Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Once there was a Snowman"

Bonjour,                                                                                                    06/28/2014
 This past week has been pretty well! Started off the week with another FHE with Ambroise, which was pretty awesome once again! One of the coolest parts came where he was wanting to give a blessing to his daughter who was sick. As he has the priesthood now he was planning on doing it, but wanted our help. We did the anointing, and gave him some instruction and let him do the blessing. It was really one of the coolest things to see that, and to see him get the chance to be able to use his priesthood in blessing his daughter. I’ve really enjoyed being back here for that part of things, and getting to see all these people again. 
Another highlight of the week is that I’m finally getting to drive a little. And it was one of the strangest things ever; as at first it was like the first time I had ever done it. But of course I caught back on quickly and it’s never felt so good to drive again! You would be very proud as well seeing that the mission trucks are all stick shift, and I own those things... Ha-ha, so thank Volkswagen for that! Driving here will be pretty crazy, but fun at the same time. One of the driving around highlights from this past week came from just a few days ago... Usually most of the roads are covered in mottos, but there is always some rich CEO or soccer player that decides to come out. In Cadjehoun it isn’t rare to run into BMWs or Audis. But when an Aston Martin Vantage rolls by, that doesn’t happen everyday! That’s the confusing thing about this place, is one second you can see the poorest people in the world, a huge family living in a one room cinderblock house, then next second see an Aston Martin or a Maybach driving around. Anyway's the work is starting to pick up well for us. 
We have starting teaching a lot of new Amis this past week, and that’s been a lot of fun. One family in particular has been pretty cool. There is a young man in the ward, who is the only member in his family. It’s been a while since his baptism, and his mom and sister have talked to the missionaries before already. Luckily though even though it’s been months he’s invited them to accept the gospel, he’s continued to do it. We’ve started the lessons a bit, and its been awesome to see that even if maybe they weren’t ready a few months ago, with the time the Lord can help prepare people. His mom and sister are very catholic and told us from the beginning, they weren’t planning on leaving where they are but they would listen to us. Even just the day after the lesson we had on the restoration, the sister came to us and told us that it was all true. She went from telling us there wasn’t really hope in changing, but that she would pray and see if these things were true... and sure enough and very quickly, she has already started to gain her own testimony. It’s been really cool to see how the spirit can confirm these things to anyone that really wants to know. It strengthens my testimony a lot to, and gives more faith in making promises to people with these things we always ask them to do. We have another Ami that has a baptismal date fixed, but has ran into some problems when we taught the word of wisdom. He has trouble with coffee, as that is what keeps him up for work, as he is a night guardian for a house. The story of Nephi and his family in the wilderness came up in my head, from where they obeyed the commandment to go into the wilderness, and ended up not having anything to eat, and were living off of raw meat, but it explains that living off that they were still able to live and travel in really good shape, and that if we keep the commandments the Lord will prepare a way for us to do what we need, but that will come in his way. We were able to help him leave try leaving the coffee, and promised blessings in return. But the problem after was that he would leave his coffee, but not his sniffing tobacco just yet. We ended up coming back the next day and he was stunned. He was asking what he did, and we were clueless as to what he was talking about. He said with the tobacco, did you guys send a curse or something? We still really had no idea. He began to explain that the night after we left, he stayed away from his coffee, but went to his tobacco, and found it opened and all the tobacco had poured out, and he could no longer use it. Ha-ha, we tried to make it clear that it wasn’t us that had done it, but maybe he should think about why that just happened to occur right after he found this commandment. So were hoping things will continue to go well with him. We have some good other Amis, but most are all pretty new right now.
 Things are going good with the work though and its fun working with my companions.I love my Nigerian companion I have now, he’s pretty awesome. Its pretty crazy thinking about what is going on just next door to us right now in Nigeria with Boko Haram. Elder Izekor is awesome though. We had a funny time this past week. He has been a member since primary actually, so he spent primary in the church. He was asking about the primary songs, and brought up the song "Once there was a snowman". He said he’s always been so confused, along with everyone there as to what that meant, and what a snowman was... Ha-ha, it made my day. But yeah Its been super rainy this past week, but that has cooled things down a lot, and the world cup is still in full swing, and hey the U.S. advanced as well! Ha-ha surprise surprise. But yeah all is well here! Next week will be pretty crazy with the change from President Weed to President Morin.
But yeah thanks for everything, and for all of the love and support! I love and miss you all a ton.

Elder Oliverson

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Plan of Salvation

Bonjour,                                                                                                                   06/21/2014                       
 This past week has gone pretty well. Its weird having the different schedule, and always having things come up, but I actually like it! Sunday was pretty awesome as well as the closest church to us is the branch in Gbegamey. So Sunday morning I got to go to church for the first time in Gbegamey since a little over 8 months ago! The best part was seeing everyone there again, but also walking in and seeing two of our converts blessing the sacrament in white shirts and ties, one of those being Ambroise. It was seriously one of the best moments to see all of the converts and how far they’re coming along. Ambroise for example was already pretty solid when he got baptized, but now he already has the Melchizedek priesthood, and has that whole beautiful family in the church. 
Another cool thing in particular was finding the old branch president that had fallen inactive, that Desvergez and me went and did the big service for a while ago, was back and still active in the church as well. All in all it was awesome seeing the progression of many of the people. One of the craziest parts was seeing one of Ambroise's daughters who’s about 4, and how much she’s changed after 8 months. The problem though is she remembered me and wouldn’t leave me alone the entire day at church. She ended up missing primary because they couldn’t get her to come. Hopefully that will cool down sometime soon. But yeah, it was good seeing everyone again! 
Another plus of being back here, is Sunday night the assistants and office elders got invited to eat with the couple and President and Sister Weed, and of course the food was the best ever!! Things are looking promising for me right now in gaining back some of the lost weight. Along with that, that night President let me know about the news that you had sent him. When he told me about Grandma passing away, like you said it was a bittersweet thing, but it seemed very interesting it happened right after Grandpa, and right after her cruise. I think you’re very right that it was time for them to be back together, and it was good for her having that time with the family. It will be really sad and strange coming back without them there, but thanks to the Plan of Salvation, its a good thing as well thinking that she’s back with Grandpa and well see them again, not too far from now. I like the Elder Uchtdorf quote that there are no endings, just glorious new beginnings, and President Weed brought that up when he told me. I know she wouldn’t want me anywhere else, so it’s good being here! 
Most of the mornings this week we’ve had to take the Elders out to get their Carte de sejours taken care of including Monday. Monday night was pretty awesome as Ambroise invited us over for FHE! Again it was a cool chance to see how much they’ve progressed spiritually as a family. I’m liking the secteur were in as well. Having the car we can go pretty much everywhere, and not have to worry to bad about how far the Amis are. Along with that we have some pretty good Amis as well. I remember hearing about this before, but I didn’t really realize it I guess, but they always say that the Beninese are much smarter and speak more French than the Togolese, and making the transition back here, that’s very true! Ha-ha, at the same time though they aren’t as kind and friendly as the Togolese, but it’s all right. It’s hard to think about what to write as a lot has gone on this past week. But like I said we have a good sectuer for sure! Apparently though since a little while after Desvergez left, the branch has kind of started to turn downwards you could say, and has had some problems. We visited a few members this past week though and I loved what they said, in that they come to church because they love the Lord, and its his church, they don’t come for other reasons, or because of the people in the church, so when things do come up in the church, or problems, they aren’t affected as they are there for the right reason. It reminded me well that it’s the Lords church, and we all need it a lot, no matter the problems we might see. Another missionary made a comparison that I like a lot, that this church is like a spiritual hospital. Anyone can come and be healed from their past lives, and find the things necessary to help them spiritually inside. Even those of us that are already members, have need at times of this healing that comes in the Church of Jesus Christ. Were really hoping though to help the branch pick up a lot again! We have an awesome apartment, and the Elders I’m with are awesome as well. It’s really the first time on my mission I’ve been around all English speakers, but it’s been good! Its weird as well our weekly meeting with President, as its always done in English, but for some reasons when I respond, its in French, as I’m not used to the whole only English thing. This past Friday was the last conference with President Weed in Benin, so it was cool to have that a second time! I’ve loved being back in Benin though, and it’s been nice seeing all the French elders I missed dearly. The world cup is still hot as ever here, and it’s really funny seeing it in the mission as we have all the nationalities. The highlight of the week though hands down was America beating Ghana, and getting to give them a hard time, as we don’t even play soccer in America, yet, we still beat them.
 But yeah all is well; things are going good here also. The work is going forward as well! We have an Ami getting baptized in a couple weeks, and hopefully many more soon, but I’m still trying to get the secteur down and everything with it. Thanks for all the love and support! I love and miss you all a ton!
Elder Oliverson
Elder Bulunga & Me. My brother you could say as he was trained by Desvergez
Me and Elder Brou
This was a picture on Ambroises wall in his house(notice the small picture in the frame). :)
Ambroise and Claudia after their marriage:)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Francine Dunkley Oliverson
Smithfield - Francine Dunkley Oliverson, 88, died peacefully at her home, surrounded by her loving children on June 12, 2014. She was born in Whitney, Idaho April 15, 1926, the youngest child of Lester LeRoy and Rosella Lowe Dunkley. She married Glen Harold Oliverson August 14, 1946 in the Salt lake Temple.
She was born in the old rock family home in Whitney. She loved her childhood days of working on the farm next to her father and siblings. After a day of labor she and her siblings would often hike to Little Mountain with a picnic to collect arrowheads and explore the caves. She considered herself a tomboy and loved riding horses and climbing trees. However, the cultural side of Francine became evident when her parents purchased her a piano. She began taking lessons and excelled. She became a very accomplished pianist leading to many years of service accompanying many individuals and groups. She studied with teachers in Salt Lake and Provo and performed as a concert pianist.
She was a devoted and beloved wife of Glen who passed away just this past January. Their time apart was very short.
Glen and Francine made their home in Preston, Idaho after graduation from BYU. There they raised five children. Francine loved being a wife and mother, and her home was a peaceful place filled with love. She was a beautiful homemaker and was busy morning to night keeping the home fires burning.
The family moved to Smithfield, Utah in 1963 as Glen took a job with North Cache High. Mom loved people, and her social graces and sense of humor gave her the ability to make many dear friends in Smithfield and Preston.
She loved her Savior and spent many hours in His service. She served as Relief Society President and in other callings which involved her musical talent. Together mom and dad served faithfully in the Adelaide Australian and Independence Missouri missions.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and siblings: Mack (Katie) Dunkley, Zelda Taylor, Eunice (Dee Ralph) Perry, Blaine (Beth) Dunkley and grandson Smith Nyman.
She is survived by her children Micheal (Kris) Oliverson, Marcene (Ron) Karren, Kim (Nancy) Oliverson, Nancy (Curtis) Brough, David (Kate) Oliverson, brother-in-law Ross Jay Taylor. She is the grandmother of 23 grandchildren and 52 great grandchildren.
The family would like to extend thanks to the staff at Legacy House in Logan and also the Sunshine Hospice staff for their caring and concern.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 16, at the Smithfield 18th Ward chapel, 625 E. 600 South, Smithfield. A viewing will be from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, June 15 at the Nelson Funeral Home 85 S. Main Smithfield, and at the church prior to the service on Monday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at the Smithfield City Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family online at
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Leaving Togo -Back in Benin

Bonjour!                                                                                                             06/14/2014
This past week has been pretty good! I knew that I would be coming to Benin at the end of the week, so I did my best to make sure Elder Gnenenon knew the secteur well enough. The week started out well though, we had the assistants stay at our apartment Monday night, and the next morning we left early to the leadership council. It was a special one as it was Presidents last one that he will be doing with us. Those meetings are some of the best no doubt! The spirit was there and we all definitely learned a lot from the meeting. Later that day as the assistants stayed over, Elder Ritchie came to work with us in our secteur for the afternoon, which was awesome as well. He’s always been one of the missionaries I looked up to so it was nice to get that time with him before he finishes his mission soon. So that was a good day for sure, and with the meetings, we ate very well. The work has actually picked up a lot this past week as well, as we’ve gotten many new Amis. I was a little sad we got them all right before I left, but I’m hoping that I''ll see their baptismal fiches getting sent to us pretty soon! I could see though that the Lord really did here our prayers, as we were pretty desperate to find new Amis, and helped us do that. For example a guy stopped us on the road and said that he had talked to the missionaries before, but as he moved, they lost contact. Its been about a year, but he once again found us and wants to follow the teachings again. So that was one new Ami, but when we went to see him, his friend was there as well, then after the lesson, another friend came in, and then we found out that the other friend lives in that same house as well, and has a huge Ivorian family that lives there as well, so Elder Gnenenon was pretty excited for that. But yeah, no doubt it was nice picking up a lot of new investigators this past week. This past week we had our last interviews with President Weed as well, which was pretty sad. On the brightside though Nevada isn’t that far from Utah, so it’s not the last time well see him, Ha-ha but yeah it will be excited with the arrival of the new president on the first of next month! We'll all for sure miss President Weed though. He taught us a ton especially in examples of charity. Even in the smallest things, for example with the interviews, after we finish Sister Weed usually gives us all candy. That’s just how it works, but when they left our apartment, they hadn’t given us any, I was pretty crushed, but didn’t want to say anything, and be the guy always asking for candy, ha-ha, so they left. A couple hours later though they called us and said they were on there way back, and that they had forgotten something. Sure enough they came all the way back to the apartment to bring us our candy. They could have easily just let it go, or given it to us later, but it taught me a lot the things they did for us. On Friday Togo had the last goodbye conference for President as well which was mainly just a big testimony meeting, but that was really awesome as well. Afterwards I went to eat with the assistants and we started the long drive back to Benin. I'll miss Togo a ton, but hey there is still a chance I could finish there! But yeah we left Togo around 4ish and started the long drive. About half way the roads got super bad, as it’s been pretty rainy lately, the roads were pretty messed up and chaotic. In the end we didn’t end up getting into Cotonou till around 10 o’clock. As the traffic was terrible due to the roads, and once we got there we had to drop all the missionaries off. And sure enough on the way back to the apartment we find another truck stuck in a big hole, so we got them pulled out. Finally after 11 o’clock pm we made it into Cocotomey with the assistants. The part that I had forgotten about was that Elder Desvergez was the Zone Leader that was living with the assistants, and had been waiting hours for my arrival. And oh how good it was to see him after 8 months!! Ha-ha it was seriously the best thing ever, but yeah I’m happy to be back here with him and the other elders I haven’t seen in a while. We were exhausted though after that day, and ended up having to sleep on the floor in the apartment. Ha-ha. Once again though, like my first night in Anfame, the mosquitos were going crazy, and along with that, there are some weird bugs that come out at night, and make you really itchy. I didn’t have a blanket as it was all packed up, so in other words I laid most of the night itching myself and not sleeping. Ha-ha, and today we had to take some Elders around on a transfer, so you could say that I’m pretty tired right now! But yeah, I’m still trying to adjust back to Benin. Everything seems so much nicer and bigger here now, as its much more developed than Togo. Along with that I’m trying to get adjusted to the new lifestyle I have now. Ha-ha, it will come though, but yeah things are all going well here. One problem with the work now though is that the world cup just started. I’m sure back in America you barely know that, but every man, woman and child here is going crazy right now over the world cup.... even though Togo isn’t in it. Ha-ha, so hopefully the missionary work will be able to continue well. 
 Thanks for everything, and for all the love and support!  

Elder Oliverson

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stake Conference

Bonjour!                                                                                                                   06/09/2014
 This past week has been pretty well. I got the surprising call as well finding that I will be going back to Benin to serve! Along with that I'll actually be working with the Elders that are in the bureau in helping the transition with the new mission president coming in, in just a few weeks. It will be nice going back to Benin to see the old converts, and all the missionaries there that I miss dearly! I will surely miss Togo a ton though, and am hoping to come back here again before the end of my mission. On the brightside I'll get to be with President Weed a lot at the end of his mission, and I will get to know the new mission president really well. But yeah this past week went pretty well! The secteur is still having a bit of difficulty due to the incident with one of the leaders, but we’ve found some good new Amis this past week. One that I’m sad about leaving for is a super old grandma named Katherine, I don’t even know how old she is, and most likely as she is Togolese she doesn’t even know her age. Ha-ha, but she was actually a contact from her son who is a leader in the ward of Tokoin. Thanks to the example and encouragement of her son, she'll be getting baptized in two weeks! 
This past week we had Stake Conference as well, which was awesome to be at. Last conference with the dedication it was pretty packed, and I assumed that it was because it was the dedication, and there was a member of the Seventy's that was there. So I didn’t think that it would be as filled this time around, but I was very wrong. We got there really early, and watched as the whole entire chapel was filled, all the way into the back part, along with the primary room where they had a TV playing it as well, and one of the big hallways. We ended up sitting outside not getting to really see or hear any of the conference. It was kind of a bummer, but at the same time I guess that it’s a really good thing! Ha-ha, the church will be really strong here one day no doubt. It was nice seeing all the members from the old secteurs, and the other missionaries as well. Along with that we found out that two of the families that we were teaching in Anfame, and a few other couples that we were teaching there are getting baptized next week. Another unfortunate reason that I’m leaving this Friday, ha-ha but I’m super excited for them no doubt! The zone is doing as well, and the work seems to be picking up in all of the secteurs so that is good to see! This past week we’ve been doing a lot of work with the new members, in strengthening them, and also in hopes of getting contacts. My companion wanted to teach about tithing with all of them, even though we knew pretty well that they all paid their tithing already. I can see that he was inspired in doing it as well too. The members were all really happy to talk about it, and the testimonies they have already gained even in just this short time of paying the tithing. It really made me think a lot about that commandment, as its one that we usually keep, but don’t talk much about it, and leave it to the side. But its one of the greatest commandments, and one of the best ways to grow in faith really. We shared a lot the scripture in Malachi talking about the promises the Lord makes to us, and that tithing is really a question of faith rather than money. It’s whether we love the Lord, and also if we have the trust that he will keep the great promises he has made for those who keep this commandment. So that was a really nice reminder for me as well. Today our apartment went to the beach with some of the Elders from Souza and had a good time there as well! I'll send those pictures! But yeah, all is going well here, thanks for all of the love and support!

Elder Oliverson

Stake conference this past week.
left to right.. Elder Baker American, Elder Mary French, Elder Barton American, Me, Elder Florion Tahitian, Elder Lynch Scottish, Elder Destribois French, Togolese member, Elder Gnenenon Ivorian, Elder Mou-tham Tahitian...
Me, Elder Mou-tham & Elder Barton

Me & my companion Elder Gnenenon

Monday, June 2, 2014


Bonjour!                                                                                                                  06/02/2014

This past week has been much better. It was nice being able to get to work without the sickness, and feeling normal again! That was probably the most frustrating part last week was not being able to go out to work. But yeah the week started off a little tough because of the rain... and with the rain we got, it was clear its now the rainy season. We were on our way to go to district meeting, and we have to go to the church in Anfame, as we have the sisters in our district now. And about halfway there, the rain arrives. We took cover under a little boutique thing, and started waiting a bit. We looked up at the clouds, and realized the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. The problem getting stranded out in the rain here, is that it rains so much, and so quickly the roads flood and some turn into little mini rivers. Ha-ha, we didn’t play it smart, thinking if we waited longer, the rain would stop, but it didn’t, and we ended up running back to our house in nothing but water. I have to give it too my shoes, they’ve seen better days. 
But yeah the work is getting a little better in the secteur day by day. We have some really strong new members, that have a lot of passion for the church, but aren’t quite sure how to use it, so we’ve put a lot of work into helping the members as well. In our ward, as its an older ward, we have multiple members that are working at the stake lever, for example in the Stake Presidency, High Council, etc. So as a result we have newer members as leaders in certain spots, and don’t have a ton of priesthood holders there on Sundays. As I’ve been in Be Kpota before, and so it’s been a while now, it’s been cool to see the progression of some of the members. There was a member in particular that has taught me a lot. When I first got here in the secteur, he was already started in the repentance process for some serious things that he had done a while ago. As the members are mostly new here, that can be pretty tough on them. We don’t get to visit this member often, but just seeing his each Sunday, and the change that happens week to week has been awesome. There is really a physical difference in his appearance, and a light and a big happiness that wasn’t there before. Honestly every time I see him now; he is smiling, and looks like the happiest person ever. It really helped me strengthen my testimony on the power of the Atonement, and how repentance can change our lives. The best part as well was this past Sunday he was able to use his Priesthood to bless his new baby that wasn’t born long ago. So things are going pretty well in the secteur, we were a little busy this past week though doing a lot of baptismal interviews for the zone, which I guess is actually a good thing, seeing that the zone is picking up a lot, and visiting some elders in the apartments as well. But yeah, not much is new other than that! This next week we will be having Stake Conference, which is exciting as it is the first since the last one when the stake was dedicated.

       I hope things are going well there, thanks a ton for the prayers and the support! I love and miss you all a ton!!

Elder Oliverson

Beobab tree