Several of the missionaries have mentioned that their parents are reading the blog. So, let me start by saying we are all doing well in Ghana. The Church is always very concerned with the safety of the missionaries and we have seen an example of that this week. On Friday, it was announced that the missionaries from Sierra Leone and Liberia would be reassigned to other missions as a precaution regarding the outbreak of the Ebola virus in those nations. The Cape Coast mission will likely be the recipient of some of these missionaries because this is such a safe place. We are very excited to welcome our fellow servants and are confident that they will enjoy rich blessings and experiences as they serve here.
Please remember that your missionary sons and daughters are being watched over not only by Sister Stevenson and me, but the Lord Himself has promised that not a hair of their heads will fall to the ground unnoticed. We are fine.
On Monday, Elder James and Elder Cavaness surprised us with a Kente cloth scarf. It has our name woven in it and our years of service. Just one more good reason to stay to the end. It was an anniversary present from them. They have been wonderful in helping us get settled in.
We also enjoyed a visit at the Mission Home from the Laing Family. Brother Laing handles the missionary housing and he takes very good care of us. Whenever he calls, he wants to know if Sister Stevenson is happy. You can bet the energy level went off the charts when those awesome little boys hit the home. Brother Laing is a member of the Stake High Council and Sister Laing is a Relief Society President, so they have their hands full. We have become great friends.
On Tuesday, I went out to Telecome in the Assin Foso Zone and worked with Elder Cowan and Elder Brown. I was really impressed with one young man who is preparing for baptism on the 17th. He is 20 years old and very sharp. I felt like he would someday be a fine leader in the Church. I had a few minutes to visit with him alone and I encouraged him to prepare for a mission of his own in a year. He will be fun to watch.
Elder Cowan and Elder Brown in front of their apartment (they call it the Haunted House). It is nicer inside than it looks outside. We got caught in the pouring rain at the end of a discussion, so I really felt like I was one of the lads that day.
On Friday (date night) we hosted a lunch for all of the Stake / District Presidents and their wives. Elder Davis, our Area Authority also joined us. Sister Stevenson and Theresa really put on a nice meal of banku and talapia. The whole afternoon was just a hoot, especially when the stories of baby deliveries were compared. I'm really going to enjoy serving with this group.
On Saturday, I drove out (all by myself) to Takoradi Stake to speak at their Priesthood Leadership Meeting. The way in has been confusing to me because our guides have taken us in a different way each time. So, I decided to be my own navigator. I now know why different routes are taken. There is a traffic light in Takoradi that can take about 40 minutes to get through. I arrived about 10 minutes before the meeting started because of the delay, so I may not quite be ready to solo.
After the meeting, I went out working with Elder Lucas and Elder Omokoh. We had two great ward missionaries with us -- both preparing for full-time missions and both already polished teachers. We contacted a few less-active members and taught a sharp young man who said he was a student of religion. We had nice chat about whether the Book of Mormon was inspired and how it would change his life when he came to know it was. I also met the bishop of the Methodist Church for this region. He was sitting in a garage waiting for his car to be fixed as we walked by. I introduced myself to him and he told me he had been in Washington DC before and had visited the Temple grounds. He had learned a little about our religion, but had some concerns. I offered to stop by his office sometime when I was in Winneba and discuss it with him.
Later in the afternoon, I attended a baptismal service where Elders Lucas and Omokoh had a family of three prepared and Elders Andrews and Richards had a young man ready. All were baptized by Elder Keetch, the District Leader. It was a very nice service.
Elder Richards and Elder Andrews
Elder Keetch and Elder Jensen
I had a great day, but I got a little sunburned, so I got scolded when I got home.
On Sunday, Elder James, Elder Cavaness and I left early to drive to Prazo. This was going to be a long, bumpy day, so Sister Stevenson stayed home to attend the local ward down the street. We arrived in Prazo a little before 9 a.m. and I interviewed a young man to serve a full-time mission and six people to go to the temple for the first time (the six were all from one branch).
Then, President Asamoah and his first Counselor, President Johnson joined us to drive an additional two hours to Dunkwa, where the Church has not been organized. The road was as bumpy as we had been told.
President Johnson and President Asamoah
(Prazo District Presidency)
Dunkwa is a fair sized town comparable to others in our mission where we have stakes. It is located just within our northern mission border.
When we arrived, we were met by 30 members of the Church who had been waiting for us for several hours (even though we told them we would arrive in the early afternoon). They were singing hymns as they waited and the sight and sound brought tears to my eyes.
We had a wonderful Sacrament and testimony meeting with them and found them to be spiritually mature and anxious to have the Church organized in their area. One teenage girl stood up and expressed the belief that from this little meeting, future wards and stakes would be organized.
The people we met included five Melchizedek Priesthood holders and three or four Aaronic Priesthood holders. Some are returned missionaries and some had been to the temple. Many of them have been making the five hour round trip to church on Sundays by Tro Tro. We are told there are other members there who would attend if they had a local place to worship.
They are currently able to meet in a corporate home, but we expect they will soon need larger accommodations. If approved by the Area Presidency, we will form a branch of the Church and put at least four missionaries there. This is the stuff I fantasized about before coming to Ghana -- building new centers of strength.
The ride back was not any smoother, but it was sure beautiful...
Creatures of the Week:
This bird taps on our window almost every day. He looks angry to me.