So, this week I realized that many of the dead chickens I see out in the roads aren't just roadkill, but lots of them are probably voodoo sacrifices. Welcome to Africa. Haha, :)
This week was fantastic, and maybe even better than last week!
Tuesday, we showed up for a rendez-vous with Bertrand. He was showering, and one of his neighbors was visiting. Imagine this: African maman, with a baby strapped onto her back by cloth, with a hacksaw no longer than your fingers, trying to cut a plastic oil canister in half. Turns out she was making a litterbox for her cat. So, with nothing better to do, I tried to help out. When I offer to help with menial housechores, most of the time people tell me no because I'm a white guy in nice clothes, but if you persist a little, they'll let you help out. They'll always laugh at you when you try to draw water out of a well, or do laundry with your bare hands, but it always feels good to help. I figured "Why not cut an oil canister in half with a nail file?" It took a lot of time, we got our hands dirty, we were sweating a lot, but it was super fun, and we made the best litterbox ever!
We're just finding more and more little opportunities like that to serve, and people are taking more and more notice. Service is the best.
Around 3 weeks ago, the Church had a worldwide missionary training conference, live-streamed with multiple Apostles and General Authorities speaking. Seeing as we're in West Africa, we had to wait a while for the transmission recording to come in, but we finally got to see it on Thursday! It was heavenly. I received so much personal revelation. I focused more on what the Spirit said, and I got a lot out of it. A meeting like this hasn't happened in over 10 years, and it was so powerful, and instructive. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. With the words of apostles in my ears, it's time to start applying what I learn!
Things are going great in the district. We get along good. The power outages are becoming more and more frequent, so that's kind of difficult, but what can you do? :)
In terms of elections, there's one candidate, Lionel Zinsou, who is half-French, so when we pass people on the streets, we always hear "Lionel Zinsou!"
We had a lot of ratez-vous during the weekdays. We had investigators push their rendez-vous back to the weekend, and we contacted a lot of people who said they were only free on the weekends. That was kind of discouraging, but come Friday night planning, we realized that we had over-booked Saturday. It was one of those moments when you open your planner and, instead of thinking "What are we going to do tomorrow," you think "How am I going to get all that done tomorrow?" It was crazy, but it was a great feeling. Saturday morning, the power was out, and I had a little diarhhea, but I just knew that if I went out into the sector, good things would happen. By the end of the day, we had doubled our key indicators for the week, and, for the first time since I've been here, we reached Président Morin's goal of having at least 7 new investigators each week. We ended with 11! I was so happy, and so tired. I was pretty content with myself, but lying in bed, the Spirit had to remind me that the day was a gift from God, and the credit was all due to Him.
My favorite lesson from that day was with Alex, who is cousins with a member. One day, we felt prompted to say hi to a member. He wasn't there, but Alex was, and we gave a brief overview of the Restoration. Saturday, we had our second lesson with Him. Alex had read the entire brochure, so he understood most of it, and he asked some very good, specific questions: "How can we know the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet? Why do we need priesthood authority to do ordinances like baptism?" It was such a cool lesson, and I felt the Spirit testify of everything we said. Me and Amos both think he is prepared.
Sunday, we didn't have very many amis come to sacrament, but I was inspired anyhow, and I felt very uplifted. Now, for my favorite part of the week.
Sunday afternoon, we went out to a rendez-vous with a few construction workers we had ran into a while ago. We show up to this building under construction, and the workers all take a break to come listen to us. The crazy thing is, these workers are kids. A total of eight kids, ages 10 to 22, are building a three-story building. They were covered with clay and dirt, absolutely dirty, with ragged clothes that they probably got from the trash bins. I would guess that most of them don't have parents. They show up to work every day, and their boss tells them which building they're going to work on today. When I first saw them all, the first thought that popped into my head was "They're the lost boys." They sat down on a wooden bench, me and Amos sat down on bricks, and we began our first lesson. They don't speak French very well, so I would say one or two lines, and Amos would translate in Fon. I kept the doctrine as simple and basic as possible. The Spirit was just there in abundance, and in that moment, I felt the love of Heavenly Father just rush through me, and I can testify without a doubt that God loves them, He knows each of them by name, and He is aware, very much so, of their situation. It was probably my favorite teaching experience ever on the mission. These humble kids listened, and I think they all understood, and I feel like they felt something. Their boss decides each day where they will work, so some of them might not be there for our return rendez-vous on Tuesday, but we promised them that we'd come back, and I also felt prompted to promise them that I would teach them how to read. They loved the idea. I don't know if the rendez-vous will hold, if I'll see any of those boys again, let alone if any of them will get baptized, but I have faith that it will all work out the way the Lord intends.
I know that God is our Loving Heavenly Father. He knows you, and He is aware of your situation. He wants to speak with you, and you can speak with Him in prayer. He loves you. I know it!
Have a great week.