Change 16.0

So many changes this past week. The title of the post is Change 16.0 because this was our 16th transfer week since arriving in Kumasi. 25% of our Mission Leadership Council is new. That equates to 4 new zone leaders and 3 new sister training leaders. We had 8 missionaries complete their missions and 8 new ones arrive. In addition, Sister Houana who was serving temporarily in the Ghana Kumasi Mission was called to return to her original mission in Uganda (delayed because of a small Ebola outbreak). In last week’s blog I mentioned a missionary who had to return home last Friday for a season to repent. On top of that, we brought in two missionaries to the mission office to replace the Garrison’s who will be leaving in 2 weeks after completing their 18 month mission. That is a lot of ins and outs within a transfer week. We are always amazed with all of these changes, we ended up with an even number of young missionaries totaling 200. We also had a change in our mission FM this week as Jude Jonfiah came in to replace Cooper with only one day of overlap training. We also sent out three new missionaries from our member districts. Thus is the life of mission leaders. Change is constant, and yet, somehow these changes bring stability and sustainability to the mission. These are the headlines of this week’s post.

Monday morning we played basketball with the new elders who will be replacing the Garrison’s. Elder Panton back left with the ball and Elder Skyles (to Elder Panton’s left and in front of Elder Amoah) will be replacing Elder Garrison and Sister Garrison respectively. Elder Njirayafa (front left with the orange stripes on blue shirt) left on Wednesday and was replaced by Elder Williams. Elder Ngwenga (far right in the red) moved to Ketinkrono for is last transfer and Elder C. Beck came to Aboabo to replace him. We will see how the changes impact our future basketball games. 😊

Jude Jonfiah, our new Facilities Manager

Early Monday afternoon we returned to the Mission Office and I had a chance to spend some time with our new Facilities Manager, Jude Jonfiah and his manager Dennis Ocansey who lives in Accra. Jude will be working hard to get up to speed with only one day of handover from Cooper. Dennis will be leaving July 1 to begin his service in the new Aba Mission in Nigeria as the mission president.

Just after 3:30 pm, I met with those missionaries departing for home going over the self-reliance presentation put together by Elder & Sister Case who stay in Accra. This is a very good summary of the resources the Church makes available for these returning missionaries to succeed in life. After the presentation, we spent about another 20-25 minutes answering questions and providing encouragement and support. For most of the African Missionaries, going home causes anxiety. We are grateful for the work of the Area Presidency for developing resources such as YSA Gathering Places where these returned missionaries can gather and learn employable skills as well as interact with each other, hopefully in search of an eternal companion. We finished around 5 pm and made our way to the Mission Home where we had a nice dinner from Aboude’s and then played some Preach My Gospel Jeopardy before ending the evening with pictures.

Back: Elder Bingabinga (DR Congo), Elder Twum (Ghana), Elder Mbala (DR Congo), Elder Maulana (Zimbabwe), Elder Nelson (Ghana), Elder Sunday (Nigeria). Front: Sister Walker (Liberia), Sister Cinguta (DR Congo).

On Tuesday, we had our eight missionaries come in from the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Accra. We love how they come with high expectations and a desire to serve the Lord with their hearts, might, mind, and strength. This group was no exception. We had two from DR Congo who are french speakers and so we had Sister Kakou come into the Mission Office Tuesday morning to help us with translation. She was just released as a Sister Training Leader and came back to Kumasi to serve. We are grateful for her help!

At the airport with our new missionaries. I give them a little talk here regarding speaking to me in their upcoming interview about anything they may have done in the past that will keep them from having the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Because of rain in Accra, their flight came in over an hour late. Once we were at the mission office, we had them fill out some paperwork and I started the interviews. We had pizza for lunch just before noon and I was able to finish the interviews by 1 pm. We then moved into orientation, which lasted until 4 pm. We gave them a break for almost an hour since they had all been up since 3 am. They were tired! We ate dinner at 5:30 and then spent almost an hour after dinner on keys and bananas. This is a discussion on honesty and integrity. By the time we were finished at 7:30 they were all ready to go to bed.

Back: Elder Flomo (Liberia), Elder Cooper (Liberia), Elder Munongo (DR Congo), Elder Kaumavae (Tonga), Elder Metetke (Nigeria). Front: Sister Awuku (Ghana), Sister Nyaketcho (Uganda), Sister Lomboto (DR Congo)

On Wednesday morning, we met with the new missionaries and their trainers. I spent an hour talking about companionship unity, usage of the phone, and the attributes of a great trainer. (among other things). Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah then spent an hour teaching them how to be a Finder of the Elect. By 10 am we were done and shortly thereafter on our way to the Bantama Stake Center for transfers. I was impressed. Many of the missionaries had already left by the time we arrived. We were there almost an hour and left shortly after 11:00 am. The only missionaries left were the zone leaders who had been responsible for getting the new companionships in their zones back to their areas.

On Wednesday evening, we had the Sister Training Leaders to the Mission Home for a discussion, primarily about exchanges. The zone leaders have an exchange each transfer with the Assistants, which gives them an opportunity to continue to learn and grow. The Sister Training Leaders only get what what is taught at MLC. Bringing them together and talking about how to make the exchanges with the sisters more effective was excellent. Elder Harnois and Elder Amoah led most of the discussion based on their own experiences with exchanges. With 3 new Sister Training Leaders, and the other 5 that had been called last transfer, it was time well spent. We love these valiant sisters who work with inspired diligence to bless all 46 of the sisters serving in the Ghana Kumasi Mission,

Back: Elder Harnois, Sister Eme, Sister Asantewaa, Sister Mundrua, Sister Friday, Elder Amoah. Front: Sister Mukwaira, Sister Kekula, Sister Johnson, Sister Maphalala.

Thursday was our Mission Leadership Council. It is always our favorite meeting of the transfer as we have the opportunity to meet with the amazing, consecrated, diligent, and inspired Sister Training Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Assistants. This past week was no exception. Below is the agenda for the meeting and a slide for the vision refresh on Consecrated Obedience. Due to time constraints we only discussed 6 of these scriptures. I identify scriptures on the topic and then come up with questions (without a clear answer) that we can discuss. It was glorious to hear some of the responses and how the discussion became a tapestry of principles related to the importance of obedience.

During the day we had Elder Tano and Elder Riggs who had been serving together in the University Zone lead a discussion on “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” This instruction was focused on encouraging the Mission Leadership Council help the missionaries over whom they have stewardship to be more aware about things they need to be doing to help their missionaries who may be struggling with the rules. They did a remarkable job and we had an excellent discussion on the topic as a result. The MLC decided they want to use this topic during their exchanges this transfer.

We also did a role play on teaching The Nature of God and Man. It is clear that as a mission we are all over the place in the way we teach this information, and to be honest, it seems like it works no matter how we use it. However, we want to learn what works best and then we will roll that out to the rest of the mission. More to come.

Back Row: Elder Riggs, Elder Mba, Elder Lucero, Elder Buchanan, Elder Agyare, Elder Clegg, Elder Amoah, Elder Bryant, Elder Fuller, Elder Lucero. Middle Row: Elder Tano, Elder Udoh, Elder Niacadie’, Elder E. Beck, Elder Oduro, Elder Akpan, Elder Negone, Elder Toe, Elder Ross, Elder Griffin, Elder Sehi, Elder Harnois. Front Row: Sister Mundrua, Sister Clarke, Sister Maphalala, Sister Asantewaa, Kunz’s, Sister Kekula, Sister Johnson, Sister Mukwaira, Sister Eme.

During lunch, I was able to set apart two of our missionaries leaving for their missions. Elder Elikem Obidiaba from Obuasi and Elder Kofi Dza from Sunyani. Sister Gakpo was set apart by President Asante (2nd counselor) in Tamale and she was able to take a flight directly to Accra. We love sending these valiant missionaries out to help change the world!

On Friday, we ran some errands and did some grocery shopping. It had been another busy week and we had not been able to get to the store last Monday. The Thompson’s came in from Techiman and spent the Easter Weekend with us and the other couples. It was nice to have them here. I spent much of Friday and Saturday working on reading and answering the weekly letters from the missionaries. On Friday, I was able to write the weekly letter to the missionaries, titled “Come”, referencing the Savior’s invitation for Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water to him. I have included a copy of the letter here.

On Saturday, we went with the Thompson’s, Moomey’s and Garrison’s back to Ike’s restaurant in the Kumasi Cultural Center. We all had the crispy chicken sandwich which is absolutely delicious. I also spent time in the evening updating Facebook with missionary pictures from the last two transfers. I am far, far behind.

Lunch at Ikes

On Sunday, we went to the combined University and Aigya Wards in the University Stake. It was supposed to be a one hour sacrament meeting focused on Jesus Christ, his mission, and resurrection. But it turned out to be a fast and testimony meeting. We were saddened to learn that the Bishop didn’t know it was not supposed to be fast and testimony meeting. It is really difficult here to get communications working well. I guess the reality is that it is difficult everywhere. Many do not read emails and so when and if information comes through that medium it is often missed. Problems with phones that break, cost of data, and busy lives make communication even more of a challenge. We can all learn to do better with every opportunity we get.

Sunday afternoon, we had an easter meal with the couples who were here (we missed you Elder and Sister Steinmetz). It was delicious. Afterwards we had a small Easter celebration, singing some hymns, reading some scriptures and talking about how to help the missionaries gain a greater perspective on Jesus Christ. It was a good day.

The Thompson’s, The Garrison’s, The Moomey’s and the Kunz’s

What we love most about these weeks of change is the renewal it is for all of us to bring in new missionaries, allow those who have served well to return home, and get a fresh start on the transfer with new insights, instruction, and inspiration from MLC and the new baptismal transfer goals from the missionaries. In a mission, the very nature of missionary rotation means there will be a lot of change. With General Conference, Scripture Study, Preach My Gospel, and inspired promptings, there is always more than enough new spiritual material to learn from and apply. We are grateful for the nature of this change, especially as it helps each of us in the Ghana Kumasi continue to be just a little bit better each day, even as we gather Israel one last time, Together in Ghana.

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