You wouldn’t believe it, but people are actually talking about the elections out here! While explaining to a Congolais missionary what Thanksgiving is, he asked if it's a party to celebrate our new president. *facepalm*
Well, this week was one for the books. It wasn't necessarily a normal week, getting used to everything and all, but it was still a good one.
I wasn't really transferred until Thursday, so I spent most of my time working in Attiegou, saying goodbyes, and packing. On Tuesday, I taught Elder Angbo how to hold a district meeting, and I gave a lesson that I've been working on for a long time. It's kind of a mix between "A Successful Missionary," (Preach My Gospel, page 10), and "The Fourth Missionary," (Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge). I kind of see it as my "if I had to give my last lesson in a district meeting or zone conference right now, this would be it" lesson. I really felt the Spirit, and Elder Angbo did too. He kind of changed from "I don't know if I can do this," to "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". I'm super proud of my mission son. (: That evening, we had a last lesson with Elizabeth's family. I sang "God Be with you till we meet again" (upbeat version) and played with some kids that live in their courtyard. I worked with lots of parents in that courtyard to try and get them to stop hitting their kids. I think it helped a little bit. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but I know that they're in good hands. One man, Joshua, the one who speaks just a little bit of English, has been reading the Book of Mormon little by little. He says that he really likes it, and that he wants to know how to really pray well. I could tell that the Book is changing his countenance little by little. That was super cool.
Wednesday morning, I said goodbye to Sam. He actually took us out to lunch! We ate at his favorite restaurant (just a little shop with a maman who prepares). I had beans, gari, and coconut oil. It was sooooo good! Anywho, I just was so touched by how wonderful Sam is. He is one of, if not my favorite converts.
Wednesday evening, Elder Jean-Jacques came. He's a super nice guy! It's so cool to hear all of the new French missionaries with their fresh, un-defiled accent. Haha, it's very different from African French. (: A missionary's first night in the field is always a good experience, and I was so impressed by how well Elder Angbo took over. I had the sacred blessing to see the two of them plan together. I felt the Spirit very strongly, and I felt very proud of my mission family. Well, Thursday morning came, and I got another tender mercy to be able to do companionship study with my mission son and grandson. How cool is that? We ended up talking about 1 Nephi 1-3. Ah, it was so cool. I'm stoked to see those two take on the world.
The Assistants came to pick me up. They did some transferring of sister missionaries, and because of mission rules, they needed a third elder in the car, so I got to adventure with them a little bit to different sectors of the mission.
Well, now for the main news: Hedzranawoé!
My new companion, Elder Eperonnier, is a good guy, he's pretty funny. We have kind of opposite personalities, so we're not like best friends, but we still get along. Please, please, please keep us in your prayers. He's technically from France, and so I now get to fulfill the mission-long dream of having a French companion to French-ify my French! Woohoo! (: We're in a four-man apartment. The other two elders, Elder Lath and Elder Abbott, are pretty great. Elder Lath is from Cote d'Ivoire, and he's one of my favorite missionaries in the mission at this point. Whenever I'm with him, I feel the Spirit. He's got a great heart. Elder Abbott has been out for one transfer, so he's still a new guy, but he's pretty great. He's from the USA, and he's trying very diligently to speak French. He's a good guy. One blessing about our district is that everyone is super zealous about morning workouts! It's super fun and relaxing.
The sector is... dead. It was a stark contrast between my sweet-spot Attiegou, and my new sector. It's a totally different ball-game from Attiegou, so this will be an interesting ride as we try to resurrect the sector. I want to have the attitude of "if no one listens to our message, it will not be because we had not given our best efforts." I plan on going to the "fourth floor, last door," (see President Uchtdorf's October 2016 General Women's Session talk).
On the bright side, we had a pretty good street contacting lesson with a security guard named Komi. He seemed very interested in the message, so I'm hopin' and prayin' that it goes well! We do have one investigator that should be getting baptized this week, named Baguidi. I haven't had the chance to have an actual sit-down lesson with him, but he seems pretty great. Hey, one good thing about Hedzranawoé is that, almost every evening, we have dinner appointments. I've eaten so much food since I've gotten here! I'm probably going to regain all of the mission weight-loss, and then put on some holiday weight!
This Sunday, all of the Togo stake came together for an inter-region broadcast. All of West Africa got to see a conference held just for us! It was great to be with the "Togo family" again. Like I said before, these people are my second family, and I love them with all my heart. (: Elders Stevenson, Clayton, and Dube spoke, as well as Sister Stephens. The focus was kind of on abandoning bad culture, adopting good culture, and living the doctrine of Christ, and how that can help us overcome our trials. It was super spiritual, and I learned a lot. One spiritual gem that Elder Stevenson shared was this: every week, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet together in the temple. As part of their meeting, they share their weekly activities and what they've done to advance the work. President Monson is still going strong. He still visits old people and widows! Frequently! That made me smile, and it was a reminder that I can always do something to serve others. (:
This next week will be zone conference, and Président Morin wants me to give a lesson. The lesson is on "Preaching Repentance," and it's a special message from Elder Marcus B. Nash. Pray that I'll have the Spirit with me! (:
So, this week has been rather stressful. I'm really feeling the pressure of everything that's going on, and I have very often thought, over these past few days, "There is no way I can do this, I don't know what I'm doing here. Lord, why am I here?" There have been many moments when I have just wanted to be a perfect zone leader, right this instant. But, among the many things I have learned on my mission, I have learned that perfection will never be attained all at once, and no amount of Gospel living will bring that change all at once.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd like to revisit something that I've learned on the mission: "The glow is in gratitude". I've been studying the Book of Mormon recently, with the idea of studying gratitude. If I could resume what I've learned, I'd say that if we pray to notice the Lord's tender mercies in our lives, He will show them to us. The more we notice the Lord's tender mercies, the more grateful we feel towards the Lord. The more grateful we are towards the Lord, the more we feel the desire to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives. The more we apply the Atonement in our lives, the more "glow," or light, we have in our lives. I thought a lot about "The Generous One", and "O How Great the Plan of Our God!", two wonderful talks by President Uchtdorf.
I have learned on my mission that I can in no way, never in a bajillion years, do things all on my own. I need help. I am not perfect, and I will not be perfect in this life. But if I work together with Christ, together, we are perfect. How grateful I am for the gift of God in sending us His Son, Jesus Christ. How grateful I am for a Savior that fills our imperfections and reclaims us from sin. How grateful I am for my eternal family that, through Christ, will be together forever. How grateful I am for this wonderful, beautiful, infinitely precious experience I have been given to preach the doctrine of Christ in Africa, and to be surrounded by these wonderful people. I would never, ever, ever dream of trading this experience for anything else in the world. I love my mission, and I will be forever glad that I came.
So, in this next little part of the journey that is my mission, I will continue to rely on Christ's Atonement. Isn't it so much easier to rely on Christ than to rely on ourselves? (: We are not perfect people. But "faith in Jesus Christ" means, among other things, believing that we will one day make it back to our heavenly home, and that we can, with Christ, make the pathway bright all along the way. I promise each of you that if you will come unto Christ, He will work miracles with you. With every imperfection you may have, keep taking happy steps toward Christ. This Thanksgiving season, be sure to show gratitude for the wonderful gift of Christ, and the miracles that can, will, and do happen in your life because of it.
I love you all so much! I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and a wonderful holiday season!