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:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 21st Group Photo at Area Devotional

On March 27th, our Area Devotional speaker was an Area Seventy named Elder Yirenya-Tawaih, who had been the first stake president of the Tema Stake when it was created.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Birthday in the Mission Field

Today I turned 63.  I still feel like I did as a young missionary, but my body is getting older.  This birthday card was hand-made by Diane from a photo we took in Grenada.  She added a lion and a giraffe and it now looks African!  Great birthday and a very tender way to spend it thousands of miles from home with my eternal companion.

It was fun to share the birthday with an Elder celebrating his birthday from Gilbert, Arizona who was taught back home by one of our West Indies Missionaries.

Pictured above is Elder Thomason from the West Indies mission with one of our MTC elders currently in the MTC.  (We do not give names of current missionaries for privacy purposes because this is a public site).  The lowest photo is once used in the "infield orientation" in every MTC throughout the world, of a baptism performed by Elder Thomason in the West Indies Mission when Sister Robison and I presided there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tongan Power!

Many nations are represented in the Ghana MTC.  These Tongan elders travelled great distance to be here!

Hastening the Work of Salvation

When we first arrived, we decided to have the missionaries spend their free moments on their intake day, working on Family History.  We have now received 5 groups of missionaries.  We started this program with the second group because I was concerned that the day they arrived they did not have much to do except register and verify records and because in the mission field they will be able to teach from personal experience the plan of happiness.  This will greatly assist them in retaining new converts as they keep their eye on the temple.

Since beginning this effort, the next four groups have submitted the names of 331 deceased relatives for family history work and 127 names for sealing. Yesterday, four of our missionaries did the temple work for deceased parents.  Pictured here are two of them plus one who did the work for his best friend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hurrah for Israel!

Today we took a group of missionaries to the Ghana Temple.  Like Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball of old, they too have left their families and travelled great distance to spread the gospel.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ghana Temple Dedicatory Prayer

Accra Ghana Temple

Dedicatory Prayer

Dedicated 11 January 2004
by Gordon B. Hinckley
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.
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.

Value of Learning Another Language

Missionaries come from all over to learn another language at the MTC.  What is the value?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Senior Couples Outing to Ada Foah, West Africa

The senior couples from the Africa West Area visited Ada Foah last Saturday on a well-deserved preparation day outing.  When they arrived they boarded a boat for Pediatokope Island to see a project where electricity is generated by a children's playground.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Elder Vincent Addressed the MTC last Sunday

Elder Vincent is in the Africa West Area Presidency.  He was called to serve as a General Authority in April 2013.  Pictured with the Vincents in the bottom photo are the MTC Presidency Members and their wives.  (Obengs, Acquayes, then the Vincents, and Robisons)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Come Unto Christ - LDS Theme for 2014

Two very talented elders in the MTC, one of who was part of the launch of the video on for the youth theme for 2014, sang this song in the devotional Sunday.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Termite Towers

Because there is so much red sand in Ghana, you often see sand hills - actually they are termite hills. Where you see these red piles, there once was a tree, but the termites ate the wood particles and disposed of the dirt (sand) in a pile. After time, the soil is fertile enough for new growth starting in the middle and on the sides of the termite tower and the process starts all over again. 

We saw about an hour away from the MTC out of about 7 or 8 that we pass every time we take an outing. The towers are about six or seven feet high and very striking.  It was the first thing Elder Bednar told us to look for as he remembered his drive from the airport to the MTC. 

Ghana MTC Slideshow of 7 March 2014 Group

Friday, March 14, 2014

They Study Hard, They Play Hard

Every day at 3:30 p.m. the missionaries in the MTC have one hour for exercise.  Then they shower, have supper, and are back in class at 5:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.  Then they plan for 15 minutes, have a fruit break, and head off to their residences.  Bedtime is 10:30 p.m.

We captured a few photos of "exercise time."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bride Price - African Culture

Missionaries in Ghana and the surrounding 16 countries served by this MTC, will want to have a understanding of  the culture and rules surrounding marriage.  In Ghana, for example, young couples have three steps in the wedding process.  First, a meeting between the families of the bride and of the groom where Bride Price is paid.  Second, a meeting with the Bishop where the wedding is formalized.  However, the family meeting is recognized as marriage even though no document is signed.  Third, a temple sealing - the objective of every active Latter-day Saint couple.

Bride price is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom. (Compare dowry, which is paid to the groom, or used by the bride to help establish the new household, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage.) 

The agreed bride price may or may not be intended to reflect the perceived value of the girl or young woman.In parts of Africa, a traditional marriage ceremony depends on payment of a bride price to be valid. The amount can vary from a token to a great sum. 

Lobola or Lobolo is a similar tradition in some cultures in Southern Africa. In the African Great Lakes country of Uganda, the MIFUMI Project[12] held a referendum in Tororo in 2001 on whether a bride price should be a non-refundable gift. 

In 2004, it held an international conference on the bride price in Kampala, Uganda.It brought together activists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa to discuss the effect that payment of bride price has on women. Delegates also talked about ways of eliminating this practice in Africa and elsewhere. It also issued a preamble position in 2008.[13] 

In 2007 MIFUMI took the Uganda Government to the Constitutional Court wishing the court to rule that the practice of Bride Price is un-constitutional. The case was heard in September 2009 and judgement is pending. To change customary law on bride price in Uganda, however, is difficult as it is guarded by society with some women, especially in the rural areas still approving its relevance. Customary law is also considered more than just bride price but other rituals and ceremonies that enrich Ugandan cultures. Next to constitutional changes, changes in customary law are necessary to abolish the practice.[14]

Elder Oaks commented on the practice of lobola, or bride price, which "seriously interferes with young men and women keeping the commandments of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. When a young returned missionary must purchase his bride from her father by a payment so large that it takes many years to accumulate, he is unable to marry or cannot do so until he is middle-aged. This conflicts with the gospel plan for sexual purity outside marriage, for marriage, and for child rearing. Priesthood leaders should teach parents to discontinue this practice, and young people should follow the Lord’s pattern of marriage in the holy temple without waiting for the payment of a bride price."

Robison Devotional

Today for the Area Devotional, the missionaries heard from the MTC President and his wife.  The Area Seventy assigned to speak at the devotional had a scheduling conflict and was unable to visit the MTC.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Generations Connect Through Personal Life Stories

“In all of us,” wrote Alex Haley, author of the popular novel Roots (based on his own life stories), “there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we have come from.”
That “hunger” is growing throughout the world. People are discovering that to understand better who they are, they must know the stories of family members who went before them. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those who have a desire to connect in a personal way across generations by researching their family history, gathering written personal histories, preserving oral histories and recording interviews of the life experiences of elderly family members for the benefit of posterity.
Mormons believe the family is ordained of God. They also believe the family is the fundamental unit of society and central to God’s eternal plan for His children. This belief impels older members of the Church to share the important, life-changing moments of their lives with children and grandchildren who, upon hearing and preserving these experiences, develop a stronger sense of family and belonging. With the knowledge of their forbearers’ accounts of strength over adversity, children and grandchildren become better equipped to overcome difficult challenges in their own lives.
“As we contemplate what those before us have gone through that we might be here, as we sense their faith and courage and feel their love for us and our love for them, we realize what is really important,” said former Church leader Elder John H. Groberg to a worldwide conference of Latter-day Saints in 1980. “We realize that so-called problems are only what we see when we take our eye off our eternal goal.”
Latter-day Saints focus on their family history for another reason — their belief that families can be together after this life. They research names and other information so sacred ceremonies and rites can be performed in behalf of their ancestors in Latter-day Saint temples, thereby exercising faith that they will be linked to loved ones as an eternal family.
Mormon youth worldwide are becoming more involved in seeking out personal histories and stories of their family members.
“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” said Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church.
Examples of such tools are the Family Tree and Memories features recently launched by FamilySearch. The new Memories feature allows users to easily upload and manage family photos online and to tell their favorite ancestor stories. With photos, faces can be identified and linked to the respective ancestors’ profiles in a user’s family tree, ensuring they will be accessible for future generations. Photos and stories can also be seamlessly shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email.

Missionaries who arrived March 7 began that day to collect Family History Stories and prepare Family File names to take to the temple on March 11-12.

Among the people in Ghana who have taken an interest in knowing more about their ancestors are the young men and women who spend time at the Latter-day Saint Missionary Training Center in Tema where they receive instruction before departing to their assigned missions throughout West Africa and Madagascar.  Elder and Sister Watson, from Virginia come to the MTC on the first Sunday of each MTC group to work with the missionaries in submitting names for temple work.  (see photos)
Part of the training given to these new missionaries includes an introduction to a resource entitled "My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together."  The booklet is an engaging way to capture and preserve family stories and provides simple steps for recording family information, including photos, names and important dates.
“It is important to know, as far as possible, those who came before us,” Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said.  “We discover something about ourselves when we learn about our ancestors.”
Given the opportunity to document memorable family stories and transfer valuable records onto pedigree sheets during their stay in the MTC, Mormon missionaries learn the significance of preserving important ancestral information and are eager to share their knowledge and help others learn how to personally gather, share and record their family memories.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

He is ready! Now!

Yesterday, this young man came with his family to drop off his big brother at the MTC.  In two weeks they will be back to drop off another one of his big brothers.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Traveling Tips for Trip to Ghana

What do we wish missionaries would pay attention to in traveling to Ghana?

1) Get an international phone card and know how to use it.  One elder this week said they did not know where to find one.  Another said he got his at a gas station.

2) Do not feel obligated to tip.  If you tip at the airport you will be swamped with requests.  (And if you have to tip have one dollar bills available not five dollar bills.)

3) Have an extra change or two of clothes in your carry-on luggage.  When you bag does not make it, it takes a few days for it to arrive.

4) If traveling with another missionary and your flights are delayed, insist they book you on a flight together.

5) Do not take a taxi to the area office if you don't see the driver upon arrival to the airport.  Borrow a phone and call the MTC President. (0) 244 329 135

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Would you do the Canopy walk?

We did and loved it.  It is located in Kalum National Park and is one hour north of the Elmina Castle.

It is the only park in Africa with a canopy walkway, which is 350 meters (1,150 ft) long, extremely high in the air, and connects seven tree tops which provide access to the forest.

 It also is a park rich in bird wildlife having confirmed 266 species including the hornbill and the African grey parrot.  We also saw many varieties of butterflies although we did not see the elephants that are supposedly living there as well.

However, we did see "Crocodiles!" (just after we exited the Park)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Missionaries in Cape Coast Area Will Tour the Elimina Castle

Wednesday was preparation day.  We traveled the 107 km from Accra to Elmina.  Located on the Western Coast of Africa, it is the oldest European-built structure in Ghana.  Constructed in 1482 by Portuguese traders, Elmina Castle was the first European slave-trading post in all of sub-saharan Africa.  It was originally built to protect the gold trade but following its capture by the Dutch in 1637, it came to serve the Dutch slave trade with Brazil and the Caribbean. The castle came under British ownership in the 1800s.

Elmina, like other West African slave fortresses, housed luxury suites for the Europeans in the upper levels. The slave dungeons below were cramped and filthy, each cell often housing as many as 200 people at a time, without enough space to even lie down. The floor of the dungeon, as result of centuries of impacted filth and human excrement, is now several inches higher than it was when it was built. Outbreaks of malaria and yellow fever were common. Staircases led directly from the governor 's chambers to the women's dungeons below, making it easy for him to select personal concubines from amongst the women.

At the seaboard side of the castle was the Door of No Return, the infamous portal through which slaves boarded the ships that would take them on the treacherous journey across the Atlantic known as the Middle Passage. By the 18th century, 30,000 slaves on their way to North and South America passed through Elmina's Door of No Return each year.

 "In everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors."  One million people came here and only 1/3 lived long enough to make it to the land where they became slaves.  How could man be so cruel?