James 2 : 14,17
"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?"
Family and Friends!
Ekom de me paaa. That means "I'm starving!" in Twi and I use it a lot because that is the only thing I know how to say. (They add paa at the end of words to stress them, which changes the meaning from hungry to starving.) And it sometimes gets me into trouble because I'm not actually hungry, I just want to impress the local people with my small knowledge of their language. They like to hear the Abruni's speaking their tongue.
One day Elder Fayeampah and I were walking to go see one of our investigators. In our area there are three paved roads, the other roads are dirt paths that are really just spaces between the houses that cars can pass through. But like I said, there are only three paved roads so people can do anything they want with the land between the roads. And that's why there are houses/shacks/sheds everywhere, random canals and ditches, goats and sheep eating and pooping wherever they please, and garbage. So much garbage. Well we were walking down a path that we normally took and we rounded the corner and ran into a wall! The wall hadn't been there the day before but someone decided they wanted to build a building in the middle of this well used path. And if you have the money to do it then no one can stop you! So we had to find a different route and we started walking. We were walking through this compound and we saw 4 girls sitting down on a door step and they called us over. We spoke to them and learned their names and then set up a return appointment. We came back a few days later and we started teaching these girls. One of them is named Dorine and right away I saw something different about her. We were talking about The Gospel of Jesus Christ that tells us that if we want to live with our Heavenly Father again, we have to do 5 things. We must have faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repent of our sins, be baptized by someone who holds the Priesthood (the power and authority to act in God's name), be given the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. When we spoke about baptism, Dorine really started to get interested in what we were talking about. It looked like she was just waiting on our every word and when we finished what we were teaching I asked her what she was thinking. She told us that she had been baptized in her church but that she didn't know where her preachers authority had come from. I bore my testimony to her and all of the other girls there, by that time I counted 17 teenager and young adult women gathered around us, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on the Earth that has the complete Priesthood Authority of God. I know that Joseph Smith saw our Heavenly Father but more importantly, I know that Joseph Smith was given His power so that we can be saved and return to live with Him again. I invited sister Dorine to be baptized and she accepted. At the end we asked one sister to give us a closing prayer and she said she would but only if we sang her one of our worship hymns. Elder Fayeampah and I could only think of one that we both knew; Israel, Israel, God is Calling. So we sang with our hearts and I even sang the descant that I learned in the MTC from the missionaries from Cope D'Va. They loved our song and we received a round of applause from the 17 girls gathered around us. I was grateful at that time for a good choir instructor who made me sing solos often, because girls make me nervous and especially that group. So thank you Mr. Holloway! :) And I look back now and realize that if that wall had not been built in the middle of the path we would have never found those girls. I know that the Lord is in charge and He works in my life and in the lives of others.
This week Elder Liongitau taught me a very valuable lesson about faith. We were having our weekly meeting with the missionaries in our area and Elder Liongitau was giving us an instruction. He walked to the front of the room and set a pen on the table. He then told us that as missionaries we have great faith and that we are told that if you have great faith you can move mountains. He then said that if we can move mountains then we certainly should be able to move a small pen. He said, "Elder Bergeson, you have great faith! Move this pen with your faith." I was only able to say, "If the Lord wanted that pen moved then I would be able to move it." He then said to my companion, "Elder Fayeampah, you have great faith! Can you move this pen?" Elder Fayeampah stood up, walked to the table, said "Faith is an action word" and moved the pen and returned to his seat. What a great lesson! Faith is hoping for things which are not seen which are true. but like James Chapter 2 states, faith without works is pointless! I have faith that the Lord will lead me to the people who are prepared to hear the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I show that faith by going out each day and working hard to find them. We often pray and ask Heavenly Father for things. We ask for blessings, maybe that we may have all that we need in our lives or that we can find a job or that we can get good grades in school, and it is great to ask our Father for those things. But the question is, what are you going to do so that God can answer those prayers? Are you going to sit at home all day and wait for those blessings to come? Let me tell you, you'll be waiting for a long time. You need to get up and go out and show your Father in Heaven that you deserve those blessings, and I believe that in his time he will give them to you. Faith is more than just believing, it's doing. That is why I've left my life to serve a mission. I have Faith in my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I showed that faith by coming to Ghana.
This week we visited one of our recent converts named Old Soldier. His name Kojo Boatey but he served in the Ghana military from 1964 - 1991 so we call him Old Soldier. I actually started calling him grandpa and it pleases him because he likes saying he has a white grandson! Well I decided to ask him what he learned from being in the military and instantly he answered me saying, "Becoming a soldier takes more than one day! You have to learn to shoot to kill. You shoot and if you miss, you shoot again. And again, and again, and even if you hit the target, you keep shooting so that you become perfect." As a missionary my mind instantly linked this to the Gospel. I was reading in Alma 43 and it talks about two civilizations, the Nephites and the Lamanites, who have gone to war. The Nephites, in verse 18 and 19, "were armed with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war... with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads" but the Lamanites were "not prepared with any such thing." And because of this "they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites." I was listening to Old Soldier talk to me about how he prepared as a soldier and I was thinking of these verses in the Book of Mormon. How are we preparing ourselves as soldiers of the Lord? Are we putting on our armor? Are we practicing our shooting so that we can become perfect at it? There will be enemies that will come up and we will be forced to shoot and will we hit the target and survive? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. It begins with Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We must believe that the Savior truly took upon Himself our sins, our weaknesses, our imperfections and then died for us. All so that we can become free from the pain and guilt and live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. But like I said earlier, faith is an action word. Christ truly can change us, he can help us become someone we never thought possible. He can bring us peace and happiness in a world that is full of dangerous enemies. But when we have Christ and we exercise faith in Him, those enemies will never be able to conquer us and we shall never fear. Our God is with us. I know that your Savior and your Heavenly Father love you. They love you more than we will ever comprehend in this life, and they want to bring you happiness. So have faith! Jesus Christ's Church is on the Earth again and I know it is true. I know it with my whole being and I pray that you will have the faith to act and to find this out for yourself.
I love you all and I love this Gospel. I feel your prayers and know I have people at home supporting me.
Teaching them young
Elder Bergeson and Old Soldier
Priscilla and Elder B at church
Enshyra doing Elder B's hair