10/28/2013 - Birthday plans, Helene Baptism

hey family!  
hows all your weeks been?  mine's been pretty good.  saturday helene got baptized.  martine, the other baptism we had planned for saturday and the mother of helene,  couldn't get baptized because she's not married to her husband that is living in the village for the moment.  she is really awesome though, comes to church every week and wants to get baptized.  marriage here is tough because of the dowry they are required to do and that is super expensive.  we've got more than a couple people we teach all with this same problem.  it's tough because there is not much we can do, but have faith.  with martine though i'm not super worried because she's got a testimony already strong.
it doesn't feel like winter time is coming already because everything here is all the same.  but enjoy the cold weather all the same.  you'll have to send me some pictures of the first snows.

speaking of time feeling like its' not passing, i guess I'm turning 20 this week.  friday if i've calculated correctly and that makes thursday halloween.  so far i've got some plans in the making but nothing solidified yet.  there is a pretty nice-ish restaurant that supposedly serves crocodile and gazelle if they have it that i've thought about visiting, but it sounds like is rare to find them with those there, but we could try.  

also there is going to be this big market thing where people come from all over, lots of countries even, to sell the stuff for the whole year.  i think its called "le froie" but i'm not sure if that's how you spell it.  "la foi" is faith "le foie" is liver and "froid" is cold but it's something like that.  it's supposed to last about a month and artisan people come sell their cool african stuff.  my hope is that i can find a super cool hand made african chess set.  that will be my present to my self for birthday/christmas.  i'm not sure though,  we'll see.  

those are the two biggest plans for the next little while.  also since you haven't sent the package yet add a big bottle of cinnamon to the spices please.  if you send it this week it should get here before christmas, but there's always those stragglers.  i haven't got a whole lot of time today so sorry for the short letter, but all goes well here is attiegou.  i forgot my camera to the baptism so i'll have to get the picture next week from elder kongolo so sorry about that.  

i love you all!  have a great week!
Elder Rybin

10/21/2013 - Elder Kongolo arrives

hello again family!!
            well well well.  thanks for all the letters and pictures.  i read them all just to let you know.  and if you ask a question, i usually think about answering and then run out of time.  so sorry if i turn into benjamin who never answered our questions.... :) 

            but.... yep lots of changes this week.  elder kongolo is 26, from kinshasa (the capital) and he's been a member pretty much his whole life.  his whole family are members and he's the second missionary to go out in his family of 11 kids i think.  wow! africans are like utahns, lots of kids... he's great though.  reminds me of my first little while when i got here especially with elder sagers the new american [one of the 4 in the apartment].  haha.  elder sagers is from kaysville utah.  graduated 2013, and is 18.  the ghana mtc just started doing a french language program, before it was just english, so he went to ghana for 6 weeks.  they're both great though. 

            africans spend 10-12 days in the mtc, so basically nothing with all the other stuff they need to get sorted out so training is a little different than i thought, but its good so far.  greenie fire, yes.  funny stories, yes kinda.  i just get a lot of weird questions.  for example. the first night elder kongolo took some pill for something probably doxy.  he came up as he was drinking and asked, "it's not good to take medicine with cold water right?  i've got to drink warm water."  elder kognani walks by and says you can drink whatever water just take your pill.  haha.  also today we were cleaning, and he asks, can i put my beans on the stove and then clean so they'll be done when i'm done? ..... i was like yep, yep, you can cook your beans whenever you want.  haha its good though, we're going to work well together.  he's a great companion. 

            i've had a cold the last couple of days (yep did'nt think those existed did ya).  well they do but it's a weird sensation, being so hot but stuffed up and with cold symptoms.  that's why elder hales calls them "less hots".  so i've just been exhausted coming home at night.  its great though because we're working hard.  really hard.  we're going to find a lot of new investigators this week.
            a new couple comes in december i think i heard, probably the one that the oldhams know.  we got another new couple just about a month ago from nevada the christensens, who knew president and sister weed from before.  but our two couples in benin go home in may ish next year, so we'll have 4 missionary couples  for a few months.  after that who knows maybe only two.  
            package stuff:  i usually have some little candy i buy here to give to kids so i think i'm set for that.  kids here are just happy.  the next time you're miserable, think about kids here.  there just happy!  they play with everything, and i mean everything.  they make toys and games out of everything.  soccer with a balled up sock or piece of garbage, dragging a can full of rocks with a string, marbles (they are actually pretty intense with their marbles.  it's awesome :)  and just everything.  so sorry off topic but the candy i get here will work.  candy surprises:  double stuffed oreos,  and yeah pulling a blank on anything else. it's been to long since i've thought about real candy.  and yep i think that'll do.

thanks family!  have a great week in school again.  i love you all!!
Elder Rybin

10/14/2013 - busy covering two areas, waiting for new companion

            how are you all?  fall break already?  does that mean that fall semester is half way over, or almost?  i can;t remember exactly.  thanks for all your letters.  I love hearing the stories about the family and trina, curtis and heather.  i want to see some pictures of their new house!  but sounds like life is going just like it was when i left.

            this last week or since the others left it has been tough because we, [Elder Kognani and I] are covering both areas, we are busy and walk  a lot.  but it's good; we're keeping busy. i do kind of feel older but not too old in the mission, because an elder just came over from benin, and he's been out for a while but i've been out longer.  i'm starting to meet people that are younger than me, kind of weird.  it's also weird how you meet people here because we are split into two countries.  i hear about some missionaries, that i've never met, they hear about us, but sometimes we don't meet for a long time.  a little crazy but keeps things interesting.

            life is good though. we set two more baptism dates for the 26th.  awesome!  i set a goal at the beginning of the month for three baptisms.  we had one in the bag with aime, but the other two - i could see a couple long time investigators we have that could be baptized, but are working through some things, but really i wasn't sure at all where two more baptisms would come from, but i said, if i have faith, its possible.  and boom bang.  miracles.  two new investigators that are going to be baptized the end of the month.  faith is amazing!
            pictures this week are a tree at an ami's [investigator's] house.  there are HUGE leaves.  i don't know if you can tell, i tried to get my hand in there, but there are like as big as my torso!  and this spiky green nut fruit thing.  tastes kind of like a peanut on the inside.  but they didn't know the name of the tree.  do you know in english?  its some kind of nut.
            I think that is all for this week.  next week I'll let you know how it is with elder kongolo, but i'm pretty sure were going to make attiegou explode!  i'm ready and i sure hope he is too. i hope his greenie fire is not off yet because i'm ready to go!

love you all!!
Elder Rybin

10/7/13 - Aime's dream and baptism, transfers soon

My dearest family,
Another week come and gone, and some big news.  We heard about the transfer on saturday night.  I don't know everything, but here is what i know.  Elder Rakats and Ndaye are leaving wednesday, all the new missionaries come in the next wednesday, the 16th.  Elder Hales [Elder Rybin's MTC companion] is going to Benin.  Elder Potter and Elder Garza are both training (two the other two elders from my generation in togo).  Elder Hales is not training.  Elder Kognani [he is another missionary in Elder Rybin's apartment] is training a new american, and I'm training a new congolais. I think his name is Elder Kongolo.  So like i said big changes.  After the mutation [transfer], I will be the oldest (or first to go home) elder in the apartment, and also the elder who has spent the most time in the zone (I was tied with elder hales).  I'm most likely going to stay here until january or february.  its a pretty huge mutation so we'll see how it goes. 

Also before i forget, Curtis HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! your going to be 6!  i don't believe it!  i can't, i won't.  sheesh your getting so old!  castle with the dragon, good choice, can't go wrong with dragons. 

Prince the son of Mathias and Engonam, is so funny.  he reminds me of curtis.  when we go over there he loves to look through a gospel art book, that i have.  the other day, he finishes to look through it and then stands up and walks into the house with my book and comes out without it just like nothing had happened and starts doing something else.  Engonam asks him,  "Prince where's the book?"  and he says something like oh, i'm going to keep it so i put it in the house.  haha.  he asks me every time for it. 

Elder Rybin, Aime, Elder Ndaye
other great news.  aime got baptized this saturday!  yep, i think i mentioned him last week and said that he was great.  on monday last week we had a rendez-vous with him, and talked about the book of mormon.  before we could even invite him to read, he said, ok i'm going to read, i've got to know if its true for me. so we told him to read moroni chapter 10.  tuesday night we came back and asked him how it went and this is what he said: "yep i read, the whole chapter, and really concentrated on it, on reading.  after i finished, i prayed and asked god if it was true, and then waited for an answer.  but i didn't feel anything.  so i waited 10 minutes and prayed again, again nothing.  10 more minutes, third try, nothing.  so i waited a few more minutes and prayed for one last time before going to bed.  and i said 'god if you want me to follow you, show me the truth'.  nothing.  so i went to bed.  shortly after falling asleep i had a dream (short elder rybin insert/comment africans love their dreams, like haitians, and so when he said that i knew it was getting good!) and in my dream i was going to school.  on the way i met a man.  he was a missionary.  he asked me if i knew who jesus christ was, and i said, that i have heard about him but i don't really know him.  so he gave me a book.  it was the book of mormon, but when i looked at the title it didn't say the book of mormon it said "le chemin de la vérité" or "the way of truth".  and then i woke up. "
he said that right after he woke up he prayed and thanked god for his answer, and in the morning when he woke up he prayed again thanking Him for the answer.  and he said he's just been so happy all day. 

is that awesome or what!  he's going to be such a strong member.  i think he'll probably go on a mission some day too.  wow.  it doesnt get better than that.  so awesome.  i was on top of the world walking home that night.  everyone else that wasn't progressing or wasn't getting answers, or even listening, didn't matter, because one by one (like always) God is calling and choosing his elect.  What a huge blessing to be a part of it! 

a gecko i caught in our bathroom saturday ...
i'm sad i missed general conference.  hopefully we'll get a better change to listen to it this time or get the liahona sooner, but ca va aller [it will be ok]. 

love you all, have a great week!
Elder Rybin

9/30/13 - baptisms, flying termites

bon soir family [good evening]

            how is everything back home?  sounds like things went well for the birthdays, i wished you a joyeux anneversaire on friday and hope it made it to you.  Last day of september today, wow.  tomorrow is october, i don't really feel the time pass as much here because there is not the four seasons like back home.  but time just keeps on marching.

Marie with Elder Rybin and Elder Ndye
            the most exciting news for this week is that we had 3 baptisms saturday. marie, whose mom fell and was in the hospital, finally got baptized this week which was awesome. and also tania and eli the niece and nephew of a member family that lives in our secteur.  tania and eli just moved in and started coming to church and wanted to get baptized so we've been teaching them for a couple of weeks now and their uncle just baptized them saturday.  it's been a long journey with marie and i'm really glad that she was finally able to get baptized, she was happy.  

Family of Tania and Eli
other pictures.  this week is rained a little more, friday i think it was.  it rained pretty good all morning, luckily we were inside for weekly planning, but when it rains like that and then heats up in the afternoon or the next day first of all it gets super humid, its death! sooo humid, but we survive.  also, the termites come out, and come out in swarms.  we accidentally left the door open to the apartment and they came in the apartment attracted by the light, and were flying all over the place in the living room.  we came out of our study room after planning, and saw them all flying around and closed the door and got a bucket of water and started catching them and throwing them in to trap and kill them.  adventures!  
Flying termites!!

            this saturday we are looking to have another baptism, an 18 year old kid named aimé.  he is a contact from a member and just moved in with his brother.  he wasn't going to church and was searching for a church and the truth.  perfect!  he has already come to church twice and we met him only a couple weeks ago.  he is really awesome.  last night we taught him and near the end of the lesson i asked him how he felt and he said basically "ever since i came to church and started taking the missionary lessons i have felt more elevated, enlightened, and just better.  I feel closer with God.  I feel now like i know what it means to be christian and i know who Jesus Chirst is, and understand the gospel.  and i want to know more.  that's why i want to get baptized, because then i can get the gift of the holy ghost.  i want to keep learning more about God and Jesus Christ and the holy ghost and i love what i've heard so far."  he's great.  

            last picture is my old agenda that i just switched out for the new one.  he was pretty beat up, more than usual, but they all take a beating here with all the dirt.  

i think that is all for this week.  Thank you all for your love, and prayers, letters, and support.  keep it up!  i studied a little this morning about being "steadfast and immovable".  steadfast, what a cool word.  i love being able to see two translations of the scriptures, i learn so much more going back and forth often.  oh finished the new testament yesterday.  i started again the book of mormon this morning.  

become "steadfast and immovable" this week.  love you all!  
Elder Rybin