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

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010

I mentioned in December the story of Elder Kumbongo from Congo who was trying to get to the states so he could go to BYU where he had already been accepted. The good news is his Visa was approved and enough funds were raised to fly him to Utah. The bad news is his wife was not allowed to accompany him. I guess they feel he is more likely to return if his wife is still there.
January 18, 2010

Sam is now in the country of Benin. When looking at a map of Africa, Benin is to the right of Togo. It's pretty interesting that he is in an apartment with someone from Congo, Ivory Coast and France. They also have the opportunity to start fresh in his area. What a great opportunity.

Hey everyone!

K so i gotta lot of questions to answer this week so i'll do my best to answer them all!

So I'm all settled into my appartment in Gbedjromede Benin. Its the biggest branch in Benin and from what I've seen so far stronger than my old branch in Hedzranawoe. I'm training my new companion Elder Tshibasu, who's straight from the MTC. He's from congo and a little strange but very nice. We will get a long just fine. My area here actually has not had missionaries in it for about 5 months so we're starting fresh. It'll be hard but nothing that we cant handle; theres a scripture in romans 8:31 that i love. If God is with us, who can stand against us? so true.

The other companionship in my appartment is Elder Yao (ivorien) and Ghisquierre (french). I'm the only anglophone now so my french should continue to improve. haha i doubt theres an appartment that compares with what i had in togo but the one here is not too bad. With the fans its not too hot and we cleaned it up a lot today too. Elder Starita is at the minotin branch and he is training too.

don't worry, i have a mosquitoe net (although i'll confess that i never really had one for most of the time i was in togo). I havent heard of any new missionaries being sent here since elder geisler but they could have come without me knowing.

Overall, benin seems much more developped than togo. There are more paved streets and i've even seen some street lights. The people seem richer too, most of the little "homes" i've seen are actually a little furnished.

K well i'm glad it sounds like you are all doing great! Jackson, get better! Sydney, you did you get that email i sent you? I love you all and I'll write again next week!

Elder Bertoch

ps i cant wait to get the package! Requests for the next one- soup packets that i can make here our any sort of food a i can make meals out of. We cook for eachother but i'm not very good so i need to cheat. For example, E Haltermans parents sent him cheese and brocolli soup in a packet and we made a sauce for rice out of that. Also, i would like a flash card so i can back up my pics! thanks!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 11, 2010

Sam sent some pictures that he took before leaving Togo. Here they are:

Chapel (Hedzranawoe, Togo)

Young women at NYs activity

Relief society at new years activity

Apartment (Togo)


Living Room


My Room

Spider that used to live in my room

Elder Cruz and Elder Dea

Elder Halterman and newborn goats

Sam's companion, Elder Halterman, is in the back

Togo soccer stadium

Branch of Hedzranawoe

Recent converts and their gerbils

Street outside my apartment that I walk everyday

That baptismal outfit was a little tight...

My tribal friends

Kotche and Loukoum, Branch missionary and branch mission leader. Without them missionary work would cease to exist in Hedz.

Vero and Joyce (Vero-9months pregnant- promised me she would name her child after me-Bertoch-...awesome!)

Keekee and Fofo (I just really needed a pic of him to remember New Years haha)

Soon to be convert family

My reactivated nigerian buddy

Two of my favorite Primary kids (Elom and Majoie)

Branch president and his daughter
Our convert family

January 11, 2010

He's sounding a little sad about leaving on Wednesday. I'm sure it's hard. I'm looking forward to hearing about Benin though.

Hey again everyone!

So I'm just getting ready to head out, getting everything clean and ready to go. We went out to our favorite cheeseburger place (called Akifs, owned by some old frenchmen) today for lunch to celebrate my going away and Elder Haltermans bday (tomorrow). I've been getting as many pictures as I can before I leave, with members and investigators. Its been pretty sad to say goodbye, a lot of my recent converts dont understand how missionaries work and keep asking me why I have to go. I've promised a lot of people that I would write them and even told some that I would be coming back with my family in 2011 (time will tell whether or not I lied haha).

So I'm actually leaving now the 13th, early in the morning at like 6 o clock. I still dont know what area I'm going to or who will be my companion (I'm told the zone leaders will tell me when I get there) but i cant wait to go. All I know about Benin is that it is hotter there and the church is much smaller there, only like three yrs old or something. I'm going there with Elder Starita (we're unseperable haha) and Elder Geisler (from Bountiful, hes been in the field for like 2 months).

Anyways, so this past week we still worked pretty hard. We started the week with the goal to baptize ten people but little problems came up for everyone except one who got baptized. The next baptism after I leave should be a pretty big one, everyone who didnt get baptized saturday will be the 23rd. I had the chance to give a talk my last sunday here which was very nice. At the end I was able to bear my testimony in the tribal language which was very special. I worked hard while I was here and now I probably speak the native language better than any other american...just in time to go to Benin and forget it all haha. After that I was in charge of teaching Young Womens and then my final day at church in Togo was over.

I havent heard much about the Togo soccer inicident other than some Congolaise (from what I hear they are crazy) rebels shot up the team bus. Is that what happened? Apparently the goalie is dead too? There arent really newspapers or anything here so its hard to get news.

Anyway I'm glad to hear everything is going great back home! I cant wait to update you all on life in Benin next week! I love you all!

PS Happy Birthday Grandma and Brent!
PPS I donated the money to the branch yesterday and asked specifically that it goes to couples or families trying to go to the temple to get sealed (we have a lot in our branch) so it will be going to really good use.

January 4, 2010

Looks like his days in Togo are numbered. I loved his story about the guy trying to get away from them by crawling away on all fours.

Bonsoir tout le monde!

So still rockin Togo here, on my fifth month in my area, but looks like thats comin to an end pretty soon. I just got word Saturday that I'm going to be transferred to Benin on the 15th. I'm not sure what area yet, or who my companion will be, but I think its pretty sure that I'm leaving and that I'll be with an African again which is fine. I'm going to be kinda sad to go, I've made a lot of friends here and I still love Elder Halterman, but I think its time for a change. I am grateful I get to be here for the baptism the 9th- it looks like we'll have another 5 baptisms or so. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures of everything before I go so I never forget Hedzranawoe. (The only thing that stinks is that apparently there is a big voodoo party in Benin the 10th so I'll just barely miss it dang it!)

Haha that sounds kinda funny about Elder Legere and Oaekson. I wouldnt wanna clean up the mess tho haha. Howd you hear about that?

Total for the month, me and Elder Halterman ended up with 9 baptisms. We dont know if we are the companionship of the month yet, but we know thats the most out of Togo and Benin. The companionship of the month last month had nine too.

Mom, since when were you in the nursery?

Yes, i was able to get the photos up! I loved seening them! And thank you for the package! It will probably get here after I leave but don't worry, the couple will just pick it up and take it to Benin. Thanks!

Sounds like everyone had a great New Years! Mine was... interesting haha. New Years is a pretty big day here, which means everyone just drinks a lot. So the 31st we went to our recent converts house and she was doing great but her younger sister that we have started teaching was pretty drunk which was too bad. Then the next day we had an appt with one of our investigators brothers (his name is Keekee, goes by Biggie). He's a pretty bigger (chubby guy) and is usually really cool and asked to meet with us. But when we got there Fofo (our investigator, cool guy) told us Keekee "wasnt there" with a smile on his face but told us to go see. So we walked into there yard and called out to see if anyone was there but no one answered and we didnt see anyone. So we turned around to leave but then we saw Keekee trying to crawl away (litterally, on all fours, hes a big guy) back into the front yard, trying to hide from us. Before we could say anything he was out of sight. We both felt awkward bc we clearly saw him so we started to leave, but then he entered like he had just gotten home. He said he wanted to talk so we sat down and the first thing he said was "I dont drink." We were just like ok...Bonjour to you too...but it was clear once we started talking he was either drunk or on drugs. He could barely talk without bursting into laughter and just acting ridiculous. Me and Elder Halterman couldnt help but smile a little bit too but we had to stop the lesson. So ya, New Years was crazy, couldnt go anywhere without getting stopped by weird drunk people but it was actually kinda fun haha (probably bad to say). We did stop by our baptismal canidate's houses and it seemed like they were all doing great a long with our recent converts which is great.

Haha well thats all I got this week! I love being a missionary and I have a strong testimony of this gospel that gets strengthened each day! I love you all and will talk to you next week!

Elder Bertoch

PS Do you think you could forward me what Pres wrote you guys? Thanks!
December 29, 2009

Here's Sam's letter after Christmas. I love that they bought soccer balls for a couple of kids and played soccer with them. During our phone call, I misunderstood something he said and was afraid his french wasn't coming along as well as I thought. He was very offended that I would think he couldn't speak french which was why he bears his testimony in french at the end of the e-mail.

Hey everyone!

It was great to talk to all of you too! Loved hearing your voices! And it sounds like you had a really good christmas! Did jackson get like 10 more presents than everyone else like usual? hehe :) Mmm fondue that sounds sooo good. Be sure to eat extra for me!

My christmas went really well! Me and Elder Halterman woke up and left pretty early to go buy some treats and a couple soccer balls for christmas. We gave the first one Mama Ahoefa's sons and their friends. It was so cool to see...when we got there they all started cheering and jumping up and down and were just so excited. Here people can't really afford gifts to give out for Christmas so hopefully we made theirs a little better. Then we went over to an investigator named mawussi's house and gave her little bro and his friends a soccer ball too and then played some soccer with them haha. It was a lot of fun.

Then we went to a members house and he fed us a really good christmas dinner (hes a little more well off for africa). We had rice and chicken and french fries and shish ca bobs it was delicious. Then we went over to our branch mission leader's house and ate a little more. I was very full by the end of the day.

The next day was the baptism and we went into it having four canidates but one ended up not passing her interview. But three baptisms still felt pretty good and we also had two investigators come to the baptism as well. The one that didnt pass the interview will still be able to get baptized the 9th and right now it looks like we could have another 6 or 7 baptisms that time too which will be awesome. Just for fun i will list their names: Pierrette, Veronique, Esther, Beta, Joyce, Pauline, Fofo, Yve (his dads back so we're talking with him so i'm hoping he'll agree), and Tchabiou. That'd be great if we got all of those! I'm just hoping I'll still be here, that'll make over 5 months that I've been in this area!

Anyway, this week we should be pretty busy getting them ready which will be good. I always love coming back to the appartment exhausted at night cause that lets me know I'm at least doing something right. I now that as we work hard we will always be blessed.

Well, I think I'll finish in french just to prove I can speak the language.

Je sais de tout mon coeur que cette église est bien l'église de Jésus Christ sur la terre. Je sais que Joseph Smith, sous la direction de Dieu, a retabli la mème organization que Jesus Christ a établi lorsque il est venu sur la terre. Je sais que cet message va beaucoup aider les gens ici au Togo et c'est pourquoi là que je veux que chaque personne aie cet evangile. Je travaillerai chaque jour afin de les aider.

Je vous aime beaucoup! à la semain prochaine!

Elder Bertoch