Monday, January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015 -- Last Letter from Elder Gray in Benin, Africa

Hey Everybody,

      Well. I based on my luck these past couple of weeks I'm just
going to assume that this is going to be the last email that I'm going
to be sending as a missionary. It's pretty surreal... I can't believe
it's already almost over.

      These past of weeks we've been working like total champions.
We've been having loads and loads of success and have been blessed
beyond what we possibly could have hoped for. Many of our
investigators opened up to the spirit and have made life-changing
decisions to follow Christ. We've been spending countless hours with
our branch leaders and things have come together piece by piece.

      When I first arrived here in the middle of June the branch of
Calavi had around 15 to 20 people who came to church every week. Last
week, and for the past couple of weeks, we've had around 60. I
consider myself super blessed to be able to have witnessed the miracle
that has happened here. Forgive the lame example; but I'd describe
Calavi like working in my Mom's garden back in my childhood. In the
beginning we spent what felt like eternities trying to keep the stupid
things from dying and making absolutely zero progress. Then one day
you'd go outside and find that little green tomatoes are EVERYWHERE.
After that it was just a matter of finding which ones were ripe.

      I have learned many a lesson and one of them is realizing how
little I actually know. I've come to rely and recognize the Spirit and
lean on the atonement of my Savior. Words cannot describe his love for
each and every one of us. Despite all the setbacks, frustration,
failures, and exhaustion I would never trade this experience for
anything ever offered in exchange.

      Worth it.

-Elder Gray

January 12, 2015 - - Pictures

Big Thank you to Elder Lukonga for posting these pictures of Elder Gray
Elder Gray and Lukonga and ? holding what suspiciously looks like Christmas Dinner!

Elder Gray and another darling little girl. SOOO Cute!!

January 5, 2014 - - Hi hi


      Seriously this is getting a bit ridiculous. I've been watching
everybody around me click n' type to their hearts content while I get
nothing but a blank loading screen that freezes up every fifteen
seconds. The good news: I've finally got on. The bad news: We've got
an appointment in 10 minutes.

      Things have been going well. We had a couple of baptisms last
Saturday. Things are wrapping up nicely.

      Thanks for your support. You guys are awesome! Sorry I couldn't
get more out.

Love you!

-Elder Gray

**Slightly more than last week but not much, but we will take what we can get!**

December 29, 2014 - Last letter of 2014!


    Finally got on. Things are going good. I was talking to Elder
Joseph and he mentioned a cool gig that could really help me out if
it's still a thing. It's a place called 'Cut-co Knifes' or something
along those lines. It's a door to door sales gig that aparently pays
pretty well. If you could scout it out that would be awesome.

      Soon enough we'll be in January!

      See you next week

Mom's reply:

WAIT! that's it? are you still there? 

Yep that was it for our last letter of 2014! Seriously? you have got to love African cyber connections!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 8, 2014

Hey Everybody,

      Well. Transfer calls went out last week. Elder Rakotomanana is getting moved to Jericho to work with Elder Ringle and Elder Joseph is getting a new trainer, Elder Hanks. It'll be the first time I've ever even heard of having three Americans in one apartment. Speaking of firsts, I'll be the first missionary to ever NOT see Togo. There have been a couple of missionaries that have gone their whole missions in Togo, but nobodies ever done it with Benin. It's a strange thought to picture the fact that Elder Sagers (another missionary in our Stake) and I have been in the same mission for more than a year, but never have and never will actually see each other.
      Small particles of light are beginning to shine ever so slightly upon the branch of Calavi. These past couple of months have been super duper rough trying to work with these people. Our branch presidency has well under two years of experience between the lot of them. The oh so very minor details that we take for more than granted just about anywhere else are overlooked or unknown. We've been ever so steadily and patiently taking things one step at a time. We've almost filled up the necessary auxiliaries and yesterday we had our very first ward council meeting! 
      Things are moving along with our sector too. We've been working tons with one of our recent converts. She's insane! Her name is Prisca. She's turned into a machine. Almost every single day last week we were teaching with her, and she dragged us up and down her neighborhood and introducing us to just about anybody she could think of. We've been blessed with a couple of progressing investigators that've given the commitment to come to church this upcoming Sunday. We'll see how things turn out.
      I hope you all have the best of weeks ever!
-Elder Gray

Flight Plans ! ! !

From: Benin Cotonou Mission
Date:11/07/2014 2:46 AM (GMT-07:00)
Subject: FW: RETURN: Travel Itinerary For BUXTON/JACE BLAINE - 20Jan - 5PFRS2
Good morning,
Below you will find the flight plans for one of the missionaries in your stake, Elder Gray, who will be returning home in January. This is just to inform you a little more about his return home. If there are any questions we are here to help. Have a great day.
Elder Oliverson
Benin Cotonou Mission
Cadjehoun Lot #1158, Bloc F
01 BP 3323 Cotonou, Benin
SERVICE               DATE  FROM           TO             DEPART  ARRIVE
__________________ _____ ______________ ______________ _______ ______
SN 231              TUESDAY CADJEHOUN      BRUSSELS AIRPO         21JAN
           NON SMOKING      REFRESHMENTS                  1 STOP
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         9:00 DURATION
LUFTHANSA             21JAN BRUSSELS       NEWARK NJ      1000A   1230P
K ECONOMY                                  TERMINAL C
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         8:30 DURATION
V ECONOMY                   TERMINAL B     TERMINAL 2
                            RESERVATION CONFIRMED         5:00

Camp Zion

Hey Everybody,

      Things are coming along bit by bit even though the week itself
was a bit rough. Tuesday was spent taking things a little bit easy and
not trying to do too much running around in the blazing sun in hopes
of finally kicking Malaria to the curb. These efforts were met with my
eyes starting to itch and go all red Wednesday and followed with a
crazy nasty case of pink eye for the rest of the week. Things are
finally starting to look like they're gonna clear up on the health
front and we're hoping we can put the pedal back to the metal soon

      Friday we had our Zone Conference and it was a good one. I
really enjoyed our Mission Presidents lesson. He talked about Camp
Zion and the group of people that gathered up their supplies and made
a huuuuuuge march because the prophet said so. To make a long story
short teir journey was full of all sorts of trials and at the end they
found out that all the miles they'd walked and all the effort they'd
put into the campain was for nothing. Or so they thought.

      Camp Zion was a huge test of faith for those that blindly walked
through terrible conditions because they were asked by a preisthood
leader to do so. A short time later the Lord instructed Joseph Smith
to organize the first quroum of the 12 and the 70. 9 out of the 12
first apostles and all 70 of the original 70 were men that had been
formed and tested through the long march of Camp Sion.

      Have an awesome week!

-Elder Gray