J’espère que tout est bien avec vous, et la vie dans la foyer est bien.
I am doing so very well in Akpakpa. This week has been a blast.
Me and Elder Hansen are doing very well also. At nights, when we cook dinner, we listen to the Truman G Madsen lecture on Joseph Smith, which is awesome. We always learn something new, and it really helps us deepen our admiration for Joseph Smith. And it's very relaxing to listen to somebody else speak English.
This week, we innovated a new idea for setting appointments. The idea came to Elder Hansen, and we worked together to refine it. We call it "Rounds," and it's one of my favorite activities. If our appointments and backup plans for the hour fall through, we walk around the area, and visit with different people we know. It's not a very long visit, just five or ten minutes to check up on the person and their family. We try to visit with people we focus on in weekly planning, who are nearby in the area. Normally, at the end of the visit, we just set up an actual teaching appointment for the upcoming week, which is more effective than calling someone the evening before. People are more likely to show up to the appointment if we set up the appointment in person, and it makes daily planning all the easier. It's a good way to just get in a brief visit without the formality of sitting down, and sometimes they might actually need us to visit with them for an entire lesson, in the which case we fill our hour and get a lesson in. For example, Saturday, we had all our plans fall through, so we decided to do Rounds. We ended up at Soeur Christine's house, and for good reason. Soeur Christine's sister, Madame Johnson, is taking the lessons from Elder Dakourri and Elder Destribois. She is so very receptive to the Gospel, but that day she told us about some of the struggles she's facing. Her husband has decided he won't sleep at their house anymore, and so the closest thing she has to praying with her husband is praying with the missionaries when they come. Soeur Christine also talked a lot about how her family is struggling financially. The Church program "My Autonomy" has really worked for her, but she's still struggling to make end's meet, especially when paying for school for six kids on her own. Well, we shared everything we could to comfort these two awesome sisters. I was flipping through the Book of Mormon, and landed on 3 Nephi 15:12. I have never had that experience before, where you just randomly flip to the right scripture, but it was definitely a little miracle from heaven. I promised Soeur Christine that she is being a light for her children and her sister, and that she's doing just fine. I got just a little hint of how much God loves these people.
We got a referral from Soeur Christine, and we are now teaching a man named Julian and his family. They have a lot of kids, and those kids love us to bits. For the youngest one, we are the first white people he has ever seen, so it's fun to see him staring at us during the lessons. They are a very poor family, and the husband has just lost his job, but they love the Gospel. The wife and kids actually came to Church this Sunday, which was awesome!
Speaking of the other Elders, on Thursday I did splits with Elder Dakourri, our district leader, in my regular half of Akpakpa. One thing I admire about Elder Dakourri is how ridiculously bold he is. We had an appointment fall through, but we ran into a different investigator. This investigator was the one who had told us she only wanted to hear a message from the Bible. We hadn't stopped by since that visit, and she insisted on another message from just the Bible, not the Book of Mormon. Elder Dakourri just said "No, we don't give messages like that, have a good day," and walked away. Also, we visited a less active member, and, instead of beating around the bush, Elder Dakourri sat down and just shot straight to the problem. He directly asked "Why aren't you coming to church?" and then spent the hour speaking very bluntly about faith and what happens when we lose faith. It was scary, but the member committed to come back to church. Elder Dakourri has a different style of teaching, but I really respect and love him.
Elder Destribois is awesome as well. He is about as stereotypically French as someone can get. He is a tech geek, and Dad, you will be happy to know that he has reconverted me into the church of Apple products. :)
We also occasionally get the opportunity to have members work with us in lessons. Sometimes this can be a curse (for example, a member summarizing all five lessons in fifteen minutes, during a first visit, which causes a lot of confusion), but most of the time it can be awesome. Friday, we got to work with Serg, a young single adult, and he has such a strong knowledge and testimony of the Gospel. There were some moments when I thought that he was the missionary, and we were the members.
Friday was also Elder Hansen's 1 year mark, so I cooked breakfast and treated him to ice cream that evening. Elder Hansen is really just the best trainer ever, so it was very natural to express a bit of the gratitude I have for him.
I am understanding a lot more French, and so I get a lot more out of the lessons. I would go so far as to say that 80 to 90 percent of the time, I understand what is being said. The gift of tongues is real!
Sunday night, we had a lesson with an investigator named Ange and his family. They struggle with French, so it is very slow teaching, but they just love everything we have to offer. Ange cares about us a lot: at the end of each visit, he walks with us through the crazy streets to make sure we get out of his neighborhood alright. We did a follow-up on prophets, and also talked about the Spirit, and how God normally speaks to us through small and simple things. I felt the Spirit so very powerfully, and I knew that we had someone else testifying to their hearts.
Overall this week, Elder Hansen and I have focused on becoming more like the missionaries from the District videos, and using more techniques from Preach My Gospel. Our planning has been phenomenal, and it follows that we have had awesome lessons. Really, there is only one way to do missionary work, and that is the Lord's way. It's hard work! I don't think anyone can or will ever adequately describe how hard this is, but likewise I can't even begin to describe how amazing the blessings are.
I love you all so very much! Until next week,