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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27, 2010

Here are some new pictures we received from Sam this week. He mentioned in his last e-mail that his district went to the beach for p-day and these are some pictures they took:

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26, 2010

Sam is referring to his cousin who was just called to the Cape Town, South Africa mission. Matt was really hoping to go to Africa, and he got his wish. We are excited for him and wish him well.

Wow thats awesome about Matt! He'll love Africa! And even better he'll be able to understand the English there! South Africans are the only ones I can understand without a problem!
I'm glad that you guys had so much fun in New York! That picture of Jack and Dad reminds on the Rockefeller reminds of one me and dad took when we went! So where are you off to next? Caribbean? Alaska?
So we are still having a blast here! We are preparing our first baptism in Akpakpa to be baptized this saturday! His name is Franck, 27, he is from Cote D'Ivoire. We've been working with him since we got here and he is pretty excited to get baptized.
Today was a really fun p day. In the morning our district walked about 30 min to a very nice beach and threw around a frisbee. Here africans generally do not like water so we were basically alone at the beach. We took some photos so I'll try and get those to you eventually. Then afterwards we got together with the other missionaries and ate at a restaurant for the year marks of Elder Halterman and Carver. Next up: Elder Bertoch.
So, funny story. Yesterday after church we went to an appointment we have with a very rich nigerian investigator we have. We walk into the house, and what are they watching on tv??? The spurs-mavs playoff game. I did a little double take and had to remind myself where i was. Apparently with enough money you can get some good channels here in Africa. (BTW the lesson with her went very well. She speaks french too and has a family of seven. We taught the restoration and she says when God answers her prayer she wont hesitate to be baptized. So basically shes in the water already).
So the phone call should be good for the ninth! Maybe 12:30 your time so i think that makes 8:30pm my time but i'm not exactly sure. You might wanna check on that. If you can make it home from church of course. Let me know what you think.
Dang the most memorable event on my mission? Dang its hard to choose. Maybe the first time i committed someone to baptism (it was Yve, i was nervous haha). Baptizing mama Ahoefa was pretty cool. Coming to Jericho and reopening the area while training was probably the hardest. Leaving Togo was also pretty hard. Well my whole mission has been pretty memorable. I've been pretty blessed.
K well I love you all and I wish you an awesome week! Cant wait till next monday!
Elder Bertoch

Also i went with the couple and picked up the package finally! All the food was still delicious and i am happy to report that it is already almost gone! Thank you so much!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 19, 2010

I'm glad you are all having a great time in New York. Do people still remember me there? I remember i made quite an impression.
Things are going lovely here. It was very encouraging to see our investigators get baptised saturday. Richard and Christophe are baptized but Audes mom got really mad when she found out but that will all work out. We have at least three more investigators who will get baptized next time (the first may) so that should be really exciting too. Always very encouraging/reenergizing when you see your hard work pay off.
Hmm did anything exciting happen this week??? We teach some interesting characters. We teach Abraham who won the strongest man competition in Benin, took second in west africa and 17th in the US. We have Isaac who was a kickbox champion in France back in his day. We have Jacob who is 73 but still going strong and learning the gospel. We have Justin who has Turberculosis (we actually teach him in a turberculosis hospital) but he should be cured in three more weeks and be able to come to church. Thats just the more interesting ones, we do not have a lack of investigators. They are all so different but each one is united in his need for the gospel in his life. I feel so blessed to help them find it and apply it and then slowly watch the atonement make them infinitely happier.
We got a little bit of rain on Saturday which was nice. Cooled down a bit. Guess the voodoo spell is wearing off. Too bad.
I planned with the couple to pick up the package tomorrow morning. Cant wait!
Bon, vraiment l'anglais me fatigue, je me sens plus comme un francophone maintenant, donc je vais terminer en français. Je sais que Jésus-Christ est mon Sauveur and frère aîné. Je sais que son evangile et son église one été rétabli par Joseph Smith. Je sais que grâce à ce fait, notre famille sera ensemble à jamais. Pour ça, je suis infiniment reconnaissant. Je vous aime tous et à lundi prochaine. Hope syd can translate that.

Translation: Well, I’m tired of English, I feel more like a French now, so I’ll finish in French. I know that Jesus Christ is my savior and Elder Brother. I know that his gospel and his church was restored by Joseph Smith. I know for a fact that our family will be together forever. For that I am extremely grateful. I love you all and next Monday (that’s what it says: next Monday, he probably left some words out on accident or in french it means until next monday...)
Elder Bertoch

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 12, 2010

Yay!! We got two new pictures which we haven't gotten for a while. The first picture is of Sam at a baptism and the second one, I believe, is Sam with his companion and his other two roommates. He didn't give an explanation.
Hey everyone!
Haha do you guys even stay at the house anymore? Seems like everytime I hear from you you are leaving on another trip! HAve fun in New York!!
Ya, I'll be there this Saturday when everyone gets baptised. It should be a pretty big service. The zone leaders left us with one canidate too but we'll be working hard to find a lot more for next time.
Yes I got the photos last week! Thanks! It was great to see all of you guys!
Haha here they all speak fon-bay. A lot more complicated than the language in Togo but I'm getting the hang of it. But here a lot more people speak French than in Togo so its a lot easier.
It rained a little bit one night last week, but not really (of course it chose to rain the night i had my clothes drying outside haha). Elder Leavitt has been actually pretty sick lately. His fever got up to 103 the other night. At the same time, when he got robbed he got pushed down and messed up his knee so thats been hurting him too. He got it x rayed and is sending it to SLC but he thinks theres a screw from his old knee replacement surgery sticking out (not good). AND to make things worse, the whole week they were here the power was hardly ever on and the license on their car expired so they couldnt go anywhere. Not a good situation. Remember them in your prayers. Of course i still take my doxy everyday. Only the less inteligent or lazy missionaries dont.
Way to go bearing your testimony Jack! I'm proud of ya.
Had a good week this week. Got to know my area and our investigators pretty well. I gave a talk about missionary work in church sunday and also taught the english speakers in elders quorum. Akpakpa is more upperclass than Gbedjromede is, we teach a lot more well to do people here than before. I really like that. Nothing tooo exciting happened this week, just the same old same old. Still enjoying being a yovo in africa. Seriously, that makes you immediately the most popular person in Africa. Everywhere you go you hear "yovo!", the kids love you, all the woman want to marry you to get to america...its quite the life haha. But you really have to make sure that the people want to get baptized because they have a testimony. Elder Holland was in the Ivory Coast not too long ago and he talked about making sure people are attracted to the church because of the gospel, not because we have nice buildings or things like that. It was a really good inspiration.
Can you believe that next month i well already be able to call again? Crazy, that six months went by fast.

Well, I still love being Elder Bertoch. Being on a mission has taught me so much, both temporally and spiritually. I know i will be so much better prepared for life because of these two years. I know that Jesus Christ is our example and our Savior. I know that Joseph Smith was his prophet and restored his church. I love this gospel and i love sharing it with the people that dont know it.
Elder Bertoch

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 5, 2010

Hey family!
I'm glad y'all had so much fun this week! That sounded like quite the trip! I heard youdid some great skiing Jack, way to go! Dang your hair has gotten pretty long too, I barely recognized you.
So the big news this week is that I got transferred. I'm still in Benin but I'm now serving in the branch of Akpakpa. Its only like a 10 minute drive from my old area buts its still pretty different. The branch here is the smallest in the mission- the last two weeks they haven't been higher than an attendance of 40 people. What basically happened was that I switched areas with the zone leaders, they are in Gbedjromede now and we took over for them here. I'm still with Elder Tshibasu and we've already gotten all settled in. Once again, we're both new in this area so it might take a little bit to get it down but the second time around it should be easier. We are going to do splits with the zone leaders this week to show eachother around.
I've already had fun meeting everyone in the branch. They were all very nice and welcoming. Whats funny about this branch is that must of the members arent even from benin. Theres some from Congo, Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, etc. Its a branch of foreigners haha. I got a chance to bear my testimony last Sunday and I'm excited to get out and get to work in my nex area.
My appartment is smaller and the refrigerator just broke but nothin to complain about. We live with Elder Geisler (from north Salt lake, started three months after me) and Elder Andon (really cool ivorian).
The baptisms did not happen exactly as planned. Christoph got stuck at work; Herman's mom couldnt be there saturday so we pushed it pack; Richard lied in his interview; Jule was out of town all last week...o well. The zone leaders will baptise them all next time.

By the way, I got the smaller package you sent, thanks! The big one is still sitting at the airport, I havent been able to get out there with the Leavitts yet but i hope we'll go soon!
Haha still no rain here. I've heard two different reasons for why there is no rain. The government is building some big thing and i guess rain would really mess things up so I heard that they had the voodoo do some rain stopping spell. The other story I heard was the the Chinese built a machine that stops the rain from coming. In either case, there is no rain.
K well thats all I can think of! I love you all so much and am so grateful for your prayers and support!
Elder T. S. Bertoch
PS The Leavitts get us each a liahonah so i'll have the conference issue in a few weeks.

March 29, 2010

Hey again!
Sounds like you have an exciting week coming up! Have a lot of fun skiing!
Zone conference was very good. We have it every six week so it is always exciting when its time again. President stopped by our appartments Thursday and did interviews and then the actual conference was Friday morning. I must be doing ok, just had a short 5 minute interview with President which was nice. He was pretty tired, his plane had landed at three o clock that morning. At zone conference he taught us a lot about teaching to convert and how we should be teaching. It was very helpful and really motivated me to teach better. My zone leaders are Elder Dagrou (Ivorian) and Elder Kouakou (my trainer). They are very good. They live at akpakpa, about 10 min away from us.
The younger generation here is pretty smart. The people here study a lot and college if basically free. We generally contact men 20 and up and you can generally be pretty sure that they are educated. The schools have a pretty strict schedule i think. A lot of copying lessons from the boards.
Also, after zone conference I was talking to sister leavitt and she was telling me that when they lived in Colorado, she worked for a hotel doing weddings by I 25 and C 470. Haha she totally worked at the Inverness. Not when we had Sydneys reception though, she was there like 10 yrs ago.
Haha the Leavitts are very good. The work hard for the missionaries. The missionaries translate for them at zone conference but at church they just come for sacrament meeting and then leave. By the way, the easter package is here but we havent picked it up yet. The leavitts say they are tired of picking up packages and fighting with the workers so there is a new rule. Now if a package comes, they take the missionary to the airport to go fight for it. I'll get to try that out as soon as they get back haha.
As for clothes, mine are actually in ok shape. Maybe some socks, another shirt or two, and another pair of garments would be nice but i take pretty good care of them.
Health has been fine too. I've had like a cold once but other than that I've been fine. Just superior genes I guess.
Well, other than zone conference, nothing too exciting happened this week. Our 5 baptismal canidats are now down to three for the moment. Jules ended up going out of town last week so we'll have to get him the next service, and we are still working on the commandments with Aude (we'll get her next time too).
k it think thats it! I love you all and will write you again next week! Have fun in Washington! I expect to see pictures!
Elder Bertoch
March 22, 2010

Hellooooo Everybody!
All is still going splendidly here in ole Cotonou, Benin. Power has been kinda sketchy this week, along with a nice water outage the whole weekend, but other than that I'm still loving life! The work is still moving a long very nicely. We fixed another baptismal date with an investigator this week so that should make five for the third of April if all goes well (I know it will). Victorine is extremely strong in the Branch already- on Saturday the RS celebrated the birthday of the RS and she did the opening, prayer, translated into the native language, answered a bunch of questions, everything. I really have no doubt she will be a RS president one day, for now she should recieve her first calling very soon. I dont have any good stories from this week so I would like to tell you about some of my investigators who should be getting baptized soon.
Jimmy Christoph- Hes probably about 28 yrs old and a really smart guy. He loves the church and has been coming for a while now but he was really hesitating to set a baptismal day. He really takes it seriously and wants to make sure he is really ready to keep all of the commandments before he makes a covenant with Heavenly Father. We talked to him about it and he decided he'll be ready the 3 april. He already has friends and participates in elders quorum and will be integrated easily.
Aude- She is 22 and comes from a very rich family. She has sisters that live in Maryland. She goes to college here and like most Africans loves the gospel. She wasn't sure about baptism too because she was already baptized catholic but we talked about it and read the scriptures and she set the date for the 3rd of April but she says she still needs to keep praying to be sure (that made us very happy- we know God will anwer her prayers). Shes been to church three times and the RS activity and she has already made friends in the branch.
Jules- Hes 20 and very smart also. He knows the bible very well and was studying with the Jehovahs Witnesses when we found him. He loves everything we teach and comes to church. We've stared teaching his older brother too and thats also going really well!
Richard- Hes 20 and the one who we should have baptized last month but something came up in the interview so it got pushed back. We've really not wanted to rush with him - his two brothers are members and we wanted to make sure he was serious about his decision. Missionaries have been meeting with him for a loooooong time. We've talked a lot about the commandments, especially the Sabbath Day, and we feel he is finally ready. He should be baptized the third also.
Herman- Haha hes twelve and his dad is already a member. It is kind of a freebie baptism but he was still really fun to teach! Hes a really good kid.
So thats everyone who should be baptized next service. Your prayers on their behalf would really be appreciated. Thanks!
French is still going well. Constantly improving which is encouraging, i dont wanna get stagnant. I always love talking to the other African missionaries in french- i've noticed that when all of the missionaires from the zone get together, the americans always huddle together and speak english so I always try to go out of my way to hang out with the Aficans which is fun. They are all really cool. Besides the language, there is not really a difference between an american and african missionary. People are the same all around the world.
Everyone here loves the Bible and will go without eating sometimes to buy one. Most of the people we talk to are Christian although we have taught some muslims and even a buddhist. Its always extremely interesting learing about their beliefs and background.
I havent gotten the chance to explore too much here but we've still had fun. We visited the big market in Cotonou and i bought some cool ties and then we went out to a nice restaurant for Elder Tshibasu's birthday. We're still doing great together, I think next month one of us will probably be transferred but ya never know. Zone conference will be at the end of this week so I'll let you know what happens. Thats funny Elder Golden called you Kip, Dad. Probably my fault, i think he asked me your names and probably heard me wrong haha. Me and Elder Halterman still have a lot of fun too, basically being a missionary is still amazing.
Thank you so much for writing! I love you all and will write again next week!
Elder Timothy Samuel Bertoch

March 15, 2010

Hey there everyone!
I'm glad to here you all had a great week, and that you still enjoy occaisional random spending sprees (two mountain bikes?!) haha. I loved seeing the photos- it was extremely weird for me to see mom in a sweatshirt and Jackson in a turtle neck. Who would want to wear so much clothing??? Then i remembered that it is cold there.
Thanks so much for another package! You are the best family eveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer.
Things have been going really good here, it was another awesome week. When we got here, we had decided to look for potential melchezidek priesthood holders and families so for the most that is all we ever contact. President always talks about finding people that kind edify the church here so we have really set our sights on finding future leaders of the Church in Africa. So far the search is going well- we taught 59 lessons and had 50 new investigators last week. We've also focused on teaching with members because that is a lot harder here in Benin and we had 27 lessons with a member last week which is a huge bump up from the 10 we usually get. We started seeing the results already, we had ten investigators at church last week and 7 are potentional Melchezedik Preisthood holders. Now we have to work on helping them progress toward baptism. I am so grateful for the help that the Lord gives us doing his work here. I his hand in the work everyday see the Spirit touch the hearts of those who we teach. I know that without our Heavenly Father's loving guidance, missionary work would not exist in our area.
The people are so amazing and sincere in their desires to become closer to our Heavenly Father. I wish i could talk about all my investigators individually but i never have time. But i love each one of them and i see each one as my brothers and sisters.
Also, we got word that President is coming for zone conference next monday so that is always exciting. If i dont write next monday, its probably cuz i was at zone conference and will write during the week.
Ok well I think thats all I got for today! I love you all and will write again next week!
Elder Bertoch