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, May 31, 2016

Week 31 - Africa Day

Dear Family,

May 25th marks Africa Day, a public holiday in celebration of African unity. We weren't aware of any celebrations though, and our observation is that most people stay home on holidays because the roads are far more pleasant to travel on. Anyway, with the help of a Pathway student, Collins, we visited some members and discussed their businesses/SR program. We are grateful to have Collins come along since getting directions on the street to a location is near impossible if you don't speak Twi or Fante. 

Mary Tetteh has been in business for 20 years selling various items. She currently sells konkonte and groundnut paste to restaurants and individuals. She took the SR program in 2014 and feels it has helped her, especially in the management of her money. Before taking the program she would leave her business earnings on the kitchen table and they would  disappear with nothing much to show for it. Since the program her savings account has grown and she is yet to spend any of it. She and her husband, Bishop Tetteh, have taught the program to their 4 children. The oldest was translating for us and added her memories of the teachings and their importance. Sister Tetteh would like to add a grinder to her business to save time, middleman expenses, and most importantly her large transportation expenses. However, the rules of her rented property will not allow a grinder.The options of buying a small car, or moving the business closer to customers was also discussed.

Thursday and Friday was spent in Cape Coast, presenting a devotional to 24 Pathway students and attending a business council meeting. This meeting was in Fante so every few minutes we were given a summery translation. Then as we were preparing to leave we were suddenly asked to speak and address a few concerns. Elder Lambert covered the concerns in an authoritive manner and the matter of the church giving loans for small businesses was once more laid to rest.  One of the perks of going to Cape Coast is the abundance of fruit we can buy on the way home, including yams, watermelon, mango, avocado, plantains, pineapple, and custard apples. We also stopped to talk to some men selling bush meat (small antelope, grass cutters and a rat!) and Elder Lambert shared a message about the church and gave away a Book of Mormon. I also gave away a Book of Mormon... to a policeman who pulled us over at a check point. In case you were wondering, we hadn't done anything wrong but seeing our name tags he asked about the church and was happy with the gift we left with him.

On Sunday at Anyaa branch we assisted the Area Family History missionary couple as they helped the members fill out family group sheets/pedigree charts. Record keeping is not a strength of most people here so it is always a challenge to have them remember family information. Luckily most of the moms remembered the dates of their children births :)

A closing thought on "pondering". To ponder is to "weigh mentally, think deeply about, deliberate, meditate..." It is the opportunity to clear our minds and reflect on things of the spirit. To "be still and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10) Pondering will prepare our hearts to receive the message the Lord has for us as we read the scriptures. Pondering results in personal revelation. As I sat "pondering" one morning this week it stirred feelings in my heart, and then I read Nephi's psalm in 2 Nephi 4:15-35. It was powerful! I felt Nephi's pain in losing his father and the weight he carried over the conflict with his brothers, and the joy he feels in reading the scriptures, and his acknowledgement of personal weaknesses, and his desire to improve, and the source of his strength, and his love of the Lord. It spoke volumes to me! And like Nephi "my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord, and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard." I testify that pondering will bring us closer to the Lord. 

So, here is the challenge...this week take time to ponder: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going after I die? 

Another great week in Africa!
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Patricia & Mary Tetteh
Pathway students
Sharing BOM

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Week 30 - The Work Continues...

Dear Family,

This week kept us hopping. It's funny because sometimes I look at the calendar and wonder how we will fill the time, then things "drop" into our lap, new opportunities appear, and before we know it the week is full!

On Monday we joined "Speaking Partners" working with Pathway students at the Christenborg Institute. This is a one on one, conversation time for them to practice speaking and listening to the English language. We follow a guide which includes a gospel discussion, the use of the English language, and a math element. My speaking partner was Good Luck (Yes, that is his name). We had a really fun conversation, sharing experiences and practicing "proper" English.

On Tuesday we visited member businesses with the 2 BYU-I interns. Here is one of our reports

Christiana Azure: A 3 year member of the church, Sister Christiana Azure completed the SR program in 2014. She is a wonderful example of the foundation principles of faith, perseverance, and problem solving. 

Her original business was growing and selling flowers on a section of land she had leased. Three years ago she lost this land and her livelihood. Facing the need to provide for herself, she decided to take out a loan to buy a business shack and stock it with a variety of goods to sell. This new business started to make enough profit to meet her most basic needs and about this time she started the Start and Grow My Business course and began to apply its principles. Progress was being made when disaster struck in the form of the June 2015 floods. Sister Azure lost everything to the flood waters. With her recently learned SR principles, and her unpaid loan to worry about, she elected to make her new start a small one. Since then her life has been difficult and her challenges many, but two weeks ago she triumphantly paid off her loan. She told us, “A loan of 1,000 Ghc requires 1,600 Ghc to pay back.” Borrowing is just not worth it.”

Though her store is stocked very modestly she is moving forward in small steps. She has recently added sandals she has decorated to what she can offer to the public. She has not sold any of them yet but hopes to soon start seeing a profit from her investment. Sister Azure’s eventual goal is to buy a container or to build a cement block structure.  
Before we left she asked if she could read to us. Sister Azure received no formal education as a child and had to learn to speak English. It wasn’t until two years ago that she made the first steps to finding the joy of being able to read the scriptures. With great pride she “read” to us Moroni 10:3-5. But then with sadness she told us her reading progress stopped when the senior couple who were teaching her went home.  

The smile on Sister Azure’s face and the light in her eyes misrepresent the challenges she has faced. However, when you come to feel the faith and hope with which she faces difficulties it is easier to see how she moves forward regardless of what ends up in her path. 

On Wednesday we held a training session for the Anyaa branch facilitators and they all showed up! These facilitators will lead their groups through the SR program. This is another example of how this program teaches the people to teach themselves... i.e. become self reliant. No experts needed!

On Thursday we met with 24 Pathway students at Tesano Institute and presented a devotional on choosing a career. Using slides, worksheets and discussion we addressed the following: 
1. The making of wise choices concerning one’s educational path, 
2. The causes of graduate unemployment 
3. How to improve the chances of there being a job available after graduation.
4.  A list of 11 things they can do to gather information about their intended careers
5. A survey of available white collar jobs created by Fred Dei-Oppong (SRS Op. manager)
6. The need for skilled craftsman
7. The importance of SR Foundational principles and other soft skills in all employment.
The students especially enjoyed “The Parable of the Oranges.”

On Friday we were invited to join a Business Advisory Council meeting. What we learned here was encouraging because it confirmed what we had researched for our presentation the night before- that there are jobs here, if you are willing to volunteer your time initially, begin at an entry level position, have something else going on the side, and work, work, work!   

On Friday evening we took our friend, Larbi to an investigator devotional with Elder Ulysses Soares. Elder Soares delivered the perfect message for Larbi who is meeting with the missionaries tomorrow. He is a gentle soul with great faith in Jesus Christ. He told us, "This is the church I want to go to."

On Saturday we headed to Lartebiokorshie stake for a training of all their ward SR specialists. Not a single one showed up! Communication glitch. So we got to know Jessie, the stake SR specialist better and encouraged her to persevere and re-schedule the meeting. From here we went to a job fair and then to Tesano to meet with Thomas and Patience who are a couple of young returned missionaries we have been mentoring in the SR program. 

We love the diversity of what we do. We love working in the field (technically, on the streets) and meeting new people every day. We love being involved in this work. We love the people of Ghana! 

Hugs to everyone,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Christiana Azure
Baby Hope: sleeping in church is allowed!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Week 29 - The Teacher

Hello to all our Family and Friends,

Oh, we are having a grand time! I love this experience even if it is hot and humid and we sweat a ton! 

I was reminder (again) this week that I am married to a wonderful teacher. Elder Lambert taught school for 36 years. He is also a lifelong learner. His passion is teaching science and the Gospel. He loves to teach! I am not bragging when I say he is a master teacher. Over the last few weeks we have adjusted our teaching to focus more on the doctrine and principles of self reliance and less on the program. We have counseled together and now have a presentation which is more in line with what we believe Heavenly Father wants taught. 

During a spirit filled discussion with returned missionaries on Tuesday he turned to me with a smile on his face and said, "Don't you love teaching returned missionaries!" It was so rewarding to see them catch the vision of how SR will empower them as they move forward with their lives. While eating lunch (chicken and rice) we asked them to share experiences from their missions. Here are a few of their contributions.... 
"I taught a blind man who was also crippled. After he was baptized the church got him a wheelchair and his son was able to push him to church." 
" A lady said her friends told her not to read the Book of Mormon for various reasons. She decided to read it anyway. She learned for herself it is true. She joined the church."
"One man was curious and came to church by himself. We taught him and three months after he was baptized he was called to serve in the branch Presidency." I love how the Gospel changes lives!

On Friday we met two BYU-Idaho business interns who will spend the summer here. They are working with our friends, the Potheirs (SR volunteers) and will join us occasionally when we visit member businesses. Because we knew they were coming we arranged for them to bring white shirts and exercise clothing for the missionaries at the MTC. Did I tell you that some missionaries from African countries arrive at the MTC with the clothes on their back and a plastic bag of personal possessions? Well, it's true. Their faith reminds me of the Savior's words "I give unto you this commandment that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power: for I suffered them not to have purse or script, neither two coats." Long story short, we took the Potheirs and the interns to the MTC where they delivered two suitcases full of clothes. Sister Brubaker the wife of the MTC president was thrilled! 
Elder Lambert and I then helped new missionaries with their family history. More great stories!

On Sunday we facilitated a My Path devotional for 23 people at Anyaah branch. We didn't have enough books for everyone which was bad, but it was wonderful that so many of them participated.

So, like I've said, we are hot and sticky from the humidity, sit in the traffic for hours sometimes, and still don't understand all that is said, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I love being involved in this great work! There is so much goodness in Ghana.

The teacher and Sister Lambert

Josh, Bro&Sis Pothier, Kurt deliver shirts to MTC
Helping with Family History
MTC cafeteria- only ONE choice! (17 Obruni Elders)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Week 28 - Mothers and Missionary Moments


Our weekly summery is lacking a little in "meat" because I just can't always put into words the experiences we are having. It would take far more time than I have here to tell you about them. Just know we are doing well, improving and refining our trainings, and loving our mission!

Last Monday we packed our bags for a four day road trip to Takoradi, since that time we have taught returned missionaries and gleaned some awesome stories, met with two Stake SR committees, attended a Self Reliance graduation, and wrapped up the week by accepting an invitation to a Catholic wedding (with African drums and dancing in the aisle) for Eric who is the maintenance manager at our apartment complex.

Today we attended a new branch, Anyaah. We taught a SR class with a minutes notice, trained two sets of missionaries in two different wards as to how the SR program can benefit their investigators, and talked to three of our girls and six of the grandkids. (A bad connection with the Bleazards and a birthday face time with Katie will allow a visit with these two in the near future.)  It melted our hearts when two year old, Ziyah said, "I want to come to your house in Africa!"  We loved that the Hatch kids sang several "Grandma" songs, and the Hargiss family are always positive despite their grueling schedule of work and school. At the end of the day we went for a relaxing walk, and on our return had a cool discussion with Larbi, one of the complex guards. Larbi knows the Bible well and was seeking our advise as he prepares for a discussion with his Muslim friend on the law of Moses as a prepetory law to the coming of Jesus Christ. He used to be a minister but still loves to share the message of the Savior. We are looking forward to more visits with him.

Mother's Day is recognized here in Ghana. Some sweet tributes were given at church and I was impressed by the number of older men who shared memories of their mothers. Some of my favorite memories of my mum while I was growing up include talking to her as she cooked dinner, going on special one on one shopping trips to London with her, fixing tea and toast for her and Dad in bed on Sunday mornings and giving her nightly hugs and goodnight kisses. So grateful for my mum!

Family is the best, isn't it?

Elder and Sister Lambert

Takoradi Returned Missionaries
Eric and Florence - Picture time!
With Rebecca Mills, Takoradi Stake RS Pres.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 27 - Life in Africa

Hello Everyone,

We are beginning to feel like seasoned missionaries with the arrival of the new mission office couple from Brisbane, Australia. (My parents were both raised in Brisbane so I love the connection!) The Munro's reminded us of ourselves six months ago and we gently smiled as they experienced Africa for the first time. Driving to Kaneshie Stake conference yesterday Sister Munro sat beside me, i-pad in hand ready to capture all the new experiences.... cows ambling across major busy roads, the traffic, the beggars, and Amazon on the street. Oh, they are loving it already except for the looming challenge of driving on the "other" side of the road, and in the mission truck. Elder Munro has never driven a truck so they are in for a fast learning curve if they want to survive! 

This week we have been pondering a few problems that have challenged the work of self reliance. Our manager asked us for some possible solutions so we sat down, identified the problems and then moved forward brainstorming several ideas that may help. During the process I realized that testifying of the value of the program was not enough, a spiritual witness also needs to be borne of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to enable change and growth.  "A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost to our souls that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. It is through the Holy Ghost that we can know the truth of all things and his communication to our spirits carries far more certainty than any communication we receive through our natural senses." Testifying is essential!

Then on Saturday while we were training the self reliance committee at Ofankor Stake this truth was made evident as one of the committee members bore testimony of the change he had seen in a friend who participated in the program and went from "going nowhere' to becoming successful in his business. But the greater change was in his spiritual progress and he now serves as a Bishop of one of the wards in this stake. When each of us recognizes that through faith in Christ we can improve, tackle our trials and overcome our challenges then we become a little more like Him

Kaneshie Stake Conference was inspiring., With a YSA choir setting the tone for the meeting we heard some wonderful talks on tithing, family history, strengthening marriages, self reliance and African LDS pioneers.
So I will finish by sharing this sweet story of the grandmother of the Stake President's wife. Her name is Lily. She gave birth to 18 children, 13 of whom survived childhood  She first heard about the church from Billy Johnson in 1970's. Along with her husband and other relatives she joined the church and has had an amazing impact on succeeding generations. When her youngest child was six years old her husband died, leaving her to raise the children as a single parent. Her children remember walking 5km with their mother every Saturday to clean the Cape Coast chapel. Then walking the same distance home and repeating the journey on Sunday, Her faithfulness, influence for good and example of a parents sacrifice has been a blessing to her posterity. All 13 of these children are active members of the church today and several live in Kaneshie Stake, serving in leadership positions. 
We all have a story. Are you recording yours?

Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Lamberts and Munros
Face timing with Brayden on his 1st birthday!