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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Week 51 - A Drop in the Ocean

Dearest Family,

Before I forget, we had a weird experience on Saturday in our local little shop when we saw halloween costumes!!! Then we remembered this neighborhood has many embassies, one of them being the American Embassy so I guess they are trying to cater to moms who need to dress up their kids in two weeks. Oh, the memories of creative costume design and time at the sewing machine. I never could bring myself to buy a costume and with each year "the dress up box" grew to include more crazy options! Can't wait to see the spooky pictures of our next generation in a few weeks.

Last Monday at Family Home Evening we learned of the work one missionary couple does with LDS Charities. "Working with local organizations they improve the services for the physically disabled and provide manual wheelchairs or walking aids that are appropriate to individual needs and circumstances.They volunteer to train and help local organizations to assess individual needs, select and fit appropriate wheelchairs, train individuals and caregivers, provide support for repair and maintenance, and implement World Health Organization guidelinesWhere it's feasible, LDS Charities seeks to support local production of wheelchairs."  

This couple, the Finley's (?) travel between the USA and West African countries every month or so to provide wheelchair training. They have been volunteering for over 20 years... so remarkable!!! On their slide presentation they had a great quote attributed to Mother Teresa, "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing one drop." 

Our contributing drop this week was to help Christiana, our reading student, prepare to give a talk in church later this month. She has been practicing it by reading and by memorization and tomorrow we will get a dress rehearsal. This is a big deal to this sweet lady.

On Tuesday evening Sister Constance Sama accompanied us to the Kaneshie stake self reliance committee meeting. Sister Sama is a SR manager from Sierra Leone/ Liberia. She is in Ghana on a managers swap. Each of the SR managers spend ten days in a different West African country learning new ideas and sharing their home country experiences. It was interesting for us to learn of the challenges in the countries she has responsibility for. Ebolla and civil war have devastated these lands but they are slowly coming back and the church has been a good influence. She told us how the Ebolla wiped out whole families and villages. Courageously she travelled through some of the hard hit areas to reach and teach members of the church, even though she was advised against it. She attributed her safety to hand washing and Heavenly Father's protection. Another drop in the ocean...

Side note: Have you seen the movie called "Freetown"? It was filmed in Ghana (we recognized many of the filming locations) and tells the story of African missionaries serving in Sierra Leone during the civil war. It portrays the situation of tribal conflict and prejudice they were faced with and how they managed to escape. It's based on a true story.

On Wednesday we were back in Kaneshie presenting a devotional to Pathway students. We introduced the evening using Steven Covey's "old woman-young women" pictures, then Elder Lambert did an awesome job getting the students to participate in a discussion on "Perception"- the way we see the world around us including people, places, right and wrong... the way we see everything in our world. 

Here is a quick summery of what we discussed...

Perceptions are highly influenced by our past experiences, and it can be difficult to change a perception because we see the world not as it is, but as we are. We used the example of football (soccer) being Ghanaians favorite sport while Americans favorite sport is also football... only the American version. Some perceptions don't matter, some have temporal consequences and some have eternal consequences. To fully accomplish our purposes in life it is important to see things as they really are, to see things as God sees them. Since He has experienced all things, His perspective is different than ours. His ways and our ways are not the same. But the closer we come to seeing all things as God sees them the happier we will be, and.... the more successful we will be in what really matters. 

How do we change our perceptions? 
To make changes in perceptions- the brain programming that causes us to think, feel or act in ways that are not best for us (anger, jealousy, dishonesty, judgements, prejudice, materialism etc...) we must:
1 Humbly recognize the need, and desire change
2 When we find our thoughts are inaccurate correct them
3 When we find our behaviors are wrong change them
4 Be patient and give change the time it deserves
5 Remember that many changes only come through the Grace of God and the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
6 Pray for awareness, reminders, and strength

"If any of us have imperfections it is our duty to pray for the gift that will correct them. If I am an angry man it is my duty to pray for patience and kindness. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity which envieth not. No man ought to say, "Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature." He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth." George Q Cannon

I love the experiences this mission is giving me to learn more about myself, my faith, my relationship with my eternal companion, my weaknesses, my need for change (repentance) and my dependance on the Lord  " And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27

Hugs to everyone,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Kaneshie SR Committee 
Pathway students

Week 50 - On the Move


This week we were on the move, traveling to Abomosu to the north of Accra and to Cape Coast to the west. 
Our trip to Abomosu was assisted by Elder and Sister Mintah. Elder Mintah has family in England and he is a diabetic like our son-in-law, Blade. Sister Mintah was a minister in the Methodist church, she joined the church 12 years ago and married Elder Mintah. Both of them lost their first spouses. They are Church Service missionaries and speak Twi a lot better than us, (haha!) so we engaged their services to come along and translate as we presented a My Path devotional to the members of Abomosu 1st and 2nd branch. I wish I had taken a picture of Samuel, the youngest participant at 14 years of age. He joined in, filling out the information and answering the questions on his level of self reliance. At the end of the evening he asked me if he could join a group and he wanted the Foundations book. I told him that the book cost money and he said he will get it and buy the book! The next morning I told his mom how impressed I was with him. She told me he is a good boy and has high aspirations of becoming a doctor. Another example of Goodness in Ghana!

While we were at Abomosu the missionary couple there; the Bingham's received the sad news that their young friend, Raymond (14) had died that very afternoon. We met Raymond on our first visit to this community. He was very sick then, spending time in and out of the hospital. The family said that on the day he died he had been playing with his little brother and had colored in a coloring book. He was happy. We are glad this was their final memory of their son. 

It is hard for us to understand some practices here. When death occurs, children are buried within hours of dying (as if their lives have little value? We don't know why), while older people are not buried for months after they die. (Yes, I said months), and at great expense to the family. The Bingham's helped purchase a little casket and Raymond was buried before nightfall. How grateful we are for the knowledge of life after death. Because the Savior's resurrection bought total victory over death, we too can have that hope. One church leader expressed it this way, "The Resurrection is brought to pass by the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is pivotal to the great plan of salvation. We are spirit children of heavenly parents. When we come to this earth life, our spirit is united with our body. We experience all the joys and challenges associated with mortal life. When a person dies, their spirit is separated from their body. Resurrection makes it possible for a person’s spirit and body to be united again, only this time that body will be immortal and perfect—not subject to pain, disease, or other problems." We have total confidence that this will be Raymond's experience.

At Cape Coast our favorite activity was to meet with 5 recently returned missionaries, and one had just gotten home the day before! Working with President Davies of the new Yamoransa stake, we oriented these RM's to various options for their futures and taught principles of SR. We love these young people and want so badly for them to be successful. Pres. Davies gave them some wonderful counsel on careers and education (he is a high school teacher) He also told them, "The time will come in Africa when all the leaders of the church will be returned missionaries." We have no doubt about this. The church is only 36 years old here in West Africa but already many of those in their 30's-40's are RM's and hold leadership positions.

It's a great time to be in Africa!
"Whatever our age or circumstance, let service be our “watchcry” Serve in your calling. Serve a mission. Serve your mother. Serve a stranger. Serve your neighbor. Just serve." Carl B Cook

Love you!
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: The Mintahs
Cape Coast/Yamoransa RM's with Pres. Davies 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 49 - Dance in the Rain


Dearest Family,

This was a planning and preparation week as we anticipate getting really busy in the next few months. Our self reliance team is planning a big event for November entitled  "Self Reliance- A Week of Celebration" It will consist of a panel discussion, workshops and exhibitions, and everybody is invited so we are hopeful a large crowd will attend. Currently advertising is in progress and we are contacting potential exhibitors.

We understand Utah has had a wet week with rain and even some early snow! Accra has also had some good soaking rains which I love to watch because the weather is always hot and humid. Not that the rain cools the temperatures down, but it breaks up the "sameness" of the weather we experience every day and just makes my heart happy! (Elder Lambert will testify to this!)
 I think it's interesting how we often equate the trails and challenges of this life with rain. And it's true; "rainy days and Mondays" can get us down. But what if our blessings come from the rain and hard times? Maybe God is blessing us by not giving us those sunny days, because He knows rainy days will actually cause greater growth as we struggle, humble ourselves, and wait patiently upon the Lord for promised blessings. This week I randomly clicked on an app on our iPad and found a song our daughter Kristi had downloaded several years ago. It expresses beautifully the concept of the trials of this life being God's mercies in disguise. (something we rarely recognize until the storm clouds have passed by.) The song is titled "Blessings" by Laura Story. It's on Youtube. Listen carefully to the words and then go outside and dance in the rain! 

On Saturday we took the Munros to our favorite outdoor place in the city and introduced them to the botanical gardens. Sister Munro is just about the sweetest person I have ever met. She is without guile and 100% outwardly turned as she watches over the young missionaries, fixes food for the security guards at Coco Palms and has a kind word for everyone. On our walk through the gardens she even patiently taught me the name of one plant- bougainvillea. It's flowers come in all colors and it's found throughout Ghana ... and Brisbane, Australia. We also found some cool dragonflies and I was surprised that one held still long enough for a picture! 

Looking forward to attending some broadcasted sessions of General Conference next week  :)
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures of the Botanical Gardens
At the temple with the Binghams, and Elder Frempong from Abomosu.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Week 48 - Conference Messages

Dearest Family,

Isn't technology fantastic!

We were able to watch all of the General Conference broadcasts from Salt Lake City, minus the last hour of Sunday afternoon session (due to the time being 6 hours ahead and it was getting close to our bedtime!) This was the first time Ghanaians have had the opportunity to watch more than one session so it was a great blessing and was well supported with packed, standing-room only stake centers. Barring a few hicups the connection came in loud and  clear. Favorite talks? Elder Lambert said Jeffrey R Holland's talk on home teaching impressed him the most. I found words of wisdom and counsel for me personally in many of the messages. 

The other reason I say technology is fantastic is because in the last few weeks we have been using social media (WhatsApp) to keep various self reliance groups "in the loop" with what is going on, sharing ideas, posting committee meeting times, and giving small training reminders. We challenged each of our WhatsApp groups to find something related to self reliance in the General Conference talks, including any encouragement to take charge of our own temporal and spiritual lives and post it on their platforms. Here is our contribution: 

"Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. … Only by doing so will we obtain true happiness." Pres. Monson 

And another one...
“The great beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the reality of eternal progression-we are not only allowed to change for the better but also encouraged, and even commanded, to continue in the pursuit of improvement and, ultimately, perfection.” ( Jean B. Bingham 1st Counselor in the Primary General Presidency).  
As we move through life we can remain as we are or each day choose to refine and perfect our nature. Only we can direct our lives to be more like the perfect example of the Son of God. 

Good things are happening here in Ghana! There is not time to share all the wonderful experiences we are having, but please know we are well. Together we testify of the reality of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ through the prophet, Joseph Smith and that God speaks to us through living prophets today. 


Elder and Sister Lambert