John 16: 33
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
In life you sometimes just have to smile through the pain, or "be of good cheer" as you pass through the tribulations. Elder Hanberg and I experienced this each day as we were serving the people here in Agbogba. The best was at our Agbogba Ward Missionary Fireside. They met at 5:00 and prepared Banku with Pepe and Fried Fish and then had the meeting at 6:00. As soon as we got there the members sat us down and gave us two balls of Banku with the Pepe and they all gathered around just waiting for us to taste the food. These Ghanaians like HOT Pepe, which I am very used to. However, Elder Hanberg has only been here for two weeks... As soon as I took a bite I knew we were in trouble. The Pepe was fire; my tongue, lips and fingers were burning and my nose started running instantly. I smiled and said it was delicious, as usual. Elder Hanberg tried to do the same, unfortunately the tears coming from his eyes told the members different. They were laughing and so were we, laughing and crying because it was so hot. But we finished it. We also had to smile a lot as people rejected us. It is disappointing but we have a peace in our hearts and we know that we have done our part. I love serving the Lord here in Ghana.
This Wednesday we contacted a man named Alfonzo. We were walking down a back road and we saw a sister carrying two buckets of water. I jogged over and offered to carry them for her. We picked them up and followed her down the dangerous Ghanaian roads. When we reached her home we met her father, Alfonzo. He called us over and invited us to sit down and asked if we were evangelists. We explained that we were missionaries and that we had a message to share with him. We started with a prayer and began teaching him the lesson of the Restoration, my favorite lesson for the work here. We only made it through how God calls prophets before we needed to go. He had many questions. We saw him again on Friday and we started out by reading Mathew 16: 15 - 19 and talking about Apostles, Revelation, and the Priesthood. Christ gave His Apostles the "keys of the kingdom of heaven." Without this key you can only bind things on Earth, but not in Heaven. We talked about how Christ and His Apostles were killed and that these "keys" were lost. I said this and instantly Alfonzo got irritated. He finally said, "Then what are we doing here, right now?! If there are no keys then what are you and every other Church doing?" I was very grateful at that moment and in every moment for a loving Heavenly Father who would not leave His children here on Earth without the keys to bind things here on Earth, and in Heaven. Elder Hanberg and I testified that our Heavenly Father has again called a prophet, in which He has restored those priesthood keys. He was not convinced by the end of the lesson, but his question has not left my mind, "Then what are we doing here?!" I am thankful for the peace this Gospel brings.
Now for the cultural and funny story of the week. Agbogba Ward is part of the Adenta Stake here in Ghana. In July the Stake is holding a cultural presentation where each Ward will be performing a cultural dance. We were assigned the Pasana. So this Sunday after Church they had a group come to teach our Ward the dance. The group came with two drummers(like African drums), one bamboo flute player, and one dancer who we would follow. After Church Elder Hanberg and I were teaching a lesson with Sister Gifty and Brother Ezekial and I thought we would miss it. After our lesson though I ran upstairs and went out on the balcony to find my Ward doing the funniest dance. These Relief Society sisters were getting down to the drums and their husbands were moving like they were young men again! When they saw us they pushed me to the front with the teacher and told me to follow. The dance involves a lot of hip moving and chest popping. Luckily I learned how to do both from my sisters at home! :D You start first by doing fast feet in place, like what you would do right before you do an up-down in football, and you move your arms in slow circle. Then the drums stop and they do a big BOOM, and that is when you pop your hip to the right. Then a BOOM-BOOM, you pop your hip left right. Then you pop your hips slow to a boom boom boom. Then you step back and pop the chest. It is hilarious. The Ward was cheering and they told us we would be joining them in the presentation. I'm here to serve and I am making a family here in Agbogba.
One of our recent converts, Sister Comfort, recently had her baby. She was 10 months pregnant and it was a hard pregnancy for her. With her first child she had a c-section and she was praying she wouldn't have to get one this time because the more you get, the smaller your chances get of having more children. But the baby wasn't coming so they cut her. She was so sick through her pregnancy and her husband had to leave her when she was at 5 months and returned a week before she delivered. She has passed through so much, and most of it was alone. But every time that we went to see her, she was smiling. I was amazed by this. Not matter what she was going through she was always smiling and showing love to us and those around her. I asked her this week how she did it. She said, "Mr. Begasin, I know that God is watching over me and so I don't worry. I have peace inside." Comfort reminded me of something our Savior said, "ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." We will all pass through tribulations. It is a part of life and we are meant to learn from them. But we should pass through these trials, pains, sicknesses, disappointments and shortcomings with peace in our hearts. We can have peace in our hearts because we have a Savior who has passed through them too, and He has overcome them all. So be of good cheer. Put a smile on. Eat some food that makes your nose run. Shake your hips to your favorite song. Pray to your Heavenly Father, He hears His children. Pass through this life with peace in your heart and each day you will find joy. I know that our Savior lives and that He will help you through His Atonement. He loves you and as we love Him, we will feel of that peace in our hearts in every moment.
I love you all and ask for your continued prayers. Be of Good Cheer this week. :)
Dancing the Pasana
Charles, Comfort and Chibuike (new baby)