Jacob 5: 72
“And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.”
Obre ne ho asei.
This sentence roughly translates into "You are not humble at all." We learned it from Sister Aboagye, our Bishop's wife this Sunday when we went to her house for dinner. She has three young children; Patricia (7), Emmanuel (5 and down syndrome), and Delynn (11 months), and they are quite a handful for our dear mother. Bishop Aboagye was at the Church yesterday evening so when we arrived we met Sister Aboagye trying to control the kids. She tied Delynn to her back and stopped everything to bring us some food. Emma loves music so I started to sing "Be Thou Humble" so that he would come to me and not bother his mother. Emma liked that for about a minute, and then ran to the kitchen where he began to slam the door closed and then throw it open with a BANG against the wall. Sister Aboagye started speaking Twi and then said, "Emma, listen to the Elders! They are trying to teach you to be more humble." Elder Hanberg and I learned Twi and a lot about parenting. Ghana is great and I love my family here.
Our week was miraculous. We received two referrals from the members in our ward. The first was from our great friend Brother Francis. He moved into Agbogba Ward recently from a neighboring Stake. His mother lives within our area and she is getting older. He never has spent much time with her because he is very busy with work, so Francis decided that he wanted to stay with her and even share the Restored Gospel with her. Her name is Perpetua but I just call her Mama P. She reminds me a lot of my own grandmother. She is very religious and shows great faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. Her life has been difficult and she has struggled, yet always she has remained firm in Christ. Perpetua has been a Roman Catholic her whole life, but after we first met her she loved us and said that she would be delighted to have us come and teach her our message. Our first meeting with her was interesting. Her son Francis had travelled for meetings so it was only the Elders there to answer her questions and bear testimony. It is not that we were worried to be the only ones, but Perpetua is very knowledgeable in the Gospel, and quite older than us. I was worried that there would be some sort of barrier that would keep her from opening her heart to our message. I prayed very humbly that whole morning for her to feel of the truth of our words. When we arrived at her home at 10:15, I was feeling great and Elder Hanberg was just as excited. We began our lesson and immediately she started firing questions. How can we know that someone is a prophet? What is the Gospel? Did they teach it in the Old Testament? If we desire can we have the authority to act in God's name? What is prophesying? These are not uncommon questions in missionary work, but most people ask them not with the intent to learn or change their view. But with Perpetua it was different. Her last question was a very controversial question in the Gospel, Why do you use water in your sacrament? In the Roman Catholic Church they use wine and she was confused. Immediately as she asked I knew that our answer would be important to her and her learning process. I offered a silent prayer asking my Heavenly Father for wisdom which I lacked for our dear friend Perpetua. I finished my prayer just as she finished her question. I opened my mouth and taught her from the scriptures. I don't remember much of what I said, I just remember her response. "That is exactly what I wanted to hear." I knew in that moment that God had just worked through me to help His child come to know of the truth.
Elder Hanberg and I went to an area called Ablagi to see a few of our friends. At 7:25 pm we went to our last friend, a less-active sister named Rose. She made Banku that night and was cleaning up just as we arrived. She grabbed two chairs, a table, one bowl of pepe soup, and two of the biggest balls of Banku I have seen. We started eating. I finished my ball in about 10 minutes and began to eat the fish in the soup. I picked up one piece and realized it was the whole fish head! A fish head about the size of my fist. I asked if it was safe to eat.... and was answered with the affirmative. Great. I just got a mouthful of bones. Very delicious. Elder Hanberg was still eating after 30 minutes of being at the house. The food is hard when you are new. I heard Rose say, "Elder Hanberg, you are crying! The pepe is too much. Sorry, okay?" I looked up and into the eyes of my companion. In that moment I knew he was not crying because of the pepe. He was crying because his stomach was about to explode. We could hardly make the 30 minute bike ride home because we were stuffed. I still remember his face and the tears coming from too much food.
I was able to go on a companion exchange this week with the other Elders in my District. I went with Elder Horne to see how his area was. He was having a few troubles with some investigators not understanding priesthood authority and also prophets. These are always interesting topics here in Ghana. Every Church here has a prophet so there are hundreds, even thousands. There is a lot of confusion and I am thankful for the peace that our message brings to those who are ready to hear. We saw a sister named Francisca. She has a very good friend who is a prophet and when we started speaking about authority she got very defensive. Instead of arguing, Elder Horne and I immediately began teaching her of the Apostasy, but more importantly, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We bore powerful testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and of the Book of Mormon. We know they are true and we taught her how she could know also. At the end of the lesson she asked two questions; Is there a Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nearby? What time does it start? We were overjoyed. We felt the Spirit, and this week more than ever, I felt that God was working with me. I am not alone in this work. Many times I feel that I am on my own, but I am not alone. My Heavenly Father is with me and He is working alongside of me in this great work. And He is with you. All of us face challenges in life, but they are there to remind us to rely on our Heavenly Father. You are not alone as long as you are holding on to Christ. He will not forsake you and He will help bear the burdens that come your way. You are loved and He is working with you.
I love you all and am thankful for your examples. Keep pressing forward.