*cue "Raiders of the Lost Ark" theme*
Imagine a young missionary, with white shirt, missionary badge, and fisherman's hat, treading carefully in the concrete jungle. The grand market is alive, with every living thing teeming busily from in-between the cracks of the sidewalk made of buildings. Our intrepid hero's instincts are on high alert. One always has to be on edge in the market. Anything could happen. In a more calm spot, the missionary finds the booth, the merchant, and the prize. The artifacts are well-preserved, and after a small, comparatively calm and really polite haggling session, the items are purchased, and our hero walks away with his rewards.
Haha, sorry everyone, I couldn't help but fantasize our little trip to the Grand Marché this morning. It was rather fun, I showed our district around the market, and then I started investing in souvenirs. The last six months of the mission are when you start the last hunt for your "Africana". During this market trip, I got a nativity set, a family of elephant statues, some little statues that are defined as the "old African passport," and some key-chains. It was a successful haul. My things are all wrapped up, so I can't send you photos, but I got some pretty cool stuff. (:
This week was really, really great. Elder Malala and I really hit the rubber, trying our best to get Hedzranawoé up and on fire. Elder Malala loves working hard, but also having a fun time whenever possible. Naturally, we worked hard and had a lot of fun together. Once in a hundred, we'll have disagreements, but we're both rather chill people, so we just talk it out and keep smiling on. Elder Malala told me that I'm one of his favorite companions, which definitely made my day. (:
We've got some great new amis that we work with. Petro is a security guard, he's super nice and sincere, and likes what we teach. We've been working with Gbaguidi's friends and family here and there. Gbaguidi owns a bar, so he sells alcohol, but being the faithful guy that he is, he tells his customers that alcohol is bad and that they should buy soda instead. Haha, he's a great guy. Anywho, one day we stopped by for a surprise visit, and Gbaguidi was reading the scriptures with his friends about the Word of Wisdom. As we walked up, Gbaguidi got super happy and said "Hey, missionaries, just in time, I was wondering where that one verse is in the Bible that talks about alcohol." Haha, I love Gbaguidi. We had a great impromptu discussion about the Word of Wisdom, and Elder Malala had some very inspired remarks. It was a fun lesson.
Last Sunday, I had the idea to ask Sam, my recent convert, to accompany us in teaching. He totally accepted, and on Wednesday, we had a wonderful time together! Sam really likes the Gospel, and he even showed us some of his friends in our sector. It was one of those "pay-day" moments that you can only get as a missionary, seeing your convert testify to others about the Gospel. Go Sam! (:
On Saturday, we walked 14 kilometers. I'm never doing that again. (;
We taught the most lessons I've ever taught during my time here in Hedzranawoé, and... we had zero investigators at Church. Neither Papa Favor nor Gertrude showed up, so we have to postpone their baptisms. Me and Elder Malala were super bummed. We both kind of scratched our heads, and had an attitude of "I don't get it, did we do something wrong?" Haha, you have those moments as a missionary, and even throughout your life, when you're trying your best, and things aren't always working out as you imagine they would. Nevertheless, we must never get discouraged. The blessings come, you just have to keep going. The Lord will always give you a hundred fold of what you give in, you just need to wait for the grand total to roll in.
For example, Sunday afternoon, while walking towards our rendez-vous, an ice cream man called at us and asked if we had any money to give him, or if we wanted to buy something from him. Since it's ice cream, we explained that normally we'd love to, but because it was Sunday, we couldn't buy. He found that a little funny, so he asked what church we're from. In explaining the message, I felt the Spirit confirm to me that this man is prepared, and that his desire was sincere. He had a lot of questions, and when we talked about the need for a Restoration, he said "I totally understand that, I've always wondered about that!" He seemed very humble, and when he told us his name was Adam, I thought "This is my brother!" (: God always, always helps us and guides us by his Spirit.
My highlight of the week was probably interviews with Président Morin. To start it off, he showed us a clip from a President Uchtdorf talk to new mission presidents. President Uchtdorf basically told the Ricciardi story (if any of you have not read it, I highly recommend "The Ricciardi Letter"). It was super inspiring, and I felt the Spirit both confirm that I'm doing alright, and give me ideas on how I could improve.
In my personal interview, Président asked if there was a specific subject I wanted to talk about, and I just asked how I could make the most of my last six months in the field. We talked about being an Elder Strong (the name that President Uchtdorf gave Elder Ricciardi), and what I could do to really serve well. Président told me multiple times that Elder Malala is awesome, and that we'll get much done together. I sure do hope that Elder Malala is the missionary that "kills" me. (:
At the end of the interview, I asked Président for a blessing to start off the new year. In my blessing, Président said a lot of things that really touched me, and I felt the Spirit tell me that I'm doing okay. (:
So, to all of you in doubt or in tough times, I testify to you that it will all work out. The Lord is ever-mindful of your situation and your efforts, and He will always, always, always consecrate your efforts for your gain.
I love y'all! Have a great week! (:
Elder Brian Phillips