Moroni 7:47

"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
-Moroni 7:47

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Week 9 - WaRm WiSHeS

Hello family and friends,
We send WARM wishes from Ghana and hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. Our Christmas highlights include visiting with each of our daughters and son-in-laws over FaceTime and seeing those sweet grandchildren growing up. Big boy/girl underwear was a hit at three of their homes this Christmas!
Last Wednesday we joined other missionary couples at the MTC (Mission Training Center) in Tema, half an hour from Accra. Sixty new missionaries had arrived and we were there to help them create their own pedigree chart/family tree on  Of these 60 only 4 were American, the rest were African. Other demographics include their average age being 25 and most have only been members of the Church for one year. Half of them are French speaking and one third of them are orphans. Some humbling, heart-wrenching stories came out of this experience.
On Thursday we joined another group of 24 young missionaries from the Ofankor zone in the Achimoto mall. Singing Christmas carols and having busy shoppers stop and join in was pretty fun. As I have already mentioned, people here love to sing. Many of the children came up and sang with us as their parents snapped pictures and videoed the experience. Along with the singing, Elder Lambert and I had the crazy "it's a small world"  experience of meeting a Ghanaian couple who asked if we were from Utah. What?!!! The wife, a professor at the University of Ghana, had recently returned from Weber State University where she was learning about respiratory therapy. We talked about Utah and her visit, but then they learned I was from England. The husband was born in England, and they have a home in Earley, Reading, Berkshire. I about fainted. This was the town where I was born!!!!!! We are planning to meet with them again after the holidays.
On Christmas morning we attended a brunch and in the evening had a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This also served as a farewell dinner for President Hill who will be returning to the States at the end of this week. He is a remarkable individual who faces adversity with a smile on his face and a fierce will to endure to the end. We have enjoyed learning from him.
On Sunday we hosted 10 other couples for dinner. (We rotate apartments and everyone contributes) They have each impacted our experience so far with their wealth of knowledge and areas of expertise. After dinner I convinced half of them to stay and satisfy my need to play a game. Reverse Charades was soon explained, we broke into teams and then the fun began! Although the Sisters team won, it was the Elders who had us in stitches. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time!
Today we invited the Odoom family over for a swim. I showed Regina how to make banana bread, we played "Don't Eat Pete", hide and seek, and the M&M game with their three children and fixed tacos for them to try.  Before they left the children sang for us. They are awesome!
This has been an amazing year for us. We feel so privileged to be serving the Lord in Ghana. We encourage all couples to seriously consider joining us in this work. There is such a great need.

We are excited to see what 2016 has in store for us and for you!

With love and warm wishes,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures #1Caroling, #2Christmas dinner, #3USA, China, India, Europe, Japan, plus more = Africa

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 8 - Living A Christ Centered Life


Last week flew by! I couldn't even remember what day of the week it was most of the time. 

Highlights include: Family Home Evening at the Temple President's home with most of the missionary couples from both missions, and the Area Office workers. I met a couple from Melbourne, Australia and the wife was born in England like me! We have two other Aussie couples and Sister Graham the Temple President's wife is also from England.

On Tuesday we attended Mission Zone Conference with Kaneshie and Lartebiokoshie Zones. Here in Accra, the missionaries come to the Area Office instead of the President going to them. After instruction and training by Pres. Hill and the AP's we ate traditional chicken and rice, then helped hand out Christmas gifts. This was the last time Pres. Hill will see most of his missionaries as he will be heading home the first week of January.

On Wednesday we learned we will be transferred to another apartment, closer to the Mission home, so that took up some time checking it out. We will miss the camaraderie of our friends at Alema Court, but will still see them once or twice a week.

On Thursday we spent 10 hours driving in the car and three hours sitting in meetings. We arrived home suffering from TB (tired bottoms!) This road trip took us out into the bush on red dirt/sand roads. We also assisted at a SR meeting in Mankissim, a small town where many of the people speak Fante, so someone had to translate our comments. Prior to the meeting we had done research on the internet on businesses that may be profitable in the bush, namely raising Grasscutters and growing mushrooms. (Thanks for your input, Hubbards!) Without access to the internet it is hard for these people to learn what to do to undertake such a project. However we were reassured that they most likely know someone, who knows someone (networking works great, even in the bush!) who can educate them, and we offered some training also.

On Friday we evaluated Thursdays experience and wrote a report. In the evening we attended the Temple.On Saturday we explored the University of Ghana's Botanical Gardens. Wooooh!!!!! We loved it! Closest thing to heaven right now. It reminds me of is the Military Park in Pea Ridge, AK. Trails weaving through the trees, birds flying overhead, and so peaceful. Just what we needed to decompress after a busy week.
Today we attended Church in Gbawe ward for the second time. Because the Church is growing so fast in Ghana, and most people don't have cars, the church is taken to the people, creating many small wards and branches. These are often housed in large, converted homes on the backstreets of neighborhoods. The back streets are not paved and potholes have swallowed many elephants (jk!) and damaged the underneath of many a vehicle. To find one of these buildings we try using GPS but even that doesn't always work and with few roads signposted it is always an adventure. After church the Elders directed us to the New Gbawe branch. Here are the instructions, "Look for house numbered zero, go to the top of the hill, look for the Telcom tower (there were 5 of them) and ask people where the church is, it's within 100 yards of the tower." We did eventually find the building, but, oh the maze!

Some of you have asked if Ghanaians use electronic devises. The answer is "Yes" The members use their phones or I-pads to pull up the scriptures, lessons and hymns.  Parents here are just as concerned about the effect of social media on the youth as we are. We may have made the impression in our last email that everyone here is poor. That is certainly not the case. There is a middle class that live in very comfortable homes not that much different than ours except averaging about half the size. Some would have a car parked in front. There are some who are quite wealthy and live in homes that average about the size of an average Utah home. The big difference is they are in gated, guarded communities. We are in one of those. The biggest difference in the social classes here are the huge numbers of poor. In Utah you are homeless usually because of mental illness, laziness, unfortunate circumstances, or just some poor choices. In Ghana I am sure some are in trouble because of some of those same factors but most are poor just because there is not enough money to go around and the competition for a piece of the pie is fierce.    

Lastly, may we testify of the joy we feel this Christmas season. It may not be a traditional Christmas with tree, gifts, snow and family but that is not our focus. Elder Lambert shared his perspective with the High Priests... "The lesson was on keeping Christ at the center of our lives. The discussion had been good as it always is with the members here. They get the gospel and have deep faith and testimonies of it. However, I decided to share a reason to keep the Savior at the center of our lives that was quite different than the general direction of the their thoughts. I told them of the time when I was Church centered. As a young poorly prepared Bishop I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the calling and spent enormous amounts of time trying do it right. As a result my family suffered. I have also seen people who were Family Centered, family is everything even to the exclusion of the church. We can't be at church on Sunday because we like to watch football together or enjoy recreation together. I mentioned that its easy for us to become work centered trying to be more and more successful or accumulate more money. There are many things we can center our lives on but if we can become Christ Centered all that is good, right, and needed can be placed in its proper perspective and receive its proper attention and time. He becomes the hub of the wheel of our lives with the spokes being all the rest that makes our lives complete and our time on Earth enjoyable and successful. As with all gospel truths these wonderful brethren got it and appreciated a fresh perspective they had not considered. I love the Savior, He is the only sure foundation on which to build our lives."  

Pictures #1 Training in Mankissim, #2 & #3 U of G Botanical Gardens

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Week 7 - Lord I Would Follow Thee


This week the subject of poverty has been on my mind continually. Poverty is multifaceted; it's not just about a lack of money but also the lack of adequate food, shelter, clean water and access to health care among other things. I am still trying to wrap my head around the extreme poverty we see every day on the streets of Accra. There are street people; those living and sleeping on the streets. There are beggars; those who are blind, lame, missing limbs as a result of polio. There are others, many, many others, selling pretty much anything you could want (we call it 'Amazon on the Street"), who work hard to make a small profit, (the equivalent of $2-$3 per day) only to turn around and do the same thing all over again tomorrow. It is an incredibly hard way to live. 

This week, while sitting in the car in traffic, as dozens of these street entrepreneurs walked by with their goods on their head, we listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as they sang:

Savior, may I learn to love thee. Walk the path that thou hast shown. 
Pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee- Lord, I would follow thee.

Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see
Who am I to judge another? Lord, I would follow thee

I would be my brother's keeper, I would learn the healer's art
To the wounded and the weary I would show a gentle heart
I would be my brother's keeper. Lord, I would follow thee.

Savior, may I love my brother as I know thou loves me
Find in thee my strength, my beacon. For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother- Lord, I would follow thee.

The spirit filled my heart and tears flowed freely, the first time I have cried since leaving home. Sometimes life here is overwhelming, because the poverty we see is overwhelming. Words alone are inadequate to express how Elder Lambert and I feel, but some days it is simply heart-wrenching to look into the faces of these people. We love them and want desperately to ease their burdens. We hope we have something to offer. The Gospel is the answer.

On a brighter note, on Saturday we attended a Christmas Chorale Night. It was a huge multi Stake event with three choirs performing, drums included! The quality of the performers was outstanding, and once again we were impressed with the capable, talented members of the church we associate with. 

There is so much goodness in Ghana,

Elder and Sister Lambert

Teresa, her sister and 4 yr. old Beatrice at Gbawe ward today.
Roadside business selling smoked "grass cutter". No, Elder Lambert didn't try one!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 5 - Blessings

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?

Alma 26:2 says  "And now I ask, what great blessings has He bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?" 

So let us tell you about this weeks blessings in Ghana....

Driving home one day we bought some apples. Then, at a stop light we gave some coins to a little beggar boy. He saw the apples on the back seat and said, "Apples, apples!" As my tender-hearted husband reached back for the apples the boy called his brother over. Their faces light up with pure joy as Elder Lambert handed them each an apple. Then they jumped up and down hardly believing they had received such a gift. The look on their faces was priceless! 

We were privileged to meet two of the Church's pioneers in Ghana this week. Dr Kissi joined the Church in England while he was training to be a doctor. He returned to Ghana soon after the Church was newly organized here in the early 1980's. He wrote "Walking In The Sand",  a history of the LDS Church in Ghana. This book prepared me in many ways for our mission. I was thrilled to meet the author. We also had a surprise meeting with one of his peers, Emmanuel (Adu ?) while on our road trip to Cape Coast. These men impacted the growth of the Church considerably in West Africa. They are revered by the people here.

Alex Tandoh and Michael Odoom are gently teaching us about the SR program, their people, and the Ghanian culture. We spent three days with them at Cape Coast training Stake SR Committees, visiting schools and colleges and meeting individuals who have been through the program and have found success  growing their businesses. #1 Sister Coleman has found keeping her business expenses separate from her personal expenses an improvement. She sells African handbags and sandals. #2 Jacob and Barbara have a sewing business. Barbara can make dresses without a pattern! They know that better advertising/networking would grow their business more. #3 Francisca sells a high protein cereal product. She has returning customers because of the quality of the product. So fun to see people experience success!!!

Sobering experience.... 
We visited Cape Coast Castle where over the course of 200 years millions of African slaves were held before being shipped to the Americas (Brazil, Caribbean, and USA). The dungeons where they were held for up to three months had little light or air. Two hundred men would be crammed into one of five cells. They, nor their cells were ever cleaned, they were branded, and many went blind. The conditions were so inhuman its a wonder any of them survived. If they rebelled they were chained in a totally dark room with no food or water until they died. The slave trade is a sad reflection of man's inhumanity to man, where the evil we are capable of; our lust for greed and power overwhelms the child of God, and goodness that is within us. Slave trading and child trafficking still continues today.

Senior Couples ... 
Yesterday we had a pool party with the other missionaries in our apartment complex!!! They work in Welfare, Medical, Family History, Public Relations, as Legal Advisers and Auditors for the Church. 
All volunteering.... so much Goodness in Ghana!

Love to you all!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Week 6 - Harmattan

Etesen? (How are you?)
Mehoyie (I am well)

Tis the Season....the north wind did blow and we did get...DUST! The beginning of the Harmattan winds which blow off the Sahara Dessert began on Tuesday. We can tell a difference in the air quality, it is hazy, windy and a smidge cooler. These conditions last for a couple of months

Even though we are not directly involved with proselyting we helped at the mission office on Monday verifying baptism records. Last weekend there were 40 baptisms in our mission. We attended one of them.

On Tuesday we began a four day road trip, this time to Takoradi; a four hour drive from Accra (no freeways here). We met some wonderful individuals and learned about more goodness in Ghana.
Sister Agnes Asante Asaire, 80 years old, has a food business. With all the competition she looked for an unfilled niche where her business could flourish. She discovered that other food vendors were selling Tilapia in the evening for dinner. She began selling it in the afternoon. Bingo! Her sales increased. She also serves a variety of soups, meats and fish, and delivers meals to customers. To keep her customers returning, she occasionally gives free fruit or candy. But that's not all! She won't buy on credit, so over the years she invested her profit and was able to buy a freezer. Her husband sells blocks of ice to the fish sellers. He also employs women to sell water sachets on the streets. Agnes understands that most people are not disciplined enough to save their money (this is a cash economy) so she does not pay her employees their full wage every day. Instead she keeps most of their paycheck until the end of the month, so they can pay bills, and honor their commitment to her. What a business woman! She is thinking of retiring in a few years...The Self Reliance classes teach all the principles Sister Asaire practices. We met four others with equally impressive stories.

   Ghanaian Culture fascinates me!  I have loved learning about birth, marriage, death, lifestyle, men and women's roles, and politics. Some of their culture carries over into the Church too. One of my favorites is how beautifully they sing the hymns acappella. Unlike many Americans Elder Lambert has been adventurous, eating a wide variety of local foods, including something known as "red red". It has been fun to try these new dishes but most are too hot for me!

Love to you all,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Sister Asaire with her husband, Pres. Tandoh, Peter Aidoo (SR Coordinator), Sister Lambert. 
Tilapia with kenki before Elder Lambert ate it... eyeballs and all!