So, the highlight of the week was our baptismal service, but I'll save the best for last.
At the beginning of this week, I had my first zone conference. I really like our zone. It's always a riot to be around these amazing elders. I think I've said this before, but Africans and Tahitians have the best sense of humor on the planet. There were so many times during zone conference when my sides were aching from the laughter. Anywho, it was great to see a whole collection of experienced elders, and to learn a little bit from their example.
I've really grown to almost be at home here in Akpakpa. To be completely honest, during the transfer calls I was daydreaming a little about how cool it would be to work in Togo, but I got over that. I love Akpakpa so very much. I've gotten to the point where I want to spend all of my mission here. There's just so much to do here, and I've fallen in love with this place. I'm not quite at the point where I could say "yea, perhaps until the day I die," but I'd gladly spend two years here. There will definitely be tears shed if I get a transfer call.
I got to cut Elder Hansen's hair today! It was my very first haircut ever, and I think I did alright. I now have a newfound respect for hairstylists: man, that job is tough! Huge shoutout to Mom for cutting my hair all those years.
This week I had my first run-in with those opposed to the church. Well, more along the lines of we met some Nigerians on the street, and within twenty seconds of beginning to talk about the Restoration, we were shouted at for about five minutes without breathing room, and they used a lot of verses out of context. It was the first time in my life that anyone had told me "You are lost!" It didn't confuse me or make me doubt or make me angry, it just made me sad. Nigeria has a really big problem with priestcraft and scams. As we were walking away from that experience, I explained it to Elder Hansen from this perspective: Imagine if, for your whole life, you had only learned how to swim in a kiddie pool, and that was the deepest water you could imagine. If you were introduced to a pool that had deeper waters, you would still try to swim in the kiddie pool. When we meet people who might cling a little to some false traditions, it's only because that's all they've had up until this point. If that was all you knew, that would be what you held on to. On my mission, I've learned that the great test of life is not what you know, but rather how much you are willing to learn.
Anywho, that was just one learning experience in a plethora of positive experiences. Julian and his family came to church this week, which was awesome! Progress is little by little, but they are always open to the Gospel. Their little kids absolutely love us. Last night, as we were leaving an appointment, all of their kids and about ten other kids just tackled me; I could not move my legs because there were fifteen kids gripping on to them! I could only laugh and call Elder Hansen for help. That was the moment when I decided that I could stay here for the rest of my mission.
In Church, I gave my first Gospel Principles lesson ever. It was really tough! I've kind of hit a barrier with the language this week, but it was good for me to get a little humbled. I was thinking that the lesson was a total failure, but Julian said afterwards that he loved it! It was about faith; Julian is a little hesitant to keep commitments, but he's very brave, and wants to keep coming to church. Well, one soul is great in the eyes of God, right? :)
Now, for the best part of the week:
For the 24 hours up until the baptismal service, it felt like Satan was working rapidly against us. We had so many appointments fall through, and there was just a cloud over our heads. And it was raining heavily, so that kind of dampened our Spirits.
But that morning, the service was just awesome. Elder Hansen baptized David, and the Spirit was so strong! I can promise you that there is no greater joy than seeing someone you love getting baptized. I was only there for the tail end of the lessons, but I still felt so very happy for David and his family! There are always rainbows after rain, and the joy of making covenants with Heavenly Father outshines any other source of happiness. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves His children, and wants nothing more for them to be happy. As a missionary, I got just a little taste of that joy, and it just deepened my testimony of how much I know this Church is true.
I love you all so very much! Have an awesome week, take advantage of General Conference and learn all you can, and make the most of what you have!
P.S. Huge shoutout to the Jorgensens for giving us so many great tips! There have been so many times where Elder Hansen has said we need to buy something for me, and I already have it! Thank you Jorgensens!!