As you know with the big change again we’ve been super busy. As I mentioned last week there was a big problem that went on and things weren’t going to well, and President called me telling me he needed my help again so I’m back working with him:) We’re busy though as at the same time I’m helping out there, and along with that I’m helping in finishing the training of a new American named Elder Hammons. So with all of that things are pretty busy. They’re getting stressed out as a lot of leaders and a couple are going home that first week of March, so were trying to work things out and get stuff ready for the change. President asked me and Merrill this past week about some replacements, so we will probably be filling in those spots this next week so they can get trained before we all leave.
We’ve also been super busy with the big visit from Elder Dube this past week! It’s been good though, and it’s been interesting to be back in the branch of Gbegamey. It’s looking good there. We just got the new Branch President in, who is Larry, the Ghanaian that Desvergez and me worked with at the start of my mission, so it’s awesome to see him there. Him and the counselor he chose are both very humble, so they are going to progress really well. Things are already picking up as they’ve started holding CEP meeting and branch council meeting, so things are coming along well there.
It was a little sad leaving Calavi for sure. But I plan on going back before the end of my mission to say goodbye one last time. Luckily last Saturday I drove back up there to be at the baptism for Alfred and Luchette. It was awesome; it was a great baptism for sure. It was great especially seeing Alfred, as no doubt he will be a big help to the church there in getting things going. In their testimonies after the baptism it was really cool. Its something I’ve noticed often when people bear their testimonies at baptism where they talk about how its like when they found this message they found that part that was missing for them. They talk about how much more peaceful they feel and like they’ve found that destination they’ve been looking for, so now they have that place to rest. They’ll both be big helps to the church so I’m hoping they’ll start the temple preparation soon!
It’s been funny since I left. As the first few days after, Elder Kasonga would call me every night with a question. And he still calls me companion, which is the funny part. But he calls all the time asking questions about the Amis and what to do, but I think he finally realized that he’s already well enough trained to keep things going in the secteur, so I hope it continues on well there!
Along with that getting back here I weighed myself and saw that I lost 10 pounds again. Ha-ha so I think all the walking out to the village area had gotten to me a bit. Things are going good though here in the secteur of Cadjehoun. We have an Ami that is progressing pretty well named Louise, and we have her baptismal date fixed for the 21 of this month, so we’re really looking forward to that! Its tough as the entire family is opposed, but its one of those things to where she is willing to make the sacrifice to follow the Lord, so its cool teaching her as she has such a strong desire to keep the commandments.
The best part of the past week though was the visit with Elder Dube, and it was honestly one of the best parts of my mission. I remember when I was back in Calavi, Bulunga told me that I was going to be translating for Elder Dube in the conference, as he’s an English speaker. So I wasn’t looking forward to that as much as it’s not really possible to take notes, but it was awesome. One of the most tiring days as well though. He arrived late Wednesday night, and the conference started at 8:00 am the next morning and continued till about 2 to 3 in the afternoon. So I wasn’t too excited about translating for hours on end, but then I remembered that Elder Dube has to be teaching all of those hours, I have the easy job, and so I stopped complaining. Ha-ha it was great though, right from the start just getting to be next to Elder Dube was awesome, just being with someone like that. The best way to describe it is just pure kindness and love, and its all real as well. We talked about learning French, and he told me he’s working on it, and hopes that in the next five years will have it down. The conference started, and it was tough at times as he would get going in English and wouldn’t really stop for the translation. But it went great. Ha-ha At this point it was actually much easier to translate his English into French while he was teaching, than it was to translate the responses in French into English, but I did my best. Another thing I remember well is as I was next to him looking at his scriptures, and I can say I’ve never seen scriptures so marked up in my life, but I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. He was incredible and gave an awesome lesson about being a disciple of Christ missionary, rather than a me missionary, or someone that just thinks about himself. He talked a lot about the importance of growth on our mission, and as a Stake President he always saw two types of missionaries getting home, the ones who made that growth, and those that got home and talked about nothing but how difficult it was and all the annoying and uncomfortable parts of the mission, the ones who only worried about themselves. It was incredible. He likes walking around and moving everywhere while teaching as well, so that was a little tiring following him, but it was a good workout:).
While we were sitting together during President Morin’s lesson, he told me some cool stories about the Apostles and what they ask the 70’s to do when they come on the visits to the mission, it was interesting talking to him about them as he knows them well so he will tell you about their personalities and what they are like. He also talked about what an intimidating and difficult time it was when he was called to the 70’s. The conference was long, but it was great at the same time. We got done around 2:30, and at the end, we had a three-hour break before the member fireside that evening, so Elder Dube chooses 3 people for interviews. He looked out and pointed out a couple of missionaries. It was an awesome experience as while he was doing that. I was watching who he was choosing, and was thinking in my head, that would be awesome to get to have a last interview with him, and as I was thinking that same thought in my head, he turned over to me, and turned to President, and asked if he could interview me as well. So after the conference we went off and it was no doubt an experience that I won’t forget. Just being in the same room as him you feel a very special power. We talked a long while about the mission, and how things are working and the missionaries, then just about some questions, about after the mission, and the importance of being willing to accept the will of the Lord in our lives. It was amazing. And there was one thing I noticed, as when I would ask a question, even if it was a little vague, he would stop for a moment, and the response he would give would really be specific and to the point of why I asked that question, which really showed how inspired he really was. I did my best to write everything I remember from what he told me in the interview as I hope to never forget that experience.
After our interview, a couple of news reporters showed up and wanted to interview him, as the media found out that one of our church leaders came to visit and it was a big event. So President asked me to translate the news interview there as well. That was probably the scariest part as they had a camera then two recorders in front of my mouth as they asked him questions about the church, what we’re doing here, and what is our purpose in Benin, so I was just praying to not mess up his answers as that’s what they were going to send out to everyone about the church. Ha-ha, it was a cool experience though seeing him respond to them in the questions they were asking, and how bold he was.
After they finished there, he interviewed Elder Bulunga, and two other missionaries so President had me translate those interviews as well. It was kind of nice as I picked up even more counsel from what he gave in the other interviews and benefited from that as well. Ha-ha, in the end I was dead tired, but it was an incredible experience I will always remember. The part I don’t get is he was the one that was busy the entire day, and yet he was still full of energy, and ready to go for the next conference.
Later that night we had the member devotional, and there he announced that if we can reach the amount of 2000 members by October, we will be organizing the first stake in Benin the 10th and 11th of October. It was an exciting announcement for sure, I’m a little sad I won’t be here for it, but it will be an incredible thing for Benin. In the end it was one of my favorite General Authority visits no doubt. The following day him and President took a plane off to Togo. The problem though is a missionary from Benin was returning from Ivory Coast as he had finished his mission. So I called President as I had no idea what to do, and I didn’t think the missionary wanted to wait till Sunday when President got back to be released. Luckily President was with Elder Dube, so he authorized the District President to do it in his place, so he made sure that got done.
This week has been pretty busy, but it’s been a good one. It still hasn’t really felt real seeing how much time is left, but I’m doing my best to make the most out of what is left.
I hope you guys have a great week! I love and miss you a ton
Luckily though because I have the car now I was able to come back to have our baptism that we had today!