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

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 <> 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 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!

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!


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!

Elder Bertoch

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


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