"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, February 3, 2014

"I love your smile, by the way"

Bonjour tout le monde!  Well, it has been an incredible week here!  The highlight of this week was a visit from Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the 70 and Elder Vinson of the 70, both with their wives!!!  They gave us 3 Elder Bednar talks to study beforehand, all of which were life-changing.  Needless to say, I've had a very spiritually uplifting week.

To start off, last week I got a call from the Assistant's asking me to play piano for our meeting with Elder Clayton and Elder Vinson this past Thursday.  I searched frantically for a piano to practice as they assigned two hymns that I've never played.  With some searching on Monday, I was able to secure a piano to practice.

So, Thursday finally came.  My studies had gone very well for the meeting, so I was very excited for it and had some high expectations.  We didn't go out at all because we had to leave at about 11:30, and we had to do our studies before then as well as eat lunch and prepare ourselves.  Anyways, after studying, Elder Kunz and I decided to go downstairs and make some lunch.  Just as we put the rice in the rice cooker, the power went out. Being very accustomed to this, we just transferred all of the rice to a pot and put it on the second burner.  I had already cooked the beans, so all that was left was to sautée some onions and hot dogs.  That all went fine, so we were filled before going up to get ready.

This is where a slightly large problem came into play.  The power was out.  Elder Jenkins had chosen earlier during his studies to ignore the promptings of the Spirit that told him to iron his shirt.  The missionaries were leaving in 30 minutes for Kégué.  Problem.

I then decided to get on my knees that ask the Lord for His help in fixing my problem, notably to bring the power back on.  However, I think Heavenly Father was wanting me to learn a lesson.  He did, thankfully, remind me that Mom had sent me here with a wrinkle release spray, so I applied that and it worked a little bit.  Still a bit worried about my shirt, we left for Kégué.

We got there at about 12:30 to find that there were only a few other missionaries there. We chatted for about an hour before I decided to go get set up at the piano.  Shortly after the Anfamé Zone Leaders got everyone seated and we starting singing some hymns.  I was doing just fine on the piano (only a few big mess ups), until about 2:15.  We were all kinda tired (I haven't played piano for more than 5 minutes in months!  let alone 45), so we stopped singing and I played some light prelude.  There were some missionaries that still wanted to sing, so they just sung along while I played until another Elder got up and led.  Then, at 2:30, as we were singing "Choose the Right" (which is normally an easy hymn for me), I saw President Weed walking up to the chapel with a group following him, and I really started to mess the piano up (I had kinda been psyching myself out with the fact that I would have to play in front of General Authorities).  However, I got my head on straight by the time they got into the chapel, and I was able to finish with a bit of dignity.

President got up and announced that we would be singing #160 "Called to Serve" to start off.  My jaw dropped.  I had been told to prepare #170 "Hark, All Ye Nations," and #173 "Go Forth with Faith."  I was not prepared at all to play that, but I relied on the Lord's help to get me through.  Overall, it was kinda bad.  The whole chorus the second time through I could only play right hand because I was freaking out so bad.  Hahaha good humbling moment for Elder Jenkins.

Anyways, then came the time for the handshake line.  We were sitting near the back, so we were some of the last in line.  Elder and Sister Clayton both thanked me (with me slightly cringing) for the piano.  Elder Vinson was next and thanked me for my service.  I then thanked him right back.  The line got stopped up a bit, so I had a bit more time with he and Sister Vinson.  Elder Vinson then added that I look like I'm enjoying myself here. With my smile broadening uncontrollably, I then replied, "I most certainly am!"  Sister Vinson then said, as I was shaking her hand, "Well, it most certainly shows!"  Haha that was a very heart-warming experience for me.  Anyways, after that we took our seats and prepared ourselves for a spiritual feast.

First to speak was Sister Vinson, who shared a short, but very sweet testimony with us. She was then followed by Elder Vinson, whom I have grown to love after his talk this past General Conference, his visit last December, and then his comment today.  The question that resounded with me that he asked was "How has the mission changed your life?" Seems like a common question, but it's not something that I've really stopped too much to think about in the busyness of our missionary schedule.  But I loved the personal thought that it provoked.

Elder Vinson was followed by Sister Clayton, who shared a message about finding the good in every experience, with some very interesting stories and testimonies.  Elder Clayton then got up to the pulpit and began his interactive address.  He spoke for about 45 minutes, and I loved every second.  He spoke a lot about acting and not being acted upon (which I think might have been greatly influenced by Elder Bednar, who had presided over the Mission President Conference in Ghana just the day before) in all of our relationships as missionaries.  What I loved is that almost every missionary that asked a question or responded to an answer, he would ask them further questions (showing us an example of seizing learning opportunities for more profound learning experiences).  He incorporated a lot of our pre-study into this as the three Elder Bednar addresses talk a lot about acting in faith to gain learning and testimony which lead to conversion to the Lord.  Again, absolutely fascinating to see everything so connected.

Elder Clayton then opened up time for another 45 minutes of Q&A, on whatever subject we needed help.  He stated, "take this opportunity seriously.  You have two members of the Seventy, a Mission President, their wives, and a Area Seventy [who was translating for him].  You will not have very many opportunities like this again in your life."  This was most enlightening as most of the questions were very legitimate.  What I loved here was that 1) we got answers from Elder and Sister Clayton as well as Elder Vinson, and 2) every single one of them answered the question directly, but then they expounded on it to cover so many more topics.  For instance, one missionary ask about faithful women who are never married.  Sister Vinson then explained how temple work is ongoing and that we know every person will be treated and judged according to the desires of his heart as well as his acts according to availability on earth.  Elder Clayton then got up and expounded more on marriage, how we are given such outstanding couples as Mission President and wife to give us the example of how we should pattern our marriages after them (which reminded both Elder Kunz and I of his last Conference talk, "Marriage: Watch and Learn").

We then closed the meeting with very powerful testimonies from Elder Vinson and Elder Clayton, and then a prayer. Afterwards, they hurried us out because there was another meeting with the Stake leaders afterwards.  As we were leaving, I held the door open for Elder Vinson as we were walking out, and he gave me a handshake and added, "I love your smile, by the way, Elder Jenkins."  Love that guy.  He's just full of love.

We had a few minutes to talk afterwards, so I chatted a bit with Sister Vinson and Sister Weed, and then with a few other missionaries.  There's a new missionary from Tahiti, Elder Marurai, that I got to talk to for quite a bit.  Haha he's a crack up!  The first thing that he said to me is that he thought I was from Hawaii!  Haha he said I have all the qualities of his sister's husband, who's from Hawaii.  I told him I'm from Florida, so not quite the same, but slightly similar.
Elder Ritchie (one of the Assistants), me, and Elder Marurai (the Tahitien) together on Thursday.
Also, Thursday might have been the last time I see Elder Kabedeh.  It made me kinda very sad when he said that, but I'll just have whoever is taking them to Benin stop by our apartment since we're on the way.  I'm really going to miss him.  He's probably my favorite African in this whole world.
With Elder Kabedeh on Thursday.  Might be the last picture I ever take with him.
Anyways, other than that, there hasn't been terribly much this week.  The work is still progressing well.  We're still receiving contacts, and we're meeting lots of new people. We have a few that are progressing well, but no baptismal dates for the moment, mostly because of dowry problems.  Again, thank you for your prayers and for your letters.  I feel all of your love everyday.

This Church is true, something that I witnessed this past Thursday, and there is no other way to know that than to act and experience for yourself.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored by God and Jesus Christ themselves through their own called prophet, Joseph Smith.  All of the rights, power, and authority of God are found in this Church, and I know that this past Thursday, I was graced to be in the presence of two called, full-time servants of the Lord's Quorum of the Seventy (See Luke Chapter 10).

I love you all so much.  Have a great week!

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins
Here's a view of our kitchen
Decided to help our gardener out this morning.

I haven't worked like that for quite some time.  Oh!  Something I forgot to add is that Harmattan has really hit the past two days!  Yesterday at Church, we had no need for the fans and quite a few were wearing jackets.  It's so dry, it's bizarre!  Then today, as I was trimming the shrubs, I was working hard and breathing hard, but I wasn't hot nor sweating at all!  It has been quite a change.

The gardener was actually impressed with my work.  Then I told him that I did yard work at home and he understood.  Most Africans don't even know what a yard is though.


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