Romans 5: 3 - 5
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts
Family and Friends!!! Wa aguan? (How's it going?)
Holy week. I feel like I have grown up these past few days. I was called last week to be a trainer for a new missionary who came to the Ghana, Accra Mission. This means that I am responsible for everything. I am responsible for who we see, where we go, what time we go, what we will be teaching, the paperwork in the mission, training him on how to be a missionary, cooking; and I can tell you it was slightly stressful. If you know me well, you will know that I don't like making decisions. So this week was difficult for me but I am beyond thankful for it. I know that everything I go through will be for my benefit, so I "glory in my tribulations." I know that these things will help me become the man, son and father who I want to be and I am thankful for them.
My new companion is Elder Kambwiri. Elder Kambwiri is 21 years old and from the African country of Malawi. His native language is Chichewa but when he was 12 he learned English in school so he speaks English very well. He is the only member of his family who is alive. His father was a soldier and was killed on a peace-keeping mission and his mother died giving birth to his brother who also passed away. He was too young to remember them. He lived with his aunt and worked as a shop assistant at a Department Store before he came out on his mission. He has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 1 year and 7 months and his testimony is real. He doesn't have much and he has humbled me in so many ways. He has really helped me see how incredibly blessed I am, just in this week. He is a very quiet guy and he doesn't talk a whole lot but he is a great missionary and I know he will bless the lives of many people. When he came, I picked him up and we went to the apartment where I told him to unpack and make it his new home! He was done in a short time because he didn't have much to unpack. He had a few white shirts, a pair of pants, a couple ties, a t-shirt, some basketball shorts and three worn out pairs of shoes. He told me he was going to take a bath and he grabbed his t-shirt and I asked if he had a towel and he just held up his shirt and smiled. I let him use an extra one of mine, but I was amazed to see how happy he was that he just had a shirt. We went out to see the people and we had our first teaching experience together. We taught a sister named Ruth who is investigating the church. We talked to her about Repentance and when he bore his testimony I could feel his tender and loving spirit. He already has a great love for his Savior and the people of Ghana, so I am proud to have him as my companion. He is a great man and I pray that together we can find success in the Teshie 2 Area. We worked very hard together this week and I have come to love him. He is hard working, loves the Gospel, has a testimony, and sweats just as much as I do and he is a great cook! I love him already and together we will be instruments in the hand of the Lord.
We worked very hard this week trying to see all of our investigators and recent converts and every night we fell asleep as soon as we laid down. But we were blessed for our hard work on Sunday. We had 6 investigators come to church which was a miracle. The normal number of investigators is usually 1 and when I saw that there were plenty, my heart was full of joy and thanksgiving. As missionaries, our purpose is to bring people closer to Christ and when we see them trying to come closer to Him, we truly feel joy. We even had one man who came to church on his own. His name is Caleb and he told me that he woke up that morning and something told him that he needed to come to church at this church. I was so thankful that he listened to that prompting and came. We walked home with him and as we talked I was surprised by what I found out about him. We had been walking for a long time and we were in a sketchy slum area when he turned to me and looked me straight in the eyes and said "Elder Bergeson, I'm a street hustler." I was afraid that he was going to rob us but after a few moments he kept on walking and I learned that a hustler in Ghana is different from what I thought a hustler was! What he meant by that was that he had been providing for himself since he was 10. His parents sent him to school in Teshie, paid for his first year of school, and then they left him there. He said that he lived on the streets and that he "took what the street gave him." He paid for his schooling all the way through high school, all from what he earned on the streets. He is such a hard worker and he has struggled for everything that he has and now he does well. He has his own house and is going to start college this upcoming year. He is a rapper and is trying to be sponsored in America. And really he is happy but he had so many questions, especially about why God puts us through trials and things that hurt us. I shared with him Romans 5: 3 - 5 and compared it to lifting, because he trains (lifts) a lot. I told him that if you want to get stronger muscles you have to train. And when you train, you work your muscles hard and they get sore, this is because the muscles are being broken down. But when those muscles come back, they are stronger and can do more work. It is the same with trials. We have trials and difficult times that will break us down. But when we come back, we come back even stronger. We see that in order to be strong we must be broken. In order to have strong faith in Christ, we must be broken through trials. Because it is in those times of struggle when we truly put our faith in Him, knowing that he will make us strong. Jesus Christ loves you. He died for you, but more importantly, he lives for you. He is there to strengthen us when we are weak and he will come when we call. All we need to do is put our faith in Him.
This week I had a funny experience. I call it the Parable of the Nut. On Monday I was walking with my old companion and while we were going I looked on the ground and I saw a Nut (like a Nut that you screw on to a Bolt). I saw it and at first it reminded me of home so I picked it up and slipped it in my pocket. That night I was sitting at my desk thinking about how I would be training this week and I was so nervous. I then thought about the Nut in my pocket so I pulled it out and was looking at it. My mind loves to make connections so I began thinking about how a Nut and Bolt work. The reason that you have a Nut is to hold the Bolt in its place and the tighter the Nut is, the less likely the Bolt will come lose. You can usually tighten it by hand at first because it is easy to turn in the beginning, but after a short time it becomes difficult and you have to use a tool. As you tighten the nut it is the same thing, over and over and over again. You just turn the Nut. You turn and turn and slowly the Nut gets where it needs to go and the Bolt is tight. The Bolt won't move because the Nut was put in place. I connected this to the situation that I had ahead of me. I had just finished my training (the easy part) and was about to begin a very difficult journey. It was time to tighten the Nut. It would be the same thing over and over. I would wake up early each morning and to work all day in the African sun. I would be in charge and to have to teach a new missionary. I would go into an area where I barely know the people. But I just needed to remember that I am not doing it alone. I have a strong tool that is helping me; my Savior Jesus Christ. As a missionary, it's the same thing every day and sometimes you don't feel like you are moving anywhere and you feel useless. But you don't realize that slowly you are being tightened. You are moving towards the place or the person that you want to be. And one day you will see that your bolt is tight and you realize that you will never be moved from your Savior. He tightened you and although it was hard, it is worth it in the end because you cannot and will not be moved. Many of you are going through difficult situations. You might be a new mother, a student in school, a sibling living with your family, a grandparent and each of you might feel that each day is the same and that you aren't moving anywhere. You might be going through trials and feel that things are never getting better. But I hope that you can remember the Nut. Remember that you are going through and experiencing these things so that you will put your faith in Him and one day you will be unmovable. You will be firmly secured in Christ and He will be your strength. When you feel that you are suffering, just remember that HE suffered more and that HE suffered it for you. Suffer yourself to be Tightened.
I love you all and pray that I will make you proud and my Savior proud. I am so thankful that I have been given an opportunity to serve the Lord. I have put my trust in Him and He has strengthened me. I pray that you may do the same.
Elder Kambwiri and Elder Bergeson
New Companion as a Trainer