On to the Next…

This week we began our next round of zone conferences. The title of this blogpost was the theme of this round of conferences. This was a theme selected by the Assistants based on the needs of the mission. The focus of the instruction covered the effective use of our time. There were five main headlines in this instruction: 1) Goal Setting. 2) Planning with the Lord. 3) The Lord”s Schedule. 4) Finding the Elect. 5) Accountability. The Assistants presented the first 30 minutes and then the Sister Training Leaders at each conference led a 30 minute discussion based on three questions. 1) What things do we do that is not an effective use of our time? 2) What solutions can address these issues? 3) What will each missionary personally do the implement the solutions we discussed? The hour spent was a productive use of our time and we are grateful for the outstanding way these mission leaders take responsibility to lift the entire mission. I missed snapping a picture of Sister Damsa and Sister J. Opare leading the instruction in the Dichemso – Suame Conference.

We started the conference with Elder and Sister Moomey providing a quiz to the missionaries to see how much they understand about keeping themselves healthy and safe and the processes around contacting the Moomey. It was well done and the missionaries enjoyed the interaction.

Next up, I discussed the new key indicators established by the Missionary Department to help in the retention of new converts. The new indicators are: 1) Lessons taught with a member present. 2) Sacrament Meeting attendance of converts baptized in the last 12 months. While we rolled out the “what” and much of the “how” much earlier, this training was focused on the “why”. We are confident these two new key indicators will have a positive impact on the retention of new converts. In conjunction with the sharing of this PowerPoint, I also shared the two new applications that were developed to help in the retention process. Covenant Path Progress is an applications built into Area Book for the missionaries and member tools and Leader Clerk Resources for new members and leaders. There is also a new application in Gospel Library called “My Covenant Path” that is available to everyone. It is a wonderful resource of 19 learning experiences to help a new convert acclimate to the culture of the Church and the Gospel.

Following the discussion of the new key indicators and the applications to support them, I talked about the doctrine behind the appropriate and meaningful use of technology. For many of our missionaries, using the phone only to support their missionary purpose is a challenge. I asked the following questions and we then read and discussed scriptures that declare the doctrine.

  • To what source do we look for Salvation?
  • From whom do we seek praise?
  • What is our focus?
  • To whom and for what are we accountable?

We also talked about the relationship the missionaries are to have with the office elders and clarified that they work for me and not for them (a common misunderstanding). I concluded this section with the doctrine behind the dress and grooming standards of the mission. Proper length hair and skirts for the sisters, shaving daily and proper length slacks for the elders were the key points addressed.

From there, I did a vision refresh, this time focusing it solely on Facing the Savior and scriptures that help us to understand His role in our lives. Next week I will share the scriptures we discussed as we still have two zone conferences this week.

Following my discussion on the Mission Vision, we did an “Hurrah for Israel” shout. Sister Moomey arranged with a tailor to make a “17 Points” flag . Elder Amoah and Elder Harnois “modeled” the flag as it is in the picture that was drawn by Elder Doug Thompson which you can see here. Below are the shouts from all three conferences. I think the shout got better with each conference.

I love the spirit of this shout. It reminds me of the sacrifice made by so many over the last nearly 200 years to leave their families and often go to a strange land and a completely different culture to proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ is again restored to the earth.

Just thinking about these sacrifices and the work we are engaged in to gather Israel one last time brings joy as these valiant missionaries stand and enthusiastically shout: Hurrah for Israel!

Hurrah for Israel! – University and Konongo Zones
Hurrah for Israel – Dichemso and Suame Zones
Hurrah for Israel! – Bantama, Bibiani, and Obuasi Zones

LaDawn led a wonderful discussion on “Righteousness” and tied it into the Armor of God which we talked about at the last zone conference. While I didn’t manage to snap a picture of her presenting, I did get a picture of the board that outlines the discussion she led. I was her scribe as she interacted with the missionaries on the topic. Each board is different based on the discussion held. This one is from the Dichemso – Suame Conference.

Following lunch, we did some one minute drills. This time the principles we reviewed were: The Creation, The Great Apostasy, and Faith in Jesus Christ. We have more work to do. We have decided at the start of the next transfer we will give assignments to the district leaders and the mission as a whole about how to study these principles and then how to effectively use District Council to practice them. In each zone conference, we had a discussion about how the missionaries teach the Great Apostasy. The way it is usually taught is by holding three fingers underneath a pamphlet. The three fingers represent three things: Apostles, Prophets, Jesus Christ. Or Authority, Prophets and Apostles, and Jesus Christ. Or Apostles and Prophets, Revelation, and Authority. Or some combination. It is completely inconsistent. Their point is when one was taken away (e.g., Jesus Christ, or Apostles, or Prophets, or Authority, or Revelation) the church collapsed and fell into apostasy. For me, I cannot see any combination of these things that make this object lesson work. Apostolic authority was taken with the death of the last apostle (one might say even when there was no longer a quorum), so those two things went at the same time. Even through Jesus Christ was killed and left the earth, he is not on the earth today and the Church and revelation continue to function. When authority was taken away with the death of the apostles, revelation would have likely continued with righteous individuals, but not for the entire Church. This was something the missionaries in Sierra Leone constantly used and I was always confused by it. I have requested that the missionaries in our mission stop using it. I think it constitutes false doctrine at worst, or incomplete or misleading doctrine at best. I was surprised at the pushback. We just want them to teach the doctrine as recorded in Preach My Gospel. Here is what it says:

After the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted the Apostles and Church members and killed many of them. With the death of the Apostles, priesthood keys and the presiding priesthood authority were taken from the earth. The Apostles had kept the doctrine of the gospel pure and maintained the order and standard of worthiness for Church members. Without the Apostles, over time the doctrine was corrupted, and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances, such as baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost.

After the one minute drills, we moved into role playing companionship inventories which is another tool in our Mission Toolbox. We have come to clearly see that when companionships are not unified, the work moves to a very slow crawl. “If ye receive not the spirit, ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14). Therefore, we had Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah do a very poor companionship inventory and then they followed that with the principles of a good inventory. We invited two more missionaries (not companions) up and they then did a role play based on a scenario we had come up with. These role plays were done quite well. We then had every missionary in the mission get with another missionary (not their companion) and do the role play. It turned out really well and we hope that the missionaries will be able to take this back to their own companionships.

To end the conference, I led a discussion for about 45 minutes on having meaningful prayer. I loved the spirit and attentiveness of the missionaries during this instruction. This is something we can all do better at. I will give a more complete picture of this instruction in our post next week.

For whatever reason, these zone conferences really took a lot out of us. We literally fell into bed early each night after returning to the Mission Home. I did interviews after each conference (4 on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday and 6 on Thursday) and then on Friday we started early at 7:45 am interviewing the 8 Sefwi Bekwai and Wiawso elders and then moved to the Asouyeboa building and interviewed 8 more who serve in that area. Every interview during the week was good. Not that the missionaries are perfect (who is?) but because they are striving to do their best and becoming better along the way. We love these young single adults who willingly come here to Ghana and serve the Lord for 18 months or 2 years.

On Saturday we caught our breath. We ran a few errands, had a delicious dinner of shrimp enchiladas (we invited over the Moomey’s and Garrison’s since they often invite us). I worked on missionary letters and prepared this week’s letter that I send every Sunday night. On Sunday, we attended Church in the Kromase and Agric Wards and enjoyed the excellent sacrament meetings. We also loved seeing Sister Ita, Sister Muwenge, Sistere Kabama, and Sister Kekula. The rest of the day I worked on missionary letters and then met with the Assistants from 7:00 – 9:15 talking about transfers, District Councils, and the zone conferences we just had. I am so grateful for Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah. These are faithful elders who love the Lord and love this work.

I need to back up to Monday. The highlight of the week really happened early Monday morning 4:50 am Ghana time. Our 26th grandchild was born to Chase and Heidi. Nolan Wyatt Kunz weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 22 inches long. Heidi had a rough labor and eventually they had to take him by Caesarean Section. We are so grateful that everything turned out okay. One more blessing from a God who loves all His children.

Nolan Wyatt Kunz, born January 22, 2023 at 10:50 pm Central Standard Time.

The other thing that happened on Monday morning was a short celebration for Kweku Dadzie-Cooper, our Mission Facilities Manager. Cooper has been outstanding in helping us get all of the work done necessary to make a mission run smoothly. Apartments, appliances, vehicles, maintenance, and negotiations. We are grateful for him. He recently completed 10 years as the Mission FM and as a result his leaders in Accra sent him a nice plaque that we were fortunate enough to be asked to give to him. Sister Garrison did a nice job of making it into a celebration and we were able to have some of the men he works with along with our assistants, the office elders, and another companionship that works close by who had been playing basketball attend.

This next week we head to the North for zone conferences in Tamale and Sunyani and interviews in both of those places as well as Techiman. We are so grateful for this call to serve the amazing missionaries and members of the Ghana Kumasi Mission. All pulling as ONE to establish Zion, Together in Ghana.

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