This week, we saw a lot of miracles and tender mercies.
Tuesday afternoon, we were driving, exploring the limits of our sector, and we started to hear a thudding sound coming from our tires. We got out, and lo and behold, our tire had been stabbed. In the less developed parts of Benin, people leave their trash in the streets, and some lady left her high-heeled shoe in the middle of the road. And then the shoe ended up sticking out of our tire. Haha, we just had to laugh and change the tire. You know what they say, a woman is as dangerous as her shoe. (;
On Wednesday, we did a split with the Cocotomey zone leaders. It was super convenient, because we're in the same apartment. I got to work with Elder Linderman, who's a young American in his first transfer as a zone leader, and he's a stud. We had a great time, and got a lot of work done. Marlene loved church, and she had a lot of intelligent questions, and she came back today! How cool is that?
Edmond and Veronique are doing okay. They want to be baptized, they're just going through a few "problemes conjugales," so everyone feels it best to push the baptism back a little bit. On top of that, Veronique doesn't know how to speak French, so we need to find someone that can help us translate into Fon. Yovo si fon be bedek bedek. (;
You know, at the beginning of my mission, I was always disappointed whenever investigators push back their baptismal date, but now, I'm actually pretty content. It just means that the person needs a little bit more time to prepare, they understand the importance of baptism, and that they will be strong in the Gospel after they're baptized. Keep them in their prayers, and pray that we'll be able to help them.
I received the best phone call ever last night. My convert, Frere Bertrand, called me, and he informed me that his whole family has just returned from Ghana, recently sealed at the temple. I was jumping around for a good minute! I was so, so, so very happy. I can't begin to describe how happy I am. For us missionaries, our converts going to the temple is the ultimate "it-was-all-worth-it" you can get. Today, we passed by the Akpakpa branch building, and I got to say hi to a lot more old friends, like Nathan, Urvon, and Mariano. Mariano, his wife, Yvette, and their children, were sealed in the temple as well! That just added to my happiness! I know that the temple is a holy place, and that families can be together forever.
Thursday morning, I got to go to immigration to get my visa renewed. It's been a while since I've been to immigration, and I got to drive the mission's "bus," a Toyota Hiace, manual drive. I was scared to drive it, because it's a longer vehicle, but it was actually really fun, and a very smooth ride.
That evening, we tried to go out to see Edmond. There's been a lot of rain in Benin recently, and there's a lot of sand around Edmond's house (it's the village), ergo, the driving conditions were not too favourable. Edmond was not home, so we started to leave, and I got the truck stuck in some clay. Well, we tried 4x4, people joining us to push, shoveling out some sand, jacking up the wheel and putting bricks underneath, but the tire just got deeper and deeper with every try.
A truck passed by. We tried to flag it down, but it kept going.
As we got ready to give it another try, I had the idea to invite everyone to join me for a quick prayer. I know that prayer is powerful, and I figured maybe we could try to teach the people helping us about the power of prayer. In my prayer, I asked that Heavenly Father would send His angels to help us get the truck out.
We were still stuck.
Well, we kept trying and trying, and then the same truck that passed us by came back from the other direction. The lady driving rolled down her window and said that she had sent for a machine to come get us out. We said thank you, and she kept going.
Night had fallen, and everyone was tired, and I was ready to give up.
Then, in the distance, I saw bright lights, slowly marching towards us. It felt like something out of a movie. As the lights got closer to us, and we realized what was coming towards us, three successive thoughts entered my mind:
"Oh wow, that's a bulldozer!" [our prayers were answered! This is so cool! I'm gonna put this in my email home!]
"Oh wow, that's a bulldozer!" [well, that was the last thing I expected to come to our rescue]
"Oh wow, that's a bulldozer!" [these people are going to ask for sooooo much money that we don't have!]
Two men hopped off of the bulldozer, shook our hands, pulled out a large chain, hooked us to the bulldozer, and pulled us out like one of those AFV videos of people yanking out teeth.
It was super cool! As we got out to thank them, we asked if they'd like to be paid. They called their boss (who was actually the woman that passed us by), and asked about the money. She told them to refuse the money. We expressed our sheer gratitude as best as we could. She simply stated that she had seen us in trouble, had assumed that we were missionaries because of how we were dressed and my nationality, and had sent some of her workers with their bulldozer to get us out, because she's a Christian. We thanked her so much, and she said "No, thank the Lord."
I don't quite know how to express how awe-struck and amazed I am. Does Heavenly Father love us so much, to the point that He responds very literally to prayers, even in sending a bulldozer? Yes, Heavenly Father sure does answer prayers. Very, very, very much so. In magnificent and mighty ways. So, if you find your prayers seem to be unanswered, don't worry, they will be; just let the angels take their time to put on some shoes and hop in their bulldozer. (:
Well, that's all I've got for this week. I love y'all! I hope y'all have a wonderful week!
Elder Brian H. Phillips
"Travailler comme c'est votre premier jour, témoigner comme c'est votre dernier."