|Elder Jeneseri and I|
Harmattan this year has been so much worse than last year. Even the natives are really complaining about how bad it's been this year. By next week, if it's still on, it will have been here a month. Last year it lasted just a few days. The city is covered in a giant dust cloud that hasn't dissipated since it first came. Some days it's thicker than others, but this is caused by the cold, dry wind from the Sahara. With the chillyness (I don't really want to say cold because the lowest is like 70, but it's still cold for us!), the dryness, and the dirt in the air, all four of us missionaries in the apartment have fallen sick this week: one with the flu, one with some sort of prolonged migraine, and two (including me) with colds/ upper respiratory infection.
Harmattan cloud overhanging our neighborhood.
Looking at the sun gets a whole lot easier during Harmattan. I don't even need sunglasses because it's always cloudy! Not sure if that makes up for all the coughing though.
It has been a real test of faith, and I was ever so grateful for the strength that the Lord has given over the past 19 months to bear up this burden with ease. A couple mornings we slept in to rest ourselves. We spent one full day and most of another day at the apartment because, for the missionary with the flu and the one with the migraine, the best option was simply to rest. But the days we were able to buckle up our courage to carry out the Lord's will were full of miracles. The real miracle came as we sat down to do our weekly evaluation on Sunday, and this week (even with two days spent in the apartment sick) was the most productive week I've had here in Akpakpa and one of the most productive of my mission. It was truly a miracle.
During our evaluation, we were able to talk a little bit about what happened during the week. We saw how Satan was trying to attack us, going about to do all that he can to impede the Lord's work as he usually does. However, we were able to overcome that. The two days where we were in the apartment sick we were able to browse through all of the old files, some dating back to 2008 which is ancient for this mission! Through that, we were able to find many inactive members and many former investigators that we will be contacting throughout this week! So even though we weren't out and about walking, the Lord still blessed us with a huge opportunity to find new people to teach and to still work for Him.
This got me pondering a bit on Satan. It's not exactly something that I like to think about a lot, but nonetheless, in order to win the war, we must know our opponent.
I was reminded of a scripture from Presidnet Monson's talk from General Conference in October last year entitled "Ponder the Path of Thy Feet". The scripture is Doctrine and Covenants 29:39, which reads:
And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet
I thought about this during this past week. We were tempted. Sometimes to just give up. Sometimes to not go out and teach. We had the excuse, and sometimes it was necessary to rest. But then I was reminded of three other scriptures which are very dear to my heart:
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand aswitnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord didstrengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
These three scriptures have been very well exemplified this past week. Our bodies have been renewed as we have sought to go about the Lord's will. Our burdens have been made light. At times, I actually didn't feel the burden upon my back (or rather throat and sinuses) throughout the whole day until we got home. All of this because we chose to be valiant in following the Lord and in sacrificing ourselves for Him. Because of that, we were free to go out and do rather than be slaves to our beds and sit and stew. It's was a miracle.
I testify that as we go about our lives seeking to draw closer to God and carry out His will, He will make our burdens light. Our burdens are very necessary. They calm us down, humble us, and drive us to go forth with faith as long as we are patient and turn to the Lord in our afflictions. He is ready and willing to help us--He WANTS to help us--but we just have to be ready and humble enough to accept His mighty hand.
I love you all and invite all of us to seek out the Lord in our trials, to let them mold us into the people that we are meant to become, to let them humble us and soften our hearts so that we see ourselves as the children of God that we truly are.
PS: Shout out to my cousin Ty Crosby who's going out with the Oregon Ducks for the National Championship. I thought that I would never say this in my life, but GO DUCKS!!!