In the MTC - Sam is kneeling down in front on the left pointing to the Ivory Coast in West Africa

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011

Things are getting worse in Cote d'Ivoire. The former president was finally captured, but things are heating up anyway. Sam's e-mail explains what has happened to the mission there. The new Togo/Benin mission will open in July and a new mission president has been called. Sam's almost home and wanting our measurements before he leaves. What could that be all about? Poor Elder Oakeson - his two years is up this month and he gets sick right before he goes home. What a bummer!!!

Hey family!
First off, great job on the half marathon, Dad! I'm half your age and I would never be able to do that. How many miles is a half marathon anyways? You're out there running like 10 miles everyday, so I need to stop complaining about walking for like only 7 miles a day haha.
Anyway, crazy week this week. So tuesday night, the mission office/home got broken into. They stole all the computers, everything (i assume that that is including my shoes too). So that was just devastating news for the mission. Apparently the missionaries over there have been accused of being spies and stealing information from the ivorian people when they go from house to house (or at least that was their pretext for breaking in). So, the whole week president was looking for ways to get out of the country with the rest of the ivorian missionaries. Saturday night he and his family finally made it here to Togo, it seems like they are now refugees from the Ivory Coast. They are still looking to get the rest of the missionaries out of there too. It is really just horrible news, I feel so bad for President and his family. The mission over there seems to be officially closing too. Really too bad. We're doing a mission conference tomorrow so i'm really looking forward to seeing him.
And I'm pretty exhausted too. Friday morning Elder Oakeson woke up in just excruitiating pain so I had hurry and rush him to the hospital. Anyway they diagnosed him with a kidney stone and some sort of infection (there was also another dr that said he had a spinal hernia, no one could really decide, not sure how competant these drs are) and they hospitalized him for four days. So I've been living with him in the hospital since friday morning, sleeping there and everything, kind of tiring haha. But hes a lot better now and they released him a few hours ago! I did get to go to church on sunday for three hours so that was a nice break too. Anyways (seems like a say that word a lot), suffice it to say that I'm ready to get a good nights sleep tonight and get out there and work this week.
Great job on getting your First class jack! Keep it up!
Syd, Mike, asked for pictures of your new house like three weeks ago. Still nothing. Whats up?!
Thats really cool about the Ivorian woman. I would love to meet her when i get home! Make it happen.
Thats cool about the guy from Tanzania too, Jack. Guess what? I'm totally going to eat snake this week! Lookin forward to it, i'll let you know how it tastes.
As for drs appointments, dentist, dermatoligist, podiatrist, vetrenarian, sign me up for them all. Thanks!
Also, i need the measurements of everyone in the family (including mike). I think i need shoulder width, shoulder to wrist, shoulder to finger tips, waist, chest, waist to ankle. Send them by next monday! Thanks!
Ok thats about it for this week! I love you all and cant wait to see you in 45 days! Have a great week!
Elder Bertoch
April 11, 2011

Hey family!
How you all doin? Things are going great here. We had two more baptisms last saturday, Moses and Marie, so we are all super happy! It was really good they were both super excited to be baptized. They got confirmed without any problems too. We are planning on baptizing at least two more people this month, so things are still moving a long quite well. Beni gave his first talk in sacrament meeting too, did a really great job and bore a powerful testimony. I was super proud of him too. I really do love Ablogame, and if I did have to pick a favorite branch, this just might be it. But I really have been blessed with all of my areas. Africa is awesome.

So this week we dont have too much special planned. Just getting down to work. Honestly, I was afraid that I would be getting tired out by now, but I feel like a new missionary. Just super excited to get out and work everyday. My goal is to get home with absolutely nothing left in the tank haha.
I got the package too on wednesday! Thank you so much! The candy was gone by that night haha. So you can go ahead and activate the card whenever you want. Merci!
So Elder Carver, Halterman, Oakeson, and Call finish the 22nd. Thats when my group will officially become the oldest in the mission (crazy). So the 22nd/29th (when the new americans arrive) there will probably be a decent sized transfer. I think it probably is pretty likely i'll be transferred one last time which is too bad, i'd much rather just finish in this branch where i know everyone. I'm actually tempted to tell that to President but i think i'll just leave it up to revelation. We'll see what happens.
To answer your question too, for health reasons (a hernia) the couple in Benin (the Southams) had to head home for at least six weeks so the Herrs are taking over for them. Here in Togo we still have the Gublers so we're doing ok too. Let me know when you hear more on the flight plans!
Hey Dad, good luck on the marathon! Let me know how it goes and take a lot of pictures!
Ok well thats about it! I love you all! Have awesome weeks! Take to you next monday!
Elder Bertoch
April 4, 2011

Hey family!

I'm happy you guys had fun in Utah this week! I miss seeing conference, I guess I'll be there for the next one! Any new temples announced?

We've been having a good week. Found a lot of new investigators to baptize. This saturday we have two baptisms planned again so thats exciting. I just gotta say how much I love the members here in Ablogame. We are all just like really good friends, it will be a sad day when i have to leave. Something I learned over and over again on my mission is that if you want to have success and enjoy it, just be friends with everyone. Dont be afraid to laugh or joke around with investigators, members, and your companion. If your friends with members they will want to introduce you to their friends, if your friends with your investigators they will want to keep their commitments and if your friends with your companion its easy to teach with the Spirit. And it just makes everything so fun. Although it will make it hard to say goodbye.

Nothing too extraordinary happened this last week. Moses finally came to church. We kept talking about the sabbath day and reading about it and the blessings. So this sunday, when he got called into work, he said no. They called him again later on, he didnt go. He came to sacrament meeting, turned off his phone as they kept calling, and then left afterwards. Really showed his faith, awesome guy.

We also had a district missionary activity on saturday. LIke most activities in Africa, it wasnt too well organized, so I wasnt tooo surprised when i'm sitting in the audience and all of a sudden hear my name announced to give a talk. Didn't bother me too much though, thats like the 10th time thats happened on my mission haha.

Also, zone conference got cancelled. With all thats going on in the Ivory Coast, President wont be able to make it out here. That got me bummed. I really hope I'll be able to see him again before i go home! If you guys wanna email him theres no problem, he does speak english.

As for the flight plans, i still dont have anything specific. If you want good information, email the Gublers or the Herrs. They are the ones that know everything.

I did get the package from Grandma a while ago. The one you just sent hasnt got here yet. As for the one coming from the Ivory Coast, President was supposed to take the money from me when he came to send it when he got back. Since hes not comming any more, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to get that package.

Registration looks good. What happened to the Stats class though? And what made you decide the humanities class over Arab 101?

Thanks for checking out the appartment for me. I'm sure I'll love it. And of course i would love to go to Moab with you dad! Whens it for?

Well thanks for all you guys do for me! I cant wait to get home and see you all but first I've got work to finish here! So many goals to meet so little time! Have great weeks and I love you all!

Elder Bertoch
March 28, 2011

Hey fam!

I had an awesome week this week! Nathalie got baptized yesterday!!! It
was a really good ceremony, we tried to plan it as well as possible
and it went really well and there was a really big turn out. Her
"friend" whos the district financial clerk baptized her, and I really
hope they end up getting married (hes an rm who served in Nigeria).
Shes probably one of the investigators that I've grown the closest to
so I was extremely happy yesterday. Even Elder Bush and Starita drove
up to be there (they live in the same appartment up by where i got
trained in Hedzranawoe back in 2009).

In other really good news, my recent convert Beni finally found a good
job. Before his baptism we had just kept promising him that if he put
the kindom of God first, everything else would work out. Then, only
like two days after his baptism, he called into an interview. He got
the job, and apparently its a good one. He'll now be working in a nice
shirt and tie with normal hours (8-6pm) monday to friday for some law
firm or something. He was really excited and recognized right away the
blessings from his baptism.

Anything else? English class is actually turning out to be a big
success. Last week we had about twenty people show up, so we have
actually split into two classes, a beginners and an advanced. I take
the advanced one. Its really fun, a lot of members come (half of which
on inactives or recent converts) and some investigators too. I have a
blast teaching it, last week we learned how to pray.

And thanks for sending me the new card. Wells fargo could not have
chosen a worse moment haha- today i kinda went on a souvenir shopping
spree with Elder Oakeson (goes home in 3 weeks) and I just got word
from Abidjan that one of my packages finally got there, and that i
have to pay 40 dollars to get it here to Togo! I got lucky though,
Elder Geisler has to pay 70 for his and Staritas is 60.

So no baptisms this week but we should have a couple planned for the
9th. Trying to stay strong going into to the last couple of months but
just know that i miss you guys a ton too. I try not to dwell on it a
lot but I cant wait to see you all!

Thats too bad about BYU. Jimmer predicted to go pretty high in the NBA draft?

I'm glad you guys got to relax a bit in St George and Vegas. Have fun
in Utah this week and say hi to everyone for me! Love you!

Elder Bertoch
March 21, 2011

Hey family!

Thanks for the emails again! Even when you're on vacation! I hope you
guys have a good time!

So this week was still good. Yesterday before church started we baptized Beni. That was really good. Its someone that we have been working with for a while now so it was good to finally see him take that step. He was also really excited. Next week will be Nathalie, we are all super excited for her, we'll be really praying that she doesnt
get cold feet. Shes been coming to church since December, goes to institute twice a week, even participated in the Relief Society activity last saturday. Cant wait for that one.

We've been trying to work a lot more with members this week to get people to come to church. We visit the members houses and if they dont give us contacts themselves, we just start contacting all of their neighbors haha. Its actually working well, we gave two of them baptismal dates last friday and another one came to church on sunday.

So no words on tranfers for the moment. Everything kinda of quieted down. I dont know if i told you but Elder Startia and Elder Shaffer got transferred last week. I'm kinda hoping that I will finish here but I'm kinda doubting that I will. Oh well we'll see. I try not to worry about things like that.

Also that is awesome about BYU. Way bummed that I'm missing it. Was Gonzaga a pretty good team? How good is florida?

Anyways, not too much planned this week except the baptism. Just the same old same old. After 21 months in the mission you know alot about what you need to do and how to do it, just got to get out there and keep working hard. Thanks for all the love and support!

Elder Bertoch

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

Hello everyone!

Glad to hear that you are all keeping busy! Birthday parties, nine mile runs, trips to St George, going to the NCAA tournament, sounds awesome. Just sad I'm missing all the fun haha! But I'm where i need to be, thats for sure.

Thanks for all the pictures too! It was great seeing everyone! Except you mom! I need pîctures with you in them too!!!

Haha my health has been just fine. I've been in pretty good shape lately, even in this sweltering heat. The Herrs told us one day when they came to visit us last week that it was 95 degrees out with like 90% humidity. Needless to say, I drink a lot of water.

So this week went by pretty well too. My companion is great, very charitable, and reminds me a lot of my trainer. We have been trying to work lately on finding new ways to find new investigators. We have decided to start and english class that we have gotten all of the members excited about, we'll be doing that this wednesday. We've also been working a lot with members, encouraging them to introduce them to our friends. Its been paying off and we've been recieving a lot of help from the members here. They are just awesome.

Yesterday, was kind of a disappointing sunday. People that needed to come to church didnt make it. But we'll keep on working with them. We have some great investigators, one of them, Moses, broke up with his girlfriend last week because she wasnt encouraging his decision to keep the law of chastity. Another one, Roi, is going to start closing his shop on sundays to keep the sabbath day holy. The faith people have here and the changes they make in their lives are just amazing. If only they would come to church too.

Got word that President is planning his next trip out here in April (if the airports open up again). Sounds like that might be the last time I get to see him before I head home. Thats too bad. I'm really going to miss President. As time starts winding I keep realizing more and more how much Im going to miss all of the people here. Africans are just so cool.

Anyway, nothing too exciting this week! Sorry! I love you all and I know that this church is true. I have a burning testimony of Gods love for each one of His children. Have a good week!

Elder Bertoch
March 7, 2011


First off, I was glad to hear you had good weeks! Glad you had a good birthday dad! And congratulations on becoming a deacon, Jack, thats awesome!

So my new companion got here on Tuesday. His name is Elder Tshiyoyo. Hes 23 and a very nice guy. Whats funny about him is that he was baptized in August 2009...while i was on my mission in Togo the first time. Im serving with a missionary that was baptized two months into my mission! That made me feel old. He still needs help getting the doctine down but hes a willing learner and very easy to be with.

Sounds like the non ivorians went through a lot to get out of the Ivory Coast. They got stopped several times and finally where threatend and robbed by rebels armed with knives. One of them broke Elder Tshibasu's badge in half and they kept saying they were going to burn the van they were driving in. Luckily they got out of there, drove all the way from Abidjan to Lome. The Mission President and his wife and the ivorian missionaries are still over there. Keep them in your prayers.

Things are still going well in my area. We have five baptismal dates set for the 19th so we'll try to get as many possibe to go through. We had a big breakthrough yesterday at church- Beni, the young men's presidents cousin finally came. He really is an awesome guy, had a great time at church so he'll be baptized the 19th. Before it was always hard for him to go to church because he has a crazy work schedule- he goes to work mon-sat from 7am- 6pm, comes home and eats, and then goes back from 8pm to 3am. Sleeps for a few hours and then goes back at 7. Insane. But he says he needs the money. He says he might have found a new job though so thank goodness.

Nathalie is doing a lot better too. At church sunday, we fixed a pretty definitive baptismal date for the 27th (a sunday). Another reason she had been hesitating is that she is kinda dating the district clerk and she doesnt want people to think that she is getting baptized for him. But we talked about it and her testimony and she feels more comfortable now. I really like her, shes one of those investigators where you cant help but become really good friends with.

Other than that nothing too exciting happened this week. Just getting ready for our next baptisms on the 19th. Praying that everything goes ok. Well thanks for all of the emails!


Elder Bertoch