Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ramblings of a tired missionary!

We just returned from Senchi and it is almost five o'clock. With missionaries serving so far from the city, the only way they can get their mail, on a somewhat regular basis, is when we bring it to them. We also take reimbursement to them for their power or water, and sometimes supplies. We have sixteen missionaries that we are able to help at various times in those ways mention. Today we waited in Akuse for an hour as the Elders were returning from where they attend Church in Asutsuare. The trotro mode of transportation is both a blessing and a curse here in Ghana. Oh well, we spent the time watching cows grazing right next to where we were parked, and made friends with two little children watching us with interest.

There has been a water problem throughout the city and the water that flows to fill our poly tank has been shut off. The missionaries who live by us had to borrow water from us as there are four of them with only a small poly tank. This problem has never happened in our area before but it happens in many of the places that our missionaries live. The way to receive water in these circumstances, is to have a water truck come and fill up the poly tanks. A water truck deliverer was contacted and he quoted the missionaries 2,000 Ghana cedis to fill both poly tanks.Wow! This is an example of someone really trying to take advantage of those in hard times. Well we did not give him any business and kept searching until we found someone else, but we still had to pay 150 cedis ,which is a little high, but was gratefully paid. We were able to fill water containers for the others who live in the apartment compound as we pay for the whole truck whether we receive all the water or not. We will need to keep track of our missionaries until water flows and hopefully it does sometime this week. Oh the adventures!

We often have geckos (lizards) that visit our apartment quite uninvited. They are usually small and a few times we have made good use of a broom in their capture. One morning this past week, I was getting ready when one of them ran right up the wall in from of me and startled me good. The first thought that came to me is "where are my grandsons when I need them."

My companion spent Saturday morning with the youth and some newly baptized members doing baptisms for the dead. I hope they realize what a great privilege this is to have a Temple so close to them. Here in West Africa, some countries travel great distances to come to the Temple here in Accra, and at a great expense. It felt good for me to stay at the apartment and do some washing and cooking and not feel rushed to get a million things done.

On the way to Senchi this morning, before we were yet out of the city, we were approaching a red light at a pedestrian lane. The car to the left of us kept going through the red light and instantly realized what they had done and stopped suddenly and waited until the rest of the traffic started to move indicating the light had turned green. We had a good laugh over that. We also had a heart-stopping experience when a man on a bicycle darted out in front of us and we really had to slam on the brakes to miss him. Whew!

The second counselor in the Senchi Branch Presidency (Elder Avery) asked me to speak in Sacrament Meeting today. I spoke of my reverence for the Sabbath Day and what I expect of myself in preparing to worship and partake of the Sacrament. I even sang a couple of phrases of 'Welcome, welcome Sabbath Morning' which always come to my mind each Sunday morning. Through my experience of teaching the children I have come to learn to speak slowly, not use a lot of words in teaching, and actually pronounce vowels differently than I normally would. I thought that in talking this way today that they would understand me okay. Part way through my talk, as I glanced around the congregation, I saw Brother and Sister Doglow. They have grandchildren in primary and recently lost their son, the father of these children. Brother Doglow is blind and neither one of them speak English. I felt I should ask Sister Adjei to come and interpret for me which she did. I felt the Spirit and I feel others did also. I found out later that Sister Doglow, as Elder Avery shook her hand this morning, greeted him with "good morning" (in English) with a grin that spread from ear to ear. Moments like this make everything all worthwhile. I am so grateful that the Lord has let me experience them all.

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ghana has a lot of holidays that they celebrate. In fact, I think they have a holiday just for the sake of calling it a holiday, and of course, to have a day off to celebrate. I also think it is not about what they celebrate but how they do it that makes it important to them. Anyway, I have been a little surprised that they too recognize Valentines Day. It was fun to hear 'Happy Valentines Day' as we went about our day. We enjoyed the evening by going out for pizza with couples that serve from the area office.
Mama Mia's is in Osu and to describe the traffic there on a Friday night is simply indescribable, but maybe I am too tired this afternoon to even try. I guess there are those who would want the adventure to see what I am talking about, but then they are probably the ones who would delight in going on a Safari too. You know, the one where there are rhinos who probably would think nothing of taking off the bumper of your vehicle. About the only thing I can even say somewhat cheerfully is that I had survived another day.

The primary classrooms in Senchi cannot be entered from inside the building. Because the classroom  is entered from outside the building, we have unusual guests that can enter at any given time. Most of the time the goats and chickens run away when people are around, but today a chicken got locked in one of our classrooms. When it was brought to our attention and the door was opened, that chicken literally flew out the door, greatly relieved to be free.

As we were returning from Senchi today, we could see dark clouds forming. We always welcome rain to cool the temperature a little, so we have been hoping for rain. Well, it has just started to rain and I love the sounds it makes as it hits the metal roof.  I just heard thunder! I have always loved the sound of thunder. As I mention this, I think of the primary lesson today about Noah. I don't think I have ever seen a rainbow here in Ghana but the promise I spoke to the children about in primary today is still true. They must have seen rainbows because when I drew it on the board they knew what is was. We learned of the importance of listening to and following the counsel of our prophet.

Speaking of following our prophet, we had an unexpected experience yesterday in the mall. We had gone to Kpong to some District Meetings and stopped at the mall to put time on our internet device and get a few groceries. A couple approached us and asked what is means to belong to that church,  while they pointed to our name tags. It was noisy in the mall, but as we shared and as they replied, we heard enough from them to know that they did not see the need for a living prophet and apostles on the earth today. They could get all the direction they needed through prayer and only prayer. They were from Nigeria, here in Ghana on some type of business. We did have a Article of Faith card on us and they willingly took it, or at least she did. I am so grateful for the counsel we receive from our Prophet and Apostles and would not want to be without it for a moment. We will probably never meet this couple again, but I hope their eyes will be opened someday and they will be receptive to add more truth to the truths they already have.

I am starting to make the preparations for the missionaries being release in April. It is quite a process and does have to be started early. We will probably have ten going home and only two coming. Every Tuesday, we look for new missionaries on our email that will be coming to our mission and we have not received any for quite some time now. We are opening new areas with missionaries and this brings the hard decision of which areas have to be closed to accommodate the need in other areas. I have already received baptismal records for Kpando and it has only be opened with missionaries since January 22nd. An area we want to open on the transfer in March, already has people waiting to be taught and even baptized, as the branch there has been doing their missionary work. Ghana is truly a special place to be serving as the Lord is Hastening His Work! I am sure other couple missionaries feel the same way about their missions and are seeing wonderful things happening in their missions.

Well, it has been a good day and as the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end."

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I really grow weary of reminding myself of the importance of adversity. I think I probably would have been one of the murmurers on the Pioneer Trek West, which is sad to even think about. Every time I read a Church article, or from the scriptures, on the importance of trials, I feel the truthfulness of the words. Yet as soon as something challenging happens, I find myself on my knees asking for forgiveness because I am asking 'why now' and 'why in this way'. I recently read Elder Dallin H. Oaks words, "Adversities are temporary. What is permanent is what we become by the way we react to them." I am so grateful the Lord is patient and so forgiving, because this process of 'becoming' is not as easy as I want it to be.

I always access my blog through the Church's web site. It seems as though every Sunday when I do this, there are new videos to watch or articles to read and I have to stop myself from 'feasting' or I would never get to writing. I did take a few moments and read news about how the General Women leaders of the Church have received inspiration to call a Young Women International Board. These women from various places around the world were called via a teleconference and will be taking part in a Integrated Global Training accomplished also through teleconference. These leaders want the women to know that the Lord is aware of them and wants to address their needs. I think of the unity this will bring throughout the world.

As I read this article I just mentioned, I thought of Elder Ballard's talk, in the January Church Magazine, entitled, "Face the Future with Faith & Hope." Our leaders know the conditions in the world are uncertain and dangerous but they always counsel us to replace fear with faith. I quote, "we are standing on the threshold of a new era of growth, prosperity, and abundance. Barring a calamity of unexpected international crisis, I think the next few years will bring a resurgence in the world economy as new discoveries are made in communication, medicine, energy, transportation, physics, computer technology, and other fields of endeavor. With these discoveries and advances will come new employment opportunities and prosperity for those who work hard and especially for those who strive to keep the commandments of God. Many of these discoveries will be made to help bring to pass the purposes and work of God and to quicken, including through missionary work, the building of His Kingdom on earth today."  It is exciting to belong to the Lord's Church and to see His work unfold.

I could probably spend my whole working day on referrals as our missionaries are certainly doing their missionary work. It is always rewarding when I learn of a baptism that comes from one of these referrals. I had a different experience just this afternoon as we arrived from Senchi to do our writing in the office. I received a phone call and the man identified himself as Anthony Appe. He mentioned that my name and phone number had been given to him from someone named Moses. The only Moses I knew that would possibly have my information is Brother Moses Vormawor from Senchi. Anyway, Anthony gave me his phone number and where he lived and said that he wanted a Book of Mormon. It is absolutely amazing what is experienced here with these wonderful people and how they are so ready for the Restored Gospel. Are there many who are not receptive, yes, of course, but there is also so many that are being prepared and are ready to hear. These are experiences I will always treasure.

As I read Elder Ballard's message that I spoke of earlier, I thought of my dear Primary children in the Senchi Branch. I couldn't help but wonder if these would bring a brighter future for them. As much as I am anxious to return home to my family in a couple of months, I will miss these children. There are still so many local traditions that need to be replaced with the traditions of the Church for them to really achieve their full potential. When the Primary president and 1st counselor chose to go to a funeral and gave no thought as to what would happen to the children today in primary, I can't help but wonder what will happen when I am gone. Maybe my being here is the problem and they or the branch presidency will do some serious thinking about it all. I hope they do.

I look forward to a new week and to the experience it will bring. I am just grateful I have the Lord as my foundation "whereon if men build they cannot fall."

With love,
Sister Avery (mom, grandma)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

With our experience with Elder Bednar in three different meetings this past week, I would like to write about that experience. We expected to have the usual well prepared talk given to us where we take notes and try to remember everything, but instead we were asked what we had learned from the articles we were asked to read prior to his visit. It was a spiritual experience to have those in attendance share their thoughts and then to have Elder Bednar expound further and engage the people in more interaction. The congregation was also invited to ask inspired questions with guidelines that Elder Bednar set in place so that people got right to the point without a lot of words.

I always have to write something down so I will share what stood out to me:
  • We are agents to act for ourselves and not objects to be acted upon.What can we invite our children to do to act versus making them do it.
  • We are all on the Covenant path and we are meant to learn from each other.
  • If you always do what you have always done, you will always get the same results.
  • Guide the discussion don't direct it!
  • Observe-Listen-Discern.
  • Intelligence is to apply what we know for Righteousness.
  • The Church is a laboratory of work in progress, not a museum of perfect people on display.
  • The Lord is hastening his work not us. The hastening of the work will go forth without us if we keep doing the same things the same way.
  • Advice in taking notes is to use "small plates" where we write what we learn by the power of the Holy Ghost versus "large plates" where we record what people say. It is about learning those things that have not been spoken.
  • The Holy Ghost teaches people, not lessons. We need to allow ourselves to 'get out of the way' in our instructing. People need to be spiritually independent.
  • Knowing the WHY changes the HOW.
  • Doctrine & Covenants 88:122 is the guideline for the Lord's pattern of teaching.
  • There are 6 places in the Book of Mormon that teaches the Lord's pattern of "one by one".
  • How do you know it is the Holy Ghost speaking to you? The Holy Ghost will tell you what you don't want to hear!
  • Spiritual Gifts are not trophies-they come when God knows he can trust you.
  • Faith is a principle of action-Fear is sitting and doing nothing. Faith focused in Christ overcomes all things.
  • We are yoked to the Savior by Covenants-the burdens don't go away, but we are made capable in the doing.
  • Knowing the Gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the Gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the Gospel is true and be true to the Gospel.
  • 5 foolish virgins took their lamps of testimony but took no oil of conversion with them. 5 wise virgins took oil of conversion in their vessels with their lamps of testimony. Oil of conversion cannot be borrowed. Each of us must "buy for ourselves".  2 Nephi 28:30  D&C 33:17
  • Deepening conversion will prepare you for persecution- persecution is a refinement.
  • We should become and remain worthy conduits through which the Spirit of the Lord can operate; we are not the light. We should not draw attention to ourselves in the way we teach as this is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost.
Although not everyone could ask their questions or respond with their feelings about the articles we were asked to read, I am sure that answers came to their questions and mutual feelings were shared because,simply put, that is the way the Holy Ghost works. The Lord's pattern for teaching takes desire, persistence, and much prayer to acquire.

The time spent with an Apostle of the Lord, where the mantle of that Apostleship was evident in every way, was wonderful. This is one of the 'treasures' of serving a mission that makes the sacrifices so worth it. I have come to know what I know in the doing of it. The "Law of the Harvest" has been a focus of mine for as long as I can remember and it has served me well.

We received word this last Tuesday of Elder Dennis and Sister Sheryle Crisp who will be replacing us in the office. They will be a strength and blessing to the mission and we look forward to the time we will spend with them in getting accustomed to their responsibilities. They are from Mesa Arizona, and have family ties to Tuscon which is where my family originates from. We served with a couple in the St. George Temple by the name of Crisp and wonder if there are ties there. Who knows what interesting findings will come as we spend time with them. They are excited to come and have been an answer to many prayers. In the meantime, there is work to be done and that includes our favorite; apartment inspections!!

With love,
Sister Avery (mom,grandma)