We were asked to extend the length of our mission so we could help with the organization of a new branch of the church in a small village named Tsito. (pronounced Cheeto). Locating a building for them was quite difficult, everything we found either was very small and/or needed A LOT of renovation. But when the Lord was ready He helped us find the perfect location for this group. The building is actually located in the town of Anyirawase, one of five villages in the Awudome traditional area. The location of this building will allow for growth in a much wider area, including Tsito, Anyirawase, Konte, Avenui and Tsawanu, all Awudome townships.
One of the first things a new branch needs is a baptismal font. Elder Dalton, Elder and Sister Avery, Elder and Sister Scoville brought a portable font to Tsito that was no longer needed in Abomoso. While the men were putting the font together, the sisters unwrapped all the new chairs. We were all very happy to be doing this service, especially when we see how excited the members here are to have this all happening.
We came to get the building ready for occupancy, thinking we would be alone in doing so. To our delight we found Edinam and Vacencia and others from the area already at the site cleaning, in fact they had been there for quite awhile and were in need of a break. They had climbed the coconut tree and opened coconuts for everyone to enjoy.
After all the cleaning, dusting, weeding and scrubbing was done we went to Anyirawase and bought the local fast food, (Kenke) and water. The water is sold in sachets for .10 pesawas each. Drinking from them is an art, you just bite off a small piece of the corner and then drink. Kenke is a sour corn dough, served with peppe sauce (tomato, onion and hot bonnet peppers) and dried fish. This is a local favorite and they were so glad to enjoy the food. This is the kitchen that will be shared by the Elders and the branch. Notice the height of the cabinets ... we had a carpenter lower them so they could actually be used.
Sunday, March 3rd a coalition of leadership came to start the branch. Many are gathering for the first meeting, well before the 9:00 a.m. starting time. We are so excited for this is an answer to the prayers of so many good people in this small part of the world.
Elder Thompson and Elder Bens looking forward to the opening of the branch, their 2nd week in this newly opened area. Elder Thompson is a seasoned veteran with great skills, a big testimony and is a fantastic trainer for Elder Bens. Elder Bens is from Nigeria and this is his first area, what a great way to start a mission.
President Daniel K Judd giving advice to the Elders. This is the first of many branch openings for the future in the Volta Region of Ghana. President Judd was very inspirational in the first sacrament meeting of this branch. He envisioned Tsito branch being one of the crown jewels of the church. He encouraged everyone to "Feed My Sheep" by helping lost souls come unto Christ and asked us to be a "Book of Mormon" branch, by reading from its pages each day.
The building was brimming with visitors and local saints. The Kpong District Presidency and leadership came to support us this day, along with several Ho Branch members. We were joined by our dear mission president, his wife Sister Kaye Judd and President Labinjo his first counselor.
The newly called Tsito Branch Presidency and Quorum President. Left to right: Elder Lyon, 1st Counselor; Edinam Ansah, President; David Anani, 2nd Counselor and Cephas Obinim, Quorum President.
The Relief Society had an activity on the 23th of March to commemorate the Relief Society birthday. The sisters taught me how to make Kelewele. (spicy, fried plantain)
This beautiful woman is Vincencia Addae. Her powerful testimony and strong prayers were "answered proper" when this building was found and this branch was formed. She walked up and down, up and down and got very tired trying to help find a place for worship in Tsito. The Lord seeing the big picture found this place and the Branch name will be changed to Awudome Branch upon approval of the first presidency.
The Relief Society activity included the sisters demonstrating how to create many types of "head gear" on their Relief Society President, Sister Lyon.
Because we are a "Book of Mormon" branch we also made reading charts to mark our progress.
The new baptismal font was put to good use on March 24th with the baptism of eight young people. Their families had not been able to attend church for quite sometime because of the cost of transportation to and from Ho. The Elders taught them and they have joined with their families in becoming members. What a beautiful sight, angels all dressed in white.
Sister Lyon getting ready to conduct the music at the baptismal service. We have developed skills we didn't know we had while serving here.
Elder Bens waiting for the first candidate to enter the waters of baptism, surrounded by branch members witnessing the occasion.
It's OFFICIAL, sign and all. The men pictured here with their cutlass's had just finished "weed eating" the front of the chapel area.
Sisters doing what sisters do best, enjoying each others company after the Saturday clean up on the front porch.
Sister Hellen Badu with her parents before leaving on her mission to Nigeria Lagos. Yes, Tsito Branch had already sent a missionary out before the branch was even formed. She will be so glad to report her mission in her hometown. Her father, a supportive non-member passed away shortly after she left on her mission. We think he will be joining soon in heaven.
The Quorum President, Cephas Obinim climbing the coconut tree, after getting to the top of the ladder he just shimmied the rest of the way to the top, cutlass in hand to chop down coconuts for our refreshment after cleaning the chapel.
We are so glad we are able to finish our mission striving to strengthen this branch before we come home ... somehow we wish we had more time ... but we will treasure this time and the memories of these wonderful, stalwart people bravely carrying on after we leave.