After the prior two weeks of zone conferences and interviews, this past week was much more manageable, focused almost entirely on missionary interviews. On Monday we held our monthly Missionary Health Council, a meeting with our Southern Mission Facilities Mission Manager, Aaron Allotey, a meeting with Lynn and Janice Pack who will be coming in June as our office couple and then a meeting at 8:30 pm with our Mission Leadership Council. While at our Mission Leader Seminar in Accra, I asked President Myles Proudfoot of the Benin Cotonou Mission what they were doing that allowed them to continue to increase the mission baptisms month after month, year after year. He gave me one thing that they were doing – and that was meeting every Monday night with the MLC and reviewing the prior week’s performance of the 6 key indicators. I could immediately see the benefit of doing this and set out to do something similar. He willingly shared his spreadsheet with me and I rebuilt it to fit our mission. We met for the first time on Monday to discuss the process and what each of them would need to do. We had a few bumps in the road, primarily because change is always hard for some, but overall I was pleased with the willingness of our young mission leaders to engage in this new level of accountability. The first meeting is now in the books and we will do it again next week and every week thereafter.
On Tuesday May 9th, we went to Agric which is only 10 minutes away and interviewed 12 missionaries, 3 of who will be going home at the end of the transfer (Sister Apana, Sister Ehigie, Elder Morris). I always spend extra time with those who are leaving to hear about their plans and their commitments to stay true to the covenants they have made. We also attended the Bantama District Council, where Elder Bloomfield is the District Leader. He is doing a great job! We managed to snap pictures of the last 8 that we interviewed. Sister Ngalamulume and Sister Apana, Elder Mukanya and Elder Davis, Elder Lucero and Elder Oduro (zone leaders) and Elder Munungo and Elder Baldwin.
On Wednesday we made the trip to Nkawkaw, Juaso, and Konongo, interviewing 20 missionaries along the way. 3 of these missionaries are also leaving at the end of the transfer (Sister Opa, Elder Goffa, Sister Forkpah). Elder Sehi and Elder Bryant came after we took the picture in Nkawkaw.
Whenever we travel to Konongo, it is so late by the time we get back to Kumasi we stop at Starbites and have a nice meal together. We arrived there about 5:15 and made it home before 7 pm in time for my bi-weekly presidency meeting. Here are a few topics from our meeting: Dunkwa 2 and Kwabenakwa branches have been approved by Church HQ. The Akrofuom Group in Obuasi has started meeting as well. We have 90 days to form the new branches so we are working on the dates we will create these new units. We are continuing to make progress on the member mapping project, led by Eugene Ghorman, our mission clerk. Our goal is to get all of the members in our districts mapped with a GPS code. This will facilitate ministering and our growth plans. We also talked about the annual goals for each of the districts and their progress on these goals for Q1. We discussed the recent Tamale District Conference and the upcoming Bibiani District Conference. All in all a good meeting. I am grateful for Edmund Obeng, Joseph Asante, Eugene Ghorman, and Elder Loveland who just joined us as the new Executive Secretary. We have much work to do!
On Thursday morning, we drove to the Asouyeboa building and interviewed 9 more missionaries. 3 of these missionaries are also leaving (Elder Clarke, Elder Penrose, Sister Mukwaira). Having interviewed the sisters last, I managed to remember to take a picture of them.
On Friday we did our last big day of interviews, driving to Dunkwa, Obuasi, Asonkore, and Adansi Asokwa. We interviewed 18 more missionaries, with not a single one leaving at the end of the transfer. I missed snapping Elder Utley and Elder Akrashie in Adansi Asokwa. We finished in time to make it to Piri Piri for our Friday date night with the Loveland’s.
Saturday was definitely a catch up day. I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to work on Missionary Letters during the week so I was able to read 40 of them and finished the remaining 60 on Sunday. With our upcoming mission tour next week with Elder Nielsen, I also prepared a short document for him on the things we are focusing on in the mission. Much of this is just a recap of what I shared in last week’s post, but for the sake of posterity, I will share what I sent to him here.
- We have a mission vision around which we build everything we do. We refer to it every zone conference. The new wind began blowing on Sep 16th at 3:27 pm.
- We recently completed zone conferences where we taught about consecrated obedience during our vision refresh by discussing the following questions
- What are the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom? (D&C 105:5-6)
- Why must we learn obedience? (D&C 105:5-6)
- What does it mean that we shall never cease to prevail? (D&C 103:7)
- What is a multiplicity of blessings? What does it mean to be great in the Lord’s eyes? (D&C 124:13-14)
- What does it mean to become a law unto ourselves? D&C 88:35)
- Why cannot those who abide in sin be sanctified? (D&C 88:35)
- In addition, LaDawn taught the missionaries “Do I Love God?” Helping them to understand that when we love him, we keep his commandments.
- The Assistants and I teamed up and talked about Testimony, Pure Testimony, and Conversion. I think my favorite question that we discussed was this:
- “What is the difference between transactional vs transformational missionary work?”
- We ended the conference with three statements from President Nelson’s May 2022 YSA Devotional.
- “The truth is that you must own your own conversion. No one else can do it for you. …
- “… I plead with you to take charge of your testimony. Work for it. Own it. Care for it. Nurture it so that it will grow. Feed it truth. …
- “Engage in daily, earnest, humble prayer. Nourish yourself in the words of ancient and modern prophets.
- We have been working diligently on learning and teaching the 42 principles in Preach My Gospel. We do what we call 1-minute drills, where missionaries stand in front of the districts each week and zone conferences each transfer and they have one minute to go through the concepts in the named principle. We have 4-5 people come up and then we evaluate how we did as a “whole”. We do not single people out we just evaluate our collective knowledge of the principles. We do three each week. We ask the missionaries to outline each principle and decide what they want to teach. It is making a huge difference in the ability of the missionaries to teach pure doctrine. We see it having an impact on the missionaries as they learn these doctrines for themselves from PMG rather than teach the way their trainer taught.
- We also do role plays each week in district council and zone conferences. We have taught the missionaries how to extend inspired invitations, especially around reading 3 Nephi 11, based on the method used by President Nelson. We have also been working on companionship inventories, questions of the soul and the nature of God and Man. We can see the competency of the missionaries rising with the efforts on these role plays. We have developed a Mission Toolbox and within that toolbox we have 10 competencies we expect every missionary to develop. The focus has made a huge difference! (This idea came from Elder Klebingat)
- Lastly, we continue to keep a sharp focus on our 17 points of consecrated obedience.
The other thing on worked on Saturday was my weekly letter. In one of my interviews earlier in the week, Elder Braiden Thompson shared an insight with me and I felt the need to turn it into a letter. If you are interested you can find that here. It is titled “The Rock Whence You Are Hewn”. Because the letter mentioned my older brother Greg, I decided to send a picture of him, me, and my sister Ellen to the missionaries as well.
Now I will get to the point of the title of this blog post. On Sunday we decided to attend the Suame Ward. It is about 30 minutes from the mission home and it is where Sister Ita and Sister Komugisa serve. We had not been to this building before, but had been by it many times. It was mothers day and a sister who spoke did speak about mothers, but it was in Twi so we could only catch a word now and again. The newly called Bishop spoke after her. Now to understand the challenge of it all, you would need a good sense as to just how busy the Suame road is. It is the main artery out of Kumasi and it is always busy and very noisy. The church building is right on this road, and the chapel is on the third floor with windows that don’t close very well facing the road. During the meeting it also began to rain, which if you can imagine the sound of pelting rain on a metal roof on a busy road with windows open , you might catch a glimpse of the Suame Noise. I thought it might be interesting to record a minute of what it was like for us. With the rain and the speaker, it is hard to hear the traffic, but it was there. You get a flavor of it about 35 seconds in.
The reality is that Ghana is a very noisy country. The bishop explained to me after sacrament meeting that it is usually worse than it was on Sunday as there are nearby churches that generally crank up their music and drums and then combine that with yelling into a microphone to add to the ambiance of it all. We are amazed at how well the Ghanaians are able to tune the noise out and focus on what is being said. At least it appears that way. For someone with hearing aids, noise at these particular frequencies of street noise, rain, and even fans makes hearing anything else very difficult. We still loved the spirit of the meeting, being able to partake of the sacrament, visit with our sister missionaries, and meet a few new members made the meeting enjoyable. I think the concept of sound proof buildings will catch on here some day, but it will not be during our time here…or perhaps for years to come, but it is a business opportunity in waiting….
Not much of a mothers day celebration at our house. For dinner we had leftover enchiladas which, by the way, were excellent. I am so grateful for my amazing wife LaDawn and all that she does for me and our entire family. She has been a lifeline to me our entire lives. Her example of absolute obedience and integrity has blessed our entire family. Here is a picture from days gone by in celebration of her goodness.
And though my mom has been gone now for just over 17 years, I will be forever grateful for the things she taught me about honesty and integrity and just plain hard work. She was a woman of great capacity and I think I have her to thank for my own ability and desire to finish what I start. Lastly, I am grateful for our 3 beautiful daughters (Mauren, Kira, MiCayla) who never cease to amaze me with their creativity, commitment to light, and exceptional mothering skills. We also have 4 daughter’s-in-law that I count as inspiring, amazing, and kind. I have been surrounded by amazing women my whole life. I hope this Mother’s Day was a moment for each of them (even my mom on the other side of the veil) to pause and reflect on the blessing they have all been to me.
The gathering of Israel, Together in Ghana, continues to be our focus and greatest desire. We see so many missionaries who are working very hard to be even more converted themselves and then to bring that same level of conversion to the people they meet who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness. We are grateful to work with these 201 amazing young missionaries and 4 wonderful senior couples. This is the work of the Savior of the World. We are privileged to be on His errand and having a front row seat at this amazing winding up scene – as we prepare for His Second Coming. Hurrah for Israel!
One thought on “Suame Noise”
Thank you President for your detailed letter.
We can stay informed of the happenings in GKM
By the way; love the picture you posted on regard to Mothersday!
We love you both!