"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, March 10, 2014

Amazing experiences

Well, the past few days have been quite amazing!  Elder Bile and I have had some very amazing experiences together this week, and my testimony has been strengthened that the Spirit accompanies us even more once we learn to heed His promptings.

So let's start of with earlier this week.  Because we took a trip to the grand marché last Monday, I didn't have time to do my laundry.  I don't know why, but my shirts just don't seem to get clean anymore.  I can scrub and scrub and scrub, but the dirt stays set in.  So, as I was scrubbing my shirts, I let myself get super discouraged.  Finally, the time came when we had to go out, so I just left it.
An all-exclusive premier look at laundry in Africa.  Sorry I've
taken so long to take this picture.  And yes, I'm sitting on the toilet seat.

Then, the next morning, as I was drying myself off from the shower and then eating breakfast, I heard scrubbing noises coming from the shower.  I went to go check it out, but the door was locked.  Seeing that Elder Dih and Elder Donadier were not in, I knew it was Elder Bile.  I asked what he was doing, and I only received a vague response.  I then put my clothes on to start studying, and just as I was sitting down to my desk, out comes Elder Bile with all of my laundry!  I was speechless!  I tried explaining to him how much he helped me and how much of a burden he had lifted from me, but the words weren't coming out quite right, and he didn't want to hear it anyways.  Ok, keep this simple act of love in mind.

So, I was trying to think of something that I can do to serve him back, and nothing was really coming.  I then had the thought that I could focus a lot more on his training by putting a lot more study into the scheduled topics instead of flying by the seat of my pants  (As a side note, I've found that our training study sessions everyday have become much more profound and much more edifying.).

So as part of where we are in training, I have been trying to get him more involved in lessons.  Wednesday night, we were teaching a couple of recent converts who had missed Church for two weeks.  I started off a bit, but he was super excited to give them lots of advice and counsel and scriptures.  So, after I talked, Elder Bile then went on with many stories and Bible references about how people were punished in ancient times for not keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  This went on for about an hour.

We got back pretty darn late.  Everyday at the end of daily planning, I ask him three things that we did well and one thing that we can improve on.  He shared his thoughts, and then I shared mine.  I shared that one thing we do well is start well, which he does really well.  I then shared that we can improve on ending well and ending in a timely manner.  He took this a bit hard, and I noticed how this hit him immediately and tried to repair it how I could, but I trusted in the Lord that I did the right thing.

Long story short, the next day, Thursday, he was in a huge funk and didn't say a thing during all of the lessons.  We got back to the apartment a bit early and had a lot to talk about.  He realized that he had reacted badly and almost immediately got back to the happy, cheery, loud Elder Bile that I know.

Then, it was my turn.  Saturday morning he shared a suggestion for me of how we could do something better.  Normally, I take these suggestions just fine, but this morning I did not.  I didn't get angry, but I definitely got defensive and didn't have the Spirit with me.  We progressed with our studies after we had discussed a bit, but I knew that I wasn't in the right place.  As we were making the transition from companionship study to training study, I took a couple of minutes in silence to leave everything else around me and just focus on what I needed to focus on.  I then said a silent prayer to help me leave this.  I suddenly realized that I personally had the choice to let this bother me or not, and I immediately dropped it.  I put my trust in the Lord and just opened my mouth, and words started coming out.  These words were exactly what I needed to hear.  This had then helped me to humble myself before the Lord and my companion to ask forgiveness for what I felt and said.

The training study that followed was spectacular!  We talked a lot about Alma 22:4-18 and the importance of the Spirit in our lessons and the importance of LISTENING and then asking inspired questions, one of my favorite things of being a missionary.  He was really attentive, but what was even better was how we applied it.

So Saturday we taught 6 lessons, 5 of which were all some of the best lessons for me as a missionary.  The Spirit was SO tangible in each of the lessons as we listened to the Spirit and were able to discern their needs.  During most of the lessons, we truly were not speaking our own words, but were having words put in our mouth.  Several times Elder Bile cut what he wanted to say to what he needed to say, and we both shared the time so well!  After the lesson, he remarked, "Sorry. Was I too short?  I had more to say, but I didn't want to take up too much time.  Did I teach what I needed to?"  And then I was like, "OH MY GOSH, companion, that was AMAZING!  Honestly, I was very impressed!" After every lesson we were both able to share our thoughts, and there was so much unity with us for the rest of the day!

Typical homes in Africa

Then, Sunday came.  This Sunday was a Missionary Sunday, which means we do EVERYTHING.  Bless and pass the Sacrament, give the talks for Sacrament Meeting, teach Gospel Principles, and teach Elders' Quorum as well.  So, Elder Bile, Elder Dih, and I all gave talks and then Elder Donadier taught Gospel Principles, which left me to teach Elders' Quorum!  Elders' Quorum out here can be kind of similar to at home, "Ok let's read this paragraph.  Any questions?  Comments?  Yes that's very interesting, thank you, Elder. Ok next paragraph."  It's not every Sunday, but sometimes.  So, I really want to make it different.  As I was studying before hand, I was constantly praying and looking for ways to have inspired questions and avoid reading too much of the manual at once.

Well, the Lord blessed me with a lesson plan.  Honestly, everything flowed super well, and we had a great discussion throughout the whole lesson, and question led to question which led to another question. It was so great!  Another testimony of how questions can answer questions with patience and thinking.

Finally, yesterday after Church we had two phenomenal lessons again. The Spirit guided both of them and we finished off the night with a fantastic visit to a members house.

My apologies for rambling on so much today, but I just wanted to share how great my week was!  It's been full of humbling yet uplifting experiences; experiences that have greatly strengthened my testimony of the Spirit and the Lord's acceptance.

My dear friends, the time is flying by.  It's is so hard to believe that it's already March.  Next thing I know, I'll have been out for a year.  WEIRD.  This week will be 9 months in Togo.  But one thing I do know is that this Church is true.  As I have read a couple testimonies of General Authorities this past week, one common thing that I have found is that they all really gained a knowledge of these things during their missions.  I am a witness of this as well.  I add my testimony that I KNOW that these things are true.

I love you all.  Have a great week.

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins

Story: decided to make French Toast with Elder Donadier.  Keep in
mind I'm making FRENCH toast with someone from FRANCE.

As I'm preparing it, he comes in and is like, "that's what we're
eating?" with a slightly disgusted look on his face.  When I replied
affirmatively, he got a little apprehensvie.  Once at the table, he
saw the syrup and was slightly curious.  I gave him his plate and told
him to just try it.  He did.

"OH MY GOSH THIS IS DELICIOUS!  I've never tasted anything like this
before in my life?!"  After I explained that we call this FRENCH toast
in America (French cooked bread in French as there isn't a word for
toast), he just laughed and said that they don't have anything like
that in France.  But he asks everyday now if we're going to eat "the
bread" again.  Hahaha Elder Donadier makes me laugh sometimes.

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