Monday, January 19, 2015

What's Wrong With This Picture?

When I was teaching about developing a culture of obedience at the last zone conferences, I mentioned in a few of the meetings that when I was a missionary in Sweden we had a rule that you didn't put your hands in your pockets.  If a missionary forgot, his companion would simply say, "Your hands are in your pockets, Elder."  We helped each other remember to be obedient.  

I recently received this picture from the (smart-alecky) Praso District.  Very funny. 

Monday is our Preparation Day.  We typically do our grocery shopping then I read the weekly (on-line) missionary letters as they come in.  With 200 to read, it's easier to break it up throughout the day.  This week, Sister Stevenson got some grilled Talapia in the market and brought it home and we had a nice feast.  It wasn't quite finished cooking when she bought it, so she put on the final touches at home. 

We brought them home and warmed them up!


Grocery shopping is a bit of a process, but we have it down to a science.  First we hit the fruit stand across from the bank, then we go to the vegetable stand across from Melcom's.  We avoid Melcom's (a small department store chain) if we can because it's no fun.  Then we drive left past the crab statue to the "European Store" for canned chicken and other rare items.  Then we finish up at Andy's Trading Establishment in Bakano for all the good stuff including frozen chicken breasts, cheese and butter!  We always take the long way to town along the beach to let the waves calm us down.  Just before we get home, we stop at the Take A Rest Spot for eggs and dark chocolate.  Sister Stevenson washes the fruit, vegetables and eggs in a soap / bleach solution to kill any nasties, and we are set for the week.

This week we had our first Mission Leadership Council of 2015.  We invited all of the District Leaders to join us, so we had a big group.

We had training in fundamental leadership principles, effective district meetings, companionship exchanges and baptismal qualification interviews.  It was a nice experience and good to see these wonderful leaders together.

We had training / missionary interviews over four days in Winneba, Takoradi, Sekondi and Dunkwa-On-Offin.

I'm sorry we didn't get a group picture of everyone in Dunkwa.  We have eight missionaries there now and the branch is doing great.  We had almost 70 in attendance at Church yesterday.  Not bad for a congregation that only started a few months ago.  

The trip to Dunkwa is always an adventure.  We left Saturday night and stayed in Praso with Elder and Sister Hanlon.

Then we left at 5:30 a.m. to make the 9 a.m. Sacrament meeting.  The drive to Dunkwa is absolutely beautiful.  It is not as much of an adventure during the dry season because there are no significant water crossings (except the scary bridge over the Pra).

This was the first Sunday the branch met in their new building, not because the building was ready, but because there was no alternative.  So, there were a few distractions requiring our patience and flexibility:

The landlord, who is not a member of the Church, contracted to have the water well drilled on Sunday.  The hole is about 30 meters from the chapel. They said they couldn't stop drilling until they were finished or they would have to start over again, but once they hit water, the noise would be reduced.  So, we delayed the meeting for about a half hour until they hit the gusher!

The members passed the time by singing hymns above the chaos.  Eventually, it was quiet enough to start and we got through the meeting until about 15 minutes into my concluding remarks and they fired up the drill again.  That was my signal to conclude and move on!

No water, no power, no paint...

...and very limited facilities.  Only a few more weeks and all will be completed and this will be a wonderful, peaceful place to worship in a city that will be a center of strength for the Church and the members.  Luckily, the Ghanaian people are very patient.

Each week, I have the opportunity to interview a few of the people preparing for baptism.  Most of these interviews are done by the missionary leadership, but I enjoy doing some each week.  This sister was baptized yesterday.  I always ask them how they came to find the Church.

She said she has a friend who is a member of the Church and whom she has always admired.  From time to time they have talked about faith and one Sunday morning, she decided to just go to the church and see for herself.  She arrived at about 8 a.m., but meetings didn't start until 9.  There were a few leaders there who welcomed her and invited her to wait for the meetings to begin.  As she sat in the chapel and people started arriving, one after one the members came to her and introduced themselves and welcomed her.  Then the bishop introduced himself and invited her to his office.  He told her she was very welcome and hoped she would meet with the missionaries to learn the doctrines of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She agreed and over the course of four weeks, came to her own knowledge of the truth.  She was very excited and will be a strong member. 


Tropical fruit smoothies, Harry Potter and Skyping with Evans...


Palm Tree laden with Weaver nests (Driving to Dunkwa in the early morning mist).

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