Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"I absolutely love this mission that the Lord has sent me here to do!"

Salut famille!
 Thank you so much for your prayers! Without a doubt, they've helped me so much within this past week, of which, was actually super great! Well, here's some great news with the language: I can communicate with anyone now and say just about anything that I need to say. My current goal at this moment is working on having longer and more meaningful conversations with people and I've been having a lot of success with said goal. Also, here's something super awesome: yesterday at church, for the first time I taught the lesson in the missionary/investigator class and it went really well! Actually, since my new companion came, I've been forced to speak a lot more French than ever before and that's helped me out a ton.
 So, we've fixed two baptisms for the fourth of April with two of our investigators named Frère Michel and Soeur Angel. We've seen a ton of recent converts, investigators are coming to church and we're finding more people to teach. We're staying active, diligent and busy and personally, I've been feeling the Spirit guide me more than ever before. I'm starting to speak with more power and authority and my testimony is growing more than ever before as well.
 Well, the language has finally come; but, of course, there's still a whole lot of work to do before I master it. I absolutely love it here in Adidogomé, my companion is awesome, we're having great success, we've taught a lot of people thus far and we've still got a whole five to three months worth of teaching to go depending on the next transfer. I've developed a great love for the scriptures and along with the words of the living prophets (still scripture); and, believe it or not, it's getting harder for me to read and sometimes speak in English.

 Bugs are our full-time room mates. We have tiny, terrible smelling ants crawling in the kitchen and the front room all the time. Why they smell terrible, I haven't the slightest idea. However, we don't mind them because they clean up for us, they don't ever get out of control, and they kill the occasional cockroaches and carry them out of the house. As for the other bugs, they can get pretty big and so far I've seen some massive ants, beatles, and wasps, but we've never had any problems with them.
 As for me and my companion, I can't begin to tell you all the crazy experiences that we've been having! Everything has been going really well for us and we've been able to teach a lot of people the past couple of weeks. The only struggle that we're having at the moment is trying to get our investigators to come to church. I'm actually really convinced that if we really improve the manner in which we commit our investigators to act on and keep committements, they'll do what the Lord wants for them to do. I feel like I know exactly how to improve in what to do and say to help them come to church based on what the Spirit is prompting me to do.
 But as for good news, the five converts that my last companion and I helped become baptised have been very active and have been progressing so well! My friend Boris still comes to church every week and we're still working with him to make sure that he knows the doctrine. Hopefully soon he'll be able to recieve the Aaronic Priesthood. Jean and Bernice are doing super well! Jean has a calling and recieved the Aaronic and Melchezedik Priesthood and he and his wife are doing their geneology so that when they're able to go the temple they'll be able to do their ancesters' work. As for Beaugard and Marie: Beaugard has received the Aaronic Priesthood and we're now waiting for him to receive the Melchezedik Priesthood and they both are super active in the church, despite living super far from the church building.
 I absolutely love this mission that the Lord has sent me here to do. It's certainly not easy, especially when we work as hard as we possibly can, but man, I tell you what, if you work and
serve with all you heart, might, mind and strength, it's then that you will see the most absolutely rewarding results. My companion and I have been striving to do all that we can because we know that its only by obedience and diligence that we have had the fullest capacity to teach by the Spirit and genuinely help these people to come unto Christ. We're by no means perfect, and we've certainly been shown just how weak we are; however, every time we've placed our trust and faith in the Lord, we've been made strong and have been blessed with many occasions to be instruments in His hands by which he has helped his children receive his gospel.
 Thankfully, the members of the church help us out a ton, and even come with us when we go out teaching investigators. It's actually quite normal for us to have about 5-8 lessons given in the presence of a member per week which has been super great. We have three people who help us out a lot, of whom are Soeur Bernice, Frère Toy and Frère Gabriel. On top of all that, we have members who offer to help us from our branch all the time as well.
 The great thing about this work is that though we may teach the same things in different ways according to investigators needs, the days are never ever the same and we are continuously learning, improving ourselves, receiving new and sometimes crazy experiences, progressing alongside with investigators and recent converts, and improving our testimony and knowledge of the gospel. And, quite honestly, the only things that I've been able to teach since I've arrived are the things that I've learned on the mission. It's absolutely insane how much I've been growing, especially in ways that I've never even imagined myself growing in.
 I couldn't imagine myself being in another mission. In fact, one night, my companion and I visited a member in our branch in our new secteur (area) who's from Ghana and speaks English. I tried giving a spiritual thought in English, but I didn't like it because I kept mixing French with my English and it didn't feel nearly as powerful until I started speaking in French. I know it's the same thing and
all, but I so much prefer speaking French when bearing testimony and teaching the Gospel because that's what I've been called to do and I can really feel the power and authority that the Spirit has allotted unto to me when I proclaim Gospel in this new language. I'm not sure if it's true or not, but it's pretty crazy to think that I might be the only one in all our family who's be given the opportunity to receive the gift of proclaiming the Gospel in French.
Well anyway, everything is still going really well and I absolutely love it here!
I hope that all is going well for you, that you are all as happy as you can be and that hopefully nothing serious happens to any of you health wise. If you could let Grandpa, Grammy, the Ward, and everyone else know that I love them all and that I hope everything is going great for them as well.

Je vous aime, Dieu vous benit, et je vais vous parler encore la
semaine prochaine!!!

Votre fils et frère,

Elder Gonzales

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tout ira bien: Everything will be okay!

Allo ma famille!
Ah vraiment, je suis très heureux de vous écrire!
 I'm actually going to be staying here in Adidogomé this upcoming transfer, which will take place either tomorrow or Wednesday.
  I'm going to be a Junior companion again.
 Oh, and guess what? Our friend Borris was baptized last Saturday and ordained a member yesterday! :D We still have a long ways to go with him, but I'm still here so I'll make sure that he is well taken care of.

  Thank you so much for all those really awesome quotes! I'm actually really glad you sent them to me because I can't begin to tell you just how difficult this work has been these past few days.
  Well, before I get into the details, my new companion came in a few days ago. His name is Elder Jeneseri and he's African-American. He was born in a country called Tanzia and moved to the U.S. when he was twelve as a refugee. I haven't quite yet heard the story due to how busy he and I have been, but he said it had to do with the church. And so before he came to the mission, he was living over in Holiday, Utah.
  So, as for the details: My companion has been working in Bénin for the past 9 months and now he has arrived into my secteur, which means that I have to show him everything and catch him up to speed. For the most part, I've showed him to all the members and most of our recent converts and the location of which they live. As for investigators, we're still working on that.
  In any case, since he doesn't know the area or the people, I've had to do all of the planning everyday thus far since his arrival. I tell you what, it's a lot harder filling up about 8-10 hours each day with things to do than I thought and it's pretty rough when plans fall through. On top of all that, my companion and I are taking on a whole new secteur that I've been to only three times to visit a family with the district for a mangez-vous (eating appointment).
  ça va aller, everything will be okay. We just need to keep ourselves cool and just do the very best that we can for now until we're able to get things figured out. This last Sunday was so great because we spoke with a lot of members who offered to show us to all the houses of the investigators and the recent converts in this new secteur. Oh, thank goodness for amazing ward members. That, and we spoke with our recent converts and set a specific day during the week when we can pass by, and we plan to do that with everyone else of whom we teach as well. Doing that would make everything so much easier to handle because I won't have to scramble to make appointments with people when the appointment is already set for us.
  I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do this week, but I'm just going to have to put a whole lot of faith and trust in the Lord that my companion and I can have success in our efforts.
  This has been going fairly hard for me this past week, but it'll get better in the weeks to come as we get everything settled down and figured out. But hey, since I've been forced to speak French more than I have ever before due to having to speak with everyone and schedule just about everything, I'm becoming more and more capable of communicating with people. That, and my testimony and my capacity to preach to these people have increased immensely these last couple weeks which is the most important thing.
  Well, I'm obviously here for a reason and the Lord has allowed me to go through this crazy situation to really help me progress and really rely on Him.
  Other than all that, I've been doing fine and everything else has been going alright. My faith at times has been really tried, but I'm still going strong and still hanging in there. But don't you worry, I still have a strong testimony and I'm still striving with all my heart, might, mind and strength to be of good cheer and to do the very best that I can.
  Well mom, thank you so much for all these really wonderful quotes. They really helped me out and reinforced my desire to keep moving forward and to keep work, work, working (which I haven't stopped doing and will never ever stop doing while I'm on this mission).
  I'm super glad that Dad's health is going strong and that everything is still going well chez-lui. I know that Dad will be okay and that he'll continue to grow stronger and healthier as time goes on. Well, I'm so happy to hear that everything and everyone are still going fine. I'm afraid I'm out of time so I'll need to be heading out of here!

I love you all so much and it was so great hearing from you all!!!!
Avec Amour,
Elder Gonzales

 P.S. -- Thus far, with Elder Dioulo, he and I have had the pleasure of taking part of 6 baptisms while we've been here. Hopefully, I'll be able to send you the pictures.