3/31/2014 - "C'est petit a petit que le oiseau fait son nid"

Another week come and gone so quickly.  Elder Gnenenon got here on friday.  he is really tall and skinny.  he came with elder gomun and elder digbe.  they are going to go home on the 16th of july. only about 3 months left for them crazy! i got lucky again today and hopped on one of the only available computers and..... no USB plug ins.... so sorry again no pictures.... but there's always next time... haha. 

this morning we had a zone activity.  we went to the national museum of togo.  it was pretty small compared to a museum back home and we were kind of rushed, but it was fun to visit.  its always fun to get together with the other missionaries.  i took a picture in front of this big old monument thing that was around the corner and i'll send that next week.  

but the biggest news for the week was joel's baptism!  i felt the spirit really strong during his baptism.  it was great.  he bore his testimony about joseph smith after, which was powerful.  he is really timid but he was the only one to get up and bear his testimony in front of the group out of the people that got baptized.  there was a little 8 year old kid that got baptized by his older brother there too.  when he was coming into the water he was just beaming ear to ear.  and right when he was pulled up from the water he smiled even bigger (which honestly i didn't think was possible) and then gives a big "thumbs up" to the crowd and walks out of the font.  haha he was awesome.  

i forgot that it was march madness.  i am really disconnected from the world.  but everyone is getting psyched for the world cup that is coming up this summer.  i already know that it is going to be really hard to work, everything is going to shut down for the games.  we'll see how it goes though.  there's this song playing in the cyber in french that says " c'est petit à petit que le oiseau fait son nid".  in ewe it's something like "vidé vidé hevi woh na toh".  it's a little saying in french that means "it's little by little that the bird makes his nest"- basically saying that it doesn't all come at once and that it's just one little twig at a time.  

i think i have time for one more story for this week.  i was on a split with one of the newer elders (he is about 1 month into training i think) in our zone this past week.  he is from france.  we went and got him and brought him back leaving elder rav in his secteur [area] with his companion.  i asked him what we were going to study the next morning and he said he didn't know.  then he said that a lot of times he has trouble having confidence in what he says and he struggles to find words and so he doesn't talk a lot.  i said ok and next morning i studied about the authority and power of the missionary calling.  i was noting things that i liked and i felt i should mention to the other elder.  at the end of my personal study i felt like i had really been led by the spirit.  we read and studied some of that during our companionship study. all was going well but not amazing until we read the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 100, i think 1 to 8 or something like that.  when we read i asked what touched him in this scripture and he said everything.  i replaced joseph and oliver in the first verse with our names and then he explained that when he was leaving one of his relatives told him whenever he was down or having a hard time to read the scriptures.  but he said he wasn't really convinced, but he says now i'm convinced.  it was really a great experience.  i'm grateful for the help of the spirit in all i do.  it's so essential for missionary work.  

ok everyone i love you all!  have a great week!  

Elder Rybin

3/24/2014 - new companion, humility

well, bahbijio lo.  that means don't be angry in ewe. i said i was going to send some pictures today but the computer i'm at doesn't recognize that i have my usb in so that'll have to be next week again.  sorry.  i do have some nice pictures from kpalime.  sounds like life from home is good.  i can't believe fourth quarter is already here that's so weird.  spring too.  school sounds like its building up for the last little bit.  i just was kind of blasted in the past thinking about this time of year and all that i had going on at the end of school years and beginning of summer time.  crazy!

we had mutation [transfer] calls this week.  don't worry i'm not going anywhere but i am getting a new companion.  or i should say another companion.  elder Gnenenon is coming over from Benin to work with Rav and i in a tripanionship for a couple of weeks until Elder Rav goes home.  he leaves the 16th of april.  Elder Gnenenon is ivoirian.  this will be my fourth ivoirian companion!  he's a chef de zone [zone leader] already in benin.  also elder digbe if you remember him got called to replace elder Gnenenon in benin.  speaking of old comps did i say that elder Ouonnebo just finished his mission last sunday? he is normally in the group with elder rav but he had to go home early for school.  its weird!  other good news i'm going to become a grandpere! [Grandfather, meaning that the elder he trained  (his son) is going to train a new elder {grandson)] elder kongolo mon fils [my son] is going to train a new missionary.  it's not sure yet but he could train the first hawaiian that we are getting soon.
i think i already told you that our new President already got called right?  his name is President Morin.  he's from canada, quebeque [Quebec].  the changes in the mission are all getting ready for him to come.  President Weed is trying to set everything up so that it will be the smoothest transition possible.  there's lots of changes coming up as always, lots of rumors too, so we'll see what happens.

This week i have studied about humility so much.  it's been amazing.  i feel like God has been teaching me so much.  I've been trying to work on stripping myself of all pride.  and when you dig deep we all have a lot of pride.  pride is so much more than just being prideful but all rebellion can be traced back to pride and humility needs to be a constant and permanent part of who we are, the very basis of our characters.  i studied a lot the story of Job and found some great scriptures.  what an awesome book in the old testament.  humility is also a key to conversion.  it's the "fertile soil".

another random thought.  do you have the patriarchal blessings for grandma and grandpa? or farther than that?  can't you get them from salt lake? if you can i think i'd like to read them.  i read mine again today and that thought came to me. 

anyways sorry again for the pictures. next week for sure.  haha i love you all!  have a great week!
Elder Rybin

3/17/2014 - largest area, visited kpalime

hey family!
how's life back in good ol' utah? sounds like everything is going just like normal. 

as for this week.  today we went to kpalime.  as far as distances we were about 2 to 3 hours in a bus going and that coming back too.  kegue takes 20 to 30 minutes in a taxi from where we are.  distance is hard to tell by time here too because of traffic and trouble finding taxis, cars don't go as fast here, roads are not as nice etc etc.  also speaking of time and distances, i found out recently that what i thought was the biggest secteur [missionary area] i've been in here in anfame is actually definitely just that.  its absolutely massive.  to walk from edge to edge which i've never even attempted to do would take us, i'm guessing 3 hours at least.  and in the other direction maybe 2.  its soo huge, but it might get split.  i think they're looking for a new sister apartment but it's just in the beginnings of the workings and there are other options.  we'll see. 

anyways back to kpalime it was great!  we went to a different water fall.  we are back late so i don't have time to load pictures but i'll send some next week.  the hike was a lot longer and harder this time though.  our guide was awesome though he was walking up these "man from snowy river" slopes in his flip flops, shorts and t shirt and not even breathing hard.  and we are all behind him dying to keep up.  i'm not dead though so that's good.  tomorrow i'll be sore: not so good. it was fun though!

And that's all for this week folks. Thanks for all the prayers!  thanks for the letters and stories!  i love you all!

Elder Rybin

3/10/2014 - BIG MIRACLE with a dowry, Afi baptized

Hey family!  

hows life back home?  this week has flown by so quickly!  life is great.  we had a baptism this last saturday.  her name is afi.  her husband is a member that got baptized in ghana.  A couple came to help us get to kegue to save on a taxi but at our designated spot no one was there.... we waited half an hour with the couple. no one.  so we decided to stop by her house.  when we got there we saw her husband who was rushing to get ready he said he just barely got back from work and that his wife wasn't there.  neither of them have phones so we asked the neighbors if they knew where she went.  one said she went to the church.  and so off we went.  but she wasn't there.  we decided to go back to our meeting place thinking maybe we missed her.  we get back there and still nothing.  at this point were about an hour and a half late for our rendezvous [appointment] and the baptism starts in 30 minutes.  we decided that the last ditch effort is just to go back to her home and see if she's there again.  and.... yep we found her.  she went to get her hair done.  which if i've never said takes FOREVER.  they could do it all day long attaching fake hair to their heads.  anyways..... she got baptized, that's the important part.

other news.... elder kognani just got called as assistant.  he was in attiegou with me for a really long time.  that'll be awesome.  he called me last night and i didn't believe him until we called the assistants and they confirmed it.  haha the missions always full of surprises.  i'm trying to think what else happened this week.... not sure.  this week we have interviews again with president.  then on friday we have a leadership training for the mission.  it should be fun.  ahhh! just got a call from the couple and we got kpalime confirmed for next monday.  so well be heading out into the jungle again. should be exciting.  i've been in togo for a really long time haha.  

THE BIGGEST MIRACLE!! we've been teaching this family.  Joel is the father.  i think i've explained a little bit of their story but they are amazing.  they've been coming to church for about 3 months now and have needed to pay the dowry to get baptized. his wife is from the north of benin.  transport to get to their village is 13000 cfa to get there, 26000 there and back for one person.  that's about 50 bucks there and back.  and he said he normally needs to take about 5 people with him..... and then the ridiculously expensive dowry..... basically it wasn't looking good. but after a huge long process many prayers and discussions this last week he paid it!!!! nothing short of an absolute miracle.  it's not that he won the lottery or anything but he worked with the bishop and cut a lot of corners which made it so only he had to go to cotonou and not really pay anything.  i'm not sure you can really understand how impossible this was to do.  in fact, i was on a split on Wednesday, the day we saw him and i came back and asked how it went and Elder Rav said he's going to pay before sunday.  i said quoi?!? no how what? he explained it and i was so astounded.  he'll be baptized with his family on the 29th of this month.  the whole story from the finding of them to the dowry is just full of miracles it is unbelievable. the day of miracles has not ceased.

i love you all! got to go! have a great week! 

Elder Rybin

3/3/2014 - Translating for Elder Vinson; thoughts on one year in Togo and changes


february is gone? are you sure? i'm not sure i really believe it.  it's probably because it's such a tiny little cute month.  haha anyways this week was awesome! we had a visit from elder Vinson of the  seventy.  he is amazing.  he lives in ghana right now.  on thursday we had a meeting with all the missionaries for 3 hours that went to like 3 hours 50 minutes.  and then friday morning he met with the zone leaders.  i didn’t' get to take any notes because i had the lovely honor of translating for him for the whole thing, both days.  that's the first time that i've had to do some serious translating like that and it was challenging but good.  it kept me on my toes the whole time but i did have to focus a lot on how to translate and not really the goodness of what he was saying but i still got a lot out of it. 
other news from this week.  i forgot again to take pictures of the apartment or the elders in the apartment but i will this week.  

thoughts about one year in africa:  my whole life has changed.  the way i look at things is so very different.  humidity is actually not that bad.  and does even have some perks: soft elbows, no cracked knuckles or chapped lips, etc.  i love the people of togo.  yovo yovo is chanted every time i walk around.  i think i've heard all its many, many versions. [This is the song the children sing to any white person they see on the streets.]  i've gone from the youngest little american to, in our generation (me and elder potter), the second oldest americans in togo and the longest living american missionary residents of togo.  i love the french language.  

there's something strange about change.  it's almost imperceptible in yourself.  just the other day i saw elder sagers and he said, dude have you lost more weight? and i said, you know i haven't seen a scale in about 4 months so i don't know. he said well i would say yeah you have.  i wouldn't know because i'm still me.  even when i change i'm still me.  so to say that i've changed yes i know i have, but how i could guess but to me i'm still me.  i'll always be me because everything i do is me everything i see is me.  i guess what i'm saying is that as far as change goes you'll have to see when i get home because i'm just me.  but the me i was is not the me i am.

well that was way to philosophical.  i'm not even sure if that makes sense.  i love the mission.  i love THIS mission.  before i didn't really understand why people would say they served in the best mission but now i do.  

i love you all.  i miss some of you a little bit sometimes....just kidding.