Monday, September 8, 2014

Visit from a General Authority

Typical Africa-getting-to-a-RV picture. You would think that
after two weeks, the puddles would dry up but you forget that Cotonou
is built on a swamp!

So, I think that the biggest news this week, ok maybe not THE biggest news, is that my back was killing me all of this past week. Why? Well, one of the great things about foam mattresses is that they are not that comfortable to sleep on...can't say I recommend them. Well, at least when you are sleeping on two of them. When I first got to
Menontin, I had my choice of beds. One of them happened to have two mattresses so I thought, well, two is definitely better than one!

But, as I often come to find out here in Benin, what seems to be a comfortable choice is not always the best choice. It was fine for about the first month, but this past week I guess my back just couldn't take it anymore because I had terrible lower back pains. Even
walking or breathing hard would hurt. Nevertheless, it didn't stop me from going out and teaching but goodness it was a pain in the butt...err... back.

Using the ol' noggin, I took out one of the mattresses (which had stains that came from who knows where and who knows what) and just started sleeping on one mattress. At first, I was pretty sad because when I laid on my bed with one mattress, it was super hard! I thought I could feel the boards underneath the mattress! But, after a few days
I realized that though not as comfortable at first, I have experienced much less back problems!

Why share this story? Well, throughout my mission, I have always seemed to learn this principle time and time again: that what seems to be a comfortable choice is not
always the best choice. I think this principle ties in really well with a Zone conference that we just had with Elder Curtis, the president of the Africa West Area (and part of the Quorum of the Seventy).

Whenever a Seventy comes, there is some sort of spirit that comes with them that cannot be matched by just anyone. It's crazy to see how inspired they are and how tuned in they are to the Spirit! Actually, all the talks that were given during our conference were very good and very inspiring.

One of the things that Elder Curtis talked about was how we need to work with the Spirit in order to be successful. If we are not able to tune into the Spirit of the Lord, our work is in vain! We then talked about ways we could keep the spirit in our lives and the best way, of course, is to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord. I really
enjoyed one of his comments where he said that sometimes, the devil will tempt us to not keep a commandment by making us believe that we will have more fun in disobeying a commandment. 

To tie this back to my mattress story, I thought it was going to be awesome to have two mattresses to sleep on, but... noooope! In the long run, it destroyed my back! It's kind of the same thing with not respecting the commandments... we might get some "happiness" in not obeying one of the commandments for a time, but after a while it will end up doing more damage than good! And we learn that what seemed to be a good choice at the time, was not the best choice after all.

The overall gist of the conference was that we need to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord as well as the rules of the mission if we want to be guided in this heavenly work. Another point that I had never really understood was when he talked about how we are the like empty vessels of the Lord (or vases in more plain terms). If our vessels are unclean or dirty, the Lord is more hesitant to use us and to fill our vessels with His spirit!

Overall, it was really cool. It is probably the last time that I hear from a general authority on my mission... and to be honest, I think that this conference we had with him was probably the best one from my whole mission because I was able to learn something and actively listened in each and every one of the talks.

I also really enjoyed President Morin's talk because it really touched home for me. He talked a lot about his own mission, which strangely enough, is very similar to my own in that he worked in his first two sectors for five months each, then went to the office. He said that after he was transferred from the Office, he felt a fatigue that he had never felt in his whole entire life (he said that even until today, he had never felt so tired in his life).

I don't think I feel that tired right now on my mission, but there are some days where I feel super tired and worn out. I think the thing that makes me more tired right now is that I don't have time to feel tired or worn out because there's so many people to see, so many places to go! Though, I think that is a blessing!

In any case, President gave us some good counsel as to how we can continue to work hard despite the fatigue of the mission. I have a couple of goals planned out for right now and we'll see how it all works out! Oh, and he announced a new church building that will be built in Benin next year!

Other than the conference with Elder Curtis, this week was pretty average... nothing too new nor special happened! Although, those little neighbor rascals got us good again this week! One day, we got home and when we were going to leave again, the key to our apartment was missing! Before, the other equipe had a few keys go missing but because they weren't important, we didn't really think anything of it. But this time, it was pretty important since we couldn't lock our door! We didn't look too hard because I had used the key to open up the door earlier that morning and then left the keys in the door. Somebody had to have taken the key out of the door and removed it from the ring!

We asked the kids' mom if they had taken it. She said no. Knowing that they definitely did take the keys, we asked her to ask the kids. They, of course, denied it. Ooooohhhh... the little liars! So, having no other option, my comp and I took the key to one of the other doors to the apartment.

Nevertheless, the missing key was still a problem once we got home. Hearing all of the horror stories of missionaries' apartments being robbed and having to buy all new clothes, cameras, shoes, etc on their own dime, we did not want the same thing to happen for us! We looked all over the apartment for keys to lock our rooms but we found nothing! So, we took some brooms and we blocked the hallway door so that nobody could get in... we felt pretty dang safe after that!

Missionary security system.

The next day, we magically find a key right underneath the door...hmmmmm... where did that come from?!? As we found the key, one of the kids walks by and says oh did you find your key?! We're like yup...thanks a lot. Then a few days later, another key showed up in the exact same place. THE LITTLE RASCALS! But no worries, the father promised us that he would spank his kids. Justice, the African way.

Alright, well, best be going now! Hope that everyone has a great week!


Elder Hawkins

Stadium by the house. Not quite the Linc

La charite ne perisse jamais! Go Société de Secours!

Our Church building. It's huge, but echoes way too much.

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