Saturday, January 2, 2016

Joyeux Noel!!!

Salut ma famille:
 The internet connection has been functioning so badly that it has taken me two hours in order to send one message so far.
 Check it out! Four of our investigators have been baptized!!! FIST PUMP!!!
We have Sr. Nicole and Sr. Prisca, who have been making phenomenal progress in diligently keeping commitments by coming to church every Sunday, by reading scriptures and brochures, and by praying to find out the truth for themselves by the power of the Holy Ghost. Also two brothers named Fr. Koffi and Fr. Yao who have become great friends and have been just as diligent, despite their difficulty to fluently speak French.
 This morning, as I was writing in my journal, accounting for everything that took place last week, I took note that this week had been the most productive week, as far as working with members goes, that I've had since I've been working with Elder Joseph and probably throughout the entirety of the mission as well. I had then realized that while I was with Elder Tapusoa, we were only able to teach exactly eighteen investigators in the presence of a member during each of the two six-week long transfers in which we had worked together. That adds up to a grand total of thirty-six member lessons at the end of approximately almost three months. Last week, E. Joseph and I taught seventeen people in the presence of a member. What does this mean? In the amount of time it took for E. Tapusoa and I to teach eighteen individuals in the presence of a member (six weeks to be precise), E. Joseph and I were able to accomplish just as much in a single week. 
 Well, if I was still in Kégué, this would have been very discouraging news; however, I'm not and my new secteur rocks!!!!!
 As you could imagine, we've been very busy as of late to the point that we've been kept on the tips of our toes making plans, going appointment from appointment, coordinating with members to work with and receive more contacts from, and helping our progressing investigators prepare for baptism while finding more people to teach all at the same time.
 At least, I've lost weight due to all the extensive walking that we do every day, and thanks to the weather change, the heat has died down and so it hasn't been as excruciatingly hot as it had been before.
 Interesting fact: The season in which we are in occurs every year when the sands from the Sahara Desert are carried from there by wind over the entire country. Unfortunately, the season doesn't last for too long, but it would be considered as the equivalent of our winter season, save for the snow. There's so much dust and sand circulating in the sky that some days it looks like a giant cloud of reddish-brown fog is floating in the air. It actually made breathing a bit of a challenge and it had caused a lot of people to catch colds; fortunately, I was not a victim. Thankfully, the sand has gone down, but the fresh air and coolness are still lingering which is great. 
 Well, family, everything is going great over here, I'm in great health, and I've been able to overcome a lot of trials that I've been having from time to time due to a variety of stressors. Despite all the difficulties, which have lessened immensely, I've been filled and blessed with an extremely abundant amount joy and happiness because of this great and marvelous work and I'm thoroughly enjoying and loving every bit and moment that I have to teach and to serve the people of my mission.

 I appreciate all that you do for me and I sincerely thank you for the prayers that you've made on my behalf. Thank you all so very much for the love, the unceasing support, the encouragement, the compliments, the words of counsel and wisdom, and for everything else that you do for me. Take care of yourselves in the best way that you can in every aspect of your lives. Be safe and may our Father in Heaven guide and protect you as you exercise your faith in Him, make right choices and follow the promptings of His Holy Spirit.
Here's some exciting news! One investigator named Fr. Honoré, whom I had been teaching ever since I had arrived in Bè-Kpota, finally got baptized last Saturday! After his baptism, he stood up and bore what I thought to be one of the most simple, yet most touching testimonies I've ever had the opportunity to hear. Spiritual experiences aren't exactly in an abundance in this mission and seldom happen if ever, but the testimony that he bore struck my heart with the Spirit.

 Check it out!! Do you remember Sr. Patience, of whom I would write when I was working at Adidogomé with E. Jeneseri? She was finally baptized not too long ago!! :D I spoke with the missionaries currently working in my old secateur and they informed me of the good news. Apparently, she was the one who came to the missionaries telling them that she's a grown woman who can make her own decisions. So, they went over what we had taught her and she was shortly thereafter baptized. The whole reason as to why she hadn't been baptized when E. Jeneseri and I were there was because her mother, with whom Sr. Patience was living, had refused that she be baptized. Her mother threatened that if Sr. Patience were to be baptized, she would disown her and kick her out of the house. Well, hopefully none of these things transpire; however, I'm just glad that Sr. Patience finally took the brave and right decision.
 As for my Nigerian family, everything is going super well for them and they've been progressing very well according to the missionaries who are working in their ward. Bro. Frank and his son Daniel recently received the Aaronic Priesthood and Bro. Frank is preparing himself to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood soon as well. 
 I sincerely hope that you were able to have an amazing Christmas day and that everything else in life has been going very well for you. I pray that this wonderful holiday season may bring to you and your families a great abundance of happiness and joy no matter what situation in which you may be.

 I know that as we do the very best that we can to unreservedly spread the holiday cheer, as we stretch out our hands to those with feeble knees, as we strive to work a little harder to become a little better, and as we remember and remind others about the true reason as to why we celebrate this holiday in the first place, we will all be greatly blessed according to our own specific needs and we may be the means by which the Lord extends his merciful hands to provide for the things of which others have need.
 I bear my solemn witness that Jesus is the Christ.  I know that the Savior Jesus Christ, of whom the prophets have testified of his coming since the beginning, had in all reality been born in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. I know that a little over thirty years after His birth, he would begin His ministry; during which, he would accomplish a great and marvelous work by healing the sick and afflicted, by preaching the Gospel to all who would listen, by setting the greatest example to all by his sinless and completely obedient life, by establishing His church among His people, and by accomplishing His ultimately universal, perfect and eternal atoning sacrifice.
 I know that at the end of his earthly journey, He suffered, bleed, died, and was resurrected for us so that, through Him, each and every one of us could overcome the effects of sin, from which we could then receive redemption and remission. I know that on top of being able to be freed from sin and, for which, receive forgiveness and mercy, everyone will be resurrected to be brought before the judgment bar of the Lord where we will be judged according to our works that will have performed throughout the duration of our mortal existence on this earth. However, before this great and dreadful day comes and thanks to His Everlasting Atonement, everyone, including those who've passed away into the Spirit World, will be given the opportunity to be forgiven of his or her transgressions and thereafter inherit eternal life in the kingdom of the Father on the condition that we keep His commandments, live in accordance to the principles and ordinances of His Gospel, and endure to the end.
 I know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lives and that now, as always, during this Christmas time is the perfect time to especially remember Him along with His birth, life, ministry, and atoning sacrifice. I know that as we strive with all our heart, might, mind and strength to make Him the very center of our day to day lives that our Father in Heaven will open the windows of heaven and pour upon us an ever abounding amount blessings.
 Well family, it was a wonderful pleasure to be able to Skype with you! I'm super glad to have been able to interact with you once again and it was really great to see that you're all healthy and to hear that everything is going well for you. As for my side of the world, I wouldn't worry too much about me if I were you, even if I made it sound as if this mission experience seemed crazier (which it actually is) than it actually is. The Lord knows exactly what I'm capable of and he wouldn't put me through a situation without providing me a way through which I could overcome it. Despite all the physical, mental, and emotional challenges I have to go through, the Lord is watching over me, the Spirit of the Lord is with me, and I've so far been able to overcome every trial that I've had to go through in proportion to how much I've placed my confidence and trust in Him. On top of all this, my new found desire to serve and to help others obtain exaltation has blotted out every hardship that has come my way. Everything that has taken place since I've been on the mission, every trying, sad, happy, and spiritual experience has only been for my own good, spiritual growth, and learning. Every moment is a gift and I strive and do my best to never take anything for granted. 

I love you all so much. It was wonderful being able to see you again, and I hope you have an amazing week along with a... Happy New Year!!! 
P.S. Here's a photo of the all missionaries of the Benin, Cotonou mission in Togo with Elder Vinson of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife. Elder Vinson and his wife came to visit us a couple weeks ago to see how everything has been going in the mission and to help us improve ourselves by giving us many inspirational insights, talks, words of wisdom and counsel. I had the opportunity to go to a leadership meeting with Elder Vinson, our Mission President, along with their wives. During his meeting, my companion and I along with the assistants and other zone leaders, established what we could do as individual zones as to how we can do to better ourselves by becoming more diligent, obedient, and effective. 
Well, everyone, thank you so much for the love, support, prayers, emails and so forth. I hope that all is well on your side of the world wherever that may be and that life has been going well for you all. I love you all and may you have a wonderful week!
Avec amour,
Elder Gonzales

1 comment:

  1. Is this the correct address to send a package? What kind of things do you need?