This post is for the week of February 13th – 19th. Due to the sensitivity of the events of the week, we will not post it on Facebook.
We really struggled to find a title for last week’s blog. We finally decided on the title of “The Unweek” because it ties into the scripture that I memorized and shared with all of the missionaries in our interviews last transfer. It is from Jude 1:14-15:
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
I only memorized these two verses, but it is actually the next verse (16) that explains who these ungodly are: “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”
So as I explained these verses of scripture (it is in the Topical Guide under Jesus Christ, Judgment), we would always talk about the word “ungodly” and its meaning. That would bring us to a brief definition of the prefix “un”, which means “not”. These verses, originally from Enoch and quoted by Jude are terrific in helping us understand some of the issues that were “not of God” occurring in the early Church between 60 – 89 AD. I think it is fair to say that these “ungodly” activities continue in the Church today. I know we have them in our mission.
It was through the repetition of these verses and discussing the word “ungodly” that we decided that a good title for this week’s blogpost would be “unweek”, in other words, not really a normal week. What we mean by that is there were so many things that happened this past week that were unusual and we cannot elaborate on. We will however, give you a flavor of what we dealt with. 1) A whitewash of an area a week before general transfers due to accusations and gossip resulting in a chain reaction of additional missionary movements. 2) The initial receipt of a phone record that was different from what the missionary had reported to me. 3) Receiving the first phone record, led me to requesting two additional statements which showed significant misuse of phones between two different missionaries, breaking several of the 17 points of consecrated obedience. 4) Discussions first with missionaries who did not know I had the phone records and then subsequent discussions with stake presidents and our infield representative about appropriate consequences. 5) Discussions with parents about release dates. 6) Working out logistic details to execute the consequences. 7) Receiving a missionary in from another mission and getting him and his companion into a new area. 8) Dealing with a sensitive medical issue with a missionary and his priesthood leader back home and the emotional trauma and paperwork associated with deciding whether to do surgery infield or back at home. 9) The holding of a membership council – with the happy result of reinstatement. 10) Interviewing a man in one of our Districts who had made some mistakes in the past and now wanted to repent – a joyful event!
While these 10 events consumed much of the week, it was also the week before transfers requiring the finalization of the transfer board and then contacting the 40 missionaries impacted by a change in their leadership assignment (callings and releases – mostly done on Saturday). Also on Saturday, I spent a few hours working on the weekly letter, this one titled, “Becoming Like Christ“.
Just one more event on Saturday morning (Feb 18th). I had attended the coordinating council meeting two weeks prior with our Area Seventy and the stake presidents, so on Saturday we joined the District Presidents together on Zoom and I shared all of the information with them from the Coordinating Council Meeting. This was the first time we did this, and I need to do more of it as it is so helpful to keep the District Presidents abreast of all the same things as the stake presidents. I am so grateful for these good men who serve faithfully and selflessly in their efforts to grow their districts in spiritual strength and new converts.
Sunday morning we arose early and left at 6:15 am for Techiman where we attended the Vatican City Branch. It is in this branch that our Sister Training Leaders (Sister Opa and Sister Kakou) and one other sister companionship (Sister Chimhepo and Sister Aruna) serve. It was good to be with them. The sacrament meeting was well done.
After both meetings, we drove over to the Kenten Branch. Sister Chimhepo and Sister Aruna had scheduled a baptism of Solomon who is someone the Sisters began teaching several months ago but would never come to church. We counseled them to leave him alone for a few weeks and let the spirit continue to work on him. We find quite often that people love for the missionaries to come see them – constantly promising to come to church, but always having a reason why they could not come. We have come to understand that this is often because the light the missionaries bring is filling a void for those being taught and they don’t really feel like they need to do anything more to generate their own light. However, take that light away for a few weeks and they begin to realize how much they miss it. This will often bring them to come to church on their own. Such was the case with Solomon. At the Kenten Branch, the zone leaders joined for the baptism and Elder Hale performed it. Because I had other duties to attend to, the Thompson’s took LaDawn with them back to their apartment.
After the previously mentioned membership council, I had a chance to meet the two Melchizedek Priesthood holders from Nkoransa. This is a brand new area in the Techiman District that we are excited about. Emmanuel Adunkwaa and Samuel Agyei-Baffoe are two wonderful men who will really help the Church grow in Nkoransa. I was able to have temple recommend interviews with both of them.
Following the temple recommend interviews, I went with President Tony Adu (District President) and President Gabriel Mainoo (Kenten Branch President) to look at some land for a new chapel for Kenten Branch (which we desperately need). These good men took me to two available lots and it was obvious that the first was the better choice as it was off of the very busy and very noisy main road through Techiman. We need to determine how noisy it is on Sunday since there is a Winner’s Chapel church behind the lot as well as a building under construction next to it that we want to know what will go there. I might also mention that this lot has been used as a mechanics shop, so there is a lot of spilled oil on the ground. In America, this may be considered a Superfund site. Here, it will be ignored and a new building constructed without a second thought.
I stopped by the Thompson’s where a wonderful plate of spaghetti awaited me (Thank you Sister Thompson!) and picked up LaDawn and we headed back to Kumasi at 2:45 pm, arriving home at 5:30 pm. It had been a very good day. At 7 pm the Assistants came over and we finalized the Mission Leadership Council to be held the upcoming Thursday (Feb 23rd). We slept well that night!
We might also mention that with Sunday being the last weekend of the transfer, there were a lot of baptisms planned across the mission. The Assistants, despite their heavy load in helping to lead the mission, still managed to baptize 12. They are amazing missionaries. Elder Twum and Elder Rawson out in Seneagya also baptized 12. Elder Beck and Elder Njirayafa (our office elders) baptized 8. Elder Utley and Elder Mordey in Aputuagya and a new area called Behenaisse baptized 9. It was an amazing weekend of new covenants being made and new converts being helped onto the covenant path.
Three other events we will mention. The first is our attendance at the Daban district council on Tuesday. This consists of the Assistants, the Office Elders, and the Aboabo Elders. Having this district council at the Mission Office really saves a lot of travel time for all of them. It was done perfectly and all were edified.
The second event we will mention is the mission devotional that was held on Tuesday following District Council. Our friend Eric Andreason shared a marvelous message with the missionaries about Love and Power in the Priesthood. He shared many wonderful messages, we will only mention two. First, the question “How do we love God?” The answer? Faith, Repentance, Obedience. We love the simplicity of this answer! Second, “Repentance is a willingness to give away everything to know Christ” . He traced the flow of love and power for us from the Book of Mormon: Abinadi -> Alma -> Alma prayed for his son -> Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah -> Mission to the Lamanites -> Stripling Warriors. The point being that Love and Power in the Priesthood has generational effects. It was an uplifting and joyous hour that he spent with us. We are so grateful to call him our friend.
On Thursday, we were able to speak with the Loveland’s. Kraig and I grew up together and was an amazing example to me as a youth. He and his wonderful wife Maggie will be coming to replace the Moomey’s in April. We are so grateful for their willingness to serve and grateful to be reunited for a season in this great cause.
Immediately following our Zoom call with the Loveland’s, we held our regular Couples Council (also over Zoom). I am not sure how I missed taking a picture, but it appears I did. The second best thing we can do is share the agenda that we discussed. These couples make a huge difference for us in the mission and we are extremely grateful for them and to them for their service. Each one of them is making a significant contribution in their field of labor and based on the talents they have been blessed with. It is absolutely delightful working with each of them.
And that is want “The Unweek” looks like. We continue to be grateful for the good times, the hard times, the sad times, and the joyful times. There is unquestionably ups and downs to be experienced as mission leaders. But we are incredibly blessed to have this front row seat as the Church expands across Ghana and across Africa. Being able to be “Together in Ghana”, engaged in this great work of gathering Israel one last time is the greatest adventure of our lives.