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:

Sunday, May 31, 2015

What do 96 Missionaries Sound Like on a Sunday Evening in the MTC?

The missionaries from the Congo have a special descant they add when singing certain hymns.  The best example of this that I have experienced is "Israel, Israel, God is Calling."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Big MTC Group Is Adjusting Well

Each day but Sunday we have sports time at 3:30 p.m.  The missionaries are shown here on their first day in the MTC.

What is the story behind the "crise" in Cote d'Ivoire

Church membership in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) has grown from one family in 1984 to five stakes and one district today.

On November 28, 2010, political and civil unrest broke out in the Ivory Coast after Laurent Gbagbo, the President since 2000, was proclaimed the winner of the Ivorian election of 2010, the first election in ten years.  The opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara as well as numerous countries, organizations and leaders world-wide claimed that Ouattara had won.  After months of attempted violence and sporadic violence, the crisis peaked as Ouattara’s forces staged a military offensive in which they quickly gained control of most of the country.  Numerous humans rights violations were reported and even the United Nations undertook its own military action to protect civilians.    

A significant step in ending the crisis occurred on April 11, 2011 when Gbagbo was captured and arrested in Abidjan by pro-Ouattara forces supported by the French army.
This period of unrest and civil disturbance was known as "the crise.”  Tensions escalated to the point where in late March 2011, the stores were closed for a full month.
Thousands of people were inconvenienced and had to search for food.  One of the Stake Presidents, Marcel Guei and currently a mission president,  related that his family had set aside food reserves that would provide for the family for at least seven months because of counsel from President Hinckley to set aside food storage.  During that month, the Gueis fed not only their family, but also neighbors and members of their stake, never having fewer than 20 people at their table. 

Also in late March 2011 just prior to the stores being closed, 98 Ivorian saints led by the Cocody  Stake President, Zahui Dekaye, went to the Ghana Temple for an excursion.  Not planning to be away for longer than a week, these Saints learned that the boarder of Ivory Coast was closed upon their departure and they were not permitted reentry.  The Ivorians were provided assistance to live in the Ancillary Housing of the Temple while they continued to attend each day it was open until they were permitted reentry into Cote d'Ivoire on April 24, 2011. 

President Dekaye was also the Ivory Coast mission president under call, set to begin his service on July 1, 2011  Of particular note about this group was the fact that President Dekaye and his wife were joined by the senior leadership of the stake for this trip.  The entire stake presidency, most of the bishops, many of the high council and their wives were in attendance.    While they were in attendance on this trip, the stake was reorganized due to the call of President Dekaye, and the man selected to be the next stake president was Marc Sahy, currently serving as one of the two mission presidents in the Ivory Coast.  

Among the modern day miracles of missionary work in Africa, is the story of the Cote d'Ivoire d’Abobo Stake.  Due to the concern for safety particularly within the boundaries of this stake, missionaries were not permitted to reside or work.  They were however permitted to work with in neighboring stakes.  Undaunted by this limitation, member missionaries in each of the wards taught and baptized hundreds of people.  One ward recorded 79 convert baptisms in one year.   As a result of this effort, the stake was split not long after the crisis.

It was not until 2013 that missionaries were finally permitted reentry into that area and in November 2014 the stake was divided.  So great had been the progress without full time missionaries, that the stake had continued to grow through the faith and member missionary work of the members.

One particularly  historical noteworthy experience in the Stakes occurred on August 27-28, 201l.   Elder Curtis  was sent to preside over a Stake Conference in the Cote d’Ivoire Toit Rouge Stake.  He was the first General Authority permitted to enter the Ivory Coast after the civil disturbance and what he discovered was remarkable.  As a side note, this was also Elder Curtis’ first stake conference in Africa.  The armed conflict was over, but the effects of the war were still present.  President Lavry, the stake president, who was a professor of economics at the university, reported that the university had not yet reopened nor would it for the foreseeable future.  One of his counselors worked for the Ivorian Air Force, but it was an Air Force without planes because they had all been destroyed by the French.

The war had divided the people along ethnic and political lines.  Elder Norbert Ounleu, who accompanied Elder Curtis to the conference said that if Elder Curtis gave him any name of any member, he could tell Elder Curtis which side of the dispute that the person was on.  This aspect of the debate placed members of the Church on both sides of the dispute in a very personal way, especially in Abidjan, which is melting pot attracting members from throughout the Ivory Coast.  Some members supported President Gbagbo’s party and some President Ouattara’s party.  Some would describe the cause of the dispute as being the unwillingness of the defeated incumbent refusing to vacate his office whereas others would say that the French had intervened too early, and should have left it to the courts to decide who had won the election.  Not only were members of wards split on this issue, but in some cases even husbands and wives were on opposite sides from each other. 

Sensing this sensitivity, Elder Curtis felt impressed in the priesthood leadership session of stake conference to lead a discussion on how as members of the Church, we could help the country heal from the civil disturbance.  The brethren in attendance responded by recommending that they reach out in love to those on the other side of the issue, that they should live the gospel more completely and have charity for all.  One brother said “we need to live so that we can have a temple here, because the Lord will bless us with peace if there is a temple here.”

Elder Curtis then reported that the following day at 9 a.m. (August 28, 2011), the stake held a new member and investigator meeting in the chapel. New members along with 182 investigators filled the center section.  This was remarkable in that due to the crisis, missionaries had not yet been assigned to that stake and those investigators remained in the chapel for the General Session of stake conference.  It is interesting to note that only two cars were in the parking lot for stake conference of those, one belonged to the mission president who had driven Elder Curtis. (personal correspondence from Elder Curtis, May 30, 2015)

In recent years the Ivorian Saints’ faithfulness has been particularly manifest in their family history and temple work. Three of the five Cote d’Ivoire stakes are among the top 25 in the Church in the percentage of adults who submitted family names for temple ordinances during 2012. Of all the stakes in the Church, the Cocody Stake, the group that was stranded at the temple during the "crise," has the highest percentage of adults who have, at one time or another, submitted names for temple work. (July 2013 Liahona, "Elder Cook Addresses Members and Investigators in Ivory Coast)

Stake Presidents and Mission Presidents in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire, May 2015

The progress of the Church in Africa has been compared by Elder Bednar to the early days of the Church. Perhaps the experience of the 98 Ivorian leaders stranded at the temple for a month is not unlike the experience of Zions Camp, out of which came many future leaders of the Church.  The Ivorians are not slow to remember the hand of the Lord in their lives.  They are totally converted to following the words of living prophets as manifest by their commitment to having food storage. Although many of the leaders have not been members long, the Church is Ivory Coast is led by men of great faith and commitment.  Such faith was recently recognized by the recent revelation/announcement in April 2015 to have a temple in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Americans Among Us?

Elder and Sister Bodine from Lindon

American Missionaries with a couple of Africans

The Americans have arrived!

Why this post?  Because for the last 10 groups we have only had one American per group.  This time we have 9 Americans.  They seem happy to be here. (They are.)

Coffee and Tea?

Koffi & Tea?

Today we welcomed 96 new missionaries.  Sometimes the combination of their names is fun, other times the names are unusual.  This time we have four missionaries with the last name "Mbuyi."  Yes, this is fun, but no, Elders Koffi and Tea are not companions....yet.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

MTC President Couple Visit to Abidjan West Mission

Impressive Skyline
3rd Largest French-speaking City in World Traffic
Abidjan is know for its unique sculptures
Every Mission President in Cote d'Ivoire except the first
Zone Conference gathering 4 zones
Wives of the Stake Presidents in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Abidjan Stake Presidents and their wives
Treated like Royalty - This is what a chief and the queen wear
Note the kindness in the Ivorian's faces
Beautiful Woven Fabric Gifted from Cote d'Ivoire

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Heavy Loads on Your Head?

Wow, how does she do that?

As you can see the shop owner here is not impressed
This is Africa.  And Africans do carry loads on their heads.  BUT, you are not African, so do not try this at home.

Progress on the new MTC

The first classroom level of the building closest to the temple is now being framed.  Estimated completion of MTC was recently put at end of first quarter 2017.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hats Off to Couples Who Serve Senior Couple Missions

They drink healthier liquids

They make the best use of preparation days in the wild

They have joint family home evenings

They celebrate with Independence Day with the Locals

Kids love to sit next to them in Church

So what do senior couples think about serving in Ghana?  They all acquire "African Eyes" and love the people and serving with their eternal companion.  "You are invited" to join them.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Update on Former MTC Manager and Wife - Egukos Visit to Utah

Utah Has Great National Parks

Joseph and Emma (plus Pres & Sister Eguko)

Eguko's Visit the Robison's Home Ward

Africans Get Dancing

Hurrah for Israel!

Visitor's Center in Salt Lake City Temple Square

Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Egukos

Eating Pancakes the "Mathias Way" - Make it a Sandwich!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Take A Tour of the Ghana MTC with Elder Prior

Meet Elder Prior - our only American in this group

Although 90% of the missionaries choose the soccer field, Elder Prior likes basketball

This is where the missionaries eat.  It is the MTC Cafeteria.  Yes, lots of Rice.

Here is the classroom, where missionaries spend most of their waking hours while at the MTC.

And here is the MTC Chapel

This is what Elder Prior's living quarters. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What is missionary life like in the field? Look at Benin City, Nigeria!

Today President Ojo, the mission president of Benin City made this statement:
"Have been in the field with my missionaries since yesterday learning from them and observing them. These Elders and Sisters are simply amazing-- their testimonies are humbling, true and from the heart.   I was blessed beyond measure.  Missionary work is truly divine. I rode in keke today longer than I had ever ridden in my life put together. The work is about personal and companion study, planning sessions, scripture study, praying, trekking, contacting, teaching, testifying."

Yes, this is what missionary life is like and what we prepare them for in the Ghana MTC.

We Train All Sizes of Missionaries

Three new missionaries and all in the same companionship.  They come from Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana and they are powerful.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Egukos Discover Utah

President Eguko, Nigeria Portharcourt Mission Had Never Seen A Dinosaur

The Egukos are surprised by the size of dinosaurs

Egukos, the pioneers of Benin, meet the Utah pioneers

The Egukos visited my employer, the BYU Marriott School

Here the Egukos are pictured with our son Justin and his wife Lisa and their five children

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Legon Botanical Gardens - A Newly Discovered Treasure in Ghana (by missionary couples)

What do we do when the missionaries leave on Tuesday and we do not receive new missionaries until Thursday?  We explore.  This morning at 6 a.m. we traveled to the University of Ghana Campus and hiked through the Legon Botanical Gardens.

Here is how it is described online: 

The Legon Botanical Gardens covering an area of approximately 123 acres support the scientific research of the Department of Botany. They contain plant species of the tropics and semi-tropics, including a large collection of palms from various tropical areas.

In addition to the sale of plants and wreaths, landscaping and horticultural services, there are facilities in the gardens for picnics by individuals, families and social groups.

Are you looking for somewhere special to take the whole family? Check out Legon Botanical Gardens, in East Legon, Accra Ghana…Perfect for walks, sailing, bird and butterfly watching, ideal for photo shoots, Wedding Reception and more.

Legon Botanical Gardens should be a children's playground, a science museum and a natural laboratory where children will have space to play with their peers, discover themselves, cultivate team work and share. An open natural space where families can party and share among themselves. A place to conference with nature.

Still not convinced?  Take a look at Diane's photo collection of the experience:

Our Area Medical Advisor, Elder Hill was our tour guide.

Elder and Sister Malmrose are always up for an adventure

Just like at the Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad, we found a tree across a pond that attracts Egrets

Termite Tower




Kingfishers in flight


Petals from Flamboyant Tree on Path