I hope that everything is going well!
This Wednesday, we here in Akpakpa hosted zone conference. Zone conferences are different from zone meetings because in conferences, President Morin and the mission leaders come to give us training. As the missionaries walked in, I noticed that the chapel floor was ridiculously filthy. I've been practicing being more proactive, and so I grabbed the only broom I could find and started sweeping madly before President Morin arrived. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a dustpan, so I started using a random plastic cup I found. I'm sure it was pretty hilarious seeing a lone American elder trying to sweep up an entire chapel with a plastic cup. Soeur Morin walked in, saw what I was trying to do, and said "Oh Elder Phillips, you can just sweep it all onto the balcony, no one will care". Haha, it was a very sweat-filled five minute adventure. Our mission leaders gave us training on principles from Alma 17:2-3, which was my ponderization scripture the week before! Coincidence? I think not! Haha
President Morin reviewed our statistics as a mission compared to the inter-region, and he encouraged us to increase the number of new investigators we have each week, and he also gave us training on how to set a baptismal date on the first lesson. This was my first zone conference, and therefore my first chance to really see President Morin in action, and like I have said before, that man is an inspired genius. We've put his baptismal date method to the test, and it works! It really works! Here's an example: We found a new ami the week before, named Pierre. As it turns out, his brother is a member of the church, and we just happened to find him on the streets. In our first lesson, he asked us what made our church special from all the other churches he's joined, and we taught him a textbook perfect Restoration lesson. We applied President Morin's method, and it really does work! Pierre now has a baptismal date for the 21 of November! He came to church too, and he loves it. He's considering moving this week, so pray that he'll stay in our sector! :) With Pierre, we now have four amis with a baptismal date, and I hope that we can get some more this week!
Crespin and Blaise are also doing very well! As it turns out, Blaise is learning English in school, so we helped him learn some new words, and he actually speaks very well. We talked about what we each like to do, and one of Blaise's friends said that he likes to dance, so I did what every Utah valley boy would do, and I taught them how to do the Floss. They all laughed their heads off when they saw it, and that night I taught them two very important truths: 1) We can obtain a testimony by prayer and reading the scriptures, and 2) The man who dances the most goofily gets to talk to the most girls at the dances. :)
This week I'm really starting to see the fruits of our labors! Elder Hansen has been so diligent in training me, and I've tried my best to be an easy missionary to train, and now we are really seeing ourselves improve. Our first lesson is almost perfect, and we've become really good at meeting the needs of our investigators. During weekly planning, for the first time ever we filled every hour of the next week with an activity, which never happens! A lot of times things never go according to plan, but I really feel like we shall find success this week. Because we've really found our groove, me and Elder Hansen are both afraid that we might get transferred in a couple weeks, so we're going to really try to juice out every minute we have together.
I owe so very much to Elder Hansen. He's been very patient with me and all my shenanigans, and I've learned so very much from him. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer, and I'll owe a lot of success to him.
I'm really starting to find my stride here in Akpakpa as well. I've really been able to connect with the kids here, mostly by making silly faces at them during lessons. Christine's kids and Julien's kids all love us, and whenever we pass by their street, they all come running, shouting "Fee-leep! Fee-leep!" That's how the natives pronounce my name, and because Elder Hansen's name is really hard for them to pronounce, they now just associate "the missionaries" with "Fee-leep!" It always makes me smile, and I love hanging out with the kids on that street.
Hand washing laundry is good. It's something intimidating each week, but once I sit down and do it I really enjoy it. It's really hot and humid, and it will probably be that way for the next three to six months. No signs of malaria or anything, occasionally I'll wake up with a lot of bug bites, but no harm other than just itching, and those don't happen so long as I wear the bug band on my ankle.
Soeur Christine is doing awesome as well. She got sick this week, and when we gave her a blessing, she got even more sick afterwards, which was very confusing to her. We had to teach her that it's not faith alone that brings healing, but also the will of God. Her health is back to normal now, and she just keeps pressing on. She's got so much faith, and there's no way that that woman is going to fall away. She's about as rock solid as they come. We found out that she sells food next to an elementary school every morning with someone from the Porto Novo ward, so this morning we stopped by to say hi and buy some food from them, just to support the cause. May I just say, those women can make some DANG GOOD yogurt. It was ridiculously delicious! Elder Hansen and I walked away just saying "Wow, wow, man that stuff was good". We will definitely be buying in bulk from here on out. :)
This Sunday was awesome. We had a mission-wide fast, and for some reason ever since I've become a missionary, it's been a lot harder for me to do a 24-hour fast, but it's always a good lesson to learn. And taking the sacrament is always the best ten minutes of the week, because I get to rest and it feels like it's just me and the Lord for a couple of minutes. Still don't know when we get to hear conference, but it should be soon.
My biggest lesson learned this week was about charity. You cannot have faith without being charitable, and charity never faileth. If you want miracles in your life, go out and be charitable. Do a good turn daily. Be actively kind to everyone you see. If you see someone that needs help, go help! I guarantee you that you can solve all (100 percent) of your problems by being kind and loving, and spreading the Light of Christ with all you see.
Well, have a good week! I love you all so very much! Saints, en avant, (Press Forward, Saints)