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

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