I hope that all is well back home. This week was another super week!
On Tuesday, we had a zone meeting for our zone (the Calavi Zone), and that was cool. While planning the zone activity, me and Elder Digbeu had the same idea at the exact same moment. We truly are an inspired team! (:
That afternoon, we taught all lessons about the Plan of Salvation, with focus on the Fall. Two things I learned while teaching: As we were leaving Edmond's house that evening, our key wouldn't turn the engine over. We said a prayer, and after a few tries, the Lord answered our prayer! I found that very cool.
On Wednesday morning, we had a mission council in the mission home, with President and Soeur Morin, the Bureau elders, the zone leaders, and the sister training leaders. I talked about commitments, specifically coming to church, and I shared our experience we had with Toussain on Sunday. At one point, the Spirit directed me to say "All of the major choices I've made for good in my life were made because of my love for Jesus Christ. As our investigators come to know the Savior, keeping commitments will become natural and easy for them."
President Morin talked about the new in-field training cycle we will now be implementing, our new daily schedule (which is a block schedule in place of an hour by hour schedule), and about smartphones, and he is challenging the missions to fix a 6-month goal for baptisms. There was one part of his presentation that I felt was just for me, when President read Doctrine and Covenants 30:1-2, and he talked about staying motivated for the rest of our missions. He said that if we focus on how the mission prepares us for establishing Zion in our own homes, then we will be more motivated than just focusing on the mission for the mission's sake.
On Thursday, we did some street contacting, we found two new men named Audrey and Lucien. They haven't had too much education, but they want to learn and they're humble, so I know that they'll go far in the Gospel. We also contacted a witch doctor, so that was fun.
In the afternoon, we taught with Frere Yawovi, the Elder's Quorum President, and we taught Toussain, three mamans, and an eternal amie named Odile. Odile has been an ami for more than three years, due to the fact that her and her widowed mother are financially dependent on her older brothers, who hate the Church, but due to a recent change in their financial standing, the brothers are no longer able to support Odile and her mom, so it doesn't matter if she gets baptized or not, so we fixed her baptism for this Saturday. That was an absolute miracle! We fix a baptismal date with an eternal investigator in our first visit. That is without a doubt a blessing from the Lord. Keep us and Odile in your prayers this week! (:
We also taught Bruno, a new ami, with his neighbor, Frere Basil.
Friday afternoon, we taught Maurus and Joel, two promising amis, and a recent convert presented us her brother, Daniel, to be taught. Daniel's a pretty self-proclaimed spiritual guy, so the lesson got a little heated, but at the end, Elder Digbeu had the inspiration to sing hymns with the family. That totally invited the Spirit, and we felt good about the lesson.
On Saturday, Bonaventure requested to have another lesson with us, because he really loved the last lesson. We explained that he was technically under the sisters' charge, but that we could make an exception and squeeze in one more lesson. Bonaventure's a great investigator, and I know that he's going to be a wonderful member of the Church. He asked lots of questions, mostly about how to receive personal revelation. He's still hesitant about baptism, but I felt inspired to tell him "In the Lord's eyes, you're ready for baptism. You just have to realize that yourself." He seemed to understand, and we fixed his baptismal date for the 11th of March. Pray for him, and wish us luck!
After meditating on President Morin's scripture, I felt like two things I needed to improve about myself were always remembering the Savior, and fearing God above men. I read "Always Remember Him," by Elder Gerritt W. Gong, and I realized that if we focus on Christ and His love for us, that helps us to more easily keep the commandments and to not fear men, because "perfect love casteth out all fear," (Moroni 8:16). Super cool.
One evening, after the lights were out, and I had said my evening prayers, I felt the impression to ask Elder Digbeu a personal, bizarre, inspired question. I was scared to do it, because it was rather personal, and we had already hit the hay, but I followed through on the prompting, and Elder Digbeu said "How do you know that that's been keeping me up at night?" We had a good talk. I sure do love my companion, he's awesome. The gift of discernment is real, and it is given for the profit and blessing of God's children.
One last experience: Friday morning, we were driving to Calavi University to do weekly planning with the elders there. On our way, we made a wrong turn, so we needed to make a u-turn. It was a smaller road, so we needed to three-point turn it. Unfortunately, there was a large concrete sewer cover in the middle of the road that got in the way, and the truck wasn't strong enough to mount on top of it, so we were stuck, no way to go forwards or backwards. At this precise moment, all of the motos in Cocotomey decided to take the exact same road, which was blocked by a stuck Toyota Hilux. That was rather embarrassing. A lot of people got frustrated as they drove around us, calling out lots of "yovo" jokes. Luckily, several people stopped and volunteered to help us out. Together, they raised the back wheels with the tire jack, which gave me the height necessary to mount onto the concrete cover, finish my three-point turn, and get out of the way. We offered the men some money, and some took it, but the leader of the group, the nicest, refused, and said it was just a pleasure to serve us and help us out. That totally made my day! We took his contact, and we're going to make sure some great missionaries start teaching him. That was a definite tender mercy of the Lord. I know that angels, seen and unseen, are watching out for us.
So here's the lesson: in life, we are all trying to reach our destination, and we all make bad decisions and get stuck. There will be people that get mad at us or make fun of us, but there will also be people willing to help you out. Recognize that you've made a mistake, focus on those that are cheering for you and helping you, and keep moving forward, remembering not to get frustrated with those that get stuck as well, or who drive differently than you. There are angels, seen and unseen, always ready to help you. Most of all, the Savior Jesus Christ, is always, always, always there for you. He will never ask you to repay Him, but His charity and selfless sacrifice will motivate you to live your life on a higher level, and to do as He commands.
I testify that God is our Heavenly Father, that He loves us, He answers our prayers, and He fills our daily lives with tender mercies. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and I invite each of you to seek His grace and apply His Atonement daily.
I love you all very much, and I wish you a wonderful, inspirational week!
En avant! Avec tout mon amour,
Elder Brian H. Phillips
"Travailler comme c'est votre premier jour, témoigner comme c'est votre dernier."