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, August 23, 2016

Week 43 - Abomosu


We hope you are all well and gearing up for the start of a new school year. Squeezing in that last camping trip, picnic, family outing or wood hauling trip was always a must at the Lambert home!

This week we trekked to the most northern part of our mission and stayed overnight with Elder and Sister Bingham from Idaho. They have lived in the community of Abomosu for 18 months (with 5 months remaining). This area is quite remote, and with no high school many youth are sent to the city to continue their education. Once there they have little desire to return home because there are no jobs/industry or opportunities to progress. So it is an economically disadvantaged area. However, the rural way of life is appealing to Elder Lambert and myself.

The Binghams introduced us to three families on Thursday; each of them pulled at our heartstrings. Raymond is 14 and has HIV, if the Binghams had not intervened he would be dead. Severely malnourished, and sick, they took him to the hospital where he stayed for a week. He is now home and putting on a little weight. His smile gave us hope that he will survive the challenges ahead. Esther, another of their friends fell and landed on her stomach. it sent her into labor so she was rushed to the hospital where she gave birth to a premature baby a week ago via C-section. Both mom and baby are home and doing well. Home is an unfurnished room, shared by other family members. They sleep on the cement floor on their clothes- extremely poor conditions. Lastly, we met Robert, an older gentleman with many health issues, but quite a character! He is learning about the church and wants to be baptized but is scheduled for a hernia surgery next week. Honestly, to sit with these people and hear their stories is a tender experience that can't be duplicated anywhere. I still cant wrap my head around the feelings I have in their presence.

On Friday we met with the leadership from the six branches of the church in this district. We even greeted them in their native language. "Me ma mo arche" = "I greet you all this morning." We got several smiles and nods of approval so we must have said it right! Self reliance is a challenge here because of so many factors which are difficult to explain to you but we believe the SR foundation principles alone will help improve faith, self esteem and the desire to change habits and form new skills. We will be returning to Abomosu in the future.

On Saturday we joined about 400 members of Kaneshie stake in the All Africa Day of Service. We only had a vague idea of where to go but when we saw a large group wearing yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" vests we knew we were in the right place! Our project? To clean up Bortianor beach by picking up garbage, plastic containers, fishing net, rope and anything you can imagine that washes up on the shore. It was so fun and rewarding to do some good in the community. AND, we met a native of Abomosu who asked Elder Lambert if it's OK to be a chief and a member of the church. (He is both) To which Elder Lambert replied, "Absolutely! You can have a huge influence on the people."  So as the conversation progressed Nana Darko wants to donate some land to the members of the church in Abomosu, to help them in whatever way he can... more goodness in Ghana. Chance meeting? We think not.

Well, as you can see there are wonderful blessings from serving a mission. Sure, it is hard at times but that's what helps us grow and develop greater faith. And as Elder Ballard noted, "The Lord does bless His missionaries. Weaknesses become strengths, challenges become opportunities, trials become triumphs, and adversity becomes an adventure in the service of the Lord- another fruit of gospel living."
And if you know us, you know we love adventures :)

We love you all, 
Elder and Sister Lambert

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Week 42 - Q&A's

Dearest Family,
This week we were privileged to have a visit from an apostle of the Lord. Elder David A Bednar came to Accra and answered questions from Young Single Adults throughout West Africa via satellite broadcast. The broadcast was initiated from the Christianborg stake center at the Temple site here in Accra,  Elder Bednar invited his wife and the Area Presidency to assist in answering questions such as: How can I best prepare for Temple marriage?  How do I forgive? How do I overcome feelings of entitlement? How do we deal with the conflict of the Bride Price and the teachings of the church? I can forgive, but how do I forget? and How do I overcome feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up? One of my favorite questions was: What is similar about the Sabbath day and the Temple? The answer? Both are set apart from the world/consecrated. Both lead to thoughts of God. One is a Time, the other is a Place yet both enlighten and elevate. How we use them is an indicator of our love for the Lord. 

The theme running throughout the meeting was that we need to learn to act and not be acted upon. (Sounds like self reliance to me!) We know that there is opposition in all things and that we are free to choose good or evil, but "the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward" D&C 58:28. Elder Bednar finished with the challenge to read the Book of Mormon and underline all the verses that say," the strength of the Lord" or "the Lord strengthened us.." He taught that the Book of Mormon is the key to the Restoration and reading it will change your heart in powerful and simple ways. The Atonement will strengthen you as new creatures in Christ. You will see through uncertainties. You will ACT and be agents unto yourself. The YSA's expressed gratitude for Elder Bender's visit. They told us it strengthened them and answered many of their concerns.

So, the devotional was on Thursday, and on Friday we travelled to the University of Education at Winneba where we, and the other members of the SR team were invited to another Q&A symposium with YSA from the Accra West Area at their Regional Conference. In the afternoon about 500 YSA's attended three rotating workshops on missions, marriage, and money management. We assisted with the money management class and it went OK, but the learning environment was somewhat challenging to say the least. The classroom was HUGE and was so crowded with chairs that movement around the room was difficult. Hearing and answering questions in a room filled with a hundred and thirty plus students meant Elder Lambert had to snake through the openings to stand somewhat in the middle of the room just so both ends could hear him. It was not ideal but we did the best we could. More activities followed in the evening and the next day, but we headed home after the workshops.

We sure feel blessed to have these experiences, and this week we had the opportunity to talk to each of our daughters too! Icing on the cupcake... it doesn't get much better than that!!!!!!!!

Elder and Sister Lambert

The Self Reliance team- David Mensah, Michael Odoom, Alex Tandoh
YSA Conference

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week 41 - Opportunities

Dear Family,

Each Sunday I look back on our experiences of the previous week and am grateful for the opportunities that come our way. Sometimes our calendar is pretty empty, but then the phone rings, we meet people, or invitations are made to train, and when Sunday comes around again we have had many wonderful experiences. "And let us not be weary in doing well: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:9-10

Last Monday President Simpson invited us to the last supper and family home evening for eleven of our Accra West missionaries who were heading home the next day. Of these eleven four are American, one is British, two are from Ivory Coast, one Nigerian, one from Democratic Republic of Congo, one from Vanuatu, and one Ghanaian. We felt privileged to share this time with them and teach self reliance principles. For the Africans and islander we gave additional information on education/PEF loans and Pathway so they have some tools to transition with when arriving back in their native countries. Following our presentation the missionaries shared their testimonies of Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful experience! 

However, returning home for some of these young Elders and Sisters is not always a joyous time. Some come from humble circumstances, for example: Sister Garea lives on the island of Ambae (the legendary Bali Hai from South Pacific) a volcanic island with less than 10.000 people, she will probably have to leave her home to pursue education and work opportunities. She is nervous because her future is uncertain. Later in the week another departing missionary, Sister Mensah e-mailed the mission to say that her father had died two hours before her plane landed. She was so sad but because of her testimony of the reality of the resurrection she is coping and trusts in her Heavenly Father"s plan.

On Thursday we attended the first Pathway graduation of 80+ students in Ghana. In addition, five students received on-line degrees from BYU-I. It was quite an achievement for most of these young people.

Cape Coast was our destination for Friday and Saturday, with SR training for the stake leaders. Gratefully we were only stopped once at the several police checkpoints along the way, and after they saw our missionary tags they grinned and said, "Oh, you are Latter Day Saints!" and waved us on. I love to wear that missionary tag!

Being fast Sunday we had prayed for the leadership in this area, and opportunities to testify of self reliance. So receiving an unexpected text message on our way to church from a member of Ofankor stake presidency was an answer to that prayer. We quickly called him, turned the car around and headed in the other direction ready and willing to train eight SR ward specialists after church in Ofankor stake. We loved it because this brother truly wants his members to understand self reliance and he had made huge efforts to make this meeting happen. At the conclusion of this training we expressed thanks to Heavenly Father for answering our prayers and for President Daniels' commitment.

I can testify to the counsel of Gary Stevenson at April's General Conference when he said, "To help you become all the Lord wants you to become, kneel each morning and night in prayer to your Father in Heaven... Study the scriptures each day and apply what you read to your life... Strive each day to be obedient... In all circumstances follow the teachings of the prophets... Be humble and willing to listen to the Holy Ghost. As you do these things, the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will gain a stronger testimony and find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ and feel Their love for you." We have definitely experienced this on our mission!

Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Departing missionaries
Sisters enjoying Sister Simpson's cheesecake
Elder and Sister Ridges- Pathway missionaries (an awesome couple!)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Week 40 - Teaching, Teaching, Teaching!

Hello Family,

This was a week of....Teaching!

It was a busy one. We met with Victor twice, and completed the lessons in his Foundation Principles booklet. We met with, and trained Church Service Missionaries for Lartebiokorshie stake twice, a sweet couple called Kofi and Doris Barlow.

On Friday evening we traveled to Ofankor stake and helped their Self Reliance committee come up with an action plan for their new stake. On Saturday we taught the doctrine of self reliance to their Bishops and reviewed their responsibilities. Ofankor is a new stake, less than a year old (like many stakes in the area), they also get a brand new stake center which was dedicated on Saturday. 

On Tuesday we had a "chance" meeting with one of the groundsmen at the Temple complex. His name is Michael Bosomtwe, and we had met him one other time, months ago at a SR meeting in Tesano stake. He approached us and had to remind us who he was. (I am always embarrassed when I cant remember people) Anyway, following a discussion on self reliance he told us he would be training group facilitators, and ward specialists on Wednesday. We were invited to come. So Wednesday we showed up at Tesano and learned WE would be doing the training! From previous experience we have learned to always come prepared. It turned out to be an awesome experience with lots of questions and learning about how to administer the SR groups. So you may be wondering "What do the Lamberts actually teach at these meetings?" Here is a quick summery of one of our presentation. 

1. The first commandments given to Adam after leaving the garden was to be temporally and spiritually self reliant. "By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread... " and "worship the Lord God, and offer the firstlings of their flock" These commandments are still in effect today. We earn our bread by working and call upon God in the name of the Son.

2. Pres. Hinckley introduced the PEF loan for education students in 2001. He stated,"We must do all we can to help members to lift themselves, to establish their lives upon a foundation of self reliance that can come of training. It is our solemn obligation, it is our certain responsibility, my brethren, to 'succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees."(D&C 81:5) We must help them to become self reliant and successful." This mandate has grown into the SR initiative.

3. Pres. Uchtdorf stated, "The work of providing in the Lord's way is not simply another item in the catalogue of programs of the church. It cannot be neglected or set aside. It is central to our doctrine: it is theessence of our religion." We ask,"How is self reliance central to our doctrine?"

4. We use scriptures to emphasis that self reliance is a principle of salvation. The Lord's purpose is to provide for His Saints and He has all power to do so. The temporal and spiritual are one.
The principles of faith in Jesus Christ, obedience, action, unity and service are discussed. 

5. We then review My Path, Foundations and the three groups that can be joined: My Job Search, Education for Better Work, Start and Grow My Business.

I noticed the August Ensign magazine has an article on self reliance with an assessment similar to what we use in the My Path devotionals.. I encourage you to set some goals in the areas where you have the lowest scores. Make sure you check it out!

We love you!
Elder and Sister Lambert

Ofankor -new stake center
Celebrating with dance and drums

Week 39 - It's All About People

Dear Family,

"We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness- be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us." This quote by President Monson sums up my feelings from this week as we lifted, and were lifted by those around us.

Last Monday Sister Munro accompanied me on our visit to Christiana. Sister Munro is a gem. She oozes love and is a marvelous support to the missionaries. On this visit Chrisitiana wanted to write the words she has been reading, so using some literacy strategies we helped her achieve that. It is so inspiring to see her sound out the words and write them. She is beautiful, inside and out.

Along with the SR volunteer couple, the Pothiers and the interns we visited Evelyn's Country Bread bakery. This  young mother of two started her business two and a half years ago at which time she was baking about 200 loaves per day. She bakes wheat, white and fruit bread and has recently added meat pies to her selection. Today her business has grown to include sixteen employees and they turn out about 750 loaves per day! The bread is delivered and sold at gas stations along major roads leading out of Accra. The personal sacrifices for this successful business have been enormous. 

Evelyn lives at her business location, her mother is raising her two little girls who she hasn't seen for two months, and her husband lives at another location (not uncommon here) because of his work. Her two bakers mix the bread at a different location and then bring the dough to the bakery, also one of the delivery vehicles is broken down so this is quite challenging. Her goals are to purchase her own mixer, a more dependable delivery van and move to a place where her family can be together. It is difficult to explain all the challenges here in Africa but the people move forward and do what has to be done. Oh, and by the way, she is Relief Society president in her ward too!

Victor is a member of New Weija ward and came to us last week requesting help in expediting his passage through SR class in order to renew his Perpetual Education Fund loan. We have enjoyed getting to know this young dad of a two month old daughter. He lifted and taught us as we discussed the foundational principles of faith in Jesus Christ and of using time wisely.

On Friday evening we enjoyed dinner with senior missionaries in our mission then on Saturday we invited the Munros (mission office couple), the Binghams (senior missionaries serving in the bush) and Sister Simpson (mission president's wife) over to our place for lunch. We learned that Elder Bingham has an aversion to egg shells, Sister Simpson LOVES Christmas and the Munros served their first mission in the Czech Republic.

On Sunday we facilitated a My Path devotional at New Weija ward where 13 members participated. Then we went to Lartebiokorshie and trained the Bishops on SR doctrine. We also met Brother Barlon, who will serve as a church service missionary in self reliance.  Awesome story... he was bishop to Charles Akorligleh (Stake Pres member), Pres Akorligleh was Michael Odoom's bishop and now Bishop Odoom is bishop to both of them! 

Be His hands.
With love,
Elder and Sister Lambert

With Victor, Emily and Diana
Senior missionaries
The three Bishops