Mosiah 23: 21 - 22
21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people: yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
22 Nevertheless - whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.
Me Abusua! Etisen? (My family! How are you?)
What. A. Week. I am loving this great opportunity the Lord has given me to serve Him by allowing me to serve His children in Ghana. I am amazed each week with the lessons that I learn and I know that these are lessons that I will use the rest of my life. A mission is difficult but if it wasn't hard then I would not need to change. And as I change each day I feel myself becoming the man I have always wanted to be and the man that my Heavenly Father wants me to be. It is a new year, 2016, and with it comes a chance to change. We all have an image of who we want to become, now it is up to us to make it happen. As I said before it will not be easy because change is never easy, but I and many others can promise that it will be worth it. This week I have spent a lot of time looking at who I am now and who I want to become. And I have made the decision to change.
I was pondering a lot this week, thinking about my mission so far and a lot about the investigators that Elder Kambwiri and I are teaching in Teshie. As I was pondering I came to the realization that we were doing a wonderful job of strengthening those that are already in our circle but that each day we were walking past many of our brothers and sisters who may have needed our help. So this week I opened my eyes and began looking for opportunities to lift in each moment. We were blessed greatly with many new investigators but besides that I was blessed with joy. I want to share just one of these experiences and keep in mind that Elder Kambwiri and I were experiencing one like this each day. We were walking through our area towards a members home when suddenly our path was blocked by a wall. I've written before that in Ghana people just build walls and houses wherever they want so this happens a lot. We found a way around and we were walking through a compound in which I had never entered. I looked to my left and saw a group of women and children seated in the shade under a large coconut tree. There was a young mother chopping vegetables and then two grandmothers who were watching 5 young children. I had the thought that we needed to go talk to them so I tapped my companion on the shoulder and we walked over. My goal was to lift each day, so I asked the mother if I could chop the vegetables for her. She laughed and said thank you but asked if we would like to sit down. We took our seats and started talking with the three ladies. One grandmother and the mother spoke English well but the other grandma had only been speaking Twi to us for the few minutes we had been there and I had used every Twi word that I knew! I asked if we could share a message and they agreed and quieted all of the children and we began with a prayer, which I offered. And I about gave that grandma a heart attack! I prayed in Twi for the first time!! I've been learning from a member in our ward so I said the Lord's prayer and each time I paused the grandmother said a excited "Amen" and when I finished the whole group shouted "AMEN!" and everyone was looking at me like I was an alien from space. I just laughed. We started our lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and right at the begining a young man walked outside from a nearby house and realized that the grandmother could not understand us, so he offered to translate. He sat down next to me and translated every word that we taught. His name is Michael and at the end of that lesson I knew the reason that we had been prompted to talk to those ladies was not for them, but for Michael. We finished the lesson and the mother prayed and then I thanked Michael for his help and he turned to me and said, "Is everything you just taught true?" I bore testimony to him that it is. I was so thankful for that wall that made us walk another way and that we sat down to visit with those ladies, because we met Michael. I learned again that the Lord works in mysterious ways and that he guides us and puts us through experiences so that we can find or become the people we need to.
New Year's was this week and holy cow I have never seen so many fireworks and people dancing. We had a combined Ward/Branch New Year's Party at the chapel this Friday and it was something to be remembered! Let me just tell you, Ghanaians know how to dance. And I am talking about all ages, even the little 2 year olds that are barely learning how to talk can dance just as well as I can! And the old people.... I thought for sure there were going to be some broken hips because 80 year olds should not be able to shake like that! Haha, but it was I night of fun. And part of the fun was the dance offs. They had a dance off for each age group and even a couples dance. We were getting to the end of it and then all of a sudden we heard over the speakers, "Alright, time for the Elders Dance Off!" Oh no. The crowd cheered and pushed us out onto the dance floor. There we were; Elder Nissinen, Elder Madsen, Elder Kambwiri and I. They started the song and we all spread out to our separate dancing areas and then the beat dropped. And literally at the same time we all just broke it down! I was feeling it, holy cow. I felt like I was back in Boy's Club and the crowd was cheering and laughing like crazy. Well after about a minute they stopped the music and then began the elimination. They yelled out each of our names and the crowd yelled "YOOO" or "NOOO". Elder Kambwiri was eliminated first and then they turned on the next song. I did every move I could remember. The Shoki, Spongebob, Mormon Shuffle, Hip Shaking (thanks to my Mom and Dad) and in the end they said my name and the crowd roared their approval and I won! We started walking back to our seats and then they told me that I had won but I didn't get my prize until I did one final dance by myself. They started the music and I had already done all of my moves so I was trying to think what I could do, and then it came to me. Toe Touch. I can now testify that Ghanaians really love when people jump into the air, do the splits and touch their toes. I finished and was rewarded with 4 suckers and a lot of hand shakes. My bishop was proud to have me serving in his ward. I was just thankful that I didn't tear my trousers!
This week was very humbling. We found out that an Elder in my MTC group lost his father in a car accident. I was deeply troubled when I heard this and I thought about how I would feel if my father, mother or sibling passed away. I was thinking about how I would feel and I would react. Would I be bitter and angry that the Lord had done this to me, or would I remember them and have faith that if I serve the Lord faithfully the rest of my life that I would be able to see them again? It made me think of a scripture in Mosiah. The Lord tries his people's patience. He allows us to experience trials and temptations, pain and sorrow, but as you keep reading you find that what you need to do is put your trust in Him. Life will always be difficult because it is a journey. As you hike to the top of a mountain the journey does not get easier. The path gets steeper and it gets harder to breath and you get more tired with each step that you take. But it is all worth it in the end. The Lord promises us that if we put our trust in Him we "shall be lifted up at the last day." We just need to remember Him in our trials and remember that we experience trials because He loves us. And as we rely on Him we will be able to bear them. He loves us. He experienced every single thing that you are going through. He weeps with you and he rejoices with you. He is there for you and you just need to have faith and to put your trust in Him. This new year is the time to change and I pray that you will ask Him to help you change. And then allow yourself to be changed into the person He wants you do be.
I love you all and I am thankful for the examples each of you have been in my life. Please remember Elder Kambwiri and I in your prayers.
Elder Bergeson ate crab for the first time
and despite the expression on his face,
he actually liked it
Sister Sarah had the missionaries over for a
New Years Party - The Dance Off