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