Sunday, October 26, 2014

On the Road Again...

We spent this week traveling the mission to interview the missionaries and some of the people they are teaching.  On Monday, we were in Assin Foso.  All of the missionaries were gathered at the stake center for an activity with the stake president (he treated them to fufu and it looked like he had played football with them).  Anyway, they were all pretty happy -- especially the sisters when they saw Sister Stevenson.

On Tuesday we headed west and hit Takoradi, Axim, Tarkwa and Secondi over four days.

After the district interviews,Elder Keetch and Elder Bayoh showed us the Chapel Hill area.  They have done very well there working with families where not everyone is a member of the Church.  Our recent experience as a mission is that about 20% of those joining the Church already have family members in the Gospel.

On Wednesday, we were off to Axim.

After the interviews, we took a look at the progress on the meetinghouse.  

How would you like to try to give a talk while facing that view?

If I was a young missionary, I would assign myself to Axim.  This is what we saw as we were meeting members and investigators that evening.  Stunning.

Sister Stevenson and I roughed it at the Axim Beach Resort.  The Assistants were on pads on the floor of the missionary apartment.  We took pity on them and invited them to breakfast at the resort. They accepted.

We hit the bumpy road to Tarkwa.

The four missionaries in Tarkwa will soon be joined by four others.  It is a great town and will someday be the home of a stake of the Church.  After the interviews, we went out teaching with Elder Wade and Elder Guymon.  We were teaching the Law of Tithing with one of their investigators and after reading the scripture in Malachi about the windows of heaven, I asked him what that meant to him.  He said that if he was honest with his tithing, the Lord would bless him. But it did not mean that he would always be blessed financially, but it would be spiritual blessings, which are more important. Yup -- he gets it.  He will be baptized on November 8.

We drove in the dark back to Sekondi.  We tried all of the offramps on one of the roundabouts, including the one we started on.  It is so dark here at night and forget about a direction sign.  Combine that with my sense of direction and we take a lot of side trips.  In the end, we arrived at the Julander's home and enjoyed a nice dinner with them.

Friday we interviewed the Sekondi District.  

Friday afternoon, I had two baptismal interviews in two different parts of town.  We managed to get through the traffic and see everyone.  I always ask how they came to find the Church. The last man said he had been praying for the Lord to guide him to the truth.  As he got up from his prayers, he saw his neighbor leaving for Church services.  He had an overwhelming feeling that he should follow him and see where he went.  He ended up at the chapel and met the missionaries.  As they taught him, he knew his prayers had been answered.  He is a sweet man with an awesome faith.

We drove home Friday night and slept in our own bed.  Hurrah!  We counted the Axim resort as date night since we got home a little late.  I think it's legit.  Nice dinner and a hotel counts.  We have big plans for this coming Friday, so don't worry.

Saturday was Coordinating Council with all of the Stake Presidents.  We also have a sick missionary and his companion at the mission home, so its been a busy week.  Our interviews next week will be with the missionaries around Cape Coast, so we will be fairly close to home.  I'm looking forward to it. 



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oh Refresh Us, O Refreshments...

A favorite hymn is "Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing".  Instead of singing Oh, refresh us, my Swedish missionary companion, Elder Rosenlund, used to sing "Oh Refreshments!  Sister Stevenson and I spent the week at the Africa West Area Mission President Seminar.  We were refreshed and refreshmented.  We didn't take any pictures of the uplifting meetings with the Area Presidency and the other Presidents and their companions, but we did take a few pictures of the relaxing we were able to do.  We stayed at the Royal Senchi Hotel on the banks of the Volta River.  It is about two hours north of Accra and was very beautiful.

Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing;
Fill our hearts with joy and peace.
Let us each, thy love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace.
Oh, refresh us, oh, refresh us,
Trav'ling thru this wilderness.
Oh, refresh us, oh, refresh us,
Trav'ling thru this wilderness.
Thanks we give and adoration
For the gospel's joyful sound.
May the fruits of thy salvation
In our hearts and lives abound.
Ever faithful, ever faithful
To the truth may we be found.
Ever faithful, ever faithful

To the truth may we be found.

Knew it was going to be good when we found chocolate and OREOs on the bed!

We are back in Cape Coast and ready to hit the road again next week to continue the mission interviews.


We saw this family of baboons on the way home from Senchi.  Pretty cool.

Sister Doggett has taken pity on my creatures and sent me some backups from her son's photos.  Elder Doggett finished his mission a few weeks ago (and we miss him dearly).  I am holding them in reserve for weeks we strike out.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Good Advice from a Tro Tro...

One very nice thing about being a missionary in a place like Ghana is that the people are open to discussions about religion.  Almost all of the taxis or tro-tros will have some religious saying printed on the window (which is a good thing since it's a tough world out there).  The businesses also often have faith-based names like "The Holy Ghost Laundry".   It's probably not terribly appropriate, but their hearts are in the right place.

This week we started our quarterly personal interviews with each missionary.  We have 190 missionaries now and so it will take several weeks to get around to everyone.  I'm doing them a district per day, which usually involves 6 to 8 missionaries.  The interviews have been a lot more fun this time because these are now people that I know and have had experiences with.  My first round was just days after arriving in Ghana.  While I am interviewing, the rest of the district is participating in training.

In the afternoons following the interviews, we are meeting with the zone and district leadership to assess the efficiency of each companionship area boundary -- looking for ways to cut down on travel time, etc.  We are also conducting follow-up training for any new missionaries in the district and their trainers.  If we are staying overnight in the area, we will go out and teach with a companionship.

Elder Rowe leading the Mpintsin District.

The Mpintsin District

The Nketsiakrom District

 Teaching with Elder Odongo and Elder Pearmain.

On Saturday, we had the Priesthood Leadership Training for the four mission branches located near Cape Coast.  Just about everyone had to travel about an hour by tro-tro to get there, so I was very pleased with the turn out.  These men are so anxious to magnify their callings in the Gospel.  It is a pleasure to serve with them.  

We end about 1 p.m. so we feed them before we send them back into the world.  Theresa made fufu with goat meat.  It was a real hit.

On Sunday, I attended the Daboasi Branch (Sister Stevenson was a little under the weather -- she is doing better now).  This branch meets in a school building.  It rained during most of the meetings, so we enjoyed a cool breeze through the glass-less windows.

After the meeting, the branch leaders took me out to a property that the Church had purchased earlier in the year for a new chapel.  It is a nice parcel on top of a hill.  It will be beautiful.

Right now, missionaries only visit the town once a week.  I promised that I would do my best to get a companionship out there full time.  We've got to fill up that new building, right?


Walking on the beach below the castle then dinner at the Castle Restaurant.


I give up.  There are no creatures in Ghana.  Sorry William.