I wish you a joyous and happy Christmas season.
In terms of proselyting, because it was Eperonnier's last week, not a lot of work got done. Elder Adzagah got kind of ticked at that, but he also told me that he thinks that I did the best I could with Elder Eperonnier. I'm looking forward to kickstarting the secteur and the zone again.
In the end, me and Eperonnier ended on a good note. We had a lot of fun celebrating yesterday, and he's a good guy. When Adzagah kind of went crazy on me about the numbers, Eperonnier got mad at that. He was like "It wasn't Phillips's fault, he wanted to work, I was the one that was tired." He said that he was going to have a few choice words with Adzagah about what he said. I really appreciated him saying that. Eppy said that I was a good guy. I learned a lot from him, and I hope that he has a wonderful return home.
My new companion has arrived! His name is Elder Randriamalala, and he's from Madagascar! I'm so stoked to be working with him. He's very polite and kind, and I'm excited to work with him.j I don't know why, but I've got a good feeling about this transfer. (:
So, in the Spirit of the Season, we spent some time with the members here in Togo this weekend. On Friday, we had a mangez-vous with Président Richard, the first counselor in our bishopric. He's a good, solid guy, a returned missionary. One gem that he said was "Often we criticize our leaders for not doing a good job. We all need to understand that leadership opportunities are opportunities to learn and gain love. These people are trying to figure it out just as much as we are." Very wise man.
Also on Friday, we got to see members play drums and do African chants and dances for a few minutes while I was doing a baptismal interview. I forgot to mention, but Ruth and Abide, the mother and her daughter that I taught in Attiegou, have been baptized! It was great to do Abide's interview,
On Saturday, I got to spend some time with my family! It was such a true and remarkable blessing to be able to see you all! It was a little slice from heaven. I was trunky, but in a good way, as if to say "Yes, I'm so excited to go home and just be with my family and have many adventures, and just jump into life with them".
Sunday was the Best Christmas Ever. In the morning, the three wards in our stake center had a one-hour Christmas sacrament meeting. Elders Eperonnier, Lath, Roundy, and Kerr bore their testimonies, and then the Hedzranawoé and Kelegougan bishops gave talks about Christmas and New Year's
One thing about African culture that I've noticed: the Christmas season is not really like back home. The partying really starts on Christmas Eve, and climaxes on New Year's. How do they celebrate Christmas? By partying!
We had three dinner appointments Sunday afternoon: With Président Attiogbé (the second counselor in the mission presidency), then out to a city called Djagblé with our Bishop, Bishop Gabriel, and Président Blaise (he's kind of like the Mycroft of the Church here in Togo: low enough in visible leadership positions that he goes largely unnoticed, but involved enough that all of Togo depends on him to function properly).
Some things about being invited to a meal in a traditional African party: to show respect, and to sort of leave your blessing on the family, you have to eat a lot, and if they invite you to dance, you have to dance enthusiastically. Some people might think that it is unseemly for missionaries to dance to some more popular music, and I suppose in lots of cultures, that applies. However, here in Africa, it is a sign of true respect, and when missionaries join in a dance, or eat really well, it means so much to these families, and it's like our way of leaving a blessing on them.
So yeah, we kind of danced rather enthusiastically at some of our dinner appointments. (:
We ate so much, and so well! Rice, pate, pork (the pig was still whole!), sauce, mint lime drinks, atieké, salad, fish, beef, intestine, water, bread. You name it, we ate it. It was soooo good! (: I'm really grateful for the members. More important than the food, was spending time with people that I love. I was truly blessed to be able to be with wonderful members, and to have been able to Skype my family. Christmas is all about the Savior, and the purpose of the Gospel is to be together and happy with those that we love dearest.
I testify that the family is the center of Christ's Gospel, and that we can be together forever as families. I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and, as we enter the new year, let us prioritize and focus on that which is of greatest importance. May we fix goals of meaning, and may we try our best, with the Savior's saving grace, to achieve new heights.
I love you all, and I wish you a very merry Christmas break! As we say in Ewé, epebé jobenwé (Merry Christmas)!