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

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 17, 2010

There were a couple of changes for Sam this week. He has a new companion who is from the Ivory Coast and he is now a district leader.

Hey family!
Sorry but not too much time this week. We were stuck at the appartment all day cuz of tranfers (ppl coming and going) and then our normal internet cafe was closed so we had to find another and this one is slow.
So anyway, i have a new companion now. His name is Elder Yapo, Ivorian, hes elder staritas old companion. Hes big, like 6'5", so i dont think we should have any problems from thieves or anything. I'm now District Leader here at Akpakpa so I'll try my best to represent the Lord and the Mission President as a leader.
haha i wanna see the photo they sent you! There were eleven baptisms for Bénin but i didnt have any this time. We did bring an investigator though (Adele) who will be baptized the next service. Other good news too is that Jessy finally came to church this week and made friends with the other members so thats a big step to getting her baptized with her family.
Hmm, what else? Theres a guy from Togo that keeps showing up at the church that claims to have been baptized and going to church in England (and then Ghana then Togo) the past five years but he says he lost his passport with all his money and asks everyone for money. We asked him if he had a temple recommend...he doesnt know what that is. Or the book of mormon. Or the priesthood. Although he did have a nicely laminated baptismal certificate. OOOO the people in Africa. I'm sure this guy just looks for church members in different countries, says hes a member, and then takes their money. Crazy.
Well thats all I got time for. Still lovin life in Benin. Ready to baptize like crazy, we have people that are ready, just gotta get them there. I love you all and cant wait for next week.
Elder Bertoch
May 15, 2010

The Leavitts (the senior missionary couple in Benin) sent us a very nice e-mail and picture of Sam and the little girl he held during today's baptisms while she slept.

Just some thoughts to share on your son. What an outstanding young man he is...such a privilege to work with him. Today we had a great baptism day in the Zone...10 people.
While the missionaries were busy making sure the baptisms were going well your son sat in the chapel and held the cutest little girl while she slept and while her mom was baptized. While his companion baptized, he did service and baby sat. I took this picture, thought you would enjoy it. I love your son, thank you for raising up such a great example.
Sister Leavitt

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 10, 2010

Here are a couple of pictures that Elder Halterman posted which have Sam in them.

They are eating Attieke', Ivorian food

The zone after playing football - notice the two different balls. Sam is in the gray shirt on the end of the back row
May 10, 2010

We had a great conversation with Sam yesterday. He sounds really well and very happy. He is still staying healthy, but has lost a lot of weight. He eats mainly rice and some kind of potato. He told us of a zone meeting they were having when a king crab walked through it. The zone leaders (from Ivory Coast), stopped the meeting, held the crab down with a stick, cut it's pinchers off and took it home for dinner. I suppose if he were willing to do that, he could be eating crab too. He says, though, that he mostly sweats off the weight.

Sam was saying that in Benin there are two main religions - voodoo and the Catholics. People from Benin are not very friendly to them and generally want nothing to do with the church. The branch he is in is made up of members from Nigeria, Togo and Ivory Coast. They are worried what will happen if the members move back home. They are working hard to try to teach people from Benin. However, it is difficult to get married in Benin until you have two children, so that makes it a little tricky.

They haven't had much rain even though it is the rainy season. The Africans are blaming it on the Chinese. They say the Chinese have built a big machine that blows all the clouds away. They got a little rain the other night, so Sam was saying the machine must have broken down. He was also saying how very dusty it is there. There is always a thick layer of dust on the table and on the floor. They have to clean it off before sitting down to study and they have to sweep the dust off the floor every day. They use fans in the apartment, but it is so hot you still need to open the windows.

That covers the highlights of the conversation. Of course, we updated him on a few things here, which would be of no interest to anyone reading this blog.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 3, 2010

Only 6 days until our Mother's Day call!! Can't wait! Here are four more pictures that Sam posted today:

Branch missionaries of the Gbedjromede Branch
They are saving to go on their own mission

Franck's Baptism

Elder Geisler (Sam's roommate) at the beach on P-day


Hey everyone! I'm excited for next sunday! Hmmm...if you call me at 12:30pm here what time is it there? Oh no thats too early. Hmm...bon, lets say 8am your time 4pm our time. We already have an appt at 3 and 6 so we can talk at 4.
The baptism went great! Franck got baptized and confirmed without a problem. Hes actually the only french speaker baptized in the last five months in Akpakpa (all the other were nigerians) so he'll be good for the branch.
So we had another great week this week. We got to watch general conference which was awesome. We watched the saturday afternoon and the sunday morning sessions. Loved Elder Holland's talk. The voodoo curse actually picked a bad moment to weaken- it started pouring rain an hour before church was supposed to start so we didnt get to many investigators to show up which was too bad. We were expecting quite a bit. But Frank made it and got confirmed and a couple other investigators and the faithful members all showed up.
Hmm so we only taught 36 lessons this week, the mission goal, but not our best effort. Our best lesson might of been with Jessy the nigerian- her 14 yr old son listens with us too now. We taught the plan of salvation and they loved it. The spirit was there and I feel like her and her family have really been touched. She would be a big help translating in the branch as she speaks french too and her and her husband are a lot more well to do than most people in africa. The branch president has gotten a little discouraged i think because of the lack of baptisms in Akpakpa since it was formed (its way behind the other branches in Benin) so i think a whole family would really raise spirits here. We'll pray hard.
This week we ran into another "yovo" on the street. Rudy Colemon from calgary, canada. It was weird speaking to another white person who is not a missionary, he's lived here the last 11 yrs with his wife- they are jehovah witnesses. He was actually a pretty cool guy, chatised me a little bit for not wearing a hat haha. He said he already knows the latter day saints, even read the book of mormon. I gave him a few brochures never know. (He also said he was a calgary flames fan, reminded me of Bro Paries haha)
President Ayekoue is coming this thursday, we'll have zone conference on friday so I'll let you know how that goes on the phone. I'm always very excited to see President, always look forward to our interviews. He really is inspired and i love him as a mission president. We're in good hands out here.
P-days here are actually pretty fun, we usually find something good to do. Today we started by cleaning the appt (like always) and then headed off to the market to buy stuff. Sometimes we'll play soccer, or the beach isnt far like last week, or meet with the other missionaries at a resteraunt, stuff like that. We usually have to wash our clothes too which takes some time (in my next package i request a washing machine), and then the night we do a contacting activity with the district.
Haha i'm getting enough to eat. I think i've consummed 1000x more rice in the last 9 months than in i did in my 19 yrs at home. Actually that might be a low estimate haha.
Well I'm still as happy as ever to be sharing the restored gospel. Dont know where'd i'd be in life without it. I see other people going through life without direction or purpose and that makes me even more grateful and strengthens my desire to share it. I love you all and cant wait to talk to you!
Elder Bertoch