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:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Accept You As My Son

                             Painting hanging in MTC foyer by Emmalee Glauser Powell

When young people want to join the church, they frequently encounter opposition from friends, relatives, and parents. It takes a great deal of faith to leave your family and join with Christ in His restored Church. So it was with Bishop Kofi Sosu of Kumasi, Ghana.

Sosu was baptized as a young adult, despite his parents’ severe opposition. Shortly after he became a member, the government initiated a “freeze” on the Church, forbidding members from worshipping. The Ghanaian mission was closed, and all the missionaries were sent to other missions or were sent home. Sosu tried to show devotion inside his home, but he was hindered in his efforts to study the gospel and nurture his faith by his parents’ threats to inform the police.

After the freeze ended, Sosu began to meet with the Saints again. Soon he became determined to serve a mission. However, his parents threatened him again, promising to disown him if he chose to don the suit and nametag for two years. Sosu chose his faith and was renounced by his family.

While serving in Nigeria, Sosu sent a letter to his family once a week, but not one was answered. After two years he arrived home with no one to contact but his branch president, who found him a place to stay temporarily. Unsure of where to go next, Sosu prayed and fasted. Despite his apprehension, he felt he should return to his father’s house. As Sosu approached the gate, his father saw him and asked who he was.

“I am your son,” Sosu replied.

“My son?” his father said.

“Yes—your son, Kofi.”
Tears came suddenly to his father’s eyes. No longer able to subdue his emotions, Sosu’s father embraced him.

“Oh, my son, my son. I am so sorry,” he said, pulling away for a moment to look at Sosu’s face. “I have not had a moment’s peace since I disowned you. I know you did the right thing, and I accept you as my son.”
As they mature and grow in the gospel, many young people are able to heal broken family relationships. Their parents see the growth these young people have experienced and can appreciate the great blessings that come to those who live the gospel. Similarly, Bishop Kofi Sosu was able to renew his relationship with his father and feel the joy of being accepted by his father.
But for some of those people who choose to leave their families and follow Christ, there is no joyful reconciliation in this life. For those faithful Saints, though, their loving Heavenly Father embraces them and comforts them as they follow the Savior in faith.
Excerpted by Marnae Wilson from “Faithful Portraits,” Michelle A. Lizon, BYU Magazine, Spring 2008
Painting “Bishop Kofi Sosu and His Father: Forgiveness of Father and Son,” Emmalee Glauser Powell, Ensign, July 2009, p42

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Elder Andersen Reflections on Visiting Africa

“I have always marveled that in October 1831, when there would have been only a few hundred members of the Church, the Lord made this powerful declaration through the Prophet Joseph Smith: "The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth" (D&C 65:2).
One of the quiet confirmations of the restored gospel is the miraculous way this promise is being fulfilled.
On Wednesday, February 17, at 11 a.m., while traveling from Zimbabwe to Botswana, Kathy and I, along with Elder and Sister Carl B. Cook of the Seventy and Area President in the Africa Southeast Area, met with the branch members in Kasane, Botswana. Kasane, a small town with only a few thousand inhabitants, is far from the Botswana capital of Gaborone, where we have a stake. Isolated from other large population centers, the branch is not part of a district or a stake but is watched over by the mission president.
It was a blessing for Kathy and me to hear the histories and testimonies of the branch members. The branch president, Brother Tebogo Khombane, joined the Church as a student in Durban, South Africa. Sister Cornelia Rautenbach came to Kasane for work from Zimbabwe and was introduced to the Church by friends in Harare. Brother Meshack Keimetswe and Sister Nametsegang Keimetswe were family friends as children. Both eventually joined the Church and moved to Kasane shortly after getting married. The Lopez family is from Mexico and have a daughter, Aurora, serving a mission on Temple Square. Zambia and Kenya were also represented. Several had joined the Church in Kasane since the branch had been organized. A sister who had just recently been baptized this past December spoke of her desire to be an example to the six in attendance who were not yet baptized. I exclaimed to the branch, "And you did all this without missionaries?" They quickly and kindly corrected my declaration. "We are the missionaries," they responded!
The Spirit of the Lord filled our meeting together. We were sad to leave but left as friends and fellow disciples of Christ. I was deeply moved by their conviction of the Savior and the restored gospel. They reconfirmed what I already knew: the gospel is moving across all the world, and righteous people in every nation, among an amazing array of cultures, languages, and economic situations will greet the Savior when He returns. And while it is not easy to be apart from a large body of Church members, every disciple of Christ has access to his or her Father in Heaven through prayer; every baptized member has the right to the gift of the Holy Ghost; every committed Latter-day Saint can keep the commandments and study the scriptures; and to have the guidance of the prophet and the ability to have the strength of the sacrament and the other ordinances, we are deeply blessed.
Kathy and I were pleased to meet with Sister Cornelia Rautenbach who has been instrumental in the Growth of the branch in kasane.”
 ‘Early Days’ of their ‘Group’ in Kasane, Botswana…
First Sacrament meeting was held in a Members Home on 9 May, 2010
Meeting in a Member’s Home…
With President & Sister Poulsen, their Mission President Couple
Cornelia was Baptized  in Harare, Zimbabwe…
For her first 5 years of membership in the Church while living in Kasane, Botswana, 3-4 times a year Cornelia drove and crossed the border from Kasane, Botswana to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and then caught an hours flight to be able to partake of the Sacrament. She FASTED & PRAYED for a ‘Branch’ to be started in Kasane, Botswana!
She is now living in Maun, Botswana (600km from Kasane) where her non-member Parents live.Over the past few months she has been BLESSED to find 17 other Members of the Church who live in Maun…
Her Prayer once again is to be able to start a Branch in Maun and to be able to partake of the Sacrament!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

When Did the Church Begin In West Africa?

By 1978, men and women of faith all around West Africa had been waiting patiently for years for the opportunity to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anthony Obinna and his extended family and friends formed a small congregation in their village near Owerri, Nigeria, and studied the Book of Mormon. Joseph William Billy Johnson, Rebecca Mould, and R. A. F. Mensah founded similar congregations of unbaptized Latter-day Saints in Ghana. Some of these individuals and groups had petitioned Church leaders for missionaries for over a decade.

Then on June 8, 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color” (Official Declaration 2) and that all worthy Latter-day Saint men and women could participate in temple ordinances.
This dramatic announcement lifted a restriction that had long been in place and opened the way for Church growth and local leadership in most of Africa. Church leaders moved quickly to ensure that the blessings of this revelation were extended widely to members in West Africa and other parts of the world.

Within weeks of the June 8 announcement, Edwin Q. Cannon and Merrill J. Bateman went on a fact-finding trip to help Church leaders decide how to proceed. The result of that July trip was the call of two pairs of missionaries to West Africa in September of 1978: Rendell and Rachel Mabey and Edwin and Janath Cannon. The Mabeys and Cannons arrived in Nigeria in November  and captured some very significant events in modern Church history on film.

Finding Anthony Obinna

Anthony Obinna’s letters to Church leaders contained some of the most passionate pleas for a Church presence in West Africa. But the return address on his letters consisted only of the name of a small village near Owerri, Nigeria. On November 18, 1978, the Cannons and Mabeys set out to locate the village.

The First Branches in Nigeria

On November 21, Anthony Obinna and 18 other men and women were baptized, and the first branch of the Church in Nigeria was organized in Aboh Mbaise. After this branch was established, the Cannons and Mabeys visited other locales in Nigeria where groups of people were awaiting baptism.

One of the most iconic photographs in modern Mormon history was taken on March 4, 1979. It is a photo of more than 60 baptismal candidates from the Nigerian village of Ikot Eyo lined up waiting for baptism in a nearby stream.

The Morning Breaks in Ghana

In addition to organizing branches in Nigeria, the Mabeys and Cannons visited Ghana and helped baptize those who had been waiting for many years for the Church to be established there. The first baptisms in Ghana occurred on December 9, 1978, at what has become known as “Baptism Beach” near Cape Coast.

This painting  of baptism beach is also on display in the foyer of the Ghana MTC

The Mabeys and Cannons served in Ghana and Nigeria until October 1979. The branches they helped organize formed the nucleus of the early Church in those countries, where today temples have been constructed and the Church has a vibrant presence.

We sometimes hear the story of Wilford Woodruff baptizing hundreds of Methodists who had been spiritually prepared for his arrival in England. What would it have been like to be there? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have photographs or video footage of those events?  Your sons are in Ghana and are experiencing a period of rapid growth in the history of the Church in Africa, not unlike the Nauvoo period.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sierra Leone is now open!

While we were serving in the Ghana MTC, the missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone were closed due to Ebola.  It was a very tragic and sad situation to see both missions shut down and the mission president couples receive early releases.

However, six months ago Liberia opened up and today missionaries returned to Sierra Leone.  In the words of a senior sister, "The missionaries have come again to Sierra Leone to a mission that has missed them.  MY what a sight to take in, and know that each one has been called to open up this chosen land. "The field is white and ready to harvest..." I truly stand all amazed." - (Sister Terry)

President and Sister Clawson are the new mission president couple and they have been waiting for months for these missionaries to arrive.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Elder Snow's Story about the Butterscotch Candy - An African Gem

Service requires unselfishness, sharing, and giving. My wife and I learned a valuable lesson during our time of service in Africa. We were assigned to a district conference in Jinja, Uganda. Early Saturday morning before our meetings began, we took the opportunity to tour a new chapel in the area.

 As we arrived at the building, we were greeted by a young boy of three to four years of age. He had come to the Church grounds to see what was going on. Struck by his broad smile, Sister Snow reached in her purse and handed him a wrapped piece of hard butterscotch candy. He was delighted.
We spent a few minutes touring the chapel before returning outside. We were met by more than a dozen smiling children, who each wanted to meet the new neighborhood candy lady.
Phyllis was heartbroken, as she had given the boy her last piece of candy. She disappointedly gestured to the children there was no more.  

The small boy who initially greeted us then handed the candy back to Sister Snow, gesturing for her to unwrap it. With a heavy heart, Phyllis did so, fully expecting the boy to pop the butterscotch candy into his mouth in full view of his envious friends.

Instead, to our great surprise, he went to each of his friends, who stuck out their tongues and received one delicious lick of the butterscotch candy. The young boy continued around the circle, occasionally taking his own lick, until the candy was gone.

Now, one can argue the lack of sanitation with this gesture of sharing, but no one can dispute the example set by this young boy. Unselfishness, sharing, and giving are essential to service. This child learned that lesson well.

It is my hope and prayer we can all do more in giving service. If we fail to serve, we fail to receive the fulness of the privileges and blessings of the restored gospel. (October 2007 General Conference, Elder Steven E. Snow)

Sister Robison and I spoke in our home stake conference today.  This story was related by the Stake President in his remarks.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Freeze Taught the Ghanians About The Importance of the Sabbath Day

On June 14, 1989, the government of Ghana banned public meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sent police to lock down LDS chapels in the country. For the next 18 months, Ghanaian Latter-day Saints were unable to attend Church meetings.
Security forces stood outside LDS meetinghouses to make sure no one entered. Missionaries left the country. Many thought the Church would cease to exist in Ghana because of the ban — known by members as the freeze.

“The freeze was very hard for me personally and for my family,” said Flint Mensah in a new Church video about the freeze. “Church was our everything and all of a sudden it was all gone.” (

“It was like being an orphan,” said Kweku Ghartey.
Benedicta Elizabeth Kissi said before the freeze, members in Ghana were taking their ability to gather together on the Sabbath day for granted.
“When the freeze came we couldn’t meet as brothers and sisters,” she recalled.

However, the 9,000 Latter-day Saints in Ghana committed to keep the faith on their own.
With permission from Church leaders at headquarters, members began to organize meetings in their homes with their families. Each week they dressed in their Sunday best, partook of the sacrament and sang hymns.

William Acquah said, “Our living room became a sacrament hall.”
Brother Ghartey said partaking of the sacrament in their homes sanctified their homes. “The Spirit of the Lord was strong.”

Charles Sono-Koree said the freeze taught Church members to know and to understand how important the Sabbath day is to God’s children and to His Church.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during his April 2015 general conference address that though the doctrine pertaining to the Sabbath day is of ancient origin, it has been renewed in these latter days as part of a new covenant with a promise.
“That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High. …

“And on this day … let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, … that thy joy may be full. …
“And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, … the fulness of the earth is yours” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10, 13, 15-16).
Quoting Isaiah in calling the Sabbath “a delight,” President Nelson said, “true believers keep the Sabbath day holy.”

Most of us may never be faced with a challenge similar to that faced by the Ghanaian Latter-day Saints — who lost their ability to worship together on the Sabbath day.
However, like them we can show our dedication and commitment to the Lord and His Church. One way to do this is following the recent directive from Church leaders to improve our observance of this sacred day.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained in a training video released in June 2015 that Church leaders have felt the importance of encouraging families and individuals to rethink and refocus their efforts on what they do on the Sabbath day. “Our whole desire is that throughout the Church, we focus our Sabbath day worship on the Lord,” he said. (

(Church News Feb 6, 2016)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is it like being home from Africa

Great! Until you meet up with others who have served in Africa -- then you get choked up inside thinking of the great memories of serving with such wonderful people.

We gathered tonight at the Wilde's home and cherish the memories with these good people.  African eyes - they all have them.