I have to admit that I am so glad this will be the last Christmas, since we began this mission, that I will have to spend away from my family. Once again, I express gratitude for technology that makes possible emailing and skyping. My dear brother Chad has been so generous with his kind uplifting words in responding to every blog post that I write. I have so appreciated his words of love and encouragement and it is no wonder he was born on Christmas Day.
To reach my blog post, I go through the Church website, and I get so involved in watching the wonderful videos there that it is hard to stop. I just watched were some young women were inspired by President Grant's story of the time he gave his brand new red coat to a little boy. They started a project of collecting coats and took them to homeless shelters. What a blessing it is to give of our time and means to lift others. I so appreciate President Monson's directive to us as our Prophet and how he lives what he teaches.
From our recent reading of the Conference talks: "An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment"; "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith"; "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him"; "Mortality is meant to be difficult and "opposition in all things" is not a flaw in the plan of salvation. Rather, opposition strengthens our will and refines our choices"; "It is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself "; "There is one life that sustains those who are troubled or beset with sorrow and grief--even the Lord Jesus Christ."
Our dear friends the Scovilles had to leave on a medical emergency. Elder Scoville had an accident where his eye was injured very seriously and the proper care was not available here. Because he needed to be attended to as quickly as possible, the flights to the US were not within the time frame he needed, so he was flown to London. There they experienced socialized medicine (scary possibility in our lives) for the first time and it took a lot of effort to make it all happen. He finally had the first of several surgeries, which was successful in saving his eye. They are now in the US and he will continue to have the care that he needs. Obviously they will not be returning to Ghana and now it is the task to get their luggage sent to them. We miss them very much.
We had a minister from another church in Koforidua visit us today in Senchi. We are doing some speculating here, but the missionaries in Koforidua gave the phone number of our missionaries in Senchi to this minister and he called to say he was coming. We wonder if he didn't want his congregation to know he attended an LDS Church in Koforidua and so he came to Senchi. I hope he felt the spirit there because I sure did. The singing was wonderful, the talks were on forgiveness and counting our blessings in difficult times. I was asked to bear my testimony on the Liahona (Ensign) and shared from some notes I had written when I read the message that Elder Holland gave in the December Liahona on "Preparing for the Second Coming." The children in Primary have been learning in Sharing Time this very theme. I hope there is more to learn about this minister in the future.
Our Christmas Conference went very well and I am quite sure that the "senior couples" got the most applause and hollers from our rendition of missionary words to "Lion Sleeps tonight." The missionary apartments all received a gift of a blender to help make their cooking a little easier and more nutritious, we hope. The missionaries all seemed to enjoy themselves and they continue to amaze me in their ability to tirelessly share the gospel. They will definitely appreciate washing machines, air conditioning, and microwaves when they return home, but will personally never be the same because of what they gained from this service.
In spite of being away from family this time of year, I am so grateful for the Christmas season. In primary today, I read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2. But I started first with chapter 1 where Zacharias and Elizabeth were told by an angel of the coming forth of their son John to prepare the way for the coming of our Savior. I asked the children to listen to how many times the angel Gabriel said the words "Fear Not", through those two chapters, to hopefully help them to listen, and to teach an important lesson about life. I know that God loves us for who we are and for who we can become. He sent His Son to show us the way, and because of our Savior's Atoning Sacrifice, we do not need to fear. Of this I most certainly know.
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)