Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ask the Lord!

Bonjour,                                                                                                                   08/30/2014
Highlight of the week, is that I am back over 200 pounds!:) 202 so things are looking better that way! This past week has gone by pretty well, and has been really busy at the same time. On Monday one of the zones wanted to do a zone activity at Ouidah, and needed us to take them, so we "had" to go with them. It was a ton of fun though! It’s been about a year since the last time I went, so it was still pretty exciting stuff! The drive there wasn’t too fun. So I am much more thankful now for Elder Poll the first time he drove us out there, being the one having to drive this time. It was pretty fun though, and playing with the pythons is just normal stuff by now! Still weird getting the voodoo tour they do every time, which makes no sense but still cool. They believe that it was the pythons here that saved their ancestors so they worship them in a way, and have a little temple full of them. So we had a good time there, even though half the missionaries wouldn’t touch the snakes, which is understandable. Then afterwards we drove out to the beach not far away where they have the monument for the point of no return. Where they would come pick up the slaves and take them away. It was nice being there, and also seeing one of the old forts where they would keep the slaves and such. The activity took a while, but we were able to get back pretty early, and getting back we had a meeting with President which took a long while as well. All in all we weren’t able to get into the secteur too much that day.
 Also this week, we had a big group of missionaries leave, to Madagascar, and Desvergez leaving to France. Along with that he got back to Benin on Monday, and stayed with us till he left on Saturday, and it was just like the good old days!! It was nice having that time with him again, and getting to stay together just like it was a year ago, I miss those times for sure. The big problem came when he was supposed to fly home Thursday, but got to the airport, and found that his ticket had not yet been purchased yet. What better way to go home then to not even have a flight, so I’m sure his family was pretty upset, especially his mom. So the next day on Friday, President had us do all we could to figure out how to get him home as quickly as possible, as he had to get back to school on Monday. The problem when we went into air France though was that they said they had no places available till September 17th. So we realized there wasn't much hope there. We kept trying to contact Ghana who was supposed to be ordering the plans, but they are almost impossible to get a hold of. This is by the end of the day where we had tried about everything possible. So Desvergez and me decided to pray. Sure enough, even though we had called Ghana already 20 times that day, this time they finally answered, and tried to explain what happened. Within twenty minutes they were able to get him a flight home that same night, so all finished well there! It was interesting to see a bit, that all we had to do was ask the Lord, and keep working, and there was his help. It made us think a bit if we had asked the Lord earlier for help, would it have been solved earlier?
 On Wednesday we had Zone Conference. It was the first for President Morin, and like the others it was great as well. It was weird though as I was sitting back in Gbedromede for a Zone Conference, and thinking about the Zone Conferences at the start of the mission. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago, and seeing now that Ringle and me are some of the older elders, was scary to think about the lack of time that is left. The conference was also nice and relaxing not teaching like the last one:). Things have been super busy this week with the work, and we have been running around everywhere. Even today we had a mass wedding in Calavi. There was either 9 or 10 couples that were getting married to be able to get baptized! It was super cool to see, as we had to be there for transport and such. It was the first time they had done that here, and will also result in a ton of baptisms for the week, and many new couples in the church. Like I said we weren’t able to get a ton done in our secteur, as we had a ton of meetings and things for getting ready for the visit of Elder Curtis and such, but we did get the work we could done. 
There is one family in particular that we’ve been visiting more lately, who have actually been member for a couple years now. They were supposed to go through the temple all last year, but couldn’t, because of money issues. This year as well, they weren’t able to go, because of money problems again. They’ve had a hard time lately, and are starting to get much more discouraged as they haven’t been able to go. It is an awesome family as well; who is always at church, the kids know all the hymns, and they hold family home evening each week. It was tough seeing them get held back, and how down they were, but we’ve been teaching them a lot about temples, and perseverance, which has been really good for them. We’ve started bringing temple pictures to all our Amis and recent converts houses as well to put up. I remember a bunch of temple pictures in our house growing up, but never thought much about it. I remember hearing though, as they really want to help new converts get focused on the temple rather than fall inactive, to do all we can to keep their eyes on the temple, in every way possible. It has had its effects as well, helping them see the temple each day keeps them motivated and reminded of where their priorities should be. Things are all well here though, the time is short though as we just got back from the weddings though, so I hope all continues to go well there!
         Were all really excited for the arrival of Elder Curtis as well. I don’t know how 70s do it. If you could see the schedule we have for him, on his four-day visit, at all hours of the day, he is either on a plane, in a conference, in interviews, or in meetings with the District Presidency. It’s crazy how busy they are; yet when they hold conferences and such, they are still so well prepared and inspired. Were actually picking him up from the airport on Wednesday, and he'll be here till Friday, and then he'll leave to Nigeria. It should be really cool to get to meet him and be with him.   things are great here, its so crazy to see how fast time has gone by. Being back in Benin and seeing where I started, it’s hard to believe it’s been a year and a half since I was here last. My two trainers Elder Soanantenaina and Desvergez left this past week as well, so that was weird to see. The weather is getting better here little by little, which is nice. I’m teaching Elder Izekor how to drive as well, which is one of the hardest things ever. I’m not looking forward to teaching my kids how to drive. I don’t remember it being this rough. Either ways things are going really great here! We are hoping we will be able to get more work done in our secteur next week though! I love and miss you all a ton!

Elder Oliverson


Last dinner with Ambroise family, before Elder Desvergez left!

The night desvergez was supposed to leave.

Desvergez didnt leave, but the day after instead, and after working on it all day that night we were able to get the flight to France... so we celebrated with ice cream of course:)

All the couples getting married at Calavi!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Christ not only suffered for our sins, but also all the pains and afflictions we will ever have.

Bonjour!                                                                                                             08/23/2014

This past week has been pretty good, as we’ve been holding the fort down with President being in Togo for the week. On Monday we had a soccer activity here for all the missionaries against the members. Like usual it was pretty rough to say the least. Ha-ha, seeing that we started the game off with multiple Americans, as our Ivoirian elders hadn’t gotten there yet, we got in a pretty big hole, and there was no coming back. In the end we lost 6-2, but hey it could have been worse. On the bright side I had my football, so that made the loss not feel too bad at all! We started the week off with a really good FHE with one of our families, and watched "The Testaments". That on is a killer! I’ve never watched it here without seeing someone cry.  its good though for helping them understand the Saviors love for us, and also the fact that he visited the Americas. On Tuesday I spent half the day taking some elders to the dentist. And on top of that they all got teeth removed, so we spent a while there. It just reassured me as well to never go to a dentist here, Ha-ha.
      We’ve been super busy, so we haven’t been able to get a ton done in the secteur, but its still been good, as we’ve found a couple new Amis, and have received a ton of contacts as well. So now we just need the time to go visit them! This past week though we have had the time to visit a few in actives though which has been good.  Because there aren’t many members here in the secteur, there aren’t many people to visit those in actives. The visits though have really showed me that it doesn’t really take much to help them out, but really just visiting them, and helping them feel loved and that you we're thinking about them already does a ton. So it was nice getting the chance to visit some of them! One in particular has been baptized for a while, but refuses to get the Priesthood, as he’s worried if he does, his family we curse him with voodoo or something. So it’s been tough trying to get him to understand, but hopefully that will come along! That’s one of the tough things here is most people believe in that, so when you try to counsel them to avoid it and such, they just say that you don’t understand being from America. Which is why its really nice having an African as a companion who can back you up, and teach the truth. That comes in handy a lot for sure. For example this past week we got talking to a group of guys, and they told us they were having a little discussion about something, and wanted our opinion on it. It had to do with the law of chastity, so I just explained it simply how the Lord sees it, and the importance of the commandment. They accepted it, but then said that the culture where I come from is much different than Africa, so things aren’t the same. (Which is kind of funny seeing America has some serious problems that way, Ha-ha) But it was really nice having an African companion that related to them, and was able to explain these things to them. We had another good lesson as well. With the mother of Rebecca, who is the mom in the family that we're hoping to baptize soon. She was visiting them, and asked Rebecca to come get us. That she wanted us to come talk to and bless her, but not to bring her into the church. When we got there you could see that she wasn’t doing well at all, and was so depressed you could see it physically. She took a while explaining some problems she is having, and how depressed and sad she is with life. We started teaching her about the atonement, and what it means that Christ not only suffered for our sins, but also all the pains and afflictions we will ever have, so that he could help us in our times of need. It was really cool teaching her about this, as you could see its something that she never really understood before. We explained as well that its coming closer to Christ that we can really have the peace we need, and in following our message, it’s the best way in coming closer to him. It went really well, and was a good way of starting the lessons with her, so we're hoping that will go well! So things have been pretty good here! We’ve been super busy, and just got everything done getting everything ready to make the new Porto Novo branch, which is cool as its only been a few months that missionaries are there. Its still been pretty cool as the rainy season is finishing up, so things are really nice right now. A highlight of the week came when we were visiting some Elders in Fidjrosse, and stopped at a member’s house, and they had honey. It was the craziest thing ever having honey for the first time in like 18 months! Things are going good, next week we have zone conferences, and the week after, the visit from Elder Curtis, so that will be really good.

       Things are all going really well here though! Thanks a ton for the love and support!
Elder Oliverson

Just flexin our muscles:) I've never been a big fan of the soccer jerseys they get us here, as they never have XL.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Temple

Bonjour!                                                                                                                   08/16/2014

This past week has gone by pretty well! Sunday was good with church, and we had a little meeting again with the district about the activity were hoping to do in not too long. Then President also was wanting to start up a Mission Prep class for the soon to be missionaries in the district, and wanted help in getting the word out and that ready to go. We were hoping at first to hopefully have 10 people there. The missionaries helped a lot in getting the word out, we ended up having over 20 people there for the first mission prep class we had at the bureau! It was pretty awesome seeing all of them, and no doubt will be a big boost to the church here when they start getting more experience and returned missionaries. 
We’ve still been super busy this past week, but have still been able to get a lot more work done in the secteur. Its good to still see the progress of our Amis as well. We’re still getting everything ready for the marriage of Rebecca and her husband so if that could only come faster. Along with that they’re having us do more focus on not having just baptism as the goal, but also the Temple, and that people stay active to be able to go to the Temple as well one day. We’ve had some pretty cool lessons with that also. It's the best teaching about the Temple to them, as yes there is a lot of stuff they don’t know, but at the same time the whole point of it just makes sense, and even though its hard for them to understand sometimes the blessings that await them there, they still get super excited and pray to be able to go there one day. I never really realized how strange that was being just a couple minutes away from the temple, so any time there was time I could just stop by, and if that one was closed there was another about ten minutes away. Here when the people learn about the Temple, they will do all they can for the chance to go there even just once. There is no doubt a special spirit that comes when teaching about the Temple with the Amis and new converts. It made me think a lot about the Temple and the things that I have done there, and was a good reminder to have as its been a about a year and a half since I’ve been to the Temple last, so it was nice to remember what a special place it is. 
We have another Ami named Carmel who has just recently started progressing really good as well. Its a little surprising as he is much richer and well to do, and even has family living in France and is hoping to go there soon, yet he is still very humble and has just absorbed the Gospel and is even giving us contacts. It’s clear that he was well prepared to receive us. 
On Wednesday we spent most of the day helping the sisters with a wedding. They ended up needing two cars going up, so Rybin and me got to go as we were the designated drivers:) It was a lot of fun, and cool to see as there were two couples getting married, to get ready for their baptisms. It was also cool to see the support of the church there. Its huge getting couples and families like that, as it is very strengthening for the church. It was a great time, but took up most the day. 
Today we had the annual Mormon Helping Hands activity, which was pretty fun! Last years was great, as was this years. This year they actually had 4 different ones throughout the city, as there would have been too many people and to help with the transport, and sure enough there were a lot of people, and not enough tools! It was good though and we got done really fast. It was to repair the grounds at a hospital in Cotonou, as when it rains the dirt grounds get terrible, and there are huge wholes everywhere, so we flattened the whole area out. It was a good time as well! Then we came back and spent like 2 hours cleaning our apartment, which is like the first time its really been cleaned since I’ve been here, since we're like never there. So that was pretty crazy stuff! Things have continued to be busy for us, but it’s been really good this past week with the work! President is going to Togo this next week again, and the week after Elder Curtis will be getting here, so were getting ready for all of that. All is well here though; the Ebola talk has died down a lot as they have found finally that it actually isn’t really here so that’s a good thing.
           All is well here though and the work is going great! I’ll keep you guys in my prayers and I hope this week goes great! Thanks for all the love and support! Love you guys.

Elder Oliverson
One of the marriages:)
The other marriage:)
The double marriage we had this past week! 
After the marriage:)
He was able to get baptized today because of the marriage wednesday:)
                                        Elder Semeha and me, the Togolese.
Mormon Helping Hands:)
Service activity

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Guide us day to day.

Bonjour,                                                                                                                   08/09/2014
This past week has been pretty good, and probably the busiest as well. Tuesday we had the arrival of a group of new missionaries, 3 Tahitians, 2 Congolese, and a Togolese. It was the best seeing the Togolese getting his call here as he’s one of the young men I got to work with when I was in Be Kpota, so its pretty crazy to see him as a full-time missionary now! There flight got here late so we spent a while at the airport. Then helping them with the first day stuff took a while, and then after all we took them to their apartments, which ended up being on the opposite ends of the city. Ha-ha, so it ended up taking most of the day for us. It was fun seeing the new missionaries and seeing how excited they are to finally be in the field. Along with that we worked a lot of the week in doing immigration, and as we had so many missionaries getting visas we spread it out through 4 days. Just a few days after the arrival of all the new missionaries, we have 4 missionaries leaving as well, so we’ve spent a lot of time in picking them up and getting them ready to leave. On Friday was the Benin leadership council, and as there is a new zone leader that doesn’t have a companion at the moment, I spent a while the day before getting his report ready for him for the meeting. The past week I’ve been trying to get the release dates set up with President so that there will be an even transfer schedule now as well, so its been cool to work with him on that. Something I noticed this past week that was a good example to me, is when we finished a proposal, before going forward with it, he told me with a smile he would have to talk to his companion (wife) about it first. It reminds me a lot of how President Weed worked as well, in that he doesn’t work alone, but always has his wife’s opinion and they work together on it. People often think that it is only the mission president th leads the mission, but they’ve both shown me that they’re not alone in how they work. He’s an incredible man though. All in all things have all gone really smooth, but we’ve been so busy we haven’t been able to get too much done in the secteur, ha-ha. Luckily we were able to see a few Amis, and how they’re still progressing. We’re still working on getting the marriage ready for Rebecca and her husband, so that they can get baptized soon. It’s been tough for her, as she wants to be baptized very bad, but has to wait because of this. It was nice though as on Wednesday she was telling us about how the past few times she has read the Book of Mormon, she has feel upon a few verses about patience which give her a lot of comfort when she needs it. It really reminded me of the importance of daily Book of Mormon reading, as the Lord will often use that as a tool in helping us and guiding us day to day. Its nice as well that she has figured out how useful the Book of Mormon is that way, so that will help her stay close to it in the future. Things are all going pretty well with our other Amis, and they’re coming along well also. 
           Also today I just found out that Elder LeGrand Curtis will be visiting here in just a couple weeks, so I’m looking forward to that as well. Things are going pretty well in Benin. For some reason the month of August really cools down so it’s been nice to have that lately. Things are going well in Benin. A lot of the news reports have been talking about Ebola like usual, even though there aren’t yet any confirmed cases here, so people have been talking a lot about that lately. Hopefully it doesn’t make its way here though! I hope all is well there though, I love and miss you all a ton! Thanks for all the support!

Elder Oliverson

Languoet & Me right before him going home, he was in my first apartment back in Gbegamey

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book of Mormon

Bonjour!                                                                                                                     08/02/2014
          Sorry my letter will be a little shorter than usual as we just barely got back from doing the transfer, and from Togo. This past week has gone pretty well though! Once again President took a trip to Togo for the week, so we’ve been here working on things since he has been gone. Monday night we had a really fun FHE with one of our families. Elder Izekor wanted to make a sauce from Nigeria to eat with the Igname. So we let him do it, convinced that he was a pro at it. In the end we got there with the sauce, and no one wanted to eat it, as it didn’t exactly turn out as he had expected it too. Luckily the mom just happened to have made another sauce so what a miracle that was for us! It must have just been an off day for Izekor or something. This week was pretty rough driving around and doing visas and everything, as it was Independence Day on Friday. So as a result they shut down the road where they do the parade. Normally that wouldn’t be a big problem everywhere, but it made the entire city the worst traffic ever, so it’s great to have that over with!
           Not too much has changed in terms of the secteur. We’re still working with our Amis trying to help them progress, and still waiting on the marriage for that family so we'll see how that goes. Its looking hopeful though as we’ve finally started the lessons with the dad! The lessons have gone well with him, but it’s the best having the rest of the family there while teaching. He’s one of those guys that always asks questions even when he doesn’t care about the answer, but more to try to stump you. Either ways he was pretty doubtful about Joseph Smith being a prophet and the First Vision, just like most people when they hear that for the first time. So we talked about the sure way of finding the truthfulness of it, in praying, reading the Book of Mormon, etc. The best part was hearing his soon to be wife and kids testify about how they know it is true as well. His wife mentioned it as well that when we were watching the film the Restoration, she just had the best feeling come over her, and knew it had to be true. He tried to point out that she only believes its true because she saw it in a movie. So we made the point that it wasn’t what she saw that helped her know, but rather that feeling that she felt that gave her the confirmation. It reminded me a lot about the importance and again the power of the Holy Ghost in conversion. That it’s by the Holy Ghost we can gain the strongest testimony. There are countless examples of people that have seen angels and such, but still were very wicked. But when we have the confirmations from the spirit, it is very hard to deny. Seeing how powerful the spirit can be makes me think a lot more about the little things I can do and change each day to feel it more, and have its inspiration, as its such a powerful tool.
          This past week as well President has had me working on release dates, and setting up a transfer schedule from now on, as before so many missionaries change their release dates, so it makes a weird transfer schedule. So I was working on the release dates and setting up when the missionaries would be going home, the scariest part was seeing that the next group I’ll be looking at is when I’ll be going home. It’s hard to even believe that the end is already that close. Ha-ha, its pushing me a lot more though to make the most of the time that I have and work, as its coming closer. But yeah things are going well here. This morning we left early to go to Togo for the transfer. Instead of taking our truck, we had to take the mini-bus as we had too many missionaries. As a result there is no four-wheel drive, and the suspension is awful. Ha-ha so it was a terrible drive to say the least. In the end we made it back safe and sound. Its weird driving around here now and not being too scared, as you really can feel the protection that comes being a missionary. 
         Things are going well here though! Thanks for all the love and support!

  I love and miss you all a ton! Thanks for the love and support.
Elder Oliverson

 At first the only job they gave me was to hold the light so they could see while making the igname.

This is when they found out I'm actually very experienced at making igname.