Monday, June 13, 2016

"In the rainy season, & when it rains, it comes down hardcore."

  Well, for starters, this has been a most wonderful week filled with a lot of fun and productivity. I absolutely love the new Elders in my district or apartment. I can't express to you just how great it has been to finally have true friends who genuinely care for me, who help clean the apartment, who have a desire to be my friends and to help me in everything that I do, and with whom I can let lose, relax, have fun, work hard, laugh, eat good food and have joy in the difficulties that we have to go through. At long last, I'm genuinely content and happy. Oh, it's so nice to have true friends again. A lot of prayers have been answered as a result of their coming into my apartment.

 This is kind of funny for the both of us, but E. Barnes and I were a little skeptical on how well we were going to get along before he came; however, it turns out that we're super alike, we get along a lot better than anticipated, and we've been having a blast living together.

Today, as for an exercise activity, E. Barnes and I played broom hockey with a small ball as a puck and water basins as goals. We kept playing until I broke the broom. It was a lot of fun and we had a ton of laughs. 

It's super nice to be able to live with someone with whom I can be myself and have what feels like a non-stop streak of happy moments, hilarious experiences, inside jokes, and so much more.

 My life has changed for the better and despite all that I have to go through on a day to day basis, living with a friend sure makes all the difference.
Well, I'm afraid that I'm all out of time. Gotta go to a family night at the church with the district!!
 Monday (16 May) -- As I had already described, E. Barnes and I played broom hockey, then we went to the Cyber and then to the Church as a district to participate in a ward family home evening which consisted of the youth and young adults both member and non-member. We watched the LDS produced movie called "The Testament", discussed about what we understood and appreciated from the movie, and then ate cookies and drank juice as a snack at the end. 
 Tuesday (17 May) -- We canceled our district meeting and stayed in the apartment during the morning due to a rain storm that had come in. We're currently in the rainy season, and when it rains, it comes down hardcore. Thankfully the rain stopped some time in the afternoon, thus we were able to go out into the secteur. Earlier in the day, my companion refused to help me plan for what we were going to do today and told me that I could fill out the progress report that we fill out and then discuss upon during our coordination meeting that we have at the end of the day at the church with our ward mission leader among other leaders. Well, let me just start out by saying that my companion is very easily offended, he gets angry when I least expect it and then holds grudges and takes things very personaly. My companion was offended for what I had done to him the other day, that is, praying before he was ready to start. The entire district had waited for him for an hour to get ready so that we could get going to the cyber. Once we gathered together to say a prayer before we left, he asked us to wait for him to zip up his pants and tuck in his shirt. Well, I really wanted to go to the cyber and my patience was already running thin, and so I started praying as he got himself ready. Well, that made him so mad that he lost his spirit and decided that he didn't want to help me with what I just mentioned along with none of our lessons. Well family, believe it or not, I gave three lessons all by myself without any contribution from his part whatsoever. Fun right? At least once we got to the church after we (I) had taught our investigators, our ward mission leader apologized to us due to not magnifying his calling for the past month and said that he would start coming to the coordination meeting each week and would start attending baptisms every time we had them. I had been praying to find out as to how we could better work with our ward leaders and then had later discussed with our Bishop about everything that has not been happening but should on our ward mission leader's efforts. Our Bishop had then spoke with our ward mission leader and that had appartently done the trick. I love it when things just sort of work out like that. Such experiences really remind me that the Lord is currently capable of doing his own work.  
Wednesday (18 May) -- We worked with our recent convert Fr. Girard who will soon be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood and works with us every Wednesday from 15h00 to 20h00. My companion didn't speak or teach during our lessons until the very last one, but that at least gave Fr. Girard an opportunity to see what it's like to teach with and as a missionary. Our convert is super intelligent and understands the message of the Restored Gospel super well, thus he was able to teach as if he had already been called as a full-time missionary. This kid is so great and I know that he'll be a phenominal missionary. He's eighteen, by the way, and will hopefully be graduating from high school this year (in a few weeks).
Thursday (19 May) -- Had a surprise meeting with Pres. Morin, his wife, and the Togo Assistants in the morning at the Kégué chapel. I didn't find out that we were having this meeting until last night while my companion and I were planning for the next day. I'm super glad that we had this meeting, for it was during which that we discussed as leaders on the following points: teaching in unity so as to more fully accomplish our missionary objective, getting along with companions, having love one for another, becoming more like Chirst, being accountable for our actions, supporting what we teach by putting it into practice and so forth. As a result of this meeting, my companion started teaching again and did so through out the remainder of the day, but we were still lacking a very vital key to missionary success: unity along with the spirit and power that come from it. The meeting that we had along with the lessons that we had given today moved me repent by doing something about changing our situation so that we could have the spirit of unity back in our companionship and in my own life. However, I wasn't sure as to what I should do and I didn't know as to when I should go about making said change. Even though every time I did so the spirit felt very distant, but I decided to give myself up to much prayer so as to receive guidance and inspiration, for I knew that if the Spirit were to come back into my life, I would have to reconcile myself with my brother first (3 Nephi 12:21-24). 
 Friday (20 May) -- Weekly planning in the morning. My guy helped me out and it was much appreciated. We saw a lot of people today, and everthing on which we had discussed with them pierced my soul and just shredded me to pieces. There I was teaching others to change their lives, to stop drinking and start keeping the word of wisdom, to prepare themselves to go to the temple, to start coming back to church, and so forth while my own life was in complete disorder. At the end of the day, we saw Sr. Reine and Sr. Victorine, two girls who were supposed to be baptized about a month ago. For the past couple weeks, they hadn't come to church. They went to visit their aunt one week and then the next they didn't come because the eldest didn't want to go. It feels like it's been a long time since I've poured out my heart and testified with everything I got as I did that night to help these little girls realize that the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored, that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that they absolutely have need to come to church and to be baptised, and that they've got to keep moving forward by keeping the Lord's commandments. My heart was filled with love, power, conviction, and a sincere desire for their salvation as I spoke to them; however, due to the problems that my companion and I have been having, it felt as if a small yet piercing void had been carved within me. It was at that point that I had resolved to repent, to confess, to change the situation, and to reconcile myself with my companion by sincerely apologizing to him for all that I had done to offend him as we walked home to our apartment. As a result of that talk, the Spirit had finally come back into my life, my companion and I have started talking, working and interacting with each other again, and I feel at peace. It's pretty insane to see what life is like without the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. It was among one of the most worst experiences that I've ever had in my entire life, but it was very eye-opening in many different ways in that pride is killer and humility is wonderously sweet. Well, at least I now know that I should never again take for granted the constant presence of the Holy Spirit.
 Saturday (21 May) -- Baptismal service bright and early in the morning at the Bè-Kpota chapel for E. Barnes and Fr. Tcharé and for the Sister missionaries in our district. Before the service started, I had a baptismal interview with the other Elder's candidate named Sr. Rose, who thankfully passed the interview with flying colors (an odd expression, but that's English). I dislike doing interviews the day of the service because one never knows whether or not the baptismal candidate is actually ready to be baptised. Fortunately, Sr. Rose was ready and worthy to contract the baptismal covenants and had a beeming testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the afternoon, my guy and I taught two investigators named Sr. Sharlotte and Sr. Dopé along with her friends and then we saw two of our other converts Fr. Josué and Sr. Débora. As we were on our way to Fr. Girard's house to talk to his little brother Fr. Godwin, a raging, mini-flash flood, rain storm came out of nowhere and we were forced to sprint for about thirty minutes through the rain, flooded streets and mud in order to get back to the apartment. We stopped twice, once underneath the roof of small boutique to catch our breath and then at the church to take another breather. It was the most insane rain storm that I had ever been caught in. It was fun and all, but man, that was a pretty scary and intense experience! When we got to the boutique, I decided to try something as a thought popped into my head to give it a shot. I had decided to pray and then command the rain in the Lord's name to stop falling as intensely as it had been so that we could safely return to the apartment and so that everyone in the area would be kept safe. It continued to rain, but the quantiy thereof along with the intensity of the wind had settled down enough for us to return home in safety. I tell you what though, I was pretty sore once I woke up the next morning. It's been a while since I've ran that fast for so long. As for the others, they had fortunately found shelter at the house of an investigator who has been coming to church ever since I got here but hasn't been able to be baptized because of her martial issues. She let the missionaries stay at her house and cooked for them until the rain calmed down enough for them to return to the apartment.
 Sunday (22 May) -- Went to Church; not very many people showed up, but we had some investigators come; went home directly after the third hour; slept for a few hours due to getting my butt kicked by the other day's storm; amazingly went back into the secteur in the evening (believe me, it was really hard due to our fatigue); spoke with Sr. Reine and Sr Victorine's Mom with a member named Fr. Komla (the member who had introduced us to the girls) to make sure that she was still okay with her daughters being baptized due to the past excuses that she made; she was of accord and even helped us find certain information needed to be written on the girls' baptismal forms; afterwards, we visited Sr. Shériffa and her family and then we visited Fr. Josué and Sr. Débora at the end of the day.
Well family, everything has been momentarily brought back to the way it should be; although, I would humbly ask that you pray for me and my companion so that peace, happiness, unity, cooperation, and so forth my reign within our companionship until transfers come along (this upcoming Saturday). I would very much appreciate a happy ending; it's always best to end a companionship with a good note. No bitter memories make the mission a lot more enjoyable.

I sincerely hope that everything else is going well for you all and that you have a most wonderful week!! 

I love you and God bless you!!
Elder Gonzales

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