Matthew 7: 25
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
My family and friends,
Missionary work is full of change. Missionaries leave their homes to serve the Lord full-time in foreign lands, a great change. They make plans each day but it doesn't go as planned. Missionaries try to meet with investigators but they keep running away so we change to new ones. Missionaries also become great friends with their companion and then that companion is changed. But it makes Missionary life pretty exciting. The great part is that we don't fall even with all of this change as long as we are built upon a rock; the Rock. This week I started training my new companion, Elder Hanberg. It is always a little different serving with a new missionary. They are almost completely dependent on you for the first few days but he has helped me learn so much. I love him and I am grateful to have him serving by my side.
Elder Hanberg is 19 years old and from Utah. He is the last born in a family of 6 boys. His father is the owner of a family farm that they all worked on growing up. He played outside linebacker on his American Football team at home. He loves the Gospel and he knows that it is true. Because he grew up in a very small town (they only have one stop-light there) he is very reserved which is the opposite of how Ghanaians are. But he is here for the right reasons and is ready to work. We get along great and we are learning a lot from each other. It has been so funny to be able to see his reaction to everything and then remember what it was like to be in Ghana for the first time. The first thing I did was buy him Ghanaian food to eat. After every food he tries I ask him, "How is it?" And he responds the same each time, "It's.... different." Your tongue has to change when you come here. The food is HOT and SPICY. He is also beginning to understand that. It is also a big adjustment to the culture. Women breast-feed openly here and he saw it for the first time the first day he was here as we sat down to visit with the Relief Society 1st Councilor. I couldn't help but laugh at his startled reaction. Adjusting to the heat has also been a challenge for him. He sweats like I do and whenever we are in the apartment he has a fan running full blast on his face. I laugh but I remember when I experienced it. I love how much the Lord has asked us to grow as we serve Him. Missionary work is difficult and doing it in Ghana makes it that much better.
Elder Hanberg and I are having a great time teaching and learning how to teach here in Ghana. During one lesson there was a recent convert who asked a great question, "What can we do if we see one of our fellow members losing faith?" I asked her what she had done to grow her own faith. She responded and had a few great comments on her conversion process. Sister Hannah used to be a singer in the Pentecostal Church, a very prominent and popular calling. She loved it. She travelled for some time though and while she was away she attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with her brother. She felt something there and when she returned she found it in Agbogba and started attending. She said that it was very difficult to adjust, sometimes she just wanted to stand up in the middle of sacrament meeting and start singing her Gospel songs, but she said she felt the Spirit more as she was reverent and tried to listen. I was impressed and then she asked what we had done to grow our faith. I turned to Elder Hanberg and asked him to share his thoughts first. He turned to Hannah and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand any of that. Your accent is still different to me." I laughed again. I told him her question and he shared a wonderful testimony. I love that the Gospel brings people from all different walks of life together so that they can feel of God's love. I am thankful for this opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters here in Ghana.
Last Monday was my last day with my former companion Elder Ferrell. Elder Ferrell has never been to the ocean before, and because I wanted him to remember our companionship we decided to wake up am. and go to watch the sunrise on the beach. It was our Preparation Day so this is our free day to prepare for the week. We picked up a car from Agbogba and made it to the Accra beach just as the sun was peaking through the clouds. We hiked in through the sand dunes and then ran to the water from the top of the dune! We took pictures and enjoyed splashing around in the water, since we are not allowed to swim. As we were enjoying on the beach I started to look around and noticed that the sand dunes were filled with small sand-houses. Basically they were just wood posts that had sand packed around the base, like a small wall that went up to my knee in height, and tied at the top of the posts were pieces of fabric. They looked like sand tents. I was looking at these and thinking how cool these were. People were waking up and coming out of them and just going about their life as normal. I thought how great it would be not to have to pay for a house and just to be there. Then I thought about the rain. It rains often in Ghana and I can only imagine what it would be like to be inside one of these "houses" when it was raining. My mind immediately went to Matthew 7. Everything in your life would be fine, until the rain and the floods and the winds came. When they came you would see how mistaken you were in building on the sand. But in verse 25 it tells of what would happen if the house was built "upon a rock." Each of our lives are filled with rain, and floods, and winds that continue to beat upon us; sometimes it feels like there will never be an end. But it tells us that all of these things "beat upon that house; and it fell not." As we build upon Christ and his Gospel, no matter the trials, sicknesses, death, shortcomings, changes, or heartaches, we will not fall. I've seen it in my life that as I have passed through my own struggles and disappointments, I have felt a peace in my heart that comes from my relationship with my Savior. As you come closer to Him, and as you build upon Him, you will feel His love for you and a peace that will come to you in any storm you are braving. You are loved by your Heavenly Father and your Savior. They know you. They smile with you as you come closer to them. Even when life beats upon you, as you build upon Christ you will not fall.
I love you all and I ask for your continued prayers. Even if the work is not moving, know that we are.
Elder Bergeson doing a toe touch. He said,
Boys Club paying off in Ghana."
Ghana is full of pure water.
This is garbage on the beach.
Elder Bergeson's new companion he is training,
Elder Hanberg from Utah.