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, May 31, 2014

Ghana MTC Welcomes the Daytons!

Donny Dayton was one of my assistants when we were the mission president couple in the West Indies 4 1/2 years ago.  He returned home to Rexburg, Idaho where he met and married Preslee.  Now he is in Ghana as a legal intern as a BYU law student and Preslee is helping out at the MTC full-time during the month of June.

Brother Dayton was a legend in the West Indies where among other accomplishments, he and Elder Travis Mundy turned around missionary work in Rose Hall, Canje, Guyana.  Previously Rose Hall had been a place no missionary wanted to serve because of lack of success.  About 6 months later, Elders Dayton and Mundy trained two brand new missionaries in Rose Hall, Elders Jones and Westover.  Then on their second transfer, Elders Jones and Westover were put together and lived with their trainers, who had become the new zone leaders.  During that transfer, these new elders baptized three families at one time totalling 18 new members.  You can imagine how proud their trainers were.  And the legend lives on.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Elder Dube Addresses May 16th Group in Area Devotional

Elder Edward Dube was sustained a member of the First Quorum of Seventy on April 6, 2013 at the age of 50.  He served as a young missionary in Zimbabwe after joining the Church at age 22.  Later he and his wife presided over the Zimbabwe Harare Mission as a mission president couple.  The focus of the Area Devotional this week was on working with member leaders to advance the work of hastening within each ward or branch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Africa West Area DTA Captures MTC in Photos

Last Sunday, Brother Phillipe Kradolfer, our Africa West Area Director of Temporal Affairs spoke to the missionaries about the apostasy.  He has written a book on the subject.  The missionaries were very attentive and fascinated.  Prior to the presentation, he took a photo of our May 16th group of 77 missionaries as well as two of our Sister Missionaries.  Seated in the center of the bottom photo are Sister Robison and her two counselors, Sister Acquaye on the left and Sister Obeng on the right.  On the far right is Sister Kradolfer and on the far left is Sister Watson, our family history consultant.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ten Great Facts About the Country of Ghana

The country of Ghana is filled with vibrant beauty that can be found everywhere, from its sandy beaches to the people who live in it. Its history extends as far back as 1500 BC, starting off as the Kingdom of Ghana and evolving into the beautiful country it is today. Here are ten interesting facts about the country of Ghana.
1. Before Ghana became an independent country, it was a British colony in the 15th century called the Gold Coast. The colony derived its name from the abundance of gold deposits in the country’s soil. Gold, diamonds, ivory, cocoa, and timber were among the many natural resources the Gold Coast had to offer to the British colonists, who exported the goods and profited greatly from it. To this day these natural resources continue to bolster Ghana’s economy.
2. After years of war and conflict, Ghana won its independence on March 6th, 1957. Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the United Kingdom. This day has since been turned into a national holiday, and parades are thrown to celebrate the day in the country’s capital.
3. Kwame Nkrumah became the country’s first prime minister on the day Ghana gained its independence. He held his position until July 1, 1960, at which point he was then made Ghana’s first president and remained so until February 24, 1966. During his time as the president of Ghana, the Soviet Union awarded Nkrumah the Lenin Peace Prize. After passing away on April 27, 1972, Nkrumah was buried in downtown Accra. His resting place has become the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park, where a statue and museum was erected in his honor.
4. Ghana favors diversity of all kind in its people. Though the country’s national language is English, there are over 50 additional African languages spoken throughout the country. Ghana is also known for religious freedom, allowing its people to choose and practice the religion of their choice freely without prosecution. Multiple ethnic groups, like the Akan and Ewe, live in Ghana, and speak their respective languages and dialects.
5. Accra is the capital of Ghana, where over two million people live. The city is a hub of activity for both local residents and tourists. In addition to the many Western styled stores and malls, Accra houses the Makola market, an open air market of the traditional African style. Accra provides access to several beaches, including the famous Labadi Beach. The American author W.E.B. Dubois once lived in Accra, and his residence is now a part of the W.E.B. Dubois Memorial Centre that honors his work as an activist in Ghana.
6. The Independence Square in Accra, which is also called the Black Star Square, was built in 1961. It is the second largest square in the world, and the chosen site for the country’s Independence Day parades. The Black Star Gate and the Independence Arch are major draws for tourists, however the Independence Arch can only be photographed from afar. Guards have been posted to prohibit any close up photography of the Arch without prior obtained permission. Within the square is the Eternal Flame of African Liberation, which was lit in 1961 by Kwame Nkrumah and has continued to burn brightly ever since.
7. Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa beans, seconded only by the Ivory Coast, which is directly west of Ghana. As the country’s cash crop, cocoa’s export to other countries is one of the major contributors to Ghana’s thriving economy. In recent years, oil has been discovered in Ghana and consequentially exported, adding it to the country’s natural occurring economic supply.
8. Founder’s Day is a national holiday in which Ghana recognizes and celebrates its founding fathers. The holiday was originally conceived by President John Evans Atta Mills, who wished for Ghanians to pay honor to Kwame Nkrumah and other leaders like him who shaped Ghana into the country it is today. Founder’s Day takes place every year on September 21st, which was Nkrumah’s birthday.
9. Ghana’s national currency is the cedi, which can be broken up into one hundred pesewas. The cedi was first introduced as currency in 1965 and is printed on paper, while pesewas are distributed as coins. Prior to the cedi, the British pound was Ghana’s currency. The front of the cedi banknotes are generally consistent on the front with each denomination save for the color, while the back features a different image of various national monuments. ‘Cedi’ is a local word that means cowry shell, which was once used as currency. Approximately 2.85 cedi convert into one US dollar.
10. As of 2013, the Global Peace Index lists Ghana as the 58th most peaceful country in the world. Ghana is listed as a country with a high state of peace, and has maintained its status as a peaceful country for the last few years.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Introducing Four of the Illustrious Instructors at the Ghana MTC

(Left to Right:  Sister Baidoo, Sister Gbetoryedzi, Brother Boadi, and Brother Boateng)

Sister Constance Baidoo - born September 20, 1985 in Accra.  Her family all joined the Church in 1998.  She served her mission in Cote D'Ivoire after learning French in the Provo MTC.  Her branch president, Mark Zimbelman, later became close to President Robison where they served together in the Branch Presidency for all the French speakers in the Provo MTC.

A testimony building experience of Sister Baidoo occurred when her family moved within Accra and could not find the Church for a month.  They noticed a huge void in the family by not having Sunday worship at the center of their lives.  Her little Brother was instrumental in bringing the family back to full participation because he saw the missionaries, kept tell his mom about it when at first she did not listen, and then said to the missionaries that his mom needed them.  They found out where his school bus delivered him and appeared at the door.  The family now has a testimony of the importance of the Church and the refuge that the home can be.

She has worked at the MTC since September of 2013 and has aspirations to be a travel agent, airline hostess or especially a mother.  She also wants to help abandoned children.

Sister Gbetoryedzi - born on November 3, 1988 in Achimota, Ghana.  Her parents are members as well.  She and her mom joined the Church in 1999 and her Dad followed in 2001.  She served her mission in the Nigeria Calabar Mission from February 2010 to August 2011 and said her biggest challenge was learning patient with difficult people.

Her goal?  To be married and sealed in the Temple.  This dream will be realized in December when she weds Michael Oti Akenteng, who served in the Nigeria Ibadan Mission.  She has taught in the MTC since August 2012.  Serving in the MTC is a realization of a statement made in her patriarchal blessing.  Her sister, who is now serving in the Nigeria Benine Mission was recently in the MTC, and was taught by her.

Brother Boadi - Was born in Kumasi.  He lost his mother from typhoid fever in 2005 and at the age of 14 found the missionaries through a member friend and joined the Church.  His father is not a member.  He as one brother and four sisters. He began teaching at the MTC last February and served in Cote D'Ivoire as a missionary from 2011-2013.  At that time French was not taught in the MTC, so he was here for three weeks.

 His goal is to become an accountant and he will begin his four year program in September.

He became reacquainted with a young lady named Sandra Touffour from Kumasi when she was in the MTC.  Since corresponding with her after the MTC, they both know that they will get married to each other at the end of her mission.

Brother Boateng - was born on April 5, 1986 in Kumasi.  He was born into the Church because his parents are both members and very active.  He was called to serve a mission in the Benin Cottanou Mission, but then when it was divided went to Tog Mission.  When war broke out he was sent to a third mission in Cote D'Ivoire.  His mother moved to the US when he was 15 years old and his father, is still in Kumasi for health reasons.  He has one brother and four sisters.

Although he has a Bachelor of Sciences in Management from the University of Wisconsin, Ghana, he wants to pursue a career in business.  He already owns a software company called "I Walk."  One thing that is unusual about Brother Boateng is that if he is hurt, he keeps smiling.

Meet Brother Ngondo - MTC Instructor with the Most Tenure

Bro. Ghilson  Clerck Ngondo is from the Brazzerville in the Congo.  He was born on May 5, 1984 and raised by LDS parents who joined the Church  when he was a little boy.  Throughout his youth he remained active and was called to serve a mission from 2010 to 2012 in the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission under President Michael Headley.  During his mission, a new mission was created in Lumbashi and his new mission president was President Gary L. Packer, who said that Elder Ngondo was one of his finest.

After spending only two weeks at home at the completion of his mission, Brother Ngondo came to work at the MTC and lives in the Sun City area, near Brother Eguko.  He has worked here for the past 2 1/2 years.   After his work here is finished, Brother Ngondo will marry his fiance, who is a member from Brazzerville.  She is currently completely her masters degree in oil and gas.  They plan to marry in the temple in South Africa or in Ghana.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ghana MTC Slideshow of 2 May 2014 Group - Happy Mother's Day

Today the missionaries in MTCs throughout the world will speak to their mothers.  This slideshow of our missionaries is in tribute to them.  Your missionaries are great!

Which African Countries Have the Most Church Members?

On a visit to BurundiElder Jeffrey R. Holland said that “Africa has been held in reserve by the Lord” and ”will someday be seen as a bright land full of gospel hope and happiness.” That prophesy is coming true today.
The revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy males regardless of race was received in 1978, opening the door for missionary work in Africa. The Africa West Mission—which has since been divided several times as the Church grows—was created in 1980. President Gordon B. Hinckley announced temples in Ghana and Nigeria in 1998 and 2000, respectively.
Today, the Church has nearly 400,000 members in Africa and counting.
While the complete story of the African saints is told in their lives and individual conversions, the cold, hard facts tell a story of their own.
Nigeria, the African country with the most Church members, has more than 110,000 members in 350 congregations—nearly double second-place South Africa’s 59,807. At the end of 2004, Nigeria had 68,777 and South Africa had 40,482. Today, Rwanda has the fewest members with 121 in two congregations; it had no recorded membership in the 2006 Church Almanac.
The continent has 180 family history centers, 135 of which are in South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana. Three temples—one in each of those countries—are currently operating, with two more announced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Durban, South Africa.
Five new African missions were organized in 2013: Angola Luanda, Botswana Gaborone, Ghana Accra West, Liberia Monrovia and Nigeria Benin City.  The only two new missions announced for the entire Church in 2014 were:  Cote D'Ivoire and the DR Congo. (Both were missions being divided).  Source Utah Valley 360.

What was "The Freeze" in Ghana?

The Freeze

In 1989 when a military government in Ghana froze the activities of the Church in Ghana for 18 months, Church Pioneer Billy Johnson was not dimmed.  “The freeze was a blessing,” he said.  “At that time, people were so curious about the Church they started asking for pamphlets.  Families became strong as they held sacrament meetings in their own homes.  Father was presiding.  Mother was the Relief Society president.  Daughters were the counselors.

“Because we have the truth, the police were even on our side.  The police cars would come and pick me up and I gave a service for them every Friday morning.”  President Billy Johnson was allowed to give services in prison.  Everyone was longing to hear more about the Church.  They told President Johnson, ‘We want to feel that something is precious.’”

“When we came back together after the freeze,” he said, “we came back in strength.
They thought we would scatter, but we came back in strength.  Teach them correct principles and they will govern themselves.”

President Johnson said that the Church is highly respected in Ghana. “They know that Mormons are upright. They like the way we care for our people.  We visit our people.  We care for every member.  We take care of the needy.  Other churches are trying to practice home teaching and visiting teaching because they like it.
“One of our members took a non-member friend to a place where marriage disputes are settled.  They told her, “Go and see your bishop.  They can do it better. He has the key we don’t have it.”

How Did The Church Start in Ghana?

As young man, I started searching for spiritual peace,” says Billy Johnson of his early religious searching in Ghana. “It was my prayer that the Lord should show me which church to join.” 1 Then in 1964 he met a man who had literature from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I read the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I believed that testimony. I believed it was a great message for the whole world. So I read the Book of Mormon and found it to be true—the true word of God.”
Then one morning about 5:30 A.M., Billy Johnson had a sacred experience. “While about to prepare for my daily work,” he says, “I heard my name mentioned thrice: ‘Johnson, Johnson, Johnson. If you will take up my work as I will command you, I will bless you and bless your land.’ Trembling and in tears, I replied, ‘Lord, with thy help I will do whatsoever you will command me.’ From that day onward, I was constrained by that Spirit to go from street to street and door to door. … I did exactly as the Lord commanded me. I couldn’t help it, I had to share the message.”

Tireless Missionary

Even though he was not baptized until 1978, Brother Johnson started gathering people. “The Lord knew we had no missionaries around to help us, so He directed us by the Spirit,” says Brother Johnson, who continued proselyting and teaching the gospel in an untiring and zealous manner, though he had not yet been baptized and held no priesthood authority.
During this time, Brother Johnson experienced opposition from those who didn’t believe that the Book of Mormon or any other book could be equal to the Bible. Some shouted accusations that Johnson was anti-Christ, and others distributed literature attacking the Church. A local newspaper even printed pictures of the Presidents of the Church and wrote degrading statements about each one.
But as opposition increased, so did Brother Johnson’s determination to teach the gospel message. People began to listen and believe. His faith increased, and he felt the Lord blessing him in his work. One day, after some members of a crowd to whom he was preaching “hooted” at him, about 40 people came forward and said they wanted to listen to the message. Their names were recorded and a meeting place was arranged.
By April 1964, Billy Johnson had formally organized a church patterned after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. He wrote to President David O. McKay and received additional literature and letters encouraging him to study the gospel and to help the people until, as President McKay wrote, “in the Lord’s own due time, missionaries would be sent.”
Brother Johnson organized congregations, selected and trained leaders, and continued a vigorous proselyting program. Of his missionary labors, he said: “I used to walk 50 miles a day and wasn’t bothered about it. Whenever I walked, I reflected on the early missionaries, and I gained strength because it seemed as if I was following in the footsteps of the pioneers. Their example inspired me—the way some died in the snow and the way they toiled to bring the truth. They were great people.”
With the growth came struggles. Once, while facing a serious problem, Brother Johnson fasted for three days. He then knelt and prayed for help. That night he dreamed he saw the Prophet Joseph Smith and President Brigham Young. They assured him that missionaries would come soon and that he should keep studying the scriptures.
As a result of this manifestation, Brother Johnson developed a great love and appreciation for those two early prophets. He even chose to name his son Brigham—likely the only young man at that time in all of Ghana with that name.
By 1968 Billy Johnson had built up four congregations, so he quit his job and took up “a full-time missionary work.” He farmed to support his family and lived off his retirement pension and donations from his followers. But the struggles proved to be too difficult for his wife, and she left him and the children. The divorce caused him great anguish. While struggling with his pain, he saw in a dream his only brother, who had died seven years before.
“My brother asked me why I was weeping,” Brother Johnson says of the experience. “I said, ‘My wife has left me.’ My brother said: ‘Don’t worry. You have chosen the right thing, the true church.’ He said he would sing a song from my Church, and he sang ‘Come, Come, Ye Saints.’ That was the first time I had heard that hymn. He said: ‘Don’t leave the Church, my brother. Don’t leave the Church! Please see that I am baptized.’
“It was my brother who enlightened me about baptism for the dead and brought it to my knowledge. At times I still weep because I imagine thousands of people behind the veil who are expecting baptism. I learned these doctrines before the missionaries arrived, so when they taught us it didn’t seem strange. The missionaries simply confirmed what we knew.”

Maintaining the Faith

Regarding the many miracles and manifestations he received, Brother Johnson said, “The reason we had these revelations was that there were many challenges, and anytime the Lord realized that we were struggling He showed us something to strengthen our faith.”
Although Brother Johnson received great strength from the Spirit, like most leaders he faced loneliness and discouragement. At one particularly difficult time, a tempting offer came to him from some Americans who belonged to another church. They went to Brother Johnson’s home and asked him to join with them and bring his congregations.
In exchange, they agreed to give him a trip to America and $10,000 to purchase equipment and supplies. He had always wanted to go to America, but his poverty had made it impossible.
“I would have loved to see America,” remembers Brother Johnson. “I went to my room and knelt down late at night and said: ‘Lord, is this a blessing that you want to give me? Should I accept it?’” As the answer came to him, he knew that he should stay true to the Church and that missionaries would come soon.
As Brother Johnson eagerly sought contact with the Church or with Church members, he learned of a branch of Latter-day Saints in Liberia—two countries and 800 miles away. He made the long and arduous journey to meet them. Upon arrival, he discovered that they were members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One of the members said: “Johnson, you are lost. Why do you follow this church?” Brother Johnson asked to have an opportunity to preach to these people in their chapel on Sunday, and they agreed. “While I was preaching,” he says, “the leader’s wife stood and said: ‘We have all gone astray. Let’s go back to where we came from. This man belongs to where we came from.’ It was very surprising; we had 35 converts from that group in 11 days.”
Over years of dedicated service, Brother Johnson, along with other faithful converts, had built up 10 congregations with about 1,000 followers. “Whenever I read the history of the Church I could tell from the faces of the members that they wanted me to tell them more and more about the pioneers,” he says. “I told them we should emulate their shining examples. Anytime I spoke about the pioneers and their trials, we felt the spirit in the Church. I would see tears falling from their eyes, especially when we sang ‘Come, Come, Ye Saints.’”

Missionaries Come to Ghana

Toward the end of the wait for the Church to come to Ghana, Brother Johnson and his people developed a love for another hymn: “Come, O Thou King of Kings.” 3 As the people sang, “We’ve waited long for thee,” they sang it weeping and hoping for the missionaries to come to Ghana.
Several months before the 1978 revelation that the priesthood and temple blessings would be available to all worthy brethren, Brother Johnson saw in a dream some Caucasian men entering his chapel. They said, “We are your brothers, and we have come to baptize you.” Some of his followers also had similar dreams, giving hope that the missionaries would soon come. “Each time the Lord addressed us in dreams,” Brother Johnson noted, “He addressed us as Latter-day Saints, even though we had not yet become members.”
Late one night in June 1978, deeply discouraged and tired, Brother Johnson returned home. Some of his followers were tired of waiting, and they wanted to go back to their old churches to be with their families and friends. Brother Johnson felt a great need for spiritual and emotional strength. A strong impression came to him to listen to the British Broadcasting Corporation on the (BBC) shortwave station, which he had not listened to in years.

He worked with his old short-wave radio for over an hour before he could tune in to the BBC.
It was midnight, and the news was being broadcast. He recalled: “I heard the message of President Spencer W. Kimball that all worthy males in all the world could receive the priesthood. I burst into tears of joy because I knew the priesthood would come to Africa, and if we did the right things, we would all receive the priesthood.”
The arrival of the missionaries to Ghana in late 1978 brought indescribable joy to Brother Johnson and his followers. He said: “We were so happy to receive the missionaries. When they sat face-to-face with us, many members remembered the revelations they had had, and some of them bore their testimonies. I was one of those who bore my testimony in tears, because I realized the Lord had fulfilled His promise. It all came to pass.”

Baptism Beach in Cape Coast Where Billy Johnson Had His Congregants

Among the first to be baptized in Ghana, Brother Johnson helped many members of his congregations understand the need to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brother Johnson was the first in Ghana to serve as a branch president and later as a district president. In April 1991, Elders Boyd K. Packer and James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created the first two stakes in Ghana—one in Accra and one in Cape Coast. Today there are five.

Bishop Kofi Sosu and his wife Linda and family in Kumasi, Ghana

Joseph William Billy Johnson—tireless, faithful, obedient, and believing African pioneer—helped prepare the way for the gospel to come to Ghana.  (Source Dec 1999 Ensign.  Article by E. Dale LeBaron)

Friday, May 9, 2014

BYU Magazine Featured Ghana In The Most Current Issue

By Peter B. Gardner (BA ’98, MA ’04)

AKWAABA! Visit Ghana, West Africa, and you’re sure to hear the greeting (Welcome!) again and again. That inviting spirit, along with an infectious friendliness and political stability, make Ghana an enjoyable African destination for tourists.

Interesting Sites:

Cape Coast Slave Castle: The cannons and dungeons of the Cape Coast Slave Castle provide tangible and sobering reminders of the colonial slave trade’s brutality.

Canopy Walk: View the flora and, with luck, the fauna (including pigmy elephants) of the rain forest through canopy walks on bridges above Kakum National Park (above). 

Wli Falls: A 40-minute jungle hike delivers perspiring tourists to the base of the 60-meter-high final step of Wli Falls (400 meters high in total), where they swim under the pounding cataract in a waist-deep pool as thousands of fruit bats screech from cliff walls above. 

Authentic Ghana
To Market, to Market: Want an immersive cultural experience? Venture into Kumasi’s labyrinthine Kejetia market—West Africa’s largest open-air market introduces the visitor to  items like live snails, a cow’s head, and traditional Kente cloth in the market’s twisting corridors.
Try the FuFood: Ghanaian cuisine is best known for its starchy staple, fufu, made from cassava or yams first boiled then pounded into a doughy ball. To eat, dip a pinch of the dough in a spicy soup and swallow whole. The daring might try snail soup, made using softball-sized snails gathered in the forest (right).
Talk Like a Ghanaian: Caucasian visitors shouldn’t be offended when Ghanaians refer to them as obruni (white person). Likewise, it’s culturally appropriate to refer to a Ghanaian as obibini (black person). And you can impress the locals by knowing your “day name,” based on the day of the week you were born. For example, people born on Friday are called Kofi (male) or Afua (female).
Lessons in Happiness
Take a drive down the streets of Accra, and it’s clear why Ghana has developed a reputation as a religious, tolerant, happy nation: Christian churches and Muslim mosques sit side by side as peaceful neighbors, and local business names—like Jesus Saves Taxi Service and God Works Miracles Hair Salon—bespeak a pervasive faithful enthusiasm.

In the center of town stands the Accra Ghana Temple, which many call “the most beautiful structure in the country.”

But Watch Out For

Overpriced Goods: Hawkers at the market know a tourist when they see one, and they adjust prices accordingly. That is, unless you are a regular like de la Cruz, who has received “mother” status from Abomosu villagers and thus always gets a fair price. You don’t mess with a mother in Ghana. But tourists? The shopkeepers rook them with abandon.

Street Food: It’s best for visitors to stick to hotel restaurants and those approved by the government tourism agency.
Mosquitoes: Africa’s biggest health risk is malaria, so travelers must be sure to take their meds and wear their DEET.

Elder Curtis Speaks at MTC Devotional

As is customary on the only Thursday missionaries are in the MTC, a member of the Area Presidency and his wife, or an Area Seventy speak at the Area Devotional. Yesterday our speakers were Elder and Sister Curtis.  Elder LeGrande R. Curtis was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of Seventy in 2011.  He is a lawyer, who received his undergraduate degree at BYU and his law degree at the University of Michigan.  He and Sister Curtis have known each other since he was 10 years old.  Together they were a mission president couple in the Italy Padova Mission.  Elder Curtis also served as an Area Seventy.  They are the parents of 5 children.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meet Brother Kpole - One of our French Language Teachers at the MTC

"In 1991, when I was 8 years old, my mother died leaving me and little brother behind.  After that, I went to live with my grandparents in Ivory Coast and attended primary school.  My little brother went to live with my aunty in a different village than me.  Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw my brother.  Two years later I received the tragic news that he had died in an accident.

A year later, in 1994, one of my uncles invited me to come stay with him in Abidjan so that I could enter secondary school and continue my studies.  However this temporary happiness did not last.  My uncle became sick three years later and passed away.  In the midst of this state of sadness and confusion, I desperately needed tenderness, love, safety, assurance and guidance.  It was at this critical time of confusion that one of my cousins, a member of the Church, returned from his mission to live with us in the home.  This was the beginning of light in my life.  It was 1998 and happily I accepted his invitation to attend Sacrament meeting with him.  After that day, I realized I had found what I desperately needed.

I was taught the missionary discussions and a month later, January 30th 1999, I was baptized and confirmed the following day as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I had found the kingdom of our Heavenly Father, where there is warmth, love, tenderness, safety, light and assurance.  Then cometh the light and hope in my life with a loving Father in Heaven and a merciful redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Hymn 109; Nephi 33:6).  All of these events in my life teach me that this is done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things.

I am grateful and happy to love, serve and console my beloved brothers and sisters, as a missionary first, and now as an instructor of missionaries."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Elder and Sister Mbele Were Sealed Today

What a long journey it has been for Luyindulu Daniel Mbele and Puati Mbadu Helene Mbele, who after 12 children and years of waiting were sealed in the Ghana Temple today.  They were also sealed to a four-month old daughter and a 21 year old son who had passed on.  In addition, Elder Mbele's grandparents were sealed with he and Sister MBele acting as proxy and Elder Mbele was sealed to his parents.

The sealer was former District President Assard from Cote D'Ivoire who was set apart by Willis Waite, a dear friend who is now 89 years young, and was the mission president in France after my mission president.  The Mbeles were urged to serve a mission and assisted by a close friend in Provo, Don Livingstone, who was the mission president in the DRC Kinshasha Mission, 5 years ago.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What is the most well-known Market in Accra?

It is Makola Market.  Thursday is generally market day, but every day it is quite crowded.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Meet Boubacar Barry, the First Member & First Missionary from Guinea

Last August while at BYU, I met and interviewed Boubacar Barry in order to help him find an internship as a new OBHR MBA student at BYU.  Yesterday, Boubacar visited the Ghana MTC with a tour group from the Marriott School visiting Ghana.  Bobacar was born crippled in Guinea.  Because of this he was taken in by a Utah family and raised.  When he was 8 years old he joined the Church and at age 19 was called to serve in the Fort Lauderdale Mission as a missionary.  Now as an MBA student, his dream is to work in Africa and bring the gospel to Guinea.  He was the first person from Guinea to be baptized and also to serve a mission.  Just recently he landed an internship with GE, which upon graduation, will likely have a spot for him in Africa.

The Church is not yet located in Guinea, a country that is 98% Muslim.  His family is still in Guinea where his mother knows he is a member but his father does not, nor does the rest of his family.  When he lived in Guinea from 1989 to 1995 he was unable to attend Church, but kept his testimony alive by reading the scriptures and praying.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

BYU MPA Tour Visits Ghana MTC

Today we welcomed the 19 members of the 2014 BYU MPA Program Ghana tour group to the MTC.  They attended the three-hour block of meetings with us and assisted in teaching Sunday School, Priesthood and Relief Society.  The group is lead by colleagues of mine from the BYU Marriott School, Drs. Jeff Thompson and Monte Swain.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Looking Forward to the Kente Festival

Visitors to Ghana remember at least three things about this part of Africa:  the colorful fabrics, the wide assortment of baskets, and the variety of beads.  This picture shows off the array of colors in Africa fabrics.  In September each year, there is a Kente Festival featuring Royalty in Ho - north of us in Tema.  There are many spectacular festivals in the Fall of each year.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Who said the MTC is just for young missionaries?

Actually, we train senior couples as well.  Meet Elder and Sister MBele from the DR Congo.  Four years ago they were encouraged by my dear friend, Don Livingstone, who was their mission president, to serve a senior couple mission.  Today that dream became a reality.  This valiant couple has raised 12 children and will be endowed and sealed on Tuesday in the Ghana Temple.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Besides the Ivory Coast, what is the other French-speaking Mission in the Africa West Area?

It is the Benin Cottonu Mission that is made of of Togo and Benin - remember, our own Brother Eguko was the pioneer who opened up the Church in Benin.



Total Church Membership






Family History Centers

When war erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 1998 all non-Congolese missionaries were evacuated from that country. Among the evacuated was a missionary couple, Normand and Sharon Langevin. They were reassigned to neighboring Benin for one month in September 1998. It was here that the Langevins taught the final discussions to and baptized Claude P. TOze in October 1998. Toze was the first citizen to be baptized.
Benin was assigned to the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission in January 1999. Demoine A. and Joyce Findlay were the first of several missionary couples assigned to support Church members in both Togo and Benin and work for legalization of the Church in those two countries.
In January 2001, Verne and Kathleen Davis become the first missionary couple assigned to live in Benin full time. They continued the work to gain legalization of the Church in Benin, and they also gave support to Church members in the capital of Cotonou.
The BYU Singers toured Benin in May 2001 and were so impressed with the members that they donated blue ties and blue dresses to be worn when legal recognition came. In March 2003, after years of working with government officials, the Church finally received legal recognition. That Sunday the blue ties and dresses wee worn in celebration. The following month four young missionaries, Reid Schellhous, Brandon J. Smith, Jean-Boscoh Kouassi, and Ambroise Gbahouo, were assigned to Benin.
Reorganized from the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission to the Ghana Cape Coast Mission in July 2005.


Total Church Membership - 2,307
Stakes - 1
Congregations - 12
Family History Centers - 1

African Area President James O. Mason organized the Lome Togo group in July 1997 with Agnon Ameri Didier as presiding elder. There were by this time about 25 Latter-day Saints living there. In October 1998, 12 dancers from Togo joined the Church while at a dance festival in Bountiful, Utah. Due to unrest in the country, they had difficulties returning to their homeland.
In February 1999, Togo came under the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission. That same month, the first missionary couple, Dermoine A. and Joyce Findlay, began missionary work in Togo and in February 1999, the Lome Branch was organized. Legal recognition of the Church was granted in July 2000. Church Educational System classes began to be taught in the late 1990s.

What is the furthest West country in the Africa West Area where the Church is found?

Many missionaries from the United States are assigned to serve in Sierra Leone, unlike Nigeria where there are none.  The preceding four photos are among our favorite that represent this work in Sierra Leone.  (Photos Courtesy of President and Sister David Ostler)


Total Church Membership






Family History Centers

Sierra Leone

Church members who had been baptized in the Netherlands and Ghana formed a study group in Freetown in 1988. That same year two missionary couples arrived, and in June they took part in a service in which the first 14 converts were baptized.
The Goderich Branch (a small congregation) was organized in August 1988, and in 1989 the first local full-time missionary was called to serve in his country. In May and August 1992 two missionary couples were temporarily removed from Sierra Leone because of unrest. By year's end 1993, 89 Sierra Leonians were serving full-time missions, including 41 from the six branches of the Freetown area.
In 1994, quilts from the young women of the Frederick Maryland Stake (diocese) were shipped to Sierra Leone through the Church's Washington, D.C., welfare complex. With each quilt was a letter, signed by the young women, that explained that individual pieces of the quilt represented acts of love and service.

How long have missionaries been serving in Liberia?

.... Missionaries have been in Liberia since 1987


Total Church Membership - 8,081
Missions - 1
Congregations - 22
Family History Centers - 2 

Members and nonmembers who were interested in Church teachings met in homes during 1985-1986. Missionary work was opened in 1987 and the first convert was baptized in August. A few days later 47 people were baptized in a lagoon. The New Kru Town and Congo Town branches (small congregations) were organized that day.
The Liberia Monrovia Mission was created March 1, 1988, when missionary couples were working with some 133 members in Congo Town and New Kru Town. By 1990 several newly converted young men served full-time missions, but all missionaries from Liberia were transferred to Freetown, Sierra Leone because of the civil war that started in December 1989. The mission was closed in April 1991.
During that time, about 400 members remained, 400 fled to neighboring countries and another 400 were unaccounted for. When the war began to abate, some of the members returned. While conditions remained unsettled, no missionaries were assigned to Liberia.
Members started regrouping in 1991, however, and by the spring of 1993, seven of the eight branches had been reorganized. With a renewal of hostilities in 1992, Liberian members experienced additional hardships and suffering.
In April 1996, war again broke out, resulting in considerable destruction in the capital city of Monrovia and other parts of the country. Many members again fled the nation. Peace has gradually been restored since that time.
Currently there are two districts in Liberia, the Bushrod Island District and the Monrovia District, with more than 2,000 members in nine congregations.

It is all about baptizing families: 

The three missionaries standing behind the family are from Tonga, England, and South Africa.  They are the Assistants to President Kirkham. (April 2014 Baptism)

It is all about teaching and service:

 (Photos:  Courtesy of President and Sister Kirkham)