Sunday, January 26, 2014

Our precious Jovie joined our family on January 21st. I do not know how to move pictures from an email to put on a blog but Ruth and Ben have posted pictures on face book. Her big brother Cooper  sings and talks to her and little Avery looks on with curiosity. I was able to phone Ruth several times during the course of her labor, which helped to ease the longing to be near them. We are just so happy she is here and that all is well.

The transfer this past week brought a lot of changes with companions and also missionaries receiving calls to be district leaders, zone leaders, and trainers. We have a new Assistant to President Judd, Elder Izekor, and a new Office Elder, Elder Nash. We also have a new Sister Training Leader, Sister Kalola. They have stepped into their new responsibilities with confidence, and it amazes me how smoothly it happens. A mission certainly is a great training experience for these young men and women, if they forget themselves and put all their heart, mind, and strength into this marvelous work. We are proud of them and I am sure their lives are pleasing to the Lord.

We had changes in Senchi also with our missionaries and the two of them were asked to bear their testimonies in Church today. We still have all American missionaries there and the local members can just change their 'tune' about it because they should not be questioning the inspiration needed to place missionaries where they are needed. I have had moments where I have questioned placement of certain missionaries I admit, and I have had to remind myself that I have no business doing that. I can only imagine the prayers that must go into these kind of decisions. I have enough just keeping track of what I have to do on this mission without speculating on all the rest.

We are all looking forward to Elder Bednar and Elder Clayton's visit this coming week. It is sad that the members outside the Greater Accra Area are not able to come because of the distance and expense of travel. How blessed I feel to have access to so much information on the computer and these dear people don't even know what could be available to them. I feel that their part in 'Hastening the Lord's work' is hinder by not having access to inspiring influences that would assist in their own motivation. This just shows how much couples are needed to assist in moving the work forward.

My companion and I attended a baptism on Saturday of the husband of a woman that we buy fruit from. His name is Simon and her name is Juliana. She was the original referral and seemed slow to give time for the missionaries. In the meantime, her husband became interested and came to the waters of baptism first. She and their son will follow soon hopefully. It has been a long process and with the several different sets of missionaries and Elder Avery continually asking about this family, it is good to see the 'fruits' of this effort. We have others that we have referred to the missionaries and we may or may not see whether they accept the gospel, but it still is a gratifying experience to be involved in this little way. I become more and more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ each day as I strive to do His will and not my own.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It was good to be with the missionaries as we were taught by Elder Vinson this past Tuesday. I did not bring my notes with me as we came directly to the office from Senchi, but much was spoken on the importance of obedience and teaching by the Spirit. I was reminded of President Ezra Taft Benson's words, " When obedience ceases to become an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." The wonderful gift called agency sure finds a lot of us making excuses for ourselves more often than is wise. I am grateful to be continually taught by the scriptures and by those called to strengthen us.

We went to Kpong on Saturday for leadership training meetings and these branch leaders are being given great instruction. I was able to see that many of these great people do understand and want to follow the policies and procedures of the Lord's Church. I had my first experience with what could be very annoying yet was comical at the same time. A sister who seemed to need to contribute (that's what they call giving a comment) quite often would say as she raised her hand, "I have my hand up". It continues to be an interesting experience serving in a culture so different from what I know. It was disappointing that President Ampomah could not be there as the Senchi Branch still has so much growing to do. The guidelines from the Church Handbook was stressed often and that is what my companion has been striving to get the leaders in Senchi to do. I think of how the Lord is 'Hastening His work' and they are holding the work back in their little spot in His vineyard.

There is a segment on the Church website called "Patterns of Light". One message was on how the Spirit speaks to us and was given in such a simple understanding way. Example:God will not send angels to tell us to pray when we forget, but teachings from our parents or others will come to our minds that remind us we need to pray. I especially appreciated the words that "God trusts us" and we do not need great manifestations to remind us continually of what is important in our lives. The scripture say that, "Everything that invites and entices us to do good is of God." That is how we know if our lives are on the right course.

Transfer days are this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. We have 5 missionaries completing their missions and 5 new missionaries coming. Our numbers have become much less since our big growth after the mission split in July. We have only one from the US and the others from Africa. One Elder is from Angola and has been at the Provo MTC learning English as he spoke only Portuguese. Since the first of the year, the MTC here in Ghana have added English and French to be available for the missionaries. There is to be a new MTC built right next to the Accra Temple, which will be a wonderful addition. It will probably take a long time to build unless the Church doesn't have the local people do it. That may not sound very nice, but building is such a slow process here. The church brought in contractors from the States when the temple was built, and we were told that people kept asking why it was not built with bricks as they had never seen such a process before.

We are anxiously looking forward to Tuesday as our daughter Ruth will be giving birth to a baby girl to be named Jovi. As is always the case, it is such a relief when news comes that mother and baby are doing well. We will have to wait until we can skype to see how Cooper and Avery respond to her, so in the meantime, I can only imagine how sweet and tender this will be. It is so fun to have babies still coming to our family. I am so blessed!

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

There are two things I did not eat before my mission; peanut butter sandwiches (too many other good choices) and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Ground nut paste (peanut butter) and jam sandwiches have become a staple on Sundays when returning from Senchi. On our Saturday shopping day, KFC indulgence has happened a few times when we didn't have time for the long wait that occurs at most eating places. Even though it actually tasted good, after peeling off the 'skin', I will certainly not be tempted to make it a habit.

I have been teaching the children in Primary the Plan of Salvation and how Jesus was chosen to be our Savior. They listened well enough but had difficulty answering the simplest questions, except for Agbeve, one bright young man who recently joined the church. The missionaries taught him well as he understood more than the other children. This must be the first time they have heard this doctrine, and even though I present it simply, it is not comprehended as well as I hoped. I continually strive to encourage the children to not just sit there and take in information but to be able to explain it so I know that they understand. The lessons in Sharing Time and our Primary lessons compliment each other so I have to believe the understanding and application will come.
I am doing less in Primary on purpose so that the newly called counselors will grow in their confidence and ability to teach. I will never get use to their approach with the children, but I am hopeful that as they grow in the gospel, that will improve. They are such good women and the children are so worth everything they can do to teach them the way the Savior taught. Now we just need someone to be the music leader because the children do enjoy the music and I have enjoyed it with them.

The last few weeks I have been teaching a young man (25) piano. He is a welder by trade and a strong member of the Church. He teaches the young men and women in Sunday School and is in the presidency of that organization. He came to me wanting to learn and I so with my companion needing to stay after the normal meetings for more meetings, I am teaching Patrick during that time. I pray that he will learn fast and I told him that he really needed to practice diligently. I also told him that he had the responsibility to teach others in the Branch and he should not take that lightly. Brother Ganyo, another young man and the Branch mission leader, is borrowing the book and trying to learn also. I will probably never know the outcome of all of this but I hope it will benefit many over the years. Oh how blessed I am for my dear mother and her persistence in my learning to play. To have had someone to teach me in the small community I came from, was also a blessing.

We were informed by President Judd that the Missionary Committee decided on a couple to replace us. They have yet to receive their call and to accept, but the answer to a dear eight year old grandson desire to fast and pray for our replacement was granted. I hope you always remember Xander, that our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and answers them in a way that is best for us. If all goes well, this couple should enter the MTC March 10th. We continue to add our prayers to that of a young boy who exercised his faith.

Our missionaries in Senchi told us that the Mission Tour on Saturday was wonderful and lifted them so much. They were impressed with Elder Vinson, who is new to his calling as a counselor in the West Africa Area Presidency. We, and the missionaries in this area, look forward to our turn to be taught on Tuesday. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the articles we were asked to read in preparation for this and express gratitude for such wisdom and counsel expressed in them.

I have enjoyed reading the life of Joseph Fielding Smith, our study for this years 2nd and 3rd Sunday lessons. How blessed we are to have had, and continue to have, such great men to lead the Church. They love the Lord and so desire for us to live more fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we must, we simply must.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome 2014!

Even though there are not many missionaries coming thus far, there is still much to do to prepare for the new year and close out the old. That just brought to mind a hymn that is not sung very often and especially would not be sung here in Ghana. The words to "Ring Out, Wild Bells, are by Tennyson and speak of letting go of those things that did not enlighten us and embrace those truths that will give us hope and direction for the future. It speaks of being valiant and using our agency to love more and do all in our power to rid the world of darkness by bringing the light of Christ to all people.
For a new year there is the mission calendar to prepare, begin a new written history and complete the last details of 2013 history to be ready to send to those who compile all the mission histories. There are plans to be made and buildings to be scheduled for Zone Conferences, Mission Tours, etc. It is good to always see the work moving forward and progressing.

Elder Vinson, counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency and a Seventy, will be conducting a Mission Tour this month and has asked the missionaries to prepare for that by reading four talks. 1. "Converted unto the Lord" by Elder Bednar 2. "Desire" by Oaks 3."You can do it now" by President Uchtdorf 4."That we might not Shrink" CES devotional by Elder Bednar. It sure has been good reading and I look forward to the instruction by Elder and Sister Vinson. This is such a blessing to the mission and the missionaries.The only thing that keeps a missionary from having a strong testimony and truly converted to this work is the lack of obedience. President Monson has said that "The Great test of this life is Obedience" and that is counsel for all of us.

I have been tallying up the scores on the apartment inspections so awards can be handed out during the mission tour. I have made the certificates for all but am having a hard time on one of the zones. There were several winners and I am waiting for Sister Judd to decide if we should give out more than one winner in this zone. The difference in apartment cleanliness has about as much variety as there is in personalities. Parents could save a future office couple a lot of work by teaching there sons how to clean and organize their belongings. The missionaries have had many a demonstration on some of their shower tile and I get many a surprised look when they see the difference. They just had no idea it could actually come clean. Weekly cleaning far out weighs the work required to bring results after a month or so of very little effort. Missionaries have found that a toilet brush can be a great tool for them once I show them that the bowl is not stained after all. I have had some very interesting experiences but will certainly not write a book about missionary apartment inspections.

I am grateful for what this mission is teaching me and hope I am becoming a better person in the process. I don't always make today better than yesterday but I know repentance works and I use that precious gift every day. Moroni 10:32

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)