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, September 21, 2016

Week 47 - Self Reliance Missionaries- Jack of All Trades

This week was transfers. For those of you who don’t know, transfers occur every six weeks when the mission president may choose to transfer missionaries to a new area and change their companionships. It is also the time when we say goodbye to those who have completed their mission and when a new intake of missionaries arrive. It is a busy time! 

So, on Monday Elder Lambert and I taught a self reliance lesson to the nine departing missionaries (three Americans and six Africans) We researched who they can contact in their home countries to receive SR services and explained the PEF loan available to them if they choose to continue their eduction. It was a productive meeting and gave hope to these sweet African brothers and sisters.  Over the next several days we also fixed numerous sack breakfasts and lunches for the new missionaries and their trainers. Just to make this transfer extra complicated the African missionaries arrived on Tuesday from the Ghana MTC in Tema (half hour from Accra),  and the Americans who came from the Provo, Utah MTC arrived on Wednesday. To add another element to the equation, Elder Gary E Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to all 350 missionaries from Accra and Accra West missions two hours after the Americans plane had landed! 
Elder Stevenson, Elder Soares and Elder Nash, plus the two mission Presidents taught from Preach My Gospel. It was an inspiring meeting!

On Thursday we were privileged to take a newly set apart missionary to the Ghana MTC. Elder Joel Frempong is from Abomosu District and will be serving in Sierra Leone. He is a delightful young man and it bought back a flood of memories of when we had delivered our missionary daughters to the Provo MTC. As we got to know this young man I felt all the feelings of a proud mama, without the roller coaster of emotions I experienced back home.

On Friday we were back at the MTC on a family history assignment and Elder Lambert helped Elder Frempong enter his family names We will also accompany him to the Temple next week. So, along with Lucy Acquah our African daughter serving in Liberia, we now feel like we have an African son too! Lucy is doing well and we stay in touch with her through email. We will do the same with Elder Frempong. Most African missionaries rarely receive mail of any kind so it's nice for them to open their inbox and find a personal message. 

On Saturday we were involved in a Self Reliance training for Church Service Missionaries and SR Specialists. It was thrilling to see representatives from 12 of the 14 stakes that were invited.  We are impressed by the sacrifices made by so many to attend! If we can train local Church Service Missionaries to do what we are doing then we will have worked ourselves out of a job and SR will function in this area without Obruni (white man) missionaries.... we are making small progress, but still have some challenges to overcome. 

At the conclusion of this training we slipped into the cultural hall to watch a music/ drama competition for Kaneshie stake.  Within a minute we were asked to join the judging panel and critic the various performances of each ward. What?!!! It took us back to the days of Gold and Green Balls and Roadshows, the completion was fierce back then and it was fierce on Saturday!! Each ward sang the same hymn; “Master the Tempest is Raging” with their own arrangements/adaptations. It was pretty fun to see their creativity. Then they presented various stories from the Book of Mormon, including Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life, Wicked King Noah and Abinadi, Alma and Korihor, and Joseph Smith’s First Vision. The plays were great, with some humorous interpretations of some of the events, and we were not surprised by the memorization of lengthy passages of scripture which these people are so good at doing. When the winners were announced the audience resembled fans at a world cup soccer game. It was crazy!!!
So from teacher to sandwich makers to missionary ma and pa to family history consultants and "Africa's Got Talent" judges; we do it all!
Loving our mission...
Elder and Sister Lambert

Enthusiastic missionary- Elder Frempong
Pointing to Sierra Leone 
Levi borrowed my camera and took 20+ pictures at the activity on Saturday. This is one I took of him.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Week 46 - Village of Afgame


What a week! It started off with a great discussion in Sister Scripture Study as we compared Zion's Camp to our own challenging experiences, having unrealistic expectations and learning to be content with our circumstances. One sister put it this way, "If you can't scrub the floor and be happy with it, then you haven't learned anything from it. Even the small and simple things of life contribute to our experience. We need to find holiness in all we do." Another comment sent a wave of laughter through the room. Pres. Kimball once said, "One day you are a peacock, the next, a feather duster!" So I guess the message from that is not to take yourself too seriously! 

On Tuesday we did a business visit with Hans who works for an NGO. We took him to Christiana's shop and discussed her idea of putting toilets and showers on her property- there are none in the surrounding area and the government encourages these facilities to be built. Hans is helping her do the ground work for the project and will allocate the loan. We are hopeful this will be a profitable business for our sweet friend. 

For months we've been hearing about the Kente Festival; an African cultural event in the Volta region that showcases the kente weavers and traditions of the people of the Agotime Traditional area. Kente cloth is woven on a loam, in strips about 4-5" wide and then sewn together. The patterns and designs can be traditional or original. The master weavers are highly respected for their skill and expertise. So, on Thursday we travelled 3 hours to Ho and then on to Kpetoe. It was well worth the drive! At Kpetoe we witnessed the best Kente weavers compete in competitions consisting of speed weaving, quality, and creativity in weaving the kente strips. It was amazing to watch how fast they could weave, know when to change colors and see the pattern unfold before our eyes!

In the afternoon about 70 of the local women participated in the traditional 'fetching of the water." Dressed in beautiful kente clothing they walked to the riverside to fetch water, then in a single file carried the water in bottles and clay pots to the forecourt of the Paramount Chief where the water was poured into a traditional pot. It was an amazing sight!

On Friday we caravanned with several other missionary couples to another village, this time crossing the boarder into Togo! The village of Afgame was 30 km down a dirt road. Here we watched a ceremony remembering the ancestors who fought in wars between the people of Agotime and the Ashanti region. In the olden times invading other lands showed your strength as a tribe, and captured villagers were sold as slaves. Dressed in red and black the various clans acted out battle scenes. Gunfire, drums, music and dance kept us mesmerized. 

On Saturday we attended the grand finale in which the Paramount Chief and 37 traditional leaders from surrounding towns and villages of the area converge in procession at the "Durbar" grounds. The kente regalia with entourages in tow was quite a fantastic sight. I am so grateful we had the chance to go and see some truly authentic African culture. I took so many pictures I hope you will indulge me if I share them in several emails. It was so fun to photograph such a colorful event!


Back to reality now, and refocusing on the work....
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Kente weaving. 

Week 45 - Asamankese

**This letter was sent the end of August**

Dearest Family and Friends,

Another great week in Ghana! 

It all started with a mission Couples Conference hosted by President and Sister Simpson, with the Munros- office, Binghams-MLS, Herrs- MLS and us in attendance. We began with Family Home Evening which included a scrumptious meal (Sister Simpson is from Samoa and loves to prepare BIG meals), a lesson, and much laughter as we played games. The laughter was a needed tonic in a place that can sometimes get so serious that we forget to relax and have fun. On Tuesday morning we studied Preach My Gospel, reading scriptures and discussing the unity of the Godhead- how each of them bear testimony of the others. We focused on the Savior's teaching to the Nephites, that His doctrine was not only understood, but taught so it could not be misunderstood. Next, President Simpson shared his vision for the mission with us. We love him. He has that great easy-going Aussie way of dealing with life and it's challenges. Interesting fact for my family: the Simpsons served in a church assignment in Orange, NSW for sometime, so we have talked about that beautiful part of the world on a couple of occasions and it reminds me of the time we went to church there when we visited Jules and the boys in Canowindra. In the afternoon the three other couples took turns to explain their missionary purpose. Elder Lambert and I took our turn on Wednesday morning before concluding the event with testimonies and pictures. This conference was just what we all needed as we supported each other and were re-energized for the work each of us are engaged in.

On Friday we traveled to Asamankese, another town in the bush. Here we met with President Adu, the new District President. He told us how he had been up since 3:00am gathering the youth so they could board a bus to attend an activity at Cape Coast (many of them have never seen the ocean). He said, "As long as my people are OK, I don't worry about me so much."  He told us about the first few weeks after he was called and how he could not sleep because of the responsibility he felt and all the new things he had to learn. We had a successful training with him concerning self reliance, then at the end of the meeting he offered the sweetest prayer in our behalf and in behalf of our family; asking God to bless and protect our family at home while we are away from them. We were touched, we have never had someone here pray for us in that way. 

On Saturday morning we were awoken at 5:30am by the call to prayer from the local Mosque which is a block away, but sounded like it was coming from the living room! We were staying at a vacant missionary apartment. For the next several hours we heard music, prayers, and recitations from the Quran (we are guessing) over the loud-speaker system. It was quite the experience! FYI in Ghana the Muslims and Christians get along peacefully with one another- something the rest of the world could take a lesson from.....

Our morning run on the back streets of Asamankese drew quite a bit of attention with calls of "Obruni! Obruni!" The children were delightful as always :)  Later that morning we attended a baptismal service for six people before our next training meeting with Branch Presidents and SR specialists. We never know how many of the leadership will show up, especially out in the bush, because some members must travel long distances and it can be a financial burden for them. However we were pleased that every branch was represented by at least two people and we are hopeful that SR will move forward in this district, The leaders understood the analogy of helping a child learn to walk and as often as they fall down, we encourage them to stand up and lovingly reach out as they take those first steps, but if we carry them on our backs they will never develop the strength or capacity to walk alone. Self reliance is like that, we teach correct principles and let them govern themselves....

ye ja me yaa missionary -you can call me missionary
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Seriously?!!!!
stirring banku
Couples Conference Munros, Herrs, Simpsons, Binghams, Lamberts

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Week 44 - On The Run

Dearest Family, 

Let us share some of this week's highlights with you, because even though we had no trainings, teachings or meetings with self reliance we kept pretty busy.

Have I told you about Halima? She is Christiana's friend and loves to visit with us on Monday afternoons at Christiana's shop after she gets off work. She was Muslim, and converted to the church in June. As a Young Single Adult she is discovering all the opportunities available for a social life with other YSA's in the Gospel. She attends Institute, and is a facilitator in a self reliance group. Last Monday she was on fire as she expressed her profound joy in learning about Jesus Christ and the church. We tried to capture her emotion on the i-pad because it truly was one of the sweetest things we have experienced. She was so happy she could barely contain herself! She is a gem!

On Tuesday we attended a zone meeting for all Area missionary couples. Although we are assigned to the Accra West mission we work outside the mission so we are included in Area events too. Elder Vinson shared some of the latest news concerning the growth of the church in West Africa. There is a new branch of the church in Senegal and groups in three other countries. Sister Vinson shared the story of how her mother joined the church in Australia and how that decision has influenced generations. I was given the assignment to teach from the scriptures for 5 minutes. I used the scripture "he received not the fulness at first, but received grace for grace; and he received not the fulness at first but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness." Grace is divine help given through the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. "Continuing from grace to grace" suggests upward progress, improvement, commitment to live our covenants and experiencing growth as we walk the gospel path. "Receiving grace for grace happens as we understand that God loves us with all His heart, might, mind and strength. When we feel God's love in us we want to extend that grace to others. We willingly show love and acceptance, we are kind and friendly, we smile, we don't judge, criticize, or condemn, we show patience and gentleness to those around us, and we try every day to give love away. In doing so we become more graceful and our ability to love as Christ loves increases. 
I love what we can learn from just a verse or two from the scriptures!

On Wednesday I went on a field trip to Ghana Textile Printing (GTP) with 16 other sisters. We saw the process of raw fabric being cleaned, and printed on with designs, using different dyes and chemical processes to "marry" the colors. As our guide talked about the colors "dating" and the steps it takes to get them "married, so they will never separate" we all laughed and said "Oh, that's a Temple marriage. We believe in marriage for eternity!" So the next time she referred to the process she used the expression "a Temple marriage."  Talking of the Temple, we went there on Thursday and Friday. It was a place of refuge; quiet, and peaceful. The craziness of city living, and the traffic gets to me sometimes. It was a welcome respite.

Back in June we saw advertisements announcing the Millennium Marathon. Actually it is a 21K and 5K race. Why not, right? So, we signed up and have been training for the 5K ever since.  Saturday was race day! It was a little intimidating because these Africans are fast, not that they have anything to worry form us. In fact sometimes when we see them running it reminds us of graceful Gazelles; they run so effortlessly. When we picked up our bib numbers on Thursday we learned they were expecting 10,000 runners! The 21K draws an International crowd and last years winner was from Ethiopia, finishing in a time of 1:05.00  Well, we don't think there were 10,000 but it was definitely more than Oakley's 4th July, Kamas Fiesta Days fun run, Frontier Days in Francis and Woodlands Chokecherry Festival races combined. As the 21K got under way the 5K runners spread out on Independence Square (about the size of the parking lot at Lavell Edwards Stadium) and did aerobics and warm ups for 15 minutes. Then we approached the starting line and the race was on! Let's just say it wasn't our best time, but we finished and had a good time in the process. The first picture shows us with a church member, Evans Tetteh who we met last month at Ofankor. Don't know how he managed to pick us out of the crowd..haha!

"Remember that we do not run alone in this great race of life; we are entitled to the help of the Lord." Pres. Monson

Keep on running the race of life!
Elder and Sister Lambert