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, March 30, 2016

Week 22 - Nyameyie

What an amazing week!

It started last Sunday as our Primary children sang "Gethsemane". This inspired music brings the spirit like nothing else!  We stopped several times during the singing to explain words and gospel concepts as the children grew in understanding the message of the song. I love how powerfully music teaches the doctrine of Christ.  Following church Elder Lambert and I divided up to sit in on two SR groups and gave them some support and direction.

(Kristi here. The video above is the song my mom was referring to. I love this song. Especially this version. Brings me to tears pretty much every time. God is good.)

On Monday we attended a gathering of SR/Pathways leadership to organize SR devotionals for Pathways students for the next semester, starting in April. Getting everyone on the same page felt so good. President Monson has said,"When we work together cooperatively, we can accomplish anything." We believe the combined efforts of SR and Pathways will strengthen these students and better prepare them for life. Following this meeting we had a farewell for the Wades, who like us serve as SR missionaries, only they serve in the Accra mission. With them leaving we would be the only SR missionaries in the whole of area. 

However, last week a new couple from the US arrived to serve as volunteers in SR! We actually met them in the Temple and teamed up immediately to learn how we can help each other. The Pothiers are here for 6 months and this is their fifth visit to Ghana. We feel so blessed for the opportunity to learn from them. Their focus will be to help church members develop small businesses and to work on agricultural projects. In May they will host some interns from BYU-I who will experience small business development in Ghana. 

From here the week just got better and better as we travelled to Takoradi, where a new stake was created over the weekend, under the direction of Elder Rasband. The new Mpintsin stake will have nine units, as will Takoradi. Our purpose was to meet with 33 returned missionaries and ensure they have all the tools necessary to move on with their lives. As a result of this meeting we gleaned some great stories to add to our collection of conversions and life lessons.

On Wednesday we visited with five members who have completed the SR program and are finding some measure of success in their businesses. Each of their stories is worthy of mention but I will just share my favorite at this time. Here is what we wrote in our report: 

Lucy Acquah- Sister Acquah is 23 years old and has been a member for 3 years. She first heard about the church when a lady living in her compound said she belonged to the true church. Lucy was curious. She asked her mother if she could attend this church and although it would mean she would be neglecting her responsibilities at the market, her mother allowed her to go for two hours. Lucy was gone much longer and as a result her mother was angry and gave her no food on her return. However, over time the missionaries came to her home and taught her the Gospel. As a result she joined the church and is a great asset to her ward. She is now preparing to leave for a mission to Liberia in June 2016.  
Sister Acquah never knew her father, and an abusive step father left their family several years ago. This left her mother to support their family of 5. To help with the finances Sister Acquah learned, from a friend, how to do beadwork. She now sells her beaded creations to members and friends. Taking the “Starting and Growing My Business” course helped her to keep track of her income and expenses so she knows the profit she has made. This allows her to budget money for the support of her family and still have some left to save for her mission. By using a missionary planner she organizes her day so she can accomplish chores, attend Institute, make and sell her bead products, study Preach My Gospel, and help teach investigators with the missionaries. Desiring to keep her covenants has led Sister Acquah to participate in temple work. Researching the names of her great great grandmother and other ancestors, she has performed baptisms on their behalf in the Ghana, Accra Temple. This faithful sister says she always strives to live her life so the Spirit may be with her.

She is now teaching her non-member mother how to do bead work, and manage her business with the hopes that the business will still be functioning when she returns from her mission. Upon her return she plans to go to school but also continue to expand her beadwork to include fashion design which is her desired course of study.  

Isn't that great?!!! I want to adopt this angel too! ... and when she comes to Accra we plan to get together again. What a sweet girl! 
On Wednesday evening we sat in on a 2hr+ meeting with Bishops to clarify some items concerning PEF loans. Afterwards I had a conversation with one of the Bishops which I am sure anyone in leadership can relate to. He said, "Yes, sometimes you are so tired you don't think you can go on, then you are given the opportunity to serve someone, and you are renewed and energized. It's humbling. The Lord blesses me like that." I got a little teary because I understand the sacrifices Bishops make and these Bishops have additional challenges so it was a tender moment for me and the word "consecrated" came to mind.

On a rainy Thursday we returned to Accra, stopping along the way to buy some snails which Elder (Ghanaian) Lambert ate for dinner. Yuck! His reaction was, "No wonder the French cover them in garlic and butter!" I am still working on eating fish eyes so eating snails is way down on my list of becoming a true Ghanaian! 

Saturday morning we were up early to lead a My Path devotional in Odorkor ward, then on to New Gbawe for a baptismal service for two converts and two eight year olds. I am feeling so blessed and humbled to be involved in the Lord's work. It has been a good week, and having spent three days studying Moroni 7, I can testify that God is good, because I have seen His hand in everything, and more importantly, everyone around me. 

In this chapter Moroni records the words of his father (who could be speaking to the people here in Ghana) ...." peaceable followers of Christ ... obtained a sufficient hope ...for if their works be good, then they are good also." I love verse 13..."But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." and 23-24..."And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come. And behold there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come to unto them." In verse 29 he asks, "Have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men." Verse 33 speaks to the Ghanaian people, "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever this in expedient in me." Mormon continues with a be beautiful discourse on faith, hope and charity, ending with, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. wherefore cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail- 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. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen"

I testify that this is what we are here to learn through this journey called life; to have our nature changed, to see through new eyes, to love as the Savior loved, to become pure and good. I know our Savior lives. I have felt his love.
God is good = Nyameyie  

All our love,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Takoradi RM's
Lucy Acquah
For the Bleazard boys!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Week 21 - "One Sent Forth"

Dear Family and Friends,
This week we were privileged to be instructed by an apostle of the Lord . 
Elder Ronald Rasband and his wife, Melanie took the time to shake the hand of every missionary in the Accra mission, the Accra West mission, and each of the Senior missionary couples. That's about 370 handshakes! Also present were the Area Presidency/wives, both Mission Presidents/wives and the Temple President/wife. A rare event! 
 In Greek, Apostle means "one sent forth". It was the title Jesus gave to the Twelve whom He chose and ordained to be His closest disciples and helpers during His ministry on earth. Both anciently, and in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the restored church today, an Apostle is a special witness of Jesus Christ "sent forth" to testify to the whole world of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead.
Elder Rasband. testified that revelation is part of all missionary assignments. He said, "Heavenly Father helps me know "perfectly" where each missionary should serve. Every one of you are here by revelation."
He then led an interactive discussion with the young missionaries on what he described as "the most spirit-directed talk" he had ever given; "The Divine Call of a Missionary" from Conference  2010. In conclusion he testified, "I know that the leaders of the church are no strangers to the voice of the Lord. Go forward in faith. Avoid contention. Be easy to forgive. Always be worthy of holding a current Temple recommend, in doing this the Lord has promised He will bless you all the days of your life. Never underestimate the impact of your mission years into the future. In your future you will be husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. All other callings you can be released from, but this is an eternal call. Build up the church and give all the glory to Jesus Christ."  
Elder Rasband's message to the young missionaries was just what they needed to hear. It also has significance to us as we meet regularly with returned missionaries and can reinforced his council with them. I am so grateful for Apostles!
 Later in the week we also attended meetings at Tesano stake, twice; once for a SR committee meeting and once to instruct a group of 20 Pathways students. These Young Single Adults are so diligent in pursuing their education, but several are also quite destitute. One said, "I don't feel my hunger when I feel the Spirit." Ohhh!, I just want to adopt them all!!!!!!
 On Friday, Sister Lambert joined eleven other sisters on a field trip to TK Beads. We learned about the bead making process; the crushing of glass, placing the glass powder in molds, watching it melt in the ovens, and witnessing the painting of each individual bead before it was fired for the second time. The final part of the process was when we walked into the retail shop to view a rainbow of colored beads ( the sands of the sea) of all sizes and shades of the color spectrum. Several of us were totally overwhelmed! But it didn't take too long to compose myself and find some treasures to take home. :) :) :)
On Saturday we took a 2 hour drive to Asamankese. There are 6 branches of the church in this region. Here we attended another training session, which we were grateful was spoken in English, and visited with the MLS couple, the Lathems who have created a library in a classroom of the church for the community to check out books and enjoy. Libraries are not common here, and to have one out in the bush is a great blessing to the people. What goodness!

 I am still amazed that each week we continue to have new adventures and meet new people who impress us so much. I will tell you more about one couple we met next time. They are going to be a great help to us in the coming months.

Till next time, know that we love this experience and are so grateful to be here. Thank you for your love and prayers... we need them.
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix: I just loved seeing this Elder love his comp!
Bead factory
Just a small sample!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Week 20 - Save Small, Small

Hello everyone,

Last Sunday Ghana celebrated it's 59th year of independence from British rule. We understand there was a parade at Independence Square, but that the crowds are horrendous so we chose not to go. We did see fireworks coming from the direction of the President's residence in the evening. Monday was a National holiday but the streets were quiet.

On Tuesday we sat in on a "Facilitators training" meeting. Four individuals from New Gbawe represented the groups we initiated on Sunday. One of our facilitators is Illa Florentine, a french speaker from Ivory Coast where he taught biology to high school students. He has only been in Ghana since the new year and is rapidly picking up English. Besides meeting with the missionaries, he wanted to learn more about becoming self reliant so we invited him to join a group. I have really enjoyed getting to know him and Elder Lambert has enjoyed conversation about science and biology.  

On our way to another meeting at Cape Coast we stopped in Winneba to deliver some supplies. Here we met with Brother Tufour who shared an example of self reliance that really appealed to us. First, you have to understand that most people -low income/slums do not have clean drinking water in their homes, so drinking water is sold on the streets in sachets, (little plastic bags that hold about 2 cups of liquid.)  Water sachets costs 10 pesewas (about 3 cents). 

Brother Tufour taught his family that after having a drink, and instead of squeezing what is left out onto the ground they should save it into a container for future use. As the family practiced this principle they soon saw how fast the unused water accumulated. We loved this example because we see people wasting their water all the time and 10pG is not much, but when you don't have much to start with and then you throw it away..... As they say here "if you save small small, then at the end of the day you will have enough." So, here comes the challenge... what can you save small small that will make a difference at the end of the day for your family? Be creative!

At Cape Coast we witnessed the formation of the first Business Council that we are aware of within the two coordinating councils/areas we cover. It was exciting to see 20 business owners come together, elect a chairman, assistant and secretary and formulate a plan to support each other in their businesses. Elder Lambert and I gave a few remarks at the close of the meeting. We truly " believe that  there will come a time when honorable members of the church will not only bless their families because of their success but will help Ghana itself change and grow for the good of all its people. We believe that members of this church will begin to stand out and the people of Ghana will take notice. We believe Zion in Ghana will become as a beacon on the hill lighting the way for a better future for the wonderful people of this country. We believe the Self Reliance Program will have a strong role in all of that happening."

On Friday we visited Kakum National Park. Within the park are hikes and a tree house where guests can stay overnight to experience the rainforest after dark. It also includes a canopy walkway 40 meters off the ground. These rope bridges gave us a wonderful perspective of the forest below. Unfortunately Fridays are very busy and noisy with school field trips so we didn't see the monkeys or forest elephants which are common to the area. Still, a good experience to see rainforest... before it is all gone.

Yesterday we taught sharing time to the Primary. The children loved the story of Samuel the Lamanite and his prophecy of the coming of the Savior. For understanding, we reenacted the story (minus stones and arrows!) and "Samuel" stood on a table and pointed to the "signs": 5 years, day and a night and a day as one day, a new star, and "that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ ... to the intent that ye might believe on His name." I am grateful to be able to testify of prophets; ancient and modern, who speak for the Lord and teach us truths which if heeded will lead us safely through this life.

We are also learning the "Gethsemane" song and will be singing it on Easter Sunday in sacrament meeting. The leaders love it and the children are doing so well to learn it without a piano. Powerful music brings the spirit like nothing else! 

Love and Hugs to every one of you,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix New Business Council leaders
Kakum National Park
Zoom in in the sign on the back of the tro-tro!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 19 - First Rain

Dear Family and Friends,
     Another week of new experiences began with the first rainstorm we have had since arriving here four months ago. It was a good one! We were out on the streets meeting with a member who has a food business. In the distance we saw dark clouds forming and the east wind stirred up dust and debris which caused chaos as everyone scurried to shut down their businesses and head for cover. Within ten minutes it was a deluge, and rained hard for a couple of hours. Luckily we made it to the car just in time or we would have been soaked!  I think our grandkids could have swum in some of the awesome puddles that were created, and that evening the frogs were croaking so loudly it was ridiculous! 

     Another first, as we trained the Lartebiokorshie stake SR committee. As one of the new stakes in the area, this was their first committee meeting. It was exciting to see their enthusiasm, they already have a plan to hold SR devotionals in conjunction with ward conferences. We exchanged contact information with the SR specialist and look forward to working with her.

     On Saturday, another first, as we were honored to serve as witnesses at the marriage of Tony, one of our branch members. Tony met Sandra online and they have been "dating" for 18 months. Sandra lives in Utah and has come to Ghana several times to visit Tony.  Due to immigration difficulties they decided to marry here in Ghana, but Sandra's parents could not come, so Tony asked us to be surrogate parents for Sandra on this special occasion. We were naturally happy to oblige. Through the miracle of technology Sandra's family were able to watch the ceremony via Skype. When the paperwork clears immigration they will move to Utah and be sealed in the Temple.

     The second rainstorm we've experienced began in the middle of an outside SR devotional we were participating in at New Gbawe. Everyone quickly moved inside where within ten minutes the power went out so we worked for about an hour using the flashlights on our phones. By the time the rain stopped it was almost dark so we called it quits. Then two young boys came running up and excitedly told me to come and look at our car. We all had a good laugh when we saw it marooned in the middle of a huge puddle! Elder Bassey offered to carry Elder Lambert over to it but you can bet that's not what Elder Lambert did. With shoes and socks in hand he waded through 4-5" of water to retrieve the car. Not exactly like crossing a mountain stream in the Uintahs!
So, it was quite a week, but probably my favorite experience was listening to Brother Samuel Baiden offer a prayer at the end of our visit with him.  His story is fairly typical. He and his family of eleven, joined the Church 17 years ago. He had a poultry business but people were buying the eggs on credit and then the chickens got sick so he abandoned the business. Through some challenging times he relied on his knowledge of the SR program and 4 months ago started a real estate business. He has had health problems and recently spent some time in the hospital, but he told us, "My future looks bright." He bore a powerful testimony of being self reliant and when several friends suggested he ask for help from the church he told them, "I am not poor, my life is in crisis." In other words,; "Yes, I'm having a hard time, but I am not poor, I can take care of myself." His prayer was so faith-filled and eloquent I felt like I was in the presence of a spiritual giant. So grateful for the lessons I am learning every day and the people who are blessing my life..

We love being involved in this great work!
What will you do to brighten someone's day?
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pix: Bro. Baiden with Bishop Michael Odoom
       My Path ... in the dark
       With Mr and Mrs Gharety
       And the whole family!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Week 18 - Ziggy

Dear Family and Friends,
     After being on the road for the last three weeks, it was nice to sleep in our own bed for seven nights in a row. This week we have explored new options in our travels around the neighborhood and have decided that eventually all roads will lead us home. Whether we take the route past the American Embassy, the Koala grocery store, the Goethe Institute or Burma Camp military base, eventually we arrive at our destination. Unlike Dorothy's encounter with the Cheshire cat "We DO know where we're going and any road will get us there!"

    Teaching another group of Returned Missionaries was so fun. They have wonderful goals for their future careers including; civil engineering, software developer, joining the military and flight school to become a pilot. We love their passion and desire to make their lives better. 
     Elder Lambert taught them what successful people do and included the story of "Ziggy" Ezekiel Ansah, a young Ghanaian who went to BYU on an academic scholarship. Because of his size it was suggested he try out for the basketball team. Twice, he didn't make the team, but then someone said, "Why don't you give football a try?"  I'm not talking about Ghanaian football (soccer) but American football. He had never played it in his life and had to have help putting on his pads for the first time! Well, amazingly, he made the team (2010-2012) and eventually was drafted to play for the Detroit Lions. During the 2015 season he was ranked 2nd in the NFL in sacks! His story is so inspiring we are sure it is a movie waiting to happen. We understand he also donated bottled water to the residents of Flint, Michigan. What a good guy... and his head is on straight!
    Sister Lambert facilitated a "My Plan" devotional where the participants access their level of self reliance.
After a lunch break there was a  lengthy discussion about marriage and the bride price. The bride price is a practice throughout Africa where a young man must pay the bride"s family exorbitant amounts in money and gifts to wed their daughter which usually takes years, and creates a whole new set of problems. (Just imagine, with our five daughters, Elder Lambert and I could have our own island off the coast of Spain by now!)  On top of that, the bride price does not include the cost of the wedding, and some weddings here are as extravagant as some weddings in the USA. The only thing to outdo a big wedding in Ghana is a big funeral .... but that's a whole other story! 

    President Mensah of Kaneshie stake, gave these RM's the best counsel when he told them to go to the Bishop's office to get married, and then as soon as possible take their wife to the Temple. Nothing else is as important as a family sealed in the Temple. Speaking of the Temple, we feel so grateful to live within a 15 minute drive from the Accra Temple. We love it!

What evidence of God's goodness did you see in your life today? Did you thank Him?

We love you,
Elder and Sister Lambert

On Sunday we joined 6 year old, Michelle in celebrating her birthday.