"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, February 2, 2015

Mission prep and Uncle "James" from New York

with "James from New York" aka Uncle Shaka
This has been a very interesting week!  First off, there were emergency transfers!!!  My new companion had some passports issues, so he had to go back to Congo.  Hopefully he will be coming back next month.  Please keep him in your prayers.  I am now working with Elder Affri, a friend of mine out here that I've known for quite some time.

with Elder Affri
I received what I would say was one of the top five best surprises of my life this week; did NOT see it coming from anywhere.  Here's the story:

So on Saturday I got a call around 6 in the evening from a US number, but I didn't recognize the area code.  I answered it and was not too astonished to hear an African accent on the other side.  He asked if it was the Mormon missionaries, and I confirmed.  He asked if it was Elder Jenkins, and I confirmed again.  He handed me to his driver to explain where we were.

About 5-10 minutes later, I was greeted by an African-American man.  As he got out of the car and walked towards us, I had one thought in my head, "Gee! that guy looks an awful like my uncle, Shaka."  I even told my companion that he looked like my uncle.  We chatted a bit, and then he invited to take us out to dinner.  I suggested a restaurant in our area, and he gladly accepted, so I directed the driver to get us there.

In the car, I asked him a bit of who he is, since we had already talked about me.  He had introduced himself as James from New York.  He had a bit of business to do in Benin, and he said that his wife always reminds him to seek out the missionaries in his travels and to treat them well.  I remember his one comment aside from that," Wow, there sure are a lot of motorbikes here."

So we get to the restaurant and take our seats.  I asked the waitor if they accept cards or not.  I think there might be like 20 businesses in this area that accepts cards (other than banks) and this was not one of them.  In waiting for his driver to come in, James said he wanted to take a picture with us.  I asked him if he would send it in an email to my mom, but he said that a text would be better.  Feeling a bit awkward giving my mom's number to a complete stranger, I tried to lean over to see if he was entering the number correctly.  As I leaned over, he started to hide his phone from me, which I found a bit weird.  Anyways, the driver came in after that so they went to the bank to get money out.

While he was away, I told my companion again that he looked so much like my uncle, but based on the facts that he had presented me, I had no reason to believe that thought.

He came back from the bank, and as we were trying to decide what to eat, we started talking about his family.  He said, "here, let me show you a picture of my family!" He looks up a picture on his phone and shows it to my companion.  He starts to tilt his phone towards me and then BAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lighting quick reactions: I see my two cousins, and I'm hitting him saying "I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!"  Hahahahahahahaha what a laugh we had together.  I swear it was more than five minutes before we actually calmed down.  Goodness gracious it's like it was just a dream.

At dinner with Uncle Shaka and Elder Affri
After that, we ordered, and I made sure to buy an extra expensive (relatively) ice cream because I would probably not do it again for four months!  We had an excellent meal together and many excellent laughs.  We got a couple phone calls from family members, but I was like, "No.  Four months.  We'll talk in four months."

We finished the evening right on time and he took us home where we met the other two missionaries in my apartment and took some last pictures before saying our last goodbye for a few months.

The Lord is so great.  I had actually prayed specifically a few hours before that I be more in-tune to His mighty hand in my life.  Little did I know that He would show it forth in such a way!

During dinner, we were able to talk a little but about family.  I have two cousins that will most likely be in the mission field in this next year.  I would like to just address a few words to them and to all who are preparing to go on missions in the future.

My counsel, if I only have one to give, is to actively prepare now.  No matter how distant your mission is, seek after the necessary testimony, knowledge, and diligence required to be a missionary.  Search for an active and living testimony of the truth.  Learn how to build your faith.  Learn to repent quickly and wholly.  Seek to understand your covenants that you have with the Lord.  Seek to recognize and be worthy of the Holy Ghost.

Study the scriptures daily with purpose and with prayer.  Follow the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in your studies.  Go on splits with the full-time missionaries.  Ponder about and write down any questions that you would like to ask a current or former full-time missionary, then ask them.  Seek to establish now a solid relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Memorize scriptures that touch and strengthen you.  Be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ in your current situation.  Build up the courage now to talk with your family, friends, and even strangers about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

In writing this, a favorite scripture comes to mind: D&C 130:18-19.  We are promised that whatever intelligence we gain in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection, and we will have advantage because of this intelligence.  It is the same with the mission.  There will be many surprises once you get out into the field, but you will have so much more advantage if you actively prepare for mission service well before you even start to fill out the paper work.

I testify to you that this is the Lord's work.  You will very soon be among the Lord's chosen servants.  You will be serving on the front lines of the Lord's army.  As you seek to actively prepare yourselves for your missionary service, I promise you that you will feel of the Lord's approval.  When you get to the field, you will have the faith and the strength to rely on the Lord amidst the many trials.  You will truly become an instrument in the Lord's hands (Alma 29:9).

I love you all so much.  Have a wonderful week.  For those in Jacksonville, please don't be afraid to share the real Book of Mormon this week!

Avec amour,
Elder Jenkins

Baptism of Agossi 31 january 2015.  We got some great support from the primary!
Reunion with Elder Bile after 9 months apart!!! 
With Elder Ndibu 
City art from this past week.  Taken from the bridge.
The moving truck (for Precious and her family).  It took 6 long loads!!!
Views of the city
Views of the city
The grand marché, Tokpa

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