Alma 56: 48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
Family and Friends!
What a great experience I had this week celebrating the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. And the experience was made even better being able to celebrate it in Ghana with my brothers in the field. I will never forget the experiences we had and the memories we have made. This week Elder Kambwiri, Elder Nissinen, Elder Madsen and I created one of the most memorable weeks I will ever have on my mission. I think the reason Christmas is so special is because it brings together two of the most important things in our lives, Christ and our family. This week we had the opportunity of being able to feel the love of both of them. And although we were not able to celebrate with our families at home, I did celebrate with my family in Ghana.
Since last week our apartment has been trying to get into the Christmas spirit so this week we decided we would go Christmas caroling! We quickly learned that the people in Ghana have never experienced good American Christmas Caroling. It was hilarious as we went from home to home and met the people and they each gave us the same reaction: "STOP SINGING!!!" We would walk up and just start in with whatever Christmas hymn we felt we should sing and people from all over would come running to see who was singing. As the crowd was gathering the members we were seeing would start telling us to stop singing! But the crowd loved us and as we finished our hymn and then we wish you a merry Christmas we got a round of applause. I felt like we were a famous caroling group on tour and they sure treated us like one! I wish we received that same kind of response in America.
One Christmas Eve we also had some serious celebrating. I had been gathering wood for about a month (since I had had this wonderful idea) so we had a huge bonfire Christmas Eve. As the fire died down we sat around the fire and sang a few Christmas carols. We shared good memories from home about camp fires and especially the fires we had at home on Christmas. After, we went inside and by the lamp light we read about the birth of Christ in Luke Chapter 2. Then we sang a few more hymns, ending with Silent Night. The Spirit was very strong as we sang that song and I felt my loving Savior beside me as I sang and reflected about Him. I had been pondering a lot about how I could love a man who I never knew, my Savior Jesus Christ. Then as I was reading the next day I came across a scripture in 1 John 4 : 19. It says "We love him, because he first loved us." This scripture struck my heart and it is so true. I love Him because He first loved me. That is why he came to Earth. He came to Earth for me, to save me from my sins so that I can return to my Heavenly Father. I felt Him as I sang "Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm, all is Bright." The Savior can bring those things into our lives and that is why He came. Because of Him I can feel calm in a world of trouble. I can feel holy and bright in a world that is growing ever increasingly dark. A Savior was born for me and a Savior was born for you. Let us remember Him always.
On Christmas I woke up early to watch the Ghanaian sunrise and then I went down and we opened presents. After, I made a large breakfast of pancakes and sausage (hot dogs, it's the best I could do) and man we had a feast. In the afternoon my companion and I went out to give a few of our investigators and members some gifts. While we were riding out I saw a woman walking from house to house with her small son walking behind her and an even smaller baby boy on her back. I didn't know what she was asking for until later. We stopped at the end of the road to talk with an investigator and as we were talking this same lady called us over. We came over and in very limited English she asked us if she could wash our clothes. My heart was so heavy. This woman had spent her Christmas day walking around looking for a way to get money so that she and her two sons could eat that night. I said we didn't have any clothes but that we could buy her some food. She asked if she could have some rice. We walked down the street towards a store and I held her young sons hand and just thought of how grateful I was for the many blessings that I took for granted. I bought that wonderful mother some rice, tomatoes and onions and as I looked into her smiling face I testified to her that her Father in Heaven loves her. She didn't understand English very well so I just kept repeating the line with tears in my eyes, "God loves you." I walked away wishing I could give her a place to rest her head, a place where she and her sons could take a bath and wash away the dirt that covered them, but I know one day they will return to their Father in Heaven and He will give them that rest. All thanks to our wonderful Savior.
The next day was Saturday and our day was wonderful again. At 7:00 am we were called by a member in the Sangonaa Branch telling us that he had a cat for us and that we would eat it that afternoon. Yes, I said a cat. We got ready for a baptism we had that morning. We baptized a man named Robert who is 63 years old and a small boy named Spencer who just turned 8. It was so special because it showed me that we baptize anyone who wants to follow Jesus Christ, whether they are old or young. It was great experience and after we went and chopped (ate) cat! They gave me the best parts, the cat heart and tail, mostly because the other Elders were too afraid to put that in their mouths. Cat surprisingly tastes like Chicken and it has the same texture too, so I may have eaten it before. Who knows! But it made for a good memory I will never forget.
Every missionary is given the opportunity to call home on Christmas to talk with their family and it was quite a special opportunity. But leading up to it I was so nervous because I was afraid it would make me miss home and my family. So I sat down to read my scriptures, praying desperately for peace. I read Alma 56 where it talks about some young men who were called to fight a war against the enemies and although they had never fought, they did not fear death. They didn't think about their own lives because they could only think about the lives of their families. And they knew that if they did not doubt that God would protect them. They said, "We do not doubt our mothers knew it." Those words at that time became my words. I do not doubt, my mother knows it. I can relate very well to those young men. I have been called to serve a mission and right now I don't feel that I know much about missionary work. But my mother has always taught me that if I do not doubt in the Lord that he will support me. And because of that I will never doubt. My Lord is with me and he will never let me fall. I will go through hardship and trials but He is always near me. It is the same in each of our lives. If we have faith in our Savior then he will be there to protect us and help us through our battles. He loves us and that is why He came to the Earth. He knew He would be killed but He allowed it to happen because He loves you. Remember Him at all times and He will support you through this life, because He loves you.
I love you all and ask for your continued prayers in my behalf. As I think of you it helps me to work harder.
Not only are these boys missionaries but
they are professional carolers in Ghana:)
Eight Elders in 1 taxi on the way to
Zone Christmas Party
Elder Odili on left (Elder Bergeson's MTC companion)
and their companions
at the Christmas Party
(picture taken from the roof)
Kissing cats - must be missing Sabra our dog
Elder Bergeson eating cat heart and liked it
Robert at his Baptism