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

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010

What a blessing for Sam to be doing so well in an area that is very challenging. In this e-mail he is referring to all the traveling his dad is doing lately for work and then this weekend we are going to Cedar City for Grandpa Bertoch's 80th birthday then taking him to Las Vegas to a Tony Bennett concert.

Hey family!

Had another good week this week. A lot of if was just getting Victorine and Richard ready to be baptized. The interviews are this week but i'm pretty sure everything sure happen with out any problems. Elder Ghisqiere and Yao have some baptisms too so things are really starting to move here. My goal is to have this branch split before I get transferred. We're pretty close right now, we just need to get the assistance a little higher. There are also still the doctinal issues we need to work out too- for example our branch president ended his remarks "in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost, amen". (We cant judge him too much, he was a catholic priest for many years before he got baptized).

Sunday was also a good day. I dont know if i ever mentioned it, but every second sunday in the mission is missionary sunday where the missionaries teach the classes and give the talks. I taught the english sunday school class and relief society. It was a lot of fun. I have now reached the point where I understand french infinitly more than i understand nigerian english haha.

I've kept in touch with Elder Halterman in my old area. Things are still going great there. Most of the old investigators that were ready for baptism when i left have been baptized now so thats great.

Wow thats a lot of traveling this week. Have fun in las vegas! tell grandpa i love him and i wish him a happy bday!

Nope, no more problems with in grown toenails. I have been pretty healthy since i got to benin. Haha recently i have only been dreaming in french. I dont speak english hardly at all anymore, everyone in my appt is francophone.

K well thats all i got for this week! I cant wait to get your package! The couple is in Togo right now but im sure i'll get it when they get back! I love you all and i cant wait till next week!

Elder Bertoch

Monday, February 8, 2010

Here's Sam's e-mail for the week. Elder Golden is a General Authority, First Quorum of the Seventy, and the First Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency. He is South African from Johannesburg. He has had assignments all over Africa and other parts of the world. Matt is Sam's cousin from Las Vegas.

Hello again everyone!

Well it was another great week to be a missionary. It started off with me getting your package which was great, thank you very much! The cookies were a great idea and i even found the will power to share with the other missionaries! They were delicious!

So zone conference was pretty awesome. Elder Golden didnt come with anything prepared and ended up going into a lot of deep doctrine about the laws of justice and mercy. It was extremely interesting and gave me a whole new perspective about the atonement. Something I've realized on my mission is that the atonement is the whole reason I'm here. Christ sacraficed himself for everyone on this earth wheter they know it or not, whether they accept it or not. I'm here to tell them about it, to show them how to accept it- by having faith, repenting, being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost, and persevering to the end and going to the temple. That is the pathway to the Celestial Kingdom and we are here to help people find it.

After conference ended I was lucky enough to be chosen to be interviewed by Elder Golden. He thanked me for my service, gave me some great advice, and made me promise to write you and tell you that he says that i'm a very extraordinary missionary. He says hi.

Also at zone conference I finally found out that Elder Halterman and I were companionship of the month in December (we finally got the newsletter with our pictures on it). That was really cool too.

Haha training is still going well. I'm basically done training now- hes a fast learner so i dont even think of him as a new missionary too much anymore. We work very well together.

I'm pretty much used to the heat. I'll be freezing cold when I get back to the US. Its hot at night but its not bad if you have a fan blowing right on you. The other night was killer though cuz the power went out so there was no way to cool down. We were sweating like crazy and i didnt sleep much that night. Hmmm...I havent checked in a while but i would say i probably weigh around 155-160lbs. My district leader, elder ghisquiere (french) has lost 66 lbs since he started 11 months ago haha.

Ok well I think thats all I got! I love you all and am looking forward to next week! Thanks for the email also Leslie! Let me know where Matt gets his call! We'd love to have him out here in Benin!


Elder Bertoch
This a picture of the 12 missionaries in Benin, Elder and Sister Golden (on the left), the mission president in the center and Elder and Sister Leavitt (senior couple; on the right). Sam is in between Elder Golden and the mission president.

Friday, February 5, 2010

February 1, 2010

k sorry but this will be short again too- we went to the cyber in Elder Staritas area and it stinks. Lecon learned- my area is the best.

Ok so this week was very encouraging. After an entier week of contacting we are starting to see the fruits of our efforts. At church we had 5 investigators and we have set three baptismal dates with at least two more to follow this week. I'll tell you about one of them...hmmm..Richard is good. Hes 20 and both of his older brothers are members. Hes talked with the missionaries before but hes always said that there are too many commandments in the church. Me and E Tshibasu had a little chat with him about obedience (chastised him just a little bit) and then he said he wanted to get baptized. It was very cool.

Anyway the branch here is pretty cool. The leaders really on the missionaries a lot for advice on how to run things (most of the leaders have only been members for a few years) but we're trying to help them become more self reliant. False doctrine is all around here- yesterday someone gave a talk about the Holy Ghost, how it is really just the spirit of God and we believe in the Holy Trinity. Then another member repeated that in sunday school. We'll have to straighten that out eventually. The next big job here is to establish a branch mission plan since that hasnt been done yet. But the leaders are very sincere, and they really want to learn and help the missionary work so things will soon be booming here.

Zone conference is on wednesday so that should be exciting. Ive heard elder golden is pretty intense.

My companion speaks french but hes writing friends from home and the mtc now so thats going good. Dont feel bad or anything.

Thank you so much for the package! I cant wait! Im expecting the other one when the couple gets back from Togo.

Ok thats all I got time for! I love you all! Thanks for the email Grandma! I love hearing from everyone even if i cant write back!


Elder Bertoch

Jack, a scout already?! wow you're really old. you better not be taller than me when i get back!
January 25, 2010

Hey family!

Ok so sorry if my emails are a little shorter from now on (i know, youre asking "how could they get any shorter?") but I'm trying to spend less time here now that i have an african comp again who writes president and then is finished.

Anyway, I'm still doing great! I've gotten pretty comfortable in Benin now, i know the members ok and im kinda familiar with my area now! It was hard in the beginning, we had no investigators so all we did was contacting- i now know a little bit of what if must feel like to be a missionary in norway. But we worked hard, found almost 50 new investigators and although not all of them are serious, I know that there are plenty among them who have been prepared by God to hear this message.

P days here are basically like pdays in Togo. We've really deep cleaned the appartment since I got here- it was kind of a wreck, and we did play soccer this morning. At night all the missionaries doing contacting activities in their areas.

Thats sad about Haiti, I hadnt heard that. We dont get much news here in benin, west africa haha.

I think I would prefer the package. Even if I had extra money here for food, I dont know what I would buy. Things like mac and cheese, cheese and broccolli soup, anything that can be cooked on a stove would be wonderful. Alos, i havent gotten the other package yet but I cant wait! You guys are the best!

What else? Being a trainer is ok, hes alrealdy a really good missionary and we work well together. I know we are going to have a lot of success here in Gbedjromede. Next Wednesday, the third, we're have zone conference with Elder Golden of the area presidency. I heard he's pretty intense so it should be fun. Things are always more exciting when president comes haha.

Ok well it makes me so happy to hear that you all doing so great! Great job on the weight loss! Thats awesome. You guys are on the cleanse diet and i'm on the africa diet haha. I love you all and i cant wait till next week!

Elder Bertoch