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

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 16, 2010

Hey again!

So you did get my email last week? Thats good!

My address...i have no idea!!! I didnt like tell you that a long time ago, like maybe when i was leaving the MTC?

I did see the pictures! Thanks! I always love seeing you guys. When i left Benin to come to the Ivory Coast like ten pounds of my luggage had to have been all the pictures you've sent me but it was totally worth it!

I show people the photo of me at Sydney's wedding and everyone also mentions how fat i was! (here being fat is like a good thing/compliment. it means you are healthy but at first a lot of american missionaries take it the wrong way when they get called fat haha). I have a diet to suggest for you- its called walk all day under the african sun and eat african food diet! It works miracles!

My french is always improving which is encouraging. The difference here is just that the french is a lot more slangy- they never use articles before the words and add some fun sounds but i like it. Its a lot more fun to speak.

Had another good week this week! Since i love doing door to door here we found like 32 new investigators among which there were some pretty awesome families that i have high hopes for. Some of our baptisms for the month fell through (we found out the one lived within the boundaries of the other ward so we gave her to the other missionaries, and another just went on a trip to 'village' whatever that means) so we'll need the new investigators. One was a family where the lesson went EXTREMELY well. They said they had been searching different churches but had never found the truth. After hearing the first lesson they said they felt their hearts burning in them and that their eyes were opened. The only problem is that they are unmarried. They are rich which is a good and bad thing- good because the church will need them and it wont be hard to get married, bad because the travel a lot and are going to Italy next month. Dangit.

Ok well thats all i got time for! I love you all so much! I miss you all but I'm so happy to be where i am. Have a good week and i cant wait to hear from you again next monday!

Elder Bertoch
August 9, 2010

Hey family!

Another good week gone by! Here in the Ivory Coast there are meetings all of the time so last week was full of zone conferences, zone meetings, and leadership meetings but we survived and with pretty good numbers too which is great.

First, zone conference was good. President talked a lot about improving ourselves and becoming more Christlike. I liked it a lot. Then he interviewed us and that was good like always. The 21st Elder Sitati (the only black 70 from Kenya) is doing a conference in Abidjan too which is exciting. I'm excited to meet him and listen to what he has to say. Appartently he is pretty intense.

Besides that, i still have fun doing door to door here. In other missions thats like the most boring thing but here i love it! We found some good families to teach. Since it is so easy to find people here, we dont have to waste time with people who dont progress, we just find people who will!

We have four baptismal dates for this mont so we are praying that they will go through. We had thirteen investigators at church (the members here are very proud of the church and will invite their neighbors and friends all the time) so im looking forward to teaching them too.

Today was an activity at the beach to say goodbye to the Baileys. It was really nice, we ate, bore testimonies, did funny skits (where i may or may not have dressed up like Sister Bailey). It was fun being with all the missionaries, in Benin when we did an activity it was with twelve missionaries, here there were like 54 there, crazy.

Also, saturday was the ivory coasts fiftieth independence day from france. Nothing exciting really happened.

Haha my companion is pretty short, maybe about to my nose or something. Ivorian french has a lot of slang in it and they call Yupougun "Yup City" or "Poy". Luckily we dont have to haul the water up everyday, every once and while the faucets work and when they do we fill up giant reserve tanks and use that to wash ourselves and the dishes and our clothes.

Well I'm already out of time so sorry if i didnt reply to all of your questions! I'll try to do better next week! Love you all!

Elder Bertoch

August 2, 2010

Hey Family!

So the transfer went fine! I'm here safe and sound in "Yup City" living the life in the heart of Abidjan. I'll give you a list of first impressions:

My Companion- Elder Boty. Ivorian. Short guy but a hard worker (so we'll get along fine), has been on his mission for almost a year, likes to laugh and talk fast. Dont really have any problems with him.

My Appartment- On the fourth story of a building. We never have running water because there is not enough pressure to get it up there. Bucket showers. Other than that its not too bad, we cleaned it pretty well today too. All four of us (Me, Boty, Starita and his comp from congo) were all just transferred here so nobody really knows their areas yet mais ca va aller.

My Ward- Such a relief. All the pressure of being in a small branch is gone. Nobody even pays us much attention, except if they are introducing one of their friends to us (a common occurence). The Bishop is awesome and very invested in missionary work. A great source of joy in my life right now.

My area- Dont know it too well yet. I'm actually taking over for Elder Zufelt who was in my zone at the MTC. He has three people with baptismal dates for August and we also had eight people at church so things seem to be going well here. The members give many contacts too. I worked a little bit with our DMP and a ward missionary so we're starting to get things down.

So anyway i love the Ivory Coast. The people here are just so stinking nice and welcoming. I didnt realize how cold the Beninese were until we did some tracting here. The following happened like almost every time:

knock at the door

us-We say something to the effect of- Hello monsieur we are missionaries for the church and we have a message.

them-Come in, sit down.

-We sit down

them-Would you like water?

us-No thank you.

them-And the news? (an ivorian greeting)

Us- the news is good. Our message is simple. God loves us...

Wow, it makes missionary work so much easier. Finding investigators is really not hard at all. And everyone speaks french. So awesome

SO this week is pretty much packed for us. Tomorrow we have zone conference, wednesday and saturday mornings we are practicing a sketch with the zone to perform at the Baily's goodbye party (they are leaving in a week, their replacements the Googlers or smthg like that will be here soon), and friday morning i have a leaders meeting with the zone. It will be hard to fit all of our rendez vous in.

Ok so on to your questions

The plane ride was fine. I was next to Elder Tshibasu. At the airport President was there to pick us up in the mission van. We went to the bureau and got matched up with our comps and headed out.

Nope, i havent gotten the packages yet. I told the Leavitts and they said theyd send them to me

I love Elder Canon! He was in my zone in the MTC but i havent seen him since ive gotten here. I hope that i'll see him soon.

Well one missionary went home for worthiness issues, the other two went home because while they were his companion they knew what was going on and didnt do anything.

Have fun at the wedding, let me know how it goes!

I love being a missionary! Getting here has just boosted me full of energy! I dont want a waste a second, there is just not enough time! I know that Heavenly Father loves us and listens to our prayers. I think it is here on my mission that i have learned the difference between just saying a prayer and really praying. I have really grown to love my Heavenly Father and open up to Him. Sometimes if i feel like i am having a conversation with him, telling him how im feeling and why, where i need to be blessed, asking for forgiveness and help etc. The biggest blessing of my mission might be the how much closer i feel to Him. I have prayed for and felt his love on many an occasion.

I love you all! Thank you so much for writing! Talk to you next week!

Elder Bertoch
July 26, 2010

Moving on to the Ivory Coast!!

Hey again!
Wow, sounds like the Leavitts filled you all in on all the news so I dont have to write anything this week!
So I'm transferred to Cote d'Ivoire on Friday. More specifically I'll be going to the zone of Niangon in Niangon 3 ward. I'm still district leader and i'll be living with Elder Starita which should be pretty cool (we are just inseperable). My companions name is Elder Boti, he's an ivorian. I'm pretty excited, i always like change. It is pretty weird that the whole district here got transferred, first time i'd ever heard of that happening, although the whole mission got pretty redone(a lot of missionaries got sent home early recently). So anyway, I'll be showing the new elder my area this week until i leave. I think the investigators will survive the change just fine.
On a related note, i will need some money in my account to buy some things before i go. Like forty dollars will be good. I also hope i get your packages before i leave.
We all said goodbye to everyone yesterday at church. They were all pretty sad. I took some pictures that i'll try to get to you.
Also, the couple invited us over to eat at their house last week which was extremely delicious and nice. I dont know how i'm going to survive without them! They are what i will miss most about Benin, they do so much for us missionaries.
Well, sorry i didnt really write much this week! I guess i'm just really preoccupied right now so that even though i didnt really write anything, it took me forever. I have mixed feelings about going, i've really grown to love this branch, but i'm excited to see new things. I'll let you know about how everything has is different next week!
Love you all!
Elder Bertoch