Monday, January 27, 2014

"... and they shall here my voice..."

Friday night we had another Video Night where the missionaries set up a projector in the middle of the village and show two Church videos. We have done this before here in Abomosu and it was really successful for obtaining contacts for the missionaries to teach. This week was Kwabeng’s turn for our traveling video show. I rather enjoy these evenings with so many of the people of the village. It reminds me of the first missionaries sent out at the beginning of this dispensation, who stood on a box in the middle of town and preached the Word as they were inspired. Most people have not seen a movie in their lives so this is a real eye opener. We set up two large speakers and hang a large white sheet from a makeshift framework and project the video through my computer and a projector. It is most times a real effort to find power and Friday night was one I shall always remember. We had to run several small gage wires across quite a distant just twisting the wires together with no tape to cover the bare ends. We laid it on walls, across the taxi gravel parking lot, across old car bodies, and even through a small closed kiosk. O yes, I almost forgot the best part, it started from a members home and the only way we had enough length of 7 pieces of wire was to lay the first 35’ of wire across his tin roof. Scary at best but it worked for the 2 hours we needed it. Yes, it was 240 volts as is all of the power here in Africa. I marveled at the set up as we were showing the The Lamb of God video. We are in the center of the village on a Friday night with hundreds of people milling around, there is a Chop Bar across the street playing loud African R&B and people dancing in the street, merchants selling everything from belts to fried rice and chicken, people gathered in small groups talking and laughing, girls giggling with boys as they hug and sway to the music blaring from the Chop Bar, and we come on the scene with two 1’x 3’ speaker boxes painted florescent green we borrowed from a member and wires just twisted together and stuffed into a multi-plugged extension board. It was a real circus and I was in the middle of it all barking out commands to members and missionaries for this and that to make this all work. It was truly exciting and all involved were working feverishly to make this happen as we had planned. The video commanded all around to gather in an instant as we began with a prayer and started the movie. The Chop Bar emptied and soon their music was lowered a little so more could hear the movie sound. The 6 missionaries gathered people into our open theater and took names and passed out a couple hundred pamphlets as the people pressed to hear every word of the video. It was almost magical to see the transition from worldly thoughts to receiving a spiritual witness of the Saviors love for all of his brothers and sisters. It is a testimony to the power of the Word and the stirrings in all of our hearts as we learn of the Saviors life. I know He had a hand in this event and the success of the 67 names the missionaries obtained. We rolled up about an hour and a half later and all went back to normal as Friday night in the bush always does with blaring music milling people, groups dancing , and girls giggling. But for a brief time all felt the importance of the Saviors life to us all.

I want to share a tender moment in the middle of the movie. For a brief moment I stood and surveyed the crowd that had gathered. I was off to the side towards the rear standing by myself. It was dark and I had my hands on my waist. I felt a little hand slip into my rough old palm and grasp me with such a tender touch a scarcely looked down. It was a small girl about six or seven who just held my hand as she stared at the screen and strained to hear the sound. We stood there for quite some time before she disappeared into the crowd. I did not have a clear view of her face nor of her dress, but I felt as though I was holding the hand of an angel who just assured me of my worth here on this earth. I still tingle and tears well as I relay such an experience. It was most precious and tender to my old heart here in the bush of Ghana.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

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"...feet shod with preparation of the gospel of peace..."

Shoes are an important part of a missionary’s attire, though not an important part of a Ghanaian’s wardrobe. Scriptures share with us that Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine with “…shoes I am not worthy to unloose…” and so it is with shoes worn by our missionaries in the bush. I feel some days like John who uttered those words generations ago by the river Jordan. Our shoes see some of the toughest terrain known to man. The reddish clay dirt we experience, sticks like glue to your sole, especially when it rains. The standing water, at times, is negotiated with wading the deep in your normal stride. Days of heat and dust take their toll on everyone’s footwear and will leave your legs and feet with a coating of dust and grime. Weekly polish and sometimes daily polish are part of a missionary’s routine, yet there is another sign that will tell a story of the day’s activities- prayer. Missionaries kneel and pray a number of times per day along with their investigators, and very seldom on anything but mother earth. The polish is ground off during the day by just kneeling to pray with members and nonmembers alike. I hear no complaints, no grumbling of polishing shoes on a daily basis, no murmuring of sticky clay during the rainy season, just bright shiny shoes leaving the house in the morning and dirty scuffed weathered shoes after a day of service in the vineyard. O that one day I may be worthy to wash His feet with my tears of joy and thankfulness as I hear his voice utter “…well done my faithful son”.

Monday, September 9, 2013

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...who I call, I qualify and will sustain their faith...

   Vivian Kumedrzo was baptized 10 September 2011. She was 22 years old and in her first year of High School attending Kwabeng Secondary School. The missionaries were referred to her by a classmate who was her friend in the boarding school. With help from the branch president who was a teacher at the school, Vivian embraced the Gospel teachings and has blossomed in the Church. She was called to serve as a counselor in the Young Women presidency, and faithfully attended to her duties and taught inspired lessons from the manual. Her ability to read and write English was most needed in the Young Women organization.     Within nine months, she was called to be the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society along with two other sisters who had only been members of the church a year before Vivian was baptized. She was counseled to be humble and the Lord would make her an instrument in His hands. With that blessing, she continued her faithful service to the Lord and His saints in Kwabeng. Her efforts at school brought two other girls to the Gospel truths and they were baptized before the end of the school term. May 5, 2013, 14 months after joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, two weeks before she passed all of her exams and received a certificate of completion for Secondary Schooling, I was present as she was sustained as the Kwabeng Branch Relief Society President. Hands were raised tall as her name was read by the new Branch President whose wife had filled that position prior to his new assignment. O what a grand testament to the words of the Lord “…who I call, I will qualify and sustain their faith.”
   Yesterday, I witnessed this young lady stand and accept the thanks and gratitude by the whole Kwabeng Branch, as they once again raised their hands in support while she was released as the Relief Society President. She had accepted a call from the Prophet of God to serve faithfully for 18 months on a full time mission. Eyes were filled with tears after that meeting, as embraces were exchanged and loving support was promised for their beloved Vivian Kumedzro who loved them all, unconditionally. For truly she is an Angel among us.

The above picture shows Vivian in the middle and her heavenly glow to the entire world.

Monday, September 2, 2013

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...all things known unto their family...

In our home in Provo, we have a small hallway leading to our bedroom. Over the years we have used those walls as our walls of fame. The east wall is filled with family pictures, some of past generations, some of not so past family pictures and always a current family picture, rather large, as the center piece. Sister Dalton and I cherish those pictures on that wall; it is our favorite part of our entire home. We have walled by those pictures for years and occasionally we will add or adjust the positions of those family generation images. When preparing to leave for our mission, the east hallway wall, were the last items we moved to storage. When we returned for a brief time, we did not rehang those beloved pictures for we knew we would be there for a very short 6 weeks. We shared our feelings between us, that we were occupying our own home, yet we did not feel at home. We spoke of the absence of so many pictures that brought floods of memories that came to our hearts and to all that entered our home; from our own parents to the youngest of our grandchildren. That simple wall has brought hours of stories and tender experiences passed down through words and a physical photo of those long gone before our eyes. Pictures have a way of capturing the real family struggles, successes, happiness and sadness’s as we labor together towards unity and perfection.
I carried with Sister Dalton and me two precious pictures from that wall of family prominence; our wedding picture and our most current family portrait. The wedding picture was the first to be placed on my nightstand next to our bed, and the family picture hangs next to the opening of our great room. Few people have seen the wedding picture while we have lived here, yet I have gazed upon that picture each night before retiring, and thought of the divine blessing I have experienced that day along her side. The family picture has been appreciated by General Authorities, Area Seventy’s, Mission Presidents, District Presidencies, and the simplest disciples of the Abomosu District. All have related to this most prized picture on our wall. It was the second picture I put on the wall after a favorite picture of the Savior surrounded by perfect loving children. When we left this home to fly home last May, our family picture was the last picture I took down from our walls and found a space in our luggage where it would be secured. At customs in New York airport, our suitcases were opened and examined, twice, and each time our family picture was in full view to the agent. Both agents commented as they gently placed the framed picture back into the suitcase, “O what a nice family. I’ll bet you love them dearly.” We would respond with a firm “yes” and Sister Dalton would then express to them that they were waiting on the other end of our flight to greet us.

I am humbled with the importance of family. It is universal for all mankind upon the world. The feelings of belonging to something grander than ourselves, and the need to share with those that are dear to us, is a bonding link we came to earth feeling. I’m sure Heavenly Father feels those feeling towards each of his spirit children and his earthly children that will one day return to His loving arms. It is my solemn desire to return with honor with every member of our family; all members of our family no matter what sphere they live. Just a simple picture can stir our lives and weave life experiences into a family tapestry that will last forever.