Thank you for the details about what's been going on with the family!! I sincerely appreciate it!! I'm sorry to hear about Dad's back!! I hope that he's doing better! It is super cool, though, that Dad had won that smoker!! That's the way life seems to be at times, especially in the mission -- whenever we have our high ups, they're eventually followed by our low downs. However, the great thing about it all is that whenever we find ourselves in the lowest of life's downs and then choose to turn to the Savior to lift us up as we reach out our hands to his, we're brought up even higher than where we were before we had fallen.
Well, as for what's going on my side of the world, I was just recently transfered after having served in Togo for the last eighteen and a half months to labor in the Calavi Secteur located in Bénin last Saturday. I am no longer Zone Leader but I have been called to serve as the District Leader of my new apartment, a change that I have genuinely come to appreciate.
As for the new area, well, there have been a few changes and adjustments that I've had to adapt to as I've been plunged into yet another, slightly different culture. The people of Bénin speak a different native language, their behavior is a bit different than that of the Togolese, not very many people speak French fluently, I moved from a big ward to a small branch, I left behind a lot of converts and friends whom I love and genuinely care for, the people aren't as accepting to the message of the Gospel as the Togolese are, our living conditions aren't too great, the power goes out frequently, we don't have a lot of water, and the apartment was a mess when I arrived (but I cleaned it up today), I've been placed in a district that appartently has need of my help, among a few other things.
I'm a little disappointed having to start from ground zero all over again, but due to all the experience that I've had in this mission, I'm adapting and getting used to everything quickly enough. I'm enforcing myself to remain positive and to continue to serve and to teach as if nothing had ever changed.
Well, I'm still getting to know the new area and I'm still meeting the investigators, members and recent converts found through out our secteur. It'll take a couple weeks to get fully adjusted, but I'm starting to get the hang of things and I've been enjoying meeting the people whom we teach for the most part so far.
My new companion's name is Elder Kabuya from Kinshasha, D.R. Congo. He's been in the mission for ten months, he lost his mother while on the mission and yet, to my amazement, he is still here doing what he should by serving the Lord in the best way that he knows how. His teaching methods are a bit different and are in need of some touching up, but it's nothing that fervent prayer and fasting, diligent studying, consistant complimenting, continual encouraging, patience and charity, and a spirit of unity and friendship can't fix. He has what I consider to be a strange behavior, but he gets along really well with the people and so it all works for me.
Well, my family, that's all the time that I have for today! I love you all so much and I sincerely appreciate your love, support and prayers. God bless you and may you have a wonderful upcoming week!!
Love, your brother and son,Elder Gonzales
Wow, aren't my companion and I lucky? The power cut out a few minutes ago and we left the Cyber before I could write to you. As we were on our way back to the apartment, the power came back on and so we made our way back to the Cyber so that we could write to our respective families.
So, here are the details of my life in Calavie, Bénin:
When I first arrived, the apartment was a complete and total wreck. So, what did I do? I cleaned it!! For three days!! Thanks to divine aide and a lot of loving chastizement, I got the other Elders to clean up as well.
Thankfully, getting them to clean wasn't too much of a battle and they've been diligently cleaning the apartment ever since.
I'm the new district leader and my district consists of Elders Nsengyova, Bailey, and Kabuya. We've been having fun together, we're getting along well enough, the missionaries are a bit lazy in certain aspects (one of which is lazy in all), but one can't force a person to want to do work and so all one can do is be loving, encouraging, strict, just, merciful, and a good example.
I love my new companion, we get along great, we've been working hard, we're serious but we have fun, I've been applying everthing that I've learned from my last companion with my new one, and the result of which has enabled my new guy and I are becoming good friends. There are a few rough edges that still need trimming around my guy's teaching methods, but he's getting a lot better and it's nothing that fasting, prayer, study, friendship, and unity can't fix!
As for the secteur, it's absolutely fantastic, for it's only ten or so minutes away from the apartment. Not only that but the church is only a couple minutes away by foot. Now I can finally die in peace. There are a lot of people to teach and it's surprising really easy to find new investigators. And there is also voodoo... everywhere.
I've figured out the basic lay out of the secteur, I believe that I've now met each one of our investigators, some of which should be getting baptized soon, along with our recent converts, and I've already started becoming good friends with these people.
Last week, I had written that the people were a bit harder to get along with than the Togolese, but I suppose I only had a rough first impression. I'm happy to announce that I enjoy working with these people and I've come to learn how to better interact with them.
As for the now new and improved, clean apartment, we got cool neighbors and they made us awesome food the day I arrived, the electricty cuts out every day and we seldom if ever have water and we've so far killed three rats, one of which I killed myself by wacking it on the neck with a stick.
Well, the power just died, so I'll have to send the message before my computer shuts off.
I love you all so much and I hope you have a wonderful week!!!
With love, Elder Gonzales