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

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011

Things are getting worse in Cote d'Ivoire. The former president was finally captured, but things are heating up anyway. Sam's e-mail explains what has happened to the mission there. The new Togo/Benin mission will open in July and a new mission president has been called. Sam's almost home and wanting our measurements before he leaves. What could that be all about? Poor Elder Oakeson - his two years is up this month and he gets sick right before he goes home. What a bummer!!!

Hey family!
First off, great job on the half marathon, Dad! I'm half your age and I would never be able to do that. How many miles is a half marathon anyways? You're out there running like 10 miles everyday, so I need to stop complaining about walking for like only 7 miles a day haha.
Anyway, crazy week this week. So tuesday night, the mission office/home got broken into. They stole all the computers, everything (i assume that that is including my shoes too). So that was just devastating news for the mission. Apparently the missionaries over there have been accused of being spies and stealing information from the ivorian people when they go from house to house (or at least that was their pretext for breaking in). So, the whole week president was looking for ways to get out of the country with the rest of the ivorian missionaries. Saturday night he and his family finally made it here to Togo, it seems like they are now refugees from the Ivory Coast. They are still looking to get the rest of the missionaries out of there too. It is really just horrible news, I feel so bad for President and his family. The mission over there seems to be officially closing too. Really too bad. We're doing a mission conference tomorrow so i'm really looking forward to seeing him.
And I'm pretty exhausted too. Friday morning Elder Oakeson woke up in just excruitiating pain so I had hurry and rush him to the hospital. Anyway they diagnosed him with a kidney stone and some sort of infection (there was also another dr that said he had a spinal hernia, no one could really decide, not sure how competant these drs are) and they hospitalized him for four days. So I've been living with him in the hospital since friday morning, sleeping there and everything, kind of tiring haha. But hes a lot better now and they released him a few hours ago! I did get to go to church on sunday for three hours so that was a nice break too. Anyways (seems like a say that word a lot), suffice it to say that I'm ready to get a good nights sleep tonight and get out there and work this week.
Great job on getting your First class jack! Keep it up!
Syd, Mike, asked for pictures of your new house like three weeks ago. Still nothing. Whats up?!
Thats really cool about the Ivorian woman. I would love to meet her when i get home! Make it happen.
Thats cool about the guy from Tanzania too, Jack. Guess what? I'm totally going to eat snake this week! Lookin forward to it, i'll let you know how it tastes.
As for drs appointments, dentist, dermatoligist, podiatrist, vetrenarian, sign me up for them all. Thanks!
Also, i need the measurements of everyone in the family (including mike). I think i need shoulder width, shoulder to wrist, shoulder to finger tips, waist, chest, waist to ankle. Send them by next monday! Thanks!
Ok thats about it for this week! I love you all and cant wait to see you in 45 days! Have a great week!
Elder Bertoch
April 11, 2011

Hey family!
How you all doin? Things are going great here. We had two more baptisms last saturday, Moses and Marie, so we are all super happy! It was really good they were both super excited to be baptized. They got confirmed without any problems too. We are planning on baptizing at least two more people this month, so things are still moving a long quite well. Beni gave his first talk in sacrament meeting too, did a really great job and bore a powerful testimony. I was super proud of him too. I really do love Ablogame, and if I did have to pick a favorite branch, this just might be it. But I really have been blessed with all of my areas. Africa is awesome.

So this week we dont have too much special planned. Just getting down to work. Honestly, I was afraid that I would be getting tired out by now, but I feel like a new missionary. Just super excited to get out and work everyday. My goal is to get home with absolutely nothing left in the tank haha.
I got the package too on wednesday! Thank you so much! The candy was gone by that night haha. So you can go ahead and activate the card whenever you want. Merci!
So Elder Carver, Halterman, Oakeson, and Call finish the 22nd. Thats when my group will officially become the oldest in the mission (crazy). So the 22nd/29th (when the new americans arrive) there will probably be a decent sized transfer. I think it probably is pretty likely i'll be transferred one last time which is too bad, i'd much rather just finish in this branch where i know everyone. I'm actually tempted to tell that to President but i think i'll just leave it up to revelation. We'll see what happens.
To answer your question too, for health reasons (a hernia) the couple in Benin (the Southams) had to head home for at least six weeks so the Herrs are taking over for them. Here in Togo we still have the Gublers so we're doing ok too. Let me know when you hear more on the flight plans!
Hey Dad, good luck on the marathon! Let me know how it goes and take a lot of pictures!
Ok well thats about it! I love you all! Have awesome weeks! Take to you next monday!
Elder Bertoch
April 4, 2011

Hey family!

I'm happy you guys had fun in Utah this week! I miss seeing conference, I guess I'll be there for the next one! Any new temples announced?

We've been having a good week. Found a lot of new investigators to baptize. This saturday we have two baptisms planned again so thats exciting. I just gotta say how much I love the members here in Ablogame. We are all just like really good friends, it will be a sad day when i have to leave. Something I learned over and over again on my mission is that if you want to have success and enjoy it, just be friends with everyone. Dont be afraid to laugh or joke around with investigators, members, and your companion. If your friends with members they will want to introduce you to their friends, if your friends with your investigators they will want to keep their commitments and if your friends with your companion its easy to teach with the Spirit. And it just makes everything so fun. Although it will make it hard to say goodbye.

Nothing too extraordinary happened this last week. Moses finally came to church. We kept talking about the sabbath day and reading about it and the blessings. So this sunday, when he got called into work, he said no. They called him again later on, he didnt go. He came to sacrament meeting, turned off his phone as they kept calling, and then left afterwards. Really showed his faith, awesome guy.

We also had a district missionary activity on saturday. LIke most activities in Africa, it wasnt too well organized, so I wasnt tooo surprised when i'm sitting in the audience and all of a sudden hear my name announced to give a talk. Didn't bother me too much though, thats like the 10th time thats happened on my mission haha.

Also, zone conference got cancelled. With all thats going on in the Ivory Coast, President wont be able to make it out here. That got me bummed. I really hope I'll be able to see him again before i go home! If you guys wanna email him theres no problem, he does speak english.

As for the flight plans, i still dont have anything specific. If you want good information, email the Gublers or the Herrs. They are the ones that know everything.

I did get the package from Grandma a while ago. The one you just sent hasnt got here yet. As for the one coming from the Ivory Coast, President was supposed to take the money from me when he came to send it when he got back. Since hes not comming any more, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to get that package.

Registration looks good. What happened to the Stats class though? And what made you decide the humanities class over Arab 101?

Thanks for checking out the appartment for me. I'm sure I'll love it. And of course i would love to go to Moab with you dad! Whens it for?

Well thanks for all you guys do for me! I cant wait to get home and see you all but first I've got work to finish here! So many goals to meet so little time! Have great weeks and I love you all!

Elder Bertoch
March 28, 2011

Hey fam!

I had an awesome week this week! Nathalie got baptized yesterday!!! It
was a really good ceremony, we tried to plan it as well as possible
and it went really well and there was a really big turn out. Her
"friend" whos the district financial clerk baptized her, and I really
hope they end up getting married (hes an rm who served in Nigeria).
Shes probably one of the investigators that I've grown the closest to
so I was extremely happy yesterday. Even Elder Bush and Starita drove
up to be there (they live in the same appartment up by where i got
trained in Hedzranawoe back in 2009).

In other really good news, my recent convert Beni finally found a good
job. Before his baptism we had just kept promising him that if he put
the kindom of God first, everything else would work out. Then, only
like two days after his baptism, he called into an interview. He got
the job, and apparently its a good one. He'll now be working in a nice
shirt and tie with normal hours (8-6pm) monday to friday for some law
firm or something. He was really excited and recognized right away the
blessings from his baptism.

Anything else? English class is actually turning out to be a big
success. Last week we had about twenty people show up, so we have
actually split into two classes, a beginners and an advanced. I take
the advanced one. Its really fun, a lot of members come (half of which
on inactives or recent converts) and some investigators too. I have a
blast teaching it, last week we learned how to pray.

And thanks for sending me the new card. Wells fargo could not have
chosen a worse moment haha- today i kinda went on a souvenir shopping
spree with Elder Oakeson (goes home in 3 weeks) and I just got word
from Abidjan that one of my packages finally got there, and that i
have to pay 40 dollars to get it here to Togo! I got lucky though,
Elder Geisler has to pay 70 for his and Staritas is 60.

So no baptisms this week but we should have a couple planned for the
9th. Trying to stay strong going into to the last couple of months but
just know that i miss you guys a ton too. I try not to dwell on it a
lot but I cant wait to see you all!

Thats too bad about BYU. Jimmer predicted to go pretty high in the NBA draft?

I'm glad you guys got to relax a bit in St George and Vegas. Have fun
in Utah this week and say hi to everyone for me! Love you!

Elder Bertoch
March 21, 2011

Hey family!

Thanks for the emails again! Even when you're on vacation! I hope you
guys have a good time!

So this week was still good. Yesterday before church started we baptized Beni. That was really good. Its someone that we have been working with for a while now so it was good to finally see him take that step. He was also really excited. Next week will be Nathalie, we are all super excited for her, we'll be really praying that she doesnt
get cold feet. Shes been coming to church since December, goes to institute twice a week, even participated in the Relief Society activity last saturday. Cant wait for that one.

We've been trying to work a lot more with members this week to get people to come to church. We visit the members houses and if they dont give us contacts themselves, we just start contacting all of their neighbors haha. Its actually working well, we gave two of them baptismal dates last friday and another one came to church on sunday.

So no words on tranfers for the moment. Everything kinda of quieted down. I dont know if i told you but Elder Startia and Elder Shaffer got transferred last week. I'm kinda hoping that I will finish here but I'm kinda doubting that I will. Oh well we'll see. I try not to worry about things like that.

Also that is awesome about BYU. Way bummed that I'm missing it. Was Gonzaga a pretty good team? How good is florida?

Anyways, not too much planned this week except the baptism. Just the same old same old. After 21 months in the mission you know alot about what you need to do and how to do it, just got to get out there and keep working hard. Thanks for all the love and support!

Elder Bertoch

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

Hello everyone!

Glad to hear that you are all keeping busy! Birthday parties, nine mile runs, trips to St George, going to the NCAA tournament, sounds awesome. Just sad I'm missing all the fun haha! But I'm where i need to be, thats for sure.

Thanks for all the pictures too! It was great seeing everyone! Except you mom! I need pîctures with you in them too!!!

Haha my health has been just fine. I've been in pretty good shape lately, even in this sweltering heat. The Herrs told us one day when they came to visit us last week that it was 95 degrees out with like 90% humidity. Needless to say, I drink a lot of water.

So this week went by pretty well too. My companion is great, very charitable, and reminds me a lot of my trainer. We have been trying to work lately on finding new ways to find new investigators. We have decided to start and english class that we have gotten all of the members excited about, we'll be doing that this wednesday. We've also been working a lot with members, encouraging them to introduce them to our friends. Its been paying off and we've been recieving a lot of help from the members here. They are just awesome.

Yesterday, was kind of a disappointing sunday. People that needed to come to church didnt make it. But we'll keep on working with them. We have some great investigators, one of them, Moses, broke up with his girlfriend last week because she wasnt encouraging his decision to keep the law of chastity. Another one, Roi, is going to start closing his shop on sundays to keep the sabbath day holy. The faith people have here and the changes they make in their lives are just amazing. If only they would come to church too.

Got word that President is planning his next trip out here in April (if the airports open up again). Sounds like that might be the last time I get to see him before I head home. Thats too bad. I'm really going to miss President. As time starts winding I keep realizing more and more how much Im going to miss all of the people here. Africans are just so cool.

Anyway, nothing too exciting this week! Sorry! I love you all and I know that this church is true. I have a burning testimony of Gods love for each one of His children. Have a good week!

Elder Bertoch
March 7, 2011


First off, I was glad to hear you had good weeks! Glad you had a good birthday dad! And congratulations on becoming a deacon, Jack, thats awesome!

So my new companion got here on Tuesday. His name is Elder Tshiyoyo. Hes 23 and a very nice guy. Whats funny about him is that he was baptized in August 2009...while i was on my mission in Togo the first time. Im serving with a missionary that was baptized two months into my mission! That made me feel old. He still needs help getting the doctine down but hes a willing learner and very easy to be with.

Sounds like the non ivorians went through a lot to get out of the Ivory Coast. They got stopped several times and finally where threatend and robbed by rebels armed with knives. One of them broke Elder Tshibasu's badge in half and they kept saying they were going to burn the van they were driving in. Luckily they got out of there, drove all the way from Abidjan to Lome. The Mission President and his wife and the ivorian missionaries are still over there. Keep them in your prayers.

Things are still going well in my area. We have five baptismal dates set for the 19th so we'll try to get as many possibe to go through. We had a big breakthrough yesterday at church- Beni, the young men's presidents cousin finally came. He really is an awesome guy, had a great time at church so he'll be baptized the 19th. Before it was always hard for him to go to church because he has a crazy work schedule- he goes to work mon-sat from 7am- 6pm, comes home and eats, and then goes back from 8pm to 3am. Sleeps for a few hours and then goes back at 7. Insane. But he says he needs the money. He says he might have found a new job though so thank goodness.

Nathalie is doing a lot better too. At church sunday, we fixed a pretty definitive baptismal date for the 27th (a sunday). Another reason she had been hesitating is that she is kinda dating the district clerk and she doesnt want people to think that she is getting baptized for him. But we talked about it and her testimony and she feels more comfortable now. I really like her, shes one of those investigators where you cant help but become really good friends with.

Other than that nothing too exciting happened this week. Just getting ready for our next baptisms on the 19th. Praying that everything goes ok. Well thanks for all of the emails!


Elder Bertoch
February 28, 2011

Christmas at the Herrs (Missionary Couple)

Monique's baptism

The water they have to baptize in. Yuk!

Hey again!

So first I'll answer your questions:

We are flying into Ghana and I'm not sure how long our layover will be but I'm pretty sure we wont get to go to the temple.

I'm not sure where we are staying the Amsterdam, the couple didnt know. They said we might just sleep in the airport.

It looks like I'll be splitting up with everyone in Amsterdam. Elder Starita and Elder Zuffelt and Elder Cunningham fly into Portland and then Idaho/Utah. I'll be going to Detroit by myself.

Haha I join Elder Starita's work out on the roof every once in a while but I'm not as consistant as him. And as for the pictures, I'll try to send some more today.

That's cool about housing. I should be fine there. I'm sure its better than the apartments I've had for the last two years :). So, that should work very well. And, ya, I'll probably stay for spring and summer next year too.

Also, thanks so much for the pictures! I loved seeing you guys! A ten mile run, Dad?! Aren't you supposed to be turning 52 this week?!

So this week went very well. The dad and his two kids got baptized on saturday. That was a very emotional baptism for me, I loved watching his face light up as he smiled watching his two kids get baptized. And them him hugging them both while all three of them were still wet afterwards. Really it was priceless and one of the best moments of my mission. We also baptized another investigator, Michel, whos really good too. All in all it was good to see four more people join Gods Kingdom.

Also, good/bad news with Nathalie for this week.The good news is that she has buckled down and decided to be baptized in March. The bad news is that she has to do it against the wishes of her parents. I mean, shes 27 so shes not really a minor but she is really close to her family so that makes me feel bad. We'll keep working with her and keep trying to get in contact with her parents.

Elder Bush and I have been working super well together too lately. Seriously, I love this guy. So humble and charitable. Which makes the next sentence kinda stink. He was transferred yesterday. Things have gotten a lot worse in Abidjan again so all the Non ivorian african missionaries that are still there are being evacuated and joining us in Togo or Benin. My new companion is a new Congolese, so i'll be training again. Togo has now gotten split into two zones and there are now two new branches. I'm still living with Elder Starita and Elder Shaffer who both will also be training new africans. Should be interesting.

And that is so awesome about BYU! I wish i was there and could see them!

Well that is about it for this week! I'm glad to hear you had a good birthday Jack! We celebrated it over here by baptizing four people! And, Dad, Happy Birthday!!!! I hope you have a good day! I love you all!!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 21, 2011

Great news!! Sam got his flight plan. It seems a rather round about way to go, but, as he says in his letter, he'll be home on June 4. Yay!!

Hey there!

So President rescheduled our interviews for tomorrow morning so now we have time to write!

Zone conference was this morning. It went really well. President talked a lot about things we can improve on in the new year. They also announced that the new mission president for Togo/Benin is President Weed. Dont know anything about him yet but I guess it doesnt matter because I wont ever meet him. They also called another Ivorian to be mission president in Abidjan so looks like they will be keeping the mission open for the moment. The big problem now is that they are closing all of the banks over there so the church is having trouble getting money. But President Ayekoue is still happy and positive. His visits are all really inspiring.

So other big news. My flight plans came. I fly out of Ghana to Amersterdam the night of June 3rd. We stay there the night and then i leave at like ten in the morning to Detroit. From Detroit i fly into Denver, should get home at about 12 30 or 1 30 your time the 4th. Kinda exciting. They said the flight plans should get sent to you guys too, so you might know all of that already. (Not yet)

So Saturday Ghislaine got baptized without any problems. We are still working with Nathalie to commit herself. Her last idea was to get baptized on Easter but since that is like two months away i shot it down. Shes a really good girl and wants to get baptized, just kinda scared about fixing a date. Our goal is to go talk to her whole family pretty soon so that she'll feel more accepted by them when she does get baptized.

This saturday out baptism number fell from seven possible total to a maximum of five. We will still work really hard and do everything possible to get them baptized. I think everything should go through. I have really grown to love this branch. I would really be juuuust fine finishing out the rest of my mission here. The members are just awesome.

Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACKSON! Twelve years old? That seems kinda crazy. I'll try to find you something cool for your birthday. Side note: If anyone wants to make any requests on things that they want from Africa, now would be a good time to make them. (Or sometime in the next three months)

Dang well i guess that there was not too much to say this week (this is probably where you ask yourself "does he ever say anything?!") Well, sorry about that. My bad. Just whenever i get in front of the screen i freeze up and forget everything haha. But we'll have a lot to talk about in three months haha :P But until then, there is work to be done! Talk to you next week!

Love you all!

Elder Bertoch

February 14, 2011 (Part 2)

Oh sorry Dad! For some reason i just got your email so now i'll reply to a lot of it! (slow computers in Africa)

Elder Bush is adjusting just splendidly. If Elder Tshibasu (now zone leader) lets me down and doesnt become assistant i have another hope in my second son. (Sam is training Elder Bush and also trained Elder Tshibasu) He hasnt gotten stolen from here yet, unless you count somebody ripping him off in the Ghana Airport on the way here.

It is kinda weird not being with a lot of African missionaries anymore. In a lot of ways its a lot more enjoyable (dont mean to sound racist, its just easier to joke and have fun with people that speak english and come from the same culture) but there are times when i miss them too. Like i said in the other email, President is coming out next week which is nice, we never ever hear from him except the two days we see him for zone conference. We also see the senior couples at least once a week i really love them too. Oh ya, forgot to say, got your guys' packages saturday! Amazing! By yesterday at noon there was nothing left. Not even joking.

Haha so actually i've actually been writing my homecoming talk in my head for a while now. I think i'll want to talk on charity. Good thing i've got an in with the bishop.

Dang thats too bad about Sloan. Does that mean that the Jazz havent been doing good?

Haha i was trying to decide if i want to come home with a shaved head or not. I guess i'll have to start growing it out soon. I dont know if I ever told you but Mama Ayekoues (Mission President's wife) rule on hair is a milimeter max in length. Im not sure it she quite knows how small a mm is. Also, i dont know if i informed you all on the rule she made a while ago that we need to mix a raw egg with concentrated milk and drink that once a week. I love my mission.

I just have a baptism goal to get to before i get home. I dont know if thats superficial but it keeps me working hard. I've actually was getting pretty antsy to get home too, like thinking about how nice it was going to be and everything. Then just last week i was in a taxi looking out at Africa and i realized how much i was going to miss it. The people, the sights, everything. I dont know if i will ever have another chance in my life to be here again. Made me pretty sad. Gotta make the most of it.

Love you all!
February 14, 2011

Hey family!

Things are still going awesome here! We had an awesome baptismal service on saturday, Monique was able to get baptized without any problems. She is maybe one of the baptisms that I am the most proud of, she will really lift up the church here and be a real leader. This next saturday we are praying to have two baptisms, Nathalie and Ghyslaine. Ghyslaine's should go just fine, not too worried but its Nathalie thats been having a lot of trials. She's 27 and has been coming to church for about two and a half months, every week, she goes to institute too. She really has a testimony and wants to be baptized (even got her own baptismal dress made, shes wealthy too) she just really wants her family to understand and accept her decision. For the moment she is just a little worried about telling them. We finally convinced her to talk to them but then her big brother got in a really bad accident so thats something else that might stop the baptism. Please remember her in your prayers.

But we have been blessed with a lot of success lately. Besides the two baptisms we could have for the 19th, we also have six planned for the 26th. We are working hard to make sure that they will all be ready, mainly they just have to keep the sabbath day holy. Among them we have a Rasta man and his two kids, a ghanian, and a college student, and the young men president's cousin. A good mix of just really cool people. I just love them.

I'm still lovin working with Elder Bush too. He is learning really fast. Sometimes i forget that he only just got here a week or two ago.

Other than that I'm not sure if anything else toooo exciting is going on. President is coming next Monday to do zone conference and interviews which is always nice but dont be too surprised if i end up not having time to make it to the internet next week. We'll try to find time though.

Also lately we've been running into a Nigerian pasture thats been giving us some laughs. The first time we saw him he walked up to us and grabbed each of our hands in turn, blessing each one of us as he went. I think i was blessed with the power to peirce the hearts of men with the sword of God or something cool like that. Anyways, he keeps asking us if he can come preach at our church and talks about how "the white man" made him rich on the internet. He also calls his house a palace. Unintentionally funny guy that really spices up our days.

Ok well I've been wracking my brain but I cant think of anything else to say. Im sure I'll think of a bunch as soon as i leave. Oh well! Have great weeks and i love you all!

Elder Bertoch
February 7, 2011

Hey fam!
Dang sounds pretty cold there! Minus twenty? No school or church? I think they should cancel church here when it gets too hot. February is heating up!
So my new companion is Elder Bush from Park City, UT. Super cool and his french is already pretty good. He'll be talking just as much as me in no time. We have about five or six people we are going to try to baptize this month which will be good. We already have a really fun time together and i'm enjoying being able to show him around. Reminds me of how i was 20 months ago.

Im still living with Elder Starita so thats cool too. Our apartment has a lot of fun together. For the moment Elder Shaffer doesnt have a companion (he was supposed to come from the MTC but ended up going home) so hes been working with us in a threesome a lot. Hopefully that will get figured out soon, we have an odd number of missionaries in Togo and Benin.

So this saturday we are baptizing an older lady named Monique. She is very very rich and was very very catholic (years ago she almost became a nun). When we finally convinced her to come to church she loved it so much that she decided to be baptized this saturday. She is really nice and will be awesome for the Relief Society.
The major problem is still that people have a very hard time coming to church. We have ten investigators with a baptismal date they just never make it on sunday. You can see them the day before, or even the morning of church, ask them if they are coming, watch them say yes, and then be infinitly disappointed when only four show up. This week we will pray for and find a solution.

Still no news on the flight plans. They are apparently supposed to come sometime in March. Dont worry i'll let you guys know the second i get them. Here they are really good about getting you home right around your release date, go ahead and count on me either the week of, before, or after the third.

Ok thats all for this week! Im excited to get out and get working with a new missionary full of energy. He'll be sure to kick my old body into gear. I love you all! Have a good week!

Elder Bertoch

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011

Another good week for me here in Africa. Kinda of happy and sad at the same time. Good news is that we ended up baptizing that family last saturday so that was awesome. The mom's aunt (who we baptized on christmas) and brother are already members so we felt like they would have a lot of support. It was a really good service. The family had had a lot of problems in the past (the daughter had even run away for a period of time) but i know the only gospel will help them turn their lives around. Already we have seen a lot of encouraging changes.

The sad part of the week happened on friday. At about 11 we got a call that Elder Starita was transferred. Hes not going far, we'll still be living together and work in the same branch hes just in the other area with the french elder. Im now district leader again and I'll be training a new american that gets here tomorrow. I'm kind of excited to train again, that should be fun, but way sad to have to split up with Elder Starita. We just worked really well together and have already prepared a lot of canidates to be baptized in February. I dont really know anything about my new companion, i should meet him for the first time tomorrow afternoon. It will be fun teaching him french and the lessons and everything.

Also, i got a package from LeeAnn! Thanks LeeAnn! It was perfect, especially enjoyed the articles and beef jerky and starbursts...well basically everything! And congrats on getting baptized Nathan! Thats awesome!

Snowshoeing sounds like a lot of fun too mom! I wish it would snow here, we're starting to get into the really hot season (as far as i've seen there are three seasons here- the hot season, the really hot season, and the hot, wet season). The heat actually wouldnt bother me that much if i could just stop sweating. Very annoying.
Glad you are feeling better too jack! Keep it up!

Ok well i love you all! Have a great week! Talk to you next monday!

Elder Bertoch
January 24, 2011

Hey again!
Really encouraging week this week. We had a baptism on Saturday- we were able to baptize Robert, he's thirty and really just a solid person. We found him in the former investigators tab in the area book and felt inspired to give him a call. We started teaching him again and I'm not sure what was different this time but he accepted everything. He really had a great testimony of the Book of Mormon- ge says that everytime he reads it he feels great and good things happen in his life. I dont think I have ever had an investigator understand the Book of Mormon as well as him. He also puts everything he learns into practice. For example, last sunday the Elders Quorum lesson was on fasting. The next day he decided to fast for the first time in his life. He was praying so that he would understand the Book of Mormon better and that things would go well with his job. So until about 4 pm he was just in his office reading and praying when he had the sudden impression to go back over and order form he had recently filled out. When he did, he realized he had made an error that would have put him 600 dollars (a TON of money for an African, especially in Togo) in debt. But he caught it just in time to rectify it before it got sent. Yeah, he's really awesome and already has a huge testimony.

We have a lot of other investigators that are progressing well too. Sunday we had eight more inv. at church which was really good. Amoung them was a family of three that we want to baptize this saturday but we are just not really sure that they are ready. I think selfishly we might want to push them to baptism but the Spirit is telling us to wait a little longer. We will see how we feel about them during the week.

Another cool thing that we were able to do was like a little service project. I guess it is because we are white, but EVERYTIME we try to help people with manual labor, they all get really embarrassed and refuse. But the other day, we saw one of our investigators building a concrete brick house so we offered to help. He refused but a few days later he gave us a call and asked if we could help him with something. So we went over to his house and he asked if we were serious about working. We said of course so he gave us a couple t shirts to change into. After that we went to work on clearing his lawn of bricks and trash and stacking everything in a corner for about an hour and half. (Sounds kinda boring but it was Africanized- we were dodging giant spiders, scorpions and huge venomous millipides in the process). We could tell that he was really happy and impressed, like he was testing us by calling. The next day he even came and attended the baptism. I have high hopes for him.

Ok well I think that is it. Know that Im happy and mostly healthy. Thank you so much for your emails too! You guys dont know how much i look forward each monday to hearing from you all! Always strengthens and encourages me! Feel better Jack!

Elder Bertoch
January 17, 2011

Hey again!
Had an awesome week this week, really buckled down and worked hard again. Really LOVE working with Elder Starita, feel like we can do anything together. Biggest news this week was that President came out to see us. He flew out wednesday and was planning on doing two conferences with us thursday and friday. Thursday was good. He talked alot about giving baptismal dates to EVERYONE we meet. It was very inspirational, and weve been trying to put it into practice. Friday we were supposed to have another conference but thursday night the area presidency called and told him that he had to hurry back into Ivory Coast cuz apparently things were heating up again. So the conference was cancelled but he still hurried and did our interviews. Mine went well; i always love talking to president. He told me that Id be staying with Elder Starita this transfer which made me super happy. After that Elder Starita went out and got to work. We gave five more baptismal dates in just two days which was awesome; we really want to baptize before the month ends.

Also Saturday, we decided to fast since we have been having problems getting people to church on sunday. So we did and our double the investigators came this week, totally an answer to our prayers. I love this work. The church is true.
Haha glad Jack and Dad had fun and scout camp! I hope mom was not too lonely by herself at home (probably appreciated the peace and quiet). I was also asking President about the "decision" and he says its looking good- in CDI all of the missionaries are in their areas and working pretty regularly. All the new missionaries that our coming will just come straight here to Togo Benin.
Also Happy Birthday to Grandma Sharyn and Grandpa Brent! Hope you both had great days! How old is that 45? Thanks for the email to, i always love hearing from you all!
Also great job on your talk too Dad! Only heard great things about it! ;)
Well I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Bertoch
January 10, 2011

Good Morning!

Well, glad to hear that you all had good weeks! That movie sounds cool, I'll have to see it when i get home. Did jack end up getting a snow day? I miss the snow, its too bad i'll have to wait a while to see it after i get home!

No, the first presidency hasn't decided anything yet. The couple says that they are still reflecting. No matter what happens, we'll be getting a lot of new missionaries in Togo and Benin pretty soon- they said 14 africans and 6 americans are coming this month. By the time Togo and Benin become their own missions they want to have fifty missionaries here which will have to mean a lot of new branches and areas. That is pretty exciting. Maybe i will get to train one more time before i go.

So Elder Starita and I worked super hard this week! We really enjoy working together. We focused a lot on contacting new people and really found some really good families. We'll be praying that they work out. Sunday was still disappointing though. We only had three investigators at church. We had talked to almost everyone saturday night or sunday morning and they all said they were coming but when church rolled around they weren't there. We'll see whats going on with them this week, we might end up having to let a lot of people go. I hope not though, a lot of our investigators seem very promising.

I also got the chance to speak in church yesterday and teach sunday school. I spoke a lot about missionary work. I think a lot of people think that there is a lot of sucess in africa because the people are humble or poor or something, and while that might play a part, really most of the reason is just that the members here work a lot harder than in other parts of the world. They all do a ton of missionary work, thats what makes the real difference. So, to answer your question that is probably the best think about being a missionary in africa. i really made sure to thank them and encourage them to keep it up.

The Herrs also said that you wrote them and that they appreciated it. Thanks!

Ok well thats what i had for today! Not much changed this week, just work as usual. I love you all! Have a good time camping too haha! Good luck!

Elder Bertoch

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 3, 2010

Hey family!

So happy new years and happy anniversary mom and dad! Wow, 27 years, thats like older than I am! Wait thats probably a good thing...

Yep so at the couples house last week we had a lot of fun. We ate a nice christmas meal and then got presents and watched the Princess and the Frog and The Princess Bride. It was really nice to relax with everyone and the couples are really nice.

So for our New Years there was another baptism but we didnt have any canidates. We worked hard and gave some baptismal dates and our goal for the month is to baptize six. The only problem is that our investigators are having trouble coming to church so we'll have to work hard this week to jump start their faith. Other than that the work is moving forward quite nicely. Me and Elder Starita have really decided to really buckle down and work during this new year so I'm planning on being completely exhausted by the time i get home. Anyways, so for New Years we were invited over to another wealthy member's house and he fed us a bunch of good food again. Afterwards our district went out for ice cream, im thinking that these last few weeks in Togo are probably the first time on my mission i might've gained weight.

So apparently the situation in the Ivory Coast hasnt changed much. The First Presidency is making some sort of decision about our mission today. I'm not exactly sure how that is going to effect us but we'll see. The only thing is, they might decide to close the mission, which might make Togo and Benin its own mission early or they might put us with the Ghana Cape Coast mission until July. In either case, that would leave a lot of missionaries in Cote DIvoire who would need a place to serve but there is not too much room here in Togo or Benin. We'll just have to wait and see.

Well I think that is about it. Nothing toooo exciting planned for this week. Today we played some football again (lost this time) and tonight we are going to a member's house to participate in fhe. It should be fun. Ok, love you all! Have a good week!

Elder Bertoch
December 27, 2010

I'm so glad to hear that Sam was well fed at Christmas. Here are the two pictures he was able to send us:

First Quarantine Group in Cote d'Ivoire

Hey family!

So I really enjoyed talking to you all! That was like the best christmas gift ever!

So Christmas was a really good day. It started off with the baptism in the morning and we got all of our three canidates baptized. We are going to try to add to that again next saturday. It was a really cool experience to be able to baptize on christmas day, our candidates could not have given Heavenly Father a better christmas present.

After the ceremony, the missionaries were invited over to a wealthy member's house and he fed us really good food. Salad and bread, some sort of pineapple, plantane casserole, cous cous, chicken, and ice cream. Super good. We ate until we were full which actually was a problem because me and Elder Starita had another eating appointment right after that! We went over to another family's house in our area (their son is a missionary in Cote dIvoire that i knew pretty well) and ate some more food and by the time we were done a felt like i was going to explode. Overall, a very good christmas.

Yesterday started off we church. Our three converts got confirmed and we had three more investigators at church again. It was a good, Santa even came and visited the primary which made all of the kids christmas' really nice. After church we had a nice devotional at the Herrs house (the Gublers were there too) where we were able to watch the First Presidency's christmas devotional and then eat really good food (chips and dip, fudge, brownies and ice cream, watermelon). Today we are going back to celebrate christmas some more (thats why im writing so early).

Sydney's adventures sound really exciting! Shes much better at writing emails than i am by the way. Puts details and emotions and everything! Sorry about that...

Ok so I'm gonna stop there. Rest of the time will be devoted to trying to send at least a couple of pictures home! Have a great week!

Elder Bertoch