A story I forgot from last week: Because of the bulldozer fiasco, we've decided that whenever we visit Frere Edmond, we'll park the car as soon as we see some rough sand patches and walk the rest of the way. As we were walking home one night, Edmond accompanied us (Béninois culture, to walk with visitors until they are safely on the way home, ie to their car or to a well-known road that anyone can recognise), we passed by a large marsh. It was dark and eerily quiet, and I had the dumb idea to ask Edmond if there were crocodiles in that lake, and he said "Oh yes, loads of them!" and that kept me quietly panicking until we got in our car.
Anywho, this week was (trumpet call) transfers week! This is the week when our Toyota becomes the Magic School Bus, and we ride across Benin, putting people here and there and hoping that everything will work out. There weren't too many companionship changes, but the changes happened mostly in the sectors on polar opposite sides of Benin, so we drove to Calavi and Porto Novo multiple times, but hey, we got to have a road trip! While it is very tiring and stressful, transfers week is a week when we get to get close to the missionaries, see Benin up close and personal, and have fun with a change of pace. And discover milkshakes for the first time in two years (Speculos milkshakes are the best).
We had some new missionaries stay in our apartment Tuesday night. I love new missionaries! Their zeal and spirit remind me why I'm here and how awesome this work is. Our visitors were Elder Park, a nice American, and my mission posterity! Elder Angbo is training again, a Congolais elder named Elder Nkoy, and Elder Turner (my great-grandson) will be training my great-great grandson, Elder Boileau, a super nice elder from France! I was so stoked, and it made me reflect on how much the work we do in our families perpetuates to the future generations.
Well, with transfer week, we only truly got to return to proselyting on Friday, and it was an afternoon of ratez-vous, so that was a wee-bit discouraging, but yesterday was awesome!
First off, we went to Hillacondji again yesterday morning. We did baptismal interviews for eight children. Two of them were children of a member couple, and they knew their doctrine! The couple also has a seven-year old son named Gabriel, who has some cerebral-reflex-coordination problems that have kept him from walking, but after a recent surgery, he's hoping to walk in the coming months and years. I promised him that one day we'd race, and that he'd beat me. (:
The six other children were living with their grandparents who have not yet received the lessons. Baptizing children is always a delicate situation, because we want to ensure that these children have an adequate understanding of the Gospel so that they'll stay active in the Gospel throughout the rest of their lives. All of the children I interviewed passed the interview just fine. There was one little boy, named Pascal, who was rather quiet, and didn't seem to understand what we were trying to teach him, but I figured that I might as well do his interview and see. I quickly found that there would be a language barrier, and so I asked Frere David (the member accompanying us) to come give us a hand. With his help, the interview passed very well. I took a few seconds to pause and listen to the Spirit, wondering if I could OK Pascal's baptism, and then I felt prompted to ask Pascal a question, which I did: "Would you prefer to be baptized today, or watch your brothers and sisters be baptized so you know how it happens, and be baptized next week?" Pascal preferred to wait and learn how baptism happens, and I felt very grateful that the Spirit helped, and I felt like Pascal will become a great member of the Church. Frere David said afterwards that he felt the Spirit too. (:
That afternoon, Frere David took us out to lunch, and then we went straight back to Cocotomey to proselyte. We visited with Odile and her friends, Marlene and her family, and Edmond's Family. Marlene, Edmond, Veronique, and Sarah all accepted an invitation to be baptized next Sunday, and I think this time that we'll make it. Keep us in your prayers!
Today, during the sacrament, I thought of a general conference talk, "Stand Up Inside and Be All In," and about the promise found in Ezekiel 18:21-22, that if we turn away from all our sins, and keep all of the Lord's statutes, then all our sins will be forgiven. Turning away from our sins means fully repenting, and to show our willingness to be completely obedient, we are baptized and renew our baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament. In repenting, being baptized, and continuing our lives in daily repentance and weekly partaking of the sacrament, we are able to obtain the promise that all (100 percent!) of our sins will be forgiven.
I love you all, and I wish you a wonderful week, and Happy Mother's Day!
Elder Brian H. Phillips
"Travailler comme c'est votre premier jour, témoigner comme c'est votre dernier."