Hey-howdy-hey! All is good here in Akpakpa. Sorry for the lack of emails last week, we had a zone activity at Ouidah that took up a lot of our day, and when we showed up at the cyber, there were some connection problems. Oh well, life moves on.
Well, the past two weeks were slow in terms of the work, but still good nonetheless. The sector is the same ol' same ol', in fact it's died a little bit more from the numbers standpoint, so that's sad. For the past two Sundays, we've had no investigators come to church. None. It's super crushing, especially when people promise with all their heart that they'll be there, but you've gotta just keep chugging along.
My companion is a huge source of support. He's an optimist, he's got a lot of faith, and we help each other out in the hard times. His previous sector was Cococodji, which is humongously massive, and is out in the village areas of Bénin. He loves the comparatively smaller walking distances in Akpakpa, but he misses how openly the people accepted the Gospel back in Cococodji. In all things, we lift each other up, and we get along great.
Soeur Johnson, one of our eternal investigators, is ready for baptism, but the marriage is holding her back. We had a lesson with Frère Johnson, Soeur Johnson's boyfriend, and we proposed the idea of marriage to him. He expressed a love for the doctrine of the church, but he felt that the practices were too European, that people aren't happy in church, and that there need to be flutes, drums, and dancing. And he also said that the members here sing terribly. Long story short, we told him that we believe in modern revelation, and that our leaders have expressed that the way we run our meetings is in line with the will of God. He laughed that off and said, "Well, sooner or later they'll receive revelation. I've already received it, I'm just waiting for the rest of them to catch up."
Well, we decided to put the baptism matter aside, and just focus on the marriage. He agreed to the marriage, or at least he told us he did. Directly afterwards, when we had left, he told his wife that I had been disrespectful, that they weren't getting married, and that he was going to practice polygamy. I've thought of many not nice titles to attribute to this man, and for the sake of being a missionary, I'm just going to stick with Mr. Meany Pants. So now we're praying for his heart to be opened, or for Little Bunny FooFoo to come and bop him on the head. Either way, we're waiting for a miracle. (:
The zone activity at Ouidah was awesome. So much fun!
Yesterday, we were out proselyting, and then an African raintstorm came in. African rainstorms usually take the following pattern:
1. The sky darkens to a charcoal, almost black color, with the clouds rolling in
2. A fierce blow of wind, that lasts for a minute or two, accompanied by swirling clouds of dust.
3. RAIN. It pours, and it lasts for at least a good twenty minutes.
So, being too far away from the apartment, we took cover under a little tin-roofed store, and we waited there for about thirty minutes until the rain died down just enough for us to head back home. It may sound scary, but it was sooo much fun! I really enjoyed it. (:
For Pentecost Sunday, people here totally celebrated like crazy! And last night, there was some kind of outdoor gathering to celebrate, and the pastor had these super loud speakers that we could hear from the apartment. Whenever he shouted, it sounded like a dubstep dragon, which was super cool.
Also, this week I made a delicious fruit salad, and corn potato chowder. Mom, you'd be so proud of my progression! (:
So, in terms of spirituality, I've had a couple of great experiences these past few weeks. In thinking about the sector one evening, and how we could get the work rolling, I prayed to ask the Lord what was holding me back, and I felt inspired to study patience. In my study the next morning, I read Alma 26:27, and I felt the assurance of the Lord that, if I was patient, success would come with time. This past Saturday, I felt like I should fast for the sector. I desperately want for the work to pick back up before I leave this town, and so I prayed for the spiritual floodgates to open up. Right after starting my fast, we had a slew of ratez-vous. That was no fun. (; But we did have unplanned miracles. For example, I felt prompted to stop by and say hi to a former investigator named Fréjus. He's super busy, and he never comes to church, but he's a great guy. We just shared a quick spiritual thought on Ether 12:27. We didn't put any pressure on him, and we didn't beat the dead horse of coming to church. We just visited with him, and I feel like that will eventually make a difference. Mother's Day Sunday, I gave a sacrament talk, and taught lessons during second and third hour, both with 5 minutes notice, and both on tithing. So, knowing that nothing happens by accident, I figured that maybe, to help the sector along more, I need to be more consecrated. However, upon further reflection during the week, I received some special promptings:
Tithing is not a matter of money. God is all powerful, so the commandment to pay tithing is not based upon His need for money. Neither He nor His Church need our money. Tithing is a commandment which allows us to give. God has given us everything, so giving tithing is simply an expression of gratitude. Gratitude is a fruit of humility. As a missionary, this mission is a tithe on my life (By the end of these 2 years, I'll be 20 years old). However, in applying the principles of tithing to missionary work, we get deeper insights.
Missions are not about the need for us, although we certainly do contribute in a crucial way. Missions are a way for us to express our gratitude for the wonderful gift fo the Gospel. It's a way for us to be grateful, and therefore be humble. As we are humble, and show our gratitude for all we have, then we see the windows of heaven open.
So, to apply this to myself, I will look at proselyting no longer as "working to try and get things back up to speed," but rather "a way for me to express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father."
I love you all! Have a wonderful week!
Avec tout mon amour,