I don't think I've ever been more content to receive a gift (save for the Atonement, my family, temples, the Priesthood, the Gospel, and so forth) throughout the entirety of my almost two-decade life than that which I had received in a cardboard box that will enable me to visually journalize my mission life!!
The new camera came in last Tuesday at the conclusion of our Zone meeting and had been delivered to me by the Assistants. The camera is without blemish and was thankfully not tampered with and it has been absolutely fantastic!! No longer do I have to wish I had a camera when a memorable moment arrives!! That, believe it or not, has been a wonderful relief. I've been taking pictures of and with investigators, ward members with whom I interact the most, along with my recent converts. I took the pictures of the certain locations and areas concerning the secateurs and the apartment for which you had asked as well.
Well, as far as investigators are concerned, we've been having less of them coming to church now 'a days... because they're all getting baptized!!! We have, however, started searching more frequently for more investigators to work with so that we could help others also get through the gate and enter into the way towards the temple. We've been having success in finding more investigators thanks to recent converts along with the members. My companion and I will also be starting an English course (starting tomorrow afternoon) along with a Scripture Study Class (on Thursday) so as to find more investigators to teach. There are, unfortunately, quite a few investigators of whom we've had to let go and stop teaching because they wouldn't keep true to their word, wouldn't progress and wouldn't keep commitments. It's not easy, particularly when we develop good friendships with these people, but we have been counseled by our leaders to have the courage and the love to let them go so that they can see what they've been missing and then have more time to be prepared by the Holy Spirit. We've also been asked to make better usage of our time by looking for and teaching those who will more readily and willingly accept and act according to our message.
If there's a lesson to be learned from all this, it's that the progression of this work is directly affected by the ward members with whom the missionaries collaborate and work. Members and the diligent efforts that they make to help us have such an essential role to play in work! In fact, I know that if the ward that I'm currently working in wasn't as great as it is, I'm thoroughly convinced that we would not have had nearly as much success as we've currently been having with our investigators and recent converts. The ward and it's members are not perfect by any means, there are many inactive and active but not diligent members, not everyone knows what he or she is doing, and there's a lot of work that needs to be done due to the adolescence of the church in Togo, but despite all this, here is what makes the difference: the members are trying to enforce themselves to magnify their callings and by helping the missionaries as they accept, invite, encourage, and bring in everyone as their own. This is not just a ward being established but a family and a kingdom being built upon the principals of charity, love and an astounding amount of faith. I love this place and I love this people, for behind all the rough edges lies a pearl of an example as to how one should live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sr. Shérifa, Sr. Akuto, and Fr. Dieudonné were unable to be baptized last Saturday because they went on a trip with their father to their village; however, our prayers have been answered in that their father has allowed them to be baptized!!! Our friends might be going to their village again this Saturday, but if they don't then they'll hopefully be baptized if all goes according to plan. If not, then the following Saturday is when their baptismal service shall be held. If our plans don't hold, better later than never; although, I much prefer sooner if possible and so prayers with that in mind on their regard would be great (if it is, of course, in favor to the will of the Lord)!!
Well, my family, thank you all so very much for the wonderful (Twentieth) Birthday and New Year wishes!!! It would be great to be able to celebrate with you during these two particular days, but I suppose I could say that I'm celebrating them in a far better way than I ever possibly could because this time around, these will be days that are not surrounded around myself but are rather concentrated on serving and helping others around me. There aren't really any other nor better ways to celebrate such days than to serve the Lord and give back what I can to the One who gave me all that I have.
Thank you all so much for all that you do for me! Thank you for the love, support, encouragement and packages that you've sent to me! You're all super great and I'm proud of and happy for each and every one of you. I hope that you have a marvelous week and that all goes according to your favor so long as it is aligned with the Lord's, which, undoubtedly and increasingly is! Take great care of yourselves in every way, enjoy the fruits of the New Year, and do your best to always become a little better with every invaluable passing day! I love you all so much and may God bless you all!!!