I hope all is well back home! I'm glad that Mom's birthday was a success, and that the Olympics are on, and lots of other great things!
This week was pretty great!
Tuesday morning, we stopped by a member's parcel, and we saw her little daughter and another little boy washing dishes. To summarize what followed, let's just say the little boy saw us, went flying to the other end of the parcel and out the side door screaming "MOMMY!". We felt super terrible, calmed him down, and gave him a brochure. Even eight year old kids can get scared senseless by yovos. (:
On Wednesday, I went on a split with Elder Olela. He's such a great missionary, and I love spending time with him. He lives in a village very far away from Kinshasa (capital of DRC), and so in 2011 he moved to Kinshasa to start college. He found the Church, became converted, and decided to serve a mission. Since his parents live so far away, he hasn't had the chance to see them since the day he left for university. By the time he finishes his mission, he will have gone six or seven years without seeing his parents' faces, but they love him and support him so much.
We had a rendez-vous that went pretty well, and then the rest of the day was a great big ratez-vous. To bump the day up, I did street contacting with at least 8 people in a row, and they all said no! Seriously, I talked to at least eight people in a row, one after another, and they either said "No, sorry, I'm busy, I have to go," or "I don't speak French". Oh well, no biggie.
The stake is hosting a drama club, and they practice every Wednesday, so if we're ever waiting for our amis to show up, sometimes we sit in the back and cheer on the youth.
After coordination meeting, we went to King Burger. Good stuff. (:
We have one investigator, Felicité, who's preparing for baptism. We left her the Word of Wisdom brochure to study, and when we came back Thursday for our lesson, she turned to the back page ("Supplemental Study") and said she couldn't find some of the scriptures. We did a double-take and asked "Wait, you read the scriptures in the back?" and she said yes. That got us super pumped. That rarely happens (amis reading scriptures in the brochures), and so we got pumped. Elder Joseph said that every investigator he's ever taught who reads the scriptures in the brochures gets baptized, so that's got us excited. Now she just needs to come to church! (;
Sam is doing pretty well. He was busy for most of the week, but on Tuesday we got to talk to him, which was great.
We have a less-active family we're working with, and they came to Church on Sunday for the third (I think) time we've been working with them! That makes us so happy.
Eli and Louise missed out on our weekly rendez-vous, but they still came to Church on Sunday. Same thing with Frère Akakpo and Brigitte, so we're still on track to baptize the latter before the transfer ends.
During the week, I focused not just on studying the doctrine, but studying it well. Studying it in its purity, seeing if there are any scriptures or traditions that could confuse investigators, and then finding the scriptures that could respond to objections or concerns. It's like Spirit-filled Bible-bash preparation, but for teaching, not for fighting. I don't know if that makes sense. As a missionary, I don't like Bible-bashing (it just chases the Spirit away), but I would recommend that every missionary learn how to do it defensively, to gain a sound understanding of the doctrine.
Both Elders Joseph and Whitt served in a sector called Adidogomé, so we all (Elders Joseph, Whitt, Adzagah, and I) piled into a kolomoto taxi Sunday afternoon for a bumpy, exciting ride to Adidogomé. We stopped by the Church building and said "hi" to the branch presidency and other Church leaders, got to meet a super zélé member, and his new family, that would always accompany the missionaries. Elder Joseph and I spent the rest of the afternoon with a family that he converted, the Bandiraruta family. They're refugees from Rwanda, and they WALKED to Togo. On their FEET. They found the missionaries, were taught and baptized little by little, and then their stubborn father was finally won over by Elder Joseph's testimony (the dad calls him "Elder Témoignage". (: ). It was such a sweet experience to spend the afternoon at their house, talking and playing with them, and I could feel the Spirit. They were such a cool family, and I feel super privileged to have met them. I could really tell how much they loved Elder Joseph.
I made a little mini-commitment to serve my mission in such a way that I could have the same experiences in 11 months (wow, that's crazy. Time is going way too fast, someone make it stop!). Earlier in the week, I was a little discouraged, so I began playing with my camera a little bit, and I found the photos of the day I said goodbye to everyone in Akpakpa. I got pretty emotional, and the Spirit told me, in effect, "Don't worry, you're doing just fine, Elder, you're making a difference, and you will continue to do so."
Last night, I was having back pain (Soeur Morin gave me a prescription that I'll start taking this week, so I'm expecting it to get better soon). Elder Joseph gave me a blessing. It really helped, and I felt the Spirit.
So, if there was a takeaway from this week, I'd say that the most important part of missionary work is...the people! When a missionary's focused on the people, becoming their friends, serving them, and helping them accept the Restored Gospel, then he/she is destined to succeed! We're given a very short time to influence as many people as possible for good. When guided by the Spirit, we can see peoples' lives changed before our eyes. It's an irreplaceable experience.
Throughout my mission, I've been motivated by the desire to stand before the Lord at the end of my life and tell Him that I served with all I've got and made the most of my mission experience, and the desire to reunite with my family at the end of two years and tell them the same thing. But as I spend more time in the field, I'm also gaining another motivational desire: to be able to have served in such a way that the people around me would be grateful for, not necessarily me, but the Gospel, and how it's changed their lives. Conversion is the most beautiful thing to watch, and I'm so excited for every person, no matter who they are or where they are, who accepts the Gospel and comes to know Jesus Christ at a more personal level. I know that this Gospel is true, and I know that it can and does change lives!
I hope y'all have a fantastic week!