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