Hey everyone, happy Easter. This week was a rollercoaster, and I love rollercoasters! (:
On Monday, we helped the Calavi zone with their activity at Ouidah. It was super fun.
During the week, we had zone conferences here in Benin. Zone conferences are to missionaries what ice cream tubs are to the belly: wonderful! (; Spiritually speaking, I had three tubs of ice cream, as opposed to one. As can be expected to eating three tubs of ice cream, it was tiring, but oh so delicious! (: I taught a lesson on fixing baptismal dates. It's an oft-repeated subject in zone conferences, so I tried to be creative. The key to any good lesson is the Spirit and creativity! (: My companion talked about inviting friends to church, the zone leaders talked about teaching the plan of salvation, Soeur Morin talked about mango fly worms (hahaha, guess who inspired that health informational?), and faith. President talked about the new schedule, as well as Doctrine and Covenants 93, talking about the Savior, His glory, and our missions. I really, really enjoyed it, and I learned something new at each zone conference.
As I said earlier, we were ridiculously tired out from zone conferences. We went out every afternoon after the conferences (when not taken by mission business), but the work progressed pretty slow nonetheless. One particular occasional difficulty for missionary work here in West Africa is that people see nicely dressed young missionaries, and they think that our message is equivalent with money, therefore they follow the lessons because they think there is some temporal perk or gain. Thankfully, these investigators don't end up being baptised without a change in mentality, but unfortunately, because we're in a truck, we're finding a lot more of these investigators. We're seeking more earnestly for those who are prepared by the Lord for His Gospel.
In an otherwise slow week, we got super duper good news yesterday: Edmond and Veronique got married!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Missionaries aren't allowed to go to weddings, so we got a phone call from the Branch President, who worked very hard to get this couple married. Me and Elder N'Guessan went crazy! I can't describe how happy we were, I haven't been that ecstatic and energetic in a long, long time. For unmarried couples here in Benin, a civil marriage symbolises all of the work they've put into repentance. We bought them a meter of pagne (pagne in West Africa is a typical gift to newlywed couples).
Today, Easter Sunday, was golden. Sacrament meeting was great. Edmond's family, as well as Marlene and a new ami, came to church. While driving, I saw very many people dressed in boombas and pagne, and I knew that they were all going to Church, and it reminded me that I'm living among and serving a people who love God very much. I found out that Damien, Soeur Christine's son, received his mission call, and he's assigned to labor in the Cape Coast Ghana Mission, so that pumped me up. We had a great meeting with President about an idea we had that could possibly change the mission. President, among other things, said this little gem: "I know that when we say 'he's dead' that people on the other side are pretty irked, because they're quite, in fact, living," and that we can ask our Heavenly Father in prayer for news about our loved ones. I now look at the Plan of Salvation slightly differently. (:
Over the course of my mission, Jesus Christ has become a very real person for me. I believe that every person has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I've come to know my Savior so very personally over these past few years. Easter and the sacrament mean a lot more to me, and I understand the Lord's Plan for each one of us better than I did a year ago. Because of Him, we will all overcome the grave, and we can all receive a remission of our sins. As we apply His Gospel in our lives, we will draw closer and closer to Him, and, little by little, we shall find that His character was inside us all along. I know and believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, Redeemer, Best Friend, and Eldest Brother. I know and believe that He was risen from the tomb on the third day, and that He lives! I know and believe that His Plan for our happiness is real, and that His Gospel brings us joy. I know and believe that families can be together forever, that the miracle of physical and spiritual healing is possible, and that we shall all be amazed by His "merits, mercy, and grace" at the Judgement bar. I love my Savior. He is a Powerful Master. I leave you all my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Have a wonderful week, y'all! Happy Easter! love y'all so much! (:
Elder Brian H. Phillips
"Travailler comme c'est votre premier jour, témoigner comme c'est votre dernier."