"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 1, 2014

Thanksgiving and the miraculous conversion of Joël

Wow.  Where to start. Well, Happy Thanksgiving!  It was a good last celebration here in Africa.  Elder Silvas made some barbecue meatballs and I made the mashed potatoes, green beans, and garlic bread.  I finished it off with some REAL vanilla ice cream!!!

Our apartment à table!
Thanksgiving dinner!
In the Spirit of Thanksgiving, I got thinking about what I'm truly thankful for.  First, I'm thankful for a Loving Heavenly Father and the knowledge that I have of Him.  The relationship that I have gained with Him during these past 18 months alone has made this time worth it.  He truly lives and truly does love us and watch over us.  I'm grateful for His Son, Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.  No greater sacrifice has been, nor ever will be, known upon the face of this Earth.

I don't want to sound cliché, but I'm am so grateful for the past 18 months that I have spent serving the Lord.  I am no longer the same person that I was when I started nor that I was 6 months ago.  At times, I felt that I have been put through the refiner's fire.  It's hard, but the outcome is always beautiful when we let the Master work His mighty hands on us.  I am thankful for all of the people that I have met that have touched my life for the better.  I know that I will keep in touch with some of these people for life.  I am so thankful for the Lord's preparation of His children to receive this restored gospel.

On that note, I want to explain a little miracle that Elder Nkanza and I have experienced these past 2 weeks.  

Just over two weeks ago, Elder Nkanza and I had a lesson with a recent convert, Eric.  We had decided to watch the Restoration video together and ask if there was anyone he knew that would be touched by watching that video.  He said that he knew that there was and that he would search and pray.  We ended the lesson with a prayer.  As we were walking out, a friend was just arriving from Togo to visit him.  He said, "This is who I was thinking of during the video."  We invited him, Joël, to come to Church the next day, and he excitedly accepted.

We had our first appointment Monday evening (they live right next to our cyber café), and, long story short, we fixed his baptismal date right then and there.  The past two weeks have been absolutely incredible as we've met with him every day.  He understood just about everything right as we said it, and his questions were so inspired.  Needless-to-say, he was prepared by the Lord.

Even more impressive than his short but strong conversion during the time we were teaching him is the way that he had been prepared by the Lord leading up to meeting us.  He comes from a very voodoo family but decided a little while ago that Jesus Christ was really the path that he should follow.  He said that he's been searching for a while to be baptized, but every time that he went to a church, he just didn't feel satisfied.  It was just like something was missing.  He said that at a certain point his work started to take a big downfall, and there were days where he earned absolutely nothing at work.  He began to question if God really exists.  As he was pondering constantly the question, he had a very special experience that testified to him that God truly does exist and is watching over him.  He began searching for the truth.  A few weeks later, he found us.

He said that ever since the first day at Church, he has believed that this is the truth because he felt comfortable, whereas he was uneasy in other churches.  As we began to talk together, he gained a testimony of the truth after reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon.  Through the power of the Holy Ghost, he received an answer that it IS true.

There are few things that can compare with introducing the Gospel to someone, becoming close with them, and seeing the gospel take root in their lives and begin to produce fruit so quickly.  Joël experienced a great change of heart and received the strength and aide necessary through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon, and a long but concise preparation process produced by a loving Heavenly Father.

Baptismal Service on Saturday, 11/29/14.  Joël is the one on the far left, next to Elder Nkanza.  Eric is right next to me.
That's about how our week's been.  I love you all so much.  Have a great week!

Avec amour,

Elder Jenkins

One of the two pigs we killed today for Elder Silvas' birthday.  With Elder Rich.
Sorry it's a bit blurry (this camera does that a lot, especially when I take videos--I guess he just doesn't have that long of an attention-span to focus on one thing that long).  But I'm in the middle with my super dull knife.
One of my all-time favorite little African kids.  I don't know her real name, but we all call her Ma because that's thing only thing she said for a while.
Having undergone an intensive HUMAN anatomy class, I was the designated dissector today.
On the grill.

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