Abakrampa surprised us with a farewell party. They gave us gifts and said sweet goodbyes. There were tears everywhere. We will miss this sweet Branch President and his counselors, President Ben Abbon, Charles Anzie, and our dear friend Paul Aggry-Fynn.
Saying good bye to the Relief Society President, Elsie Imbrah after she presented us with kente cloth banners that read, "Greetings From Ghana".
Moments before getting in the car to leave we took one last picture with President and Sister Shulz and the new office couple, Elder and Sister Asay. We were completely at peace knowing the mission is in very good hands!
President Sabey welcomes President Shulz to the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. It never ceases to amaze me how smooth leadership transitions are in the church. No campaigning, no complaining, one graciously steps aside and wholeheartedly welcomes his replacement.
President and Sister Shulz, the assistants, Elder Mackay and Elder Adams, and Sister and President Sabey. One last photo before we drove the Sabeys to Accra to catch their flight to Colorado and family and friends who have been waiting 3 years for their return!
Our one and only picture with just us and the Sabeys! We love them and will be forever grateful for their incredible example, love, and friendship.
The last Monday before the Sabey's left we had a special zone conference with 6 of the 9 zones in our mission. The other 3 zones had met together the previous Monday in Kumasi. President and Sister Sabey gave their farewell talks (yes I was in tears the entire time). After the meeting we had a very good lunch and then went to a soccer match!
We rented a soccer stadium in Cape Coast and had a football (soccer) tournament. President Sabey was the ref and the rest of us watched. Elder Akoki who went home to the Ivory Coast a few transfers ago travelled back to Cape Coast for the Sabey's final zone conference. It was wonderful to see him again. He said he wasn't missing wearing a white shirt and tie while watching a ballgame in the hot sun...but I'm sure he really was! :)
Good council...good food...good company...good fun...good day!
This is a story of faith and perseverance. Bibiani is a community where several non-members meet to hold church. They are not allowed to be baptized because they are far from any church presence. They faithfully read their scriptures, pay tithing, and many other donations. They meet together every Sunday in this old building. They fast and pray quite frequently that the LDS church will come there and allow them to be baptized.
Here the youth of the Bibiani congregation meet outside for a combined primary and junior Sunday school lesson. The day we attended they had over 50 people at church. They have had over a 100 people in the past but since they cannot be baptized some eventually loose interest. On the day President Sabey left the mission he requested permission from the Area Presidency to baptize these faithful people and send missionaries to Bibiani.
Here we are with some of the faithful after our visit. The man on the far left "Brother Turkson" watches over the little flock and keeps them hoping for the glorious day. These are very spiritual and faithful people who truly deserve to be baptized into the Lord's church.
Our hardest Temple Trip yet. We not only had to say good-bye to some of our dearest missionaries but also to our dearest friends, Jani and Michael Lamb. We loved serving with them and look forward to seeing them when we return.
The "last supper" with Elder Akoki, Elder Nathanial, and Elder and Sister Lamb.
Sister Saunders with her fellow missionaries and dearest friends, Sister Sabey and Sister Lamb in their African dresses. This was taken the morning of Sister Lambs departure.
Some volunteers from Utah joined us for church in Abakramba. Alex, Rosalind, Meghan and Rachel. Meghan called us a few days before their arrival. It didn't take long for them to become dear friends. Along with two of their husbands they are working in a local hospital and orphanage for the summer. We admire their willingness to serve and desire to make a difference.
Here we are with Elder Joseph and Elder Smith after their last baptism of their mission. They both left to go home three days later. They were wonderful missionaries and were loved by the people of Abakrampa. We will miss them. Victoria & David who learned of the gospel from their neighbors, and eagerly accepted the baptismal challenge from Elder Smith and Elder Joseph.
Elder and Sister Saunders with the 14 candidates and 1 child of record from Abakrampa right before their baptism. When we first arrived in Abakrampa 20 months ago the average attendance for Sacrament meeting was 60 people. We now average over 100 people attending every Sunday. We have had as many as 130 in attendance!
A few weeks ago, Isaac Thompson, one of the guards at the mission office shared with us the news of the birth of his fourth daughter. A few days later he surprised us by announcing that they had named her Margaret Saunders Thompson! Today he brought her into the office to show her off. She is absolutely adorable!
Sister Sabey and I with our "namesake". Margaret's fante name is Adwoa Sabey Thompson.
Sister Saunders, little Margaret, Isaac, his wife, Pat and their third daughter, Dinah. I'm almost positive I will never have another baby named after me so I'm just enjoying the moment!
The Abakrampa Branch left at 4:00 am to make the journey to Accra to do temple work. We had 18 youth come to do baptisms for the dead and 3 families were sealed to deceased parents/spouses. We were grateful we could share this experience with them.
To come to the temple not only means getting up early and travelling for 4-5 hours. It also means packing food and supplies to feed everyone.
Elder Saunders and I found it humorous that they hired the Calvary Charismatic Centre Bus to transport them to the LDS Temple. We love the members of the Abakrampa Branch!
Every six weeks we go to Accra to attend the temple and bid farewell to our departing missionaries. These four missionaries flights were delayed an extra day. So Wednesday morning we said our final goodbyes before we headed back to Cape Coast to Elder Kamara from Sierra Leone, Elder Wolfgramm from USA, and Elder Yapo and Elder Vanie from Corte d'Ivoire.
Elder Saunders presented Elder Kamara with a special certificate he made for him.
On Tuesday we said goodbye to two more of our sweet sister missionaries, Sister Izidor and Sister Awuna both from Nigeria. We love our missionaries!
Here we are with the newest members of the Abakrampa Branch. Don't worry we aren't baptising them younger than 8. The little girl by Sister Saunders just happened to be wearing white and snuck into the picture right before it was taken.
Elder Smith and Elder Joseph with the new converts. Yep, the Elders serving in the Abakrampa Branch right now are none other than...Joseph and Smith!!
This is the crowd from Apakrampa that came to witness the baptism. Once again we loaded up the van twice. The first time we transported 23 members (in a van that's made to fit 15) and the second trip we brought 33 more! The unity and love in our little branch continues to grow with the numbers! For 2009 we averaged 65 in attendance at Sacrament meeting. In 2010 it was 75.97 and so far this year we have averaged 96.62 members. Sunday we had 130 members in Sacrament meeting, our all time record! We must give credit to the full-time elders and church service missionaries for the amazing growth in numbers and spirit!
Saying goodbye to Elder Woodhouse in February 2010. Dave could barely hold back the tears.
Saying "Hello" to now, Kyle Woodhouse when he returned with his parents for a visit. It was so good to see him again and to meet his wonderful parents.
Hey look, for the first time Elder Saunders is taller than Elder Woodhouse! The visit went by so fast, too soon it was time to say goodbye again. We are so grateful for the amazing missionaries we have worked with. We will always love them!