This blog covers the years 2014-2016 when we (the Robisons) were at the Ghana MTC. To see the blog covering the period 2016-2018 click on this link:

Friday, February 28, 2014

It is in their smiles

Elder Holland said this about the saints in Africa - “It is my nature to want to tell people that I love them and that the Lord loves them,” he said. “I think that’s really true, and it’s true anywhere. But Heavenly Father’s love for His children is conspicuous in Africa. They have the most gorgeous smiles, the happiest faces; their children have to be among the most beautiful children on the face of the earth. It is very, very easy to love them. It is something like meeting people you think you’ve known before. We’ve all had that kind of experience—a kindred relationship with somebody. That’s how I feel with the African people. There is something special about what we feel when we come to this land, come to these nations, when we’re on this continent. Something in them, and something in us, creates a camaraderie of the soul that is immediate and almost beyond words.”

Emerging With Faith in Africa - The Stories of Bernice & Muhmud

This morning we discovered online some beautiful resources about Africa and conversion stories of people we have met thus far.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seeking Gospel Culture in Africa

There are cultural practices which are considered normal in some cultures and rude in others.   Ghana, considered one of the safest countries in Africa, is a multi-cultural country.

Missionaries are encouraged to be observant and respectful to the culture of Africa.  When sitting in a meeting, it is not proper to cross your legs; ever.  With regard to dress, it is unacceptable for women to wear clothes of a revealing nature nor is it acceptable for men to go shirtless.

It is not normal to see people of the opposite sex holding hands in public (or any public displays of affection), but very common to see two men holding hands or 2 women holding hands.  Last Sunday in our priesthood meetings, many of the Elders would rest their entire arm on the arm of the Elder next to them.  In our devotionals, the Sisters always sit in the front and many of them sit with arms interlocked with the Sister next to temple.  Yesterday while walking in the corridor of the temple, I noticed men workers holding hands as they walked.  However, homosexuality in Ghana is a topic never spoken of because people do not know how to react about it.

Ghanians are very welcoming people.  "Akwaaba obroni" (welcome white person) is often heard by those visiting the country.  For example, it is considered rude to greet someone with your hand in your pocket or wearing a baseball cap.  When greeting people, no one is ignored.  Guests are expected to acknowledge every person (starting with the eldest) at social occasion, including children and babies (shaking only with the right hand).  First great the person on your right and work your way left insuring that your palm makes contact with their palm.Touching the back of the hand is considered unlucky or as an insult.  The same ritual is following upon departure as well.

"Many African traditions are consistent with the gospel culture and help our members keep the commandments of God. The strong African family culture is superior to that of many Western countries, where family valuesare disintegrating. We hope the examples of love and loyalty among members of African families will help us teach others these essential traditions in the gospel culture. Modesty is another African strength. We plead with youth elsewhere to be as modest as most of the young people we see in Africa."  (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, March 2012 Ensign, "The Gospel Culture")
"In contrast, some cultural traditions in parts of Africa are negative when measured against gospel culture and values. Several of these concern family relationships—what is done at birth, at marriage, and upon death. For example, some African husbands have the false idea that the husband rests while the wife does most of the work at home or that the wife and children are just servants of the husband. This is not pleasing to the Lord because it stands in the way of the kind of family relationships that must prevail in eternity and it inhibits the kind of growth that must occur here on earth if we are to qualify for the blessings of eternity. Study the scriptures and you will see that Adam and Eve, our first parents, the model for all of us, prayed together and worked together (see Moses 5:1, 4, 10–12, 16, 27). That should be our pattern for family life—respecting each other and working together in love." (Elder Oaks)

Elder Dube Related Well To Ghana MTC Missionaries

Today Elder Edward Dube and his wife spoke in the Area Devotional held at the MTC.  Elder Dube is from Zimbabwe and was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy a year ago.  He spoke to the missionaries about understanding the lesson taught to Moses, who was at first fearful about his call, but tutored by the Lord to understand who he was.  Such is the case with each missionary.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Glimpses of Temple Joy

 On Tuesday and Wednesday, we took our missionaries to the Temple.  The English-speaking missionaries went on Tuesday and the French-speaking on Wednesday.  On Tuesday it had rained the night before, so the grounds looked particularly green and vibrant.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tema Market Has A Bit of Everything

We had a fascinating look at the Tema Market today to shop for fabric.  We stayed in the fabric section where most shops had the tailor right there making the fabric into clothes.

Sunday Evening Devotional Duet

In Africa, the missionaries spontaneously start singing along with whomever is singing a musical number.  At the end of the number, they broke out in enthusiastic applause.  They are not afraid to let their emotion show.

Arts & Crafts on Saturday Night?

There is much to be done on Saturday night in preparation for Sunday.  The first Sunday, the elders learn about consecrated oil.  Proper documentation for the Tuesday and Wednesday temple excursion is also compiled on the weekend.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Capturing the Welcome Meeting

This group has:  33 English speakers and 29 French speakers.  They come from Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Samoa, DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Ghana, Nigeria, and the US this time.  Sound like the United Nations?  What a blending of different cultures.  Amazing to see it all come together under 'gospel culture.'

What is the Brand that is You?

Last night I spoke to the Ghana Chapter of the BYU Management Society about creating our own personal brands.  This topic has great gospel application as we make choices between good, better and best.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What Couples Have Presided at the Ghana MTC

  • President and Sister Stephen M. Hadley            2002-2004
  • President and Sister James W. Ritchie                2004-2006
  • President and Sister Brent L. Nielson                 2006-2008
  • President and Sister David K. Harmon               2008-2010
  • President and Sister Fredrick Froerer III             2010-2012
  • President and Sister Stephen L. Graham            2012-2014
  • President and Sister Reid A. Robison                 2014-Present

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ghana MTC Choir

We have been amazed at the singing ability of the missionaries who enter the Ghana MTC. The February 7th Group was no exception. They practiced daily all last week to present this number at the Sunday night devotional.

Profile of a P-Day

Our first preparation day in Ghana.  We have been here a month and decided to venture out to Senchi for lunch and to tour a bead making factory - Cedi Beads.

It was a wonderful day.  We traveled with the Area Doctor and his wife, the Elmers from Spokane, Washington.  Our our route we first saw baboons in a local wild-life preserve.

We also saw termite towers.  Elder Bednar said he observed these near the MTC in Tema.  They are like ant hills that are built by termites and are extremely durable.  But by the time we got to Tema years after his first visit, they had been removed.  However, these are what the kilns in the bead factory are made of.

We were fascinated by the Cedi Factory tour and the labor intensive efforts that go into the creation of each bead.

Diane did not go home empty-handed.

African culture observations for the day:  Africans do not use their left hand to wave.  They love eating grilled grass cutters (rats).  Mangos are plentiful two times a year.  Now, thankfully is one of those seasons.  They have creative signs for their washrooms (restrooms).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Working with a Pioneer in Church History - Mathias Eguko

In 1988 Claude P. Toze, a citizen of Benin, met Mathias Eguko, a Nigerian member of the Church living in the capital of Cotonou.  Bro. Eguko shared with Toze the missionary discussions and a copy of the Book of Mormon in French.  Sacrament meetings were first held in the Eguko home and later at the home of Bryan Ermatinger, an employee of the United States Embassy.  Meanwhile, war broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August of that year and all non-Congolese missionaries were evacuated from that country.  Among them was a missionary couple, Elder and Sister Norman Langevin.  They were reassigned to the neighboring country of Benin for one month (September 1998).  It was here that the Langevins taught the remainder of the discussions to Brother Toze and he was baptized on 4 October, 1998.  Brother Toze was the first Benin citizen to join the Church.  Jan 25, 2010 Church News.

Mathias Eguko is the Manager and Operations at the MTC.  He and his family were the first members in Benin as he worked in an expatriate capacity there.   Now I get to work with him and feel of his pioneer spirit.   It is fun to get to know the pioneers of the Church in Africa. They have a great story to tell, not unlike the original pioneers in Nauvoo.    Hurrah for Israel!

Eguko Family living in Tema, Ghana

Au revoir les missionaires Francais

Today starting at 4 a.m., all of our missionaries left for the mission field except for those going to Benin - our French speaking elders or those who learned French.  Here they are:

Ghana MTC: Blessings, and hardships, of going directly to a foreign MTC

It seems like Ghana has received its fair share of good press in the Church News in Dec-Feb 2013 & 2104.  Time spent at the Ghana MTC allows for a more gradual adjustment to many aspects of the local culture such as food, language, and companions from a different culture while the missionaries are still in a rather sheltered environment.  Rather than facing all of the changes at once upon arriving in the field, it is an advantaged because when they leave the MTC and go out into the field, it is easy for them to adapt.  It is the missionaries from the Western countries that have the adjustment.

Another advantage of the Ghana MTC experience is that those from outside of Africa have an African companion so they can adapt to the food, the culture, and the languages right from the beginning.  As missionary trained in the MTC will be already acclimatized when they go into the field.  For example - the food prepared for them is a mixture of Nigerian, Congolese and Ghanaian. And the language?  Non-Africans have a little trouble understanding the Africans just as the Africans have trouble trying to understand these "English Speakers."

Here is a photo of Elder Wilding from Fort Payne, Alabama.  He is now serving in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission.

Ghana MTC: Creating A Gospel Culture

One of the lessons the MTC President teaches the missionaries who pass through the doors of the Ghana Missionary Training Center is that the MTC experience is not only preparing them to serve as full-time missionaries, but also that the doctrines, experiences and lessons learned will bless their lives well beyond their missions.  Pictured above is the MTC Manager of Training and Operations, Mathias Eguko, offering instruction.
Church News Article:  January 4, 2014

Hastening the Work in the Ghana MTC

An excellent article entitled Hastening the Work in the Ghana MTC appeared in the Church News on January 28, 2013.  This insightful article gives missionaries under call and their families a great view of what to expect in this sacred setting.

Facts about the Ghana Temple

Serene amid the tinted twilight preceeding dedication, the Accra Ghana Temple, first in Western Africa, is the culmination of years of waiting and praying by Ghanaian members.

Announced: Feb. 16, 1998.
Location: 57 Independence Ave.,
North Ridge, Accra, Ghana
Site: 6 acres.
Exterior finish: Granite quarried in Namibia, Africa, called Namibia Pearl.
Temple design: Traditional, built in third generation of small temples.
Architects: ARUP
Project manager: Russ Tanner.
Contractor: Taysec Construction Limited
Rooms: Celestial room, two endowment rooms, two sealing rooms and baptistry.
Total floor area: 17,500 square feet.
Dimensions: 190 feet by 147 feet.
District: Countries in western Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Togo.
Groundbreaking: Nov. 16, 2001, by Elder Russell M. Nelson.
Dedication: Jan. 11, 2004, by President Gordon B. Hinckley; three sessions.

What is the History of the Church in West Africa?

The restored gospel took root in Nigeria and Ghana in the two decades before it was formally preached in West Africa as different groups obtained Church literature and felt the truthfulness of the message. During that time, some of these people wrote to Church headquarters requesting missionaries. They did not come right away, however. Finally, in 1978, two couples were able to enter Nigeria and Ghana as special representatives of the Church’s International Mission. The first baptized members in West Africa were some of those who had waited many years for the coming of the missionaries. Within a year hundreds of people had been baptized and branches were organized.

On May 15, 1988, after only nine and a half years of missionary work, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the first West Africa stake in Aba, Nigeria.

In February 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first President of the Church to visit Nigeria and Ghana. At his first stop in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, he addressed 12,000 members in a regional conference. During the meeting in Accra, Ghana, his announcement that the first temple in West Africa would be built there was received with joyous applause. A year and a half after the dedication of the Accra Ghana Temple on Jan. 11, 2004, a second West African temple was dedicated on June 16, 2005, in Aba, Nigeria.
The Church in West Africa continues to grow rapidly as missionaries share the gospel and as converts reach out to their families and neighbors.

In 2013, convert baptisms totaled 19,993 throughout the seven countries of the Africa West Area where missionaries are present.

Nigeria now has more than 118,000 members with 22 stakes, 22 districts and 5 missions.
Ghana has surpassed 57,000 members with 11 stakes, 7 districts and 4 missions.
Cote d’Ivoire has close to 23,000 members with 5 stakes, 1 district and 1 mission.
Sierra Leone has more than 13,000 members with 1 stake, 3 districts and 1 mission.
Liberia just passed 8,000 members with 2 districts and 1 mission.
Togo has surpassed 2,300 members with 1 stake and 1 shared mission with Benin.
Benin has more than 1,400 members with 1 district and 1 shared mission with Togo.

Source:  Church News - Feb 15, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fruit Bats in Ghana

When our grandson Henry watched the slide show (previous post), he was disappointed that we did not show the bats.  Last week as we drove home from the temple on Independence we saw these fruit bats during the day.  (They eat mosquitos, which is a good thing for Africa).

Ghana MTC Slideshow of 7 February 2014 Group

Friday, February 14, 2014

Oh...the places we go!

Sister Robison is an artist.  For Valentines Day she drew a card to represent our MTC service in Africa.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 7th Group Devotional With Elder LeGrande R. Curtis, Jr.

Today the group of missionaries that entered the MTC on February 7th along with our 6 week missionaries were privileged to hear a devotional address from Elder and Sister LeGrande R. Curtis.  Seated with Elder and Sister Curtis is the MTC Manager, Mathias Eguko on the left as well as President and Sister Robison on the right.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Frameable Artwork - Accra Ghana Africa Temple

After our temple outing today, we visited with Brother Philippe Kradolfer, the Director of Temporal Affairs, who as a hobby takes pictures and has them printed off light paintings. He then frames them and many were hanging in the Area Administration building.  They really are quite nice and he is very talented.  This photo of the Ghana Temple was taken by Diane this morning and is an illustration of the type of finished work we saw framed in the Area Administration building.

Temple Square in Accra, Ghana

Every other Tuesday and Wednesday we travel 60 minutes to the Accra Temple.  It is a spiritual highlight of the MTC experience.  Many of the missionaries do family file work for parents and grandparents.  (And yes, the people in Ghana do call this 'temple square').

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We Love to go to the Temple

MTC Banking

When I visited the Bank today for the MTC, I was reminded of Guyanese money with the stacks of bills.  This is a cash society.  And commerce is very enterprising and thriving.
This is what our drive to the temple looks like as we make our way through the traffic.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tomorrow Is Temple Day - What Great Promises Are In Store for These People

Accra Ghana: Brotherhood exists

Following is the full text of the dedicatory prayer given by President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicating the Accra Ghana Temple on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004.
O, Lord God Almighty, Thou who rules in the heavens above and in the earth below, we come unto Thee in solemn prayer in the name of Thy Beloved Son, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Wilt Thou look down with favor upon us, Thy children, as we meet to dedicate Thy house.
Photo by David M.W. Pickup
Serene amid the tinted twilight preceeding its dedication, the Accra Ghana Temple, first in Western Africa, is the culmination of years of waiting and praying by Ghanaian members.

We acknowledge Thine overruling hand in all things. We have partaken of Thy providence. Through revelation to Thine appointed servant, Thou hast opened the way for millions of Thy sons and daughters to receive of every blessing afforded by Thy divine gospel. This house, and the ordinances to be given herein, constitute the answer to the prayers and petitions, the service and the labors of those who will be blessed because of the presence of a sacred temple in their midst.
How glorious, O Father, is this day of dedication. How wonderful it is that we are met together in peace as Thy people.
We thank Thee for the brotherhood that exists among us, that neither color of skin nor land of birth can separate us as Thy sons and daughters who have taken upon us sacred and binding covenants.
We know that the ground on which this temple stands was made available because of Thine intervening hand. We know that Thy care has been over its construction and the construction of the other facilities found here.
Father, our hearts are filled with gratitude. We rejoice and sing anthems of praise to Thy holy name. We lift our voices in songs of thanksgiving.
We are mindful on this solemn occasion of Thy visit with Thy Beloved Son to the boy, Joseph Smith, to open the curtains on this glorious final dispensation, the dispensation of the fullness of times.
We thank Thee for the Book of Mormon as an added witness of the divinity of Thy Son. We thank Thee for the holy priesthood with all of its offices, authority, and keys. We thank Thee for the Prophet Joseph and for all who have succeeded him. We thank Thee for Thy Church and kingdom with prophets and apostles who constitute its foundation, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.
And now, acting in the authority of that priesthood which has come from Thee, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we dedicate unto Thee and unto Him this, the Accra Ghana Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We consecrate it to Thy holy purposes.
We dedicate the ground on which it stands with its beautiful vegetation. We dedicate the walls and the windows, the roof and the steeple with the crowning figure of Moroni. We dedicate the baptistry, the various ordinance rooms including the beautiful celestial room, the sacred altars, and all of the other rooms and facilities. We pray, dear Father, that Thou wilt accept this Thy holy house as the gift of Thy thankful people. By the strength of Thy mighty hand save it from the storms of nature and any desecrating act of man. May all who look upon it regard it as the house of the Lord with holiness unto the Lord. May all who enter its portals do so with meekness of spirit and gratitude of heart, and with cleanliness before Thee whose house this is. Please cause that Thy Holy Spirit shall dwell within these walls at all times. This is the temple of our God, hallowed unto us, Thy children. May it ever be a place of refuge from the noise and cares of the world.
As we dedicate the temple, we also dedicate the adjacent stake center with all of its components and facilities. May it serve as a gathering place for Thy Saints where they may worship Thee, where they may be instructed in doctrine, where they may socialize together in bonds of friendship. May they treasure it and care for it, and may it be safeguarded from vandalism, fire, and storm.
We, likewise, dedicate the other facilities established on this ground, including the structures which will provide offices, apartments, and temple patron housing, that this entire complex may serve well the needs of Thy Church and Thy people in this nation.
These structures have been made possible by the tithes of Thy faithful people throughout the world. Touch the hearts of the members of the Church in this and surrounding nations that they may so live as to be qualified to enter Thy temple. Give them the strength to live the gospel, to observe the Word of Wisdom, to be faithful one to another as husbands and wives and children. May they be good citizens of the nations to which they belong. And may the rulers of these nations be generous toward Thy people and safeguard their liberties.
Let faith rule the hearts of Thy Saints that they may contribute their tithes and offerings and be worthy of Thine outreaching hand in their behalf that they may be prospered in their labors, that their lands may be productive, and that the blessings of heaven may come down upon them in great measure, that they may be lifted from the scourge of poverty, that they may be looked upon as a favored people.
May Thy work spread in this land and in adjoining nations. May the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands be touched in such a way that there shall come into Thy kingdom a veritable flood of faithful and devoted Latter-day Saints.
We pray for this nation of Ghana and for all who constitute its government. May it become a model among the nations of this vast continent. May it grow in strength and influence for good. Incline the hearts of its rulers that they may befriend Thy people, even Thy faithful Saints.
O God our Eternal Father, please move forward Thy work throughout the world. Open the hearts of people everywhere to the message of Thine endowed servants. Open the doors of the nations which are now closed. Touch the hearts of their leaders that they may welcome and befriend Thy work. Dispel the clouds of ignorance and prejudice against Thy Church and kingdom. We pray for peace in the earth, that Thy children may be spared the burdens and pains of war and know the blessings, sweet and wonderful, that come of peace.
Smile with favor upon Thy Saints. Let us feel of Thy love. Forgive our shortcomings, our sins and imperfections. Help us to rise above our weaknesses. Save Thy people from disease and plagues, from the ravages of scourging epidemics.
Bless all who shall serve in these facilities. May all work together with an eye single to Thy glory, rejoicing in their great opportunity.
Father, bless Thy servants who have been called to positions of leadership in Thy Church. Give them health and strength and add to their years of service. Bless their families and their interests and protect them from the darts of the adversary.
Now, all honor and power and glory be Thine we pray as Thy thankful children. We express our love to Thee and to Thy Beloved Son, our Redeemer, through whose atoning sacrifice have come the blessings of Thy work and Thy glory in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (see Moses 1:39). We pray humbly and gratefully in His holy and sacred name, even the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

This MTC Was Featured In The Church News

It is fun to meet the instructors whose faces are in this article.

Band of Brothers

Missionaries Teaching Under the "Mango Tree"