Okay, time is short this week, so we'll see how this goes.
So glad to hear about General Conference this week! I'm sure everyone got a lot out of it, and I hope and encourage you all to apply the council you've received like butter on toast.
So this week went really well. We as a district are becoming like second family, I think. Elder Dakourri is now directing a class that teaches people how to read and write French, and we help out with that as best we can. Elder Dakourri is really an ingenious teacher, he knows how to help people with pronunciation, and he's very charismatic. Thank heavens for Elder Dakourri! And Elder Destribois too! And Elder Hansen! And... okay I'm going to stop there. :)
We decided that we would eat in companionships instead of together as a district, and that has been an adventure! It's a different kind of stress for me and Elder Hansen, because now we are in charge of what we eat and how we use the food budget, so it takes a little bit more of our time to find groceries, but we save a ton of time by preparing quick meals. I've always wanted to take up cooking as a hobby, and now I get the chance! We've come up with some pretty cool recipes; for example, I made a yogurt parfait out of yogurt, peanuts, and those sweet bananas I told y'all about. It was pretty delicious! And Elder Hansen's pancake recipe is the best. It's like birthday cake, but in pancake form. What could be more amazing?
This past Saturday was Elder Hansen's 20th birthday!!! He got three new apostles as a birthday present, which is a pretty awesome gift. I didn't have time to make a birthday cake Saturday, so tonight I'm trying my hand at it. Pray for me! That's why I needed the chocolate sauce. I'll let y'all know how it goes next week.
Speaking of food, yesterday was my first official meal at a member's house! As a district we went to President Dangniso's house (first counselor in the branch presidency), and we ate so much food! I must say, my parents have done a spectacular job in preparing me for my mission, except in one area: eating fast! I remember learning how to eat slow at home and really enjoy the food so that I could know when to stop eating. Apparently that rule does not apply here; they keep the food coming! My favorite food they served was pat rouge: it's this stuff that's got the texture and consistency of a can of refried beans, and the flavor of super hot Taco Bell sauce. It was just the right type of spice that I loved back home! It was the best! President Dangniso is awesome. He's been a member since 2012, endowed since 2013, and he loves member missionary work. He kept saying "On est toujour ensemble" (we are always together), and that just warmed up my heart! I'm so grateful to be able to work with awesome leaders like President Dangniso.
Our investigators are progressing rather well. Julien and his family are really loving the gospel, and they seemed to really like the Joseph Smith story. Leoni, the wife, learned about priesthood blessings from Soeur Christine, and so when she got sick she asked us for one. Blessings always have this tangible influence of the Spirit that I can't describe, and so it was awesome to give one to Soeur Leoni.
Another investigator, Zoe, is doing awesome. He's only been to church once and he wants to get baptized. He needs to get married first, which might take some time, but he still loves visiting with us. He is by far one of if not the most genuine, happy, and loving people I have met here in Africa. We feel like we need to teach him about the plan of salvation and eternal families tonight, so that's what we're going to do. Wish us luck and pray for us!
Crespin and Blaise are doing good. Crespin was on business trips for the past week or so, so we only got to see him on Saturday, but it seems like everything is still going good. He's about two thirds done with getting everything ready for marriage, so we hope everything will be going okay! The lesson was a little awkward after not talking for such a long time, but we hope to get that fire rekindled really quick.
We had a less active come to church this week, named Thomas. He's a really nice guy, and it was so delightful to see him at church!
The biggest lesson I learned this week was about grace. I realized in the middle of the week that I have had a pride problem lately. I know I definitely had one during the MTC, and I probably had one before my mission too. Listening to President Benson's talk about pride, I realized that I had had a hidden pride problem for a long time, and so I've been working to surmount that as well. In all of that, I've been trying to find what kind of missionary I should be. There are many different types of missionaries, and many different people telling you what type of missionary you should be. The past few weeks I've been kind of confused about how I should proceed, but I got my answer after reading my patriarchal blessing and writing down the impressions I was receiving. Really, the only type of missionary I need to be is the one that Christ wants me to be. I can apply His Grace in my life, and He can help me become exactly who I need to be. Trying to be a missionary without Christ's Grace is like trying to row a rowboat on dry land; you just can't do it, and you will burn out. If you rely entirely and totally on His Grace, you can perform miracles that you know you could never do on your own. I know this to be true, and I will continue to try and row my rowboat in the Living Waters.
I can promise each of you, wherever you are in life right now, that the Atonement of Christ is all encompassing and all surrounding. It can turn your dry desert into a living pool of love. I know that if you are having troubles deciding what kind of person to be, or if you have any questions in general, if you turn yourselves over to Christ completely, and come with a broken heart ready to be changed, Christ can help you become the masterpiece you were meant to be. In the words of President Morin, "He is a Powerful Master," and in the words of Moroni, we can become "sanctified in Christ," (Moroni 10:32-33).
I love you all, and I hope you have an awesome week. Keep up the good work and fight the good fight!
PS Speaking of hot deserts, we are now entering dry season here, so it's ridiculously hot and humid! Pray that I will not sweat my clothes off. :)