Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bonjour!                                                                              11/25/2013
Things have been good this past week. We had a lot of dinners this past week as multiple missionaries from the branch are going over to Benin so that was awesome! The best hands down was with the Attiogbes, who are the ones who brought the church here to Togo, and no doubt the strongest family in the church here, The Dad is one of the Counselors of President Weed, and the older son actually served in this mission back when it was part of the Cote D’lvoire mission! So that was awesome!
 But yeah things are good, the new companion got here from Benin just this Friday, we get along really well, so hopefully we'll be able to pick things back up here! Its Elder Kouau, from Cote D’Ivoire. He’s awesome though, and is a newer missionary as well. He actually speaks probably the second most English of all my comps, as Desvergez speaks the most; Kouau speaks a lot because he lived in Ghana for a couple years during the civil war in Cote D’Ivoire. We’ve really broken things down in the secteur and have done much more solid planning to be able to work more efficiently, as the secteur has had such a rough past, but I’m hoping we'll be able to get things going for sure. 
Our Amis are well, we don’t have many right now, but as there is one convert in the secteur, were hopefully going to do all possible to center the work around him to get things up and going. But yeah, Augustine is coming along well, as are the others. Our baptismal dates we had fixed will have to be pushed back a little, as they’ve had a little difficulty coming along but that’s going well! It’s been nice teaching with Kouau as we teach a lot alike, and really well together, so it’s been a lot of fun! Teaching is one of my most favorite things ever, but it’s been tough in the secteur as the problem has been finding those to teach, but hopefully things will get better that way!
 No doubt when you think you’ve learned a lot on the mission, you find out quickly there is a lot more coming up ha-ha. But one of the biggest things I’ve noticed too is how much being with a companion gets you ready for marriage, it takes a lot of patience and selflessness to be able to get along with someone your with all day, every day, but its been a huge blessing for sure! Especially with the big cultural difference between Kouau, and me we both understand that’s there, which is nice and really helps us get along a ton better.  
Togo is good!  Ringworm is not, which I guess aren’t worms, but a fungal infection on my arm. So were getting rid of that right now! Ha-ha it’s good though, I killed a scorpion today in the apartment as well, scariest thing ever though. 
Today was awesome as well; as Thanksgiving is this week me and the Americans in the Zone all got together and decided to make our own Thanksgiving. It was awesome! Ha-ha we had a member go find us some Pheasant bird things, then we took them over to the Attiegou apartment, beheaded them, and prepared them... we had that with some rice, and honestly I was proud of us! It was awesome! If we all get sick tomorrow though we know why. 
I still can’t send pictures... It’s been frustrating but luckily Layton is going home in a few weeks! So he'll have those! I’ll miss him a ton though, as well with Elder Poll!!  The secteur is so tough, but it’s much better with a good comp, because you can be positive and uplifted by him as well.  I miss you all a ton as well so it’ll be nice to get to call home next month! I’m hoping the work will be able to pick up here soon!! So hopefully I will have more next week! I love you all and thanks so much for everything! 
Elder Oliverson

Monday, November 18, 2013

Isn't able to send picture in this area :(


             Things have been all right this past week! It started out with a solid family home evening with one of the Ghanaian families in the branch, the problem was that Landeen and me gave the lesson in English, as that is what they all speak, but none of them understood
any of it because they don’t speak the same English! It was really fun as well and is nice as always to have those. We had a few Amis at church, which is huge for the secteur as they’re the first that have come in about 5 or 6 months, so that was good! Also we had another baptismal date set with a lady, one we searched out that the missionaries had already
talked with, but had a health problem so she had to leave, but now is back, so right now we honestly have some really good Amis, and the work is slowly but surely coming along in the secteur! Also I’m getting a new companion this next week, which is really exciting! It’s Elder
Koaou, he’s another Ivorian that came after me who’s in Benin right now, and should be coming in a few days, so I’m excited for that! The Ivoirians are pretty good; the church is much bigger in Cote DIvoire and Congo, so most the missionaries we get from there have been members for a few years. I’m really excited to get to work with him. The secteur is well though; I finally got a good grasp on it, which is so hard here, as it’s flat, there aren’t really roads so no road signs, and not many landmarks, so it takes time to find your way
around! I really like Togo a lot, and honestly the secteur is pretty good! As always the Branch is great with some amazing members..There is one guy in particular that stuns me, he is in the Elders Quorum Presidency and has a beautiful little family with a bunch of
kids, he’s an amazing member, and is a real member missionary, it was more crazy when he was talking about his conversion story, and when he found the church was true, his parents let him know they would disown him in doing so, sure enough he chose the church first, and hasn’t seen his family since. It was amazing hearing the story, and it was in a lesson about fearing God more than the world and others, and that was an amazing  of example of a sacrifice in doing that! 
    We went down to the beach today with the zone which was a ton of fun! We tried playing soccer, but then realized the sand was too hot so just chilled on the beach.  The beaches here are much better than in Benin and much prettier! It’s so crazy as well, in that when you go to the beach here you are really the only people on the entire beach, if there were a beach like this back in America it would be full! We found a bunch of crabs as well, so I took one for the team and saw if they really do hurt if you get pinched by one. And they do! 
     The work is all-good and the people are so great here. Our Ami that’s the basketball player going to play in America got his visa, so he’ll actually be heading over to America in a little bit! I keep telling him he’s going to die from how cold it is over there, but he just doesn’t understand yet. Its crazy how this is basically one of the poorest country in the world, yet there are random super rich people here, that got big off of diamonds or something I’m not sure. But its sad too to see that there is such a difference in that way! Also I’ve been really grateful for the health the past week!! I finally have energy and can work much better now that I’ve gotten rid of about everything! So that’s been nice!  I don’t know what that fever was, it was terrible though, the sickness lasted almost the week, plus there were worms on top of that, so it was killer. 
     Its a good secteur and there is a lot that can be done, The branch is great,  the only problem is its so far away!  That’s too crazy to think there is snow over there! It sounds like all is great back there though! I love and miss you all a ton! I hope all is great this next week!                                                             Elder Oliverson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Zone Conference this past week.

Bonjour!                                                                                                 11/11/2013
This past week has been pretty good!! We had zone conference Tuesday with the Tokoin and Hedzranoe zones so that was good as always! It’s seriously always the best boost to be together with everyone and hear from President Weed and the AP's.. Elder Poll and Shearer bore there goodbye testimonies so that was sad! They’ll be the first Americans I’ve seen go home on my mission! So that’ll be weird for sure. But zone conference was great and was really just centered around finding and working with members, even if its especially difficult here, its what the Prophet asked us to do, so were looking for ways to improve that way! We also got the good old reminders from the handbook as there is a big group of new missionaries now, so were hoping that that will help set a good standard for them. But yeah and finally after months of getting the church security report we got
a alert for our area!! I got a little excited for that one but we found out that there has been a bad cholera outbreak in West Africa and it is centered in Lome, so basically were just supposed to keep doing what we do already in filtering water and such, and we’ll be fine! So I’m hoping that’ll work out! 
      I was able to ask the couple about the rash and what was all going on with that, and Elder Christensen told me right away exactly what medication to get and the concentration amount to get with it... I was amazed all day wondering if he had some revelation or something, till I found out that he was a pharmacist. The rash ended up going away though, not sure still what it was but its gone! I got the worm pills finally too, and it’s incredible how good I feel now that way! I just got used to feeling kind ofcrappy all the time so I feel so good now! Ha-ha so that’s nice. The worst this past week though was the Wednesday morning I woke up with the worst headache I’ve had in my life, and it even killed to move my eyes, I did all I could to get rid of it, but it was terrible, and no doubt that was the most sick that I have been yet on the mission it was terrible... I remember hearing someone mentioning what Elder Leavitt one of the old senior couple missionaries said once, that you can either be miserable in your secteur or you can be miserable in the apartment.... so I went out that day, I got through it alright, and it was one of those things where I hope to go to sleep and wake up fine, but that wasn’t the case.. I woke up and it was even worse and this time there were back aches too.. This wasn’t good at all either considering those are the first big two signs of Malaria, I kept praying though, and was still really sick the rest of the day, but finally after a few days it died out... But man that was miserable for sure! Ha-ha I’ve never been sick like that in my life! Other than that though the work has been good!! Since last week and having found so many new Amis, we’ve been working a lot in that area, and finally after this past week have 4 baptismal dates fixed!!! So it’s good to be able to get back into doing that! Also for this secteur in general, as they have had only one baptism since it has been opened, but its been good.. One of those was the catholic guy, who had all the murals of Virgin Mary painted in his house, he’s a pretty rich guy and works in bigger business as well. We’ve been able to really stress the Book of Mormon with him, and he loves it so much! No doubt that is the best tool and always the best way to go! And one of the best ways to see if someone has started to gain a testimony of it and of our message is when they have the desire then to have everyone they know hear it, so he’s been a big source of contacts for us which has been nice. But still things are young with all of our Amis, a lot could change but things have really started up well with them. But no doubt getting them into the Book of Mormon will help with everything else from Chastity to word of wisdom problems if there are any, so that is going well for sure! Our other aims who was with the Jehovah Witnesses is coming along great as well, and with him as well he’s gaining a love for the Book of Mormon now doubt! I can seriously see how we’ve been blessed a lot in the area of finding people, which has for sure been an answer to prayers, especially in this secteur, but its been really good, and hopefully with these baptisms coming up, many more will come thanks to those.
       The branch here is still amazing! With a few returned missionaries its so strong in the priesthood which has been a huge blessing in general here! One thing I noticed too is the primary; I went in there this past week and man... there were like 30 kids there all sitting in
their chairs listening, it was insane!! The primary is amazing here as well which will be a big boost to the church! Also the primary and the nursery are combined here, so I have to hand it to the leaders there no doubt! The biggest problem now has been getting Ami's
to church as it is so far away from everyone in our secteur, but it’ll work out! 
      This past week was really good too because I got to hear from some old converts, and also I heard from Desvergez, that many of our other Amis that we worked with have been baptized as well back in Gbegamey:) So that was good to hear as well!
    I was also thinking, and realized it’s almost been exactly a year since I received my mission call to come here! Man what a blessing that has been.  I’ve have had to work to get things back in order and going... I got a really cool email though last week from a missionary that came back here to visit, and went back to visit in Gbegamey, and just said how happy he was to see the secteur turned around.. Its possible with this one too no doubt, you can just see that it’s really work and effective work that needs to be done but there is a ton of potential, also with the Baptismal dates that was really comforting to see!  My studies have been really good this past week! And I’ve really been looking a lot into a little about what
you were saying Ryan’s lesson for FHE was on as well, about how Satan’s goal is to bind us up into captivity, but in turn from obedience we can make it so he has no more power over us to tempt us, its incredible how all of that works. Also I remember President Weed telling just about how every time he would bear his testimony on the mission he could feel it reaffirmed, and no doubt its true, that’s the best, whether it’s the Restoration or the Atonement it really does happen. That’s one of the best things to help people understand is the Atonement, because there is such a lack of comprehension here, but to really help people see that God is merciful is the best.  I love and miss you all a ton! I hope all is great back there!
Elder Oliverson

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sorry again about last week with the cyber down.

Bonjour!                                                                                                 11/04/2013
Sorry again about last week with the cyber, it took a week
off. But yeah things have been all right these past couple weeks! When I
got here we really had no Amis, so it’s been a ton of work, super
tough, but its coming along. These past few weeks have been mostly
looking for people by tracking, as it’s a new secteur and there aren’t
any members, but at the same time its been well as we really have
found some people that have been prepared no doubt!  Also we had the
open house and dedication for the new church building here last week
so that was super special! We had a really good turnout and it was
good as well seeing the President and the rest of the missionaries as
its less often we get the chance in Togo! But yeah it was exciting
getting the building dedicated, and making a huge step for the church
there, President Weed was talking about when he was set apart to come
here by Elder Bednar, and how he talked about being the pioneers to
build the foundation for the church here in Togo, and already in two
years they have a building, and hopefully in the next couple months
even a stake, which would be awesome! But yeah things are good. We had
one of the craziest lessons of my life this past week... And being
here I’ve had some of the craziest and strangest lessons ever, but this
one beats them all no doubt. It was a first lesson with a new Amis
so we didn’t really know him to well, so we were just getting
things started out and getting the background done. Then he started
asking us why we came, and what we could do for him, I started to
explain a little bit, but you could no doubt see something was wrong
as he was super on edge.. He then went off about all the problems and
difficulties in his life, so we talked a little bit about the help the
gospel can do for that, but after that, he was just angry, he then
just turned for the worse, and started explaining really what was
going on in his life, he had lost his job for the fifth time, and had
a big house with a family, and nothing to support it, so they had no
power or water, and the people were coming to take his house, he was
furious as he claimed that he lost his job due to a group of some of
his enemies who got him fired, I really have never seen anyone so
mad. He went on to explain the hard feelings he had for god as he was
a religious man and had prayed and god hadn’t helped him at all but had
left him with the problem he has and the kids to take care of... I
could already see things were tough, but no doubt this was one of the
angriest men I had ever seen. Things took a turn for the worse, and
completely lost me, when he went on to explain his next plans which
were as he said to do things the African way, and take out each on of
those men who had wronged him. I was lost for a second and wasn’t
really sure at all what was going on at this point and if I understood
right... He then went on to explain the plans he had to take out these
men and had all the details already. I was stunned and felt so lost
at this point, he explained that if his prayers weren’t answered by the
end of the month, he would have the job done. At this point I had no
clue what to do, but tried to explain stories of the Book of Mormon,
in that God doesn’t always take us out of our trials, but he will
fortify us in helping us make it through them, but he lets them stay
to see our faith and patience, as I could see this wasn’t working at
all, I just started praying in my heart desperately asking what to do,
as I could see there wasn’t anyway I could handle this on my own, I
felt prompted to talk a little bit about the Atonement then, we went
down that path, and we explained that yes, we don’t know how he feels
and really no one does, but there is one person who is Jesus Christ
who knows the same pains and such, as he suffered all of that already
so that he could help us through them, as we were explaining I
seriously saw a miracle, and it wasn’t just spiritually, but you could
physically see the anger in this man leave, he slowly started looking
down and you could see tears start coming in his eyes, this is really
only the second time I’ve ever seen an African cry, and the only time
I’ve ever cried in a lesson.. It was insane how powerful the spirit
came in and touched his heart, things took a complete change, and he
ended up with a deep apology of all he said, and a new commitment to
change, since then he has had the Book of Mormon, and probably the
biggest change I’ve ever seen has coming into someone, its seriously
been incredible. I don’t know if he will ever get baptized but no
doubt that was an insane miracle!! We’ve had some other crazy lessons
this past while, there is a new Nigerian family I’ve been teaching, and
actually the reason they came here is because the dad is a missionary
who has come here to get their church going... I could already see
many problems with this ha-ha, but again, I’ve got to stop doubting the
spirit because we had one of the most amazing first lessons I’ve ever
had with a whole family, it was the best.. I really understand now
what President Weed meant when he remembers from his mission when he
would testify of Joseph Smith and the restoration, he would feel that
testimony reconfirmed, as in that lesson the spirit was insane! It
wasn’t hard to see that at all either, they as well with the family
have been able to get into the Book of Mormon!! And again this past
week we have found a couple guys walking into their house and
seeing a bunch of murals of the Virgin Mary, and finding out they
were big catholic business men wasn’t too uplifting either!! But as the
time before we had left some of the brochures on the restoration and
Joseph Smith, this time around we were doing the follow up on it... I
was stunned to not only find that they read, but he recited completely
almost perfect the story of Joseph Smith, and talked about how great
this story was, and how he felt like he needed to find this Book of
Mormon it talked about... This one was just too golden I was waiting
for some catch to step in ha-ha, but I went into explaining the Book of
Mormon, and he was pleading for how much he could have it, obviously
he got it for free, but things just got better when he asked if it was
possible that he could be re baptized into this church, as he saw the
Catholic church didn’t have authority... Still things are still too
golden with him that I’m waiting for the catch! Ha-ha, but its been
insane, we’ve found multiple others that no doubt have been prepared,
as one who was talking about how he’s been praying desperately for help,
and one day after praying. The Jehovah witness showed up. He though
that was the answer, but as he was talking with them, we awkwardly
walked into the lesson; and he said right then he knew it was us he
needed to be talking to! That guy has posed more questions than
anyone I’ve ever known and again another new golden Amis! But
again things are still very early with all of them, but at the same
time I see that no doubt my prayers have been answered. So things are
great with the work, but still getting started out!! This next week is
Zone conferences so I’m pumped for that!! Here apparently we get a ton
more food so that’ll be fun!! The only problem is Ill be talking with
Sister Weed, as I’m pretty convinced I have worms as well. Yeah I
have all the symptoms, so that’s been awful, and on top of that, I have
Fleas, so that’s been terrible ha-ha. and on top of that, I’ve
had live full body hives, for a week now. The problem was when I
looked at our first aid sheet, I found the three things that we need
to call Sister Weed immediately for are fainting, trouble breathing and
hives... not sure why but I think because its an allergic reaction to
Doxy!! Ha-ha but I figured it’s been a week, we'll be good for a few days
till she gets here. So I’ve been preventing the malaria, by
sacrificing to be super itchy toujour! It’s been all right though!
At least the work is coming along so that’s always good!! Togo is still
the best but hot as ever! We have a new
Amis who’s awesome, who is a big basketball player on the Togo national
team, and is actually going to be going to America to play at a
University in Virginia!! He’s awesome but I'll soon end up giving him to
the American missionaries, which will be strange!! We actually found
him though, because there is a member in Hedzranowoe who plays as well
on the national team, the guy is massive; I’m not use to looking up at
people, it was weird! But yeah, he saw his example and became
Interested! Never doubt the power that the example can have on
someone! Studies have been great as well!! Man I love the Book of
Mormon it’s insane. Ha-ha this church is incredibly true and the Book
of Mormon is as well. OH! And also we got to finally watch two
sessions of conference this past Sunday!! The talks were incredible,
the one from Christofferson on women was awesome and well needed! I
liked a lot as well Elder Packers, and the Prophets, and Elder
Holland’s. Those men are incredible. 
The Church is true and Jesus Christ is leading it today!! I love him so
Thanks again for everything and all of the thoughts and prayers!! I
love and miss you all!! Elder Oliverson