Wow, it was so weird reading the emails and seeing you guys saying see you Wednesday. It seriously feels like just yesterday when I was opening up my call, and having no clue where Benin actually was. Its incredible to think back though on all that I have learned these past two years, and all the incredible experiences that I have had, and the people I have gotten to know and love.
I can say that I had a lot of ideas of how the mission would be having had three older brothers that served in third world countries as well, but until you’ve come here or been a missionary its hard to really understand how awesome it is. It’s still really hard to believe the end is already here. The feelings are very bittersweet as you said. I’ve never liked saying goodbyes, but especially ones like these where I know that many of these people I will never see again in this life. I will really miss as well just Benin and Togo in general. Yes there are a lot of things that are pretty rough, but there are a lot of great things as well. Especially just how friendly and outgoing all of the people are, I doubt there are many places in the world where you can just go start talking to about anyone on the road about God, and they will listen to you and want to hear more. It’s been the greatest blessing to have had the chance to serve here no doubt.
This past week has gone by pretty well, and I’ve been doing my best to not really think about it being my last full week. We had a good church on Sunday and its good to see the branch in Gbegamey continue to progress forward. We had two baptisms in the branch this past week so things are starting to pick up again little by little. I gave the lesson from the talk by Elder Jorg Klebingat, which was a talk that I had really liked before. Unfortunately I didn’t have a ton of time to prepare the talk, as President called us Saturday after the cyber asking us to go help out some missionaries that were having some problems as he was gone to Togo. It was still really good though, and a solid talk he gave.
We had a really fun family home evening night on Monday with the branch. It was the little thing that Desvergez and me started a while back for all the young single adults and other members that don’t really have families to be able to come and have FHE together, it was a good time for sure there. Its fun showing them games that we would use back home. For example the object lesson where you have a line of people and whisper something to the first and he then passes it on to the last, and by the time it gets to the last person its completely different. They thought it was the coolest thing ever, Ha-ha; I used it as an object lesson as I talked about charity and not gossiping or backbiting, especially among members of the church.
We had a good meeting with President on Monday like usual. Elder Merrill pointed out something interesting in the scriptures that I haven’t noticed to often. But the point about how many prophets went to the mountain to pray, or receive special revelation. Obviously we also refer to the Temple as the mountain of the Lord. I don’t know why I haven’t really noticed that before, but its a clear example of what a great place the Temple is to receive answers to prayers and revelation. That is one of the things I look forward to seeing the most is the Temple again. It’s been too long!
Things are going well in our secteur. This past week we were able to find even more new Amis, which was nice, and good for sure as its difficult here. We were also able to fix a few baptismal dates for the end of March. We have a certain Ami named Carlos that has been an Ami forever. He wants to be baptized but hasn’t been able to come to church on Sundays because of his work. We’ve been working with him for a while on it, but that kept coming up as an excuse. We looked a lot at the story of Nephi with him, and showed him that no commandment the Lord gives is impossible to keep. Hence if he really wants to he can find a way to be at church on Sunday, which would in turn allow him to be able to be baptized. We showed how Nephi had the faith that the Lord would provide a way and accomplished the commandment. So we invited him to do the same in going to his manager and asking for Sunday off. He said he had already done it multiple times but it has never worked. So we showed again how many attempts Nephi and his brothers made before they actually succeeded. Just this past week though his manager finally decided to let him take the Sunday off. He was pretty excited and a little amazed as well at how everything finally worked out, and its help strengthen his testimony in the Book of Mormon, but he should be getting baptized on the last week in March.
This past week I’ve been able to drop by and say goodbye to certain people. Like I said I’ve never really liked saying good-bye because you really don’t know what to say, especially when there is a chance you will never see them again. I got to go up and see Olivier though, which was nice. He was the old Ami I had in Calavi, who was doing awesome but is waiting to get married before he can be baptized, so I will look forward to hearing from him when he makes it into the church.
We also went to a little FHE with Ambroise's family last night. That was pretty awesome as Ambroise reminded me of how it all started. I was surprised how he remembered all the details of that first day me and my trainer stopped by in the rain as he was with his friends, but he remembered point by point. It was awesome to see really how far the family is progressing, and continuing to go forward. They are still not sealed yet, as they are preparing a time when the entire family can go together, with all the kids to get it done. That is another good news that I'll be waiting for in not too long.
All in all this past week has been pretty good. Like I said I’m still trying to just make the most of the time that I do have left, as I know I am going to miss this place a ton. I know that I will really miss being a full time missionary. I remember Garrett saying the same thing, but it is true that I will miss just the simplicity of it, and really having your only worry being to serve the Lord and preach his gospel. It will surely be missed. Like I said though I’m not done yet so I will try to make the most out of what is left! I hope all is going well there. Thank you for all of the love and support, I have really been blessed in seeing what an awesome family and friends I really have. I love and miss you all a ton.
FHE at Gbegamey
Elder Oliverson with Olivier and his soon to be wife.
Ambroise & Elder Oliverson