responding to all of the missionary letters as well as prepare the weekly letter to the missionaries. I spent a lot of time on this particular message because I needed to understand it better myself. That meant research, study, cross referencing and listening to the Spirit. It was born out of a panel discussion at our Mission Leader Seminar in 2021 and I knew it was something that could help us as a mission. It is titled, “Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength”.
On Sunday, we traveled to Dunkwa to attend church. I had an appointment with a member which was held after the church meetings were over. This is the branch where Elder Walker, one of our missionaries, is the branch president. He is doing a great job and it was wonderful to be with him and the other three missionaries who serve there.
I really love the insights that the missionaries bring to our interviews with the scripture they have memorized for the transfer. For me, I have memorized a scripture on justice and judgment found in Jude 1:14-15. I think this is powerful in understanding the high expectations that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have of all of us. The missionaries continue to bring insights on things I have never considered. It is a feast to sit with these disciples of Jesus Christ and hear them expound the gospel to me. This is our joy and this is the work we are called to do. Perhaps there will be a day when we think on “Yesterday Once More”, but for now, we are ALL IN for TODAY, Together in Ghana.