Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Febuary 17,2014

Dear Family and Friends!

      Transferres rolled around this past week. Elder Bulunga got
shipped out to Avotrou to work with Elder Allred. He's going to be
missed a whole lot by me and by the Branch. Elder Gray is going to be
working with Elder Brou and Elder Rasolonantenaina.
(Ra-solo-nan-toe-nine) until this Friday. I'll be working with Elder
Florion; a new Tahition Elder fresh from the MTC. Me gusta!

      This last week was kind of busy. We did quite a bit of teaching,
a mangez-vous with Elder and Sister Semken, Zone Conference, and
getting ready to ship Elder Maxwell off for the home land. Elder
Bulunga and I taught like madmen this past week. So so so so SO many
first lessons were given to so many different people... but with the
every heartbreaking result of not having a single one of them come to
church. It's been really frustrating.

      *** Warning. The rest of this email contains a really really
cheesy experience. ***

      After feeling uber frustrated because of the lack of success and
the lack of progression this past week I decided to pray. It was a
really really random prayer. Nothing crazy. Nothing extra-ordinary.
Just a prayer. I told my Heavenly Father how I felt and asked for

      When I finished the prayer I started looking through a really
old Liahona. I stumbled across across the picture of Abinidi in Kind
Noah's court.

Somebody asked "Which one is Alma?".
I replied "What do you mean".
He asked again "Which one is Alma?"

      That's when I understood. All at once my prayer was answered.
I'd realized we'd done our best and that's all we needed to do.

      Anyway. I love y'all and hope everybody has a fantastic week!

-Elder Gray

Yeah ! A new Camera!!!

A big THANK YOU to the Kimzey Family who traveled to Africa to pick up Elder Kimzey from his mission.  They took a package to the mission field for Elder Gray that includes a new camera.  These are the first pictures he sent home from his new camera......

Driving in the COOLEST taxi EVER! ! !
Sister Semken aka The Inside Women (a direct quote)
Sister Precious
I asked Elder Gray how the Semken and Sister Precious were doing, he said they were doing great,
"I try to bother them as much as I can when I am in the office and they still like me!"  Sounds just like Elder Gray!
Elder Hails and Elder Hawkins
(Elder Gray and Elder Hawkins and in the same branch together, Elder Hawkins in currently serving in the office and has one of the best blog about mission life)
Elder Buxton and Elder Allred
(Elder Allred was Elder Gray's MTC companion and Elder Buxton was in their group that flew over to the mission together)

Photos from the Feb. 10th email

Elder Gray's Area from the roof of an apartment
That is some serious picture taking....
Elder Gray and Elder Maxwell
Elder Bulunga and the DMB (I don't know what that stands for)
Elder Gray, Elder Maxwell and some of the Branch members

Febuary 6, 2014 - ONE YEAR TODAY! ! !

One year ago today our family embarked on an adventure of a lifetime.  As a mom it was the hardest, sweetest, greatest, and most difficult thing I've had to do.  It has been an exciting year of watching my son grow and change and learn new things and overcome difficult challenges.  We are even more excited to see what this year brings. 

Febuary 6, 2013
Febuary 6, 2014

Letter from Feburary 3, 2014

Dearest Friends & Family,

      Well. This week has flown by just like the rest of them. No
crazy changes, no crazy transferes, no crazy nothing. Things have
settled down pretty nicely. Elder Bulunga and I are still going at it
hard teaching as many people as will listen to us. Not a whole lot of
progression but

      These past couple of days I've been really pounding out the
Bible with a couple of different institute manuals and Talmage's
'Jesus the Christ'. It's been a LOT of reading but there has been much
mind blowing and increased knowledge on the life, the teachings, the
example, and the reason for Jesus the Christ. It's been kind of fun.

      Anyway. I hope y'all have a fantastic week!

-Elder Gray

Ramblings of Elder Semkens - 2 Febuary 2014

2 February 2014
To all of you,
    Where or Where did January go??  
The mission has been very busy as usual.  Except for one delightful sister we have just had the normal amount of sickness.  Every missionary has responded well.   The one sister from the Congo returned home for some medical treatment.  We think that she will return following her recuperation.
    It seems that all new missionaries go through a period of adjustment that they may question why they are here.  The president takes his time and can see their future and knows that they have been called to Benin to serve two years by the prophet.  It is extremely rare for a missionary to return home because they decided that Benin isn't paradise.   I only know of one.  I think that as the missionaries go through the various trials and challenges of any mission that they come to know who they are and a little about how the lord tempers them for life and for eternity.  These young men learn a lot about persistence and team work.  
     Yesterday, I attended the baptism in Gbedjromede.  Unlike a year ago my behavior was significantly different.  The baptismal font had not been filled.  It took until a little after 11 am to fill it.   The service was suppose to start at 10 am.  My type A behavior a year a go could not handle that.  The water runs slow here.   Some of the missionaries used a bucket to pull water out of the well to shorten the time to fill the font.  Yes the were in their white shirts and ties.  I showed them a little trick on how to keep their ties clean and not get wet.  Either take your tie off or tuck it in you shirt.   Oh, they said.   They were wonderful.
   We started our monthly apartment inspection.  The apartments were good.  Some better than others.   Does this sound familiar:  A before an inspection of one of the apartments I found a few things disgusting:  Trash in the hallway for example.  A lot of trash.  I counseled them to get rid of it.  When I walked into the apartment I looked for the trash.  It had magically disappeared.  While no one was looking I opened a seldom used door to a balcony, yep, there was the trash!  Unlike a year ago, I just mused.  I then gathered the missionaries together and led them to my discovery.  It was looking in the closed close to hide the clothes not hung up, or looking under the bed for the hidden soda pop can.   We all had a nice laugh.  They asked if they could just drop it over the balcony.  
      We got more mail on Thursday.  Yes, some more packages arrived that had been mailed in November.   One 4 November 2013.  
     February will be a busy month again.   Zone Conferences and a missionary conference in Togo and Benin with a General Authority.  A few missionaries will have a visit with the General Authority.
     Your missionaries are doing well.  Thank you for your prayers.   They pray for you as well
                 Elder Semken