Kristi here. I forgot to send this letter last month! Enjoy.
Merry Christmas to our dear, dear family and friends,
What a wonderful time of year! Christmas truly brings joy to our lives!
Last Monday during Family Home Evening we had the funnest gift exchange between 60 of us serving here. We laughed as gifts were chosen, exchanged and "locked in" by the participants. A couple of times it appeared a feud may break out over highly sought after gifts, but looks like we are still all friends so no permanent harm was done!
The highlights from this week's experiences have ties to Liberia, another West African nation which has struggled with civil wars and the ebolla epidemic of 2014. On Monday at scripture study with the senior sisters we celebrated by reading the Christmas story, singing carols and sharing traditions and nativities. Sister Heckel showed us the most unique nativity. It was made from the spent brass shell casings of bullets that were used in the civil wars (1995-1996 and 1999-2003) in Liberia. It was sobering, yet also heart-warming to view something made to cause pain and death transformed into something representing love and peace.
On Tuesday we attended a multi zone conference with half of the young missionaries serving in Accra West. Everything was going beautifully until President realized he left the external hard drive to his laptop at home. It was needed so we could all watch a movie following lunch. Several solutions were attempted but American and Ghanaian technology isn't compatible. Then two of the Elders remembered that a member in their area had an American laptop with downloaded movies. With the owners permission we took the young missionaries to retrieve the key to his room, then to the room where he lives in the Liberian refugee camp to collect the laptop. We had never been to the refugee camp, but had heard about it many times. It's not a tent city like you might envision from recent news stories, but is a honeycomb of little houses covering a vast area on the west side of Kasoa. It was quite an experience weaving our way though narrow spaces between the homes. This camp is permanent housing for those who fled Liberia during the civil wars. It's a very poor area with people living in close proximity to each other. It also reminded me that the Savior was also a refugee during his young live when his parents fled to Egypt to avoid death by the hand of King Herod. I found it humbling as we walked through the camp. Grateful, never to have experienced the violence and trauma of war. Grateful never to have had to leave my home, not knowing what will happen to me or our precious children, and also gratitude for the safety, peace and security I have always known. Grateful for these lessons learned from Liberia.
Anyway long story short, we borrowed the laptop and then zipped back to the stake center where the missionaries voted to watch "Despicable Me 2" before receiving their Christmas packages. Three cheers to Elders Msomi and Jolley for saving the day!
Another neat experience occurred when we arrived with the laptop. Six little boys were hanging around outside the building, the missionaries were finishing lunch but there were plenty of leftovers so Sister Munro got permission to invite the boys in to enjoy some rice, salad and cake. We sat and talked with them as they chowed down. Then they helped sweep the floor and clean up, at the same time trying to watch the movie in the other partition of the cultural hall. Again we got permission and with big smiles on their faces they joined the missionaries and watched the show. Children and Christmas go hand in hand, and this was a sweet substitute for being away from the grandkids. I loved being able to spoil these little boys, my grandma heart was happy.
Christmas day was awesome! We love how our African brothers and sisters sing the hymns and oh my, they were in fine form today! It was glorious! And even though our internet was down we were still able to talk to our family, we just couldn't see all their happy faces. Not to worry, there is always the family New Year's Eve party. We sure do love this bunch!
Elder and Sister Lambert