This past week has been pretty good. On Sunday we had the Area Conference and it was awesome. There were quite a few people there, which was good to see. Elder Gay from the 70 started it out and spoke, and he gave a pretty awesome talk. He shared a really cool story about a time when he was on a visit with Elder Uchdorf, and they were visiting some of the church buildings in Ghana. When they were looking around, Elder Uchdorf looked at the basketball courts, and asked, does anyone in Ghana play basketball. Elder Gay responded no, then President Uchdorf asked, well then why do we build basketball courts. And he said, well that’s just what we’ve always done and what were used to. Since then the church builds soccer fields around the churches here. He was trying to point out that just because we’ve always done it that way, or because everyone does it that way, doesn’t always mean that its the right thing to do, or what we should be doing.
Elder Bednar and Elder Uchdorf spoke as well. It seemed like the central theme was around the family, and bringing a gospel culture into the family, rather than what they do here, and the culture they have. For example the husband and wife work together in raising and teaching their children. They also talked a lot about the importance of leaving behind wicked traditions, to be able to enjoy the blessings of the gospel. Elder Uchdorf shared a story of a visit to West Africa, they were there looking at how they could improve and build better wells. They got to a village and found the well, and said it was terrible, it was filled with mud, and mold, and the water didn’t even look drinkable. He explained that he then saw people that would go take and use the water and even drink it. They asked why and the people explained that is what they have always done, and that is what their fathers have done, and their grandfathers, so it seemed to be fine. They quickly got to work fixing and repairing the well. Within just a little while, they had clean and clear water flowing from it. He showed that its not that the church came in and completely changed their way of living, but rather improved it. He compared it a little to the gospel, that yes they don’t have to leave everything behind, they still have their culture, but living righteously and the gospel, will bring a richer form of life to them. They also talked a lot about the importance of leaving behind the dowry or paying a certain amount of money to take someone’s daughter to wife, as that is still practiced here, and keeps many people from getting married, and in turn breaking certain commandments. It was a great conference for sure!
On Sunday we had one of the best mangezvous of my mission. We got invited with President, and the couple to go eat with an owner of one of the missionary apartments, who is from France, but comes here from time to time to look over the orphanages. We were all just so used to relaxed meals of either pate or rice, but when they invited us in we felt so out of place. Ha-ha it was the nicest place I’ve seen on my entire mission, and we were escorted in by a butler with a bow-tie and all. We had all pretty much forgotten like all etiquette as well, so that just made it more awkward as we didn’t know what to do, so we just watched President as he has that French in him and knew how to do everything. It was a little weird though as the daughter gave everyone the cheek kisses as we walked in, but President refused that she gave them to us. Also it was cool, as they kept offering us to drink with them, but the way that President refused it, without being rude, but rather opening up a way into talking about the gospel was pretty cool. It was an incredible 3-course meal, and it was so heavenly. Ha-ha, none of us will ever forget that dinner.
In the couple following days we tried to get as much as we could done in our secteur before leaving. We had some good lessons, and some Amis that are starting to break through as well. Everyone is still progressing good. With our new Ami Ken who is incredibly smart, we left him the Book of Mormon a while back with all the commitments, and this past week he came to us and said that he knows its true and that he knows very well also that our church is true, and that its the church of Jesus Christ. It was really cool to see that promise come to pass again. He explained though that he wants to be baptized but is not sure his father will be okay with it. As I’ve said before, even if people are adults, if their parents aren’t okay with it, they are often scared or worried, so we talked with him a lot about that, and had him read 1 Nephi 3:7 but switching his name in. It was interesting to see how well the verse went putting his name in, and helped him see a lot better that even if his father could be against it; the Lord will prepare a way.
On Thursday morning we left for Togo. And oh how great it was to be back there. I forgot how much I loved that place. Ha-ha, it seems so much nicer than Benin, and the people are the best. It was interesting noting more of the differences between the two countries. It was the best to be back though, and to even get to see some old members and recent converts and see that they’re doing great also! The two conferences went well, and by the last one we were all dead tired. It was great seeing the missionaries there again, and throwing the ball with Elder Barton after the conference:). I really missed Togo a ton!! It was good to see the Tahitians Elders there as well; they’re the best. Friday evening we took the drive back to Cotonou, which took a while, but we made it back. This morning we got up early as to head out to Porto Novo to help with a baptism again, so that went pretty good too! The work is starting to go amazing out there, and this past Sunday they had 50 people at church, the highest they have had since opening it. Its nice being back here, and to be able to get back and focused more again on our secteur.
Thanks again for all of the love and support and the letter also! I love and miss you all a ton!
|Drive back to Benin|
|Elder Marurai, Elder Rich, Elder Mou-Tham, and me.|
|The Area Conference at a building the church rented out.|