Sunday, January 31, 2016

Older and Wiser...

My birthday was this week.  It was very pleasant.  I got new pajamas.  I ate cake and ice cream.

Not like last year when Sister Stevenson and a band of missionaries showed their love by giving me the traditional Ghanaian birthday greeting.

So to avoid any well meaning conspiracy, we got out of town by 9 a.m. and didn't return all week.

We spent the week in the Western Region interviewing the missionaries in the Takoradi, Tarkwa and Kojokrom Zones -- 72 missionaries.  We drove to chapels convenient to their areas and had them come in groups of 4 to 6 at a time.  On one day, we hit Agona (60 minute drive), Tarkwa (60 minute drive), Axim (2 hour drive), Nkroful (40 minute drive) and back to Takoradi (2.5 hour drive). 

Our home base for the week was a nice hotel in Takoradi.

This is the view from the Shama Chapel.  See our car way down there?  It is a bit of a hike to get to church.

Baptism interview in Tarkwa.

Pineapple growing at the chapel at Tarkwa.

The Harmattan continues to cause problems.  

On Saturday, about 400 church leaders gathered from all over the mission to meet with Sister Stephens from the Relief Society General Presidency and Sister Durham from the Primary General Presidency. Unfortunately, their plane from Accra to Takoradi was cancelled due to poor visibility relating to the Harmattan haze.  Elder Davis, our Area Seventy, had to break the bad news to everyone.

About 15 minutes before he did that, he turned to me and said, "President Stevenson, why don't you take about an hour and lead the training since we have all of these people here."  Well, I was a poor substititute, but I think the Lord was merciful to the people who had come so far and we ended up having a nice meeting.

This is the man who walked into the Takoradi Stake Center in December 2014 and asked Sister Stevenson what he had to do to be baptized.  He is now a counselor in the Sekondi Ward bishopric.

All of our sister missionaries had been invited to attend the training and we had received authorization from the Area Presidency to hold a Sisters Conference with them afterwards.  If you could bottle that energy, the oil companies would be out of business.

We had a very nice time together.

Sunday, we were back in Cape Coast and did get to meet Sister Stephens and Sister Durham.  

Sister Curtis, Sister Stephens, Sister Stevenson and Sister Durham 

We went to the Abura Ward with Sister Durham and her husband and Elder and Sister Curtis accompanied the Stephens to the Ola Ward.

Sister Durham with the Primary.

After church services, we had a quick lunch at the mission home before they had to leave for meetings in Accra.  

It was very nice to meet them and spend part of the day together.

As lunch was finishing up, there was a knock on the door.  It was Elder Hackmeister!  He completed his mission in August and is back for a week with a group doing a service project.  It was great to see him again and we hope to catch up a little later in the week.

He looks good.  White shirt and tie and we could put him back out there.


Don't forget to pray...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Harmattan Season

Each year about this time, the trade winds (the Harmattan) blow into Western Africa from the Sahara bringing a ton of fine dust.  The days are very hot, but the nights are cooler and dryer.  It makes for nice sunrises and sunsets.  We have a lot of missionaries with itchy eyes and sore throats though -- and those with asthma have a rough time -- so we are ready for a little rain.

This was transfer week.  We had 11 missionaries leaving and 8 coming.  Piece of cake, right?  Except we also moved 32 missionaries out of the Winneba Stake and into other parts of the mission.  There were a lot of people moving.

On Tuesday, we welcomed our eight new missionaries from the MTC.

These two figured out that they would be companions before I announced the assignments.  It wasn't rocket science since we only had one new sister missionary and one new sister trainer.

First crack at speaking Twi.

The casual one is Elder Adams, who had an emergency appendectomy last week.  He is staying at the mission home until he gets the stitches out.  

"...the heart and a willing mind."

Adjusting to Missionary Life

Off they go -- all smiles.

Tuesday was interesting because while we were meeting the new missionaries, all of the Winneba elders and sisters were also heading for the mission home.  We had to make room for the Accra West missionaries (their transfers are on Tuesdays) so our missionaries had to camp out for a night until our transfers on Wednesday.

The six Winneba Sisters joined Sister Udom, our new sister missionary, at the mission home.

The 25 elders stayed at the Office Couple's apartment (but since we don't have an office couple, there was plenty of room).

Even though it was a big sleepover, Elder and Sister Hanlon were able to slip in a devotional.

Wednesday morning, we had them all headed for their new areas and we prepared to receive the eleven elders who would be returning home.

Elder Harward is joining Elder Hodson as a supply elder.

Elder Reyes will be the new mission secretary.

The Fufu this time was Talapia with palm nut soup.

Elder Hannemann is the new Assistant to the President -- he gets to enjoy all this glamour.  


On time for breakfast.

Elder Etim is returning home.

Joined by some old comrades.

Safe Journey.

On Saturday, we started our missionary interviews.  I have four weeks to meet with all 200 missionaries.  While I meet with the individual missionaries, Sister Stevenson shares some stay healthy advice with the ones that are waiting.

We saw 19 missionaries on Saturday.  It was nice.

On Sunday, I drove out to Dunkwa-on-Offin to interview the eight missionaries there.  It is about a 4 hour drive each way, so it took all day.

The River Pra is way down right now.

I don't think I will ever get used to crossing this bridge -- one lane, two way traffic and missing railroad ties.

The road has been graded recently so it wasn't the normal adventure. Pretty dusty though.

There was only one water hazard. 

After I interviewed the last of the eight missionaries in Dunkwa, I stopped by one of the apartments to say goodbye.  They were enjoying chicken and rice lunch before going out again.  I joined them with the pb&j sandwich Sister Stevenson packed for me.

I didn't get home until after dark, but I got to enjoy another Harmattan sunset!


It's a tough world.