Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy Birthday To Me...

I'm told there is a custom in Ghana to throw water on someone to wish them a happy birthday.  Sister Stevenson set me up with the missionaries, but she paid a heavy price for her conspiracy.

We did get a nice pancake breakfast in the deal.

We continued our mission visits and missionary interviews.  This week we were in Takoradi (two days) and Axim.

The "dry season" isn't always.

We spent Tuesday night at the Julander's home and had dinner at my favorite restaurant here.  I don't even know the name (I call it the Bombay House), but they have wonderful Indian food.  I had the lamb sag with naan.

The next morning we were off to Axim.  The road to Axim is barely even an adventure anymore.  It used to be a 4x4 brain scrambler, but the paved sections are longer than the dirt sections.  Even the dirt is not too bumpy.  We can make the drive from Takaradi to Axim in 2 hours now.

Still a little fun.

We had planned to visit Tarkwa the next morning so it was "necessary" that we stay the night in Axim at the Beach Resort.

On Thursday morning we drove the two hours to Tarkwa and got within 4 km of the city when we turned around and headed back to Cape Coast to handle an issue that came up.  We were sorry to miss them, but we have rescheduled for next Friday.

The next day, we were back in Takaradi.

Saturday, I had my quarterly Coordinating Council Meeting with all of the stake presidents in the mission boundaries.  Elder Davis, the member of the Seventy that presides at our council meeting always gives me 45 minutes to speak with the presidents.  We have a great partnership and much of our success comes from the cooperation between the members of the Church and the full-time missionaries. Currently, about 75% of those that join the Church in our mission were introduced to the Gospel by a friend or family member.  I am grateful for the faithful members in Ghana and for their support of this work.

MR is Member Referral; PM is Part Member Family; GC is Gospel Conversation with the missionaries; SR is Self Referral (those are cool); and OR is Other Referral (someone outside the area has introduced us.)

Last Sunday, I mentioned attending a Sunday School class with an impressive group of investigators in Winneba.  I asked the missionaries about one 22 year old young woman who seemed like she had been a member of the Church for years.  They told me she was the oldest daughter of a family of nine.  The mother and the seven children were preparing for baptism and were very committed.  The father was working in Nigeria.  The mother was so excited about her newfound faith that she called the father and encouraged him to find the missionaries in Nigeria and listen to them.  Two weeks ago, he called back and asked the mother to join him in Nigeria so they could talk.  We never baptize one spouse without the consent of the other, so we were very afraid that the father would be angry and not allow the rest of the family to move forward.  The missionaries prayed and prayed for this family.  On Sunday, they got a call from the mother who told them that she and her husband had been baptized that day by the missionaries in Nigeria!  When she returns home, the rest of the family will join them in the Gospel. Everyone was very, very happy.

Today we attended the two branches in Mankassim.  Its about a 45 minute drive from the mission home.

The sound system was out and during the closing prayer it began to pour down rain.  The roof has skylights so it was impossible to hear the prayer over the pounding.  We just kind of kept peeking to see when she was done and at the end, the congregation shouted "Amen!"  It was pretty cool.  I think they heard it in Heaven (and the Methodists across the street may have even heard us).

Later tonight, I will be speaking at a meeting for members and investigators at the local ward (we call them Firesides, but there is no fire).  I haven't done a lot of that here, but I have two scheduled this month.  We'll see if I get invited back.



Last week, we had a red flowing tree.  My sister-in-law, Ann Marie, mentioned that there was also a yellow flowering variety.  Sure enough...

Sunday, January 25, 2015


This week we welcomed two new missionaries from the Ivory Coast to serve in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.  They have been in the MTC for six weeks learning English.  For the next two years, they will teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in English, with a smattering of Twi and Fante.  Since we share a border with the Ivory Coast, their French may be useful too.

Once we got our new missionaries settled, we hit the road again to continue the personal interviews with each missionary.  This week we were in Praso, Assin Foso (two days) and here at home with the Nkanfoa District.

Part of Sister Stevenson's instruction on Health and Safety includes relaxation techniques.  Sometimes it is hard to get them back up.

I made the Praso District take this picture to repent for the "hands in the pockets" photo from last week.

One afternoon, Sister Stevenson went teaching with the sister missionaries while I was in meetings.  She got a little melted, but they were able to teach three lessons that night. 

They watched the Kente Cloth weavers for a minute as they walked between appointments.

For DATE NIGHT, Sister Stevenson accompanied me while I interviewed a woman for baptism.  Her father is a member and her daughter is a member -- and now, she is also a member of the Church.  It was nice to meet all of them.

The dad was so happy that his daughter was being baptized.

To celebrate, I treated Sister Stevenson to a frozen yogurt.  Then we went home and had the closest thing to a doughnut we have found here -- a ball float with Nutella.

A ball float is deep fried bread dough that rises to the size of a baseball.  They are only slightly sweet, so I like to add jam or Nutella, but they are also good plain.  Sister Stevenson's job as co-pilot is to stay on the lookout for the women selling ball floats.  They are not as common as some of the other things the vendors sell, so we buy them as we can.  I think they are called ball floats because they float in the oil as they cook. I don't think they are terribly healthy, but that hasn't stopped me before.

Sunday was a real treat.  A few weeks ago, I was asked by the sister missionaries in Winneba to help teach one of their investigators who was struggling with the concept of being baptized again since he had been baptized in his current church.  We had a nice discussion and encouraged him to prayerfully determine what God wanted him to do.  Once he came to that understanding, all of his other concerns would fall into their proper place.  He called me a few times over the weeks to let me know how he was doing.  In the last call, he said he had decided he should be baptized and asked if I would perform the ordinance.

So, this morning, Sister Stevenson and I drove out to Winneba for church services and the baptism.  I was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting and then we attended the Gospel Essentials Sunday School Class.  This is the class for new members of the Church and those investigating.  It was awesome to hear my young friend and several of the other investigators teach and testify of the Restored Gospel as they participated in the class.

After the meetings, we gathered for the baptism.  Since I was getting wet anyway, they had me do all four of the baptisms.  It was very special for me.  My friend is an accounting student at the university and he brought four of his classmates to church with him today to see his baptism.  They are sharp young men and we encouraged them to continue to come.


The nasty spider that bit Sister Stevenson on the hand.