Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What teaching is like... Alma 18: 24-40

Wow, my hand just went numb. I just got shocked by the metal table that the computer is holding itself on.

Well, as for starters, I'd like to share what's teaching is like. If you read in Alma 18:24-40, believe it or not, but that's literally what it's like at times. Most people believe that God is a Spirit or that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are one single person. I've heard others things, just for example, that God is fire, or made of fire. Yeah, the beliefs can get pretty interesting, but everyone and I mean everyone here believes in God. Not only that, but everyone knows so much about the Bible and so pulling out scriptures from there really helps to establish a solid ground of understanding for investigators.
So, the thing that we try to establish first of all with investigators is the true nature of God, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit. From there, we branch off according to the investigators interests/needs or we'll continue on with the true baptism, the Great Apostasy (to explain the multitude of churches) and the authority of God, or the Priesthood and the organization of the church to explain that this is the one and only true church on the earth. Personally, I always love talking about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and his Atonement, along with the First Vision and the story of Joseph Smith. Those subjects always seem to hit at home with investigators and myself as well.

There are literally hundreds of different religions here, three of the most popular are Les Témoins de Jéhovah (Jehovah's Witnesses), Catholique (Catholic), and Muslim. Also, I'm not sure if it's a religion, but there's also Vaudoo (Voodo). Here's an interesting fact, turns out that Togo and Benin are the Vodoo capitals of the world. As for all the other churches, you'll here pastors preaching, singing, yelling into a microphone in a small church building all the time.

As for culture: If you're the one who opens the door, whoever is with you goes first. If you don't know an area, you're companion (if he knows the area) walks in front of you and you can't walk in front of him or else you'll show him that you're the leader, which they really don't like that; but, if you know the area, you always walk together, side by side or just a little bit behind. If you walk ahead without paying attention, they get mad. When making a greeting, you wait until you're about an arm's length away before saying anything. If it's a casual salutation, you can wave or call out them out from a distance. The people don't typically ask for anything, they just tell you what they want because the word "demander" means "to ask." If you can see the root "demand" you'll kind of see why it's like that over here. Don't get me wrong, the people here are very polite, super kind, always and extremely charitable, and incredibly faithful, but asking isn't much of the question unless they need information. As for the "right of way" whatever is bigger has it; this is the way that it goes: Bus/Truck, Car, Moto, person. At times people in vehicles yield, which is really generous, but if you're not careful, you'll get bumped. Oh yeah, and if you have more years than someone else, everything you do and say basically has the higher authority and you expect respect. Last thing, if you think that Dad has ever chastised me, which, I don't think he ever has, you've seen nothing yet. Just be glad that you've never had to go through an African chastisement because believe me, it's pretty rough. All that, and people are incredibly honest. If they don't like something, they'll straight up tell you, which at times can be pretty hilarious (when not directed towards you). But, like I was saying earlier, despite the different cultural stances, the people are absolutely great and I'm actually really starting to develop a great love for them because they really are awesome.

At appointments, typically we don't say anything until we're seated. From there, the host of the house says, "Bonjour/Bonsoir" Good morning/Good evening and then you reply with the same word; after that, "Bon arriver" or good arrival and then you say, "Merci" or thank you; and then, the host will offer you water and whether you accept/decline it doesn't matter but that's when the conversation basically goes however it goes until the lesson.

Well yeah, that's just a little bit of what it's like over here. I'm actually beginning to really love my mission now that I understand the culture. It also helps that I'm learning the language very quickly and I'm more able to teach, express my thoughts, take care of my needs, understand people and so forth. But more importantly, I've been gaining such a strong testimony these past couple weeks and my knowledge of the gospel and the scriptures has increased immensely. I can't help but just be so grateful that I'm here, even as hard as it can be, but it's really forming me into the man that Heavenly Father needs me to become and who I also want to become.

Well, I sincerely hope that everything is going super well for you all!

I love you all so much!

Jusqu'a la semaine prochaine!

--Elder Gonzales

1 comment:

  1. Culture is such a cool thing. I wish people could learn more about each other's culture. There would be more peace and understanding. There would also be more tolerance.
    I commend you for respecting someone else's way of life. I appreciate your mission and your updates. Love you.