Called To Serve

Called To Serve
I am so excited for this opportunity to serve the people in Ghana for the next 2 years! Hope you enjoy all the letters and pictures!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Exercising Charity

Me ma wo akyee Family and Friends!! 

I am learning twi small small and the people hear think it is hilarious. They just laugh when I say things and say, "You are trying!" And they like that I am trying.
This week was such a humbling week. We had a lot of great experiences with the people and with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This week my companion and I went on splits with Ward Missionaries. That means that a man from our ward accompanies each of us so that we are able to see more people than we could on a normal day. That also means that I was in charge of all of the teaching, talking and leading. I have only been in my area 4 weeks and I basically was out on my own. I was very afraid because I don't know the members as well as my companion and I barely know the area, but I prayed a lot for help. I love the people here and I just keep praying that they will love me back. And the splits went very well! I went out with a 20 year old named Beneficent, like magnificent, and we are becoming fast friends. He is very talkative but as soon as we get into a lesson he will not say a word, even when I ask him to bear testimony, so by the end of my day my voice was shot. But I loved being able to talk to the members. There is one lady in particular that I learned a lot about. Her name is Mama Christie. She owns her own produce store and is a recent convert. She loves God and learning so she loves when we visit, but this visit I wanted to learn about her. So I asked her where she grew up and about her family. Her answers were so humbling to me. She grew up in the Bush in central Ghana working on her father’s farm. She is the first born (oldest) with three younger sisters. When she was eight both of her parents were killed leaving her to take care of herself and her three sisters. She said that no one would take them in because they struggled themselves, so she had to provide for all of them. She said that if they didn't work then they would die, no one was going to help them and they had to help themselves. After three years of what must have been the most horrible experiences, some family came to visit and found them and took them to Accra to live with them and she has been here ever since. She said that the gospel has changed her life and that it gives her strength in the most difficult circumstances. She is an example to me.

On a lighter note, I taught my whole apartment this week how to play Speed! Speed is a card game that is played by laying down the cards fastest. My companion from Africa and the other companionship who is from Tonga and Oregon love this game and we now use it to settle disputes, like whose turn it is to clean the bath house! It's a good thing that I am good at this game, I can thank my family for that. One day at lunch we were all eating with our companions, music playing in the background, and all of sudden Back Street Boys came on, and Elder Nissinen (the Elder from Oregon) and I freaked out because we know that song! So we had a good lip-sync concert in the dining room to "I Want it That Way" by the Back Street Boys. We decided that we were going to start a boy band because we are all great singers and dancers. This week I finally cooked an African meal all by myself. It is called Egg Stew; with tomatoes, onions, pepper, hot dogs, fish, tomato paste, and eggs. And then you can eat it with yams or rice and noodles. It actually tasted good! I'm not sure my mom would ever make it but it was definitely edible for a missionary! My next thing to learn how to cook is Ground Nut Soup. 

I had my first near death experience this week. I'm sure there are more to come, sorry Mom! :-) We don't ride bikes in our area because of a few reasons. First, the roads are terrible, filled with potholes and people. Second, there are small ditches and canals everywhere so you have to get off of your bike to pass over the bridges. Well, my companion was tired of getting off so he just rode over a bridge that crossed the main canal, and I decided to follow him. As you know, all men are not created equal, neither are all bikes created equal! And my bike likes to catch air, so I hit the bridge with some speed so that I would get over the lip of the bridge. Keep in mind that the bridges here are made out of planks and are only about 2 yards wide. Anyways, I hit the lip with some speed and my bike and I FLEW!! My missionary life flashed before my eyes, as well as the canal filled with garbage and human waste below me. Luckily I landed on the bridge and my bike landed on the other side of the canal. It was so fun!  Now my goal is to just clear the whole bridge. 

My final experience was with a recent convert named Sarah. I think I might have talked about her, but she is a single mother with a 5 year old named Enshyra and she doesn't have a lot. She has two sets of clothes, a "house" that has no electricity, two pots, and a very old sleeping pad. Her most prized possession besides her daughter is her Book of Mormon. But because of Enshyra she has not been able to get a job or really even live her life. She gave up all of her friends when she joined the church because she didn't want any bad influences in her life and her family will no longer support her because she joined the church. But she KNOWS it is true. She knows it with her whole heart, but she has just struggled so much. The ward has been helping her as much as they can and thanks to them Enshyra started school today so now Sarah is going to start looking for work and I am so excited for her. This week she was telling us how it is difficult for her to sleep at night because the mosquitoes bite her and she doesn't have enough money to purchase a mosquito net. Luckily we had an extra one at the apartment and we went to go install it. I had actually never been inside anyone's house until we walked in Sarah's because we always meet outside, and it was so sad. The house was about the size of a bathroom at home, big enough for a very dirty mattress in the corner and a little space on the sides for a couple pots. She doesn't even have a fan so the nights must be burning. We installed the net and she was so happy. She didn't have any food but she had some water she wanted to give us to thank us. It was so touching and humbling. She loves the Lord and she lives day to day knowing that he will provide for her needs, both physically and spiritually. She has great Faith. 

This week I learned about Charity. In Moroni 7 it says that Charity is the pure love of Christ and that it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. I loved it. If you have Charity you can endure all things. People think that to get through trials or even your mission you have to be strong, but really you need to have Charity. If you have Charity you will love the Lord and because of that love, you will serve him with all that you have. You will go through trials and tribulation, your life will be difficult, but if we have Charity we will love the Lord for all and do his will because we know that it is making us better. The things of this life are preparing us to live with our Heavenly Father and our Savior again. We just need to exercise Charity. Love what you are experiencing, whether good or bad. Love it because you can know that it is making you the person you want to become. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He is there for you always and His Son is there for you. Rely on them.
I love this work and this gospel.


Elder Bergeson   

Enshyra with her new water bottle
and Elder Bergeson

Making his first American meal by himself -
Egg Stew

What he has been surviving on -

Elder Bergeson and Abraham - great kid!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Run and not Be Weary - Literally!

RUNNY TUMMY. Because of it I have a testimony of the promise that you shall run and not be weary. But in my case, I wasn't running with my legs. Unless you count running to the bathroom constantly! Anyways, when you come to Ghana the people in charge of the missionaries are always talking to you about runny tummy and that you need to be careful about what you eat and drink. But as a missionary you are not given the option to refuse food from members. This past Wednesday we went to a member’s house to teach her daughter who we are baptizing this next month and at the end of the lesson Mama O., the member, said she had made us dinner. A big surprise because in Ghana the members never invite you over for dinner because food in Ghana is expensive. So, we ended the lesson and walked into the house and on the table she had Banku, Pepe, Talapia and Hard-Boiled Eggs. Normal food around here and something we eat a lot, so I was excited. We prayed and started in and things were fine except there was one problem. The hard-boiled egg was not all the way hard-boiled. I took the shell off and just popped the egg into my mouth and as soon as I bit into it I knew I was in trouble. My eyes just widened and I looked at my companion and all he said was "Swallow it." And my companion never jokes and I knew he wouldn't talk to me if I didn't eat it, so I did. Well I woke up that night to what felt like contractions, I will never experience pregnancy but that is how I would imagine it, and tore through my mosquito net just in time to reach the toilet. And I hope this isn't too terrible to say, but the only thing I could smell was eggs. 

Oh but what a great two weeks it has been! Hello my family and friends. I miss you all dearly and can't wait to see how everyone is changed when I get back. But I can promise that I am going through the most change. And I am changing into a better version of me. I know that this is where I need to be. 

Well, I have two weeks of stories to try to fit in so here it goes. I have so many thoughts and I hope they come out making sense. Let me first start off about my companion because I'm not sure if I talked about him much. His name is Elder Fayeampah, he is from Ghana, Accra and he is 25 years old. He actually lives about a two hour drive from here so he runs into a lot of people that he knows. He is a professional poet and has won many competitions in Ghana and hopes to become known in the US when he returns home. He has been out for 3 months so he just got done with his training and is now training me. He knows his scriptures so well and is very close to the spirit. He is very serious and so it is something special when you can get a smile out of him! So that is always my goal. And because of how he and other Ghanaians are raised, he hates being asked questions. He believes that the best way to learn is by watching and learning so I am really getting used to that. In America, you can ask questions all the time and receive answers quickly but if you ask him a question, he won't respond until about an hour later, if he feels like the question deserves a response. So definitely a little different from what I am used to but I am getting there. 
There have been a lot of firsts in the past two weeks for me. First off, I got my first hair cut!! And it actually doesn't look too bad! We went to this little shop in the bush (slums) that literally was the size of my closet at home. It had a hair cutting chair and a small chair for one person to wait. The barber started out cutting my companions hair, which made me very, very nervous. Africans have really hard hair so when they cut it they don't use any guards on the shaver because they don't have to worry about cutting too much off. He finished and I just told him that I wanted the sides and back cut and to leave the top. He told me that I was the first white man whose hair he had cut. Great! So he clicked his shaver on and jammed it into to the back of my head and all I heard was: "Oh.. so sorry!" and he started buzzing like crazy and I just kept thinking, oh no oh no, why is he sorry. My companion told me afterwards that the man had no idea how soft my hair was and that he had shaved the back of my head almost bald!! But he fixed it and I have been getting a lot of compliments from the Africans and American missionaries on how nice my hair looks. 

I also accidentally started a neighborhood dance party. We were at a member’s house last Thursday and there was music playing in the street. In Ghana there is always music and people are always dancing. And they are all GREAT dancers! So I asked this 12 year old boy named Abraham if he could teach me some Ghanaian dance moves and he said he would but only if I got him a white girlfriend from America. So I promised him that I had a cousin named Saige who was blonde and played football (soccer) who I would set him up with and he said that would be good. Sorry for the arranged marriage Saige! But he taught me two dance moves. The Azonto and the Ikida. They are so fun and not gonna lie I think they will come in handy at a dance party when I get home. :) They are just fun jumping and stepping moves and before I knew it there was a crowd of little kids around us dancing as well. It was a lot of fun and we even had some parents join in on the fun. I just love that the people here are so happy and love to feel the beat and aren't embarrassed to dance like crazy! 

There is a member in our ward who owns a chop bar (chop means eat) so we go twice a week and we get to eat free, but they give you crazy big amounts of food! Well, crazy big amounts of food for Americans. In America, I used to snack all the time but here you eat only three times a day. We have breakfast at 7:30, Lunch around 10:30, we leave the apartment and then don't return until 9:00 so you have to eat big meals to sustain you. But I haven't been able to finish a dish until last Monday. We went to the chop bar, they gave me a ball of fou-fou about the size of my head, and I FINISHED IT!!!! Elder Nissinen, an Elder in my apartment, however, was not so lucky. And if you leave food on your plate it is offensive so we couldn't just leave it there, but he couldn't finish it. So we did the only thing Americans can do in that situation. Ziploc. He had one in his bag so he just pretended to eat and I held it under the table. Haha, I felt so bad but I couldn't
help but laugh at how ridiculous the situation was. He threw it away as soon as we got back to the apartment. 

I also washed my clothes by myself for the first time this week and I only scrubbed the skin off of 5 of my knuckles! Hand washing is so fun. I fill a bucket about half way with water, poor in some washing powder and then add your whites, or darks, to the water and let it soak overnight. In the morning I start the scrubbing. I am told that when I wash, I only scrub the parts that get the dirtiest, so your armpits, collars and crotch. But I learned that it isn't my strength that gets the dirty out, it is just the soap, so I don't have to scrub too hard. 

I also had my first baptism this Saturday! Her name is Vera and she is 15 years old. I only met with her a few times before but I was asked to do the baptism and so I did. It was a great experience for me and I know that because of it, I have given Vera the chance to make it to live with our Heavenly Father again.

These last two weeks have really taught me to have Faith. I have been struggling a lot recently in feeling the Holy Ghost with me as I am in lessons. But this week we were teaching a lesson to a man named Patrick. It was our second lesson and we were teaching him about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my companion before had told me that I would be teaching about the First Vision. And it was coming up to my turn to talk and I just said a quick prayer to my Father in Heaven asking him to be with me as I taught. And I started. I told him about the first vision and then I bore my own testimony on it. Joseph Smith was visited by our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that he saw them. I wasn't there but I have asked my Heavenly Father personally if what Joseph Smith said is true and by the power of the Holy Ghost it was testified to me that he did see them. I know it. And because of that experience we have Jesus Christ's gospel on the Earth again. And because of what I know I will be able to live with my family in Heavenly Father's presence forever. If I choose to live righteously, now. This life is not the end. I know that if I serve the Lord now I will be blessed in the life to come. No matter what I go through the Savior knows me and each of you personally and he will help you. All we must do is ask. All that Patrick was able to say was: "I'm convinced." I knew that my Heavenly Father had answered my prayer.

I love you all.

Elder Bergeson
Elder Fayeampah, companion
with Vera on her baptismal day
and Elder Bergeson

Vera and Elder Bergeson

Elder Bergeson showing his new hair cut

Finished his first bowl at the Chop Bar

Hand Washing Station

Investigator Clement and Elder Bergeson

Monday, September 7, 2015

Our Savior's Grace


Hello form Elder Bergeson who is currently sitting in a very moist internet cafe in Teshie, Ghana. I've officially been a missionary for 7 days now and already I cannot even tell you how much I have grown.

So we left the MTC early Tuesday morning to go to the mission home to meet our new companions for 12 weeks and our Mission President for 2 years. President Heid is from Seattle and is honestly nothing like I expected him. For some reason I was thinking he would be like dad; cuddly, loving and cries when he talks about spiritual things. I was quite mistaken. He told us in his introduction that he grew up on a tree farm and told us (in a very serious way) that he would be helping each of us grow into strong and sturdy trees. He also said he coached high school football and I think he will run the mission kind of like that. So there were no hugs given or tears shed but we all felt very motivated to get to work. And that's exactly what happened. 

I was at my apartment by 3:00 and we left to go teach an investigator by 4:00. My companion loves to push me and work hard. But let me tell you a little bit about my apartment. It has two rooms, a kitchen, bathhouse, toilet, dining room and walkway. We use a gas stove to cook, we have a shower but it only has cold water so one morning I actually gave myself a bath from a bucket of warm water! It was fun! We are foot missionaries in this area and we walk probably about 10 miles a day. Possibly more, but I seriously love it here. 

My trainer is Elder Fayaempah, which literally translates into "take me seriously" and it is very true. He is very serious about his life and missionary work. He is from Ghana, Accra from a higher class and because of that he doesn't smile or laugh to much so it took some getting used to, but we understand each other very well now! And he has taught me so much! He is a great cook, writer and singer. And of course a great missionary. Our area for 12 weeks at least is named Teshie. It is a town right on the ocean, has three wards and it is the hardest area in the Ghana, Accra mission. There are two parts of town in our area that are basically opposites. One is called the estates, that's where we live and it's super nice for Ghana, the other would probably just be called the slum. It is full of houses that are smaller than my room back home and that have so many people living in them. So we have our work cut out for us, but I have been having a blast! In Ghana members don't invite missionaries over to eat very often so we have been cooking every night and I am getting better each day. I know how to cook African Spaghetti, rice, bean stew, and pancakes!!! There are venders on the side of the street and you can buy about anything. This week I had Banku, Kenkey, Fried Talapia and a love of beans. Our favorite meal is African Spaghetti which is just noodles with diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, hot dogs and sardines. 

This week has been one of a lot of hard work. We taught 28 lessons, 20 lessons to recent converts and less active members, and 6 lessons with a member present. And we are hoping to do even better than that this week. I also committed two people to being baptized, one of them is Clement. Clement is 20 years old and sells coconuts for a living. That means he stands on the street with a wheel barrel of coconuts and a machete and sells them for people to drink out of and then he cuts it up so they can eat the inside. He came up to us while we were walking by and said that he loves Jesus Christ and wants religion in his life. So we have been teaching him and he already says he wants to be like us and go out and share this message with others. Anyways, after our first lesson he stood up and said that he wanted to give us some coconuts which made me really nervous because I do NOT want to get sick but we had to take it because you never want to look rude, so I had a coconut. It was nothing like the juice or anything I have ever had! It was super refreshing but it really just tasted like watery milk and eating tasteless jello. Haha, but it was great watching him just sit there and smile at us. :-) We went and visited a VERY old less active this week that we just call Old Soldier. He lives in the slums in this very old shed and he is the happiest guy I know. He actually liked me so much that he gave me a new name, a Ghanaian name: Kweku Baako. So if you like that better than Kaden you can all start calling me that! :D 

This weekend things got a bit crazy in Teshie because they were having a celebration. It's called the Homowo Festival. It was on Saturday and we tried going and teaching people but no one was home because they were at the festival so we just decided to go check it out. This was one of the craziest things I will have ever witnessed. People come from all over Ghana, and the world, to participate. Everyone in Teshie is part of a different tribe and each tribe has different colors that they wear. There were probably about 12 tribes of 200 to 300 people separated into their different tribes and each was carrying a tribe flag. And basically what they do is run around a 4 mile circle of streets for like 6 hours! We thought it might be fun to walk down the street and see what was happening. I was scared for my life!! Just imagine 300 Africans running at you chanting in unison with their faces painted and shirtless... It was frightening. If you got in their way they would run you over so we could only move 25 yards before the next group would be coming! One group was even smoking weed while running which cannot be healthy for ones system, but everyone was having a blast.

I have learned this week so much about my Savoir's Atonement and the Plan of Happiness. We all came to Earth wanting to be like our Heavenly Father but because of the mistakes of Adam and Eve we are separated from Him physically and spiritually. But the Savior made it possible for us to make it back. He paid for our sins in full; not part of our sins, ALL of our sins. We just need to humble ourselves and ask for his forgiveness. Our Savior was the most humble of all. He suffered for our sins even though he knew the pain would be terrible. He did not want to do it but he said not my will but thine. Because of this he understands EVERYTHING that we feel. He understands our pain, our sorrow, our sickness, our every emotion. He is there for us. And because of him we can make it back. Our Savior's grace and mercy means that we will all be resurrected and live with our Heavenly Father again, but our obedience to his commandments here on Earth will determine what our life will be like after death. What kind of body we will have, how comfortable we will be and how long we stay in Heavenly Father's presence. In the perspective of the eternities, a mission is just a second. I need to make the most of this one second.

I love you all and I love my Savior.


Elder Bergeson

Elder Bergeson and Old Soldier
after church

Where Elder Bergeson walks every day

A place where teaching this week

Elder Bergeson and Elder Fayaempah's Apartment
in Teshie GHANA

Elder Bergeson's very own Mosquito Net
which is much needed in a place where
Malaria is very prevalent!
He takes his Malaria pills every day :)
(8 missionaries were sent home last month from Africa
who contacted Malaria)

Cleaning day......Elder Bergeson's job

The bucket that is used for bathing


Fried Talapia

Cooking Rice on the gas camp stove