2 Timothy 1: 7 - 8
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”
Elder Hanberg and I had another miraculous week. I say miraculous because I feel that our work has been full of miracles. Not big miracles, because to me even making someone smile is miracle. Life in Ghana is difficult and being a member of the Church here brings its own challenges, but I know that the Lord is with His children here, and that He is directing us to those who are prepared to hear our message.
Gifty and Ezekiel are my best-friends here. We met Gifty about 2 months ago when we were going to teach another friend inside her sewing shop. I remember she wouldn't even try to talk to us because our Brofono (English) was too big, but one day we took a member with us who translated it into Ewa, another Ghanaian language. Once she heard about the Restoration she was hooked and we have been meeting with her and her husband, and they are preparing to be baptized this month. Reading with them from the Book of Mormon was impossible. They don't have the Book of Mormon in Ewa and they read English but they do not understand what they read, so we brought them a Book of Mormon Stories that we have been looking through and discussing. But this week we found out that they read and understand French because they were born in Togo, and they sell French Book of Mormon's at the temple! We purchased two and then brought them to her this last week. I handed it too Gifty and the she took it but just looked at me as if to say, "You know I can't read this." But when she looked down and read Le Livre De Mormon, she started jumping and clapping. She was so happy! She even went to hug Elder Hanberg who almost bolted through the door away from her. New missionaries are always a little nervous around these wonderful African people. But we were very happy that day and so was Gifty and Ezekiel. Once Ezekiel had his copy he was reading it. I turned to ask him how his day had been and it took a few tries to get his attention. So we prayed and read in the Book of Mormon about Repentance, using the story of Alma the Younger in Alma 36. For a few lessons Gifty had been telling us how difficult it had been for her to forgive others and our answers were never satisfying her, until that day as we read from the Book of Mormon. Alma talks about how that pain he had felt for his sins was completely forgotten from the joy he felt through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I asked Gifty if she had felt this in her life when she had asked God to forgive her. She said yes. We then expressed that she needed to forgive others so that they too could feel of this relief and joy. I could see the change in her that had come from reading this story. It is a testimony to me of the blessing that the Book of Mormon is in the lives of those who live by its teachings. It is my hope that each of us may continue to cherish the testimony that Jesus is the Christ that is found in the Book of Mormon.
Elder Hanberg and I received new names this week. We went to go see a less-active member named Jackline and now everyone in her compound calls Elder Hanberg Felicia, and they call me Monica. When we got to Jackline's we found her at her neighbor's house, Monica, it was Monica's birthday and Jackline was helping her cook. And resting by the group of women that were there was a large pile of dishes. Elder Bergeson loves doing dishes! I grabbed the scrubber and filled a bucket with soap and water and started washing. The women started telling us to stop because it was not right for a man to be washing dishes, but I told them that we are still young men and that it is our calling to serve. They were looking so embarrassed and then some men that Monica had invited showed up and they were really laughing and making fun of us. But I was going to finish these dishes. In the process we earned the names of Monica and Felicia. We finished and Jackline offered us a seat and some water. Then we had a small miracle. One of Monica's friends who had been there from the beginning had been watching us. She was impressed and she wanted to know what two white men were doing in Ghana washing dishes for strangers. We introduced ourselves and asked if we could share our message with her. She took a seat and we had a great lesson in which I felt the Spirit bear testimony that our Heavenly Father loves us and because He does, He has called a prophet in these last days, to help us return to Him. The sister thanked us but said that she was happy with her church. She did not accept our message, but we planted a seed and to me it was a miracle.
Each week we visit one of our dear friends, Sister Lucy Appiah. She has been a member for 2 years now and she has gone through some of the most difficult trials. Before she joined the Church she was happy with 3 children, her loving husband, and her own food shop. She had many friends who came to see her often and she was living a free life. About a week after she joined the Church, her food shop was broken into and they stole everything, along with the money. A few months later, her husband was involved in an accident at work and lost the fingers on his right hand. And because of that he lost his job. Because of the job loss they had to send their oldest son to live with his grandparents. As we have become better friends she actually told us that she wanted to stop the Church because the life that she loved seemed to have been taken away from her. She was angry and hurt and scared. Since we started seeing her she has changed. She smiles again and feels of the Spirit in her life again. But still there are problems and as we saw her this week she expressed to us the fear that she lives. Since her childhood she has lived in an abusive household and she says that it has not changed, but she says no matter how difficult it is, she always chooses to smile. Not matter how hard she is knocked down she will always get up again. But she was telling us of this fear that she cannot seem to get rid of. We read one of my favorite scriptures, 2 Timothy 1: 7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind." How true that scripture is. The Spirit that God has given us is not one of fear, but it is a spirit of power and of love. I know that many of us live in similar circumstances as my dear sister Lucy, and many live in a state of fear. My advice to you and the advice I gave to her is to live so that the Spirit of God will dwell inside you, for where the faith of God is, fear cannot be there. Remember who you are, a literal child of our Heavenly Father, and know that His Spirit can always be with you if you live worthy of it. No matter what circumstance you are in you can always be filled with this love and this power. Never fear, have faith for your God is with you. Remember the example of Lucy and remember the example of your Savior. You are not and will never be alone.
I love you all and ask for your continued prayers. Forward with faith.