"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, December 29, 2014

Our Christmas Miracle

Well, I've been pondering a bit on what to say this week, and I'm slightly at a loss.  I think it partially may be because I've got a headache from being out in the sun for multiple hours today.  My words may be a bit short today, but I'll tell my week through pictures.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

I will explain one miracle that we had from this past week--from Christmas day actually.

In preparation for calling home on Christmas day, we searched for and found (through some members) a very good cyber just outside our area.  We went to it last Monday and it was phenomenal.  The connection was outstanding, there was air-conditioning, and the chairs were very comfortable.  As we left, I was confident that I would have a sucessful Skype chat with my family three days later.

So then Tuesday comes where we had the Mission Christmas Party.  It was a blast!  We get to the mission home that morning dressed all nice.  They had told us to wear missionary attire for the service project because we would just be washing bottles.  So here's Elder Jenkins, dressed up all nice.  Hair's done up, whitest shirt I own, my suit pants, and newly shined shoes.  We get to the orphanage that we were working at and the place was pretty much just a giant mud puddle.  We were way up in the village, so it wasn't too much of a surprise.  Looking at the mud, I was fairly confident that I could make it out still quite clean, after all, we were just cleaning glass bottles. ...

With a few kids at the orphanage 12.23.14
Just as this thought crossed my mind, President Morin says, "Elder Jenkins!  We need some strong men to move the bags of bottles to the tables.  Can you round up a few Elders, please?"  Sure.  OK.  So we make our way into the compound and go to the corner, where several huge bags of glass bottles are stacked.  I grab Elder Barnes to put him on the other side of the bag (they were pretty heavy), and we pick it up and head to the closest table.  I looked down, and I was on the verge of tears.  My shoes were covered in mud, the bottom part of my pants were almost unrecognizable, and my white shirt had several dirt marks on it from the bag.  So yeah, after about an hour of that I was dirty as all get out, drenched in sweat, yet my hair was still intact (at least the dirt got it's priorities straight).

Towards the end of the activity, we "strong men" were called on again to take all the buckets of water out and dump them on the street.  I tried to take one on my head, which went fine, until I hit a spot where I had to step down.  Not being able to look down with the load on my head, I was helpless.  Elder Ribera (from France), who had been working previously on the bags, came to my aid. As we were getting the bucket off of my head so that we could both carry it, a whole bunch of water splashed out onto him.  I didn't feel absolutely terrible because he was as dirty as I was, but I still felt really, really bad.  Thankfully, he was a REALLY good sport about it and we finished the job together.

View from the orphanage 12.23.14
After everything was cleaned up, we went up to sing to the children, and then we made our way back to Cotonou.

Once there, we went to Majestic, which is where we hold all of our big conferences.  We ate lunch, watched a few presentations (including a few musical presentations in which I participated).  I was in one with the choir, and then Elder Izekor and I did three songs together with him on the recorder and me on the guitar.  We did "Il est né, le divin enfant", "What Child Is This?", and "Silent Night".  It was a blast!  After all of that, we had three games, and Elder Izekor had asked me to be the game show host.  Guess all those years of watching GSN paid off!  After that, President and Sister Morin shared their testimonies at the end.  Before their testimonies, President had Elder Bulunga (one of the assistants) read a few rules that they really wanted to focus on during the holiday season--one of which being the fact that we should not leave our proselyting areas.

Our table at the Christmas party12.23.14
Our Christmas party lunch!  It was sooo good!!! 12.23.14
With this in mind, we set out home searching for solutions.  We did not know of any cybers in our area with a strong enough connection to do skype nor with the materials necessary.  Elder Wittig had the idea on Wednesday that we fast for it.  So, with much faith and great desire to speak with our families, we knelt in prayer together to start a fast.

The next 24 hours were not exactly easy, but we saw many miracles in our missionary work that came as a result of this fast.  We had decided beforehand to do some door-to-door on Christmas day, and it turned out great!  Everyone was together as a family, and they were already so happy that they were excited to have more visitors over.  We had decided to share the Plan of Salvation with everyone to show why the birth of our Savior was so important, and it worked really, really well.

My christmas gifts! (I got 4 new white shirts, a belt, and 2 photo albums) 12.25.14
My cinnamon rolls! 12.25.14
My cinnamon rolls with my little Christmas tree 12.25.14

At the Kazadi Family's home on Christmas day!  (I brought them my cinnamon rolls) 12.25.14
Finally, the evening came.  We asked around for cybers, and received some direction from members.  We tried three cybers, but none had what was necessary to call home with Skype.  After walking all over our area, which is massive, for two hours, we were a bit winded.  The day was dying, but we didn't lose our faith.  We pressed on, with hope of one last cyber, though reports from past missionaries put the chances in the dim range.

As we were walking there, we met a man who works at this cyber that we were going to.  We asked him about the connection, and he said that they had fixed it last week!  There was a problem with their internet device, but they replaced it and apparently there was a much better connection.  Next problem: no microphones.  Well, it just so happens that this man was going into town to fix a computer problem, and the store he was going to had microphones.  We gave him the money necessary, and 30 minutes later he was back at the cyber with them and we were calling our families.

Skyping with the family on Christmas 12.25.14
What a marvelous manifestation of God's love and attention to even four small missionaries in a remote country.  We showed our faith in Him, and He provided a way.  With all the events that transpired, this Christmas was, just as President Morin had promised that it could be, the most beautiful Christmas of my life.  

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins

(Note from mom:  Elder Jenkins shared his testimony with us during our Skype and asked us to share it with family and friends.  You can view it here: Elder Jenkins Christmas testimony

Frère Joël's funeral.  I was invited to speak about the Plan of Salvation.  It was a magnificent occasion to testify of the truth and hope of the Lord's Restored Gospel. 
My favorite couple that we are teaching, 
Fréjus and Rabiath!  This was their first Sunday at Church!  12.28.14

Ouidah today!  12.29.14
Aquaman statue in Ouidah!  12.29.14
Point of No Return 12.29.14  (Note from Mom: This is the memorial commemorating the Atlantic slave trade.  This was one of the main departure points for those sold into slavery between the 15th and 19th centuries.  Notice the two rows of slaves chained together being lead to the boat (at the top of the arch), and the two statues on the sides of three shackled together to load on the boats). 
We (the Akpakpa district) were with the Assistants in their truck and we got a bit ahead of the rest of the zone with the office Elders in the mission van, so we had to stop and throw the frisbee to wait for them!  Poor Elder Wittig had to go sewer diving to get it after one throw!  Good thing the sewer was completely empty and dry! 12.29.14 
Best wave of the day!  12.29.14
The water was SOOOOO calm today.  The air was calm as well.  Just the overall tranquility was almost breath-taking, especially being in a city area now where we have so much traffic noise. 12.29.14
My name is Elder Jenkins, and I like long walks on the beach. 12.29.14
My tourist wins for the day! 12.29.14

My first nativity set!  12.29.14

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