Hi everyone! I hope that your week has been wonderful, and your Sunday has been splendid. Today is Palm Sunday, and we've seen multiple people walking around with palm leaves to celebrate, which I find very cool. The Beninois and Togolais are very God-loving people, and I love serving them. (:
Quotes of the week:
- *in a casual, joking conversation about my driving* Elder Phillips: Don't worry President, we're protected by angels when we drive. President Morin: Yes, but we shouldn't abuse angels!
- *President calling a missionary from Madagascar* President Morin: Hello Elder Ranaivo...arisoa? I still have a tough time mastering the Malagasy names. But to be fair, President Morin is a lot easier to say than Elder Ranaivoarisoa.
- *Elder Linderman giving a talk in church about prayer* Elder Linderman: It's true that you could pray for a new moto, but God might say "Nah, he doesn't need that, I'll just give him a child or something".
Well, apparently walking large distances after living in a truck for multiple weeks does a number on your immune system, and that's what happened. On Monday, we went to the market to get food, and I felt pretty under-the-weather, and then my body hit its wall, and we had to take Tuesday and Wednesday off because of my cold. It's important to listen to your body, and rest when you need to rest. Had I tried to work through that, I would have gotten even more sick, and that's no good for the greater good. While resting, I did a lot of studying, pondering, meditating, and reflection.
And oh, how good it felt to hit the ground running once again! I love missionary work, it's become perhaps my biggest passion, and I'm loving every minute of it out here.
We received a contact from a member, and he said he knew where the church was, so we decided to make that the meeting point for our first rendez-vous. Well, as it turns out, he was talking about the stake center in Menontin, not the local chapel in Cocotomey, so once we had that confusion cleared up, the poor guy had to u-turn all the way to Cocotomey again. Nevertheless, Dieudonne (the contact) was super happy to meet with us, and he posed a lot of solid questions. We talked about the Plan of Salvation, and at one point, we explained that our Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bones, and that we, His spirit children, came to this earth to receive a physical body, gain experiences, and to become like Him, and Dieudonne asked "Well, if we came here to become like Heavenly Father, then at one point was Heavenly Father like us?" Haha, I've never had an ami ask that question before, so that was a cool experience.
Today, an investigator that we haven't even taught yet, who's only gotten a brochure, came to church.
Edmond and his family, as well as Narcisse and his family, are planning on joining the group marriage this Saturday. Civil marriage is really expensive for many people here in Benin, and a prerequisite for baptism is that couples who live together must be married civilly or find an alternative living situation. The stake here occasionally organizes group marriages, which permits lower prices for the marriage, less confusion in paperwork, group support, and multiple families ready for baptism. We're really blessed to help out these families. Keep them in your prayers! (:
Normally, President Morin doesn't want us to run too many errands, he wants us to develop a model sector, but we had to go help him with a few errands yesterday. I learned quite a bit, and I had some great spiritual experiences. At one point, President said something that I love. I don't have the exact wording, but it went something along the lines of this:
"The adversary, the destroyer, wishes to destroy things. If there is a relationship in trouble, he tries to destroy it and convince us that it is past saving; The Savior encourages us to never give up, to always try our best to make the most of a difficult situation."
I testify that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Messiah. He can heal us physically, mentally, and spiritually. He, with His divine perspective, never has and never will see us as a lost cause. In His infinite wisdom and mercy, He invested His whole life, death, resurrection, work, and glory in each of us. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, "However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines," (General Conference, April 2012). As Lehi testified, "Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth," (2 Nephi 2:6). He truly is Wonderful, a Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9:6). I know it to be true!
I love you all, and I wish you a very wonderful Holy Week!
All my love,
Elder Brian H. Phillips
P.S. Also, forgot to mention, Elders Motshikana and Linderman found a natural reserve in their sector. Apparently, it's infested with crocodiles, snakes, and even hippopotamuses. They stayed clear away from it, but apparently there are people that live in the reserve! Wow, that's insane! Well, you know what they say, "People would do most anything for lower mortgage rates these days." Ba-dum-psh! (; Sorry, that was a terrible joke.