Saturday, October 25, 2014

If you’re on the right track, you’ll get ran over if you just sit there.

Bonjour,                                                                                                                    10/25/2014

            This past week has been a little busier than usual as President left for Togo again, so we’ve had a lot to do, and as a result weren’t able to get into our secteur as much as we wanted, but it was still pretty good. On Sunday we had a nice little dinner with Precious, one of my favorite Nigerians, which was really good. The only problem is for some reason that stuff is not the best for the stomach. Even Elder Izekor was feeling it, and he’s Nigerian so that’s saying something. 
           Monday was a lot of planning for the transfer next week, and the big group of missionaries we have coming in. We have 13 coming this month, and 15 in December. Which is huge for this mission, so that will be good. We will be pretty busy though next week because of it, with trips to Togo and such. 
         Things are going all right with the work, we had a few setbacks this week as Rebecca’s husband is going back to his old habits with drinking and going out with other women and such, so that was pretty rough for them. We spent a lot of the time teaching her in particular and trying to help her persevere and be patient. Its pretty amazing as well what a comforting power the scriptures can have on someone. For example we left her one-day with some scriptures in D&C and the next day came back finding her in a completely different mood. And she explained to us that after reading the passage it’s almost like she forgot about all the worries she had for a little bit. We’ve been continuing with teaching our new Muslim Amis that we found last week as well. I can’t say they are too devout as they are talking to us, but it’s been good. Its a lot different teaching them as you center a lot more on Jesus Christ and the Atonement, which is a lot of fun to teach in particular. 
          We worked a little more with the converts as well. The Gbegamey branch is having a little rough time as well right now, so it’s causing some problems for us, so we’ve been trying to help that way. Many members think that because they're already in the church, that’s what matters, and then become complacent which causes problems. I remember hearing that even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get ran over if you just sit there. Which kind of shows that even if we're on the right path, if were not always advancing, then were much more vulnerable. Were hoping things will get better there though. 
         I read a talk as well by Elder Callister that he gave in the MTC a few years back about becoming a consecrated missionary. It was incredible as well and very motivating for the last months of my mission. He talked mostly about the importance of giving up our own will to the Lords which is tough as each of us has a few things they have the hardest time giving up. But to be a consecrated missionary rather than just a good missionary it means giving up all those little weaknesses as well. He talked a lot as well about the difference about changing our nature and changing our behavior. If we want to really change and become a better person it comes in changing our nature. He gave the example of a missionary waking up on time, if for example a missionary starts waking up on time because his companion does. Its good for the moment, but it is something that won’t really last but can easily wear off. On the other hand if he wakes up on time for the Lord, and because it’s the Lords will for him, that is where he will really start to see the change for the better. It was a very motivating and inspired talk no doubt. 
        We are hoping to be able to get more into our secteur towards the end of the week, as we know we will be pretty busy towards the start. Things are going well though here. I found out that idea people have about mice and rats eating the bottoms of peoples feet when they sleep is true as well. This past week one of our Amis was telling me I had to wash my hands off better after we eat, then told me about how if you don’t wash your hands off very well, and there is still a scent or odor, mice will come and start biting and eating your fingers. And then what they do so you don’t wake up is they start blowing on the wound so it sooths it, then continue biting away. Ha-ha, it made me much more thankful about sleeping off the ground and in a net as I’ve never really had to worry about that at all. This past week as well we found another new contact from a member that lives directly in front of the President of Benin’s house. So now we have an Ami in front and directly behind his house now. You can tell the guards are starting to wonder what’s going on as they see us all the time now all around the house. I will say though it’s not quite the same security as the White House. Its just a normal house, surrounded by the military, and then every little bit you see a secret service guy in a suit. But there are many windows and a balcony so it’s pretty open actually. 

      Things are going well here though right now, I hope all goes great for you guys this next week. I love and miss you all a ton!
                                                            Elder Oliverson

Baptism we went and helped with at Porto Novo. As they don't have a church or font yet, we do it at a hotel pool.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Promptings of the Spirit

Bonjour,                                                                                                                    10/18/2014

 This past week has been pretty good, and I did end up finding my planner as well, so that was a plus. There have been some really cool experiences as well, and some new ones. One of those being that I got to give the first baby blessing I ever have, so that was pretty cool! The only problem was that like I’ve said before the Africans have like 5 names each. So when doing the blessing I hope I was able to get them all right, if not I’m not sure how that works, but all in all it went well. 
This past week as well, President left to Ghana for the Mission President seminar so he has been gone the entire week. Last week before leaving, he had gotten done with all his interviews he did for the missionaries, and we weren’t really planning on getting interviewed, as he said we're always with him, and everything he needs to tell us he already does. But anyways he decided to interview us late Saturday night so that was really nice to get the chance to talk to him like that. He really cares about the missionaries and the needs of each one, and how each one can improve as well, so that was really nice. We talked a lot about following promptings of the Spirit when they come, as often it is difficult for many reasons. He compared it to sports, like hockey for example, as he’s Canadian. And said that many hockey players back in the day would stand in front of a clothes dryer a lot of the day just hitting pucks in the door, as it would create that muscle memory, it reminded me of how I’ve learned that with other sports. Where we do stuff over and over again to make it so that when we have to do it in a game we don’t even think about it, but it just happens. He said its a lot the same with the spirit as we need to make that big effort to be spontaneous enough to always act on the promptings, even if were not completely sure, and in doing so it will get to the point where we just naturally act off of them, a lot like the example of President Monson, so that was something that really helped me out. 
Monday as well was an interesting day as we got a call from a member to come to the hospital to bless their sister. When we got there, it was there we found that she wasn’t actually physically sick, but mentally rather. As the week before her father passed away in front of her, it was so traumatizing it had become a huge problem, and no one knew what to do as she was out of control. My comp and me didn’t really know what to do either as we had no experience with it. We ended talking to her for a bit, and then gave her a blessing of comfort. The spirit was really strong there no doubt in helping us know what to do. Afterwards we spent some more time with her, and talked some about the Plan of Salvation, and read some scriptures. You could see she started calming down much more, and became much more open with us. By the time we left as well, it was a much different situation that when we got there, and it was really cool to see. The family said that she hadn’t talked to anyone since it happened, so just the fact that she opened up to us was a miracle. It made me think a lot too about what a blessing it is to have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation already, as when those times come there is much more understanding.                       
Our FHE went really well also Monday night, as we invited a member named Brother Kazotti from Fidjrosse to come with us. He is no doubt one of the best members I have met the entire mission. But it was really good for the family we visited, as Kazotti before he became member, had two wives, had been through many churches, and had even been hardcore into voodoo as well. So he basically had every bad problem there is here, before being baptized. So as he is a member, he has been greatly blessing financially, and is now sealed with his wife and kids in the Temple, and is an incredible member. We basically just brought him to the FHE and let him loose. It was a very spiritual night, and was really good for the parents of the family as they have many problems keeping them from baptism, so his testimony was something powerful for them. 
The work is still going well for us, as the few Amis we do have are coming along little by little. This past week my comp and me have done more tracting than we ever have, but it’s been really good. My comp is very very good at following the impressions from the spirit, and also with talking with everyone about the gospel, so its pretty effective for us. Our sectuer is a little difficult at the same time as it is very Muslim, The other day was a little interesting, as we prayed before going out to tract that we'd find people to teach. When going around the first 4 people we stopped to talk to were Muslim. Usually we don’t really talk to them, as they are nice people, but aren’t supposed to talk with them. It was interesting though as all four that we talked with ended up being pretty interested, and wanted us to come back for another rendezvous. We're hoping that things will progress well with them, as it is a little tougher and a little different of a situation than who we usually teach. 
This past week we found another really awesome Ami as well, as we stopped to say hi to an Ami, and also started talking to his friend, as we were talking to his friend, we found that he was an extremely rich manager that worked at the port. We then came to find out that he lives directly behind the President of Benin as well, who actually isn’t far from us. He  asked us to stop by again as he wanted to know more. When we did stop by, it was pretty cool, as he literally lived next to the President. He had to warn the guards in advance that we'd be coming so they would let us pass. The entire road is filled with secret service, and trucks with 50 cal machine guns on the back. When we finally got into his home we could easily see in to the Presidents home as well just by looking out his back window. This guy is no doubt as well the richest person I have taught my entire mission, which was interesting, and at first a little daunting. We ended up having an amazing lesson though, where the spirit was strong, and he as well has become much more interested, and is now following the teachings. It is kind of funny as well as the night we left his house, the secret service surveilled us for the next 24 hours. As that is the protocol just to make sure who we were and what we were doing there really. 
All is going pretty well here though, we had a pretty crazy experience this past week, but I’ll probably be waiting till after the mission to tell you about that one. But things are going great here; the next transfer is just a week away now so we’ve been getting ready for that. It’s still pretty hot, and I guess it will keep getting hotter. 
Something cool this past week was that the Stake in Togo called their first Patriarch finally. The only problem though was that he hadn’t even gotten his Patriarchal blessing yet. Ha-ha but I’m sure they got that taken care of. All is going well here though and I hope all continues to go great there as well.

 Thanks for all the love and support though and the letter, I love and miss you all a ton!

                                                        Elder Oliverson
Thought this was funny, it's a lottery and the winner gets a Visa to the U.S.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book of Mormon

Bonjour!                                                                                                                           10/11/2014

Things have been pretty good this past week. Unfortunately I lost my planner, which is where I have everything I did this past week, and also the stuff I was going to write home, so I was a little frustrated about that, but its all good. Things are going good here though, and this past week has been super hot. We weren’t able to get a ton done last Monday, as we had our meeting with President which was good, where we talked a lot about the obedience of the mission, and also how we can get the missionaries to stop taking moto’s. Afterwards we had to go do a transfer of a few missionaries as well, as there were a couple who went home this week.
Things are good with the work also though. We had some really good lessons as well with Abel who is the husband of Rebecca as they’re waiting on their marriage. All the children are baptized, but the parent’s can't until that marriage we are waiting on, the mother has the strongest testimony ever but the father hardly has any. The problem is it almost seems like he doesn’t want to, so it’s hard to help someone become converted if they don’t want to. But things went well this week with him. For the past while we’ve been struggling with him, as he doesn’t really like talking to us, but last Monday we got a call from his wife saying he got in a pretty bad moto accident. The first thing that came to mine and my companions minds were what a opportunity this was for us, it kind of reminded me of Alma 32, where he was able to go finally preach the gospel to the people as they were more open to it after being humbled by their afflictions. Anyways, when we got to see him, his foot was injured pretty bad. I thought about going in with my awesome medical skills to help, as none of them really knew what they were doing, then got scared as it was pretty gross, so I just did what I could. Ha-ha, but it was good, as he was talking to us saying that really from what happened, he should be dead, which got him thinking a lot, and he was thinking about what would have happened if he died. That helped us get into teaching the Plan of Salvation in seeing that this life is when we are supposed to prepare to meet God. He understood that well, and could see that he was lucky to have this chance again. Now he’s at the point of seeing what he can do in preparing for what’s next, but there is still a little ways to go, but things are going much better there. With the family this past week we saw a lot we could work on as well. They are very solid with their FHE, with their family prayers and spend a lot of time together as well, yet they weren’t as happy as they could be and were still having a lot of problems. I had the thought to wonder how their Book of Mormon reading was going. When we looked into it we saw that they hardly read as a family, if at all. So we’ve been putting in a lot of focus in that area, and it’s kind of shown us the necessity of reading as a family each day, and keeping that in the center. As the Book of Mormon is kind of a guide, when people aren't reading it daily, they are missing out on many blessings, which could be their's. I remember Elder Bednar talking about the importance of it, and in keeping that as a habit. He talked about how they always strived to do it, even when their kids weren’t completely focused, and didn’t want to do it, and he said that he can't remember just one experience in particular that was an incredible spiritual experience, but rather all of them put together were what gave the great results. He compared it to a painting of a wheat field in that if you look close and see just one brush stroke, its not that amazing, but when you step back and look at it all it makes an amazing picture. I remember it as the same way, as when we were younger I was often tired or distracted and sometimes wasn't always down for reading the Book of Mormon, but looking back now, I can see what a blessing that was that we made the effort.
This past week has been pretty good. I was super happy as I was able to download some of the General Conference talks, and they were incredible! I loved the whole new thing where they can speak in the native language now. Unfortunately there is only one General Authority that is French at the moment. Ha-ha, but the talk that really hit me was the one by Elder Robbins about which way we face, in do we fear god or man more. Its a very common problem, that he showed even many prominent people in the scriptures have had, and something I’ve had a problem with as well, but he talked about the real importance of it, and showed the example of Jesus, in always being more perfectly obedient to his father rather than man, even if he would be persecuted so much for it. I loved all the talks as well on the importance of strengthening our testimonies. And also Elder Bednar's, where he talked about why we preach the gospel, and the story he told about his sons, when the one got treated by his brother, he went out and did the same for his friends, which is something I’ve seen a ton here where when people really feel the blessings of the gospel, they want everyone to hear about it. But yeah it was really nice to get to hear some of the talks, so I’m excited for the rest of them. So things are going pretty well here, again I lost my planner so a lot of stuff was left behind, but hopefully I’ll find that soon. Thanks for all the love and support!
                                                                          Elder Oliverson

They told us some pretty interesting stuff about Ghanvie my second time around. As you know its the city in the middle of the lake built on the water to get away from slave traders. But its all on water, and they get around by boats, they call it the Venice of Africa, even though its nothing like Venice. They say the kids learn to swim when they are between 3 and 4 years old, as they really don't have a choice. Also they made a little island, so there is a 20 by 20 square of land, where they teach the kids to walk, as its the only solid flat ground. You can tell someone is from the city as they have a wierd form of walking because they dont have any land to walk on.

A little aids clinic.

Elder Mejean's depart back to France this week.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Seeing the Christ like virtues she’s developing living the gospel.

Bonjour!                                                                                                                    10/04/2014
Sorry again for no letter last week, as the connection has been down for us. Its back though finally as some Nigerian guy from the church came and fixed it! Things have been pretty good for us these past couple weeks, but we’ve been super busy as usual. Last week we had the big mission conference that President organized in hopes of getting everyone to commit to being more obedient, so that was really good. Most of the reaction from people was why didn’t we have this along time ago, so it went really well, and I’m thinking that it will start to catch on a lot more, as we have so many new missionaries getting in, it will get a bit of a fresh start. It was a really good conference as well as I really want to see what more I can do better and improve upon to finish the last part of the mission well. 
Last weekend we had some late nights when I got a call from President while in bed asking us to take a missionary to the hospital, as he was becoming super sick. So that took up a lot of our Saturday and Sunday. It ended up not being malaria though, but just really bad food poisoning. I will say though it looked pretty rough. Ha-ha, it also reminded me of how much I don’t want to have to spend a night in a hospital here. 
This past week President left to Togo for interviews so we’ve been holding down the fort once again which is always fun. Things are going well with our secteur also. Honestly though the past few weeks we’ve been so busy we haven’t been able to get a ton done in the secteur. Still though our Amis are coming along pretty well. We're still working hard on getting the marriage done for Rebecca’s family we have been teaching for a while now. The problem is there is so much paperwork needed that people don’t have here to do that. So they’ve been holding out still. We’ve still been working a lot on helping them center the family on the gospel though, and it’s coming along well. It’s been really great to see them striving to apply the gospel principles in the family, and in their lives. For example this past week on Sunday Rebecca the mom, found out that we had taken a missionary to the hospital, as he was sick. So when she got home from church she went and prepared a meal for him, then called us to come take her to the hospital to give it too him. I didn’t even think about doing that at all, so it was a really cool experience for me seeing the Christ like virtues she’s developing living the gospel. Its nice having them as a whole family as it seems to push them to do more, and to be more motivated. Every day when I stop by she has read an entire chapter of gospel principles with all the scriptures in them, and then gives me a lesson on what she has learned for the day. It is really cool to see how self-sufficient they are now in the gospel. We had a cool experience with them this last week. at the start of the week when me and my comp were planning for them, we were thinking about trying to have a fast with them in hopes of being able to move the marriage along faster. Later that week before we even could ask, Rebecca asked us if we could fast with them as they have this problem. We were a little surprised but were happy seeing their faith that way. So later that week we had a fast for a day, and ended it all together. At the end we took them to go visit another member from the Fidjrossee Branch. We had a good time talking to him as he was the old branch president and is an amazing guy. When he came to find out what the problem was holding them back from the marriage and baptism being the paperwork, he explained that his son had the same problem when he was trying to get his paperwork to go on the mission, so they found some guy in Porto Novo that could help him get the paperwork quickly to be able to leave on the mission. He said that he could surely help us in being able to get that together quickly so they could get baptized soon. It almost seemed too good to be true, but we could see it was a blessing coming from all the prayers and fasting so that they could get married and baptized faster. Things are going great here though, and the time is flying by! The work is still the greatest as well, and we're hoping to be able to get more out in the secteur, as President will be back this week. I hope all is well there though and I love and miss you all a ton!

                                              Elder Oliverson

This cool 
Ghanaian rasta guy that comes to our branch now. he's a member:)

Tried out the car the baby on the back thing like they do here. I realized it doesnt really work for me, because you kind of need a belly to be able to do it because it holds up the wrap, as you can see the Child wasn't  much of a fan.

Our hospital visit with Elder Mejean

Check out his shirt ha-ha :)