Magnets for Ghana

Hello all,

There is a charitable organization (Empower Playgrounds) making merry-go-rounds that generate electricity for school children in Ghana.  My sister in law, Elizabeth, was in the group of BYU students that helped build the merry-go-rounds.  I watched a video about it on BYUTV a while ago.  I was touched when the builders wanted to teach the children how the merry-go-round generated electricity, and explained that there was a magnet inside it.  The children didn’t know what a magnet was!  I thought, I have a ton of refrigerator magnets I am not using, they can have those.  I made contact with the Executive Director of Empower Playgrounds and she said they could use all I could collect.  She said it doesn’t matter if they say, “Joe’s Pizza” on them or they are a teddy bear magnet.     She said they are putting together some science kits, and could use all kinds of things.   Any toy that has a magnet inside it to make it work would would be good too.   The flashlights that work by shaking them are a good example.  I am going to take all I have collected up to their Provo office in the middle of January.  They are taking another trip to Ghana around that time and can take the magnets to the children.    If you want to donate your magnets and other things please get them to me before I go.  Thanks!

Update (5 Dec 2009):

Oh, forgot another needed thing is iron things to stick the magnets to like cookie sheets, with iron in them of course.


Sarah M. Hall
Executive Director
Empower Playgrounds
3214 N. University Ave. #501
Provo, Utah, 84604

Mobile: 801-822-2973
Web Site:

Update (4 Jan 2010):

Hello all,

I am collecting magnets for school children in Ghana.  I have already collected several.  I am taking them to Provo on Jan. 28th, so please get me your unwanted magnets before I go, or get them to Provo by then.  Please don’t go buy magnets.  Please donate the money instead.  They want to make some standard science kits which they need money for, but they can use any magnets you already have.

Thanks for helping!



Into the Wilderness: Journey Lessons for Today

Drawing on scriptural accounts and experiences from her own life, Dr. Susan Rugh taught BYU students to rely on God-given guides through our journey through life.


Travel is defined as “moving through space, across time, in a departure from normal, daily activities.”  From the Book of Mormon, Lehi leaves his home and friends in Jerusalem, leaving “his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things” (1 Ne. 2:2-4).  Lehi was totally committed to his journey.  He prepared and took his family and necessary provisions into the wilderness.

For any journey, there are three stages:

  1. Prepare for the journey
  2. Travel through the wilderness
  3. Make meaning through reflection


First, Lehi’s preparations for his journey were quick, yet wise.  He took what he needed and left what he didn’t.  He prepared to live and travel alone, through unknown paths, without a guide.  Lehi trusted in the Lord and obeyed his word.

The Journey Itself

Second, Lehi embarked on the journey.  Shortly thereafter, God provided a tool to guide them through the wilderness.  A ball, or director, was given to Lehi to “pointed the way wither [they] should go” (1 Nephi 16:10).  This director acted as a compass; however, it only functioned according to the faith and diligence of Lehi’s party.  Sadly, “They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey” (Alma 37:41).

Lehi and his family traveled for many years until they reached their final destination.  Along the way, “things went wrong”: Nephi broke his bow, his brothers tried to kill him, their ship passed through a great storm, and they suffered “much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (1 Nephi 16).

Making Meaning

Third, we can apply lessons from the scriptures and from our own experiences with wilderness journeys to better navigate our current journey into the unknown future.  Dr. Rugh quoted Alma, a descendant of Lehi, who reflected on the journey of his ancestors.  Said Alma, “For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (Alma 37:45).


Thank you, Dr. Rugh, for your uplifting address.  It gave me great comfort and strengthened my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.


I recently return home from a marvelous trip to Tonga with about 25 other students and two professors from BYU. It was wonderful!

In short:

  • When: May 8 – 22 (14 days, including 2 days of travel)
  • Purpose of trip: Demonstrate to the Kingdom of Tonga how to convert coconut oil into biodiesel
  • It went very well; we were given an audience with the honorable minister of agriculture, the honorable minister of tourism, and the husband of the princess (the Tongan prince).
  • The government will decide what to do with the information.
  • Yes, you really can convert coconut oil (and many other vegetable oils, including used cooking oil) to make diesel fuel


Over 300 photos from Katey O’Laughlin:

Photo albums hosted on the official EWB-BYU website:

Additional Information / News:

Life is service

Full service.

Originally uploaded by Reinar.

Early in the semester, I had a professor suggest that we go out and “do something more” related to engineering.

I experienced a marvelous awakening. I am enrolled in the Global Engineering Project class, which is supported by the BYU Engineers Without Borders (EWB) club . Early in the semester, I applied for and was selected to be the club historian. As such, I am a member of the club’s executive committee. I was also appointed to be the representative of EWB to the Engineering & Technology Student Council (ETSC). These two opportunities have been wonderful! My eyes have been opened to the many opportunities I have to serve, and I have gained a glimpse into the student leadership in the college.

As you may or may not be aware, Engineers Without Borders is a nation-wide organization. From their website :

Engineers Without Borders – USA (EWB-USA) is a non-profit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life. This partnership involves the implementation of sustainable engineering projects, while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students.

When I think about the marvelous spirit behind such an organization, I am deeply moved. This semester, I have decided to change my career, in large part because of the experiences I have had and will have with this organization. I am now considering fields such as International Development and Information Systems. I want to serve people, full-time. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. When I think about a career that involves helping raise people up from poverty to a level of self reliance, I am overcome with joy. I give thanks to God that I have been given such a wonderful opportunity to serve.

Serving on the ETSC Council has made me realize this truth: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has ” -Margaret Mead . The ETSC is composed of a few executive officers who coordinate with representatives from the many student-run clubs in the engineering college.

For the first time in my life, I was in a well-planned and well-executed meeting! It was efficient, short; reports of previous assignments were given; new assignments were delegated; the secretary was furiously typing the meeting minutes, struggling to keep up with the wonderful pace of the meeting. I attribute the success of the meeting to the council’s president, Berlin Kowallis. She is a commanding character and an example to me. During the few meetings that I attended, I realized the importance of each person at our meetings. I realized my own importance as a representative from the EWB club.

Unlike undergraduate engineering tests, the agenda and questions for ETSC members are open-ended: “What can we do to improve the college? for current as well as future members? for faculty as well as students? What can we do to improve collaboration between clubs? What can I do to help?” These questions have no single answer. They invite people to move, to grow, to extend, to serve.

Before, I saw service as just a bullet point on my resume. Now I realize “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” -N. Eldon Tanner.  This semester has truly been my best semester at BYU, and now I look forward to my last two semesters as I apply these lessons to my life.