BANGALORE, India — After Gary and Peggy Lambert made all of the arrangements to serve a humanitarian mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gary was diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Gary did not let his disease hinder him or his wife from serving their mission.
In October 2005, the Lamberts moved to Bangalore, India, to begin their work as humanitarian volunteers. Their mission ended last month, and they have returned home. Recalling their experience, Peggy said, “There is no other place we have taught where we were so accepted, loved and valued.” Peggy admitted it was difficult to leave grandchildren and children, but she said their mission was “a wonderful chance” for her and her husband to “serve together.”
Being retired teachers, the Lamberts were the ideal couple to teach at Shanti Bhavan, a boarding school for children who live below the poverty level and are between the ages of 4 and 17. The school aims to help break the cycle of poverty by providing children with an education that will allow them to be successful.
Peggy saw the impact the school had in changing lives. Those changes were also obvious to parents who would visit the school and not recognize their own children. The children “put on weight, are clean, have had their hair cut, are healthy and are so happy! It’s an amazing transformation,” she said.
Gary retired from Brigham Young University after teaching for 34 years. At Shanti Bhavan he taught English and literature to ninth-grade students, following a curriculum established by the Indian government to prepare students for a university education.
Peggy was a music specialist at a private school for 15 years and was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Before her arrival at Shanti Bhavan, the students went without music classes as there were no music instructors available. Using her musical talents, Peggy led music classes for younger students, directed a 40-voice school choir and taught 16 piano students.
Peggy said, “I have never seen children who are so eager to learn, who listen to every word, remember and pay attention as we talk, participate eagerly and smile with the joy of learning.”
As the Lamberts’ mission came to a close, students were sad to see them leave. School administrator Shanti Jayanthasri said the Lamberts “approached their work as their mission in life. Our staff and children benefited from their knowledge and guidance.”
The school was founded by India native Dr. Abraham George. The Church first donated desks, cabinets, blackboards, folding chairs and other supplies to help the school open. Almost 10 years later, the names of Church congregations in Utah stamped on the bottom of the school’s chairs and tables can still be seen. Blankets, teddy bears, clothing and hygiene kits from Church Humanitarian Services have also been given to the school children.
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at LDS.org.