Sunday, April 26, 2015

I've been to a town, Del.

Sister Stevenson and I spent most of the week in Accra for the Interim Mission President Seminar.  On the way home, we took a couple of hours and hit the West Hills Mall.  I'm afraid we went a little crazy looking at all the available stuff.

We arrived in Accra on Monday afternoon.  Within 20 minutes, Sister Stevenson was in the pool.

We were in meetings with the Area Presidency from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, we were bused to a little restaurant in Accra and had a very nice meal together.  The highlight of the week for us was on Wednesday.  After the meetings, we all attended a session at the Accra Temple.

Which just happened to be at the same time that our youngest son, Evans, was receiving his Endowment at the Boise Idaho Temple.  It was really sweet to share that connection at one of the most important events in his life.

Joseph and Shannon took good care of him.

It was a very nice day for all of us.

On Friday, we had follow-up training for fourteen trainers and their new missionaries.

This group of new missionaries has been with us for three weeks.  It is a good opportunity to bring them in and see how they are doing, reinforce their Missionary Purpose, focus expectations and build unity.  It was a fun day.

Saturday and Sunday, I presided at the Praso District Conference.  That was a first.  I've never been the "visiting authority" before.  The District Presidency is wonderful and we had a very nice conference.


We spent the night at Elder and Sister Hanlon's home.

The missionaries looked great and happy.  We somehow didn't get pictures of the Dunkwa District, but I will be there on Thursday and so I hope they will be featured nicely next week.

After Conference lunch at the home of Brigham Johnson.  The portrait in the background is of his father, Billy Johnson.

Brother Johnson was one of the great pioneers of the Church in Western Africa. Prior to the first missionaries arriving in 1978, Billy Johnson had prepared thousands for baptism in the Restored Gospel. 

The Praso Valley.


Actually, Bamboo is a grass, but it sure looks like a tree.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Miracles have not ceased!

Anyone who knows Sister Stevenson well will recognize that this is a miracle.

The week was filled with welcomes and goodbyes and conferences and missionary interviews.

We welcomed Elder Trey as our newest missionary.  He comes from Cote d'Ivorie and is a native French speaker.  He will be serving in Axim with Elder Macoti.

I found out later that Elder Makoti has an investigator family in their area that speaks only French and a bit of Fante.  He was very excited that his companion can speak French. 

I was also able to set apart a new missionary from one of our mission branches who will be serving in Cote d'Ivorie.  So it was an even trade.

Sister Mensah will be a great missionary.  Elder and Sister Julander have spent a lot of time in that branch and have become great friends of the family.  

We did interviews in Assin Foso, Tarkwa and Winneba.  

Assin Foso


Winneba (only half of the zone)

Sister Stevenson went out with the sister missionaries in Assin Foso while I was in a meeting with the stake president.

The Tarkwa Zone takes lunch:

Saturday and Sunday we were at the Winneba Stake Conference (so we drove back and forth to Winneba on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sister Stevenson and I spoke both days.

 They gave us refreshments between meetings.

Meanwhile, back in Provo, Utah, our Elder Larsen was having lunch with our Elder Stevenson.  Evans said Zack was a nice guy.  We agree.


We stopped for dinner at this little beach resort on the way home from Winneba.  The food was good and the people were very nice.  The buildings were made of mud, so I'm not sure I would stay there.


Sister Stevenson has identified this as the Truffula Tree from "The Lorax."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Harmattan Has Left the Building...

I think we can safely say that the rainy season has begun.

The rain makes Sister Stevenson very happy.  I don't think the missionaries share her enthusiasm.

The day after Easter is called "Easter Monday" and it is a legal holiday here.  In the south of Ghana, the people swarm to the beach.  It was so nice shopping in town on Monday because we had the place pretty much to ourselves. 

On Tuesday, we started the missionary interview cycle.  I have asked them to bring in their personal study journal and share something with me from their scripture study.  I have loved the discussions we have had.

The Elmina Zone was first and we had them come to the Mission Home.  In addition to the interview, they received instruction from Sister Stevenson, their Zone Leaders and the Assistants to the President.  We also let them watch the film, "Meet the Mormons".  It came out in theaters last year while most of them were on their missions, so they were anxious to see it.

Wednesday was the Mission Leadership Council.  

We discussed ways that we can be more effective in teaching the Law of Tithing so that our new members will understand the blessings and importance of living this commandment.  We also reviewed our progress on our Standards of Excellence as a mission for the first quarter and discussed ways that we could improve in certain critical areas.  I also presented some instruction on how mission leaders can help other missionaries deal with the stress of missionary life.

Thursday we were back at the mission home with the Yamoransa Zone.

Meet the Mormons

On Thursday night, I drove out to Hemang (Praso Zone) to do something that I have wanted to do since I got here -- 24 hour Mission President Visits.  My plan is to do these once a month and spend a full day with a companionship.  I think it will make me a better mission president and I hope it will be a good influence in the mission.  

Dinner was chicken hot dogs with bread, ketchup, grilled onions and Fanta.  All the basic food groups were represented.

I brought a mattress, sheets and mosquito netting.  The power went off at 12:30 a.m. so I lost my fan, but luckily it was not a terribly hot evening, so I slept well.

A beautiful morning.

These clowns were my wake up call. 

Companionship Study.

I was impressed that they shined their shoes since they would be dirty in the first few minutes of the day.  I like that.

I knew this was going to be physically uncomfortable for me.  I was either drenched in sweat or in rain most of the day.  Still smiling.

Unplanned service (while I was conducting a baptismal interview.)  The women kept trying to get the knife away from Elder Barrett.  I think he was doing it wrong.

Shelter from the storm.

My first taxi ride in Ghana. (I also rode in a trotro).  Still wet and still smiling (kind of).

The baptism was wonderful even though the water was green.

It was a great day.  We taught three lessons with a member present, two lessons to recent converts, ate fufu and baptized two people.  I got home at 10 p.m. exhausted but happy. (And promptly took a hot shower.)

While I was in Praso, Sister Stevenson also spent most of Friday with the sister missionaries in the Cape Coast area.  They were a little disappointed that she wasn't going to sleep at their apartment, but they had a great day together.

Saturday, we held training for about 50 of the priesthood leaders from the mission branches surrounding the Cape Coast area. 

Sunday, we divided the Abakrampa Branch into three Church units.  We organized branches in Abura Dunkwa and Asebu.  We had all three groups meet together to make the announcements and sustain the new leadership.  

The weather made attendance difficult today.  It rained very hard and it is not easy to find a taxi or tro in the rain.  This was the chapel at 9:10 a.m. (the meeting was scheduled to start at 9:00).  It reminded me of the stake conference in Lake Oswego when I was released and the snowstorm hit.

Eventually, people began to arrive and we ended up with a nice group.

We trained the new branch leadership.

It has been a wonderful week. 


We enjoyed a brief visit from our Area Medical Adviser, Elder Hill and his wonderful wife.  They have been so kind to us and help us take good care of the missionaries.  They came to visit some of the medical facilities that we use and so we took the opportunity to gather our local senior missionaries together and go party.  We went to the Coconut Grove Beach Resort, which is about 30 minutes from the mission home.

We enjoyed a very nice dinner together.  Sister Stevenson, of course, had talapia and rice.  I had curry goat.  After dinner, Sister Stevenson took the opportunity to swim for an hour with Sister Hill.  She was in heaven.


I can't figure out if this is just a pretty housefly or something exotic.  Sister Stevenson found him and took the picture.  She said it was about an inch long.

There were a ton of lizards in Hemang, including this watchman on the tower.