My recent trip to Ghana opened up an entirely different world for me. You can read of some of my experience here. I have many unanswered questions and a myriad of feelings of what reality really is. However, one reality that is unchanged and strengthened, is my belief in our Heavenly Father. God is real and He is good. He is aware of all of his children, wherever they are.
My greater desire now is to teach my children of this great truth, and help them realize who they are. God’s spirit is carried all over the world, giving people hope, comfort and love! I witnessed this truth in Ghana. I hope I can take what I learned and give my children more opportunities to feel the spirit in their lives. This spirit is what will guide and direct our children for good.
While I was in Ghana, I had the opportunity to attend two very different churches. The feelings I experienced were so different in each church. Everywhere you look in Ghana you see references to the Bible printed on cars and buildings. There is no shortage of churches and congregations to attend. The first Sunday, we had the opportunity to attend one of these local churches. This meeting was an experience in and of itself. There was singing, dancing, chanting, praying, and at the end their was an auction. Although this meeting was very entertaining, it did not give me anything tangible to hold onto. The only thing you could grasp was the live chicken that was sold at the auction near the end of the service.
Now I want to fast forward a week to our second Sunday while in Ghana. After a week full of surgeries and working long hours, our team drove a fiercely long bus ride back to the coast. On Saturday, we traveled 290 miles in 10 hours. Many of us had ran a 5k (or 4.2 miles, a Ghanaian 5k) with the locals that morning. We were tired, and many cockroaches lost their lives on that bus ride (GHA!!). After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at our destination. We unloaded the bus with everyone’s luggage and headed off to our rooms for much needed sleep.
The following morning, many of us woke up early to attend church meetings at a local LDS church. We piled on the dreaded bus and made our way to church. The church was right smack in the middle of a fish market.
Buckets of sardines were everywhere. Other vendors had shoes, clothing, bracelets and a variety of other items. This busy human highway was right in front of the LDS church. As I walked in the church I thought, “This is going to be interesting!” Shutters over the open air windows were all that separated us and the craziness outside.
As the meeting started, we began to sing the sacrament hymn. The chorister sang the first line and we all joined in. I don’t remember what hymn it was, but I can still feel the intensity of the spirit entering the little room we were in. The craziness that was outside disappeared. At this point my testimony of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was doubled. This was something tangible I could hold onto. My heart grew, my hope grew, and I wanted more.
During the meeting, a member of the bishopric stood and shared his testimony. He said something that was so profound to me. He said,
On the first Sunday of every month, the entire church stands up and bears testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Do you realize how amazing that statement is? All around the world, on the first Sunday of every month, there is someone bearing testimony of Jesus Christ. This was such a comforting thought to me. There is power in numbers! The rest of the meeting was filled with amazing simple testimonies. There wasn’t any fluff, it was pure, sincere testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Amongst great sorrow and struggle around the globe, there was hope and comfort felt during that meeting. It carried to every person in the room. It reminds me of a quote given by Elder Gary E. Stevenson. He said,
Heavenly Father’s generous compensation for living in perilous times is that we also live in the fullness of times.
The difference in the two churches we attended was drastic! The spirit was so strong and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was a simple room, filled with simple people, all desiring to feel closer to our Savior Jesus Christ. I will never forget that experience and the feelings I brought home. My desire to teach my children of the spirit and the power it brings has grown. The Holy Ghost teaches and testifies. It is our job as parents to provide moments where our children slow down and have opportunities to feel the spirit.