A year of attending early morning seminary as a teen — before he was baptized — led to a testimony for Elder Isaac K. Morrison.
“When the school year was over, I was ready for baptism,” said Elder Morrison, a Ghanaian and recently sustained General Authority Seventy, adding that there were no full-time missionaries assigned to that ward at the time. “Stake missionaries taught me. I loved it. I knew the Book of Mormon was true. I got to study it for a whole year in seminary. I was ready.”
He was baptized on March 5, 1995, while 17 years old.
His path to early morning seminary started the previous year when he moved in with an uncle to attend high school while his parents were having some financial difficulties. “My uncle, who is a member of the Church, offered to pay for my high school. So I went to live in my uncle’s house,” Elder Morrison said. “In Africa, we have this culture of inclusivity; it’s common for nephews and nieces to live with uncles and aunts.”
Young Isaac Morrison and his parents were members of another Christian denomination. “My parents were wonderful people. They taught us to go to church.”
After the teen moved in, “my uncle lovingly asked that I take time to visit his church. So I did. I went to church on Sunday with them, and then after that I went to my own church.”
His uncle, aunt and cousins were good examples of the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I liked the way they conducted themselves. They prayed together every morning.”
A seminary teacher invited the young man to attend early morning seminary, at 5 a.m. That year’s course of study was the Book of Mormon. Though not a member of the Church, he was named seminary class president.
Lifetime of callings
Twenty-seven years after completing that seminary class and being baptized, Elder Morrison, 44, was one of six new General Authority Seventies sustained during April 2022 general conference.
“I think the Lord has blessed us with a believing heart and also a questioning mind. I don’t know how the two work together, but the Lord has blessed me. He has been very merciful in preparing me to move from one point to another. I have to let him prepare me. Every assignment has come at a time when I least expected it,” Elder Morrison said.
“I get to rely on the Lord and not my own abilities. I have my weaknesses. That’s what the scriptures tell us in Ether 12:27. Because of my belief in the Savior Jesus Christ, here is the chance for me to be of service.”
After college and before his mission, Elder Morrison completed a one-year national service program, compulsory in Ghana, by teaching high school science.
After his mission, he taught at the Ghana Missionary Training Center and then began a 15-year career as a Church employee — as a facilities manager, with responsibilities in the West African nations of Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone and Liberia; West Africa Area operations and maintenance manager; area materials management manager; and most recently as leader and member support manager in the Africa West Area office in Accra, Ghana.
During Elder Morrison’s two years as an Area Seventy, most of his assignments were in Liberia and Sierra Leone; he was on a plane to one of those countries about every other weekend. “These people — of Liberia and Sierra Leone — are a part of me. I love the people.” He also had spent considerable time in those countries as a facilities manager.
Also in early morning seminary class
The early morning seminary class where Elder Morrison gained his testimony is where he met Hannah Nyarko, the future Sister Morrison. He was 17; she was 16. “She was very intelligent and would give great comments. I really admired her. It really gave me the edge to want to study more.”
Both grew up in Takoradi, a city on the Atlantic coast in southwest Ghana. She had joined the Church as a 14-year-old.
When seminary classes ended at 6 a.m., they left for their separate boys and girls high schools. After completing high school, he began attending Takoradi Technical University, a year before she did.
She was planning to serve a mission. She also had set a standard that she was going to marry a returned missionary in the temple.
“I wanted to marry that girl someday, but I wasn’t considering a mission,” Elder Morrison said. “So one day, I went to my bishop and said, ‘I want to go on a mission.’”
Missions, marriage, family
Sister Morrison, as Sister Nyarko, served in the Nigeria Lagos Mission, and then in the Nigeria Ibadan Mission when the Lagos mission was divided. Elder Morrison served in the Nigeria Port Harcourt and Nigeria Uyo missions.
They wrote to each other occasionally, but it could take up to a month for a letter to get from one place to the other. She finished her mission about a year before he did. He finished in March 2004; “I came home and said to her, ‘Well, am I qualified now?’”
They married nine months later, in December 2004. That period was considered a short courtship in Ghana, Elder Morrison said, but with no regrets. “It’s been the best decision. I love this girl. She’s just amazing.” They established a home in Tema, Ghana, just east of Accra.
Sister Morrison was born in Daboasi, Ghana, to John Augustus Nyarko and Kate Nyarko. She had grown up in a religious family. Her father was a believer, but did not affiliate with a denomination. Her mother would take the children to church meetings.
Latter-day Saint missionaries initially contacted her father. “He listened and attended Church meetings with the family and began practicing what the missionaries invited him to do. He had so much respect for the missionaries and kept all the commitments extended to him.”
The entire family was baptized except a brother younger than 8 and an older brother who was not living with the family. Sister Morrison said that when she began attending Latter-day Saint meetings she was impressed to see families sitting together and that families prayed together.
From her studies at Takoradi Technical University, Sister Morrison had a pastry and catering business that she operated until their call as mission leaders.
As a parent, Sister Morrison said, “Come, Follow Me” study plays an important role in the Morrisons’ home. The Morrisons are parents of three sons, including a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old. Their youngest died at age 1 1/2.
She has served as a ward Young Women president, Relief Society teacher, ward Young Women presidency counselor and adviser, temple preparation teacher, temple ordinance worker and seminary teacher.
Serving as mission president’s companion has been a blessing. With her husband’s new calling, “I don’t really know much about what I’m supposed to do, but I believe the Savior will teach me.”
The Morrisons say their family enjoys adventures, including travel, visiting historic sites and playing table tennis and board games. The sons play basketball and football, or “soccer” to Americans. They also hunt — which in their area means with traps and slingshots. The family’s first trip to the United States was in 2016, to attend general conference.
While English is the language of their education, Elder and Sister Morrison also speak the native languages of Fante and Twi, as do many Ghanaians.
Only about 10% of the missionaries in the Ghana Cape Coast Mission are from Ghana. Neither Fante nor Twi is taught in a missionary training center, but many of the non-Ghanaian missionaries learn some of one or both languages. If they get in a tricky spot and need help with translation, they’ll often call Sister Morrison on the phone for help.
Elder Morrison said he and his wife have slept little since they met with President Russell M. Nelson via Zoom on Dec. 2, 2021, when President Nelson extended a call to Elder Morrison to serve as a General Authority Seventy. “I cried like a baby.”
They are thankful to members of the Church they’ve met in the days after his sustaining. “We are amazed at the love that we have received. … We have been showed so much love, from Africa, during our travels [in Utah], and from leaders of the Church,” Elder Morrison said. “The Lord loves me, and the least I can do is to love His children.”
Elder Morrison notes that the Lord loves everyone — regardless of where they are coming from or their status in society.
He is thankful for the blessings he has received from gaining a testimony. “I have the ability to believe and the ability to question things and understand. Once I gain my testimony, I am unshaken” (Jacob 7:5).
As to their coming adventure, “we know this is going to be a journey for us. We will rely on the Lord to show us what we should do,” Elder Morrison said.
Family: Born Nov. 25, 1977, in Takoradi, Ghana, to Joseph Kojo Morrison and Mary Efua Obua Sarfo. He and Hannah Nyarko married Dec. 18, 2004, in Takoradi and were sealed three days later in the Accra Ghana Temple. They have three sons.
Education: Diploma in building construction, Takoradi Technical University; bachelor’s degree in operations and project management, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration; master’s degree in strategic management and leadership, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Employment: Church employee in various capacities since 2004, most recently as leader and member support manager in the Africa West Area office, in Accra, Ghana.
Church service: Serving as president of the Ghana Cape Coast Mission. Previous callings include Area Seventy, stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, bishopric counselor, elders quorum president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, seminary teacher, and missionary in the Nigeria Port Harcourt and Nigeria Uyo missions.