Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fufu at the Mission Home Means Goodbye

This week we sent 12 wonderful missionaries home with our love and thanks.  This was a unique group in that every one of them had served as leaders in the mission, so we had gotten to know them very quickly. Included in this group was Elder James, who served as one of my Assistants and was so helpful in getting us settled in.  We will miss all of them dearly.  We celebrated their success and sent them off with our blessing.

If it is this hard to send them off after only six weeks, I'm afraid I will be in real trouble in a couple of years. By the way, the drive to Accra was delightful as always (sarcasm).

With twelve missionaries leaving and no one to replace them until September 3rd, we had to do a creative transfer.  Initially, we wanted to bring in young men and women from the wards to serve a "mini mission", but the Liberia / Sierra Leone transfers made that more complicated than I was prepared for.  In hindsight, I wish we would have figured it out.  However, rather than close down areas for two weeks, we have created threesomes to cover adjoining areas.  Many of the missionaries are arranging for members to go out teaching with them in order to see everyone they need to.  It may slow us down a little, but it will go by fast.  We have 15 brand new missionaries coming soon.

My new Assistant is Elder Omokoh.  (He is the one that is not Elder Cavaness).  He is from Benin City, Nigeria and I have already called him a genius several times.

On Wednesday, I went out to Assin Foso and taught with Elders Collins and Ekpo.  Then, I met with President Fokuo, the stake president out there.  I noticed as I drove into town that he has a street named after him.  I came to find out that in addition to being a successful businessman, he is the former mayor of Assin Foso.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to set apart Elder Arthur-Young as a full time missionary to serve in the Nigeria Lagos Mission.  I didn't have any trouble remembering his name because of the big accounting firm and I remarked that it was too bad it wasn't his family business.  He didn't get it, but still seemed to like me.  He is a third generation member of the Church in Ghana and his grandparents were among the early members baptized (they are called "Pioneers" here).  Like many of the very well prepared missionaries we send out, he has spent much of his time since high school teaching with the full-time missionaries.  We will miss his help here, but know he will be a great blessing in Nigeria.

On Saturday and Sunday, Sister Stevenson and I were in Proso.  There is a Member District there that the mission president presides over.  On Saturday afternoon, I interviewed twelve people for temple recommends (5 for the first time).  Then I had a coordination meeting with the District Presidency and the Praso Zone Leaders.  Following that meeting, Sister Stevenson and I went out and taught with Elders Darlington and Iwuchukwu.  We had a wonderful evening with them.  We had delightful lessons with two of their investigators who are looking forward to baptism in the next week (Sister Stevenson even sang "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" for one of them.)  At the end of the evening, we met with a couple where the husband had been a member for some time but the wife had waited for several years.  Finally, the time was right for her and she was baptized a few weeks ago.  It was really sweet to sit out in the yard with them in the dark with the frogs croaking in the background and hear them speak of what a great blessing their membership in the Church has been.  I love that.

We stayed overnight at the empty Missionary Couples House in Praso.  Luckily, it won't be empty after September because WE ARE GETTING A NEW COUPLE!!!!!!  Senior missionary couples are worth their weight in gold.  We love the Julanders, the Ivies and the Miles and we are looking forward to welcoming the Seaders (Humanitarian) and the Hanlons.

The Praso Senior Couple's Home

Elders McKeon and Ormond -- Praso Zone Leaders

Finally, we rounded out our trip to Praso, by attending the Sunday services at the Hemang Branch.  I had the opportunity to set apart a new branch president and give him some initial training together with President Asamoah and President Johnson.  We also got to visit with the missionaries in Hemang.

Elders Meleni, Wright, Chishinji and Egunza, together with a young man who will be baptized on Saturday.

After the Church meetings, I asked President Johnson if he would take me to see the grave of his father, Billy Johnson.  Brother Johnson became converted to the restored Gospel by reading the Book of Mormon many years before the Church was organized in Western Africa.  While he waited for the Church to come, Brother Johnson shared his new faith with just about everyone he met.  By the time the first missionaries came to Ghana, there were already congregations formed and studying the teachings of the Book of Mormon -- waiting patiently for baptism.  Billy Johnson was first and I think his son was 11th.  I knew of that story long before I knew there was a Ghana and so when we got the call to come here and I found out the this is where that had all happened, I hoped I would meet Billy Johnson.  Unfortunately, he passed away in 2012, but he has left a wonderful legacy.  I'm glad to call his son a friend.

Date Night at the Castle Restaurant:

Creature of the Week:  (I know it's getting lame, but we are not seeing many exciting creatures.)


  1. I love reading about your experiences in Africa. My grandparents were born in Africa. My grandfather was introduced to the Mormon church while living in South Africa in the early 1900's. He moved to Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and continued to study the Book of Mormon. In 1922, he decided it was time to join the Church. He had to travel 3 days by train to South Africa to be baptized and then that same day, got back on the train for the 3 day ride home. He never saw another member of the church until he moved back to South Africa 3 years later. It was there that he married my grandmother (a member since age 8) and then a few years later they moved to Utah. In his mid-30's with 3 small children, he was called and served a mission back in South Africa. I am grateful for this "pioneer" in my heritage and feel particularly connected to Africa and the missionary work that is progressing there. Who knows, maybe Randy and I will get a chance to serve as senior missionaries there one day.