Working with Elder Gnahore has been pretty good, not had any problems with him at all. We work together as pretty much equal partners, so it all turns out okay. I've really learned from him how to make backup plans in advance. Which has been a really good thing because appointments have gotten kind of shaky with Christmas coming up. People have gotten a lot busier around here, we have had so many appointments fall through this last week. We've even had to go to plan D a couple of times. The Lord blessed with a mini miracle this week in that despite all of the fallen appointments and time spent walking around, we still managed to get a lot of work done this week. We have met a lot of new people and seen some real power in the work.
Yes, I'm in a branch again. Doumassesse branch has been around for a little over a year if I understand right. We recently split off a new branch, Addidogomé, but that split officially goes into place in January. At that point, our church will start at 1 PM, which'll be interesting. Yesterday I played the piano, but it didn't go as well as usual. They didn't actually tell me in advance what hymns I'd be playing. Turns out it's hard to sight read Angels We Have Heard on High after a year. Especially when the music is a little bit different in French. It wasn't too bad over all, but I'll definitely need to ask in advance next time.
I got the ward newsletter this week, along with all the Christmas wishes from the ward. Be sure to say thanks to everyone. I can remember writing those letters a few times, never really grasping the fact that one day it would be me getting them. Time certainly flies. This morning we got to hear from Elder Curtis of the 70. It was a really cool experience. He talked to us about obedience and being worthy to receive the promptings of the Spirit. I was really motivated to move forward my efforts to be worthy. Not that I'm bad person, but we all have things we can do to improve.
This week we met a man named Credo. He actually called us down in the street. Turns out he was in the US army, and now runs a low income-development-aid-foundation-thing that brings him back to Togo sometimes. He was super nice, and turns out he's actually a member of the church! I wasn't able to figure out if he is active or not in the states, but it was cool to just have a random run in with a member like that. I wonder how many random people live here in Togo who were baptized but don't know that the church is hear. Because that is now two that I've met in about as many weeks.
Elder and Sister Leavitt came by with their little Christmas gift for us all, I never thought banana raisin bread and peanut butter cookies would taste so good!
President Weed decided to catch us all by surprise again. Elder Burkhart will be going back to Benin this week to be in the mission office, and Elder Poll will be replacing him. I was super excited to spend Christmas with Elder Burkhart, oh well. Elder Poll is a good guy, it'll be interesting to see how the apartment dynamic changes.
The new apartment itself is pretty good. The only real problem with it is that we don't have any real water pressure. So you know what that means. Bucket showers. Actually surprisingly refreshing, as it turns out. Just another week in the life of a missionary. They say we should be getting a new pump system soon. When we first moved in we had a little bit of a problem with bats flying in and getting stuck inside, but we put a couple of screens back up on the windows and the general smell of people seems to have driven most of them away.
This week I did a lot of personal study about the savior. We were giving a couple of chapters to study before the conference with Elder and Sister Curtis, and I took the time to look up a couple of other chapters too. I really felt strengthened in my testimony. I had a moment where some of the verses in Isaiah really became personal for the first time. That's one thing that I have loved about the mission. A lot of those scriptures that I knew were doctrinally important have now started to become personally important. I'm happy it's happening, ideally it really should have happened before the mission. I have decided that for this new year (or at least the first little while of it), I'm going to work hard on being more virtuous. I figure if I set a goal for a Christlike attribute, that will help me accomplish more. I want to really get a lock down on my thoughts, I still have times where I just am not there during lessons and whatnot. I'm going to work on memorizing lots of scriptures and hymns. Especially in French.
That's super exciting that the family will get to be in pageant again. I think you are right, that has to be a blessing from having missionaries out. I know you'll all have a lot of fun. Just don't give in to the temptation to go see Jacob out in NYC haha.
Haven't seen the women with Christmas trees on their heads, maybe I'm not in the right area for that. As far as the mom sending out ties, I know all about that. That was organized for Elder Burkhart. It has mostly worked, except that most of the people baptized here recently have been women. I'll see if I can come up with any ideas for service.
As far as a shoulder bag for Jacob goes, I don't have too much to say. I think he probably needs one since he might not be allowed to have a backpack. It should have a strap that can be washed, obviously.
Strap ideally is wide for comfort on shoulder. For size, it should carry his own scriptures (I don't really recommend the quad for missionaries, I think the Bible and Triple separate are better), some brochures, a copy or two of the Book of Mormon (maybe one English one Chinese?) and maybe a water bottle. I don't know if he'll be driving or walking or biking on his mission. Generally, I'd say a skinny but long and tall is better than a short fat one. I feel like it's less likely to be stolen, just looks better. Also should have a handle in case the strap breaks. The strap broke on mine a couple months ago, and I've been too lazy to go get it fixed.
Haha, Sister Leavitt told me you emailed her, she mentioned that you happened to use my first name in saying I needed a new fan. It made me chuckle.
As far as maintaining weight goes, I'm not actually sure if I'm the same weight or not. I know that I'm definitely way down on muscle, but I'm getting a little bit of a gut. Turns out that's a little bit of a universal phenomenon here. We get belly's, but we can stretch out our skin just about anywhere else. I'm definitely doing better than some of the other missionaries though, thank you so much for not raising me to go out to eat all the time.
My companion wants to know if you got/understood his thank-you email. Okay, I think I managed to write a lot this week.
Love you all, Elder Christensen