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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Week 17 - Specialized Training


Another week of new experiences sped by and we are so thrilled to be on board for the ride. (I'm beginning to sound like my sweet sister in law, Julie, and the ride she and her husband are on in Spokane, but while they are on the roller coaster, I think we are on the merry go round!)

On Tuesdays trip to Cape Coast we stopped in at the childrens' shelter in Buduburam. This facility was created by a couple from Idaho (  Here we met those who staff the shelter, which is currently home to 24 children. Some of the children are orphans, and available for adoption, others are in process of reunification with their parents, and others will go to foster families. A separate building houses 4 special needs children and their two caregivers (angels for sure!) We went there to see how they are becoming self reliant through a chicken project they have going on. One hundred fifty five chickens produce about 100 eggs a day. which helps supplement the childrens' diet. Along with feeding the chickens the children have chores like washing dishes, picking fruit off the trees in the orchard and keeping the place tidy. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of the children who were at a nearby school. The shelter is situated in the countryside and has a peaceful atmosphere with plenty of room for the children to run around.

At Cape Coast we attended an orientation for recently returned missionaries and led them through a My Path devotional. Following lunch they received some great counsel from the Institute director and a motivational speaker who was in their shoes just a few years ago. These young men each have goals for a college education, but after a mission here in Africa it can be difficult to know where to turn to continue with your life, especially if you are an orphan or don't have employment. Our purpose is to be part of that link, connecting them back to the stake and wards and the power of the SR program. We also presented an educational seminar to Pathway students. On our return to Accra

Elder Lambert had a most satisfying gospel discussion with Emmanuel (one of the security guards). He is willing to have the young missionaries teach him.

On Sunday we prayed for the ability to understand and be understood as we spoke in sacrament meeting. Through divine intervention the electrical power was out, which meant the fans weren't running, and although it was toasty warm in the building, it was quiet, and this allowed our voices be clearly heard and understood. Prayer answered!  Our message was on self reliance, of course! After church we were encouraged to see many members sign up for the SR classes.

In the evening we joined President and Sister Snow, the Keeles, and the two MLS couples; the Lathems and the Binghams for specialized couples training which consisted of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and a jello salad. Just like home, haha! We decided it was "Specialized" because we rarely eat like this and President had the opportunity to teach and train us. In our dinner table conversation a question came up about missionary apartment checks, and we had a stimulating discussion on agency and empowering people in their choices. President Snow believes in teaching correct principles and letting the missionaries govern themselves. When leaders/parents hoover and control, then missionaries/children never learn that they are in charge of their own life and have the power to direct it for good, simply because they have had so few opportunities to do so. Thus, he teaches about sacred space and how you feel when you are there, such as in the temple. Likewise, their apartments are also sacred space because that is where they study and pray, and the spirit can only reside in a clean, orderly environment.  We each gained a new appreciation for the gift of agency, and left with much to ponder. Till next week...

Be good. Share the goodness,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix: Boys bedroom at the shelter
RM orientation.
Playing peak a boo with Sandra
Not so scared of us now!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Week 16 - What Does Success Mean to You?

This week we have been in Takoradi, a coastal port -a six hour drive west of Accra. This is a huge stake consisting of 11 wards and 5 branches. On our first evening there the youth were rehearsing a traditional dance (so fun to watch!)  One of the YM told me they will preform it at next month's stake conference when it is hoped a new stake will be created. Besides meeting with the SR committee we also met four individuals who have found success through the SR program. Here are two of their stories:
Sister Celestina Snyper is a humble, single mother with a flour distribution business. She impressed me with her fortitude  She attended a My Path devotional because she is a leader and thought it was her duty to go, then she realized she was not yet self reliant so she joined a group and learned many principles that have blessed her life and her business.

Brother Frank Adu Agyapong is a young father who remembered how his mission president's wife made banana bread, so 1.5 years ago he started a banana bread business. After completing SR classes he has made improvements in his financial accounts. He believes his business will grow as he finds a business partner, more vendors to sell his bread and a baker to help make more than the 30 loaves he is currently now making each day. Because Ghana is a cash economy, and interest on bank loans can be anywhere from 30-40%, and investors are hard to come by, those who are most successful start small, save, and eventually grow big. Saving money is also a hard concept to understand and practice here, so it really is an uphill battle to teach that it can be done. Brother Agyapong is a wonderful example of striving to live within his means but also gradually growing his business. I gave him our card and referenced on the back. We have faith he will become successful in time.

Talking of being successful, Elder Lambert and I have been pondering on what that means exactly. 

What does success mean to you? We believe success is not how much money we make, or the status we rise to in work or the community. We have decided that it is exactly what the Self Reliance program encompasses. It is "the ability, commitment and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family."

Paying tithing, spending less than we earn, providing food, shelter, clothing, clean water, and transportation for the family, giving our children an education and being free of consumer debt are all important temporal necessities. Following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, praying and studying the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament and being worthy of a temple recommend are spiritual necessities. And finally, success means willingly sacrificing to serve others. This is what constitutes a successful life. 

The lesson of the windshield washer: Every day we are confronted by beggars, and street people wanting us to buy from them. Then there are the windshield washers who come up, and usually uninvited, wash our car windows. (If you don't pay them they may scratch your windows). If you don't want your windows cleaned you indicate with a hand gesture or turn on your wipers. One day I made eye contact with a young windshield washer and indicated that we did not want our windows washed. We continued to look at each other and I became a little frustrated when he approached the car and started washing. Held captive at a traffic light! Then as I handed him a small amount of money he said, "I just want to work."My heart softened  and the Spirit taught me a powerful lesson.  He wasn't begging- he was working! He did a beautiful job cleaning the windows and all I was giving him probably amounted to 5c. How could I be so stingy? Not only in my payment but in my attitude. I have since resolved that my heart needs to change, I hope by the time we  leave Ghana I will have stripped away those layers of pride, stinginess, and Scrooge-like behavior. It reminds me of the question 'Are we denying the Savior, when we deny the service offered to us from others?" I am so grateful that the next 14 months gives me the chance to redeem myself and become, more like the Savior. So grateful for a lesson learned from a young windshield washer. John 13:8-9

Have you viewed the video on about "The Freeze' here in Ghana? We know some of those individuals who were interviewed! I love pioneers!

Thanks for all your good words of support and love.

Hugs to you all,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix: Bro Agyapong with his banana bread
New Gbawe missionaries Elders Kalu (Nigeria), Zounmenou (Benin), Mwanza (Congo), Bassey (Nigeria)
A third business: Bro Agbo demonstrated how to make aluminum pots in his foundry

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Week 15 - New Friends

This was an awesome week!

Sister Scripture Study
 It started off with some special guests “popping in” to Sister Scripture Study. Sister Carole Stevens (1st Counselor in General RS Presidency) and Mary Durham (2nd Counselor in General Primary Presidency). They shared with us the shift they have seen in the councils of the church and the tender feelings the Brethren have for the sisters. They said that the sisters need to “awaken’ to their identity and get to work doing the work of the Church. Use your voice Sisters! (see Russell M Neilson’s Oct 2015 talk "A Plea to My Sisters")
Silvia, Sister Lambert, Yami

     On Tuesday we travelled to Nsawam, half an hour north of Accra. Our purpose was to visit a school for beauty therapy and see if it meets the criteria to be placed on the preferred list for LDS students (receiving PEF loans) to attend. The owners, Yami and Silva, were extremely personable and have quite a story. They had lived in England but moved home to Ghana so their children could experience their homeland. Silvia’s father was a Doctor and practiced medicine in both countries. He wanted Silvia to go into medicine but she preferred cosmetology. So two years ago she opened a medical clinic in her father's name and right next door is her school. As we were getting to know them it came up that I went to school at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Yami said "Goldsmith's? I worked at the pub across the road from the college!" Crazy world! We now have some new friends in Nsawam. I told Elder Lambert I want to go back and visit them again in the near future.

     On Wednesday we were buying fruit at our neighborhood fruit stand where adorable two year old Lordina melted my heart. She is a friendly little thing and wanted to hold my hand (some of the children are afraid of us and our ghostly faces!) Her grandma has been so sweet to us as we buy from her. Elder Lambert gave her a sample of banana bread and she now has the banana bread recipe, as does Doris, who has a fruit stand next to her, and another lady who was listening in on the conversation asked for the recipe too!

     On Friday we travelled to Mankessim, on the Cape Coast highway, to share our presentation on four possible business ventures with the members of the two branches there. Elder Lambert did a wonderful job presenting all that he had researched about grass cutters, mushrooms, and snails. The audience viewed some videos and received a summery of the presentation. Sister Lambert demonstrated how to make banana bread and then gave out samples and the recipe. The 28 people present were enthused and planned to meet again according to their interests. At the end of a successful afternoon the Branch President said it was funny that a white man was teaching them how to raise grass cutters! But they are also impressed and so delighted in how this "white man" is eating red-red, banku, fufu, kenki and plantains like a true Ghanaian! They love that he is immersing himself in their culture and as a result a connection is being formed.
Children catching crabs on the beach

     On Saturday we enjoyed a walk on the beach, meeting a group of 10 children catching crabs in the tidal pools. They were super cute and wanted me to take pictures of the crabs they caught. 


Later that morning we traveled 1.45 hours north to Twifo Praso for a My Path devotional, where the people evaluate their level of self reliance and then choose which path to pursue (education, business or job search). This district is led by Brigham Johnson, whose father was a pioneer of the church here in Ghana. Brigham is a remarkable, forward-thinking individual who gave up a successful construction business in Accra to help run a school in this area, but his passion is to help his people become more self reliant. He works with the farmers on crop and animal issues, and he is organizing the women into support groups to help them gain confidence in their abilities to take the SR classes and get a job. 

Mankessim Members
We love this area of the country because of the rainforest and slower country pace of living but the one disadvantage is we don't speak Twi (yet...). We missed out on the discussion and worse yet, didn't get the jokes when they all laughed, but our presence and warm handshakes means so much to them... it's all about just knowing someone cares.

     Because our good friend and travel companion, Michael Odoom was recently called to serve as Bishop of his ward we woke up at 3:45am to travel back to Accra. Michael's ward meets at 8am and we got him back in plenty of time for his first Sunday on the job.
Twifo Praso
     I have realized in writing this weekly letter that it is much easier to write about what we are doing than what we are feeling on this mission. So often we have experiences that pull at our heart strings, humble us, teach us, and are gradually changing us for the better, but finding the right words to express those feelings takes far more effort. So next week you may hear about the lesson of the windshield washer or the faith of Elder Zounmenou.

Be good, Share the goodness.
With love,
Elder and Sister Lambert 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Week 14 - More Goodness

Dear family and friends  

      Here in Accra, SSS= Sister Scripture Study. This group consists of sisters who's husbands work in the Area Office, senior sister missionaries and others who's husbands work in Accra for business. This unique sisterhood representing six countries, and averaging 15 participants, meet every Monday to enjoy an hour of studying the scriptures together. This year our focus is on the Doctrine and Covenants. I am loving this course! Besides the stimulating discussion at SSS my personal study of early church history/D&C is opening my mind to insights that are new or that I have forgotten. It is a wonderful feeling to be a lifelong learner of the Gospel.

    Every day I look for the good around me. This week I was not disappointed. LDS Charities partnered with the Ghana Health Services to bring a team of volunteering, trauma doctors from SLC. Their purpose was to collaborate with doctors here on how to improve rural trauma care. To see more on this story visit The author has been an influence for good in the life of our daughter, Kristi, and although we were not able to meet him or the trauma team we enjoyed a brief visit on the phone.

     Our work this week included preparing for, and training a new SR Committee for Kaneshie Stake, and joining a group of BYU-I Pathway students for a education seminar. Pathways is an on-line program, with local gatherings for those students preparing for University studies. It is an affordable and beneficial way for LDS students here to pursue their educational goals. After completing the one year course they can continue to work towards a degree. Pathway, the Self Reliance program and Literacy go hand in hand to help people help themselves. Good things are happening for the young people here! 

      In our spare time we helped the mission office couple by calling missionaries to update and confirm records. 

     In closing I would like to share two references which have had an impact on my life this week. 

D&C 8:2,3,9  "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart .Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation;  And, therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, and you shall have knowledge concerning it.
And Neal A Maxwell ...."The prompting that goes unresponded to may not be repeated. Writing down what we have been prompted with is vital. A special thought can also be lost later in the day in the rough and tumble of life. God should not, and may not choose to repeat the prompting if we assign what was given such a low priority as to put it aside."

Since most of my inspiration comes at two in the morning I have learned to keep a paper and pen by my bed. It came in handy this week as my thoughts were guided in a certain direction. I love what the Spirit can teach me in the quiet of the night. I testify that the gift of receiving personal revelation is ours as we ask through prayer, seek through study and knock through obedience.

Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix: Harmattan sunrise at Cape Coast
Accra Temple