Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Hihi Everybody!

      Things are still going awesome! Elder Lukonga and I are keeping busy. We've been able to find two, yes two, families that have been waiting for the restored gospel. One of the Fathers came to church yesterday and promised to bring the rest of them next week. The other family didn't come because we taught them for the first time later last night. The last couple of lessons that we've given have been taught by the still small voice that testifies of this great work. It's been a very humbling experience.

      Our companionship is still as strong as any. I really love having the opportunity to work with Elder Lukonga. I wish I could say that things were going well with the entire household. Things shook down and we ended up having an emergency transfer. The President stopped by our house with the Assistants to pick up Elder Derou and ship him off for home. For the moment we're juggling two sectors in a threesome. Elder Seidl is doing his best to work with the Preisthood holders of the branch, but all and all it's been kind of a mess.

      Rumor has it that Elder Seidl is going to be shipped back to good ol' Cococodji to work with Elder Florion, who is is the same boat. That would leave Elder Lukonga and Elder Gray all by themselves. We'll keep you posted.

      Hopefully the photos I've been trying to attach make it!

      Have an awesome week!
-Elder Gray

Elder Lukonga

Elders Gray, Derou, Seidl, Lukonga

PICTURES ! Yeah for Pictures 09/29/2014

D'awwww (Note: I don't know if that is her name or exactly what it means, that is simply the title Elder Gray attached.  I do however think she is super cute)

Elder Garza and I quote "I miss him..."

Burgers and Fries!!! YUM

Food (again I have no idea what it is Elder Gray just sums it up in one word. . .  Food)

More Pictures 09/29/2014

Catching as much rainwater a s possible because our water was cut.

Doing dishes with buckets because of the water being cut

Elder Gray slip n' sliding on the balcony during the storm
Elder Lukonga drawing water from the well because our water was cut.

Even more pictures 09/29/2014

Elders Seidl, Yamapia, Rakotoarison, Gray
 Elder Seidl, Eperance, and Elder Yamapia
 Elder Yamapia and Family Narcis
Elder Rakotoarison, Mama Susane, Elder Gray

Monday, September 22, 2014

Elder Lukonga - The Champion

Hey Everybody!
     Another week has come and gone and this one brought tons of very very welcomed changes. My old companion Elder Rakotoarison and Elder Seidl's old companion Elder Yamapia left for their new sectors. I'm now working with Elder Lukonga! He is a real champion. Elder Seidl is working with Elder Darou.

      These past couple of days have been more than enjoyable. Elder Lukonga is pretty much a miniature version of Elder Bulunga. He came into the mission ready to put his shoulder to the wheel. He is the kind of missionary that missionaries dream of training. He knows the scriptures, testifies with the spirit, and willing to listen to advice. The only thing that needs a little bit of work is experience, which will come in just a short amount of time.

      Words cannot describe the amounts of pure joy that I have been experiencing the very short five days that we've already been together. We've been able to find three new progressing investigators, and a family who are prepared to receive the restored gospel. We're being led by and teaching with the spirit and it's awesome!

      Story time!

      Once upon a time there was somebody, we still don't know who, in our building that didn't pay their water bill. Instead of shutting off whoever didn't pay their bill.... the landlord decided to just shut the water off for the whole building Tuesday night. Wednesday morning when Elder Yamapia and Elder Rakotoarison got taken away, Elder Seidl and I did a DEEP cleaning of our apartment and threw away everything that wasn't ours. The apartment was spick and spam spotless.... the only problem was we had no water to take showers. USUALLY we keep huge jugs of water for these very occasions... but our two very lovely companions that were leaving used them to do their laundry before they left.

      Everybody knows that first impressions are very important, right? Well put your imagination caps on and just picture walking into to your new missionary apartment to find two white guys soaked in their own sweat, the water is shut off, and the power is out. Gross, huh?

      Anyway. We prayed super super hard Tuesday night to get receive water from the heavens. God answered our prayers! Literally. When we woke up Wednesday morning to having our water still shut off it didn't take us experienced and still sweaty missionaries long t have anything that even remotely looked like it could work like a bowl lined up outside to catch the pouring rainwater. God has a cruel sense of humor... However, the rain water was enough for us to take very rationed bucket showers, wash our dishes, and cook food for the next couple of days. Thursday night rolled around and without water, power, or rain to replenish our depleting supply. Friday morning we used the rest of the rain water and we conjured up a desperate plan.
      With our heads held low and our pride beyond broken. Elder Gray and Elder Lukonga returned to the apartment just before nightfall, and dragged the empty water jugs all the way to the nearest neighboring parcel. I wish you all could have seen the looks on the faces when two very nicely dressed missionaries walked into their parcel to ask for permission to take water from their well. Priceless. We awkwardly filled our water jugs and then made the what seemed to be twice as far and twice as high trek back to our apartment.

      You guys ready for the punch line?

      The minute we walked through the front door the power AND the water kicked back into full gear. We put the jugs down, looked at each other, and just started laughing. There really wasn't much else that we could do.

      Normally not having water or electricity for nearly four days straight would be a very miserable and horrifying experience, but to be honest, because of how hard we've worked as missionaries and the success that we've been having made the silly matter of water/power obsolete. It really helped Elder Lukong and I come together as a companionship.
      I love you all so so so very very much! And I hope y'all have the best of weeks!

-Elder Gray

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another borrowed photo

Thanks to Elder Oliverson we were able to see a photo of Elder Gray (he is on the very back row and you can see just his big ol' head!)  with Elder and Sister Curtis when they visited the mission and held a conference with the Missionaries. 

THANKS Elder Oliverson!

Oh Yeah.....By the way I had Malaria

Dear Family,

      Things are going well and we're going to be running into a couple of changes here in Calavi. My companion Elder Rakotoarison is headed off to train Elder Jorgenson in Avotrou. Elder Yamapia is shipping off to Togo to train another missionary. Elder Gray will be training Elder Lukonga and Elder Seidl will be reunited with his trainee Elder Darou. That'll make two from America, one from the Ivory Coast, and one from the Congo.

     I guess I should at least mention the fact that the reason I wasn't able to come to the cyber last week was because of the fact that I was recovering from my first and hopefully last case of Malaria. Malaria = No Bueno. The Monday I mentioned I was sick was just the beginning. The next morning we went out to the sector and I got allll sorts of sick during a lesson. Luckily we were able to finish the lesson and hurry home before I lost my breakfast. That's when the fever kicked in and I was down for the count. Highest recorded temperature: 103.6 degrees.

     However, after a priesthood blessing and some good ol' malarial meds I was feeling lots better. Last Monday I was still feeling a little bit light headed, so we didn't make the trek to the cyber. This past week we went back into business and haven't had the slightest bit of a hiccup since. We were able to pound out a fair amount of lessons, and have Elder Rakotoarison visit/say goodbye to most of the members/recent converts in our branch.

     This week I don't really have tons of time here, all of the trainers have a meeting to go to later tonight. I hope y'all have the best of weeks!

-Elder Gray
**At least we know why we haven't heard from him this time - YIKES**

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thanks Elder Hawkins

Elder Gray currently doesn't have a card reader so he can't send pictures, I "borrowed" this picture from Elder Hawkins.  THANK- YOU!!!

Don't they all look GREAT!!!

***Creative Title***

Hihi Everybody!

*sigh* Once again I apologize for the lack of power/connection that we
had last week. It's no fun to walk all the way over to the Cyber to
stare at a loading screen for a couple of hours and then loose power
altogether, but it makes things that much better when it works I

      Since the last time I was able to get a letter through we've
been busy little bees. We've been juggling tons of meetings, tons of
lessons, baptismal interviews, and getting up super early to tidy up
the church for the activities above for the past while. Yesterday
morning all the tiredness, stress, and lack of sleep finally caught up
to me and during the closing hymn of Sacrament meeting I checked
myself into the farthest away bathroom and lost my breakfast. I was
one week short of going nine-teen months without having to say "I just
threw up" in French. Nearly nine-teen months is a pretty good track
record though...

      Anyway. It hasn't been anything big, it's not ebola or malaria.
After the incident Elder Seidl took me home and we left our comps to
take care of the investigators for both companionships and I slept and
slept and slept and then slept some more. Today Elder Seidl
practically made me breakfast in bed and then I slept until we all
came out here for the cyber. I'm still just a lil' bit light headed,
but feeling tons better and we'll be fit for the field first thing

      Other than the slight hiccup of yesterday's incident the past
two weeks have been fantastic. We've been teaching like crazy. We're
hoping the potential investigators that we've found these past two
weeks will come to church this upcoming Sunday, and that the one that
was there yesterday will be able to make some good progress.

      Last Saturday was a HUGE day for tons of missionaries. There
were tons of baptisms and a collective marriage all held in our branch
building. After a long struggle full of patience, prayer, and more
patience; Mama Claire and her grandaughter Jorén finally accepted to
be baptized. I really wish I could send you pictures, but I'm still
looking for another card-reader. After the baptisms we went upstairs
and watched eight, yes EIGHT, couples marry themselves so they could
get baptised either later that day or the following Saturday. Tons of
members and missionaries were there from all over Benin and it was a
super cool experience.

      This Friday we're all looking forward to a meeting with Elder
Curtis, from the Quroum of the 70. I've already got some questions in
mind that I hope he can answer with his message, but we'll see how all
of that plays out.

      I love you all so so very muchly and hope you have awesome weeks!

-Elder Gray

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hihi (A day late and we will take it!)

Last Monday the connection wasn't there so we weren't able to get anything sent home.  Last week was great!  We taught a lot of lessons and should have two more baptisms scheduled for this Saturday, hopefully I’ll have connection for more details on Monday. 

We've stopped by for a couple of minutes just to send off a quick “All is well” note. 
Yesterday Elder Seidl and I went on the lovely adventure to downtown Cotonou on the search for Mom’s nativity set and her spear throwing archer statue that the Semkens brought home.

Precious objects:  Acquired

I love y’all lots and lots! Talk to you next week!


**Finally after 18 months of serving this mission, Elder Gray has figured out that a letter from him no matter how short is like a life line, he sent this on Tuesday and we are so grateful, not to mention I am pretty excited that my nativity set and spear throwing archer has been acquired!!!