Isaiah 43: 1 – 3
“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name...
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned: neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I am the Lord thy God... thy Savior.”
What a week Elder Hanberg and I had. It was filled with a lot of fun and a lot of work. This week Elder Hanberg was the acting "senior companion" as he led in the lessons, planning and even riding bikes. It was nice to sit back and watch him go through many of the same emotions that I went through during my last week of training. I call this a confidence test. At first you realize your short comings, then you pray more than ever before and plead with God to help you, and then you act in faith and you see the hand of the Lord in your life, which brings great confidence. Elder Hanberg is becoming the great missionary and man God wants him to be.
I'll first talk about the hard work we put in. As missionaries our desire is to share the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone so that they can feel the same joy and peace that we have in their lives. The best way of doing this is working with the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana and in our Area, Agbogba. It has been such a blessing getting to know the faithful members here and learning of how they joined the Church. This week we met with our dear friend Brother Aqua. He has been a member of the Church for about 10 months and is now preparing to enter the Temple, the House of the Lord. Here is a little bit of his conversion story.
The missionaries met Brother Aqua when they were going to teach his 25 year old daughter Benice. Brother Aqua drives taxi and is around 42 years old. He is very religious and had heard a lot about the Church, mostly negative things. Whenever he came home from work and found Benice with the missionaries, he would send her to go and pick something from the store, or would call her to come and start dinner or do some chore. He did not like the missionaries or the Church. Finally Benice said something. The next time the missionaries came, Brother Aqua grabbed his Bible and listened to the message of the Restoration. Two weeks later he was baptized. He said that as soon as he heard the message he knew it was true. And since he heard this message he has been waiting to share it with his friends.
That opportunity to share of the peace that this message has brought Brother Aqua came this week. We got a call from him that he had a friend he wanted us to meet with. We agreed on the time and place and prepared ourselves. That afternoon Brother Aqua picked us in his taxi and we drove to meet our new friend. His name is Rockson! He is a pharmacist and is 32 years old. Brother Aqua became friends with him and whenever he needed a break from driving he would go and see Rockson. They talked about everything and eventually the Gospel and the Church came up, which is where we came in. I was thankful that we had spent time with Brother Aqua and that he trusted us. We opened with a prayer and from that point Rockson was hooked into our lesson. We started talking about how we have a loving Heavenly Father and that we know He loves us because He gave us His Gospel, or a way to return to Him. We talked about prophets and even about Jesus Christ, all of whom brought this Gospel. We were talking about the foundation of the Church that Jesus Christ established in Ephesians 2: 20. He was holding my Bible and reading. We explained how this foundation was taken away and the Church and Gospel shattered. This was not something that could be repaired, it needed to be restored. He was so involved in the lesson. He was asking questions, sharing ideas, and there was Brother Aqua doing the same thing! At one point a customer walked in while Rockson was asking a question. Then Rockson turned to help the customer and the customer said, "No, no. I want to hear their answer for this question." The Spirit was there, thanks a great deal to Brother Aqua. Sharing this message does not have to be difficult. Elder Hanberg at the end of the lesson said, "I really just shared what I knew. Then you backed it with scriptures." That is in essence what we do as missionaries. We share what we know to be true.
I found strength this week from the words of Isaiah, or the words of the Lord to Isaiah, and to me. The Lord says, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." Those words spoke peace to my heart as I always seem to have the rivers of fear and doubt trying to overflow me. But I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. He hears us as we pray to Him and He sent His Son so that we would be able to return to Him. Christ came to carry us in His arms, back to our Heavenly Home. I love how the scripture does not say that "if" we pass through waters, but "when" we pass through them. As we live and follow our Savior Jesus Christ we will undoubtedly be called to pass through deep waters and ever deepening rivers as we journey back Home. But we are not asked to walk alone. And as we rely on Christ, He will not let them overflow us. I know that Christ lives and that he loves each of you. We must pass through pain, sickness, sorrow, and sadness. But we are promised that these will not overflow us. One day we will stand with our Heavenly Father and rest in joy, if we endure well. Be faithful. Have hope. Endure with joy.
I love you all and ask for your prayers. Sweet is the Work.