Sunday, November 30, 2014

And Prove Me Now Herewith...

And prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have had a full and wonderful week.  On Tuesday morning we had the Nkanfoa District at the mission home for their quarterly individual interviews.  We had cancelled this three other times because other little emergencies came up, so we wanted to make it up to them.  Sister Stevenson made them lunch and a chocolate cake.  They accepted our apologies.  Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures. 

While we were with the Nkanfoa District, the bus was supposed to be picking up our new missionaries from the Missionary Training Center.  The plan was to pick them up at 10 a.m. and have them to us by 2 p.m.  At 10:40, the MTC called to say the bus was not there.  We called the driver and he said he would be there in just a few minutes.  Unfortunately, at about 11 a.m. he arrived at the mission home with an empty bus.  He got the instructions backwards!  So, all we could do was turn him around and send him to Tema for our missionaries.  This put us about four hours behind schedule.  I blame my stress level for the lack of pictures of Nkanfoa.

Well, the new missionaries finally arrived.

We have 5 from Ghana and one each from Idaho, England, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, Tonga, Samoa and Nigeria.  They seem very eager and well prepared.  We fed them dinner and had a short devotional together.  I also interviewed many of them Tuesday evening.  On Wednesday, we had breakfast and I interviewed the rest of them.  Then we had some instruction on what they could expect for the next twelve weeks of their training and gave them their first assignments.  Then, they were off into the world.

We now had just a few hours to turn around the house to receive the missionaries who were completing their service and heading home.


I interviewed each of them, we fed them fufu and had a nice testimony meeting together.  I told them they must have been great missionaries because it took 16 new ones to replace them!

On Thursday, we drove to Accra and attended the temple together before taking them to the airport. Because the temple is not in our mission, it had been two years (18 months for Sister Babirekere) since any of them had been, so it was very sweet.

The drive home from Accra was as delightful as ever (gag).  I have a goal each time that I drive to not say "stupid" or "idiot".  I failed miserably on Thursday.

We got away with transfers on Thanksgiving because no one involved was from America.  So, on Friday, all of the senior couples got together for a great, late Thanksgiving feast.  It was wonderful. They are wonderful.

That was date night in case you were wondering.

On Saturday, we got up at 4 a.m. to make the five hour drive to Dunkwa-on-offin for the first-ever baptisms there.  We opened the city eight weeks ago with about 30 members.  We now have sixty attending each week, including about 20 people who are preparing for baptism.  The first seven were baptized on Saturday.  The drive is beautiful, but very bumpy.

Since arrangements for our permanent meetinghouse are not completed, we used a portable font for the baptisms.

We also took the opportunity to visit the new meetinghouse.

One of the sisters who was baptized invited us to eat with her family.  Pork stew -- very spicy (for me anyway).  

We spent the night in Praso with the Hanlons.  That kept our drive time on Saturday to only eight hours.

On Sunday we attended Sacrament Meeting in the Praso 1st Branch, where I was asked to speak.  I was scheduled to do temple recommend interviews afterward.  One person was from Praso, but the rest were from Nuamakrom, a small branch about 20 minutes drive away.  Since it was easier for me to come to them than for them to hire a trotro to get to us, we initiated an unscheduled road trip.  

Nuamakrom is out in the bush and you are driving along in this lush forest and suddenly, you see this:

It is the nicest chapel in the district.  The people were lined up for their temple recommends.  I ended up doing 12 interviews with 4 of them being for their first time.

Elder Ripplinger and Elder Allen

While I was interviewing, Sister Stevenson was greeting the children.

As we left, these little guys wanted to carry my bag for me, so, of course, they used their heads!


We totally scored this week -- plus the one that got away was a 6 foot green snake crossing the road in front of us.  It got into the bush before we could get a picture and I couldn't get Sister Stevenson to go in after it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Eight Weeks of Peace...

We have had another busy week.  Missionary transfers normally occur every six weeks, but the one that ends next week has been eight weeks.  At the beginning, I referred to it as "Eight Weeks of Peace".  Every time some new thing has come up, I get reminded (usually by the Assistants) of how naive that was.

We continued our visits around the mission and met with the missionaries in:


After the meeting, we had time to hit a "Chop Bar".  (I don't know why it is called that -- its not a bar and there is not much chopping going on.)

Sister Zaccheaus didn't think I cleaned my goat meat bones well enough, so she helped me.

As I was leaving the building that night, a bug flew down my collar and under my t-shirt. So, I learned the origination of the native dances. Luckily, it was only a beetle, but I didn't know that until I fished it out.


I interviewed 24 missionaries and then met with the Stake President.  It was a nice, long day.

Elder Ord is getting information for a report for the stake president.  I'm not sure where his chair is.

Elder Jensen and Elder Havea entertaining.


The Praso District Presidency

The Elders were singing when we arrived

On Thursday, we held an orientation meeting for the 16 new trainers who will be the first companions for our 16 new missionaries who are coming next Tuesday.

On Saturday and Sunday, we participated in an All Africa Stake Conference.  We watched recorded messages specifically for the members in Africa from President Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar and others. On Saturday, the meetings were under local direction and I was asked by the Cape Coast Stake to speak in the Priesthood Leadership Meeting and in the evening session as well. Sister Stevenson was also a speaker in the evening session.  It was fun and there was a very nice turnout of the members of the stake.

After conference, we invited the Ola sisters (their area is called Ola) to have lunch with us at the mission home.  I wanted to talk to one of them about a new assignment and we thought it would be nice to get to know them better.  Sister Stevenson made them work for their lunch.


We didn't get home from Praso until late on Friday, and Saturday we were busy with Stake Conference, so we crashed (by invitation) the transfer planning meeting where the Assistants and the Zone Leaders from the Cape Coast area get together to plan out transportation for all the missionaries who are moving.  They usually have pizza, but on Saturday they had ice cream.  They were a cheap date.


We didn't see any creatures except the beetle in my underwear and I didn't get a picture of that.  Plus, I'm too tired to look for Sister Doggett's e-mail with stand-by creatures.  I'll do better next week.