February 26, 2013: Elder Rybin arrived and he's in Togo!

Elder Rybin is in Africa!!!  We talked with him during his travel.  He left the MTC on Monday, February 25, waking up at 3:00 am (after going to bed at 11:30 Sunday night).  His plane left Salt Lake around 7:30 am.  He called so we could schedule our next conversation with him.  Then his dad was able to talk with him for a few minutes before he left Salt Lake.  We learned that there were 6 elders going to the Benin Cotonou mission.  Elder Rybin, Elder Hales, and Elder Potter were all in the same district at the MTC.  Three other elders were in another district.  All six were traveling together.  They were excited to be starting their long journey.

Their first flight went to Washington DC.  The missionaries were able to place a Book of Mormon with one of the flight attendants that was serving their rows.  They were looking forward to be able to speak in French during their next flight because the flight was taking them to Brussels, Belgium.  These anxiously engaged missionaries wanted to try out their French and their missionary skills.    All of the family was able to talk with Elder Rybin, albeit at different times because Michael and Benjamin were at school.  We are grateful for cell phones, because both of them were able to talk for a few minutes with Elder Rybin.  Then at last, Mom, Nathan and Emma had their turns.  

As far as Elder Rybin knew, the Benin Cotonou mission was unaffected by the LDS church announcement of the 58 new missions.  Rumors are around that the Benin mission might be split at a later date so that Benin will have a mission and Togo will have a separate mission.  Elder Rybin said one of his goals is to be able to speak one of the native languages by the time he returns from his mission.  He feels that if the mission is split, he would have more time in only one country and therefore, be able to learn the native language easier.  Time will tell what will happen to the mission.

Last week most of the missionaries in Elder Rybin's district left for their missions. So the last few days in the MTC were spent with some other straggling missionaries that were headed to Montreal.  Before they left the MTC, the Benin missionaries were able to sample all the "last" ice cream, donuts, and other American goodies that the MTC had to offer before they entered the new cuisine of Benin and Togo.  They said goodbye to other missionary friends who were preparing to leave the MTC themselves in the next few weeks.  He has enjoyed his MTC time, worked hard and learned much.  It is time for his next missionary adventure, one that he has been preparing for his whole life.  

After a 7 hour wait in Brussels, they boarded their last plane to Cotonou, Benin - another 6 1/2 hour flight.  They finally arrived at 8:40 pm, WAT (West Africa Time, which is 8 hours ahead of MST).  We can't wait to hear about the journey, the first impressions, and the first area and companion.  We are very blessed by Elder Rybin's service!

On Tuesday, February 26, we received this letter and picture from the Benin Cotonou mission office.

Dear Brother and Sister Rybin,

Elder Rybin and President and Sister Weed
                Your wonderful son Elder Rybin has arrived safely in Benin.  He spent the night with President and Sister Weed and ate breakfast and lunch with them.  He had an orientation in the office with us and was interviewed by President Weed.  Then the Assistants to the President drove him and 3 other missionaries over to Togo.  We are so happy that your son will be serving in this great Mission with us.  It will be nice to get to know him in the future.  It is still very hot here in Cotonou, quite a temperature change for him coming from American Fork. 

Sister Semken (Office Secretary)

Elder Rybin's new mission address:

Elder Matthew Rybin
Benin Cotonou Mission
Cadjehoun Lot #1158, Bloc F
01 BP 3323 Cotonou, Benin

February 19, 2013, Tuesday, at 1:46 PM

Hey family, 

life here is good.  there are soooo many people here.  we tried to get up early and do laundry so we could get it done, but there was a half hour wait to any washer so we were like nope! and so we are here now.  the lines in the cafeteria and for showers in the morning are so early!  it is so crazy.  there is going to be so many missionaries here.  i heard they are opening a new mtc in mexico city and also one somewhere else but the presidency did not say where.  the rumor is somewhere in provo.  the two newest mtcs, not mexico city, are supposed to hold like 7500 missionaries together.  crazy. 

thanks for the orange rolls. they were amazing. and thanks for the razor blades.  i think they will last until the end of my mission.  that is so crazy about all the new mission calls. tell them all congrats for me.  tell brayden good luck. i got his letter and tell him to write me as soon as he gets his call.  also nathan, tell carter that i heard about his call from elder hatch and i'm pretty depressed that he doesn't even have the decency to tell me himself that we are going to be african brothers... what the heck! [Carter Payne is called to Madagascar.]

travel plans this week!!! we report at the travel office at 4 am and then fly to washington dc at 7 something.  i forgot the paper because i didn't think we would be emailing right now so i don't have anything with me but i will tell you what i remember.  so we fly to dc and then have a 4 or 5 hour layover in dc.  that is when i will call.  we land at 1:55 i think dc time so i will call at around 1 here give or take a half hour or so.  i am going to buy a phone card today.  then we leave dc at 6 that night and fly to brussels and arrive there at 8 am their time. then have a 7 ish hour layover there and then fly down to benin arriving at 8:30 pm tuesday night.  it will be so long, two full days of travel, but we are all excited. 

the district is all gone.  it is weird.  we are combining with some other missionaries i think because our teachers get new districts this week.  i don't host this week either, so i will see lauren (sister hafen) sometime later.  they have a whole bunch of newbee meetings to go to the first day and so i'll probably see her on like thursday night or friday.  but i'm excited.  i love the stories about trina and curtis.

i will talk to you on monday :) love you all.  benjamin thanks for the letter.  emma and dad and mom and nathan thanks in advance for your letters tonight.  i have no pictures because i left everything in the room.  thanks so much i might send a quick note if there is something important i need after i go back and check my room in a bit, so i'm saving a bit of my time for that.  got to go. 

love Elder Rybin

February 12, 2013, Tuesday, at 6:38 AM

Hey Family! 
Rise and shine, its butt whooping time!!!  We are doing laundry right now and have to get up early because there are just so many people.  the cafeteria is soo packed, it is disgusting.  thanks for the pictures.  you said that heather was getting big but i didn't think that big.  she looks completely different!  haha  curtis as usual just lounging around playing with toys and Xbox.  that a boy.  thanks for the pictures and stories.
i have seen austin (elder watts) a few times this week.  i had to host someone else right before austin came in so they didn't see me because i wasn't on the curb, but i saw him that day and see him all the time at meals.  our french branch just got split, so now there are two and we are anticipating the big boom coming of french missionaries. that means that lauren (sister hafen) might not be in the branch, but i am almost positive that she will be in our hall of classrooms. i haven't heard if they are putting frenchies anywhere else, besides the tahitians.
Where in the world are these missionaries going?
just 2 more weeks for us!  we get our travel plans this week sometime and so i will let you know next week what the plan is. there are a few rumors from an elder that went home awhile ago that we have a 10 hour layover in paris, but it is all speculation so i'll know for sure this week.  all the other members in our district leave this week coming up most on monday.
life sounds pretty good back home, even though it is really busy and crazy with school.  i am not going to host tomorrow so if anyone was coming in i won't be on the curb.  i can't remember when everyone comes in now - it is all a mess.  my french is coming along, still not perfect but coming along nicely.  there are two elders in our building, one from Tahiti and the other from Guadalupe, that both are learning english here so they pretty much speak only french.  i was talking with them yesterday and could communicate with them decently for the few sentences we talked.  it was awesome.  they speak so fast and the Tahitian accent is different, but it is so fun to communicate in our broken french and their broken english.  after that elder potter came back and was like "french is a real language!  they could understand me!"
District missionaries and teachers
this week elder karras sends his love.  and elder hatch wants to know where his birthday gifts are.  they are right next to me here and wanted me to put a little bit about them, so that is what they told me.  I am ready to go to africa so bad.  we met an elder who works in the referral center, that went to benin for a month and a half and then came back for some reason.  he talks to us a lot about benin at lunch, and he said he would bring some pictures by some day.  one of the things he told us recently is that all the little kids have a chant that they sing when the white missionaries walk down the street, something like "yovo yovo bon soir bon noir bonjour something something something."  yovo is white boy in Fon (one of the african dialects in Benin).  he said you'll get really used to it. everything he tells me gets me so pumped to go.
not very many picture this week.  we are kind of going crazy in here though.  love ya all.  have a great week.  looking forward to travel plans!!!

love love love. Elder Rybin

February 5, 2013

Hey everyone, rise and shine.  it is 6:12 am here too :) we have been getting up a bit early to do laundry because it gets so packed later in the day and the computers in the laundry room are all filled with lines so here i am. 

I think i forgot to tell you but i was a host last week for the new missionaries, and i get to host again tomorrow!  i'm pretty excited.  it is unlikely that i will be able to host austin, but possible.  there is a chance that i will be conducting traffic so look for me in one of the orange yellow vests or on the side of the road.  if not, i will be on the sidewalk with everyone else.  i will try to get to a place where i can see him easier.  i am psyched for him to come in so i can see him. 

no worries about the watch, it is not a problem.  thanks for getting on mormon.org and updating my profile.  I forgot that i asked you to do that and i was going to do it again today, so thanks for following up with me, haha.  [Check out Elder Rybin's profile at http://mormon.org/me/B94Q/MattRybin

we are getting 38 or so new missionaries, of which 13 are sisters i think.  pretty crazy.  a couple of weeks after we leave then they get like 68 missionaries in one day.   that will be insane.  yeah the busy-ness keeps tiredness away.  it is not bad when i have something engaging to do, but if i slow down for one second, i am dozing off.  we have to go early to the devotionals and firesides on sunday and tuesday night so we can get good seats, and sometimes have to wait for awhile and it is so hard to stay awake, but if it is a good speaker i am up and ready to go when they are speaking.

my favorite thing about the mtc is probably the devotionals and firesides.  they are really awesome most of the time, and get me pumped for missionary work.  last tuesday we saw L. Whitney Clayton, and on sunday some guy named Benson Porter, he was pretty great. 

malaria medicine is pills and we take them once a day starting like 2 days before and until a month after we get home. TRC is when real people from the outside world come in that speak french and we can speak with them and it is kinda like a family home evening or home teaching lesson.  this last weeks was really great, because we taught a really awesome lesson.  but a few weeks ago i saw alissa murdock, she is the one going to canada, that served on seminary council with me, i think she is already here at the mtc now, but she is in the english class because she is good enough at french.  so that would be my guess of who lauren knows. 

We have just one MTC president, but he has two counselors that are in the presidency, and all their wives.  they just got swichted and now it is president nally.  you don't see them that often outside of the firesides and that, but it is not super uncommon.

I will try to ask about bringing razor blades into the country and get back to you.  I don't think there is anything else that i need right now. 

tell crystal thanks for the letters. i love to hear the quotes from trina and curtis of what they say about.  curtis said that i should come over to his house after i'm done here.  which i totally will!  trina said "what is it like there?"  and to answer that it is kind of a mix between going to church all day, going to school all day, and  being with your friends all day. 

good luck in school everyone.  nathan good luck in wrestling, and look forward to getting more sleep, i'm a little jealous.  emma i will try to send you something today, but if i don't get to it sorry.  benjamin you still haven't anwsered my questions..... so yeah haha.  but thanks for the letter.  tell everyone back home hi for me when you see them.  tell austin to look for me tomorrow, i will look for him.  good luck with the anniversary.  dad good luck in school, thanks for the experience you shared.  mom i love you, thanks for the letter.  Love you all!  have a good week, do good in school. 

love love love Elder Rybin.