That’s Mende for hello! I feel like I ran a marathon this week! So much happened! I bet you guys get tired of hearing me say how busy my life is every week, but seriously, it IS busy.
First cool thing was the worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday evening (you know, when we actually got to it — satellite didn’t work and streaming wasn’t smooth at all — seriously a miracle we got to watch it). Kinda life-changing for all us missionaries. Some changes were made to the missionary program. Logistically, our schedule and key indicators were changed. Schedule is more up to us now! We can start proselyting by 8:00 am and fit other things like companionship study in other parts of the day. I like it a lot because it gives us more ways to be reliant on the guidance of the Holy Ghost throughout our day. One size isn’t always the best option for so many different feet (over 71,000 pairs of missionary feet around the world to be accurate). We also now only report on investigators baptized and confirmed, investigators with a baptismal date, investigators at sacrament meeting, and new investigators. With these changes, church headquarters is moving away from a “Law of Moses” approach and giving missionaries more autonomy to tailor their lives to their areas and focus more on what really helps people come unto Christ. This could massively backfire with super lazy/disobedient missionaries of course, but this is a sign that God is hastening the work and has more trust in us. I hope all of us laborers in the vineyard can feel the pressure of responsibility Heavenly Father is increasing upon us and act accordingly.
The spiritual aspect of the broadcast focused on something that is the basis of my testimony of the Gospel. Oneness of doctrine. That idea prompted the amazing spiritual witness I have received of the Book of Mormon and has been the driving factor of my studies since then. Elder Bednar forcefully declared that faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are all interlinked and interrelated. They are not separate principles meant to be taught as such. I examined how I felt about that and I realized it’s true, with the Atonement of Jesus Christ at the center of it all. EVERY principle I teach blends beautifully into the whole gospel plan. I have heard it compared to brush strokes in a painting. How true that is. It is a witness to me of God’s love for us, His literal children, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
I was reminded how blessed I am to be here when a woman waved us down after we finished teaching a super golden investigator, Jim. More on him later. Anyways, she got us to come over to her house where she had five daughters she wanted us to teach. Yes, five! Haha, I love this place.
So on our way to see Jim, we walked through this totally serene “Sacred Grove” type of area. It is off the beaten path in Durba Ground where a lot of our investigators stay. It was so peaceful there. My companion and I took quite a few pictures there just because of how amazing it was. It brought back memories of my church history tour with my brother Alex when we visited the actual place that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith.
It’s about time we have baptisms again, right? Yes! Four baptism interviews went great. On our rounds of visiting those investigators’ homes, we ate at every place. Zainab fed us fufu!
I haven’t had that since I was in Waterloo. We were all very, very full. Elder Adokou and I had another appointment to go to, and she fed us fufu, again! I ate so much I think I put my body into shock. Sweating, shaking, the whole deal. It was awesome. Then, somehow, Elder Adokou and I climbed this giant destitute crate that those freighter ships have (I am pretty sure they have a name and I’m blanking on it) and we took some pretty cool pictures. I look dang fat in one of them.
On branch business, we had a meeting on Thursday with the district presidency to discuss our various branch mission plans and progress with those plans. I’d say we are having some progress – with 10 INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH! Wow! God is really working on some people here – especially one referral, Cristiana. We have been trying to find for like a month (don’t ask). She just showed up at church of her own accord. Like, who does that? Only someone who was prompted by the Holy Ghost, that’s who! Oh, and we actually have a branch mission leader now! Steven, who we are already great friends with who is the previous young men’s president I have talked about. The work is progressing.
So today, actually, we went to this super cool place for a zone activity. It was way far though, and we had a little trouble directing our okada driver. At the activity, we had a relay race in which my companion fell flat on his face in a sack race (it was really, really hard to stifle my laughter; I know, I’m terrible), horseshoes, human knot, and a pin the tail on the donkey type of thing. And then, while waiting for food, we played a super long game of Never Have I Ever. That game’s level of maturity is directly related to the innocence of its players, so you can imagine how clean it was with missionaries who do nothing but talk about Jesus all day. The food came and it was fried rice with something like a burrito. I was ecstatic to see that it actually wasn’t shawarma.
A sister (returned missionary) in our branch asked us to come and give her nonmember brother a blessing. He has been in and out of the hospital for a couple weeks now. We found the place and had a small discussion before Elder Adokou and I administered to him. I felt prompted to especially listen to what Heavenly Father told me this time. While sealing the blessing, I specifically felt that I should NOT bless him to be healed. That’s the first time I have ever felt that. Instead, I just blessed him to increase his faith and come closer to God. It was a strange experience for me. I guess God has something different in mind for him.
I’ve read James 2:19 scores of times, but this week it struck me a little harder than usual. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” That reminded me of all the times that evil spirits had recognized Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Lo and behold, one of those times was in a footnote, I believe. Luke 8:27-28 says: “And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.” Those devils believed in Jesus Christ. They knew he had the power to cast them out. They recognized him as the Son of the Most High. But did that change their status as slaves to Satan? No, not one bit. There is one word that separates faith from belief, that has the capacity to raise us to a higher level than that of the demons of hell: action. Acting on your belief in Jesus Christ and his Gospel constitutes faith. Mere belief or association cannot save you any more than it can a devil. Action is what saves you, coupled with the grace and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I love how this gospel just makes sense. For me, it has made sense since I was a little boy. That fact has only increased since then. I am grateful for the grace of my Savior and love of my God that has been manifest so often in my life. I am humbled and privileged to personally know of the truth of the Gospel and to be able to share it with others by divine decree. I hope you all have a wonderful week wherever you are 🙂