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

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 24, 2009

We spoke to Sam today for 2 hours!! He is sounding great. We were able to learn a lot more about what life is like there for him. He said his area is really doing well as far as baptisms. It used to be the place where the missionaries did not want to go, but in November the companionship who lives with him (Elder Bowman and Elder Carver) were #1 in the mission and Sam and his companion (Elder Halverson) are on track to be #1 for this month. He mentioned, though, that he will probably be transferred to Benin very soon. I think it will be hard on him - he has really grown to love the people there. There are 12 missionaries in Togo. They get together every p-day and have gotten to know each other really well. The mission president, of course, is in the Ivory Coast, and the senior mission couple are usually in Benin, so they don't have a whole lot of supervision, but it sounds like they are working hard.

Sam explained that the families there live in small one story buildings with doors off of a hallway. A family will live in a room behind each door. These rooms get very hot, so they do most of their teaching outside among the goats and chickens. He said that it is very dirty (dusty) there. He doesn't wear his sandals because his feet get so dirty. And there is a lot of trash around. They have a large soccer stadium in Lome' and he plays a lot of soccer with the kids and on p-day. There's even an old rickety basketball hoop that they can play on sometimes.

Sam also told us about a ceremony that the Muslims hold there where they take a lamb out into the street, cut off it's head, and then burn it. We talked a little more about the cat he ate. He said he knew which cat it was and that he had seen it walking around. Hope he doesn't have to do that again.

We updated him on things around here as well. It is so great to hear how happy he is and how much he loves getting to know the people there. As an added plus he loves his companions (and roommates). He's still staying healthy and just seems to be battling ingrown toenails (which can be very painful). We appreciate your prayers and thoughts for Sam.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 14, 2009

Wow, finally! Today is not a good day for email so sorry if this is a little short!

First off, I'll let you know what I've heard about the christmas call. According to Elder and Sister Leavitt, it is very difficult to get a call through on the actual christmas day so they suggest that we do it either the 23rd or 24th. So I was thinking maybe the 23rd at 7pm here, about noon there? What do ya think? They said usually the family back home buys phone cards (the Blacks knew some good website to buy them for Africa) and then you'll just call my cell phone when we decide.

Also, this week we got the good news that on Friday Togo is going to become its own district! (Before it was in the Mission Cote Divoire District). So president is going to get here this friday and all the members in togo will come to Hedzranawoe to organize the district (call a presidency and everything). So that is pretty exciting. The church is really coming along here in Togo, its great to see. We're expecting to have Zone Conference at the same time, maybe this Saturday, so I'll probably be able to update you next week on any changes.

This week was just another awesome week to be a missionary. Elder Halterman and I continue to be blessed in our area with success. We were able to get all six of our canidates baptized and confirmed without too much stress. In addition, the members here and our investigators continue to help us, and this last week we also found 15 new investigators. I've been in Hedzranawoe for about 4 and a half months now but I really dont wanna leave yet! We have another possible four or five conidates we are preparing for the 26th, I love the branch and I love Elder Halterman too, we get a long great. It will be a sad day if I leave this zone conference, but I guess that's the mission.

Anyway, i'm still just looking forward to christmas. It looks like President Ayekoue and the Couple will be in Benin for Christmas day, so I'm not sure exactly what the missionaries will do here, maybe we'll just go out to eat together after working half the day. It'll be nice whatever we do. I'm looking forward to talking to all of you! I love you all!

Elder Bertoch

PS The chocolate got here just fine! It wasnt melted and then I just kept it in the fridge! It was delicious!

PPS Haha I send my emails to whatever account you write me on mom! The last two times you've written from dad's account!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 7, 2009

In this e-mail Sam mentions a missionary, Elder Kumbongo, who served in his mission and was released a month before Sam arrived. He is from Congo and he was accepted to BYU for the January 2010 semester, but needs help to pay for his flight to the States. His tuition has already been taken care of. This missionary converted a whole congregation of The Church of Christ. I guess he was pretty amazing.

The story from the Leavitts (the senior missionary couple) that he mentions: While driving at night (it's very dark there, no street or headlights), they came across a woman lying in the road who had been hit more than once. The missionaries that were with them wanted to get out and help the woman, but the couple wouldn't let them because of the high threat of AIDS. They parked their car in front of the woman, so no one else would hit her, and help came for her shortly thereafter.

Finally, Sam was able to get more pictures to us, which are posted after his e-mail. He didn't not send any explanation, so any captions are me guessing.

Hey there everyone! It was great hearing from you all again, comme d'habitude. So we had some big transfers over here in Togo this past week but nothing that affected me too much. Elder Bowman did get transferred which was too bad but he'd been here along time and he was ready to go. So we have a new Elder in the appartment, Elder Djoman, he's from Cote D'Ivoire and he's really cool, we get a long great already. It will really be good for us to have a french speaker in the appartment, when we were all american we had a hard time always speaking french but that should get better now. Elder Skousen our zone leader left to Cote Divoire too so it was sad to see him go too but his replacement Elder Kouassi is a way good missionary too. I now over my 4 month mark in Hedzranawoe too so I wouldn't be surprised if I left soon also.

But me and Elder Halterman are still having a great time for now. We ended up with 6 canidates ready to be baptized this saturday and some others ready for the saturday after that. We are just praying now that the interviews will go well but I dont think there should be any problems. They are all really good investigators who have been coming to church every week. We're baptizing the kids in one family (Brigette 17, David 12, and Larissa 9) who come every week with a member. Their mom wanted to be baptized too but the 1 hr+ walk to church from where they live is too much for her to make it so we're praying for her too. The sacrafice some of the members make to come to church sometimes is really inspiring and makes me realize how lucky I was growing up.

Thats really cool about Elder Kumbongo! I never actually met him or anything, he finished about a month before I got here, but I heard he was a really good missionary, in fact, he was Elder Djoman's trainer. That would be great if you helped him get to BYU, I had actually heard that he got accepted! Thats awesome! (Although the part about the arranged marriage with the sister missionary is a little weird haha)

Haha ya I took out some money this last week. We ate out to celebrate thanksgiving/my bday again, and then to say goodbye to Elder Bowman. I wont let it become a habit tho haha.

Wow I haven't heard that story from the Leavitts but thats crazy. We really dont see them that often at all, about 5 min once every two weeks to give us our money (unless there is a problem). They really work hard, its hard to be a senior couple here.

Haha are there mosquitoes here?? Dang they are all over the place. If it wasnt for my doxy i'm sure I would have gotten malaria a hundred times by now haha. But nothing too bad. The heat is getting up there tho. I dont know about the other days but I heard today was 96° F so its getting pretty hot. I'm getting extremely thankful for the air conditioning haha.

Also do you think you could forward me the Leavitt's journal? I think that would be very interesting to read if I had the time.

I think I will just end with my testimony that I know without a doubt that this is the true church of Jesus Christ restored on the earth today. I know with all my heart that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I know that with the Lord's help, there is nothing I cannot do for him in this work. I feel his love and support every day and I can't help but smile. I'm extremely happy and would not be anywhere else.

Ok, well I think thats all I got! Talk to you next week!

Love,

Elder Bertoch

PS Great job, Jack!


The four roommates: Sam, Elder Halterman, Elder Bowman (who was transferred this week), and Elder Carver
Sam and Elder Halterman (his companion)

In case it can't be read very well - that is Sam's tag

I believe the missionary in front is Sam's former companion, Elder Kouakou

Sam with his mission president and his wife.



November 30, 2009

Here's the letter for the week. I'm amazed that he already got his Christmas package. I sent it the second week of November. I have been pleasantly surprised with the mail system. I haven't heard of any problems. I've had to send him a debit card and a driver's license which made me nervous, but no problems - Yay!!

Also, he mentions eating cat. I can't even imagine. The cat, Mia, he mentions is Sydney's cat. He thought he'd tease his sister, although they just found out that Mia is a boy and plan to change the name.

Hey again!

Looks like Thanksgiving was fun back in the ole United States, although I'm sure Claim Jumper doesn't have anything on Mom's cooking. But wow...claim jumper, Ted Montanas, Schlotzkeys...sounds delicious but you guys better watch your weight haha.

Also, I got my Christmas package today! Thank you verrrrrrry much. I'll admit, I did cheat and open one present, and I love the watch! It's perfect. Where'd you get it? Be sure to tell all the other moms merci beaucoup for me (or as they would say in native togo language ackbay kaka). The candy looks delicious and I loved seeing the photos too! (I see dad went through my closet since I left, thats totally my shirt!) I can't believe i forgot to mention the cookies last email! They were delicious! Seriously I shared with everyone and they were gone by the next day, not stale or anything. We'd even put them in the little toaster oven we have and they would tast like they were right out of the oven! Thank you! I also have all the christmas decorations set up too already! You guys are the best!

Thats awesome about BYU! Dang that stinks I missed it. Although Elder Bowman says he heard that Max Hall made some pretty unclassy remarks after the game haha. You'll have to let me know what bowl TCU ends up going to.

Still here loving Africa! Baptisms are always rewarding, saturday we baptized two brothers, Elom and Claude. Overall, there were 20 baptisms that day, just in time for mine and Elder Starita's 20th bday which was cool. Then at church the next day, Elom and Claude's mom came to church for the first time which was even more exciting...we'll be working really hard with her now too. She only speaks ewe (native tribal language) like a lot of older women here but we work a lot with members to help translate too and even us missionaries learn some as we go a long too. We also set three more baptismal dates for the 12 so as of now we have 8 if everything goes right with more possible to come this week.

Any other major news? O ya, as of today I can officially add cat to the list of weird things I've eaten. The Africans love it only its kinda expensive and today we (my district, branch mission leader, and ward missionaries) ate a cat with some fufu (kinda like mashed potatoes only it sticks together, i actually really like it) and some peanut butter sauce. It was delicious haha. Now i still want to eat monkey and snake, both of which are kinda rare too but i hear are really good haha. Mmmm cat. I think its name was mia too, come to think of it.

Well, I think thats it. Still loving life here in Togo. I can't believe that I've been out for six months either, seems just like yesterday I was shaking behind the pulpit giving my farewell talk. TIme is flying by, heck, I could even be transferred in the next month or so which is weird to think of. But one thing is for sure, I love my mission and I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. I'm grateful for the gospel and all the blessing it has brought me in my life and I'm eager everyday to get out and share those blessing wth the people of Togo. Thank you so much for all your prays and love and support. I love you all.

Love,
Elder Bertoch

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23, 2009

Here is Sam's e-mail for this week. His birthday is this Thursday, which is also Thanksgiving Day. 20 years old!! He received his birthday package a week early! Yay!!! Now we just have to wait for the Christmas package to arrive. Oh yeah, he's kidding about the malaria. So far he hasn't gotten sick at all. Our prayers are being answered.

On Nov 23, 2009, at 12:04 PM, Sam Bertoch <sbertoch228@hotmail.com> wrote:


Haha you should see my big smile as I'm writing this email home! It was a really great week followed by some really funny emails. I'll let you know about some of the highlights of my week:

Monday we (my district and I) found a nice little pizza cafe that we ate at. It was deliciousss. Best pizza I've had since I got to Togo...also the only pizza I had since I got to Togo so thats probably what made it so good.

Tuesday I got your package! It was awesome! Everyone was jealous of the calandar! What a great idea! Also, thank you for the wallet...I'll try to hold on to this one for a little longer haha. The drivers license was also there safe and sound and so was the candy...for about a day and half and then is was promptly all eaten haha. I'm not good at saving things. I also loved hearing everyone's voices, the card was a great idea!! I also loved the homemade card Jack! Especially how you taped the candy in haha! It was the first thing I ate!

Saturday was also extremely productive! It was a great day to be a missionary. We are teaching a girl named Brigette who has a baptismal date for the 12 December and on Saturday we met her family and committed them all (minus the dad, we haven't met him yet) to be baptized with her! It was awesome! Then later that night we met with another investigator named Fabrice (27 yrs old, great guy) and committed him for the 12 too! This week we're looking to continue, we're so grateful for the Holy Ghost and the help its given us to find and teach all these amazing people. We're two english speakers but with our Heavenly Fathers help people are able to understand our French and our message. In fact, we were teaching a Nigerian speaker this week and we were havng a lot of trouble actually speaking english haha! At the end of the lesson he was like "I thought people from America were supposed to be able to speak english". Although when I do speak english I do have a pretty cool Nigerian accent now haha.

Sunday was a really amazing day too. Me and Elder Halterman had 13 investigators at church which was awesome and Elder Bowman and Elder Carver had 7 so we had 20 investigators at our branch yesterday! Considering the overall assistance was 77 that was pretty cool. Then at night all the missionaries were invited over to a members house for thanksgiving! Her name is Natasha, shes from Maine but works here in the American ambassy. It was so awesome...she was a really good cook (tons of food, including turkey and pie) and has a really nice house. It was so nice of her.

This week should be pretty good too! We have more investigators to committ to baptism that came to church yesterday and we're also baptizing two brothers into young mens this Saturday so I'm really excited!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes too! We went out to eat today at a restaurant where we can buy cheeseburgers (amazing) to celebrate. It was fun. I don't really feel like a teenager anymore (I think I've aged like 20 yrs since I got here...i guess thats what happens when you have members and investigators always turning to the missionaries for advice...dont worry I'm sure I'll regress and be fighting with Jackson when I get back) so i thinks its rather fitting I turn 20 this week.

Also, in reponse to your emails:

Thats cool that Brother Lovejoy is in the bishopric now! I always loved him. Thatll be great!

Great job on your talk, Jack! And thanks for the email! Keep on doing that homework!

Sounds like Thanksgiving should be fun! I'll be thinking about you guys!

I think I should be able to expect my Christmas packages this week! I'll do my best not to open them until Christmas!

I love you all!

Elder Bertoch

PS Still working on the pictures. I'll try to get some more home somehow.

PPS I have no idea what the weather is right now...like honestly there is a certain level of heat and humitity after which i dont notice any increases. 101 degrees with 95 percent humitity does sound a little high though. Dont worry though I'm pretty tough and I drink a lot of water. No heat is going to stop me from working.

PPPS O my goodness a little old ingrown toenail does not deserve time in my already busy emails...a long with my 5 cases of malaria...:)

November 23, 2009

Elder Leavett, Elder Carver, Elder Bowman, Sam, Elder Halterman

We received an email from the new senior missionary couple, Elder and Sister Leavitt, who sent us a picture of Sam, his companion (Elder Halterman), their roommates and Elder Leavitt. They also attached their latest journal entries which included a little story about Sam and an ingrown toenail:

When we got to the house two missionaries were waiting for us Elder Bertoch and Elder Halterman. Elder Bertoch has had an infected toe for a few weeks and I (Sister Leavitt) told him to get it taken care of, or I would do it. Well he tried to go to the clinic but they just basically did not have time for him and the pain was bad. They came to see if we could help. We looked at the foot and it was pretty bad…Elder Leavitt then went to work and got it taken care of…the culprit an ingrown toenail, which had become aggravated and caused some swelling. Elder Bertoch did not complain but had obvious relief when it was all over. We fed them and then sent them home.



Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009

Sounds like Colorado weather hasn't changed much since I left. 70s one day and a foot of snow the next haha. Here it is hotter than ever but I hear December is "winter" so I'm really looking forward to that.

I have not yet gotten your birthday package so I'm still looking forward to that. I did however get Grandma's package last tuesday so i was really grateful for that! I'll be expecting that this week as soon as the couple goes to the mail. I'm sure I'll have it by the time I write you again next week.

Where are you planning on going/doing for grandpa's bday? Did he agree to go to Hawaii?? Let him know I say happy birthday (not yet...wait until its actually his bday)!

Sydney actually accepted the Maxima? Nice. We can go shopping for a replacement when I get back...

I checked out the blog and it looks great! Only one correction: in the picture with my mission president, he is on my right, not my left.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get the chance to go to the Ghana temple...I've only heard of one missionary doing it right before he flew home. I'd really like to though, I'll look in to it at the end of my mission.

The assistants were both African when I got here but now there is a canadien (Elder Olsen) and an Ivorian (Elder Niambe). I only met each of them once while I was in Cote Divoire but they both seem very nice and like extremely good missionaries.

Well zone conference has come and gone and nobody got transferred. Its still me, Elder Halterman, E Bowman, and E Carver (from Taylorsville,Ut) here in Hedzranawoe which I'm fine with. Elder Kouakou ended up in Bé, E Carver's old area still in togo.

Zone congerence was really good, Elder Dickson talked a lot about helping our branches/district here in Togo become well formed wards/stake. He said that a big part of that is making sure everyone pays their tithing, he said recent converts who pay their tithing will be there when you come back in 20 yrs, those who don't will not. It was very inspiring. After the conference, he interviewed four missionaries and I was one of them. It was really cool to be interviewed by a 70, he asked a lot about what I thought about the church in Togo, how could we help it, and about the mission in general. He is a really good guy.

Well thats about all. The work is still really coming a long in Togo, i can really see the Lord blessing this area. We had thirteen investigators at church yesterday between the two companionships, thats the most i've seen since I got here. The members here are really awesome too, they've really come through recently in giving us contacts and teaching with us. Last week over half our lessons were in presence of a member which was wonderful. Anyway, I cant wait to hear from you all again next week! Love you all!

Elder Bertoch

PS Congrats on staying healthy for a week, Jack! Keep it up! Hopefully you get to give your talk too!

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

Hey again!

First off, I'm glad you got the pictures. Now that I know they can make it home mayber I'll send some more (more than ten do fit on a cd). I'll try and take more of a variety of pics from now on for ya haha.

The service project was my second saturday here, all the members here went and cleaned the hospital in tokoin. It was a lot of fun and it was really cool to see all the members there serving their country.

The french is still coming a long well. I can understand pretty much everything everyone says but I'm still working on expanding my vocabulary. But its getting better everyday, the more I talk to peopel the more I learn.

Great job in the primary program, Jack! Now you just gotta stay healthy and keep going to school!

I cant wait to get my packages! From what I hear i have my birthday package waiting for me at the couple's house, I'll probably get it tomorrow at zone conference. I'm really excited! Thank you!

Anyway, had a good week this week. It's a lot of fun in my district now but we still work hard (last night the assistants called from abidjan to congratulate us on our numbers). Me and E Halterman have been teaching a lot of new people lately and its going really well, we have a lot of investigators with a lot of promise. One of them just got back from living in nebraska for ten years so he loves to talk to us in english using slang and stuff. Hes interesting, he met with the missionaries for five years in the US (they even helped him move) and was about to get baptized but it fell through. We'll see what happens with him. I gave a talk in church yesterday too so I hope that went alright. I talked about how charity and missionary work go together. Hopefully it was coherent.

Zone conferench with Elder Dickson is tomorrow so I'm pretty excited for that. We just had a bunch of changes so I doubt anything big will happen but it could be the end of Elder Bowman in Togo. He has over 13 months now so he should be heading to Cote DIvoire soon, but I think that should be it. I'm still loving life in Hedzranawoe, I love the members and all of our investigators. It's so awesome to see that even in Africa halfway around the world the church and the gospel are the same. I have such a love for this gospel and there is nothing I would rather be doing than sharing it with the people here.

Well I love you all so much! I cant wait to write you again and hear from you again next week!

Love, your SON,
Elder Bertoch

PS I pulled money out of the ATM last week and it worked!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 7, 2009
Yay!! We received pictures in the mail today! Here is the letter Sam included with the CD:

Dear Family,

OK, I think I found a way to get you some pictures. I just hope that this actually gets there. I put ten on this CD, most are of us and our baptismal candidates. There are also a few of Elder Kouakou and various creatures he has caught in our apartment. I think I have one of me and Elder Starita on there too that you can forward to his mom.

Well, I hope this works. I'm going to give it to Elder Skousen to send whenever he goes to the mail next. I'm doing fine, just getting ready to go to zone conference now. I'll write you again Monday! Love you all!

Love, Elder Bertoch



Seven dressed in white. Good job guys!

I'm guessing the elder to the left is Elder Bowman. The three of them served together until last week. I don't know who the woman is.
Sam & Elder Kouakou

Sam and Elder Starita

I love the flip flops with the shirt and tie.

Elder Kouakou caught some kind of rat.




Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009
This is Sam's car which sits in front of the house while he is gone. It got a little bit of snow on it last week.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hey again! Hows everyone doing? The snow sounds crazy...I cant even imagine a snow flake let alone 2 ft here.

Sounds like halloween was fun, Jack! But you got sick again? C'mon! You gotta stay healthy little bum. No more candy for you, only vegetables.

I have not gottin my package yet but I think I should probably get it this week. I'm so excited! Thats too bad you missed the couples call, they gonna try to call back? I think the couple will just skype you, from what i understand, for christmas you can just buy some phone cards and call the cell phone I have or something. I'll look into that.

Have you gotten my pictures yet? I think they should probably get there this week, things get back to the US faster than they come here. I hope you get them!

I've gotten emails from a few friends and a some letters too. It actually just started raining more last week, busted out the rain coat, umbrella and hat haha. They worked well and I just had to hop from stepping stone to stepping stone, it was fun. It is actually freakin expensive for a white person to get his hair cut here, they dont know how to do it, so I just bought clippers at the supermarket for cheap and do it myself (usually a one or two, Pres likes our hair verrrry short). I would love the conference ensign! In fact, do you think I could get three? There are two english speaking families in my branch who didnt understand conference at all, it was only in french. Haha I never get sick. I'm just naturally immune to everything, superior genes. I dont think Togo or Benin are much different healthwise though. I'm actually planning on trying to take our money later today, so I'll let you know how that goes!

I'm already excited for my Christmas package too! I cant really think of anything I need except maybe a new watch? Nothing too expensive or anything, just something that would last...the cheap one I bought in the Mtc is already falling apart, big surprise.

Ok, so all the changes finally happened this last week. I got a new companion, it's Elder Halterman, Bro Albrechtson's nephew. He's really cool and works really hard so we're gonna get a long great. Hes from Draper and has been here six weeks longer than me. The whole you have to be companions with an African thing is falling apart in Togo...there are three companionships now that are all white. I think its because of the elections that are going on in Cote Divoire right now, they're keeping as many of the white missionaries out as they can for the moment. In fact, our whole appartment/district is american right now, haha. It should be a lot of fun, we get a long great. E Halterman and I are ready to work hard and baptise like crazy here, the last few days I've been showing him our sector. The only thing that might get in the way of our friendship is that he is a Utah fan...extremely disappointing.

Well thats about it. Yesterday we had all the members in Togo come to our branch in Hedzranawoe to watch two sessions of Gen Conference, it was good. There were not enough chairs for the first session though so I missed that one (missionaries stood outside). From what I saw, it was really good! We're having zone conference again next tuesday, the 8th. I'm excited, Elder Dixon (Dickson?) of the 70 is going to be there with us. That should be really good.

Anyway, thats all I got! Have a great week! I love you all and I cant wait to talk again next week!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hey again!

Haha thanks for the emails! Even if you almost did forget...have I really been gone that long? haha

Sounds like Disneyland was a blast! I'm glad everyone got healthy and you were able to go. How many vacations does that make since i left? 10? 20? Its like you just waited for me to leave to have all the fun haha.

Mmm and In n OUt sounds delicious right now. The food here isnt bad or anything, just the same thing everyday makes a good hamburger sound amazing.

I cant wait to get the package! That is so exciting. Thank you so much!

Everything still going good here. The new couple arrived this week, they are super nice. They are Elder and Sister Leavitt from Arizona I think. They told me they lived in Highlands Ranch for 5 yrs though, about ten years ago. They were in the lone peak ward or something like that. Anyway, really like them. They took the photos to send them from Benin so that probably got sent today or tommorrow (i guess its more reliable there) so watch out for those. Also, they took your home phone number to skype you and let you know i'm not dead or too deformored or something but I dont think you know what that is so you can have sydney explain skype to you and get you signed up.

Anyway the week went pretty well. We're working hard now to work with the members here, they arent too active in missionary work so we're trying to get them involved (but any ward here is muuuuuch better at missionary work than back in CO. You gotta get that goin!). Hedzranawoe is easily the least developed branch in Togo (our assistance this week was 63 as compared with Tokoins 226) so we're really working to strengthen the branch. We've scheduled to go out with the leaders this week and teach wit them, so hopefully that will create some enthousiasm about missionary work. I'm excited!

What else? From what we know elder bowmans companion is scheduled to get here later this week so that will break up this threesome we've been in for 6 weeks. I dont know if Elder Kouakou will be transferred at the same time (hes been here 6 months) or if we'll stay together a little longer. I guess we'll see. Elder Bowman probably wont be here much longer either, apparently President told him he is going to CDI soon too.

Well thats about it. We'v been working on finding new investigators because we've baptised all of ours that were progressing so that will continue this week. I've still been leading everything but thats not even a big deal anymore, i've got the hang of it. I can talk on the phone without too much trouble too so i think i'm progressing at least a little bit.

I'm so grateful for my Heavenly Father and the help he's given me since I've been here. I've been blessed in so many different ways and I love every moment that I'm a missionary. I'm still perfectly healthy (thats for mom) and ready to work hard again this week. I love you all and I'll write you again next week!

Love,
Elder Bertoch

PS Dont know if I ever told you this but I see Bro Albrechtsons nephew pretty often. Hes in Togo too. Hes really cool, I got here and he said he knows me somehow and it turns out it was him. Small world.
Sam's friend Derek Fletcher, had just received his mission call to Argentina.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Haha I don't think I'm ever gonna get an email where everyone is healthy. Bonne retablissment, Papa. Oh and for all I know Sydney died like a month ago. Where ya at, sis?

Thats cool about Derek, let him know I say congrats.

The new couple arrived in Benin last week, like thursday or something, but they still havent come here yet. Its hard for the couple here, they have to drive back and forth a lot between Benin and Togo, very tiring. There used to be a couple for each country but now theres just one for the two. We're planning on welcoming them with a lot of food though so that will be fun. Haha, come to think of it, you should tell Bro and Sis Walton to come to Togo. They already speak french, right?

Haha nope I have not yet tried a monkey, they are like a delicacy here because they are so rare. I have heard about missionaries eating cat though, that would be interesting.

Thanks so much for the package! I'm excited already. I cant wait to get it! But I promise not to open it until my birthday...ok thats probably not true.

We still dont know about transfers yet. The zone leaders say they can come at any time, they just have to get word from president. The next new missionary gets here in a little more than a week so maybe thats when it will happen.

Another good week gone by. Everything went well with Arsene, Christian, and Grace so that was really encouraging. It was great seeing them dressed in white and being baptized, the missionaries had been working with Arsene and Christian since like the beginning of this year so it was really awesome that they finally were able to take the steps to join the church. I was a little scared Sunday when Grace didnt get to church until it was literally her turn to be confirmed (she walked in right after they finished her second brother, though in her defense she does live like an hour walk from the church) but everything ended well.

Yve hit another setback this week. His mom called his dad who lives in Germany to ask if he could get baptized and the dad said he has to go to church with his mom. Its really too bad because he is really smart and already has a really strong testimony in the church but I know it is just temporary. He trusts the Lord and knows that everything will work out. His dad comes home for New Years so the missionaries can talk to him then.

Have fun in California! That'll be a blast! I really hope you'll be able to go! I actually got to go to the beach this morning, it was really pretty. The zone went to play football in the sand, it was a lot of fun, especially since the Africans dont understand the rules so they just kinda run around and throw the ball randomly, it was a blast. I love being in Togo, since theres only 11 of us we are all really close and have fun together, I hope its like that in the other countries too.

Ok well I think thats about it for this week. Nothing else to memorable happened I dont think. I still am perfectly healthy and loving the work. I have already been blessed so much on my mission and I cant imagine doing anything else right now. I am so grateful for everyones love and support. You are all amazing. Talk to ya next week!

Love,

Elder Bertoch

PS I asked Elder Skousen today and he still hasnt sent the CD yet and he doesnt know when hes going to the mail again so dont expect that too soon. Ill let you know when he sends it.

PS No BYU update??? whats up with that?!

Monday, October 12, 2009

This is the e-mail where we had to let Sam know that our dog Buster had to be put to sleep. He was 14 years old and very sick. Sam picked him out when he was 5 years old.

Hey everyone!

Thats sad about Buster. He was a really good dog. He was pretty old though, it was his time to go.

I'm glad Jacky jack is feeling better. Now you gotta work hard jack! Get caught up in school!

Haha ya I'm handling the heat pretty well, when I got here I was sweating all the time but now it takes a lot to make me sweat. Haha I wont be able to handle winter in CO when I get back.

Hmm, African animals I've seen...I've seen one monkey since I've been here, they dont like people because they eat them so they stay away from the cities. But there are wild chickens and goats everywhere. Like the country's full of them. I also see some dogs pretty often, and there are also pretty big lizards all over the place too. In my appartment alone we've found salamanders, a bird, a scorpion, pretty big spiders (like the size of my palm) and I think thats about it. But I've heard there are areas in Cote DIvoire where you see like real african wildlife so it'd be cool to go there.

Zone Conference went really well. It was really nice to see President. I was asked to give a talk on charity and I think that went alright. We haven't heard about any transfers yet, I guess President will probably call the Zone Leaders and let them know after he gets back to Abidjan and they will let us know. There are people here that have been in the same area for 6 months so changes probably have to be made eventually.

Also, I found I way to maybe get you pictures. I found a place last pday to put 10 pictures on a cd and I gave that to Elder Skousen to send home next time he goes to the mail. I dont know how likely it is that it will actualy make it home (Elder Skousen has had only one letter make it home from here out of three or four) but I had to try so look out for that in the next couple weeks.

Thats so cool about the plane, Dad! Really I dont think theres a greater joy than sharing the gospel and watching how it changes lives. The four and a half months I've been out here have just flown by because I've loved every second of it. But watching lives change thanks to the gospel of Jesus Christ is a miracle. I was thinkig a lot about that this week as I was watching our recent convert Gabriel. Only a month ago he didnt have the truth in his life, but now he goes to church every week, goes to seminary, recieved the aaronic preisthood and passes the sacrament, and is even giving a talk next sunday. It really is a miracle, nothing can change someone's life for the better like this church. Everyday my testimony grows of its truthfulness and everyday my desire to share the happiness it brings grows. I love being a missionary and I love the people here.

ANyway I think thats about it. The past week was mostly just zone conference although I did teach young mens yesterday (when i got here young mens didnt even exist, now there are five of them!). I think it will turn out to be a blessing that Arsene did not get baptized a few weeks ago, now his brother Christian wants to get baptized too so if all goes well they and their sister Grace will be baptized together the 17th! It just another witness that Heavenly Father always knows what hes doing; I was upset when Arsene didnt get baptized last mont but that was only because i couldnt see the bigger picture. I am truly humbled by Heavenly Father's plan for each of his children and now i know with surety that if I just put my trust in him everything will work out according to his will. Everyday I learn a new lesson and grow a little bit more. I love being a missionary.

Ok, well I think thats it. I love you all! I'll write you again next week!

Love,
Elder Bertoch

PS I did get Megans package last week so it took probably about 2 weeks to get here.
Monday, October 5, 2009

Hey!

Dang what's with everyone back there??? I mean, I knew it would be hard for you all to survive without me, but you're being kinda ridiculous. Jackson, stop getting pneumonia. Mom, get some sleep. Dad, work out your ankles or something, they break too easily. Although I doubt that kept you from still dirtbiking the rest of the day.

Thats sad about Buster. Give him a hug for me.

General Conference sounds like it was great! We dont get to watch it here, we have to wait for the dvd or the ensign but I cant wait to hear what everyone said.

Ok, faith promoting experience. Well, good news this week: Yve's mom, who wouldn't even let us talk to her or let Yve come to church suddenly decided he could come and get baptized! That was out of nowhere but I really made my day yesterday. He missed the baptismal cerimony saturday so he'll get baptized the 17th which is great! It really shows how our Heavenly Father knows each of his children and will always work to help them recieve the gospel.

Zone conference is this friday. It should be interesting, there will most likely be a lot of changes. I'll be staying here but Elder Kouakou now has over 5 months here and Elder Bowman has about four so most likely one of them will be going. I'll let you know what happens with that next monday.

At church we usually just attend the different classes unless they ask us to do something. For example yesterday we taught the relief society the importance of visiting teaching because nobody does it. Each second sunday is missionary sunday where us and the ward missionaries are in charge of everything; we give the talks and teach the classes. But mostly at church we help our investigators be comfortable.

Goals that we've set...we set goals each week for number of lessons and all that. ONe main goal we have is to use the members more. We've been working on getting a lot of referals from them and also teaching with members. Missionary work is automaically more effective when the members are involved.

Haha yes I do my best to get up at 6 and exercise almost every morning. I'm in better shape than I've ever been and I'm in Africa haha.

I'm not sure when the rainy season starts but it will be welcome. Its been scorching hot lately and its only getting hotter.

Ok well I'll write you again next week and let you know about all the changes! I love you all! Thank you so much! Feel better!

Elder Bertoch

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another short, but sweet e-mail. Busy week - 50 lessons!! Then you have to factor in the time it takes to travel by foot to all of these appointments. If he keeps losing so much weight we won't recognize him when he gets home. Finally, he did open the e-mail with the photo, and it worked - so I'll try to send him more pictures.

September 28, 2009

JACKSON DAVID BERTOCH!!!! I swear if i read one more email that says you're sick I will fly back there and shack the germs right out of you! Get better, ok?

Thanks for all the emails! I get a lot of emails from the family that I cant reply to which is frustrating but just know i appreciate it and i have got them. I also got a bunch of letters from Derek and Hilary and Co. so I will be replying to those too soon.

I didnt try to open the picture this week cuz I dont have a lot of time but I'll let you know if it works next week.

Everythings going good here still! We're working hard. Elder Kouakou had me lead everything this week- the planning, where we go, starting the conversation, basically being senior companion for a week- and that was challenging but I learned a lot. We taught a lot this week, 50 lessons, so hopefully we'll see the fruits of that soon.

Zone conference should be coming up next week and there will proibably be a lot of changes then so I'll let you know what happens. It'll be nice to see president, we only see him once every 6 or 7 weeks.

Ok well all th emissionaries in Togo are coming over to our appartment right now for lunch and a contacting activity so we gotta head back now. But know that I'm doing good, health is fine (I checked my weight on a scale last week and I've lost over 15 lbs since i got here, which would be more impressive if i didnt gain aweight in th emtc haha).

I havent tried the debit card yet but i'll let you know when I do. Thanks for working on the license! I love you all!

Talk to you next week!

Elder Bertoch




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 21, 2009

Hey everyone!

Ok I started an email and then it froze so sorry if this one is a little short!

Sounds like you're having a blast back in the States! Aspen must have been really nice. I'll wanna see pictures of that as soon as i can!

That stinks about BYU. Thats all I have to say about that.

Haha yes Im remembering to take pictures! And I still haven't given up on finding a way to send them home, it just might take awhile...

Ok well its been kind of a crazy week. Out of our 5 investigators ready to get baptized, only 2 were able to on saturday. Yves mom still refused but going into the interviews friday night I thought the other 4 were still good to go. Gabriel and Akovie got interviewed no problem but Arsene called and told us he decided he wasnt ready and Grace just didnt show up. She doesnt have a phone so saturday we walked the 45 min to her house to try to find her but she wasnt there so she didnt get baptized either which was very sad (she came to church yesterday and we talked to her and everything is worked out, she'll get baptized the third of october now). Then at the baptism i got scared cuz Akovie just didnt show up for the longest time...like she got there an hour and a half late just as the last person was being baptized (there were 15 between the three branches) but she was able to make it so that was quite a relief. But grace and arsene were quite a punch in the stomach, i thought getting my wallet stolen was hard, having investigators zho you know are ready for baptism not get baptized is a lot harder. But we'll keep moving forward, this week we'll work hard with Yve and Arsene and Grace to get them into the church.

Also, I know have a new companion. Elder Bowmans companion got transferred and is training nozw, so he's in a threesome now with me and Elder Kouakou for two weeks until his new companion gets here and he's gonna train him. But it should be a good two weeks, i really like E Bowman, we get a long really well.

Ok well thats all I got this week. I love hearing from all of you and I cant wait for next monday! Keep me updated!
I love you all!

Elder Bertoch

PS Whats the status on a drivers lisence? Do you think its possible to get me one again? Itd be nice to have the id and there may be times that i'll need to drive. ie E Bowman picked someone up from the airport saturday
September 14, 2009

Hey everyone!

Thanks for all your emails! I'll do my best to reply.

Sounds like everything is going great back home! Thats great about BYU! It figures that the first season I miss will be amazing. Oh well. Keep me updated. Dont think we'll have any trouble with Florida St at home.

As far as I can tell, you get transferred here about every 3-5 months, usually 5. I'll probably spend about 5 months or so here in Togo and then another 5 in Benin, and then I'll finish my last year in Cote D'Ivoire. Or at least that seems to be the general pattern.

We meet in a building about a 15 minute walk form our apt. Its pretty much a big house turned into a church building. There is a big room for sacrament meeting and then about 4 individual rooms for the other classes. Its pretty nice for Africa, the only problem is we dont have a microphone so it pretty hard to here in sacrament meeting but thats not too bad.

We dont have a font at our branch but there is one at Tokoin so everyone goes there every two weeks for one big baptismal ceremonie for all the branches.

Dang, Aspen, Disneyland, Tennis Tournament- Did you purposely wait for me to have a bunch of fun? :)

Tell Sean and Jonnie good luck for me. They should have fun in the MTC.

This week has been really good. We've really focused on our baptismal canidates this week. We have 5 who are ready, but one's mom refuses to let him get baptized so we're going to talk to her this week. She only speaks the native togo language (a lot of people here dont speak much french so we bring members to help translate) so we're planning on bringing a sister to help us. I'll let you know how that goes.

Besides him (Yve), we should baptize Grace and Aseine ( brother sister), Gabriel (Yve's friend) and Akouvi (member referral, so I'm really excited.

Anyways, still loving life. I've really gotten to know and love all the people here, members and investigators, and I get more confident in my french everyday. Elder Kouakou put me in charge of the cell phone now, so sometimes its harder to understand but I'm getting there.

Thanks for everying! I cant wait to hear from you again next week!

Love,
Elder Bertoch

Thursday, September 10, 2009

As an added bonus on Tuesday, I received an e-mail from Sam's companion, Elder Kouakou, I thought I'd share. I sent it to Sydney (who took French in school) and President Grover (who went to France on his mission) for translation. The e-mails are below:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Basically, Sydney's got it quite accurately! Good job!

Very Dear Mother,
I am very happy to write to you to thank you for the great gesture (kindness) that you have done for me (presumably the gift that you sent in the package?). I really liked this gesture. I don't know you, but because of this great gesture, I know that you are a very good mother.
Thank you Mother.
Tell everyone Hello.
Elder Kouakou.

SG

Très chère maman,je suis très content de vous écrire pour vous remercier pour le grand geste que vous avez fais pour moi,j'ai beaucoup aimé se geste.Je ne vous connais pas mais grace à se grand geste,je sais que vous etes une très bonne mère,merci Maman.Je salut tout le monde elder kouakou.
On Sep 8, 2009, at 3:05 PM, Jalene Bertoch wrote:
President Grover,

Below is an e-mail I received from Sam's companion, Elder Kouakou, and it's in french. I had Sydney try her hand at translating, but she thought I should have you take a look at it too. It sounds like he is thanking me for sending him a couple of things in the package.

There's no hurry - just whenever you have a minute. I've included a picture of Elder Kouakou which I found on another elder's blog.

Thanks so much!!

Jalene

Begin forwarded message:
From: Sydney Bertoch
Date: September 8, 2009 2:22:48 PM MDT
To: Jalene Bertoch
Subject: RE: Bonsoir maman bertoct.

Ok, to me geste...is gesture...and i don't know what you did, so it doesn't make sense to me, but maybe he is referring to you writing to him as a grand gesture...here is what i gather. I would send it to Bro Grover too though and see what he comes up with. and i believe maman, is mum, probably what the Africans use as a title for woman...i don't know.

Very dear Mum,

I am very happy that you wrote and extended such a great gesture to me. I really liked the gesture. I do not know you but your gesture was great, I know that you are a great mother, thank you. Tell everyone hi for me.

Très chère maman,je suis très content de vous écrire pour vous remercier pour le grand geste que vous avez fais pour moi,j'ai beaucoup aimé se geste.Je ne vous connais pas mais grace à se grand geste,je sais que vous etes une très bonne mère,merci Maman.Je salut tout le monde elder kouakou.


~Sydney





From: Jalene Bertoch
To: Sydney Bertoch
Subject: Fwd: Bonsoir maman bertoct.
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2009 14:03:15 -0600

It looks I got an email from Sams companion. Can you translate it? If not I'll try pres Grover. We got sams email today. I'll send it out when I get home.

Mom

Begin forwarded message:

From: "ange kouakou"
Date: September 8, 2009 12:44:10 PM MDT
To: Jalene Bertoch
Subject: Bonsoir maman bertoct.

Très chère maman,je suis très content de vous écrire pour vous remercier pour le grand geste que vous avez fais pour moi,j'ai beaucoup aimé se geste.Je ne vous connais pas mais grace à se grand geste,je sais que vous etes une très bonne mère,merci Maman.Je salut tout le monde elder kouakou.
Here is the latest letter from Sam. We didn't get it until Tuesday morning, so I had already informed those on the group e-mail that I hadn't received anything this week. It was unexpected and exciting to get his e-mail when we thought we'd have to wait another week. It's so exciting that he is loving Togo and doing so well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hey familly!

I've now had a month here in Togo and i have loved every minute of it. First, i'll try to do my best to reply to your emails.

Mom-I'm doing just fine healthwise! No bad side effects from the malaria pills or anything! Haha i see everywhere mamas with giant bowls on their heads and babies on their back, its very cool. We did baptize two more people last saturday (Mama Ahoefas sons Samuel and Daniel) and we have 5 or 6 more planned for the 19th but ill talk more about that later.

Great job on the csap jack! Yes, i mess up on french all the time, I don't know if i've sealed anyone to the churh yet-i'll have to keep them active, i love my companion we have a lot of fun; weirdest thing i've eaten so far...hmmm...thats hard because a lot of times i dont know what im eating...something we eat pretty often is just an entire fish (scales, eyes and all, the entire thing) just fried in a pan and cut into thirds which isn't too bad if you get the middle piece haha. The weather here is already starting to heat up, it gets pretty hot now, especially with the humitity.

Yes I got moms package thank you very much! The credit card was there and it was perfect timing with the candy- im teaching primary this sunday! Although next time dont send it express, i guess if you dont pick it up within 5 days they send it back to the us and the zone leaders barely got it in time.

Tell the Sollees I love them for me. That must be so hard but I have always admired their faith and testimonies. Bishop Sollee did a lot to help me gain a testimony and really helped me grow in the church and I will be praying for them.

Dang i'm sad i missed that game! it sounded awesome. Now i only hope OK actually turns out to be good and byu doesn't look past tulane next week. Dang im excited for the season and im not even there!

I have been invited to eat with members a few times and ive loved it every time but once. I loved something called pate rouge and these bean concoction i ate but there was only once were i really had to struggle to get it down. Im still not sure what it was but i really hope i dont have to eat it again- it was kinda soupy and very white and sweet with white chunks in it. I have no problem with the water here- our filter works fine and we can but PureWater anywhere just on the street too that is good. We can soft drinks pretty easily too, its bottled here which i like. The foods not too expensive, we get by pretty easily on the equivilant of 66 dollars for every two weeks.

We dont explore too much during pday but ive discovered my area is the furthest from the ocean but still only like 20 min a way. It goes ocean then lome branch then tokoin branch then us. We are kinda isolated here; the other branches are more in the city but we're just surrounded by houses for the must part.

Greatest impression- I love the people here. They have so little but are always so happy. They love to see us missionaries. It makes me realize all i took for granted in the us, i could be happy with so much less than what i had. Most people here live in little one room homes with a mattress for a bed and not a whole lot more but they always take good care of what they do have, and are always happy.

Greatest Challenge- Hmmm...the culture as a whole was a little difficult to adjust too but for the most part everything has gone smoothly. The language made it a bit hard at the beginning and the internet not working and getting pick pocketed didnt help but i really have been well taken care of. I owe so much to Heavenly Father.

Well thats all i have time for! I love you all! Sorry you didnt get to go to disneyland!

Love,
Elder Bertoch


PS Fr Garret i dont know if you actually read these but i heard Elder Cruz is coming to Togo too so go a head and pass that a long to him! Tell him he should be excitied! The plan right now is for Elder Carver to train him (he says you taught his class for like a week before becoming our teacher, je ne sais pas si vous vous lui rappellez)

Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009

Salut tout le monde!

Ok it looks like this works a lot better in the morning so we're gonna come early from now on.

First, I'll try to answer your questions. We do get a lot of referrals from members and our investigators, but a lot of the people we teach our people we've contacted ourselves our who approach us. It happens pretty often where people will stop us and ask us who we are. Heck, my first day here, when i first stepped out the door, someone pulled over on a moto and asked for directions to church. It was really cool.

We stay in our own apartment, I doubt any of the members have a house big enough for us to stay at. We do all our own cooking, I've already become an expert at cooking rice and chopping onions haha. About 70ish people attend our branch each week but from what I hear we do have a lot of inactivity. We have strong leadership though, a good branch president and an awesome ward mission leader too. There are actually a lot of english speakers from nigeria who are inactive and we are working with one of them to get him back to church. It's really exciting to teach lessons in english, its a lot easier for me to express myself.

Zone conference was really good. It was actually at the Black's house at they cooked luch for all of us and everything, it was really nice of them. There are 12 missionaries here in Togo/my zone- 6 americans, 5 africans, and 1 french. They are all really nice, we get together about once a week.

Ya i heard that about Nigeria too but Togo's doing fine. No unrest here. As far as where i am compared to the coast and Lome...I have no idea. The zone leaders pick up mail every other week so I'll probably not get the package until next monday. I asked about the mail- E Bowman says he hasnt sent anything since he's been in Togo and E SKousen, zone leader, says its pretty unreliable to send stuff from here. I also asked about pictures- that sounds pretty hard too. Sometimes you can get the Blacks to do it for you but they are leaving this next week so idk. Im gonna try to cend them just from here so we'll see.

Haha E Bowman is great. Hes really cool and my main source of information here.It would've been a lot harder to get settled in here without him. Hopefully he doesn't get transferred soon, hes been in Togo for 4 months.

Ooo; let me know about BYU. THat should be a good game. THanks for the sports updqtes, thqts always appreciated.

This emqil seems to be working fine! Thanks for setting me up the other one tho, if this ever doesn't work I'll just switch.

P days we usually wash our cloths- in buckets, really one of the only downsides of our appartment, no washing machine, e starita's apt has one- email, and go shopping. We usually play soccer as a zone too so thats fun and then at night we go out again.

Anyway this week was really good. It was my goal this week to get our investigators to come to church and this week 8 came! We have 3 baptisms lined up for this saturday and another one for the time after that so thats exciting too. THis week we're going to commit at least " more investigator too so the work is really coming along!

Thats too bad Jack is sick! Get better Jack! Let me know when you get a house Sydney! Have fun in Disneyland everyone!

I love you all!

Elder Bertoch



Sunday, August 30, 2009

So our first p-day without an e-mail happened this week. We have been warned repeatedly that this would happen and I have prepared myself, but it was still disappointing - we just knew not to worry or panic. It turned out, though, that his mission president's wife had a miscarriage (our prayers go out to her and her family) and their zone conference had to be rescheduled for Monday (p-day), so we got a really nice surprise when his e-mail showed up on Thursday this week!!

August 27, 2009

Ok I think I'll actually get to write this time! I'll try to answer as many questions as i can.

My companion has been a member for a few years, he's from cote divoire. He knows the bible crazy well, like I didn't know it was possible to know the bible so well. So ive started to read the new testament in french so i can try to keep up. i've learned a ton from him.

The first person i baptized was hossei sekina, shes the ward mission leaders little sister. The i baptized Mama Ahoefa (any one with a child here you call mama). Shes was some one my companion had been teaching. Shes really strong in the church now, we visit her a lot and i've really developed a strong relationship with her.

The weather here has been really nice here. Its humid but for the most part its just been really overcast so not too hot. There have been some scorching days but not too many- i hear it really starts to get hot in november. its only rained hard once since ive been here, i think i just missed the rainy season. When it did rain tho the streets became rivers and we had to jump from like island to island or stepping stone to stepping stone, it was kinda fun.

The foods been fine, i actually like african food. I get enough to eat, " meals a day. We all eat together and its usually rice or potato type yam things with a little chicken or fish and a very spicy sauce. The africans love spicy food, they put a spice called pima in everything, and I'm just fine with that. I think ive lost some weight but not from lack of eating; everything is just healthier here and i walk like 7-10 miles everyday.

As far as the actual mission is going, im loving it. We usually teach between 6-8 lessons a day and the zone goal is 36 a week. At first it was a little rough cuz i was pretty lost- i never knew who was an investigator or a recent convert or a member- but as time has gone on i've really grown to love our investigators. As i learn more french i am able to actually teach and participate and joke around with our investigators. ive really become friends with them which is vital- it gets you motivated to serve and bring them closer to Christ because you love them, not because you know you should. It also makes missionary work infinitly more enjoyable. Our investigators are all very nice. They ilisten to us and just accept what we say for the most part. The hard part is getting them to really keep their commitments ( church etc)

My area is pretty suburban for Africa. There are cities here in Togo but where we are there are just houses and little shops and one big market. I can buy basically anything here, every other pday we take a taxi to the city to a place called champions- its like grocery store you could find in the US its really nice.

I would send letters home but i have absolutely no idea how. There is no post offices here and the zone leaders pick up our mail for us, i dont know where they get it. Just know im looking into it. I'll send pics home too when i figure out how.

The french is really coming a long. When i first got here i could speak enough to get by it was just hqrd to try to understand and keep up with them. I've gotten a lot better now tho and can understand a lot more. There were some differences here between here and what i learned at the mtc but it was easy to adapt.

Ok well i hope the email was better this time. Today was much better- usually it takes like 45 min to open the page like david said but today was nice. I love you all! Thank you so much!

Thanks for sending me the debit card! I'll let you know when i get it.

PS you're getting this thursday bc monday we had zc so we're doing pday today.
Things were still slow with this e-mail attempt, so not too much information again. We are now e-mailing him at sbertoch228@hotmail.com instead of the myldsmail account. So far it seems to be working better.

August 17, 2009

Hello again! Ok this is gonna have to be fast again- I dont know technology seems really slow in Africa...its weird.

Thanks for all the emails! I wish I couldve read them...myldsmail isnt working too well and i couldnt open anything. But the Blacks told me thqt you cancelled my credit card so thank you for that. Im not sure how im going to get money or what to do abt my license but im sure we'll figure something out.

Things are still going great here! My area is called Hedranawoe and i love it. There are about 75 members in my branch but that number is about to drastically increase :). My area is pretty big i think, we can walk up to 35 min to an appt. We walk along dirt roads and people have there houses/shops lined up a long them. Here I'm a yovo-it means white in the native language here-and the little kids always sing yovo yovo bon soir, ca va bien, merci! whenever they see me, its cute. they love to run up and touch me and its beeen a lot of fun.

K im outta time again, sorry i couldn't say much. im looking forward to this week-we have another couple baptisms lined up and its zone conference. I love you all! sorry i couldn't reply to anyone!