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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 20, 2010

So for the phone call i was thinking maybe just the same deal as last year? Christmas Eve, at 8 pm here so i think 1 pm there? That sound good? It it doesn't...well i hope it does cuz i wont be back on the computer before friday.
So I've just been having a blast this week. Elder Starita and I have been contacting people like crazy because we didnt have any investigators and it went well. We gave three baptismal dates and had three people come to church. Me and Elder Startita are not zone leaders anymore (or even district leaders), but its looking like in January we might get shipped out near the boarder of Ghana to start a new branch from scratch so that would be exciting. Like we would rent a building over there, run church (at first there would just be sunday school but after we baptize the first member we'd add other meetings) and thatd be pretty cool. But we'll see, thats just the plan for the moment. If i ended up doing that, i dont think id have much of a chance to go back to Benin.
So i have got an african artist working on the nativity sets. You guys probably noticed i took out a lot of money a couple weeks ago...can you guys make sure my account stays pretty full, i'm going to start buying things soon.

So what other news? Our zone is having fun together. Im with Elders Call, Cunningham, Cruz, Lewis, Ghisquiere, Leach, and Mbunga and a Madagash plus our district in the zone. This morning we all went and played two hand touch football together and it was a blast. Not to brag our anything but our district totally won, even with a future BYU running back on the other team.
Also, I shaved my head pretty dang short saturday night. Like preeeeeeeeeeetttttty dang short. I'll try to send pictures.
The couple here is the Herrs. I've only taked to them a few times but they seem really nice (like all missionary couples). We are actually going to do a christmas devotional at their house sunday night and a christmas activity with them next monday too. It should be fun.
Hmmm...dont know my address anymore. It should just be the same address you were using a year ago. Do you still have that?
So let me know what is going on with you guys! What are the christmas plans with you three? Actually as i m writing this im realizing i'll just ask you on friday! Cool!
Ok well thats all! I still love being a missionary and am going strong. No time to get lazy, gotta grow the church in Togo! I have a testimony of this work and am super happy with where i am! I love you all! Cant wait to talk in five days!
Elder Bertoch

December 13, 2010

Sam was sent to Togo again last week. It's good to know he and the other missionaries are safe and sound.

Alright, well an interesting week has gone by. Very eventful. So on Wednesday we had a special mission conference in which President (he finally got back into the country Tuesday) announced that things had calmed down enough to start to move back to our old areas little by little during the weekend which got us all pretty excited. The next day we went to a second mission conference again and during the conference President got a phone call that America was about to step into the whole election mess so there were going to be anti american feelings in the country. So the interregion decided it was best to get us out (the us embassy workers evacuated too). So thursday was spent running back to our old appartments and getting our bags and then Friday morning they flew all of us out. I ended up in Togo and President totally granted a favor that I asked him and put me with Elder Starita!!! After the conference on thursday I had realized that that would mean that Togo and Benin would have a lot of Americans so i went and approached President and requested to be companions with Elder Startia, promising that we would be the best companionship ever. This is going to be awesome. Our new branch is called Ablogamé, is just got created last week so we've already started to contact a bunch of people to get investigators. I'm super happy, we are going to work like crazy here and I know that we will see miracles here. It was really hard to leave Cote D'Ivoire, like I was depressed thursday night, but President made the transition a lot easier with this transfer and i have already loved seeing a lot of the old members i knew from a year ago, soon im going to try to visit people in Hedzranawoe.

So in our appartment we have us two, Elder Zufelt (was in the MTC with me), Elder Winter (french), Elder Geisler and Elder Shaffer (newer american missionary). We are going to have a blast. Our appartment is huuuge and really nice compared to my appartments in CDI. We have running water now which im really excited about. We already have seen like four mice and a bunch of cockroaches in the appartment so last night we went hunting (killed one mouse) and this morning cleaned like crazy.

Im not exactly sure how long i will be here though. President talked about in CDI that very soon he's going to start sending missionaries to start brand new branches from scratch, like in areas that have no members our investigators. The missionaries would run the church and everything and slowly grow the branch in that area. I think that sounds hard but would be suuupppper cool too. I really hope me and Starita get sent somewhere like that. Like reallly wanna open a new branch from scratch to finish my mission.

So i never did get those packages unfortunately. I guess its possible that President could send them over but im not sure. Its pretty sad but i'll survive. I'll be able to survive the next six months without new shoes or garments though, dont worry about me. I'm still excited for christmas though!

Ok well i better go! I hope I answered all of your questions! I love you all!

Elder Bertoch

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 9, 2010

Got word today from the missionary couple that they are flying the non-African missionaries out of the Ivory Coast. They will be going to either Togo or Benin. Don't know yet where Sam will end up. Some of the missionaries left today, but according to the pictures they sent, Sam does not appear to be one of them. So he will be leaving tomorrow. Sam loved the people of the Ivory Coast and I'm sure he is disappointed, but I have to imagine they are all relieved to be out of that cramped apartment. Here is the e-mail we received from the missionary couple:

Yes, Soeur Ayekoue & I did go shopping yesterday. It's not exactly the same thing, but all seems very good. Yet, we understand how quickly things can happen, and so does President Ayekoue, (and the Area Presidency) so....there are 15 tickets to Togo and Benin tomorrow abt 5:30pm for all expats (those from USA, France, & New Zealand). We have tickets as well, but may stay a little longer. Is it for a short time or for good, or to another location? For the missionaries, it is for the duration of their mission.
Remember there is always an upside: There are plans to finally split the mission, making Togo & Benin their own mission, hopefully by or before July this year. These elders are in a great position to help get things set up, organized, leadership, fellowship, etc. Plus, Elder Legere has wanted to experience Togo or Benin, even if only for a week (until he returns to Las Vegas). We will update you as things progress. Very busy right now. Can't imagine leaving the President at this time, or at any time. We've included a couple of pictures of some that left today. Keep in touch.
Lots of love,
Soeur Gubler

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

November 6, 2010

Things are getting crazier in the Ivory Coast. Both candidates have declared himself the winner and has sworn himself in as President. The risk for violence or even civil war has escalated, so the missionaries haven't been able to go out except for church yesterday and a quick trip to the computer today. We are praying for a quick resolution and for safe missionaries. I feel pretty calm, however - I have faith that they will be protected.

Hey family!

Still stuck in lockdown. Havent left that tiny apartment in over a week (except to go to church yesterday and cyber today). Im going a little insane but not toooo bad. There are fourteen of us in this appartment (Starita, Carver, Cruz, Legere, Leach, and eight africans). Apparently things are still pretty unstable outside (the country now has two presidents creating their own governments) but hopefully they will be able to resolve it.

President Ayekoue is still locked out of the country (he was in Togo when the boarders got shut down) but we're hoping he makes it back soon.

Well gotta go, just a quick note to let y'all know that i'm doin fine! I love you all! Thank you so much for the prayers! I hope i get the packages soon! The church is true!

Elder Bertoch

PS The inter-region is now creating the Togo Benin Mission. Great news!

PPS Im considering studying Arabic when i get home
November 29, 2010

The run off election was held yesterday between two remaining candidates. The results are expected by Wednesday, which is why Sam expects to be in quarantine until then.

Ok we dont have too much time in the cyber today, just a quick note to let you all know that we are all fine. We are back in quarantine since saturday and should be here until wednesday or thursday. Things are a little crazier here this time but nothing im too worried about.

My birthday went well. My companion bought me a cake and threw a surprise party for me with the zone so it was really fun. Didnt get to go out for pizza but i'll try and do that next monday maybe. Sadly I havent gotten the package yet, hopefully it comes this week.

But we're doing good here. I was happy to here you guys all had a great thanksgiving! Just looking at you all wearing sweaters made me start sweating haha. I cant believe its almost christmas! Wow this year went by fast. And its snowing there? Thats cool. Things are starting to really heat up here again.

Thanks so much for the quote, Mom! I love President Monson. Espescially this time of the year we all need to keep Jesus Christ and his gift to us on our minds. Since I've been on my mission I've read the book Jesus the Christ like three times and thats really helped me to understand His life and mission.

Scripture study ideas- one thing i like to do sometimes is to pick a Christlike Attribute from Preach My Gospel and focus my scripture study on scriptures about that topic and work on applying it during the week. Just one idea. But chapter 6 is definitely one of my favorite chapters in PMG.

Ok well gotta get back to quarantine! I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Bertoch
November 22, 2010

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone! (November 26) This year best birthday email goes to... Jackson! -his sneak attack on dad's age sealed the deal.
Things are still going good here. Unfortuneately I havent gotten the package yet but my fingers are crossed that I'll get it before Friday. I planning on taking my district out for pizza next monday to celebrate so can you guys make sure i have money in my account? Thanks!

Doesnt look like anything special will be happening for thanksgiving though. Sadly this year there are not any americans in the ward to invite us over. No biggie, i'll eat more than my share of rice and tomatoe sauce to compensate.
Theres another Harry Potter movie?! I swear thats like the third one thats come out since i started my mission.

Hmmm...I think i could end up staying here until the end of January. Actually for the moment I think thats what i see happening. Whatever happens, I probably only have one area left after this one (maybe two if I'm lucky).

So the campaigns for the elections started again last saturday. The current President (Gbagbo Laurent) against the challenger (Allassane Ouattera). As far as I can tell, it should be a pretty even race. It sounds like all the non ivoriens will end up having to return to quarantine this week- tomorrow we are having mission conference so they will give us the details then. But things are still quiet, if it werent for the stickers, t shirts, and billboards everywhere you wouldnt even know there was an election going on.

We went to Grand Bassam (the city on the beach, about a 45 min bus ride away) two more times this week to do interviews. Baptismal interviews are always very rewarding to do. I love talking to baptismal canidates bear their testimonies and express their committment to follow Jesus Christ. Each one is always a unique experience that strengthens my testimony.

The music here is pretty much the same. In well developed wards they have choirs that sing the hymns very well. At church we only sing hymns but at activities sometimes the choir will sing traditional/gospel type music clapping and dancing and everything which is cool to see.

The young mens programs does not really exist yet in our ward. I dont think they ever meet during the week except rarely for special activities. Like last monday we played against them in soccer. Our ward doesnt really have to many young men yet so i guess thats kind of the problem.

The work is still going well. We added two more baptismal dates this week our zone is also going to baptize like fifteen people this saturday also (like a first for the zone of Koumassi) so i'm excited. I only hope that i wont spend too much time away.
Yesterday there was Stake Conference for all of west Africa. It was a projection that we watched at the stake center led by Elder Oaks. It was pretty cool, I ended up giving up my seat to a member (there are nine wards in the stake so it was pretty full) but what i saw was good- one speaker talked about the importance of smiling. Very important, especially for missionaries.

Well, i probably had other things i was going to say but my mind just went blank. Sorry! Have a good week and you will all be in my prayers! Thanks for the pictures too! They made me smile! Love you all!

Elder Bertoch
November 15, 2010

Well had just another awesome week this week. Although now im trying

to think of something that happened during it...nothing memorable just
good ole missionary work. We set a baptismal date after reading 2
Nephi 31 with an investigator for the 27th...only problem is that for
the moment its our only baptismal date haha. So we're working hard to
find new people; saturday is always a good day to find families at
home so we did some tracting. Most people were not interested but
there was one really nice family that let us in. They said that anyone
that talks about God is welcome in their house (something we hear
often-Africans have an amazingly strong faith in God). They are
promising- just got married and the wife is pregnant- so we'll see how
it turns out. We need good new investigators.

Yesterday i also had another chance to speak in church. There was
actually an error and somehow i was not informed i would be speaking
until it was annonced. It went well though, it was just a great chance
to let the Spirit guide my words. I didnt have anything prepared so i
just talked about the importance of families- strengthening our
families by family prayer, scripture study and FHE, and sharing the
gospel with members of our family who are not yet members of the
church. I also had the chance to bear testimony of how grateful i am
to have a family that raised in the gospel and that if it werent for
them i would not be here today.

Thursday there was a Leaders meeting at the mission office. President
doesnt seem to be worried about the elections at all this time and so
it seems like i'll just be able to stay here luckily.

I havent gotten the packages yet. I asked around and appartenly the
mail is slower here than Benin- packages take about 4-5 weeks.
Hopefully I'll get it this week though. I need those shoes haha.

Sorry about the lack of pictures lately. For some reason i have
trouble sending them from this cyber here. I'll keep trying though.

Yep i get everyones emails! Thank you so much! Today i was lucky
enough to hear from Leanne and Grandma!

New reading assignment- Alma 5

Well have fun this week! Sounds like you guys will have a blast with
Mike and Sydney too!
November 8, 2010

Hey! (seems like thats how i start every email)

So the regrouping is finally over! It was fun for a while, but then
sunday-wednesday we werent allowed to leave the appartment so it got a
little tiring. Twelve people in a little appartment 24/7 gets a little
cramped but i got to know a lot of new people which was cool. Nothing
too exciting happened during the elections either- President said that
Abidjan just was empty for three days, there were no cars on the
street, stores were closed, nobody went out cuz they were scared.

So you guys know already, there will be a second election later this
month- it just got changed to the 21st i think. We're hoping that we
wont have to go back into quarantine again, President said since
everything was calm the first time, we might be able to stay in our

So I'm back here at Koumassi now with Elder Kuiongbe. Yep, the mission
recieved 8 new missionaries (two of which are in my zone) but I'm most
likely done training (zone leaders are just paired with other zone
leaders). Which is actually too bad, i probably progressed the most on
my mission when i was with Elder Tshibasu. Anyway, this month we're
realizing that we baptized all of our good investigators last month,
so we'll have to work on finding alot. Nevertheless, we set our goal
for baptisms at seven so we'll have to work pretty hard.

Today we had zone conference for our zone. President talked a lot
about the role of the Spirit in conversion and then a lot of specific
problems that missionaries have in the mission (as far as behavior
goes). It was really good. Afterwards we had our interviews and me and
president had a really good conversation about the mission. I came out
of the conference very committed to improve myself and be a really
good example.

We also got to watch two sessions of general conference at church
yesterday (sat afternoon and sun morning). It was awesome. I
especially enjoyed Elder Oaks' talk on recieving revelation by the
personal line and the preisthood line. There was also a talk on
selective obedience that i liked too. Cant wait to get the Ensign.

Ya, there is a new AP now, Elder Cloward. He was actually my zone
leader when I was in Benin. He finishes at the end of january i think.

Yep, its been raining here lately, but nothing like the rain in Benin.
That was just unbelievable. And no, actually, Togo seems like it was
just yesterday, and then i remember that its been almost a year since
i left. Crazy.

Anyway your guys' new assignment is...2 Nephi 31. We talked about this
chapter a lot last mission conference while we were talking about the
doctrine of Christ.

Well that about it! I love you all! Thanks for the email too, syd! I
got the one before too. You are a writing machine!

Elder Bertoch
November 1, 2010


So, survived the elections. Barely. Just kiddin, yesterday was pretty calm, we went to church in the morning and then werent allowed to leave the appartment after that. So actually just really boring. Today we're not allowed to leave the appartment either (except to write home) cuz the results are starting to come out.

Thats the first time i heard about the rule that they might have to do the elections again this month. That would probably mean that we would have to stay here. Darn.

Me and my companion just missed being companionship of the month unfortunately. You know who took it from us? Elder Halterman and Elder Aiba baptizing our investigators in Niangon, so i was still happy.

Elder Halvorsen says that Yamasoukro is extremely hot and very muslim and catholic (has the largest basilic in the world). I actually think that it is very possible that when he finishes i replace him up there. That would be kinda cool.

Anyway, the work is still progressing, even in these conditions. Since me and Elder Halvorsen didn't have any investigators here, we have just been knocking doors. The first door we ever knocked on was somebody named Kouadio Nixon. We taught him the restoration and set up a return appointment in two days. Came back, taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, and committed him to baptism for this saturday (seems extremely rushed, i know, but the mission just came out with a policy that the investigators pick the day they get baptized. Its very possible that we will push that back this week when we talk about the commandments). He came to church yesterday and will have his interview on friday. So everything is a little smushed in time wise but its possible that during the two weeks we will be here that me and Elder Halvorsen will actually baptize someone. The Lord always has a reason for everything, i know we are meant to be in this area right now.

Thanks for reading Moroni 7! New reading assignment: The book of James. I've grown to love the New Testament and that is just a great book.

I'm glad you guys had a great halloween! Nope, sadly, the children here dont trick or treat, Jack. In fact, from what i could see from our appartment balcony yesterday, the streets were kinda empty. Even the Ivoriens are afraid to go out during this time.

Glad you had a fun trip dad! Have fun in Phoenix this week! Way to set the example, Mom! And I about drooled all over the keyboard when you talked about the fondue!

Well, just know that I'm safe and happy. Since we spend a lot of time at the appartment these days i started reading Doctrine and Covenants all the way through. I've read the Bible and the Book of Mormon (a few times) but this is the first time reading D and C. Very interesting stuff. I hope you guys have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Bertoch
October 27, 2010

Sam starts by explaining how the non-ivorians had to move in together during the elections. The Ivory Coast has a history of violence during elections and they want the missionaries together in one area in case of any trouble. The election is scheduled for October 31.

Hey fam!

Sorry for not writing on monday, i was busy with the move to the new appt so im stopping by today.

Things are going well here. There ended up being twelve in the same appartment with one shower, four beds, three fans, and a hundred cockroaches so its interesting haha. But we still have a blast- all night we all just talk and laugh together. My companion for the two weeks is Elder Halverson (from washington , finishes in January) and we're the zone leaders here. When we get back to the appartment at night we have a schedule we have to follow- we plan, then there is a scriptual topic that we talk about for two hours, then we eat. Everyone has been given a little mini area here so when we can leave the appartment we just do door to door.

I forgot to tell you that a few weeks ago I went to the zoo! Its not at all like the zoos in America, here there is basically no supervision and you can get as close to the animals as you dare. I fed an elephant, a hippo, a chimpanzee, and a deer type animal, it was pretty dang cool.

Today we had mission conference. President talked a lot abouta new method that the missionaries in the MTCs are taught and gave us the same training. He spoke about how we shouldnt teach anything but the doctrine of Christ, pure and simple. He also talked about the role the Holy Ghost should play in our lives. I was very inspired by everything he taught and cant wait to put it into practice.

In my zone I didnt really have any disobedient missionaries just some discouraged ones. Some people get it into their head that an area is "hard" so they are less motivated to work. In reality, the Lord has prepared people everywhere, but if you tell yourself that its hard, you're just hindering the Lord from guiding you to those people. Whether you tell yourself that you will be successful and baptize or that its hard and nothing will move forward, you'll be right. Its just part of having faith.

We had another baptismal service last saturday and baptized Richard and Jacqueline. This saturday two more will get baptized too- it's too bad i wont be there.

Well, thats about all the time i've got. I testify that God loves and knows each one of us. He is in control and only has our best interests at heart which is such a comforting thought. I know Jesus Christ is my personal Savior and older brother, and a friend for each one of us when we might feel lost or alone. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its entirety and thanks to that fact each one of us can be sealed as a family for eternity. Thats why I'm here, to help other families to get onto the path that i was blessed enough to be born in to. I love you all and pray for you every night. Do me a favor and read Moroni 7 this week, an awesome chapter.

Elder Bertoch

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 18, 2010

Hey everybody!

Wow sounds like you guys had a great time in San Fran! (Especially the incident with the drunk lady haha) I was trying to figure out why you waited till i left to start going on a bunch of trips and then i realized...without me there theres nobody to fight with Sydney and Jack! Things are probably so peaceful haha!

Ok onto your many questions:
No signs of violence or protests or anything. Maybe its just because we're are in the appartment really early, but i have noticed any big differences. Just normal campaigning- billboards, stickers and such. The only real worry i think is that after the results come out (the 31st) the losers wont accept it and cause problems. The way i heard it is that there are three major canidate and all three are positive that they are going to win. Im not worried tho, really everything is calm.

I head off to my new appartment next monday. Its not far from the us embassy, the airport, or the mission home so if anything does happen we will be in the best place. And there are three different appartments for the non ivoriens so its not all the whites that are together. The americans in my appartment are Elder Carver, Elder Cruz, and Elder Halvorsen and then a mix of missionaries from benin, togo and congo. We'll all be together until the 8th of November and then there will probably be a big transfer because a lot of missionaries arrive and a lot finish too.

With the shoes I think size ten would be best. Eleven will probably be too big for me. Seven pairs of garments would be ok, that way i can throw away the old ones. One other request- roll on deordorant (3). Impossible to find here and i just started my last one.

No serious health problems lately. Ingrown toenails are still a problem but nothing that slows me down too much.

I have never attended another church but we have taught a lot of pastors. Never had any of them make any real progress but one did come to church once. Gotta be careful here cuz if you are not careful they will take church materials to go teach in their churches haha (they especially love Gospel Principles).

Eek i haven't played basketball since Togo. If we ever play sports here its always soccer. Always soccer. I'll be way out of practice by the time i get back haha.

I have not heard or read General conference yet! Can you put a couple Ensigns in my package too?

Anyway, this week was amazing as usual. We will baptize, fingers crossed, four of our investigators this saturday and three the saturday after that. One of them is actually the best friend of Elder Yao who was in my district in Benin so thats pretty cool. My companion had me take charge of the area this week so i'd know it better which really helped me- i need to get everything down pretty well because it is very possible when i come back to Koumassi my companion will be transferred. We still get a long just fine- things are usually pretty quiet at the appartment cuz it is just the two of us and we have to find quality things to fill out time from 5-10 at night. This week we'll be busy with a meeting the the district leaders in our zone wednesday, a meeting with all the mission leaders at the office thursday, baptismal interviews thursday and the baptism saturday so we'll have a lot to fit in. Anyways, love this area, love this ward, love my companion, love being a missionary and i love you all! Im just filled with love haha.

Elder Bertoch

Ps Dang i wrote kind of a lot to day. Your welcome.
October 11, 2010

Hey again!

First off, the report on the giant mouse- We found it was living under our entertainment center thing so we scared it out and chased it around the appartment trying to whack it with broomsticks. Weirdly enough, that didnt work and it escaped out onto the balcony. We have not seen it since. End of report.

The baptisms went well last saturday. All three were able to get baptized. We have six other potential canidates for the 23rd which would be great. My companion and I are hoping to be companionship of the month for october.

So the 25th I will be going to the Riviera appt with ten other non ivoriens (a couple americans, some togolese, beninese, and congoese). There are only four beds there so a lot of us will be sleeping on the floor. We'll still do missionary work while we are there we just cant go far from the appt and have to be home early. Should be fun.

In the birthday package i would like-
A pair of black shoes (the pair i bought is already falling apart)
Mesh garments
Those are the only really specific things that i was thinking of. As i remember other things I let you know.

Yes, please go ahead and renew my drivers lisence. You never know.

This week was pretty busy. It seems like we have so many things to do but such limited time that we can never really do something 100 percent, we just do everything 75 percent haha. We went and visited the missionaries in our zone who are at Grand Bassam (a city just outside of Abidjan) and did their district meeting with them. We also had a meeting at the mission office and it just seemed like we were never actually in out area. But we manage. We've gotten good at relying on our members to help us if we dont have time- our ward mission leader is an ex missionary so if we dont have time to visit someone we just ask him to. All in all, things are going pretty well. Yesterday was missionary sunday so we spoke at church and taught the classes and that went well too.

Haha so after I thought about it, 136 lbs seemed way to small. So i weighed myself again and i actually weigh 144, much better. And im pretty sure i'd be ok going on a cruise when i get back, sounds like a lot of fun.

Im glad you had fun at outdoor ed jack! You'll have to let me know what all you did!
Ok, have a good week! I love you all!

Elder Bertoch
October 4, 2010

It ended up that Brother Leavitt came into town as well, so we rescheduled for a couple of days later and had them to dinner. We had a fabulous visit - what wonderful people they are! We are so indebted to them for all they did for Sam and the other missionaries in Togo and Benin.

Hey family!

Ehh, Im so jealous you guys got to meet with the Leavitts! They are so amazing, all the missionaries here were in love with them. I dont think they realize how much they helped us and the church grow in Benin.

Ok people you would know in my zone...umm Elder Geisler is a district leader in my zone and i think thats it. Elder Kuiongbe is from abidjan, the toit rouge stake more specifically. O ya, Elder Halterman has gotten skkkiiiiinnnny. I wont tell you how much i weigh. Ok, i will- 62 kilos. About 136 lbs. I'm actually just praying that that scale was broken haha. But dont worry about me, im perfectly healthy.

This was a pretty good week. Got a good taste of what zone leadering is like. Visited all of the districts in our zone and exhorted them to do better and resolved problems and such. With the elections coming up we have to be home at 6 pm everyday which makes the work harder. And starting at the 14th we have to be home at 5 pm. And starting the 25th all of non ivorien missionaries have to regroup together in the same appartment for a couple weeks. Not good for missionary work but a neccessary precaution i guess. So, we are going to baptize all of our canidates before the 25 (at least that it the plan). This saturday we are going to baptize three (Monique, Aminatha and Irene) and the next saturday or the saturday after that we whould baptize four more (jacqueline, joseph, richard, dorcas). The work is moving a long nicely in Koumassi. Its great to see how much the Lord helps us in this work. In no matter what area we are, there are always people that have been prepared to recieve this message.

Hmm, what else? Theres a giant mouse living in my appartment. I will take care of it this week and report back next monday.

Ahh gotta go! We did some work for Sr Ayekoue today so we didnt really have time to write! I'll try to get permission to come back tomorrow morning to write more and to write everyone else! Love you!

Elder Bertoch
September 27, 2010

Sister Leavitt, who was one-half of the missionary couple in Benin with Sam, called when she was in town visiting her daughter (who knew they had a daughter so close). She wants to meet us and show us pictures of Africa. Needless to say we are very excited to meet her.

So, I really like my new area. Elder Kuiongbe is great, hes an oldtimer, finishes his mission in January. Hes a funny guy and a real hard worker. Really knows how to connect with people so i'll learn a lot. Hes been zone leader for about 6 months so he'll train me well. We have a zone of twelve missionaries (three districts like all the other zones) so it is not too overwhelming or anything. Right now we're just making sure everyone understands the new planning methods that Elder Sitati taught us. Nothing too difficult, but we do use a lot of time and money visiting other appartments.

Haha, Elder Cunningham was one of my companions in the mtc. He's been in Abidjan his whole mission, most of it in the same zone (hes zone leader now too). Me and Elder Starita actually realized when i was leaving that this will be the first time our entire missions that we wont be in the same zone. Crazy.

I called Elder Aiba yesterday to see how the baptisms went and there were two that went through so that was good to hear. We had six more baptismal dates for october so i'll be checking back in to see how those turn out.

Zone Conference was great. President was extremely happy with our zone (niangon) and the work we had done. Our zone baptized the most for the month so he didnt have much to complain about.

Haha of course i take doxy! Elder Starita does too and he got malaria the day after me. Apparently we just had really stubborn mosiquitoes in our appartment.

SISTER LEAVITT IS COMING OVER? Thats exciting! Tell her i say hi!!! And thank you again! Hows Elder Leavitt doing? Its too bad you wont see him, i think you'd really like him haha. The couple in the Ivory Coast is the Gublers but they stick pretty much to the office, I dont really know them. They are from las vegas.

Koumassi is a ward in the cocody stake. We had about 84 ppl at church on sunday, not toooo bad (my other ward it was 194). As zone leaders, we are expected to have better numbers than everyone else so we'll be teaching a lot. Elder Kuiongbe has already baptized ten ppl this month (his reputation in the mission is that he baptizes like crazy).

Ohhh with eight months left i'll probably get transferred one more time, two if im lucky. Halterman is still in Benin but im pretty positive hes coming over in a couple weeks cuz his visa has to be pretty much up by now.

Ok well thats all i got for this time! Let me know if you have anymore questions, it makes writing so much easier! I love you all!
September 20, 2010

Hey family!

Loved to hear that you all had a great week! That spider is pretty dang cool. Jackson, whats with your hair?! I would never have hair that long.

Another great week for me too. Wednesday and thursday morning i had leadership meetings to go to. They were pretty interesting, we are being trained on a new way to do weekly planning. We also did zone reports and out zone is at the top so far for the month of september which is nice. Saturday we baptized two investigators, Guy and Innocent which was pretty cool. They are both in their twenties and are super nice. They will be good for the ward. We've been having a lot of success lately, sunday we had 18 investigators at church and this saturday we are going to baptize four more people. Well, actually Elder Aiba will baptize four more people because a got the call saturday night that I am transferred wednesday to Koumassi to be zone leader. My new companion is Elder Kuiongbé whos pretty cool, he actually trained Elder Cunningham. Anyway, so like with every transfer i am full of mixed feelings, excited to go work in a new area but sad to say goodbye to all the people that i have grown to love here.

Other than that, not too much happened. Tomorrow we have zone conference with President again so that is always exciting.

The elections for cote divoire are comming up at the end of october so there are a bunch of precautions with the missionaries now. For the moment we just have to be home by 7 pm. The 25 of october all of the non ivorian missionaries are going to be grouped together in an appartment for a couple of weeks. Like i said, just precautions, there is nothing serious that is going on. I am just annoyed cuz thats going to make baptizing people kinda difficult. I only have eight and a half months left!

Ok well thats all i got for this week! Love ya all!

Elder Bertoch

This is an afterthought to our question about his mentioning last week that he was a "little" sick: haha i had malaria but it wasnt that bad. I had a fever of like 102.5 so i went to the hospital, they did the malaria test, gave me the medicine and sent me home the same night with orders to rest for three days. By the next day i was feeling pretty much fine again. You guys dont have to worry about me, nothin can take me down.
September 13, 2010

Hey everyone!

Things are going great still! Nothing too exciting happened this week. I actually got a liiiiiiiitle sick (just a little) so saturday and sunday we took it a little easy. Our baptisms all actually got put off till this saturday so we're hoping that they go through this time. I did a split with Elder Mayinguila this week (hes from congo and in my district, hes only been out for about five months) and that was fun. I always like meeting other peoples investigators and seeing other areas.

This week we also had a meeting with all the auxuillary leaders about missionary work in the ward. In theory we are supposed to recieve five contacts from each auxillary each month but that hasn't happened since i've been here so we finally got them all together to talk about it. We got the plan all organized and now i think we should recieve even more contacts than before.

The next transfer would be the 22nd but i try not to think about it. I'm actually hoping that i'll stay here so we'll see.

My favorite investigators of the week are Monsieur and Madame Nanan. They are a pretty well off couple that live together with their 8 month old baby. We teach them and the wife was coming to church but now we have finally got the husband to come to church too. They are not legally married so yesterday our bishop (like a champion) pulled them aside after church and took the time to talk to them for a long time about marriage. We'll gonna try and get them married next month which would be great.

Haha the fish tasted fine [see picture of fish head below]. We eat stuff like that all the time so i didnt even think to take a picture of it until Elder Boty suggested it. The big think here in CDI is fish so they have alllll kinds. My favorite is probably smoked tuna. Its pretty good.

Ok thats all for this week! I love you all! Good luck with weight lifting! Keep up the good work!

Elder Bertoch

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 6, 2010 (Labor Day)

Yay! We got some pictures! His big problem this week is that they have so many investigators that they don't have time to contact new ones. Not a bad problem to have.


Sorry if this is a little short, but i used a lot of time working on pictures!

Ok, so things are going extremely well still! This might be the happiest time since I started my mission! Saturday we baptized two investigators, charlie and joceline which was nice. I got to baptize them and also helped baptize a one legged man whos in a different ward. It was pretty nice. We have already set eight baptismal dates for the month and we're planning on adding like three more this week. Really, i love the work here.

Yep Im still with Elder Starita. Elder Cunningham is in our zone too so the fearsome threesome is together again. They are the only americans i ever see plus elder Jerman who is assistant. P days we dont do too much, maybe family home evening the night but during the day we just clean and buy food for the week. Nothing exciting at all. CDI is a lot cooler than Benin and Togo I think, or maybe this year its not as hot anywhere.

As far as packages go, im doing fine! Just let me know when you start getting the bday one put together and i might have some requests.

Any cool stories this week? Umm, i dont think anything too exciting happened. We are still really seeing the fruits of our tracting and have so many progressing investigators we dont have time to contact new ones anymore. A good sign i think. There are still signs in CDI that the church is young just little weird things that still happen, like at baptisms they call the people that baptize "John the Baptist" which i find kinda creepy.

Thats not surprising that Bro Wright is an awesome WML. I wish we had him here! I hope i get a calling like that when i get back, maybe i could be his ward missionary.

Well thats all i got! I love you all! Enjoy the pictures!

Elder Bertoch

Marie Joseph (notice we're wet from filling up the font with rain water)

Font filled with rain water

Charlie and Joceline and my new companion Elder Aiba

Sam and the ward missionary

A fish for dinner

What was left of that fish head

Elder and Sister Baily
This was at the going away party for the senior couple in the Ivory Coast
Sam is dressed as Sister Baily

View from our apartment in Abidjan

Another view from our apartment in Abidjan

Ward building in Abidjan

August 30, 2010

Well, Sam's already got a new companion and he may be sending pictures next week, so stay tuned. We received another update on Elder Leavitt and it turns out he needs a knee replacement, so they will have to be released as missionaries. They were hoping to be reassigned, but the recovery for the knee will take too long.

Hey everyone!

Another good week gone by! Me and Elder Boty worked and set a lot of baptismal dates so now we have about seven fixed for the moment. Two SHOULD get baptized this week and the other five later this month. I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

Other than that nothing too exciting happened this week. I had fun working hard and me and Elder Boty have really started to work well together. Which is actually too bad because he just got transferred today. This area was actually pretty hard for him because he grew up here until about 2007. So everyday we would run into his old friends or teachers or cousins or something. But now hes in a different zone. My new companion's name is Elder Aiba. Hes also Ivorien. I can tell already that he is a really good missionary. Hes been on his mission for about 11 months. In his old area he was district leader too. I actually have a pretty strong feeling that he is here to replace me, a lot of missionaries finish their missions this month (including Elder Bowman) so i wouldnt be surprised if I get transferred in about three weeks but we'll see. I'll enjoy it here while i can- the ward here is very focused on missionary work and there are at least three new investigators at church that they have invited every week and the bishop is very focused on missionary work too.

I love being a missionary still! And not to brag or anything, but since my year mark i've gotten pretty good at writing in my journal.

Thats too bad about the Leavitts! Hopefull i will see them again one day, i need to thank them again. Apparently they came on their missions just to take care of me and elder starita and geisler and as soon as we left they did too!

Hmm, i guess i've kinda been slacking on the pictures lately. I'll see what i can do next week.

Ok well I love you all! Have a good week!

Elder Bertoch