Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mankind was my business...

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

We have had a wonderful Christmas week in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.  Here, the holiday is much more subdued than at home.  The celebrating really doesn't start until around the 22nd when you start to notice a few decorations on the streets and the markets get a little busier. 

 Celebrating is all about family and food -- no Santa Claus and little emphasis on presents.  It was nice.

On Tuesday, our sick missionary was discharged from the hospital in Assin Foso, so we went to collect him and his companion to take them back to Cape Coast to fatten them up a bit. 

We made them work for it...

But in the end, I would say we accomplished our goal. They stayed with us until the day after Christmas, then I took them back to Foso -- good as new.

On Christmas Eve, the Cape Coast Stake had a big caroling fireside.  Each ward was assigned a scripture reading and a hymn to sing.  The missionaries were also invited to participate.

Elder LeBaron and Elder Lelea organized the group (three zones).

The sister missionaries brought the Christmas Spirit with them.

I was assigned to read our scripture and at the last minute, joined in the choir.  But since I hadn't attended the rehearsals, I didn't know that the first verse was going to be a duet.  It ended up being a trio for the first measure until I got elbowed by the missionary standing next to me.  Luckily, it was a forgiving crowd.

Well, mostly forgiving.

After the concert, the senior missionary couples stayed up late and watched "A Christmas Carol" -- a family tradition of ours.  We had to remind the young elders staying with us that we had a different handbook than they did, so they had to go to bed.

It had taken me three nights to download the movie from iTunes, but it was worth it.  I had to do it late at night because the downloading would take all our bandwidth and no one could do any work in the mission office.

We spent Christmas day talking to family and enjoying the company of our senior missionary couples.

I'm wearing my "Bah, Humbug!" hat that Breanne sent me to remind me of our Christmas Carol tradition.

Makes you want to come to Africa and be a Senior Missionary Couple, doesn't it?  Call me.

On Friday, we held follow up training for the new missionaries who are in their first transfer and their Trainers.  It reinforces the importance of the first 12 weeks and allows for any course corrections that may need to be made.

On Saturday, we drove to Praso where I interviewed three people for baptism and conducted training for all the branch presidents and their branch mission leaders.  We also attended the baptism and I was able to interview two young men preparing for full-time missions and a man to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It was a good day.

Here is missionary math, Sister Stevenson style:

These are the neighborhood kids that live around the Praso Chapel.  I'd say she knows her multiplication!


I should add a feature called Tree of the Week.  We really have some cool ones here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Afe hyia pa o!

Merry Christmas!

A new little restaurant opened up within a mile of the mission home.  We drive by it every time we leave or come.  So, we thought we should give it a try.  We ordered the goat meat fufu.  It was quite a bit spicier than Theresa makes for us (she knows I'm a baby).

Tuesday through Friday we held zone conferences and Christmas Devotionals for the missionaries. We have ten zones, so we combined a few each day.

The first hour, I gave follow-up instruction on Developing A Culture of Obedience.  It included some role-play on the correct way to help other missionaries be more obedient.  They especially liked the one where I was a missionary and Sister Stevenson was the most beautiful 17 year old in the Western Region and my "companion" had to keep me focused on my mission.  It was fun.

During the second hour, Elder and Sister Julander lead the group in some team building activities.

There was the finger lift:

There was the Shark Island (everyone had to be on a small stone "island" for 10 seconds to avoid the sharks).

There was the group puzzle with missing / extra pieces requiring inter-group cooperation:

And, finally, the paper airplane challenge:

On the first day, we also tried the no legged push-up, but thought better of it in the other conferences.

Elder Julander always made sure they got the point.

Then came LUNCH!!!

For the last hour, we had a nice Christmas Devotional.  Several of the missionaries shared musical numbers.  At each conference, we had two missionaries share their testimonies. Sister Stevenson and I spoke and then we watched "A Gift To the World" from the Bible Videos.  It was powerful.

One of the zones took our mission hymn, which is adapted from "Rise Up O Men Of God", and sang it to the tune of "Joy to the World".  Try it, it works.

Rise up, (Servants) of God,
Have done with lesser things,
Give heart and soul and mind and strength,
To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, (Servants) of God,
In one united throng,
Bring in the day of brotherhood,
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, (Servants) of God,
Tread where His feet have trod,
As (children) of the Son of Man,
Rise up, (Servants) of God.

It was great to spend the time with the missionaries, but by Saturday we were beat.  It was nice to regroup a bit.  For date night, our Assistants, Elder Larsen and Elder Omokoh, wanted to cook dinner for us.  

It was very tasty and the company was good.

On Sunday, we drove two hours out to Winneba for Church services.  We have two companionships of sister missionaries in that ward.  One set had an investigator that I needed to interview for baptism and the other had an investigator they wanted me to meet who was struggling with the idea of being baptized again since he was already baptized in another church.  We had very nice visits with each of them.  I was also asked to speak in Church.  By coincidence, Elder Curtis, our Area President (my Priesthood leader) was also visiting that ward and he asked me to take some of his time in Sacrament Meeting.  It was nice to see him and Sister Curtis again.

On the way home from Winneba, we got a call that one of our missionaries in Assin Foso had a fever of 104.5.  He had just gotten over malaria, so we were concerned that we didn't kill all the bugs.  We told his companion to get him to the hospital and we would get there as soon as we could.  So we hung a right at Yamoransa and drove 90 minutes to Assin Foso.  We found the missionary in good spirits and feeling a little better.  No Malaria, so the next likely cause of a fever like that is Typhoid. The hospital pumped him full of antibiotics and put an IV on him.  His fever dropped and they checked him in.  They want to observe him for 72 hours to make sure the drugs do the job.  I liked this hospital.  Its a Catholic hospital and they were very attentive to our missionary's needs.  We called his folks to let them know what was going on.  The missionaries in the zone will rotate to stay with him while he is in the hospital, then we will pick him up on Wednesday and have him stay in the Mission Home for a couple of days to rest up.  He and his companion liked that plan.

Its been a good week.  We are tired.  All is well.


Strange Bedfellows

  Ants vs. Termites -- Termites win.