Temple Fast

On the 4th of April 2021, the Ghana Kumasi Temple was announced at General Conference. That was almost two years ago and still we have no word on where or when the temple will be built. In an effort to expedite the building of the temple, a decision was taken by the Ghana Kumasi Coordinating Council under the direction of Elder Patrick Appianti to call for all members in the boundaries of the Kumasi Coordinating Council to participate in a fast on February 5th. The prayers sent heavenward petitioned Heavenly Father that whatever barriers are keeping the land for the temple from being procured and the actual construction to commence, be removed. As a Coordinating Council we first fasted together on January 22nd for this same blessing. We then extended that to all of the stakes, wards, districts, and branches to join us again on the February 5th. Whatever struggle is keeping the land where the temple is to be built from being purchased, we know that our God can, without infringing on anyone’s agency, influence the right people to soften their heart so the temple site can be purchased. We will continue to plead for this blessing with an overriding desire that the will of God be done and not our own. We met in our in Coordinating Council meeting on Sunday (Feb 5th) for the very purpose of being together as we fasted and prayed for this great blessing.

On Sunday, we attended church in the Atonsu Ward. This is where Elder Graham and Elder Uduma are serving. It was a good sacrament service and the Sunday School lesson, although much of in in Twi, was also very well done and we were able to participate in it small small (as we say in Ghana).

With that as a highlight of the week, we want to back up to Monday. At 5:20 pm we were at the airport to meet Elder Prince Tuhod who is our second Filipino Missionary. Elder Tuhod has been serving in the Philippines Bagio Mission awaiting his yellow fever vaccine so he could travel to Ghana. While he received it in December, it still took some time to get the visa and invitation letter. With the Christmas holidays, everything slowed down and it wasn’t until January 30th that he was able to get to Kumasi. We are grateful to have him. We decided to put him with Elder Reynolds who is serving in Techiman with Elder Mukanya. Since we wouldn’t have zone conference until Friday, we kept them in a trio so Elder Mukanya could attend before leaving. We transferred him to be with Elder Lawson and Elder Davis in Pakyi Branch in the Bantama Stake, where we had the zone conference the previous week. He was able to travel back to Kumasi with the office elders after the conference.

Tuesday morning we arose early and left at 6:00 am to drive the 2.5 hours to Techiman where we stopped at Elder and Sister Thompson’s home and had interviews with 10 missionaries. We then jumped back in the car and drove the remaining four hours to Tamale and interviewed 10 more. It was a long day! We were grateful for the safety we enjoyed and the goodness of the missionaries we interviewed.

On Wednesday, we held the Tamale Zone Conference and on Friday we held the Sunyani / Techiman confernce. Same program as last week. I promised that this week I would add the scriptures I used to discuss the doctrine behind the appropriate use of technology. I really loved this discussion and it reinforced to me just how powerful doctrine is in terms of changing behavior.

Using Technology Appropriately as a Missionary

  • To what source do we look for Salvation? (Acts 4:12)
  • From whom do we seek praise? (John 12:42-43; 2 Tim 3:1-5; D&C 121:34-36)
  • What is our focus? (Numbers 15:39; Psalm 63:1; Matt 6:33)
  • To whom and for what are we accountable? (Matt 12:36; 2 Corinthians 5:10;  2 Corinthians 9:6)

Since there is a general misunderstanding in the mission that the office elders work for the missionaries, we clarified that they work for us and are an extension of our work as Mission Leaders. We used Matthew 5:22 as the doctrine underpinning the expectations we have that the missionaries treat the office elders with respect. Some think that office elders do little except sit in an air conditioned office all day. Elder Beck and Elder Njirayafa have baptized 12 converts over the past two transfers, a good indicator of their efforts outside of the office. We also discussed dress and grooming standards using Psalm 32:2; 1 Peter 2:22; and Matthew 7:22-23.

In my preparations for this round of conferences, I found a quote from Elder Maxwell that I just love. It is was quoted by President Tanner from a private letter written to him by Elder Maxwell. It is outstanding and certainly conveys the feelings we have for this work and the missionaries with whom we serve.

“The leader who is willing to say things that are hard to bear, but which are true and which need to be said, is the leader who truly loves his people and who is kind to them. Nothing is more cruel than that leader who, in order to have the praise and plaudits of his followers, entices them from safety into the swamp out of which some may never return. The straight and narrow way is just that—straight and narrow. It is an arduous up-hill journey. The way to hell is broad and wide and slopes ever so gently, and those who walk that path scarcely notice the descent; sometimes they don’t notice the descent because praise of men distracts them and they do not see the warning signs! The choice is still between the golden calf and the Ten Commandments.” (Unpublished letter dated Aug. 12, 1975, “Some Thoughts,” from Neal A. Maxwell to President Tanner.)

The Tamale Zone with Elder Diakuilayi holding the new 17 Points flag
Sunyani and Techiman Zones with Elder Panton holding the 17 Points flag

We followed the discussion on underlying doctrine to the expectations we have of the mission with the “Hurrah for Israel” shout in both conferences. Since I included all three from last week, I decided to include both from this week as well. Thanks to LaDawn for capturing these spirit filled moments.

Tamale Zone Conference “Hurrah for Israel” shout
Sunyani / Techiman zones “Hurrah for Israel” shout

The Assistants and Sister Training Leaders then followed with the instruction of ‘On to the Next…” where the focus was on how can we use the Lord’s time more effectively. In Tamale, Sister Lenga and Sister Eme provided the instruction since we don’t have Sister Training Leaders that come to Tamale due to distance. Both the instructions in Tamale and Sunyani were excellent.

Following the instruction of “On to the Next…”, LaDawn presented her discussion on Righteousness. It is always a highlight!

Elder Dube doing a “1 minute drill”

In both conferences we had time to do “1 Minute Drills” on three of the 42 principles in Preach My Gospel. This time around we focused on The Great Apostasy, The Creation, and Faith in Jesus Christ. We have much work to do, especially relating to Faith in Jesus Christ. While it is by far the most important principle we teach, it is the one we know the least. We have decided we will do a mission wide focus on three principles a week with “1 minute drills” following each week in District Councils. We are convinced that if we can get to the point of teaching the principles better, those we teach will be better at keep commitments.

In Tamale we didn’t have time to get to The Creation principle, but because the food was over 30 minutes late in Sunyani, we were able to do all three. The Creation only consists of 3 concepts, so most missionaries have that one down cold. Faith in Jesus Christ, on the other hand, has between 10-13 key concepts (depending on who is teaching) and we usually do good to get half of them.

In both conferences we focused our role-play exercise on “Companionship Inventory”. In Sunyani we had enough time to do a refresh on extending invitations. We are working to figure out how best to practice these more and more and will also bring the role-plays into district councils next transfer as well. Here are the missionaries practicing a companionship inventory with another missionary (not their companion).

Over these four days, I conducted 60 interviews of missionaries and LaDawn completed 30 phone checks. It was exhausting but glorious. After the zone conference in Sunyani we had quite the storm hit us. I was doing interviews and had to move because the rain was pouring down and the wind blowing so hard that the walkway where I sit for interviews was being pounded. It lasted for about 45 minutes and brought much needed moisture, but what a show! This was the second gusher we have experienced in the middle of the dry season. Very strange indeed.

The Tyco Hotel where we usually stay was booked up with a convention of some sort, so we went to our 1 star backup hotel The Glamossay. The beds are hard, the a/c was limping, the shower curtain was a foot shorter than it needed to be (and extended beyond the confines of the shower base) and the water gets turned off from midnight to 5 am. But the food is great, the people are friendly and we always enjoy the adventure of it all. We stayed two nights and I managed to get up both mornings early enough to go for a 2 mile run (okay, I did walk some of it). The sunrise was beautiful and it made me again appreciate all of the beauty that surrounds us no matter where we are in this glorious planet we call home.

While in Tamale I managed to get in some exercise as well and snapped an early morning sunrise there also. The day we drove back from Tamale and ended in Techiman (Feb 2) I caught some young men playing basketball at the District Center as I wrapped up interviews. Whether sunrise or sunset, the sky puts on a show during Harmattan due to all the dust in the air.

We arrived back home in Kumasi at 2:30 pm on Saturday. We had 10 interviews in Sunyani Saturday morning before driving to Kumasi. What a great week being with these amazing missionaries, including the Thompson’s and the Steinmetz’s.

After returning home, I spent time trying to read as many letters from missionaries as possible. With the schedule last week I had very little time to read and respond to letters. I received 123 and by Saturday evening I had only read 34. Whenever I cannot get through all of them by Sunday evening, I send a note out to all those who wrote and explain that I will not be able to respond to all of them. I always try to download a talk or some music to send to them to let them know how much I appreciate the time they took to write to me. This week, I downloaded the Tabernacle Choir singing “My Redeemer Lives“, Hymn #135. This is a hymn written by President Hinckley and the music was written by G. Homer Durham, a former missionary companion, lifelong friend, and General Authority at the time (1983). Elder Durham wrote the music to the words while on a stake conference assignment. I think it is the only hymn that can make the claim that it was written by a missionary companionship.

The other thing I did on Saturday afternoon was write my weekly letter to the missionaries. Now this is something I do every single week, but on Saturday, something was different. It had been both a fast, short week, and a long, tiring week. I usually just look back through my scripture study for the week until I find the scripture that I feel prompted to write about. This week it was from John 6:57. I found it through my study of the scriptures on Jesus Christ, Messenger of the Covenant in the Topical Guide. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” I have to say, I was a bit discouraged when the spirit prompted me to write about this scripture. I knew it was going to take me a couple of hours to fully understand it enough to be worthy of sending to the missionaries, and I was tired. But the prompting was clear and so I proceeded to research and study the verse – and the topic of the sacrament. While I had no idea where this would take me, I pushed on. At the conclusion, I stood in amazement at what I had just learned. If you are interested, you can read the letter here titled “Live by Me”. The short version is that we make a new covenant each week as we partake of the sacrament. It is not just about renewing old covenants, but making a new one each week.

This is one of our favorite things about serving as a Mission Leaders. The heavens seem more open than at any time in our lives. What the Lord is revealing to us through His spirit is worth every sleepless night, every difficult experience, every long road trip, and every new challenge that we face. We stand as witnesses that this Church is led by prophets and apostles who receive revelation from Jesus Christ. And as members of His Church, we rejoice in the continuous revelation and understanding He willingly pours out on the least of all members who are willing to ask. Hurrah for Israel, Together in Ghana!!!

5 thoughts on “Temple Fast

  1. This is great, sweet experience. Please president how can I get the letter sent to John Tanner from Neal A Maxwell I have come to learn from you John 6:57…. Live by Me


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