Saturday, 17 November 2012

Entry #16

We have been doing a lot of traveling through the treacherously rough roads of Ghana in recent days. Last weekend we traveled to Sunyani, about 3 hours northwest of Kumasi for a Branch Conference. We have 5 branches of the church in the Sunyani area and were able to have a branch conference for the Penkwase Branch. Sunyani is more rural and much less congested than Kumasi, so we enjoyed being in an area where the beauties of the African Jungle were more visible and inviting. The jungle along the road is very lush and largely undisturbed. It is interesting to go to these branch conferences and realize that nearly all of the members have only been members of the church of two years or less. They are so receptive to your teaching. I think the Young Women’s President , who was just called had only been a member of the church for a few weeks, and that was about the same with every leader in the branch. There were a couple of return missionaries, one of which taught the gospel doctrine class and did a marvelous job. Mom did some training for the Relief Society Presidency and Dad trained the Elders Quorum Presidency. They are so eager to learn and do things right – they love the gospel in their lives.

This coming Sunday we will be traveling to Bibiani for a branch conference there. This village is about two hours drive west of Kumasi.

One of our greatest joys is rubbing shoulders with the young missionaries – both elders and sisters. They are so dedicated and seem to really enjoy being around the two of us. Our reputation for providing breakfast on Preparation Day has spread through the mission so we have some elders that invite themselves to breakfast and then travel for two hours to get to our place, just to share some time with us and have some American made pancakes. Last Preparation Day we had 4 elders drop in on us and they didn’t want to leave. They were with us for a couple of hours and enjoyed some of Mom’s banana bread. They just love telling us about their missionary work and talking about their families and their plans after their mission. Of course we love to tell them about our family and show them the dozens of pictures we have of the family – pasted all over the walls of our apartment.

We particularly enjoy the Zone Leaders when they come in for their Zone Council training. They love to joke around with us and we think we provide a welcome relief from the rigors of missionary work. They love to tease and Dad loves to tease them so we have an enjoyable time. Below is a picture of them in our office as they were getting ready to depart and head back to their respective areas of labor. Some of them have 3 or 4 hours by Tro Tro (bus) to get back to their area.

On November 7th we had 9 new missionaries arrive in our mission and we have 10 more scheduled to arrive on December 19th. There are only a couple of missionaries returning home during this period, so you can see our numbers are quickly increasing.

We were caught in downtown Kumasi a couple of weeks ago due to their celebration of Veterans Day (African Version) and caught a few pictures below of the military formations and drum beating and dancing.

The pictures below are a little misleading. It looks like white people are in plentiful supply. The truth is that you seldom see a white person and about 80% of the missionaries are Africans.

As most of you were, we were very disappointed about how the US presidential election turned out. I’m glad we weren’t home, even though we voted on line, because then we didn’t hear all of the spin of the results. Oh, my, it’s too bad.

Mom and Dad

Veterans Day Military Formation – we happened to be down town at the post office – this was in front of the post office.

The drum section that accompanied the dancing and marching during the Veterans Day celebration
Two dancers – an African lady and an abruni (white man) – quite a spectacle – dancing to the drums in the street. The umbrellas in the back all are stands where people sell various items.

This is a stand in front of the post office during the military show with some good fruit. After we go to the post office(sometimes twice a week) we cross the street to the store called Opoku Trade Supermarket –has some American food.

Missionaries that just dropped by our place on Preparation Day – Elder Sagers (Utah), Elder Succo (Utah), Elder Obisike (Africa) and Elder Reid (UK) – and some old man on the end. They were here on P-Day celebrating Elder Reid’s 19 th birthday and dropped by to give us a visit. We really enjoyed it.

The traffic on the way to the post office and the bank in Adum in Kumasi, downtown – usually worse than this.

Zone leaders in our office following Zone Council – great young men!

A typical logo on a Tro Tro. Every vehicle has some slogan or biblical saying.

Here are the new Sisters and Elders and their companions with the Assistants and the Holmes out on the back deck. We had 3 new Sisters – all African – and 6 new Elders – one American, one Australian and four Africans. It’s a very busy time in at the mission home and in our office when they come in. They are flown up here from the MTC in Accra and stay in the mission home one night, meet their trainers the next day, are fed well and then are sent out to do missionary work. Good looking group!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Entry #15

Since the wards and branches located in our mission do not receive direct broadcasts of general conference they wait a few weeks and play a DVD that has the sessions of conference. Today is the day that they used a TV and presented the sessions to the ward members. They opened the meeting and administered the sacrament and then they presented the Saturday afternoon session of conference and then took a break for some refreshment and then watched the Sunday morning session of conference. We were impressed by their focus and attention to the conference. They are very faithful members of the church. The presentation was in English; however it is our understanding that presentations in other wards and branches in the area were in Twi – so we were glad that this ward presentation was in English so we could understand and participate. The spirit was very strong and the members really soaked it up and were so happy to hear the prophet and the apostles and other general authorities speak.

Mom and Dad

Mission home guard and physical facilities guys working to furnish new missionary apartment – This is a new truck. When he gets his canopy on the back he will have loads tied to the top – really packs it in. In the top of the picture is the big generator for the mission home. It has to be turned on at least once and sometimes five times a day because the power is constantly going on and off. Think what it does to the office machinery. We’re just grateful for a that generator.

Corn planted around the mission home by the housekeeper and mission home cook – Veronica. Corn stalks are over 12 feet high. This is field corn not sweet corn. All they eat is field corn and boy, it’s tough! We don’t eat it.

Members of Asokwa Ward between sessions of General Conference
Ward members at Asokwa ward during break between sessions of General Conference. We were there from 9 am until 2 pm. All we have are open windows and ceiling fans. By 2 it was really getting quite hot. We are into the hot season.

Our adopted granddaughters – Lynette, Joyce and Elizabeth. The break between sessions of General Conference. They always seek us out and sit by us in church. We usually give them a ride home after the meetings.


 In early 2011, President Melvin Sabey, Mission President of Ghana Cape Coast Mission,
heard of a group of Ghanaians worshipping in the remote area of Bibiani located north
of Cape Coast. This village is several hours away from Cape Coast or Kumasi. The trip
required a several hours of driving, over difficult African roads.

President Sabey, upon visiting Bibiani, found people there worshipping and conducting
meetings, and most surprisingly, paying significant tithing to the Church. President
Sabey submitted a request to the Africa West Area office for permission to allow the
Bibiani members to be formed into a group with permission to conduct Sacrament
meetings. This request was denied due to the policy to not open Groups or Branches
without proper support or Priesthood leadership. (There have been many examples of
problems that have occurred from such action in the past.) Just before President Sabey
left his mission he formally submitted a second request to the Area Office. In Mid-2011
the members in Bibiani were given permission to conduct a limited sacrament service and
hold a Sunday school class.

President Jeff Shulz, the new Ghana Cape Coast Mission President, was asked by the
Africa West Area presidency to travel to Bibiani and determine if the church members
were following proper Church protocol in conducting their meetings. President Shulz
and his wife invited Elder and Sister Zoll, a relatively new senior missionary couple
serving in Kumasi, to accompany them to Bibiani.

No one could have prepared this investigating group for what they would see when they
arrived for the Sunday worship in Bibiani. They found over 60 faithful Ghanaian saints,
and their children, huddled in a small, humid, poorly lighted school room, singing church
hymns, and blessing and passing the Sacrament. Across the hall was another church
holding a meeting, a meeting that consisted of the pounding of drums and chanting
in tongues, which made it nearly impossible to hear the proceedings of the sacrament

The speakers bore humble and powerful testimonies, and the spirit was over powering.
After the service, the Bibiani saints put the chairs on their heads and went outside on
the dirt, in the sweltering heat and humidity, and proceeded to teach gospel principles
in a Sunday School type class. The instructors were prepared and knowledgeable about
the gospel. It was observed that even though everything was not perfectly adhered
to, the basic core of the meetings and messages were spiritually powerful and humbly

It was then that the acting group leader named Emmanuel Tawiah Turkson grabbed Elder
Zoll’s arm and said “Elder Zoll, we have been waiting for you. We need missionaries
to come and teach us and help us so we can receive the priesthood, so we can become a
Branch and worship correctly and with proper authority.” “Please will you help us” he
pleaded. “We have prayed for many years to get the missionaries to come” he said.

Both President Shulz and Elder Zoll were so touched and humbled with such a sincere
and heartfelt request that when Elder Zoll asked the President for permission to be in
charge of this group and provide all necessary support to help them become a Branch, it
was granted. Due to distance from the mission home, the mission president was reluctant
to send full-time missionaries to the group. Elder and Sister Zoll accepted the challenge
and the assignment to travel the 2 hours to Bibiani from Kumasi with missionaries to
teach and interview and baptize the Bibiani faithful. It did not take long to discover the
powerful sincere leadership skills of brother Turkson, who so desired for this group to
become a Branch. His faith and dynamic personality and spirit were inspiring.

It was soon learned that there was another group in a village called Bekwai (30
kilometers to the south of Bibiani) that were likewise conducting meetings with a similar
situation and number of faithful saints. The Zolls and the zone leaders Elder Koukou and
Elder Alba taught the discussions to over 35 faithful saints over the next month. When it
was nearing the time for baptisms to be performed it was realized that no baptismal font
was available. Africa has few waterways that can be used. Brother Turkson prayed that
a suitable river could be located. He found one 20 minutes outside of Bibiani. He was
able to get approval from the Queen Mother of the village near the river to perform the

Then a day to remember occurred on December 10, 2011 with the baptizing of 30 faithful
saints in that river, under the inspiration of the spirit. A powerful day no one would
forget since some of these saints, who were aging, had prayed for the missionaries and
baptism for 3 years or more. One sister had a baby boy, the day before the set baptismal
date, and so wanted to be baptized she got special permission to go into the waters of
baptism. Bibiani was now well on its way to becoming a Branch, a blessing that they had
so mightily prayed to achieve.

Brother Turkson continued to request a building for church worship. Buildings that fit
the criteria were very hard to find. The Zoll’s kept telling him they could not get one
approved for a long time, and they should be content with getting missionaries. He was
told that the church leadership in the Africa West Area would not grant such request until
they qualified for Branch status and had sufficient Melchizedek Priesthood and other
leadership in place.

Brother Turkson was undeterred and prayed all night for the much needed building.
Upon getting off his knees, the next morning, he received a call informing him that a
building had just become available to rent, if closed immediately. Brother Turkson called
Elder Zoll and pleaded for him to come and see it. Elder Zoll did so reluctantly, and
could see this building was ideal and would not last on the market. Although Elder Zoll
felt it was highly unlikely, he wrote the Area Presidency, pleading for the permission
needed for obtaining this building for the Bibiani group. The email sent to request the
permission happened to be sent and received during the Area Presidency meeting. When
read the Presidency felt inspired to change their position and approved it on the spot.
The Zolls traveled to the Area offices in Accra that next day to obtain the funds, written
approvals and an executed lease to close the deal.

Upon hearing of the chance to obtain a building for worship the members all came out
and sang hymns and walked about the building in happiness and thankfulness, as the
Landlords signature was obtained. It was a sight to behold.

Shortly thereafter, the missionaries began teaching another group of 42 investigators
(Elder and Sister Zoll and Elders Briggs and Elder Dadzie.) Many of these investigators
were from Bekwai and had to walk nearly 5 kilometers to attend the missionary
discussions in Bibiani. Another day to remember occurred on April 29, 2012 when 42
faithful saints were baptized and confirmed in a single day in the river. It was a sight
to behold and will never be forgotten by those in attendance. The spirit was there in
abundance and amazing testimonies were borne.

Bibiani became a Branch and Emmanuel Turkson was called to be the first Branch
President with 2 powerful and faithful Counselors in brothers James Buadu and Samuel
Ewusie. Bibiani later was provided 4 full time missionaries and a baptismal font.
Bekwai is now progressing toward Branch status. Little did anyone know that through
the faith and prayers of these faithful saints, as led by President Turkson, the gospel
would flourish and become a pioneering history of faith, and a verification that prayers
are answered.

The branch quarterly report for the Bibiani Branch showed 113 members and 67%
attendance at sacrament meeting. On October 11, 2012 – 18 brethren were interviewed
and found worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Truly the Lord loves these people and will bless them.