Monday, June 30, 2014

Merekyea wo! means Hello!

We have arrived in beautiful Cape Coast, Ghana.  The flight was long but uneventful.  When we arrived at the airport in Accra, we were met by President and Sister Shulz and our Area President, Elder Curtis.  We came on a nice day and the heat / humidity was not as overpowering as I was expecting, so that was nice.  

We quickly discovered that we were not in Lake Oswego anymore.  We saw cattle crossing the main highway seemingly unattended and more little goats than I have ever seen in my life.  We understand the traffic was light because there is a temporary gas shortage, but even so, it was pretty exciting.  

The mission home is very comfortable.  We will settle in nicely.

On Sunday, we went to the Abakrampa Branch.  They hold their meetings in the Fante language.  They asked the Shulz' and us to speak (in English).  It was very enjoyable, but I was surprised to learn that English is the second language for nearly all Ghanaians and so it will take us some time to get an ear for the accent.  I hope they understand us easier than we do them.  We met a few of our missionaries during our travels on Sunday.  All were happy to see us and all smiles.  We start a three week road trip to meet all of the missionaries on Tuesday.

Monday morning we said our goodbyes to President and Sister Shulz as they left for the airport.  They have been very kind to us over the last six months and especially this weekend.  Normally, there are only a few hours of transition between mission presidents, but they offered to stay a little longer to get us settled.  They probably saved us three months of flopping around.  They are wonderful, faithful people.

We've got smiles on our faces and butterflies in our stomachs.


Monday, June 23, 2014

And So It Begins

Sister Stevenson and I entered the Missionary Training Center at Provo, Utah on June 21, 2014.  We were warmly welcomed and treated like visiting dignitaries.  We were so happy to finally begin our mission.  It seems like such a long time ago that the call came.

Our first session was just for the African Missions and was training on Malaria.  We left with a bag of pills that we will take each day for the next 37 months.  The general idea is don't get bit and take your pills.

Our next training centered around the opportunity that I will have to preside over Member Districts of the Church. These are units where a stake has not yet been formed and they fall under the direction of the mission president.  I will function much as a stake president for these congregations.  I loved being a stake president and look forward to interacting personally with the members in Ghana.

After dinner, we were bused to a multi-plex theater to view the newly produced motion picture, "Meet the Mormons."  I thought it was fabulous and can't wait for it to be released this fall.  It gives wonderful examples of how our faith is a blessing in our homes, families and communities.

My father and my brother Brian and his wife, Cheri came up from St. George to see us set apart as
missionaries. I had asked my father to give me a blessing, so we all got together early in the
hotel room. Dad gave me a beautiful blessing and then turned to Sister Stevenson and asked if he could represent her father and give her a blessing as well. Her father passed away several years ago, so this was very tender and set a beautiful tone for the day.

We were joined by Evans, Breanne and Jacob at the MTC for the setting apart. We met with Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Clayton of the Seventy. We had a nice visit together, then Elder Nelson set me apart as a mission president and Elder Clayton set apart Sister Stevenson as a missionary.  They both pronounced beautiful blessings that gave us great comfort and confidence.

The rest of the day was amazing and included a Sacrament Meeting with the First Presidency and all
but one member of the Twelve Apostles.  President Monson spoke to us and gave great counsel and encouragement.

One thrill for me was to meet my mission president and his wife again after 35 years. Sister Oscarson now serves as the General President of the Young Women for the Church and she and President Oscarson are attending portions of the Seminar.  They have both been a huge influence for good in my life.

We will stay at the MTC until Wednesday and will receive additional training each day.  It has been and will continue to be a significant spiritual experience.  I find myself looking at Sister Stevenson
throughout the day and feeling so grateful that she is my companion. I know we are going to have a marvelous experience and hope that we will be a blessing to our missionaries and to the people of

The walls of the MTC have historical pictures of missionary work. This one is my favorite. I don't know when or where it was taken, but the line of converts and the crocodile defense squad intrigued

Thursday, June 5, 2014


The timing of our call to serve in Ghana is interesting because it comes at a critical crossroad in Evans' life. He graduates from high school tomorrow and in the three years that we will be gone, he will have the opportunity to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, attend a year at BYU-Idaho, receive the blessings of the Temple and serve a two year mission.  While we intend to continue to be very involved in his progress, we will not be physically present with him to share many of these wonderful experiences.  As a result, I am very grateful for the man he has become and the goodness of his heart.  One of my favorite scriptures says: "Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind..."  That's Evans.

So here are some of my "Evans Highlights" from the last few years:

Proof that he loves his dad!

  Ceramics Man

Eagle Scout

The hero of Zelda.

 Mexico 2014

Three letters in tennis.

Evans is a Renaissance Man.