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Hey everybody! Well, what a week it has been! Absolutely fantastic! To start off, I just wanted to share the biggest news of the week. This past Saturday and Sunday, we had Elder Vinson of the 70 and West Africa Area Presidency come and visit for District Conference. Yesterday, December 8th, the first Stake in this small African country of Togo was organized. What a historic event to be a part of! It was absolutely amazing and the Spirit was so strong in the meeting. We took a few of our investigators in the bus again, and I knew that they too were able to feel the Spirit and the power of the authority of the Church (see story of recent convert Dodji below).
We, the missionaries of Baguida, got to attend the three sessions of District Conference. The only reason we attended the leaders' session was because President Blaise picked us up in his truck so that we didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for a taxi to get there. We were a little scared that President was going to be upset with us because we were 2 hours early, but it was actually a blessing because Sister Weed needed someone to translate for her in the Sisters' leadership meeting, and the other missionaries she called had refused. So, I got to translate for her, which was actually a lot of fun!
Then, following that we had the Saturday adult session, which included all of the missionaries. It was a great meeting, but I felt so bad for the African who had been asked to translate for Elder Vinson. Elder Vinson is from Australia, so naturally, he has a decently thick accent, which was very hard for the person translating to understand. Most of it was very solid translation, but there were a couple things that were completely off. For example, Elder Vinson said at one point something along the lines of: "now is truly the time for the members to step up to this work as President Monson has prophesied." That got translated to: "And we should see that all of our children are baptized." All of us American missionaries were DYING! Haha it's was hilarious. Elder Vinson noticed this and must have known that it wasn't translated correctly (he had already had to repeat himself several times), and he made a joking remark about how he knew there were those of us translating things a bit differently in our minds. Anyways, it ended up flowing very smoothly when Elder Onlu (the Area 70 from Ivory Coast assigned to Togo) just took over translation, as he is quite used to speaking English with Elder Vinson.
Sunday morning we took the bus again up to Kégué with 18 people with 15 seats! Very African style. We also sent 6 people in a taxi with 4 seats, again, very African. Anyways, we got there about 2 hours early, so we had fantastic seats because we were sitting by our investigators. The meeting was a very, very spiritual meeting. The Spirit was truly carrying the messages to our hearts. The new Stake President that has been called was President Laurent, the man who introduced us to Gabriel, the former Prime Minister. He is a man that I know and love very much, and I'm very excited to see what this new calling can do for him to strengthen him and his family. One thing that he shared that I loved was that we should ask ourselves "for what goal has God given me my testimony?" I loved the way he phrased it. He didn't ask Why? but For what goal? something that really touched me and that I think applied to me very much. I pray those reading this will see how I am applying this question in my life. This question is the driving force of my decision to come on a mission. God has given me my testimony of this church so that I may share it and invite others to come and partake of it as well. Just as Matthew 5:14-15 states, would I hide the light that God has given me? This was a very piercing question that I absolutely loved. President Weed, Elder Onlu, and Elder Vinson finished the meeting with very, very powerful talks. The Spirit was truly there testifying of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Anyways, that's about how this weekend was. In some ways, it was almost better than a General Conference weekend. But other than that, it's been a great week. A couple notes: on Tuesday, I bought Elder Burkhart's guitar and toaster oven from him as he is going home this Saturday (weird!!). The guitar has been progressing very quickly as my fingers are used to play chords with the ukulele.
Then, Wednesday we had a lesson with Frère Dodji that I loved. Frère Dodji loves the fact that the Church has the power and authority of God residing in it. This past Sunday, he was confered the Aaronic Priesthood. He never misses a chance to make a remark about the "authority," especially since his friend Frère Philippe (who goes out with us three days a week) was put in as second counselor of the Baguida branch. Anyways, we taught him a bit about the Priesthood on Wednesday. To start off, we read the definition in the Guide to the Scriptures. The definition starts of with the word "authority," which Dodji abslutely loved. In his words, "oh man, the definition even starts with 'authority,' I like it already! And it's followed by power! Wow, the priesthood must be pretty special!" He's a kinda comedian anyways, so we were all dying laughing after that! It was a great experience.
|Frère Dodji this past Sunday at Conference|
|Decided to give some service after an appointment on Wednesday.|
Just behind those walls is the beach and then the ocean!
My apologies for the long letter this week, but there's just so much going on right now here in Togo! I have been so blessed to have seen the progression and rapid growth in this amazing country, and I am so excited to be able to watch it over the next 17 or 18 months! I know that this Church is true, and if I didn't know before, this weekend has proven it to me. The power and authority of God truly resides in this church, something that no other denomination can proclaim today.
I love you all so much. Have a great week!
|Yep, the ocean|
|Elder Kunz and I got a bit crazy throwing the frisbee this morning|
|We got pretty intense|
|Yeah..... I couldn't resist. Good "For the Strength of Youth" photo?|