You know, very few experiences in this life compare to that of a newborn baby seeing a yovo for the first time. (: We were at an investigator's house, and she was carrying her five month baby around. He got a look of me, it took him a second to register, and then his eyes widened like nobody's business. He might as well be named Bugsy ("Those would look big on a cow!" (; Name the movie).
In other news, we went to the doctor's this morning to get a scan done on my back. The doctors asked me to take off my belt, badge, etc. Because my pants have a metal latch, I had to pull them down to my knees. Then I had to stretch my arms over my head, hold still, and go back and forth under a giant ring. It was a rather fun experience, actually. We'll be getting the results of the scan this Wednesday. And hey, Adam, good luck during your physical tests this week, you'll do great! (:
On Thursday, Elizabeth wanted to have Elder Lath and his companion, Elder Abbott, over for a dinner appointment. It was pretty fun! We had some tapioca, some atieké with fried plantains, and rice pate. To top it off, I brought along a cake. Elder Joseph left behind a toaster oven, so for the first time ever on my mission, I made a cake using something other than a stove! It was rather fun, and definitely a lot more efficient and evenly baked. It was super good! (:
Rène was super busy this week, we didn't get to see him, but we'll try again next week.
With transfers this Saturday, I'm pretty nervous. Elder Angbo has been a wonderful companion, hands down one of my favorites. I've learned the most during these two transfers than any other period of my mission, and we've been very successful together. Arnaud once observed that, of all the companionship's he's worked with, there are three that have gotten along more than any other: Elders Jorgensen and Kanda, Elders Eperonnier and Raherimandimby, and US. That made my day. (: I've been super blessed with an incredible companion.
This week, I learned a lot about keeping a prayer in your heart. For example:
- We were teaching Malik, and he understood about zero percent of what we taught. I prayed that he would be able to understand, and then the member we were with retaught the lesson in Ewé. Malik understood everything.
- We were teaching one investigator, and we gave him the usual baptismal-invitation-in-the-first lesson. He didn't really understand the Apostasy and Restoration, and he's a missionary for his own church, so he was a little confused. I felt prompted to specifically bear my witness that we have been called by a living prophet of God. I did, I felt the Spirit, and I think the investigator did too.
- Our ami Sika returned from a trip to the village. Sika's a complicated little fellow, and he can get pretty worked up sometimes. I prayed in my heart, saying "Father, there's no way we can do this on our own. Please help us out." Well, the lesson progressed, and Sika finally committed to coming to Church (I'll get to that part in a second).
- We went with Papan Mensanh to some investigators that are rather far out in our sector. Papan Mensanh has a car, so we try to save time by having him give us a ride. Pro: the car saves us loads of time and energy. Con: Papan Mensanh's car is the clunkiest junker I've ever ridden in. It's about as delapidated as mustard (that phrase makes no sense, I just think it's cool). While driving home after a rendez-vous, the car was having some serious problems changing gears. No matter how hard Papan would yank, he couldn't change it to "drive". And it was right as we were about to cross the street. I was somewhat scared for my life. I said a prayer: "Heavenly Father, if there are any sins that I have forgotten about that still need repenting, please forgive me of them. And please help this car to work." Immediately, the car lurched forward and we crossed the highway safe and sound. God hears and answers prayers.
Now, we arrive at what I would call the best Sunday ever:
Sunday morning, we stopped by Sika's house to walk with him to church. We also stopped by Noelie's house. Noelie said that she was coming. That's a song we've heard a thousand times, so Elder Angbo told her: "Every time you say that, you don't come. So if you're not going to come, just tell us right now so we'll stop wasting your time." She said "I'll try." Elder Angbo said "Don't say 'I'll try,' it's 'yes' or 'no'. Be committed in what you do." Noelie paused for a second, then said that she was coming. We walked with Sika a little ways to church. All along the way, he was talking about different stories from the Bible, and how he hoped that nobody in his other church saw him walking with the missionaries. He ended up paying a moto, and we walked the rest of the way ourselves. I remembered how coming to church literally changed Elizabeth, and I prayed that the Lord would repeat the same miracle for us. The Spirit told me that all would be well, and that Sika would enjoy the experience.
We arrived at church, and the miracles started happening. Some less-actives came to church. As I went up to play piano, Elder Angbo took Sika aside and had a brief heart to heart with him. He explained that sacrament meeting is very reverent, and that he should try to feel the Spirit. Aside from Sika, there weren't very many amis at church at the beginning of sacrament meeting. I was a little bummed, but happy that so many people had already come. As I was seated on the stand playing piano, I kept seeing people come and come and come. Noelie came! One couple, Kodjo and Eli, came, even though we didn't have the time to visit them this week, and they brought a friend along! What made my day was seeing the entire Akakpo family come: Frère Akakpo, Brigitte, and Philomène! That was a big, uplifting surprise. In all, we had fourteen investigators come to church, and several less-actives, as well as almost all of my recent converts in Attiegou. The sacrament room was full. It was fast and testimony meeting, so that was super uplifting for our investigators.
In Gospel Principles, I taught about tithing, and everyone participated! Sika loved it! We asked Frère Akakpo to translate for Philomène, and she understood everything. They've been having a bit of trouble getting along, and that kind of patched up their relationship. (: Elder's Quorum was also good.
We went teaching with Frère Bakana that afternoon. Sika had a lot of questions about church, we could tell that after coming back home, he had lost a bit of the Spirit, but he seemed changed. He said that he loved church, that it was very peaceful. He expressed that, with time, little by little, he felt like he would change. Philomène said that, now that she has someone to translate the entire meeting for her, she loves church! She said she wants to keep coming to church, each week. I felt the Spirit prompt me to invite her to be baptized this Saturday. She accepted!
We're going to push for three baptisms this week: Mireille, Ruth, and Philomène. Please send us your prayers this week! Pray that Mireille will be well integrated, that Ruth will remember everything that we've taught her, and that Philomène will remember everything we've taught her too. Pray especially for Philomène. Her family is this close to being completed. If she's baptized this Saturday, I feel like I would have accomplished everything I was meant to do here in Attiegou.
If there were a message for this week, I'd say it would be from 2 Nephi 27:29-30/Isaiah 29:29-30:
"And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
In a way, this prophecy was fulfilled, in small, for us this week. The Spirit opened the hearts of our investigators, and they kept commitments that they normally wouldn't have kept. Philomène, who had complained about not being able to understand the worship services, understood and rejoiced. She heard the Gospel message with her ears, alongside our other investigators. The Spirit is in full action here, working miracles for us, by no effort on our part. We are seeing lives changed. The deaf are hearing, the blind are seeing, the meek are increasing, and the poor are rejoicing. The Lord is showing forth His hand in this corner of His vineyard.
Well everyone, I wish you the best of weeks! May the Lord bless you continually, and may you, like me and Elder Angbo, set a goal to make this week your best week!
I love you all! Ey zandé (Until next time)! Mawu ni fomi lo (May God see you safely through the night)! Akudré Iesu lo (May you dream of Jesus)!
Avec tout mon amour,