Romans 1: 16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
My Dear Family and Friends,
Why ye die pa!! This means you've done well, and we love saying it to the little kids after we finish playing football with them in the streets. They love to hear us speak Twi and they are always surprised to hear a white man speak their language. Elder Kambwiri and I had yet another great week! We have 8 investigators who are preparing for baptism in the coming months and we can only thank our Savior for His help in our work. We are feeling the blessings from the Lord each day, whether it is a new investigator or a funny moment that we are able to laugh about, we see it as the Lord's hand. He is with us and He will never forsake us.
Holy cow this week was full of a lot of new experiences, both spiritual and physical. I'll start as always with the crazy experiences. On Thursday afternoons we always visit our Bishop's mother named Mama Matilda and we button shirts for her. She sells collared shirts so she goes and buys them in the market and then we button them for her. She loves feeding us too so I get to experience real Ghanaian food every week. That morning we had eaten at another members house and apparently the fish had gone bad so of course when it had gone through my stomach it was ready to come out that afternoon, right when we were at Mama Matilda's. And it just hit me like a wall. I was sitting there folding shirts and then I was up and saying, I need to go to the bathroom. NOW. I called Mama Matilda and asked where I could go to the bathroom and she pointed to a small building that I later found out was a public restroom. I ran over and paid the 50 peswas to get in and as I am hobbling my way over to the building the guy yelled at me, "Do you need any paper?" I thought he meant toilet paper and so I said yes. He dug into a box next to him and pulled out a newspaper. I accepted it thinking I was supposed to read it and that there would be toilet paper inside. Well, I pulled open the door and the smell that came to me reminded me of rotten potatoes mixed with the paper mill smell that you get when you travel to Walla Walla. (I think) But like I said, I needed to go bad, so I pushed through the smell and went to the first stall. I looked in and there was just a hole in the ground with two cement blocks on each side. Next stall had the same thing, and these stalls don't have doors. So basically the public restrooms are just cement buildings that are built over a big pit with holes for toilets. And there was no toilet paper, just the newspaper I was holding in my hand. Great! I had to go to the bathroom, so I did my best. I just stepped onto the blocks and held my pants and shirt out of the way so that they wouldn't get anything on them. Luckily I had some tissues in my pocket so I was able to enjoy my newspaper. In Ghana no one has a toilet in their home, unless you have a nice house like our apartment. It was an interesting experience and I gained a new respect for toilets.
Then on Saturday our District (that is 10 Elders who work in the same area) came to our apartment for Dinner. I cooked Jollofrice, Fried Chicken and Fried Plantain. I used 3 kilos of rice in the Jollofrice and we ate the whole thing. It was the most I have ever cooked and it was completely on my own. So I feel ready for college and any ward party when I get home. After we ate we went around the table telling each other about ourselves. I told them I had danced for 5 years so they asked to see some clogging. I stood up on the table and showed them a double step rock step! They loved it.
This week we had the opportunity to go out with a Ward Missionary named Beneficent. We go out with him often because he loves missionary work and he is preparing to go on a mission himself. Because he is preparing for missionary work, we decided to do finding with him, which we had never done before. We worked our way into a compound and were able to sit down with a family of 3; Rita, Bernice and Lorishia. We introduced ourselves and they asked us to share a message with them. I shared with them the scripture in Ephesians 2: 20 that tells us that Christ's church was built upon the foundation of apostles, prophets and Jesus Christ. I was sharing our message about how our loving Heavenly Father has called a prophet in these days to lead and guide His church, when Lorishia, an 18 year old girl, began to yell at us about how what we were saying was all lies. She became so loud that her older brother, I am guessing he was 28, came out of the house and he was drunk. Very drunk and not in a good mood. He walked up to me and squatted until he was about a foot from my face and started yelling at me in Ga. I was very concerned that he was going to hit me but right when he started raising his hand Bene said something in Ga. Bene is only 18 years old and he is a very shy and skinny young man and the drunk man that was standing in front of me looked like he had been lifting from the time he could walk. But Bene said something in Ga and then he did the most amazing thing; he bore his testimony. I watched him as He testified that Heavenly Father did call a prophet, Joseph Smith, to lead and guide His church in these days and that we have a living prophet today. He testified of the Book of Mormon and the Atonement of Jesus Christ and as I watched him I felt the truthfulness of his words in my heart. He didn't say much but what he did say was powerful. He thanked those people and then we left. I gave him a knuckle bump and told him I was so proud of him. The only thing he could say was, "Is that what missionary work is really like?" I said yes, bearing testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel is exactly what missionary work is like. And bearing it no matter what opposition is standing in your way.
Elder Kambwiri and I went to see one of our recent converts named Robert. I am working on becoming good friends with all of our members so I was asking Robert a lot of questions. He is 63 so I asked him what role religion has played in his life. And he told me an amazing story of faith. He and his brother went to Nigeria when he was newly married to work in a Bank. He left his wife in Ghana with his children and was sending them money each month. After a few years he wanted to return home to see his family so he and his brother took a company car and started for the Nigerian border. They reached the place they wanted to cross but they would not allow him to cross. He showed them all the correct papers but they did not allow him. They were about to return home when 3 young men came to him and said that they knew a different way that he could get across the border, this way was through the bush. They drove for some hours north and they were deep in the bush when they came to a village in the afternoon. The young men told them to park the car there and then in the evening they would come back to show them the way. Evening came and when the young men came back they came with a mob of men carrying torches, cutlass, machetes and axes. The young men had led them to a band of robbers and they wanted to kill Robert and his brother. They surrounded the car and they were threatening them but apparently they couldn't kill them until their leader returned. So they had to wait for three hours as these men surrounded the car and talked about killing them. Robert told me that his brother was so frightened but that he wasn't scared. I was amazed and asked how. He told me that he trusted in the Lord. He knew that if it was his time to die then this was it, but he felt that there was still more that he needed to do so he knew that his Savior would protect him. They started praying, and that is when the robbers started to mock them and laugh at these Christians. But Robert was not ashamed to pray because he knew that he needed the Lord's help now more than ever in his life. He kept praying and then the leader returned. The leader for some reason said that they were not killing these men and that they were to let them go free. He can still remember the look in those men's eyes as they looked from their leader to Robert, but they reluctantly let them go. Robert told me that it was a miracle and that he has never forgotten the Lord because of that. The experienced reminded me of Romans 1:16. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ." Robert in the midst of his trial called upon Christ to help him and his brother, and although he was mocked, he was not ashamed because he knew that the real help would come from Him. Most of us will never have an experience like this, but we do have experiences where we are mocked for our actions or beliefs. As members of the church and as followers of Christ we stand out from the world. We suffer judgments and persecution because of it but we must always remember to never be ashamed. In the difficult times we must remember our Savior Jesus Christ and we must never be ashamed of it. Living the Gospel is the only way that we will be able to live with our Heavenly Father again. Life will be difficult because of the choice we have made to follow Christ, but we must never feel ashamed of who we are. We are sons and daughters of a King and we must stand tall, boldly telling the world that we are not ashamed. And one day we will stand before our Father and we will be able to say, "I am not ashamed." This mission is helping me grow and each day I am seeing the blessings that living the Gospel brings into my life and the lives of many others. May we all be a little bolder in living the Gospel and sharing it, because we will not be ashamed. Our Savior is there for us and through Him we can make it back to our Heavenly Home. Never be ashamed of that.
I hope this week we can all feel of our Savior's love and remember that we should never be ashamed because He is on our side. I love you all.
Elder Bergeson cooking Jollofrice for 10 Elders
at his apartment for his District -
that is 3 kgs of rice that they ate up!
Homemade pancake recipe from home
Public Toilets - Yikes!