The blog is a little late this week. Sister Stevenson and I were invited to speak at a fireside at the Bakano Ward on Sunday evening. This was the view of the lagoon at sunset as we left the meeting. It was a fun fireside (remember, they are called firesides because in the early days of the Church, people would gather around the fireplace in their homes to discuss the Gospel. The name stuck, but there is no fire). I thought it was going to be just Sister Stevenson and me speaking, but after Sister Stevenson shared her remarks (she did great!), they opened up the floor for questions. There were many very interesting questions and the meeting had gone on an hour before I got up to speak. The topic was how members of the Church can help in sharing the Gospel. I told of the conversion of Sister Stevenson's family in Brazil and how a member of the Church prepared the way for that wonderful event.
Sister Stevenson's family came into the Church in a wonderful way. Her parents are Dutch-Indonesian, but they were living in Brazil when Marion was born. Her father worked in the automotive industry and was required to travel to the United States for three months of training when Marion was 7 years old. The training was taking place in Rochester, New York and his assigned roommate happened to be a member of the Church. After getting to know each other a little, the roommate (whose name we do not know) said, "You seem to enjoy history and philosophy. Some of the most important historical sites relating to my faith are within an hour drive of here and I would like to see them. I wonder if you would like to spend your Saturdays with me visiting these landmarks." Marion's father agreed, and for the next several weekends, they walked the Sacred Grove, climbed the Hill Cumorah and discussed the restoration of the Gospel. Meanwhile, back in Brazil, two missionaries knocked on the door of the Spier home. As they introduced themselves, Marion's mother said that she thought her husband would like to talk to them and that they should return when he was back from his training. When Brother Spier returned home, it didn't take long for the missionaries to begin teaching the family. After a few months of investigating, her mom and dad and two older brothers were baptized. Marion had to wait an extra month until she turned 8 before she was baptized. The family later moved back to Holland and were sealed in the London temple before eventually immigrating to the United States.
I like to believe that while the Lord was putting all of this in place, He also thought to Himself, "This will work out really well for My (future) servant, Scott."
The members of the Bakano Ward left pretty excited. It will be fun to see if we made a difference.
We finished up the last of the missionary interviews for this quarter (except for Tarkwa, who we will see at the end of the month). This week was Swedru, Odoben / Asikuma, Bakano and Elmina districts.
Sister Ivie sliced open a cocoa pod while we were staying with them. I like cocoa in its natural state (brownies), so I passed on the taste test, but Sister Stevenson sucked the goo off the beans and said it tasted like cherry lifesavers. (Important safety tip: Don't chew the beans!).
Since next week is Transfer Week, we will be receiving a few new missionaries. So on Friday, we invited their Trainers to come in to the mission home for orientation. We are only getting two sisters and one elder this time, so it was a small group.
The trainer for the new elder had already attended the orientation recently, so we let him stay in his area.
I was able to do some baptismal interviews in Cape Coast and also drove out to Hemang one evening to do some temple recommend interviews. One of the people I was to meet for a temple recommend was ill and couldn't see me, so next Saturday when the group is on the way to the temple, they will stop at the mission home at 3 a.m. and I will interview her (not in my pajamas). That will be a first for me.
On Saturday, we had training for the branch leaders in 5 of my 11 mission branches. They told us to expect 80 people. I am afraid I was skeptical and almost didn't have enough faith to order that much food. All of these people traveled between one to three hours (each way) to attend. Their dedication continues to amaze me. It was awesome meeting with them.
Elder Adams and Elder Halversen set the room up for us. They serve in Chapel Hill, a very nice community in Takoradi.
Saturday evening, the six zone leaders from the Cape Coast area met with the Assistants to plan out transportation for transfers. They always make a party of it and recently have invited Sister Stevenson and I to join them for dinner. This time, Elder Gqweta made a wonderful South African stew (chicken, potatoes, pineapple, etc. with a sweet, homemade bread. You eat it with your hands from common bowls. It was very delicious.
On Sunday, we took the Cape Coast Stake Presidency to visit the two branches in Mankessim. The Cape Coast Stake will likely be divided this year, and several of my mission branches will become part of the new stakes (YEAH!). The application will take some coordination between the stake and the branches, so we are putting the parties in touch with each other.
This was our third week in a row in Mankessim and we will also be there again next week. The two branches share a beautiful new building. The only problem is that we are across the "street" from another church under construction. They began holding Sunday meetings in their building a few weeks ago and they are much louder than we are (drums, instruments and BIG LOUD SPEAKERS). It's like our members get two worship services for the price of one. Everything is so communal here that they are experts in tuning out the distractions. I'm still working on it.
There were eight convert baptisms in Mankessim this weekend, so it was fun to see the Confirmations in Church on Sunday.
Sister Stevenson made brownies for Valentines Day. I'm afraid I'll need to do better next week.
CREATURE OF THE WEEK:
TREE OF THE WEEK;
Still not entirely sure what is going on here...