"You will be an official representative of the Church. . . . Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ . . . Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence in you." Thomas S. Monson

Monday, August 5, 2013

Missionary work is a work of miracles . . .

Another week gone and more stories to tell.  Each week I marvel at how quickly the time has passed, but yet the United States feels like another life ago.

So I was thinking a bit about what I should write today, and the only thing that came to mind was miracles.  Many people today believe that miracles don't exist anymore, but I have seen and witnessed many around me in my life.  For instance, this past Sunday, yesterday our branch, the Wuiti branch, moved to a new building that's right in the middle of our area.  It is much more convenient for many of the members rather than walking 15-30 minutes or paying for a moto.  Together as a branch, we have really been coming together this past week to bring many visitors and friends to church this week.  Honestly, I had no idea how it was going to go.  Often times we invite many, many people, but a few are all we've ever had come.

The chapel in the new building is much longer than the last and can fit 80 chairs inside.  At the beginning of the meeting, a little over half of the chairs were filled, which was already more than normal (about 40 or so).  However, during the first parts of the meeting, more and more people kept coming in.  Eventually, we had to bring chairs from upstairs and place them outside.  Many of us spent the most part of the meeting standing.  Towards the end the branch clerk got a count, which came in at 115!  This was absolutely a miracle and an answer to the the prayers of many people, including me.  Over 50 of the people present were visitors and friends of those who are members!  Officially, we had 28 sign the visitor sheet, but many had a spouse and a family present as well.  We looked over the sheet afterwards and 10 who signed live in areas assigned to other missionaries, so we have plenty to share as well!  Only 4 of those who signed the sheet were invited by Elder Dagrou and I, so my testimony of what can happen when the members get involved in missionary work was really strengthened.

After the meeting, we had a big party on the second level of the church building, which over looks the major road just below.  Soeur N'Guessan, the Relief Society President, organized and bought a lot a lot a lot of the same fabric for everybody to wear, the men for ties and the women for dresses.  The fabric for these kinds of special occasions here is called pagne (pronounced like pine).  It's a little stiff at first, but it really lasts well.  Also, it's EVERYWHERE.  You never have to worry about trying to find pagne.  It's just finding the right pagne, because there's millions of different patterns.  My goal for the mission is to buy a different outfit of pagne for every area that I serve in.

So apparently many of you have been asking about the food.  Here there are really three types of food:  pate (corn flour mixed with water and heated VERY hot), rice and spaghetti.  However, there's many, many, many different sauces, which is how people mix it up.  For instance, yesterday after church, there was pate, spaghetti, and rice, with 5 or 6 different sauces.  Oh! and pima.  Everybody adds pima in some sort of way to everything.  Pima is just any sort of spicy pepper, and it's freaking spicy.  So the sauces that I love are sauce rouge and Aubergine.  I tried the one that tastes like the zoo again this past week, and it wasn't bad at all.  Wasn't quite good yet, but it didn't taste like the zoo and I ate it without gagging.  At home, as I'm the only American in the apartment, I usually just cook by myself.  Kaleb, along with all of my Brazilian friends, you will be happy to know that feijaoda has become almost essential to my diet.  Rice, beans, onion, and hot-dogs are really easy to find and mix together, but I've added some African taste to it by adding pima and garlic.  Its really quite delicious.  Especially when fried.  That's another thing, the Africans fry just about everything.

Well, I'm out of time, but that's life here now!  It's an amazingly incredible experience, and I wouldn't 
change it for anything!!!  I love you all!

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins

(Note from mom:  He tried several times to upload pictures this week and finally thought they had gone.  Unfortunately all I received was the email with the description of the pictures and no attachment.  Hopefully next week he can try again so we can see the new chapel and the branch in their matching dresses and ties.)

Update 09/23/13 - he sent the pictures for this post!

Serving it up!

In the new chapel the night before!

My favorite picture of the whole day!  Left to right:  Elder Dagrou, Christian, me, Frederick, and Bashir

Gracia got a little tired.  That's one thing about Africa: when in gatherings like this, women will take other women's babies and strap them on their back.  For instance, Gracia is Soeur Assamagan's daughter, but Soeur Gilbette has her in the picture.
My plate: rice a roni with pima, pate rouge with a boiled egg, and fried chicken.  All delcious!  Very African tasts to them but they were great!

Everyone that was left after about an hour and a half of partying

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