Well, this week was rather good!
SPOILER ALERT: I've filled many acts of service in the different baptismal services throughout my mission. I've conducted, I've given talks, I've prayed, I've conducted hymns, I've played piano, I've stood ready with towels, I've been a witness, and I've baptized. I've even had to go into a baptismal font to unplug the drain for postponed baptisms. But this baptismal service introduced the most physically demanding, awkward, and messy contribution I've ever participated in.
Today, we had a zone activity, playing sports at BCAO! We played pickup basketball, around the world, and we played "score on the goalie" using soccer nets and a rugby ball, all of which was super fun! Elders Dizoa and Mitchell from Kpalimé took a long car ride down to Lomé to join in, and they ended up spending the night in our apartment. It was good to have a four man apartment again, and we all had a good time together.
On Monday, as previously mentioned, we had an Family Home Evening with the Bishop's family, as well as the Ward Clerk and a Primary teacher! I really feel like the bishop and the members trust us, and they're now a little more motivated to help us out. Also, the pineapple sauce wasn't too bad! It was a little too runny, not a lot of overly noticeable flavors, but still pretty good! (;
We got to see Sam on Wednesday, and he's doing pretty well. He said that he liked church. He had some questions about the Book of Mormon. Once we had resolved his preoccupations, he said "Well, I don't know if this book is true for everyone, or that it could help everyone, but I believe that it's good for me." Haha, how cool is that?
Likewise, we got to speak with Hilaire's family on Wednesday. Elizabeth (Hilaire's mom) has completely turned corners! When I first got here, she was very receiving to us, the missionaries, but not the message. Now, she's inviting everyone she knows to join the lessons! 100% credit to the Spirit, and an extra 60% credit to Arnaud's mom (her next-door neighbor), who's very persistent in inviting people to accept the Gospel. You never know the good you can do from being persistent! (;
Elizabeth and Denise (Hilaire's sister) need to do a baptismal interview with Président Attiogbé (the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency), and he wasn't available this weekend, so we'll have to shoot for next week. Hilaire, on the other hand, was good to go (we'll get to that in a second)!
On Thursday, we had a split with the zone leaders. Elder Angbo went to Hedzanawoé to work with Elder Adzagah, and I worked with Elder Eperonnier.
Elder Eperonnier is from La Réunion, an island that is geographically somewhat close to Madagascar, but technically it's part of France. Elder Eperonnier was best buds with my old companion, Elder Joseph. Elder Eperonnier is super funny, but also serious when he needs to be. We had a great time together, and I learned a lot. Two of my favorite things he said:
- “Perseverance is more important than technique."
- “Your deodorant smells good." (to Frère Arnaud as we were walking by an open sewer).
During our split, Hilaire passed his baptismal interview, we visited the less-active that we were unable to visit (because of a strong spiritual impression), and this time, we felt good about being there. The less-active learned a bit, and he committed to studying the Bible and Book of Mormon daily.
We also visited Adèle, another less-active. She's younger, so we have to keep the lessons fun and interesting to get the point to stick. I decided to use one of Elder Jorgensen's ideas: blindfolding the child, having them try to find a silent person situated in a random part of the yard, then repeating the game, with the person calling out the person's name. It was very effective, and Adèle understood the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, particularly taking the sacrament. And, the best part, is that she came to church this Sunday! Woohoo!
An ironically placed truck staring back at me."
Yeah, we saw that truck Saturday afternoon. Me and Elder Angbo were chuckling about it as we walked to Hilaire's baptism.
The baptismal font at the stake center is filled by external hoses, not by a traditional bathtub faucet, and even though our DMP came that morning to hook up the hose, we think that a well-intentioned gardener unplugged the hose, and thus we showed up to find the font empty. Well, we hooked up the hose to the outside sprinkler faucet, and we tried hooking up a second, shorter hose to a sink inside the church. As it turns out, the hose was broken and super leaky in multiple places, so we got the hallway pretty wet.
The rest of the service went rather well (Hilaire had to be baptized four times, bless his heart). Arnaud's grown really close to Hilaire, so he wanted to baptize him, which we were totally down for! Members baptizing close friends is always better, in my opinion. It was a very great service, and Hilaire bore a testimony afterwards of how happy he was to be baptized.
Hilaire was confirmed on Sunday. Sacrament meeting was great. We worked with Frère Bakana, and cranked out some good lessons.
To prepare for general conference, I've set the goal to study the ministry of the Savior (the four Gospels, and 3 Nephi). It's a big goal, so wish me luck and keep me in your prayers! (:
This week, we're planning on baptizing Elizabeth, Denise, and Awofah, as well as maybe Felicité and Philomène. Keep us in your prayers!
If there was a spiritual lesson for this week, it'd be one I thought of as we were hauling heavy buckets to fill a baptismal font. Barefoot, in dirty water, I thought of the scripture that says "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!".
Oftentimes, we are called to serve in callings and opportunities and situations that make sense and seem natural (teaching, ministering, etc). Other times, we may find that the call to serve may also include doing some things that were unplanned, unexpected, and/or unwanted. The road of discipleship is rocky... but it is straight and upward! So, may each of us, in the various acts (expected and unexpected) we are asked to accomplish, remember the Savior's promise that, no matter where our feet may stand, if we stand in holy places, we'll be moving forward.
In all service, our ultimate example is Christ. As Abinadi wisely observed: "And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people." Christ did it all. "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows... he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed," (Isaiah 53:3-5).
I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that it is His infinite Atonement that gives meaning to service and charity. He is our ultimate example, and it is our goal to become more like Him (not "become Him" or "become like Him," but to become "become more like Him").
I love you all, and I wish you the best of weeks!
PS "Ma poh"- Ewé phrase, translation: "I'm gonna hit you". (;