This past week has been pretty good. Really busy as well with the two Zone Conferences in Benin but we’ve still been able to teach a little bit. We have a couple of Amis that are coming along as well. We’ve been stressing retention a lot lately as a mission, as it is easy to baptize here, and many people get baptized, but as the church is still new, and not completely established, many fall inactive. So it’s been a big focus in getting the Amis ready for baptism. President Morin has been working on having us start a more different approach with using genealogy more. Its been super difficult here as its so tough to do that, and many people don’t even know who their grandparents are, but he’s pointed out what a powerful spirit that can bring in helping Amis and converts. Along with that it shows the people that this message will be a blessing for their posterity and children, but also for all of their ancestors who are waiting too.
We’ve been working a lot in particular with an Ami named Ken lately, and he’s been progressing really well. He came to us asking for a Book of Mormon after the first visit or so, and by the next visit told us that he woke up in the night and heard a voice telling him to read 1 Nephi 18. It was pretty interesting but pretty cool hearing him tell us about it, and we did our best to sort it out with him, already he is starting to see what a powerful book it is, and how unique our message is as well. Everyone here is religious really, but not many really understand why, or what they are missing out on. We have been working with some other Amis as well who are on about the same level as him, so its been centered a lot around the Book of Mormon. There is a question that sometimes people ask, that makes me think a lot as well. When you get done explaining that Joseph Smith finished translating the gold plates. They sometimes ask where they are now, and when you tell them that the angel came back to retrieve them, they start to wonder. The thing is though, even if the plates were still here on the earth, if you think about it that still wouldn’t really prove anything. That wouldn’t prove to them that it was the Nephites that wrote on them, nor that they were inspired by Prophets, nor that Joseph Smith received them from an angel. It wouldn’t really do anything at all, other than maybe cause other problems, and mystery. I love though the simple promise at the end of the book(Moroni 10:3–5)that gives the most simple way of having the confirmation that everything about it is true in sincere prayer and study. People seem to think God is very complicated sometimes, when he really gives us a lot of these things in simple ways so that everyone can apply it. Its been the best to see as well when people do apply that promise, and read and pray and then have that confirmation that will always come. Things have been a little difficult in our secteur though as we haven’t had a ton of time to get out to work this past week.
The Zone Conferences went really good though, we taught first, followed by Elder Bulunga and Merrill, then Rybin, and then President to finish. President Morin gave a really cool lesson comparing Zion’s camp with a mission. In showing the standard of obedience and spirituality that the Lord gave the group before going out, and how difficult and trying it was for them, and then in the end they didn’t end up going to fight as they had originally thought. Many people thought it was a failure and that they had travelled over a 1000 miles for nothing, but just a little while afterwards when the Lord called 12 apostles and then the seventy, 9 of the 12 apostles, and most of the 70 had been part of Zion’s camp, so in a way you see that the Lord used it actually as a way to prepare them for these callings, and for serving and building up his kingdom rather than what they had originally thought. He explained that likewise with the mission, we are stressed obedience and spirituality, and in the end many think that we just wasted two years that could have been used for studies or anything else, when in reality the Lord uses it as a time to observe what we do and to form us as he wants. Next week we will be even more busy again as we will be going to Togo for the next two Zone Conferences there. I’ve always seen the mission president do 4 Zone Conferences at a time like that, but I didn’t realize how tiring it can be till now. Ha-ha it’s been good though. The work is going well here though, and we have our Africa Area Conference tomorrow so we're all looking forward to that!
All is going well here though; it will be good to go back to Togo next week so that will be nice! I love and miss you all a ton and I hope things go well for you there this next week! Elder Oliverson