This week was one of the coolest, most unique experiences ever!
One of our investigators, Joel, is an awesome young man who is very interested in the lessons, and asks a lot of great questions, and this week, he received an answer to his prayers to know if the Gospel is true! That's awesome! He said that he feels good whenever he reads the Book of Mormon, or the brochures, which is awesome! We're hoping to baptize him this Saturday, so keep him in your prayers!
Other than that and what I'm going to talk about, not much else comes to mind as I write this email, so let's just get going on the highlight of my week!
As Assistants, we have the very unique privilege to do preliminary missionary work in sectors that are not yet open for the work. Elder Jorgensen's work in Kpalime is a good example of this. Under the supervision of President Morin, we get to work with members/investigators who live in an unopened area, we do some work to get the sector going, and then hopefully, with time, it opens up. On Saturday, Elder Digbeu showed me two potential sectors that President has us working on: Bohicon and Allada.
Bohicon is a three-hour drive from Cocotomey, and it was an absolutely stunning experience. Greenery, trees with the colors of all four seasons (but mostly green), fields as far as the eye can see, all divided by a single road, and all covered by a pale azure sky and dim white clouds. A couple of times, we would pass over a small hill and see nothing but acres of African bush and forest, all blanketed in a layer of mist and fog. It. Was. Incredible!
Bohicon was everything and nothing like I expected. Both Elder Digbeu and I felt like we were in Togo, but in a more village-y sense. All of the houses were made of either red clay bricks, or just red clay. There were a few industrial buildings, and a little supermarket. The moto taxi drivers, instead of wearing yellow jerseys like in Cotonou, wear purple-and-yellow jerseys. We saw one or two voodoo shrines, and a couple of houses dedicated to voodoo. We also saw a few Muslim graves.
Normally, in Bohicon, we work with a member named Frere Georges and his family, but he was busy last-minute with a family meeting. Normally, we come up Saturday morning, spend the day in Bohicon, sleep at Georges house, and Sunday morning we organize a small sacrament meeting for the Georges family and any investigator that wants to come. Since next Saturday will be taken, planning transfers, Elder Digbeu preferred to just show me the road, and some investigators' houses, and do a little bit of contacting up there, then come home that evening.
We did some contacting, then we visited an investigator named Ceverin. He's slightly disabled physically, but he's an awesome man, and he loves the Book of Mormon! As soon as we sat down, he just started talking about how much he loved it, and how he knows it's true! This is remarkable, because Elder Digbeu told me that the first time they contacted him, he had refused to take anything from them, and it was his wife that accepted the gift. Now, he's super engaged in what we taught him! We made sure to testify that what he was feeling as he reads is the Holy Ghost. I think he'll progress very well. (:
Then, we tried by Emmanuel, but he wasn't home, so we did some more contacting. In total, we found ten new amis, and all of them seem very interested in the Gospel. As we approached one, he went to go get his Bible and a chair for us, without us even saying a word. I feel like the people here are so ready for the Gospel! At one point, Elder Digbeu decided we should enter one parcel. I thought he was showing me someone they had already taught. He knocked on the door, and a man opened the door. The man was so very welcoming, and he immediately let us in to sit down. As it turns out, his family name is Sagbou, which is one of the family names of Elder Digbeu's dad! That was super cool! At this point, I realized that this man was a complete stranger, and that my companion had followed the Spirit 100% percent directly to this man's house. We decided to briefly teach him the Plan of Salvation, and Sagbou said that he was very interested. He stated that every church seemed to have a little bit of knowledge, but not the whole plan, so we gave him a Restoration brochure and a Book of Mormon at the same time. I felt like he was super interested and prepared by the Lord. Afterwards, I asked Elder Digbeu what led him to that house, and he said "I have no idea." In other words, the Spirit literally led us to where we needed to go.
We finished the day just visiting a family. The mother is super interested in the lessons, and she wanted us to stay another day so that way they could have another sacrament meeting. The kids are absolutely adorable. When the Mom found out that Elder Digbeu was leaving, she gave him a gift of a large sack of onions and garlic (essentials for most African sauces).
I felt that the people of Bohicon are just waiting for the Gospel, absolutely excited for something that they don't even know is coming. I only got to get a little taste, but hopefully we'll be able to go back up there in three weeks time. According to Elder Digbeu, President Morin really wants that sector to be open before he finishes his mission, so I may get the opportunity to see that sector open before I go home.
On the way back home, we passed through a patch of rain, I bought some super fresh fruit (ten pineapples, ten coconuts, and a bunch of bananas) for the equivalent of six US dollars. Elder Digbeu bought a skinned, cleaned, dried Agouti for the same amount. That night, we had some Agouti stew, which was super good! The fruit was also super fresh.
In all, this was a highly unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work in these two patches on the frontier of the Lord's vineyard. I spent the entire day blown away and amazed at this experience. It reminded me of a statement that Joseph Smith made: "The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."
I am a living witness that this work is the Lord's work, it is His work, and that it will continue. The work here in Africa has already expanded so dramatically, and it will continue to do so. I know that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, and that they called him to be a prophet of God. I know that his current successor, Thomas S. Monson, is a prophet of God, and that this is the true Church. I know that we are engaged in the Lord's true work.
I love you all, and I wish you a wonderful week! (:
Elder Brian H. Phillips
"Travailler comme c'est votre premier jour, témoigner comme c'est votre dernier."