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 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