Sunday, July 26, 2015

"I'm loving my missionary life"

  I must tell you that this has been the best and happiest week of my missionary life thus far. My companion is called Elder Tapusoa, he's Samoan (and huge) and he comes from Kearns, Utah. He's a super great kid, he works hard, he studies all the time, we get along super great, I have him speak with people and teach during lessons and he does a fantastic job. Training is an absolute blast and I love just about every single minute of it. Seeing that I had a more or less difficult time during my training, I've decided to do the best I can to help my guy have the best training he can possibly get before he goes out all on his own after his training has been completed. Our district, by the way, is so amazing! I'm back in the same apartment as Elder Whitt (an American Elder from Idaho whom I lived with for the first two months of my mission) along with the nicest and coolest African from Côte d'Ivore named Elder Adjo who happened to be trained by Elder Sagers (the other American Elder I lived with for the first three months of my mission). The district gets along great, we eat together, we talk with each other and laugh all the time.

My new guy and I are currently working in a dead secteur -- meaning: we don't have any investigators -- in a city called Kegué. He and I have been doing what I had to do in Adidogomé with Elder Jeneseri when we were transferred into our new secteur -- a whole lot of OVB. I've been having my companion speak quite frequently as we've been going door to door along with stopping and talking with people on the streets. We've received a lot of contacts and hopefully we'll be able to take a few rendez-vous with them in the near future. We thankfully have a few recent converts in our secteur so we've been able to have a few rendez-vous with them. There's a recent convert that Elder Whitt helped to be baptized named Sr. Christine who showed us to the work place of one of her friends named Sr. Grace to introduce us to her to start the missionary discussions. We've had one rendez-vous with her thus far and she's already read The Restoration and The Testimony of Joseph Smith pamphlets along with a couple verses in the Book of Mormon that I had written in the book for her to read. First off, according to Elder Whitt and Elder Adjo, that kind of thing never happens around here. So, one could say that she's particularly and genuinely interested in our message and I have a good feeling that she can really progress. 

 As for other good news, ever since I moved in, I've been eating so good! Today, we as a district went and did our once a month shopping at the grande marché in a store that sells American along with other high quality merchandise. Afterwards, we went to a restaurant found in the Togo's equivalent of Beverly Hills that also just so happens to be in my zone with eight other missionaries where I ate an entire legit pizza.

 I'm loving my missionary life at this moment of time and everything so far has been going exceptionally well.

 As for the long anticipated details: This has been without a doubt one
of the best weeks of my mission that I've had yet. Elder Tapusoa, is absolutely fantastic! He's super kind, really charitable, always willing to serve, timid yet courageous, hard working, extremely
patient and humble, and filled with gratitude. To a degree, he almost reminds me of Alec. We get along super well, he helped me do my laundry today (which was super awesome), we eat really good, we have a super awesome district, and he's honestly just a champ. I've got a solid feeling that we're going to have a great time while he trains.

As I mentioned last week, Elder Tapusoa and I have started working together by doing a whole lot of OVB in our "dead secteur." I'm actually really glad that we had the opportunity to do so because it
has enabled me to give my guy many occasions to speak, testify and teach and it has also helped me improve my capacities in presenting, teaching and tesifying about the message of the Restored Gospel that we've had the opportunity to share with many persons. So far we've
found about four solid investigators by doing OVB. We'll see how we will be able to progress with them; however, with the help of the ward members, we should hopefully be able to see some lasting effects from our labors.
 Here's what I thought to be a halarious experience that E Tapusoa and I have had while teaching a couple of our investigators. I do this quite frequently, that is having my guy lead out the lessons; however, there were two particular instances that stood out to me that I'd like to share with you. There were two lessons during which I had my guy start out teaching; although, there came a time where he would turn to me to see if I would take over the lesson from there or continue talking from where he left off. As he did this, I didn't even look at him but kept my eyes on the investigator, waiting for him to continue to speak. Which is exactly what he did. I was so proud. He was astounded to find that he was capable of saying and doing much more than he thought he has capable. To his suprise, all I could do was just smile and look back to when I was in his shoes over six months
ago. I tell you what, the time really does fly by a lot quicker than I thought.
 Training with E Tapusoa has been a wonderful experience that has really provided me with many wonderful learning, improoving, and growing opportunities. Everthing that I've learned since I first
arrived, I've had to put into action. There have been many questions and situations that have been presented to me that I've never had to deal with before; however, I've felt the Spirit of the Lord sustain me and my companion in every effort that we've made to do our part in being worthy instruments in the Lord's hands to accomplish His work. Although it has been given to me to take over the majority of teaching during lessons, my companion's testimony, no matter how small
it is at this moment of time due to the language barrier, is sincere and filled with conviction which amounts to the same if not more to all that it is that I do. A simple testimony is enough to change
another person's world. Also, I thank the Lord almost every night for blessing with a wonderfully non-crazy companion.
Well, here's a quick brief on our current investigators. We've been teaching a lady named Sr. Reine along with her neighbor named Sr. Adjo. We've about finished with the message of the Restoration with them and will probably be moving into the Gospel of Jesus Christ really soon due to their questions about baptism. There's Sr. Grace whom we met through a recent convert named Sr. Christine who had been baptised by Elder Whitt. She's doing great and has been progressing
fairly well. She reads the BofM and the brochures and she's been praying to find out for herself if our message is true. One day, we hope to be able to meet up with not only her but her entire family as
well. Her work schedule and the work schedule of her husband don't correlate so well and so fixing an exact day to come to her to teach her rather than teaching her at the super marché that she works at is a bit difficult. We also have Sr. Annick, a lady who at one point in her life lived in France but came back to be with her family until she is able to renew her passport to go back to Europe. She poses a lot of difficult questions and has a variety of beliefs that contradict a lot of things that we teach and so we'll see how it all goes out with her during the week to come. Finally, we have a man investigator named Fr. John who had been a contact that we received from other missionaries who works as an imported goods unloader at the ocean whenever a boat comes in from other countries. It's a very difficult job for him and his circumstances are tough, having to take care of his eleven year-old daughter all alone. However, as time goes on, he will see as a result to accepting our message and doing the things that we invite him to do that the quality of his life will change and will sincerelly
improve for the better (a promise that we had given him the first time that we came to his home to present to him what it is that we do along with a brief of our message). It was actually really difficult getting a hold of him at first, but we managed to get a hold of him one day and we will hopefully be able to see him again sometime soon during the upcoming week.

There's a member that lives in our secteur that we've been trying to become friends with named
Fr. Ekoué. The first time we came to his house was a fantastic experience. All my guy and I did was help Fr. Ekoué prepare some sauce that he had been cooking up to go along with his lunch and we did nothing but introduce ourselves to him along with having conversation and talking about life. Based on the way that things work around here, that was a really good thing for us to do because we as missionaries have to do everything we can to develop good relationships with members by becomeing their friends so as to earn their confidance and trust. Along with becoming his friend, we've been hoping to be able to teach the women that he wants to marry the missionary lessons.
Fr. Ekoué would have married this girl a long time ago; however, he has to pay off what one calls the "Dote" -- an African tradition that requires a man to pay his wife's father a ridiculuous amount of money in order to be able to become civilly marry his wife. It's the dumbest tradition in the world because couples, even when the husband is in the process of paying off the Dote, are able to live together and have children before paying the entirety of the Dote which means that they are breaking the law of chastity because they're living together and having children without being civilly married. This has been a very difficult obstacle that every missionary has had to overcome while teaching certain investigators. Fr. Ekoué is a very active and faithful member who had been baptized over a year ago and comes to church every Sunday; however, he is now struggling with paying the Dote because his woman's father refused to allow Fr. Ekoué to pay the Dote in increments, meaning that he can pay half and then be civilly married, but we would still have to pay off the rest later. There's nothing that we can do to help him in that regard; however, we will do all that we can to teach his future wife the gospel so that one day, when he's capable of paying off the Dote and if she accepts what we teach, she'll be able to be baptized and then go with Fr. Ekoué to the temple so that they
can be sealed together.

Well, I'm afraid I'm all out of time, but there's the smack down on
the details of all that's been going on with us over here in Kégué.

Please keep these people in your prayers so that everything can work
out for these people!

I love you all and I hope you have yet another wonderful week!!!

Je vous aime et que Dieu vous bénisse!!


Elder Gonzales

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