A fon ye déah? (How are you?)
Ehsobedoh? (How is your day?)
Leko-ofondoh? (How is your health?)
Ahweméfon ye déah? (How is the family?)
Sécouladé? (How is school going?)
Edowadé? (How is work going?)
Besenofonyadeah? (How is your spouse?)
Lévéohfonyadeah? (How are the kids?)
Midoonoonwedeah? (Did you eat well today?)
Nukemidou? (What did you eat?)
Eh desikou? (With what kind of sauce?)
That's the standard spiel of questions that I ask people in Ewé. They love it, they all crack up laughing when they see a white guy speak Ewé, even just a few phrases. (:
This week was great!
Hilaire and Elizabeth are doing awesome. Ever since her baptism, Elizabeth has prepared really big meals for us every time we've stopped by her house. She's soooo nice, and she's just dived into being a Latter-day Saint.
Sam is doing great, too. We started teaching his brother, Malik, this week, who is just as cool as Sam. We taught him the Restoration, and we asked Sam to bear his testimony about the Book of Mormon. Sam said that "it's changed my life," and that "it's very simple and very powerful". I felt super proud of my convert. He's a rock star, and in the words of Président Morin, "a future leader in the Church". We gave him a white shirt and a tie to wear to church.
This morning, we went to the doctor to get my back checked out. The doctor prescribed me a medicine, and if things don't improve in one week, I need to go back for an x-ray. Here's hopin' and prayin'! (:
We had a visit with some recent converts in the other sector, and we basically answered their questions about 1 Corinthians 7. Yeesh, that was a rather awkward lesson. We basically said "Not our business, talk to the bishop! Talk to the bishop!" Haha, they're a great family, and I'm sure they'll go far in the Gospel, we're just here to help them out. (:
Thursday, all of the zone and district leaders in Togo came together to have a Mission Council with Président Morin. It was super cool! There were a lot of us there, myself included, who are rather new at the whole leadership thingy, so Président gave us some training on how to lead in a Christlike matter. He also gave us some training on giving short lessons (in 3 to 5 minutes). We broke into groups, and prepared short lessons for role plays with some of Président Morin's friends visiting from Canada.
I was with Elders Lath and Mayani, some really great guys in our zone. For some reason, our group was scheduled to be the last. As the groups took turns "contacting" this couple, it went well, but Président told us that there were 3 Levels: easy, medium, and hard. As groups kept coming, the couple got harder and harder. As we were watching others role play, the Spirit dropped a sentence in my head that really touched me, and that I know that I would use in the role play: "I left my family and friends and everything I love for the God that I love the most."
Well, the role plays kept getting harder and harder, and then it was our turn. At this point, the couple became what I would call "European Mission" level of difficulty. The way our lesson plan worked out, my colleagues were supposed to talk first about certain points of doctrine. They tried their best, but the couple outright refused. "No, we don't really want any of that, it's not for us". My companions tried to regain the situation, but it wasn't working. Through no effort of my own, that testimony that I had received of the Spirit came to my mouth. I said "I left my family and friends and everything I love for the God that I love most." That changed the situation, and the Spirit filled the room. In the words of Président Morin, "we all felt the Spirit". We were able to at least give them a brochure.
It was definitely a moment that made my day. I felt like it was a vote of confidence from the Lord, like He was telling me "You're living worthy of the Spirit, and if you rely on Me, you will continue to see miracles happen."
On the opposite end of the sector, because Elder Angbo isn't a district leader, he was put on temporary split with Elder Lath's new American companion, Elder Abbott. During our planning session, we thought about amis that they could go see Thursday morning. We both thought of one of our morst difficult amis, Sika. Sika is another guy that we street contacted, and he's very trenched in his ways. He's a Seventh-day Adventist, and he's been known to make Jehovah's Witnesses flee. I figured that, because Elders Angbo and Abbott are two young, open-hearted, inexperienced missionaries, their testimonies would be strong, sincere, and perfect for Sika.
And hey! The rendez-vous went well! Sika said he would come to Church one day, and he accepted a baptismal date! I knew that they could do it!
Unfortunately, Sika lost that Spirit, and come Sunday morning, he didn't want to go to church. I tried fighting his excuses, but he just wouldn't have it. Suddenly my companion had a stroke of inspiration: he invited Sika to receive the lessons at the stake center during the week. I totally agreed with it, and I have a feeling that that'll help our "tough to crack" investigator.
Another "tough to crack" investigator is Noelie, the daughter of Agathe, a recent convert in the other sector. She's super complicated, and she doesn't keep her commitments. We literally showed up to her house Sunday morning, she said that she was on her way with her mom, and she pinky-promised! And, oddly enough, she didn't come to church. So, Sunday afternoon we stopped by with Frère Bakana, and we realized that we hadn't finished teaching her the Plan of Salvation. So we taught her all about where we go after this life. It really touched her. For the first time since we began teaching her, she was engaged in the lesson. We could tell that she was visibly moved into serious reflection by everything we had taught her. The Spirit helped us find the gold mine. Game changer. (:
Tierry is doing great. We read Alma 34 with him, which he loved! He's a university student, so he totally related to the idea of "not procrastinating" the day of our repentance (see verses 31 to 34). He says that he's been constantly praying to know if it's true. He just needs to read the Book of Mormon more, and I know he'll get his response. He says that he wants me to baptize him, which really touched me. He's a good guy.
Ahwefah understands it all now! We hope she'll be baptized this week. Pray for us! (:
When we surrender the lesson to the Spirit, and listen intently, the whole course of the lesson changes, and we have a wonderful time with our investigators. At the start of my mission, whenever I heard about missionaries "having their mouths filled," I imagined it as this extraordinary, otherworldly experience. As time goes on, I realize that it's not really too extraordinary or amazing. If anything, I would describe it as natural. When the Spirit takes control, it feels more right, like things are falling beautifully into place. The Spirit, more than us, knows what to do, and when we listen and let things take their natural course, without forcing or taking away, miracles happen in the lives of our investigators.
Sunday, the investigators that had promised, sworn even, to come to Church didn't come. But investigators that we would never expect to come, came, and they loved it! One was Esther, a maman that we had contacted literally the evening before. We hadn't even had a sit-down lesson with her, and she came to church! What faith!
Sunday afternoon, we had planned to go to one end of our sector, but the Spirit gave me a prompting to turn around to the opposite end of our sector. So, we went, and that's how we had all of those wonderful lessons with Tierry, Noelie, and Ahwefah!
On Saturday, the stake organized a missionary activity, and they asked our zone to be there. Well, for some reason they combined the missionary activity with the seminary/institute kickoff activity, so that was rather disappointing, but I still got to play the piano for them. It was awesome to just spend time with the members. Whenever there's a stake conference or a stake activity, and the members get together, it feels totally different from back in the States. Here, I really feel like I'm just spending time with my very large, adoptive family. Everyone is so open and just happy, even more so than back home!
Saturday evening, during my nightly prayers, I just got choked up, shedding a tear or two, and I thanked Heavenly Father for how much He's blessed me. I have been called to serve among the best people on the face of this planet, and He has given me so many blessings that I can hardly count them. I know that when I leave, I'm going to miss them with all of my heart. I love these people more deeply than I can express. Little by little, the Lord has answered my prayers, and I have been filled with charity, "the pure love of Christ".
I love you all! I wish y'all a fantastic week! May "the love of God and of your fellowmen" lift you to unforgettable peaks!
Avec tout mon amour,