We had Kpong District Conference this weekend, so another Saturday not spent as a preparation day. Senchi is in this district, so we needed to be involved on Saturday as well as Sunday. It is so good to be among these good people and hear their strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel. President Mahmud Labinjo, 1st counselor to President Judd, spoke on Tithes and Offerings and I have not heard a better testimony of this principle. He was raised only by his mother and his background is Muslim. When he was able to attend school, he was made fun of when his mother could not attend the school programs because she had to sell on the streets to provide a living for them. He wanted his family life to be different than what he had and he has and is accomplishing that because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had a time, before he joined the Church, that his wife did not like her life with him because his ambitions were not about the family, but about him. It is hard to write the words he shared, only to say that I felt he was grateful that he was a changed man.
A young Aaronic Priesthood holder named John, from the Senchi Branch, spoke on his responsibility to strengthen his Quorum. He spoke a lot about being an example and he certainly was, as he did not know where the Church was in Kpong, yet because he made the commitment he found his own way there.
We also had a young woman speak about Testimony bearing and how it should not be a sermon, or colorful stores, but simply testify of the gospel in meekness and heartfelt sincerity so others may be strengthened.
President Andam, a counselor in the Accra Temple Presidency, briefly expressed to the people to not speak about the scarcity in their lives, but to keep the commandments and the Lord has promised they will prosper in the land.
Sister Judd spoke more to the youth and to study the Strength of Youth book and live by it; especially the laws of chastity.
The overall theme for this conference and throughout the world, is "Hastening the Work", which was emphasized by President Judd. He spoke of the growth of the Church in Kpong District and how in 2011 there were only 2 missionaries and now there are 30. Soon we will have the Ho District organized and several more branches. President Judd received a call from a man who lives at Ada, the coastal region to the east, where the Volta River empties into the ocean. This man and 3 others living in Ada are members and want to have someone come so they can partake of the Sacrament. We have been to this place and took a boat ride where I remember speaking with the two young men guiding our boat. I shared with them that one day there would be missionaries come to there land and bring them a wonderful message. It is still in the future, but there is the need and so it will be fulfilled.
A few more thoughts given: Whenever we read the words "Nevertheless" in the scriptures, look for a great doctrine to follow the scripture; Always seek to do the will of God; God knows each one of us; There is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved than the name of Jesus.
We finished the book entitled "The Fortunate Fall" and I have been given much to ponder about through the process. The commandment 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' was expressed in a way I have not heard before. President Kimball provided examples of idolatry among the Saints which we have heard before: clothes, homes, businesses, etc., but I have never thought that harboring a lot of grief, sadness, and loneliness could be considered a false god. The person who shared this said that, "instead of placing complete faith in my Heavenly Father, I allow sadness to guide me, and that only leads me to despair. It's as though, I choose self-pity and sorrow over Heavenly Father."I will be doing some self-reflection on what my false gods might be.
I really like this counsel by Elder Boyd K. Packer: "Do not try merely to discard a bad habit or a bad thought. Replace it. When you try to eliminate a bad habit, if the spot where it used to be is left open it will sneak back and crawl again into that empty space. It grew there; it will struggle to stay there....Replace it with unselfish thoughts,with unselfish acts. Then, if an evil habit or addiction tries to return, it will have to fight for attention....Your are in charge of you. I repeat, it is very, very difficult to eliminate a bad habit (or false god) just by trying to discard it. Replace it."
I have so much still to learn in this mortal journey and I continually become aware of my weaknesses in the process. I know that weaknesses can be made into strengths if we turn our lives over to our Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus Christ is the sure foundation that I must continually build my life on and not rely on my own strength. I am grateful for the examples of those in the scriptures who lived lives of faith and hope in Jesus Christ and painstakingly wrote those words for us to hear and see, if we will have ears to hear and eyes to see.
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)