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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week 56 - Back to Abomosu


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! There is so much to be grateful for! Being aware of, and thankful for the good things that happen, and taking time to express thanks is one of the greatest characteristics we can develop. 

Well, this week we were asked to give a report of our service at the Area Zone Conference with Elder Vinson (Area President). Because we don't work at the Area Office many of the other Senior missionaries aren't aware of what we do, so this was our chance to explain what our purpose is as Self Reliance missionaries. We taught them the SR doctrine and shared experiences we have had under the SR umbrella, including training stake committees, teaching the young missionaries, working with young single adults, and visiting member businesses. This showed just how diverse our calling is, and we had many positive comments to that effect. 

Sister Vinson introduced us to their family through a cute video, much like our girls made us for our wedding anniversary some years ago. Elder Vinson gave an Area Report, It kept coming back to FAMILIES and I came away with the impression that we must strengthen the rising generation by developing in them faith in the Savior. "The Family- A Proclamation to the World" came to mind.

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.....Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 

I am certainly grateful for the family I was raised in. I am blessed to have happy memories of my childhood. And I loved raising our girls with Dad. Looking to the rising generation, I am grateful for daughters and son-in-laws who are committed to raising their children in a gospel centered home. Thank you, We are cheering you on!

Back to Tuesday....In the afternoon we headed north to Abomosu. Due to it's isolation, bad roads, lack of a high school and no major industry this area is impoverished and struggling. Farming is the main stay of the community. The Bingham's hosted us, and after a delicious dinner we met with a group of "Start and Grow My Business" students. It was a surprise to see them operate so well together, following the outline of the program. We sat back and observed a wonderful meeting. 

The following morning we met with returned missionaries whom the District President wants to use as facilitators once more SR groups get up and going. This is an excellent idea and perfect for this bush community, it is also a great example of why the self reliance initiative must be driven by local priesthood leaders. They know what's best for their members. After lunch we met branch leaderships and reviewed what we had taught on our last visit. We also had them participate in a skit showing the relationship between leadership and specialist. It was a good day of training. That evening we invited three students over to the Bingham's for us to learn about the internships they are serving here under a program called "Mentors". These International Business majors from USU have gained some wonderful insights into African life. They also want to continue to do some good here so I want to direct you to an idea they had that grew out of a dark night when the lights went out. Curious? Go to to learn more. I love finding  examples of goodness in Ghana!!!!! Thank you Amberlee, Josh and Max.

On Thursday morning we had one more meeting with two leaders who will be driving the self reliance program forward in Abomosu. It was a choice experience to sit down with them and let the spirit work on each of us as we discussed their roles, and laying the foundation for the self reliance program to be taken to the surrounding branches of the church. Joseph Smith's comment comes to mind when he was asked how he governed so many so well during the influx of people to Nauvoo; "I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves." It's so satisfying to be part of this wonderful process!

Back in Accra on Friday, we had one more thing to do to round out a great week. Samuel (23) asked us to come and see the room where he lives. He came to Ghana from Nigeria two years ago hoping for a better life, and having completed Pathway is now taking on-line classes in business administration. With no running water, no furniture except a mat to sleep on he proudly showed us his newly painted 12x12 room. This is his home, He has no family here, no job (although he is looking for one), and survives on the kindness of friends. Honestly, Samuel is an example of the resilience of the human spirit. We don't know how he does it but he always tells us, "I am managing." As mentors, we listen to him when he needs to talk and offer encouragement and advice on his goals. After one year of being here it is still quite sobering to think about how people survive, millions of them, all over the world, and that I have been blessed with so much. Counting my blessing today...

With gratitude to God,
Elder and Sister Lambert

Life in Abomosu
Rapheal teaches Issac how to register groups at
Neighbors to the Bingham's: Joyce (8) and brother (4) 

Week 55 - Another Week in Ghana

Dear Family,

This has been a crazy, busy week of activity.

The Self Reliance Week of Celebration event at Kaneshie offered classes every day on various topics such as Accelerated Job Search, Writing a Business Plan, and How to Run a Successful Business. The response was pretty good, we had between 30 and 60 people attend the classes offered. Our role was to teach from the "Foundation Principles" book and assist in any way needed. One morning we just copied papers as more and more participants arrived at the "Writing A Business Plan" class. It was fun to see the room fill up to capacity! 

On Friday afternoon we prepared the cultural hall and classrooms for the culmination of the weeks events. It was anticipated that on Saturday over 400 would attend the Business Fair. This event consisted of members exhibiting their businesses, and a panel discussion. So, on Saturday morning we arrived early and helped a few business owners set up their displays. The music arrived, the decorations were in place and then Elder Lambert and I had to leave to attend a Bishops Training meeting at another building. Later, when we returned the panel discussion had just begun, with some excellent speakers sharing their knowledge and personal experiences. Sadly, the audience was only half what we anticipated, but those 200 had a great time and many commented on the quality of the meeting. During the Q&A session one young man asked what should he do when life seems so confusing. The answers given by the panelists were so heart felt and sincere in their desire to give guidance it was touching. What made it even more poignant was after the meeting I was introduced to this young man, thanked him for his question and then learned that he is an orphan. He has spent most of his life in an orphanage but will soon reach the age where he must leave and make his own way in life. Oh, my heart! A kind mentor bought him and another orphan to the Fair. More goodness...

Life is hard here. Another example....We invited Samuel, one of the guards at our apartment complex to the Saturday event and were thrilled when he showed up and took great interest in what was said about becoming self reliant. He has worked as a groundsman at the British High Commission, and is good at handyman work, but life has been rough for him recently with doubts, indecisiveness and lack of direction. Although he is grateful to have a job he wants to find something more fulfilling. He walked around the 42 exhibits with us and made contact with some of the businesses where he might find better work. He told us, "I was much encouraged by the testimonies. It bought tears to my eyes." We were glad to provide him with some hope.

A funny event from the week happened early one morning while we were just leaving one of the missionary apartments following an apartment check. The phone rang and Michael (SR team member) requested that we buy more pencils on our way to Kaneshie. You've got to understand that we are in the backstreets of a neighboring community with no big stores anywhere close by. What to do? I walked across the street to a little kiosk where a lady is selling food and asked if she knew where we could get pencils. She yelled down the street to another lady, who in turn yelled down the street, and a few seconds latter the word came back up the pipeline that someone in the distance sold pencils and would be coming shortly. Sure enough a couple of minutes later a women showed up carrying a container on her head full of school supplies, including pencils! Only in Africa, and even better than on-line shopping! 

We are both exhausted from this week, but no time for rest, another hectic week is looming on the horizon. Gotta love it!

All our love,
Elder and Sister Lambert

One of the few picture of us together
These Sisters came from Togo to exhibit their jewelry!
Irene came to all 5 days of classes and exhibited her Honey business
Samuel and Elder Lambert by the SR board I tried to reorganize
Training Bishops about SR,, they got a laugh from the slide (an overloaded Bishop-haha!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Week 54 - Another Week in Ghana

Dearest Family,

We sure love the young missionaries here in Accra West and try to encourage them any way we can. One opportunity we have been given is to do safety checks at 6 of their apartments. We look to detect broken screens (mosquito break-in routes!), plumbing and electrical issues, and unsafe situations which I won't describe so as to not make future missionary moms nervous! We fill out a report and return it to the mission office. The young missionaries don't have the luxury of air conditioners so keeping their fans in good condition is a necessity. At the end of the inspection we visit for a few minutes and leave with a prayer. One thing we have learned is that many of the African missionaries have never received a letter from home, so now they are allowed to text message their families on a regular basis. Elder Mugisha is one of those who has never gotten mail from home so we sent him a letter and a mormonad. He was thrilled and it was just what he needed at a challenging time.

This week has been a time of preparation as our team prepares for a "Self Reliance Week of Celebration" It's been two months in the planning and we anticipate that it will be a huge event with 5 stakes invited to attend. There will be workshops, training, a panel discussion and business exhibition over the course of this coming week. We're looking forward to what this event may generate.... hopefully greater awareness of the SR classes and more groups starting.

On Saturday the Munro's and Bingham's came over for lunch and a swim. We love these two couples and the service they render here. The Bingham's always have some great stories to share from their adventures in Abomosu and the Munro's keep the mission running like a smooth machine.
Ghanaians will be holding their National elections in one month. There are 23 parties on the ballot, but top in the runnings are NPP (New Patriotic Party) and NDC (National Democratic Congress). There has been a keen emphasis on a peaceful election. Hope the same is true of America. 

Keeping it short this week, but here's a closing thought, "When I understand everything happening to me is to make me more Christ-like, it resolves a great deal of anxiety" A W Tazer

Love to everyone, especially our amazing grandchildren!
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: You are all welcome to our Week of Celebration
               Political advertising 

Week 53 - "Perfect" for Us

Hello Everyone,

This has been another great week in Africa!  We often have it re-confirmed to us that this mission is "perfect" for us. While many of the Area missionaries sit in an office all day (that would drive us both crazy!) We are out and about having marvelous adventures in the community. We know this is the "perfect" mission for us because we can use Elder Lambert's talents and special skills in teaching to bless the lives of so many. (Sister L. helps too!) This week we taught and shared self reliance principles with all ends of the missionary spectrum: departing missionaries from Accra West, returned missionaries from Kaneshie and Ofankor, and the new intake of missionaries at the MTC. (Working with French speaking missionaries, Sister Lambert's limited knowledge of French came in handy as we navigated through the French version of Family Search)

Another experience this week also confirmed we are serving the "perfect" mission for us.  With the help of Hans who works for an NGO, and an engineer from Biofil, we inspected Christiana's property to see if it is acceptable to place toilets on the site. There are no toilets in the community where she lives, which is a problem for most of the poorer areas of the city. Next, we visited Biofil, a company that installs composting toilets. (Here they are called Digesters and although this is not the most pleasant subject to discuss, these toilets really are the way of the future. They take little water to operate and the odor is minimal) We were SUPER impressed with this organization which puts into practice many environmentally friendly ideas. They use solar power to run pumps that recycle the filtered water from the Digester to water plants and support several fish ponds.  Aquaponics! It is so fun to find those who practice these ideas! 

And BEST OF ALL.... unbeknownst to us, in a city of several million, in a neighborhood we are unfamiliar with, the owner of this company is a member of the Church! Not only that, but he is the Patriarch of Kaneshie stake, and a member of Gbawe ward. He recycles everything and is the most environmentally conscious person we have met here. We are thrilled to know others are as passionate as we are about the environment... and you wonder if this mission is right for us. We know Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives. 

A couple of days later, accompanied by Christiana and Hans we visited Accra Metropolitan Authority to learn more about a grant given by the World Bank (UN) to those seeking to install composting toilets. We learned useful information and hopefully will have an up-date on this project in the future.

On Saturday Kasoa stake held a business fair which we were invited to attend. It is the opportunity for those who have taken Start and Grow My Business class to showcase their businesses, others were also welcome to join in. A year ago, while doing specialized training for this mission in Salt Lake City we discovered we were the only ones in the training who did not have a business degree/background. What could we offer those who want to start or grow a business? How do we teach something we have no experience in? It was a bit intimidating as we listened to these experts tell of their qualifications! Well, we have come to find out we do have some business skills. We have been wise investors of our money, we keep records of our finances, we are always looking for innovative ways to do things, we are good time managers, and we are creative problem solvers. Hopefully that counts for something! So, as we walked around the business displays on Saturday, (and they are all small businesses) and talked to the participants I realized we have something else to offer too; our encouragement, love and support!

Then I read this in the Liahona magazine about a couple serving in Amman, Jordan and testify that what is said is true...

The Call to Serve
Considering the remarkable experiences Ron and Sandi had, do they feel they are somehow special among couples called to serve—or that could be called to serve?
Yes—and no. “We served where and when the Lord needed a couple with our specific skills and life experiences,” the Hammonds say. “But that’s true for all senior missionaries. Every couple with the ability to serve a mission has been prepared to serve in ways special to them. They just need to exercise faith enough to go where the Lord has need of them, and He will use them to make a difference in the lives of others.”
“Couples can make a difference,” said Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Couples can accomplish remarkable things no one else can do. 
The ways in which couples can serve are virtually limitless. From mission office support and leadership training to family history, temple work, and humanitarian service—there is an opportunity to use almost any skill or talent with which the Lord has blessed you. …
“… You have received much in your life; go forth and freely give in the service of our Lord and Savior. Have faith; the Lord knows where you are needed. The need is so great, brothers and sisters, and the laborers are so few.”

We recognize that we have been prepared to serve here in Africa, and encourage all other able seniors to exercise their faith and fill out those mission papers. You won't regret it!

Much love, 
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures: Christiana's property
               Biofil Co.
               These ladies sell groundnut paste and Tom Brown cereal
               Barbie dolls in beautiful dresses
               Fred Obeng's Computer Agency

Week 52 - Friends

Family and Friends,

This was such a great week as we traveled to Takoradi to teach Pathway students and 15 recently returned missionaries. So many great stories and friendships developing it would take hours to write about them so here are a few favorites....

We met Robert as a newly returned missionary back in February, then again in June, when as a Pathway student he told us about a "special someone" who was serving a mission in Accra West. In the meantime we also knew Emma Smith Mensah. I mentioned her in a letter sometime ago as a departing missionary whose father died just hours before her return home to Takoradi. Well, Emma is the "special someone" and on Friday we enjoyed spending time with them both at the RM Orientation. They are so cute together (see picture below) and are planning a wedding for next year!

Also at Takoradi we became reacquainted with another RM, Michael who is an awesome, self motivated young man. It's so fun to follow these young people and see where life is taking them. Michael completed Pathway and is now taking BYU-I on-line classes. He is really good with computers and has a small business going around to companies to see if they need help with any IT problems they are having. He would really like to attend school in America and has researched his options, but is struggling with the decision/cost. I became a sounding board as he shared his goals and thought process on the subject of studying in the USA. Sadly, he knows if he leaves Ghana he probably would not return and as I told him, that would be a loss for Ghana.

Many times as we meet with these young people they will pull us aside for a little conversation as they seek personal counsel on their lives. We try our best to encourage them and make small suggestions but it always pulls at our heartstrings. Life in Africa is just simply hard. Michael is fully aware of the costs and challenges of going to the States but many think if they can just go to America all their problems will be solved. 

Sunday was exciting as we planned to attend Maamobi branch to hear Christiana give her talk on Charity. Maamobi is a mysterious place to find. Previously we had it pinned on our GPS and drove in circles looking for the building where they hold church. We thought the pin had to be wrong because we could never get to the exact location. On Sunday we followed the Munro's who attend church there every week, but the excitement started long before getting to the church. We got caught up in the middle of a political parade (Ghana have elections in December) and our car was honestly vibrating from the noise as hundreds of people paraded around us. It wasn't scary, Ghanaians have a great time when they gather together and they danced and waved as we cheered them along. So after we emerged from the sea of people we continued down these narrow streets when all of a sudden the Munro's vehicle "disappeared" down this blind ally which we never saw. Oh, it was an adventure! We followed them and sure enough we came to a gated compound and there was the mysterious Maamobi meeting house! Anyway, after all the adventures of the morning Christiana didn't give her talk because the Primary children presented the program. And it was amazing! Apart from one teacher on the back row the kids did everything themselves, from leading the music, to talks and memorization readings. My favorite was the nine year old who led the music, his smile was contagious and he acted like an old pro as he directed the singing. Oh, it was fun!

Besides Christiana, another friend from Maamobi is Halima. Elder Lambert and I have helped her record her personal history, so we took the opportunity on Sunday to review the draft before typing the final copy. She has quite an interesting story by our standards, but not uncommon to people here. How can you let your child be raised by someone else? At four years of age Halima was given to be raised by a relative. It was tough. She was reunited with her family as a teenager. I love Halima and the joy she emulates. Robert is a new friend who joined the church just a few weeks ago. After being introduced to us, he insisted on carrying my bag into the building. He is delightful and was happy to pose for a picture with Elder Lambert. Following church we met with "Africa is Life Changing" board members including our old missionary friend Gloria Terry. We discussed how their NGO and what we do in self reliance might be a match in helping some individuals. We admire these good people who have the desire to give their time and energy in helping support the African people, even one at a time. The day still wasn't over because we had another meeting in Ofankor stake with their self reliance committee. These brethren warm our hearts. They are passionate about helping people understand the principles of self reliance. Brother Adiimani used the analogy of a student who needs to retake a class in school. The teacher has not changed, the course has not changed, but someone has to change. Likewise, Heavenly Father has not changed, the Gospel has not changed, but someone has to change. It takes Ability, Commitment, Effort to ACE the class. 

We feel blessed to call so many "friend"
With Love, 
Elder and Sister Lambert

Pictures:Robert ans Emma
Takoradi RM's (Michael is on the far right)