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 27, 2015

What is the true meaning of life? Acacia Shade Teaches Volumes About This

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose trees you do not expect to sit."  Nelson Henderson

According to their blog, "the African Acacia tree is one of the extraordinary survival stories of the natural world.  Having survived for centuries in one of the harshest landscapes on earth, the Acacia tree has continued to adapt to its surroundings and remains a prominent source of shade and respite on the sun-scorched African Savanna."  A group of caring individuals from Utah founded a non-profit organization to help children with mental and physical disabilities in Ghana,  and the tree symbolizes the challenges they face and their will to survive.  Helping these deserving children thrive in their environment despite their harsh circumstances is what Acacia Shade hopes to achieve.

Today we visited the Acacia Shade House in Accra, Ghana and met the children and caregivers living there.

Sister Robison with Acacia Shade Co-Founder Julie Reneer
Diane and and Essi enjoy a private moment

Julie and the four children living at Acacia Shade and their care giver. The children's names are: Esi, Annabel, Zumah, and Ayariga (boy).Cofounders are Holly Foutz (not pictured & Julie Raneer.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Elder and Sister Vinson Addressed Missionaries in Area Devotional Today

Elder Vinson is from Australia and is the First Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency.  This group of 79 missionaries will all leave for the mission field on March 3rd.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Work of Salvation Continues

Left to Right:  Elder Memel, President Robison, Elder Avana, Elder Akoissa
Today I took these three missionaries to the temple to do work for deceased parents and grandparents.  Each of them did baptisms for grandfathers today and each of them is the only member of the Church in their family.  Elder Avana's father died in 2002 of a sickness and Elder Akoissa's father was killed in the Cote D'Ivoire War in 2012.

Yesterday, Elder Avana met the missionary who baptized him Benin in 2010 at the temple.  Neither knew the other would be there.  What a tearful and joyful reunion it was to be reunited in the temple with one's missionary.  There are no such things as coincidences in the Lord's Church.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The New MTC Has A Wall!

This is the classroom and MTC Presidency Apartments Building.  Note that the first wall is now up as of February 24, 2015.
Last time we posted a photo of this area two weeks ago, the concrete was not here.  The front of the building is making progress as well.  MTC completion date is anticipated to be after Sept. 2016.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

50 Facts About Africa - Getting to Know This Continent

  • There are 54 countries and one “non-self governing territory”, the Western Sahara, in Africa.
  • All of Africa was colonized by foreign powers during the “scramble for Africa”, except Ethiopia and Liberia.
  • Before colonial rule Africa comprised up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs.
  • The Pharaonic civilization of ancient Egypt is one of the world’s oldest and longest-lasting civilizations.
  • African continent is the world’s oldest populated area.
  • Arabic is spoken by 170 million people on the continent, followed in popularity by English (130 million), Swahili (100), French (115), Berber (50), Hausa (50), Portuguese (20) and Spanish (10).
  • Over 25% all languages are spoken only in Africa with over 2,000 recognised languages spoken on the continent.
  • Africa is the second most populous continent with about 1.1 billion people or 16% of the world’s population. Over 50% of Africans are under the age of 25.
  • The continent’s population will more than double to 2.3 billion people by 2050.
  • Africa is the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent with a continental GDP that accounts for just 2.4% of global GDP.
  •  Almost 40% of adults in Africa are illiterate – two-thirds are women. Adult literacy rates are below 50% in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
  • Over 25 million people are HIV-positive on the continent and over 17 million have died of the disease already.
  • The Second Congo War claimed over 5.4 million lives and is the deadliest worldwide conflict since World War II.
  • There are fewer people with internet connections in Africa than there are in just New York City.
  • Approximately 90% of all cases of malaria worldwide occur in Africa, accounting for 24% of all child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Africa is the world’s second largest continent covering about over 30 million square kilometers
  • The Sahara is the largest desert in the world and is bigger than the continental USA.
  • Africa is the world’s hottest continent with deserts and drylands covering 60% of land surface area (e.g. Kalahari, Sahara and Namib).
  • Africa is the world’s second driest continent (after Australia).
  • Africa has approximately 30% of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.
  • Nigeria is fourth largest oil exporter in the world, and Africa’s biggest oil producer with about 2.2 million barrels produced every day. Top 10 oil producers in order of total exports: Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Gabon, South Africa.
  • The continent has the largest reserves of precious metals with over 40% of the gold reserves, over 60% of the cobalt, and 90% of the platinum reserves.
  • China is Africa’s top trade partner with Sino-African trade volumes now nearing $200 billion per year.
  • China’s direct investment in Africa exceeds $50 billion. Just look at the “Forum on China Africa Cooperation”.
  • Neocolonialism is a real threat with over 1 million Chinese citizens on the African continent. Angola alone has a population of over 350,000 Chinese.
  • Over 55% of Africa’s labour force working in food production with vast areas of arable and pastoral lands supporting agricultural economies.
  • Over 90% of soils are unsuitable for agriculture and only 0.25% has moderate to low potential for sustainable farming.
  • Rainfall variability is very high – from 0 mm/year in the Sahara to 9,500 mm/year near Mount Cameroon.
  • Over 240 million Africans suffer from chronic undernourishment.
  • Water scarcity impacts the lives of over 300 million Africans, of whom approximately 75% of Africans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Global warming is aggravating the situation.
  • Limited groundwater represents only 15% of the continent’s total renewable water resources. New discoveries of groundwater reserves in large sedimentary basins in Libya, Algeria and Chad may slack Africa’s growing thirst for the next few decades…
  • Productivity of about 65% of the continent’s agricultural lands has declined significantly with vast tracts of land have been degraded by erosion, poor land management practices, mining and pollution over the last 50 years.
  • Some landscapes are estimated to lose over 50 metric tonnes of soil per hectare per year due to neglect and desertification.
  • Over 30% of Africa’s pastural land and almost 20% of all forests and woodlands are classified as moderately- or heavily-degraded.
  • Deforestation rates in Africa are twice the average for the rest of the world with more than four million hectares of primary forest disappearing every year. Countries like Kenya, malawi and Zambia have 1-5% of the primary forests remaining. Forests used to cover over 20% of Africa’s 30 million square kilometers with almost all currently being destroyed and degraded by commercial and subsistence logging, as well as land conversion to plantations, agriculture, mines, roads and settlements.
  • Some 60% of the tropical forests in the Congo Basin are considered commercially exploitable.
  • Six of the top ten countries with the largest annual net loss of forested area are in Africa.
  • Primary forests shrink by on average 40,000 square kilometres (or 0.6% of total remaining forest cover) each year with most significant losses in heavily-forested countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon.
  • Over 1,270 large dams have been built along the continent’s many rivers.
  • Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world.
  • Africa has the most extensive biomass burning in the world, yet only emits about 4% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Africa has eight of the 11 major biomes and the largest-remaining populations of lion, elephant, rhinoceros, cheetah, hyena, leopard and hundreds of other species
  • Megafauna like giraffe, zebra, gorilla, hippopotamus, chimpanzee and wildebeest are unique to the continent and only found here.
  • Lake Malawi has more fish species than any other freshwater system on earth.
  • The Nile River is the longest river in the world with a total length of 6,650 kilometres.
  • Africa has over 85% of the world’s elephants and over 99% of the remaining lions are on the African continent.
  • Eight of Conservation International’s 34 biodiversity hotspots are in Africa.
  • The Serengeti (Tanzania) hosts the world’s largest wildlife migration on Earth with over 750,000 zebra marching ahead of 1.2 million wildebeest as they cross this amazing landscape.
  • Thera are over 3,000 protected areas in Africa, including 198 Marine Protected Areas, 50 Biosphere Reserves, 129 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 80 RAMSAR “Wetlands of International Importance”.
  • Africa is home to the world’s largest living land animal, the African elephant, which can weigh up to 7 tons.
  • Africa has over 25% of the world’s bird species.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jewelry Making is also a Cottage Industry in Ghana

Tucked at the back of a white building on Oxford Street, Hakim's Jewelart Boutique could easily go unnoticed. And for anyone wishing to pick up a unique piece of handcrafted silver or gold jewellery, that would be a shame. In the back room we found  Georgette, a Lebanese lady who started the business with her late husband, and still mans several tables laden with crafted silver and gold pieces, many sporting African motifs. This little backroom is a far cry from a glossy, well-lit jewellery store, but there are some really beautiful pieces, and everything is priced by weight and crafted by three silversmiths in the workshop just as you come in. We were offered a Sprite as Georgette showed off her photo of when President Clinton visited the shop. (When I was in Xian and saw the Terra Cotta Warriors years ago, Clinton had been there too.  Hakim's Jewelart also has a jewellery cleaning service, and also create your choice of design if you give them a photo.  The prices are less than you would pay in the US.  

In Ghana, dresses grow on trees, shoes stream down from the roofs

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Self Reliance in Ghana not just about Material Possessions


“I Have Tested and Applied My Faith and It Has Worked

Mormon Newsroom recently had an interview with Elder John Atta Koranteng, a seasoned international translator and interpreter, experienced educationist, respectable leader and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Background History
Mormon Newsroom: Can you tell us about your family background and how you grew up?
Elder Koranteng: I am from Nkonya Akloba in the Volta Region of Ghana. I was born to Joseph Kwame Koranteng of blessed memory – a teacher who once served as the Jasikan District Commissioner during the Nkrumah administration – and Mercy Ababio who is still alive. I was born in quite a large family. My father’s children were twelve in all. I was born with a twin brother with whom I had my education up to the Masters [degree] level. And we had another set of male twins.
I was born in Hohoe in the Volta Region. I grew up a Catholic. After the February 1966 coup d’├ętat, my father went to political detention. When he was released from detention, he returned to his professional teaching career in which he was [employed] before his political appointment.
I had my primary education for five years instead of six years for obvious reasons; had my middle school education for one year instead of four years and then had my normal five-year secondary school education. I went further to the Mount Mary Teacher Training College in Somanya. I proceeded to the University of Ghana, Legon, for my first degree in English, French, Swahili and linguistics. I later travelled to Norway for my Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree.
I occasionally went to France, Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire for a French language internship.
After my teacher-training education I taught French and English at the Jasikan Junior Secondary School (JSS), taught English and French at the Osei Tseretwie Senior Secondary School in Kumasi, and served as a Teaching Assistant (TA) at the University of Ghana, Legon after my first degree there.
Conversion and Life in the Church
Mormon Newsroom: How did you become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Elder Koranteng: In the course of my studies in Norway, I met missionaries of the Church. At a point during my discussions with them on their gospel message, I felt as though I had received the message before. So I felt like I had received enough of the truth because God himself confirmed it to me and I personally felt I had chanced on the truth and should not just leave it.
So in January 1996 when I returned to Ghana, I searched for the Church’s missionaries to refresh my memory on the teachings I received while in Norway. I was baptized into the Church on 6th April, 1996 in the then Madina Branch of the Church in Accra, which became a ward (a Latter-day Saint congregation) just two months after I joined the Church.
Soon after I was ordained as an elder in the priesthood (the power and authority of God delegated to men on earth), I was offered the opportunity to serve as the first counselor to the elders’ quorum president (one of two assistants to the leader of a men’s group in the Church).
After one-and-a-half years I was offered the duty to serve as the executive secretary of the Accra Ghana Christiansburg Stake (a group of Latter-day Saint congregations, similar to a diocese). I served as stake executive secretary under three different stake presidents.
In 2003 I became a counselor to the then newly called (appointed) Tema stake president. In June 2007, I became the stake president for Adenta. And on 6th April 2013, I was sustained (approved by the membership of the Church) as a member of the 3rd Quorum of the Seventy (a senior governing body of the Church).
Interestingly, at one point I had to double as stake president and member of the Seventy for two months. In March 2013, I was appointed as the Area Self Reliance Manager (for the West Africa Area).
Impact of the Gospel
Mormon Newsroom: What has been the impact of the gospel in your life?
Elder Koranteng: The impact of the gospel has been tremendous in my life. I am particularly grateful to Heavenly Father  that I met missionaries of the Church during my MPhil studies when I was taking courses like philosophy, reasoning and logic – and without the gospel one would have relied on his own abilities and thinking and thereby risk being wayward.
Challenges that Turned to Blessings
Mormon Newsroom: What are the challenges you faced in life that you saw as helpful in the end?
Elder Koranteng: I would say they were the more inspiring and edifying challenges because challenges are supposed to be edifying. The first I would like to talk about is the challenge in setting up one’s own business because no one gets so much involved except you yourself.
Particularly in our part of the world, there is hardly state support or cushioning for sole proprietorships, unlike what pertains in the developed world.
After our graduate studies at the university, my brother and I were out and about looking for a job, but to no avail. Our qualification (MPhil) alone ‘scared’ many job owners off because in their estimation, we were more for managerial posts. It was only when we applied our faith by fasting, praying and setting up our own computer software training service in my partitioned single room accommodation, that we began to make it. In our prayer to dedicate the business to God’s care, we prayed for a more suitable business accommodation within a period of two months, which truly came to pass.
The business went further to grow in leaps and bounds to its current successful and highly profitable state in our own landed proper (building). My brother and I started the business from a zero level. We just exercised faith as described by Amulek in Alma 32, in the Book of Mormon (considered by Latter-day Saints as companion scriptures to the Holy Bible, providing an account of Jesus Christ’s ministry to the people of ancient America).
The Power of Language and Growth of the Church in Ghana
Mormon Newsroom: How do you assess the growth of the Church in Ghana?
Elder Koranteng: The growth of the Church in Ghana has been one of acceleration. When I joined the Church there was only one stake in Ghana, today we have six stakes.
The translation of the Book of Mormon into Ghanaian dialects such as Twi, Ewe etc. has benefited so many people.
When I remember the first time I visited the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) as a 17-year-old boy – and after 50 years, going back to that country in the company of General Authorities (senior leaders of the Church) – as a language interpreter I feel that God knew what he was preparing me for, by giving me the gift of languages.
Elder John Atta Koranteng has served in many leadership capacities. Presently, he is the Area Self-Reliance Manager for the Africa Southwest Area.
Elder Koranteng speaks seven languages fluently, including English, French, Norwegian, Swahili, Twi, Ewe and Nkonya. Before working for the Church, he and his twin brother Paul founded and managed an interpretation and translation services company. He and his wife Cynthia manage a basic school called Jakcint Academy, which they founded. They are the parents of two foster children.
The Area Self Reliance Manager in the Africa West Area, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder John Attah Koranteng, has stated that “the principle of self-reliance is a life of responsibility that is based on the exercise of faith through obedience to the commandments of God.”
He said there were many people in the world with huge material possessions but felt insecure and lived in fear.
Elder Koranteng was speaking in an interview with Mormon Newsroom in Accra.
According to him, self-reliance is not about having a lot of money and material possessions, but it is about learning and living what is termed “the doctrine of self-reliance.”
He explained that a careful study of the scriptures reveal instances where the Savior Jesus Christ intervened in the lives of many people “when they opened their hearts and minds and had faith in God and His son Jesus Christ.”
“I have over the years observed how people’s lives have transformed through obedience which leads to revelation of the mysteries of God,” he added.
He opined that self-reliance ensures true independence and freedom.
He pointed out that one of the most important ingredients of self-reliance was education which comprises both spiritual and temporal learning.
He said many people misunderstand the divine concept of self-reliance, hence their confusion in life.
“Self-reliance is about understanding one’s purpose in life. It is also about humans exercising righteous dominion over other creations of the earth and taking advantage of all the useful resources in universe, including ICT etc.,” he said.
To end, he referenced Doctrine and Covenants (a latter-day scripture of God’s revelations) Section 78, sub section 13 to 14 and
To see an additional published article about Elder John Attah Koranteng go to -

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Unique View of the Ghana Temple

Never tire at looking at this temple (the Ghana Temple) from any angle or on any day. (Photographic eye courtesy of Elder and Sister Sanders)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Area Devotional - February 12, 2015 - Robisons Were the Speakers

Sister Robison and I, assisted by the Malmroses and Brother Appianti spoke at the Area Devotional last Thursday.  This is group arrived in the MTC on February 6th, and is our 27th group that we have trained since coming to Africa.

Our Missionaries Are Going Forth To Different Nations

Prophet Joseph said:
“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
No place is this more clear than in the Ghana MTC where missionaries in each group "go forth" to dozens of nations.  The gospel is on every continent, is visiting every clime, is sweeping through every country, and we are all part of this great work.
What did the prophet Joseph and his wife look like?  In our home ward in Utah, our good friend Bill Whitaker was commissioned by the Church to show the world how Joseph and Emma looked.  Here is a preliminary look at his work:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Every day scenes of Ghana

Africans carry anything

Store Names Are Seriously Thought-out
Many ride in the back of trucks

While back at the MTC, it is down to business

Is there Golf in Heaven?

There are many golfers who would say they hope so.  There is golf however at the center of the earth in Tema and especially in Accra.
Fairways in Tema are very dry

The tees and greens are the only places that a kind of green

Good news is that the ball rolls a long ways on dirt fairways

For the best golf, we head off to Achimota.  Nice drive, Elder Curtis.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How Does Going to The Temple Work for the MTC Missionaries?

Yesterday we took 1/2 of the MTC to the temple.  They were all French-speakers.  Today we brought all the English-speakers to the temple.  Over 60% of our missionaries have never been endowed prior to coming to the MTC.  Once at the temple, every missionary is given 3 pairs of garments from Distribution if they have been previously.  Those who have never been to the temple are give 8 pairs of garmets.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Friday, February 6, 2015

Koforidua is the Place for Beads!

Two hours north of Tema/Accra is Koforidua, the capital of the Eastern Region of Ghana.  It is the location of a popular bead market, which is held only on Thursdays.  It is a great destination for senior couples in search of projects for their grandchildren after the mission.

All of the Sisters seemed to love the experience.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Look At the Path of Elder Peter Yaovi Akana - DRC to Cote D'Ivoire

Upon entering MTC last May, he was first endowed.

He trained with a great group of missionaries.

All of his District in the MTC joined him in the Temple

Each missionary is very excited to travel to the mission field

With Book of Mormon in hand, the work begins

Dining at the Mission Home is always a treat

The zone plays hard on preparation day

And then it is back to work, but oh how glorious the work is