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

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