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:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Elder Davis Speaks to Our 30th Group of Missionaries - the March 20th Group

Today, Thursday March 26, our Area Seventy from Cape Coast, Elder Davis, addressed the current group of missionaries.

The Sery Kone Story - An Ivory Coast RM Who Served in the DRC (was a child slave)

Sery Kone was born in the large port city of Abidjani.  When Sery was 4 years old, his parents divorced. His father decided to pull him away from his mother, so he took him 1,200 away from his home and placed him with a woman he didn't know in a small village by the name of Kolia.  His father left him there, never to see him again.  The woman that he lived with was very poor and the only way to survive was for Sery to work.  He became a child slave.  

The woman was wise enough to know that children deserved an education. She insisted that the children in her home went to school. But when Kone was not in school, he would go to work, sometimes walking as much as 35 miles to a cocoa farm. He would work 10 hours. He was beaten if he did not work hard. He was not well fed. He had no choices, no protector and no hope.  He worked hard for 6 years. And then, the woman died, and he lost even the comfort of food, clothing and supervision. Still, he kept working.  

After a particularly hard beating by a rancher when he tried to encourage a tired little boy working next to him to rest, he said "I have had enough". He got onto a bus heading to the big city where he was born. He said to the driver, "I have no money, but my family will pay for me when we get there". The bus driver refused and told him to get off, but he was not going to go back to slavery. "I would not get off," he said. "I would not go back." After much arguing, a kindly rider paid for his fare. Kone went to Abidjani, a two day ride, to find his family. He stayed in the streets for 4 weeks. Then he was taken in by an orphanage and worked odd jobs as he could. He lived there for 6 months.

One day, a man came up and called him by his childhood name. "I am your uncle," said the man. Kone did not believe him and he ran away. But the man persisted in finding him. It turns out that he really was his mother's brother. He was a school teacher and he took Kone into his home. Later on, Kone asked him “how did you know it was me?”  His uncle answered “you looked so much like your mother, I knew it was you.”  

Kone found out that his mother had passed away in great sorrow, because her only son had been taken from her. This left Kone embittered and frustrated. He felt deeply that God had been so unfair to him, and his anger boiled out of him. Now a teenager, he found entertainment in arguing with Christians, especially Jehovah Witnesses. For some reason, he found them an easy target for his anger.

Kone remembers a day when two LDS missionaries were walking by. He thought they were Jehovah Witnesses. "Hey," he called out. "Why don't you come here and talk to me?" He meant it more as a challenge, but the two young men replied that they were happy to share their message. They came to his home and began to present the "Plan of Salvation." This struck Kone to the heart. He knew their message was true and could see from the truths they taught that Heavenly Father did care about His children and had provided a clear path for them to find happiness and someday to return home to Him.

Kone joined the LDS church and found much peace in being a member. His uncle supported him while he went to public school. When he was 20 years old, he went on a mission in the DR Congo, where he worked very hard. Following the completion of his mission, Kone was accepted to BYU-Hawaii, where he is about to complete his studies in Finance. He will soon be heading out to obtain an MBA at BYU-Provo. His goal is to become an Investment Counselor

Kone has served Heavenly Father in many ways, and he was blessed for it. He married a beautiful daughter of God in a temple of the Lord and is raising an eternal family. He has a beautiful baby boy named Kenneth. 

With all of these blessings poured upon him, Kone had finally found a peace and joy he never thought possible. But he was not completely happy. He wanted more. This desire was not born out of greed but rather gratitude. He wanted to reach out to other children trapped in child slavery. He wanted to help communities to become stronger. He even wanted to reach out to the cacao ranchers and help them improve their systems so that they would not need to depend on utilizing low wage workers in order to make a profit.

Kone has organized a movement called WELL Africa (World Education for a Legacy of Liberty). Since 2012 WELL Africa has taken 300 children out of cacao farms to receive an education and over 250 women have received micro financing loans to start businesses. They have trained men in bee keeping. In 2014 WELL Africa completed the construction of its first school.

The next goal is to build a self-sustaining hospital in order to provide healthcare services to the poor communities in Ivory Coast. (Related by Elder and Sister Jones of the Honolulu Hawaii Mission)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Elder Ako - who was sealed to his parents today

Elder Ebenezer Ako
Elder Ebenezer Ako was sealed to his parents today.  He was born in Krobo of the Eastern Region of Ghana.  When he was a child his mother cared for him, but at the age of three, his father became ill and died.  All through his younger years, he and his mother lived alone as she sold clothing to support him.  When he was 13 years old she became ill, often for a month at a time.  Then a year later she passed away.  Young Ebenezer had felt such loneliness and that feeling was to continue.  He went to live with his aged great grandmother, who was 86 years old.  He said that he does not remember a happy time in his childhood - a time where he was happy to just sit around a table with others and laugh.

At the age of 18, Ebenezer went to live with his uncle and his wife.  They were very nice to him.  An LDS neighbor invited Ebenezer to help him with chores and it was during this experience that he learned about the Church.  The neighbor invited the missionaries to come teach Ebenezer in the neighbor home and shortly after he was baptized.  Last year during a Church course on Family History he realized he could be sealed to his parents and was most anxious to do so.  Today, that dream became a reality as he was sealed to his parents.  He said it was a very emotional experience for him.  He is now happy.  Elder Ako departs from the MTC next Tuesday to serve in the Nigeria Lagos Mission.

Elder Baah, Elder Ako, Elder Ekah (all three have lost their fathers in addition to Elder Ako's loss of his mother)

What Sort of Box Do You Fancy?

Remember the preacher in the movie "Polyanna."  He would pound the pulpit and say "death comes unexpectedly."  Death surrounds the people in Africa. A family member becomes ill, and far too often dies.  It is on the minds of all.

Matthew Link,  a writer, editor, filmmaker, and former Editor in Chief of The Out Traveler magazine recently posted an article on his website entitled: " Living Twice in Ghana, What Sort of Box Do You Fancy?"

"Death never takes a vacation away from us. It’s tied to our feet like an arrogant shadow wherever we go, as a constant reminder of all the things we’ve left behind.And who wants to visit death on vacation? Believe it or not, a visit to Ghana’s coffin makers is on most tourists’ itineraries. 

On the dusty, honk-echoing, chicken-crossing, exhaust-fumed streets right outside of Accra, the capital of the English-speaking West African country, one tribe called the Ga is renowned for their casket masterpieces.  They come in a variety of corpse-sized styles: in the shape of fish, elephants, guns, sewing machines, pens, Bibles, guns, airplanes, cars, Coca Cola bottles, beer bottles, cacao beans, peppers, lobsters, ears of corn, cell phones, tractors, microphones, roosters, cigarettes, even replicas of stores.

Pretty much any object or thing you can think up. They are painstakingly painted, meticulously designed, and even in the face of death, strikingly lifelike.

The Ga may be a Christian tribe, but they know the primordial animist power of symbols, those immense unspoken icons that were downloaded into our DNA and created before the world was born. The Ga’s caskets are a direct, unflinching correlation to the person’s life – their work, their passions, their vices, their quirks.

Corpses are curled up or folded into these awkwardly-shaped homes of the afterlife, and the casket makers must certainly lament that their prized art is buried deep underground after so many back-breaking weeks of workmanship. It’s like a daily funeral for their own creations.

In a country where many people live on barely $2 a day, no expense is spared for the most important part of life: death.

The coffins cost between $300 and $800, and international collectors and museums snatch these symbols up for $2,000 or more for the smaller made-to-order models that can be shown off in wealthy homes.

Jimmy Carter visited Accra and bought three coffins: an eagle, a fish, and a bell pepper. (They must have been out of peanut-shaped caskets that week.)

How can something as complex and long and riddled and mysterious as a human life could be summed up in one tangible object, no matter how artistic? How do we decide what vehicle we will ride in to that other planet where our spirits decide to reside after all of this is said and done?

Life is a series of choices we don’t want to make. The hardest decision in my mind is to precisely calculate what each of us is standing for, whether we realize what that is or not."  (Read more at

Glimpses of the Ghana Accra Temple March 25th Temple Trip


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Take A Peek At The Progress of the New MTC

Construction on the new MTC began last September.  We are almost through March and on track for completion in September 2016.  The first floor ceiling for all three buildings is about finished.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sisters Face Serious Challenges To Serve Missions

Sister Charumbira from Zimbabwe and Sister Ekwenye from Nigeria
Sister Regina Ugochi Ekwenye was born in Abia State, Nigeria on August 4, 1995.  She was the second of three children.  When she was five years old, her parents joined the Church, so she was essentially raised LDS.  However, it was not easy for Sister Ekwenye as a child because her father drank and as a result there was much contention in the home.  When she was 12, she entered young women and started learning more about the gospel.  Along with her elder sister, they helped their father understand the importance of obeying the laws of the gospel.  Ever since that time, their family was happy.

And ever since she can remember, Sister Ekwenye has wanted to serve a mission and her father supported her in that desire.  When she received her call to the Nigeria Lagos Mission her father was very happy, but two weeks before she entered the MTC, he had a serious obstruction in his stomach and died.  Friends and relatives counseled Sister Ekwenye to delay the start of her mission until after the funeral.  But as tradition goes in Africa, no date for burial has yet been set.  This can often take several months.  Sister Ekwenye asked her District President to counsel with the mission president in the area where she lives and the recommendation came back to not delay her mission.  Her testimony is that one should be obedient and she felt very good inside about the counsel to keep the current schedule of service.  She is very happy that she can see her father again and is especially grateful that the family is sealed for all time and eternity.

Sister Sarah Charumbira is from Zimbabwe.  Her parents joined the Church in 1996 and the entire family has been very active all of her life.  Although both parents are currently unemployed and her mom has a heart challenge, Sister Carumbira has faith that her family is in the Lord's hands.

Journey of Elder Baah from Nigeria to His Mission

Elder Kwesi Prince Baah, Nigeria Lagos Mission
Elder Baah's father moved from Ghana to Nigeria a few years before he was born on November 22, 1992 he was born in Abia State.  Before coming to the MTC, he had never been to Ghana.  His parents had five children and he is the second oldest.  His heart's desire is to know about his roots in Ghana. When he was 12 he lost his father to HIV.  His mother is now suffering from the same disease.

Elder Baah and his siblings and their mother joined the Church when he was 13 years old.  Because their father had died, they went to live with his mother's family.  However these relatives were not kind and beat not only the kids but his mother often.  In light of this, Elder Baah's older brother moved to Ghana to get in touch with his roots and the family has not seen him.  However, they have spoken with him on the phone.  Elder Baah himself went to live with friends to avoid the beatings.  He is proficient at computer work, so was able to get food to support himself by teaching about computers. He would borrow money to eat and pay for other expenses and then when he was paid, he would repay the money.

Although he knows the Church is true and wants to declare the gospel, he readily admits that serving a mission keeps him away from his relatives who beat him.  At the current time the oldest sister is serving a mission in Calabar, Nigeria.  When it was time to be set apart to go on his mission, Elder Baah's mother was unable to attend because she is too weak to walk.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What does Bead Heaven Look Like? Drive 2 hours North to Koforidua

Koforidua, also popularly known as K-dua, is a city and capital of the Easter Region in southern Ghana.  Koforidua has a population of 127,334 people and
Koforidua serves as a commercial center for the Eastern region and the New-Juaben Municipal district. 

Koforidua is regarded as one of the calmest and coolest cities in the country. The city is home to many businesses including a favorite stop for Senior Sisters in search of 200 year old antique beads.  The process involves bringing in the husbands to barter.

Missionary Moments from Africa in Church News


Published: Saturday, March 7 2015 12:10 a.m. MST
Updated: Friday, March 6 2015 11:45 a.m. MST

Sister Winnie Mandela, from Kenya, entered the Ghana Missionary Training Center in January. Her name, she explains, came from her father, who “simply liked the name Winnie Mandela.”

Growing up, Sister Mandela’s mother was an Anglican and her father was a Catholic. When Sister Mandela was 17, her father suffered a blood clot and within a month died leaving her with many questions both about her life and about her father’s death.

One of her friends invited her to the LDS Church and she agreed. Two missionaries asked her to investigate the Church and she agreed.
She said the discussions included the plan of salvation and this helped the empty feeling (from her father’s death) leave and she wanted to learn more and more. She visited the Sosiani Branch in Kenya’s Eldoret District in May 2013 and Elder Simelane, from South Africa, and Elder Kigongo, from Uganda, taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon, challenging her to pray about it before reading it.
Following her prayer she spent all night reading the Book of Mormon and said an answer came into her mind that “this book is true.” Along with the answer to her prayer came tears of joy.

Missionaries continued to teach her and, as she came to understand Heavenly Father’s plan, the hope that she could one day see her father again made her happy. When her father died in 2005, she had many questions that no one could answer to her satisfaction. The young missionaries, however, were able to answer many of them, and she realized that Heavenly Father wants her to return back home to Him.

In June 2013, Sister Mandela was ready to be baptized but the two missionaries were on an assignment away from her home. She was baptized in August. Nearly a year and a half later, Sister Mandella entered the Ghana MTC, ready now to share the gospel and help others find the answers she found as missionaries taught her.

Prior to serving her mission, Sister Mandela served as a seminary teacher and in a Relief Society presidency. In addition to her native language of Swahli she also speaks Spanish and enjoys swimming and basketball. Before her mission call she worked in sales for a software company and prior to entering the Ghana MTC, she had never been outside of Kenya. She is serving in the Ghana Accra Mission.
“I am so thankful and grateful for the restored gospel and I know the Book of Mormon is true,” said Sister Mandela of her journey into the Church and as her missionary service began.

— President Reid Robison, Ghana MTC

The last time one of my entries was published in the Church News before Sister Madela's story was:

Published: Saturday, July 5 2014 12:10 a.m. MDT

The journey of Elder Jervase Makur Dhoul Ajok from South Sudan to serving as a full-time missionary has been filled with both challenges and blessings. He was born in 1989 in the village of Ananatak, South Sudan, when his country was in the midst of a severe drought. One night in 1998 his village was attacked because “our villagers were accused of hiding rebels. Hence, they raided the house where my family was sleeping. They started by shooting my uncle, his wife and his son,” said Elder Ajok. He was forced to flee his country because of civil unrest.
Young Jervase ran “into the bush, crying, leaving behind my father, mother, five brothers and two sisters where everyone was lying among those who had been killed.”

He found himself in the village of Chukudum and, in late 1998, was forced to become a child soldier in what was called the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” After three months, he escaped, “because [he] did not want to be a soldier.” While he was hiking to another village with other refugees, his camp was bombed and his leg injured by shrapnel. Elder Ajok said, “At that point, my life became so horrible because there was no food, water or shelter. We were attacked by wildlife, and everything was in total chaos and got worse for the next week.”
In March 2000, he was taken to a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. Elder Ajok said that during his stay in the camp, many would try to steal others’ possessions and he fled to Nairobi where a kind family gave him shelter.

“I thanked Heavenly Father ... because a ‘good Samaritan’ took me into his house before helping me look for other Sudanese people. I was very grateful for his kindness.”

In Nairobi, said Elder Ajok, “I did not have a person that could care for me if I became sick. At this point, I became friends with a fellow Sudanese countryman and went to the Catholic church one Sunday.” He later met two LDS missionaries, who introduced him to the bishop, and he was baptized a member of the Church in late 2008.

Elder Ajok remained in Nairobi and enrolled in school with the bishop’s help. “[The bishop] paid my school fees until I completed my [high school] in 2011.”
In August 2012, Elder Ajok walked 1,000 miles back to Southern Sudan and met with the branch president there who helped him find food and shelter and obtain a passport in order to serve a full-time mission. Elder Ajok worked as a security guard to earn mission funds and was able to locate his mother, two brothers and two sisters who survived the village attack.

In June, Elder Ajok entered the Ghana Missionary Training Center and is now serving in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.

— as related by Lynette Pierce Shulz to Reid A. Robison, President of the Ghana MTC

Friday, March 20, 2015

What Is the Popular Style in Fashion These Days - African Prints

And they stamp it across the street from the MTC (this is from a drawing Diane gave them)
Incredible Cottage Industry Business so close to us
The batik is an explosion of color
Wax African Prints are a hot item too

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Saints Waited 23 Years For Their First Stake in Zambia

The Church was first registered in Zambia in 1992. Now, 23 years later, it finally has a full stake--which means there will be a Stake Patriarch and other blessings available to the 2100 Saints there.

The Lusaka Zambia Stake was created on 15 March 2015 during a special conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held at the meetinghouse on Nangwenya Road in Lusaka.  The Lusaka Stake, the first in Zambia, is an executive unit comprised of approximately 2100 members in seven congregations within Lusaka.

During this historical event, Harrison Lumbama was sustained as the Lusaka Stake President with Counsellors Blessing Mashala and Chis Chansa.  President Lumbama and his wife, Maureen Kabulansando, have three children.  Introduced to the Church by Dr. Patrick and Edah Chikusu, he and Maureen joined in 1997.  He later served as the Munali Branch President (2000-2005) and most recently as the Lusaka District President (2009 - 2015).

Church membership in Africa is approaching 425,000 with more than 1300 congregations.  Worldwide, there are 15 million members in over 29,000 congregations.  Johannesburg, South Africa is the closest LDS temple to Lusaka.  Of the 25 countries in the Africa Southeast Area, as of 1 January 2015, there were 39 Stakes. 14 are located in South Africa, 12 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2 in Zimbabwe, and various others.  Now there is one Stake of Zion in Zambia! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Gift of Water for the DRC

This project sponsored by the Church in the DRC is moving.  It helps one understand where our missionaries come from and the types of places where they will be serving.

Monday, March 16, 2015

So, We Are at the Mid-Point of March - What is Ghana Looking Like Today?

Setting Up For Church Each Sunday

Typical Road

Typical Sidewalk

Goats Rule

Laundry Day

Pineapple Find


Toilet Store

Beautiful Children

Senior Couples Rule

And this is what it is all about:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Why do they have so many little shops in Ghana and what does blue fabric represent?

African Eyes Lesson:

Diane learned from her counselors today that in Ghana you don’t make things that the local businesses specialize in. For example if you need a pie, you don’t make it but you go to the pie shop. If you need soup, you buy it from the soup store. There are literally thousands of little shops here and the Africans support each other in their trades.

Also Diane just found out these beautiful blue Ghana print fabrics are worn on special days of gratitude - after a wedding, after a baby is born, after a healing. What a wonderful thought. She is going to bring home enough to to use on our Thanksgiving table every year. And she just might make a little blue fabric covered gratitude journal too.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Want To Know What Missionaries in Africa Are Like? Go See the Movie "Freetown"

Six missionaries are portrayed in the movie Freetown

Left to Right Garrett Batty (director), President Robison, Sister Robison, Adam Abel (producer)

Freetown is the next missionary thriller from the makers of the Saratov Approach. The story depicts the desperate journey of Liberian missionaries caught in the middle of a brutal civil war. With their teaching stymied by the conflict, they flee the widespread violence of their native country for a new place where they can continue to proselyte: Freetown, Sierra Leone.

A thrilling story told in beautiful detail, Freetown promises to live up to its hype. After seeing it for the first time, Elder Menti, one of the young men depicted in the film, said, "As I sat in my seat it was just like I was reliving the events, just as vivid as they were."

The movie releases to general audiences in the United States starting April 8th.  It was filmed entirely in Ghana and all of the actors are from Ghana. It is now showing at the Accra Mall in Ghana for the next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two Sealings Highlighted our Visit to The Ghana Temple Yesterday

Today was our temple day. We attended a session and then following the session stood in a proxy representing the parents of two of our missionaries who had lost theirs. What a sweet experience to know that their parents are now sealed and that these missionaries are sealed to them. Their names were Elder Afangbedji (left) and Elder Lakougnon (right). Both are from Togo.

Sierra Leon Mission President Shares Two Favorite Stories

 Faith & The Sabbath Day

"We were teaching the N's about the Sabbath day and taught how we were not supposed to work or buy food on Sunday. This man and woman looked at each other and I knew why. The family has nothing. The man, John goes and does anything he can to make money everyday. He ends up bringing home 2 or 3 thousand (50-75 cents) a day. If he doesn’t work they don’t eat along with their two children. He looks at me and explains to me that if he makes enough on Saturday to buy for Sunday he will do it. But if he doesn’t after Church they will warm water and drink it and sleep till the next day so they will keep the Sabbath day holy. Then he bore me his testimony how he knew he wouldn’t have to do that because God would provide a way for him."

The Power of the Book of Mormon

"I would like to share one experience with you about a woman named Salimatu. She is the neighbor of a family that we are teaching and her and her daughter usually join us in the lessons. However she is unable to read, so we never gave her a Book of Mormon. She wanted to know if the book was true though so what she would do is go and borrow the book from the family and then pray about it and then put it under her pillow fully believing that she would receive an answer to her prayer as we had told her. She received a vision in which she was walking on a path that was leading her to go and see Jesus Christ. She walked and walked and then started to feel very tired so she decided to sit down, but many different people came to her and told her to continue she continued to walk even though tired found the strength to walk. She said she knows the book is true, but even me it strengthened my own testimony of the Book of Mormon even though she can’t read she understands one very important part. Number one the Book of Mormon will lead us to Christ and it will give us the strength to carry on. I was very inspired about this whole experience and have had a new determination to read the Book of Mormon more and more."

MTC Main Floor Ceiled Framed In

The new MTC is making steady progress.  Here is what it looks like today, March 10th - about six months after the project began.