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

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 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!

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.


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!!


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 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 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.


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.


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!

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)