Monday, August 8, 2016

"Finally got some missionary scars"

Wow, I'm not really sure where to begin.
The past couple weeks have flown by so fast yet so much had happened since I last wrote to you.
 Well, just for reassurance's sake, I'm doing great, I'm in good health, I'm no longer tired, I've been as diligent as I possibly can, I'm learning more about Jesus Christ from the scriptures and it has helped me come closer to him, my testimony is growing, my character and behavior are changing for the better (although, there's still a lot of work to go), I'm getting along with the people very well and I'm absolutely loving my mission despite how difficult it may be. My guy and I, though we've had a couple disputes, get along super well (much better than my last companionship), we're working hard, we're improving our overall teaching methods, we've started working with members more frequently and we're having fun. He's the best African companion that I've had and could very well be one of my favorite companions yet. He's a little lazy from time to time, but he still does work, he wants to become better, he loves the people, he gets along with everyone very well, he's very forgiving (not very like his culture), and he has worked with me in a way that I can see that he's genuinely interested in being my friend. As for the secteur, it's progressing faster than my companion and I had anticipated, we're still finding new people to teach, many of our progressing investigators came to church last week (some of which for the first time), we're preparing about five investigators for their baptism at the end of the month and their respecting their commitments very well. Other than all that, I'm happy, this last week was absolutely fantastic, life is great, I'm becoming a better person (still needs work, but it's coming around), I'm eating well, I should be exercising more, but I've started spending more time scripture studying that I figured that I'll start exercising again once I get back. I love Elder Bailey and I sincerely going to miss him once he leaves for home in the next couple weeks (thankfully, he lives in Bountiful, Utah so we'll be able to visit each other afterwards). Elder Bailey reminds me a lot of Casey Facer and he has been without a doubt my best missionary friend since the very start. He's a super great person and a sincere and true friend.
 I've managed to keep myself away from any major injury -- my guess is because of divine protection along with your faith-filled prayers -- but it seems that I have at last gotten past my lucky streak. I've never been hurt to the point that I've had to go to the hospital (save for the time that I went due to getting malaria during my training) or had to stay in the apartment to rest (save for the time that I had really bad athletes foot and when I got sick from exhaustion while working with E. Jeneseri), but I've finally got some missionary scars to show off once I get home! So, a while back, E. Bailey and I bought actual bacon strips from a store not too far away from our apartment. While he and I were making a bacon and egg breakfast (which tasted absolutely delicious), I had tilted handle of the pan in which we had cooked our bacon down towards me to see if there was still enough oil that we could use to cook our eggs. Well, it has been twenty-one months since I've had bacon, but it turns out there was plenty of oil left in the pan after all. Some of the oil, still scalding hot, poured onto my index finger above my finger nail and then on the mid section of my middle finger. Thankfully, not too much of my skin had been touched, but I got second degree burns on the spots that had been. How'd I react? Well, it hurt a lot and words were said. I put my hand under running water directly after it happened for a while; afterwards, I gently dried off my hand and then put some kind of cooling, burn gel on the burns which helped out a ton to get rid of the pain. The following days consisted of me putting more gel on my fingers while they inflated and then turned into large blisters. The blisters eventually popped on their own (on accident) and then scabbed over. I'd say that I've been quite blessed for the situation could have been a lot worse and the burns have already healed and are now scarring over. No, by the way, I didn't go to the hospital or stay in the apartment. The burns healed up all on their own.
 Apart from that, my back started getting sore again about a week or so ago and so I started exercising my abdominals, legs and chest in order to reinforce my core muscles. It has helped out a ton and the pain has diminished a lot as well. Well, I've only got three months left before I come home!! Something had to motivate me to get back into shape, right?
 As for specific investigators, one of which named Fr. Olivier, a very enthusiastic man that we've recently started teaching and have been seeing every day upon his request, has had the greatest and most immediate of changes in his life that I've ever seen since I've been in the mission. All that I could say about this man's story is that he has been through it all. He had had what I'd consider to be a darker story of the life of Job. He had been, at one point of time, corrupted due to the teachings that he had followed in previous churches, to the point that he had indulged in many serious sins. He had wealth, he had many cars, he had position in his religion and he did all sorts of things according to his pleasure; however, all these things had caused his family to flee while he fell into a crisis of debt. Eventually, everything that he owned had been taken away from him or lost due to debt, leaving him with almost nothing.
 Here are a couple, interesting things that I felt like I should mention about how Fr. Olivier had become so attracted to and touched by our teachings and our Church: the fact that our message is centered upon the strengthening, unifying and (re-)establishing of the family and then the hymns that we sing at Church. He had told us that he wouldn't have been interested in our message until we had spoken about families (thankfully at the very beginning) and that he wouldn't have been interested in coming to church if we didn't sing the hymns.
He absolutely loves the Church along with everything that we teach, saying that everything that we do and everything in which we believe is spoken of in the Bible and is then supported by the Book of Mormon. He is one of those lucky (actually Spirit lead) finds who has thoroughly studied and then actually understood the true signification of the Bible, which makes teaching him a breeze.  
Teaching him has been an absolutely amazing, spiritually edifying, and life-changing experience, I always leave his house filled with the Spirit (more so than I ever have been before through out the entirety of my mission) and it's been amazing being able to be a part of this man's life changes. It's also been amazing to feel and see that it's not me or my companion who have been changing his life for the better, but the Lord along with his Atonement and the Holy Spirit.
 Our other investigators haven't gone through what Fr. Olivier has, but each one of them have their own story, yet have the same desires and have made very similar changes in their lives. Some of our greatest, or, my favorite investigators such as Fr. Narcisse, Fr. Pascal, Fr. Steev, Sr. Yoland are absolutely fantastic friends and I love them all so much. We also have a partial member family in our secteur that we see very frequently and I love them to death as well. It's only been a few weeks but I've already developed a great relationship with the family.
 I'd like to ask of your a favor by praying for these each of these individuals whose names I've previously written. They're all currently facing certain obstacles that they need to overcome in order to become baptized. We have two other investigators named Fr. Apolinaire and Fr. Gilbert who have already finished with the missionary discussions, but haven't been baptized because they haven't yet completed their marriage requirements. Marriage, here, by the way, is insanely expensive, has a huge list of requirements, and is a ridiculously stupid example as to why certain, cultural traditions should no longer if ever be practiced. I'm just happy to say that I look forward to not having to pay a ridiculously insane amount of money to my future wife's parents in order for them to accept that we be married.
 Well, the computer guys are kicking us out. Gotta go. I love you so much & we'll talk further next week!!


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