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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Week 13 - Incoming Missionaries

Hello everyone,

     We love the opportunity to have new experiences, and this week we helped orient nine new missionaries to the mission. Lots of paper work to do with immunizations, driving licenses, passports and non citizen status. Elder Lambert gave them the "keeping your apartment clean- bike safety- subsistence/reimbursements" lecture. They were also educated on health issues, wrote a letter home and were interviewed by President Snow. This batch includes two Sisters from Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The Elders are all from USA, but interestingly none from Utah. One of them resembles cousin David, another made me think, "Oh that's what Brigham Skinner may look like in six years!" 
     Having sent three of our girls on missions, it was fun to see this part of the mission experience from a parents perspective: missionaries, fresh from the MTC, enthusiastic and ready to go! Knowing of the prayers being offered thousands of miles away on their behalf, and knowing that those missionary moms were eagerly awaiting that first letter I encouraged these young Elders to be sure to tell their parents "I love you!".

     On Friday, a five hour road trip took us to Assin Fosu for a SR committee meeting. It was encouraging to get reports from most of the units that they started another round of SR classes at the beginning of the new year. We continue to learn about the challenges these people face, but also admire their faith. Their prayers are so humble and are filled with gratitude for life, and the life of Jesus Christ. They truly love the Savior!
   I wish I had taken a picture of the church in Assin Fosu showing how it stands at the top of a steep, rough road and is beautiful! time. On Saturday, driving from Assin Fosu to the main highway (1.5 hours) just about every small town and village we passed through was holding a funeral. We could tell because the people all wear black and red and funerals are a big community event here, usually held on Saturdays.
     Today we visited Primary. One of the teachers didn't show up so we taught the lesson and were then asked to give the sharing time too! It is so interesting to see how the children respond here. They stand up to answer questions, they bring notebooks to write down assignments (the challenges at the end of each lesson), they record scripture references and whatever is written on the board. Then at the end of class the President reminds them to share what they have learned with their families for FHE. From the previous week many of them had memorized 1 Nephi 3:7 and recited it for the whole Primary. It made me realize that I rarely asked my Valient class in Kamas 4th if they had completed the challenge from the previous weeks lesson...always room for improvement. As for singing time, it is accomplished without a piano or props of any kind, they just sing! 
    It was a great week, we are loving it here. I could write so much more but it is better to get out and do. Love to you all,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix: Which Church would you like to attend?
Road to New Gbawe, doesn't show how rough it is.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Week 12 - Africa is Life Changing

Hello family and friends,
     Well there are at least two things you can always count on in Ghana; the weather (hot and humid) and  bad roads, Although, I must admit some of our favorite potholes are disappearing. On Sunday, on our drive out to New Gbawe Branch we always meet a couple of guys filling in the holes. We think they just do it to make some extra money off the passing motorists. We aways give them some money and encourage them to 'keep up the good work."

     Last Monday Sister Lambert led the discussion at Sister Scripture Study. We are studying the Doctrine and Covenants Institute course this year. As is always the case this teacher got far more out of the lesson than anyone else.

     We are getting acquainted with the security guards, and the gals who clean the halls and stairs at our new apartment complex. Georgina sings as she mops the floors, and her voice echoes through the tile floored concourses. She makes our mornings bright! Emmanuel is one of the guards. He asked for something religious to read so we gave him a Book of Mormon. He has a friend who also wanted to read, so Elder Lambert got the friend a book too. Emmanuel is often reading the BOM as we drive in or out of the complex. We have invited him to view some Mormon Message videos with us.

     During the week we recruited five of these workers to sample our banana bread in the courtyard of the complex. Elder Lambert had explained to them our purpose for being in Ghana and we wanted to know if banana bread might make a good business for our members here. They each gave a positive response to the taste testing and included many of their own ideas in how we could market it. It became a lively discussion and we returned to the apartment with an empty plate and good feelings about another business possibility.

     President Snow has asked us to tackle a few new assignments in the mission office to help the office couple. The Keeles are from Castledale, Utah; Elder Keele was an engineer at some of the power plants in Central Utah. Sister Keele taught school. They have become wonderful friends.

      On Saturday, Sister Lambert joined five other sisters at a batik class. It was awesome! I have always wanted to try this and now I am hooked! The process entailed stamping a white piece of fabric with a wax covered stamp, then dyeing it, letting the fabric dry, then re-stamping and dyeing it again. We were able to apply many gospel principles to the experience including the creation, the Atonement, faith, and mercy. Sister N'Goran from Cote d'Ivoire made a beautiful tablecloth with the message "Africa is Life Changing." ....I couldn't agree more.

Love and hugs to everyone,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Week 11 - Entrepreneurs in Training

Better late than never!

Last week was a little crazy as we were relocated to a new apartment. We will miss the sociality of our friends at Alema Court. There are no other missionaries at our new place; Sapphire Court, but surprisingly there is one LDS couple living here. Duncan and Jane Garden are from Scotland, and he works in the oil and gas industry.

We have attended meetings to plan for this year's focus in SR and the calendar already has several travel dates to visit Cape Coast and Takoradi. Here in the Accra area we will be visiting Stakes, meeting with committees and visiting members businesses to observe, and address concerns. We have talked to President Snow about how we can utilize the missionaries in sharing the SR program with investigators and new members. 

Elder Lambert has been researching how to grow mushrooms as a potential small business for members, so we visited the Food Research Institute and had a great experience learning about the process. He can also tell you about raising snails and grass-cutters. Making and selling banana bread and smoothies are some other ideas we are pursuing. 

I can just see us setting up a little stand in Kamas when we get home, selling smoked muskrats, shaggy mane mushrooms, growing out of our lawn, and zucchini bread! Maybe we will even branch out and sell smoothies made from local plums and apples.... Oh, the possibilities!!!!

We are so grateful for the opportunity of being here and serving the Lord. Daily, we are humbled by what we see and feel. It's not always easy, but it's definitely worth it!
All our love,
Elder and Sister Lambert 
Pictures #1Sisters - Oprah and Michelle
              #2 Substrate (growth medium) for mushrooms 
              #3 Looking at mushroom spawn

Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 10 - A Report


We are far from ready to "return and report" but as the year ends and we reach our sixth week here I thought I should make a summary of our feelings and experiences as Self Reliance Missionaries in Ghana.

I am so impressed with Ghanian people! They get the gospel and are very strong in it. The talks and gospel discussions in Sunday School and Priesthood Meeting would be the envy of almost any ward anywhere. The people here come from maybe the richest Christian tradition in the world. There are scriptures and religious phrases written everywhere; from the billboards, to the cars, to the names of businesses, almost everything you see has some connection to Christianity. When the restored gospel was given to honest seekers of truth here they adopted it enthusiastically.

Men join the church slightly more often then women here and in nearly all meetings the men outnumber the women by a small margin. Contrast that one with the direction of our American culture. Both the Brothers and Sisters here are capable leaders and powerful teachers.

These people are very gentle and soft spoken. They are a joy to be around. We feel safe and live very comfortably. There is no reason for a senior couple to fear a call to serve in Ghana. Ghana is probably the 2nd most successful nation in Africa. It has a middle and upper class that live comfortably. What Ghana has that America doesn’t is a large number of people who live in poverty. The streets are filled with people walking between and around cars trying to sell something. Main roads in the cities are lined with small businesses. Even a place like Grassy Creek would have 20 or so businesses. Some do well but most make just a couple of dollars a day. Many are homeless and early morning walks will find people sleeping right on the sidewalk. I see the Church’s Self Reliance program as the greatest hope to give these poor and their country a better future.

The Self Reliance program is basically the character traits, skills and practices required for success in the church, school, work force, and business. Most are skills we take for granted but these are skills that seem to be lacking in the African cultures and probably anywhere poverty is prevalent. The SRS program is directed by the priesthood line of authority. We train at the stake level and it works down from there. Even though the program has been taught to the priesthood leaders who administer it, there is still an enormous amount to do. The gospel is changing people in a spiritual way but the SRS program targets skills that will contribute to their success in life. Change is difficult for all of us. Here change involves such things as saving money, planning ahead, keeping records and keeping your commitments. These are difficult changes to make when just getting by has been the core of a culture for thousands of years. However, even though the Self Reliance program has only been here for two years many have used it to make remarkable progress with their lives.

We work under the direction of a Ghanian who has been providing us with some wonderful learning experiences and gradually allowing us greater opportunities to teach. The language/accent barrier is our biggest challenge. English may be the official language but it seems to me that at least half speak it in a limited way or not all. We are reaching the point that, with great concentration, we understand all but the most heavily accented English but it doesn't, work the other way. Those who are well educated do fairly well with our American English but many have as difficult a time understanding us as we did them when we first arrived. Last week I taught a group that spoke little English. I was teaching them about raising “grass cutters” and mushrooms. Think of a grasscuttter as a very large marmot (rock chuck). The people in much of Africa love to eat grasscutters. A translator was supposedly turning my words into Fante, the local dialect, but our manager said he wasn’t even close and everyone was completely confused when we got done. There is a need for our help but our teaching may be limited to the more educated areas of the city.

We are finding other ways to contribute both within our calling and without. Outside of our calling we help at the mission home occasionally with projects they can’t keep up with. We are doing some personal family history and are getting to the temple now and then. Last week we went to a mall to sing Christmas carols with a zone of elders. Lots of fun and Sister Lambert and I actually got a referral from a family who just got back from classes at Weber State. The wife teaches at the University of Ghana. Yesterday we got two referrals while shopping and gave a Book of Mormon to someone else. It would be fun to teach and proselyte with people so humble and full of faith.

Last week we went to the local MTC and helped 60 new missionaries enter their family history into the system. 54 of these 60 were African. The average age was 25 and the average time in the church was a bit more than a year. They come with stories of sacrifice that will melt the hardest of hearts. A full 30% of these missionaries were orphans and I am guessing at least that many more had lost one parent. Life is hard on this continent.

Right now, within our calling, we are working on some educational materials for business opportunities. Some of the people who live far away from the city don’t read and very few have computers and access to the internet to do research with. Seeing that, we are now writing some lessons on how to create businesses such as raising grasscutters and snails, growing mushrooms, and even how to make smoothies out of the abundant tropical fruit here (Annies idea of course). Hopefully these can be translated into the local languages and will be put to good use.

We love it here and are having a great life changing experience!
Elder and Sister Lambert

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Week 10 - Goodbyes and Hellos

Happy New Year Family and Friends!

     I always get a little nostalgic looking back and saying goodbye to one year while anticipating good things for the coming year. 2015 was a great year for us. Just this week I began learning about Ghanaian traditional symbols. One of these symbols known as sankofa (return and take) teaches the wisdom in learning from the past to help improve the future. What a great idea as we start 2016.

      We also said goodbye to President Hill, who received a Book of Mormon with 150 favorite scriptures underlined and signed by 150 devoted stripping warriors. A treasured possession for sure!

     Hellos and birthday wishes to President Snow, our new Mission President and his wife occurred Saturday when we met them at the mission office for lunch. (The mission office and the mission home are just two doors apart on the same street). Ironically the Snows lived in Pres. Hill's home when they were serving here 6 years ago as Area President. They have a sweet story about their call but it's too long to include here. Let's just say they were prepared and willing to come on very short notice.
     This was a quieter week but we still had some adventures. While shopping, two men approached "Auntie" Lambert and thought it would be a novel idea to have their picture taken with an "Obromie", so Sister "Auntie" Lambert obliged them! Pretty funny! This led to a conversation about the wonderful people of Ghana and the Church. They wanted to know more so we got their phone numbers for the young missionaries to contact them. Within fifteen minutes a young man working at a new restaurant came up and pointing to our missionary name tags said, "I know your people, I have served them" He really wanted us to come into his restaurant so we took a minute to sample the ice cream but we couldn't stay because of commitments. However, he insisted on wheeling our shopping cart to the car, and I felt impressed to give him a Book of Mormon with the promise we would come back and visit him again. ...Another example of the goodness here. He genuinely wanted to help us, which actually happens quite a bit. You may like to encourage your children to do something similar and see the smiles on the faces of those they help!  We even have our scriptures and bags carried into the Church, but always having been "Self Reliant" it is an adjustment for sure. Oh, the people are so good! We love them!

     Thanks to those of you who have commented on the blog Kristi is keeping. We appreciate the support and love you all.
Elder and Sister Lambert

P.S.  I have the funnest time taking pictures of random signs!

Pic #1 Vicious guard dogs?

Pic #2 Not uncommon to see signs like this along the road in the most religious country in the world.

Pic#3 Need home tutoring? Here's the number to call!