Two and a half years ago, approximately, at October General Conference President Monson announced the change in missionary age from 19 to 18 for young men and from 21 down to 19 for young sisters. At that time, and over the last two years there has been an increased surge in young people desiring to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of those initial groups are now headed to their various homes around the world to begin the next phase of their lives. Their service as been well received by people all over the world. Here in our Ghana Accra Mission was just such a group that left yesterday to a varied group of countries.
Sixteen Elders: 7 from the USA, 4 from Nigeria, 1 from South Africa, 1 from Australia, 1 from Uganda, 1 from Zimbabwe and 1 from South Sudan. Sister Dorcas Oguntolu is also from Nigeria.
Two of the American Elders had served in Liberia and were then transferred to Accra, Ghana, with the out break of Ebola. It is always a testimony builder to see how the Lord takes care of his servants. There was another Elder that could have been with this group as he also was in Liberia. He thought that he too would be sent to Ghana but the Lord needed him elsewhere. To his initial disappointment he was sent to Rhode Island. I can also imagine that his folks were maybe not so happy to have to send him an entire new set of missionary clothes. Short sleeves and no coat might not be enough in Rhode Island. However disappointment soon turned to joy as he realized his new calling was to teach Liberians that had immigrated to the USA.
Last time I posted that Collins had said the work had already been done, he was only needed to complete it. This story is evidence of that. The Lord needs us to tidy up the loose ends. May we all have that conviction.
This is Elder Mark Ukuch. He is from the South Sudan. He converted to the Church while he was going to high school in Uganda. At that time he simply asked the Elders that were teaching him if he could someday go on a mission too and of course there answer was, "Yes." He returned after high school to South Sudan where there was only a small presence of the church, not even any official congregations. When he came of age to go on a mission he was interviewed by the Mission President in the area who asked him if he had even read the Book of Mormon. He replied that he had not. The Mission President ask him to read it cover to cover. He did and gained a small testimony before he came on his mission.
Yesterday he bore a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His mission had opened a whole new world to him, one of faith and perseverance and hard work and a knowledge of spiritual things. He will be an instrument in the Lord's hands in South Sudan. It will not be easy. His plane flight took him home to the middle of the South Sudan where they are killing Christians. From the airport he normally would have take a bus to his village but because of the unrest he will have to fly over the conflict so that he can arrive safely.
So many of the African Elders and Sisters have either lost one or both parents in the unrest that is in so many of these countries here in Africa. What a blessing it has been to meet so many dedicated young people willing to serve when they come from so little. The Lord has blessed us with the opportunity to experience what books and movies really can't accurately portray. We are grateful.