"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

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Semken's Ramblings - 3.1.14

1 March 2014
We hope that today is a good day!
     This is the last month of our mission.   We will arrive home on Thursday 27, 2014 at 8:30, United Airlines, from Chicago.  
      Our report to our ward in Orem, Utah will be on April 13, 2014; 600 West 600 South; (South of Mountain View High School and north of the UVU campus); at 11 am.  We will have a luncheon at our home following Sacrament meeting; All of you are invited.   Please pass this on to your missionaries.  They are not on this mailing list.
     We have already cried at the thought of leaving.  Our hearts are very tender at this moment.  Had we known that a replacement has yet to be called for us we would have stayed until President Weed was released.
     We love the missionaries and the people.  It has been our pleasure to serve here.
      This past month we had several missionaries leave and several come.  It is quite the contrast between the new missionaries whose eyes are glazed over wondering what is in store and those who are now mature and confident.   
      Two missionaries from the states have born their testimony in French at least twice and in public.   Of course they were frightened.They did very well.  These missionaries do have the gift of tongues.   I remind those who have been here for some time and are very fluent that it isn't easy to speak as proficiently as they do.   The missionaries' French is as good as the natives.   They indeed were blessed to be able to understand and speak French.
     The missionaries walk day after day in the dust, it is very hot and humid.   The temperature index is approximately 105-110 most days.  Following a rain storm the humidity is almost intolerable.  They are obedient and keep doing the work.
     Sister Semken gave a wonderful presentation about keeping things clean at Zone Conferences in Benin.   It is difficult to keep things clean, windows are open and the dust just comes and settles in their apartments.   A little effort each day would solve their problems.   Some missionaries are better at cleaning than others.  It is interesting that the local women sweep the dirt in front of their homes daily.   They gather paper and twigs etc.   They are clean.
     Elder Vinson held missionary conferences in Benin and Togo this past week.   A few missionaries had the opportunity to be interviewed by him.   Elder Vinson reports that West Africa is the most fruitful and fertile area in the world at this time.   He sees the numbers from around the world and can see what is happening.   
     This past month we had 96 baptisms in the mission with only 110 missionaries.  80% of the converts come from members referrals and help.  All missionaries have some very unique stories about conversions. These are their stories for them to tell to you.
      Since I have been here we have doubled, with the current addition of Calavi and Cocotomey, the number of branches in Benin.  Our numbers are very close to being a stake in Benin.   This has occurred in a few years.
      We miss the missionaries that were recently transferred to Togo. We said good-bye to them knowing that we wouldn't see them until they return from their missions.
       All of the missionaries face the "wind in their face" and the "wind at their back".   Both have and teach great lessons.   They do face disappoint.  The joy and happiness from the lessons they learn far exceed the disappointment.
         Still a lot to talk about in the future,
                Elder Semken

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