"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 31, 2014

Restoration or Reformation

Carlos' baptism:  Me, Carlos, Djimdo with the glasses, Elder Bile
Wow!  It’s hard to believe that a week has already gone by again!  This past week absolutely flew!!!  This past Saturday we had Brother LAWSON’s baptism!  He’s the first person that I’ve taught in English that has been baptized!  His friend (whose name is Djimdo) was baptized with his own family in Anfamé in February, and so that’s how we got his contact.  Ever since Djimdo introduced Carlos (Brother LAWSON’s nickname) to the missionaries in Anfamé, he has been wanting to change things around.  Before we even started teaching, he wanted to be baptized, so the only that has held him back is time.

What’s even better is that Saturday we decided to give Carlos a little surprise.  We called Djimdo, his friend, Wednesday evening when we had the Zone Leaders over for Carlos’ baptismal interview.  The Zone Leaders were actually the ones who taught Djimdo and his family, so they gave me his phone number, and I was able to call him and invite him to come and baptize Carlos on Saturday.  He got very excited and said, “Yes, of course I will!”  Saturday came, and Carlos still had no idea that Djimdo was coming, even though Carlos received a phone call from him congratulating him.  Anyways, Carlos was very, very surprised and even happier than he was surprised.  That was a great experience for Carlos because he isn’t the most comfortable in a church where he doesn’t understand anything (I translate for him every Sunday).  Thankfully he speaks éwé so he can communicate fine with the members, but he doesn’t understand anything in the lessons because they’re all in French.

Anyways, we were all very grateful for Carlos and his decision to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized.  Immediately following his baptism, Carlos said that he was going to visit a friend whose room had recently caught on fire and burned everything.  He had told us about it a couple times, and we had a free hour, so we decided to follow and pay him a visit.  As we went into their parcel, there was a gazebo in the middle with quite a few people just sitting around talking.  Carlos sat us down and we talked with his friend, who is from Sierra Leone and speaks English!  We chatted with him for a little bit, not really paying attention to the other people at this time.  Then, all of the sudden, it clicked in my head that they were all speaking English!  So we fixed an appointment with Carlos’ friend and then were able to chat a bit with the others.  I found out that there were two from Sierra Leone, one from Liberia, one from Ghana, and the rest I’m not sure. They all work with Carlos at the port.  A few of them are actually on the boats, but most of them are stationed here at the Lomé Port.   We ended up have a good, if only slightly animated, discussion with them about religion, and they were all very interested in our message.  I was just very happy to see how much Carlos was already talking to them about our message and how he knows that it is good and true.  He was so excited to share with them that he had been baptized that day.  Recent converts are great.

So this week, I wanted to share a little bit about a family that we are teaching right now, the DOLOU family.  We taught them just yesterday (Sunday, the 30th), and it was a fantastic lesson.  The Spirit was there, testifying of this truth, and it was noticeable that the family was feeling it as well.  We started by teaching the mom, Georgette.  After the first lesson with her, we asked her if we could share our message with the whole family.  She replied that there shouldn’t be a problem.  So, two weeks later, we were able to find a time to get an appointment with her and the two younger kids.  The oldest came a bit late, so we met him, too.  Which left the dad.  The next Sunday we were there again, but Georgette was busy.  However, Dad was there and he seemed interested.  We were able to talk about and explain the Book of Mormon.  The following week, we came back to find that Dad was still at work.  But, we were able to talk with Georgette and the kids.  We also found that Dad had taken great interest in the Book of Mormon, had read quite a bit, and had noted several things on a sheet of paper.

We then decided last week that we should invite the Gbedjagni family to join us for our appointment with the Dolou family.  The Gbedjani’s are Togolese but lived in Benin for about 18 years before returning just recently to Togo.  They have been members for quite some time.  Frère Gbedjagni was even a branch president in Benin, and they have been to General Conference in Utah several times.  Anyways, so this past Sunday we went by with the Gbedjagni family and we asked them to testify of how the Church and the Restored Gospel have helped their family.  The Dolou family really felt how important families are in this church and they were very touched by that.

We then had a bit of time at the end, and Frère Dolou asked, “What is the relationship between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith?”  I absolutely loved this question and had to restrain myself from jumping up and down shouting “EVERYTHING!!!!”  But, I was able to explain that Joseph Smith was an instrument in God’s hands for restoring the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness here upon the earth again through the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.  I was able to calmly add at the end that Joseph Smith has everything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has everything to do with Joseph Smith.

Frère Dolou then went on to explain to us how he understood the difference between Reformation and Restoration.  He saw how every church on this earth today in some way or form has been reformed from another church which did not have the fullness.  He then explained how it was necessary that the Church of Jesus Christ be RESTORED on the earth, and how he believed that the Book of Mormon would be the answer to the question if Joseph Smith really was the prophet chosen by God to restore all things upon the earth.  He was and still is very intrigued that there are more scriptures inspired of God than just the Bible.  He has also plainly explained to us how he knows that men have tampered with the Bible, and thus it is only true if it has been organized and translated correctly.

Needless to say, we are very excited for the Dolou family.  We haven’t had too many opportunities to teach families here in Baguida, but now the Lord has given us an opportunity, a great opportunity.

Well, I think that’s it for this week.  I love you all so much, and I thank you all for the prayers and support that you give me every day.  It helps so much.  God gives me more and more strength every day to overcome the trials and temptation of my own life to focus on the salvation of others.

Have a joy-filled week.

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins

PS: Shout out to all my friends and former teammates for some outstanding performances at NCAAs (yes, I got a few chirps from a few little birds).

Pigeon's nest on our balcony.
Elder Faerber, Elder Barton and I found Teddy Grahams today!
Giselle's (one of our investigators) son.  Poor kid.  He had an accident, so mom just put him in a bucket while she swept it up.  But he thought it was hilarious!

Slavery liberation monument in Lomé.

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