4/28/2014 - Crash course in Benin, busy days, riding in a car

i can't believe that school is already done. time seems to be flying by for you.  i remember when you all were complaining about the last summer was ending and then how cold winter was and now we are already talking about summer!  time is flying by.

i left togo this last week on friday morning because we had to pick up and drop missionaries off we were in the car alllllll day long.  and this morning there was a missionary activity so we had to pick up all the missionaries but we didn't go because we were too busy.... we are heading back to togo tomorrow and will be there for the rest of the week getting back late on friday because of some meetings and things to do.  so our week is already super packed.

last night we got back to the apartment late and we got up early this morning to go get all the missionaries and so last night i wrote in my journal that it is going to be a very busy couple of months but it's good to be on your toes a little.  

About the whole international drivers license deal, Elder Hawkins one of the Elders in office said that he was going to call you and explain what you needed to do so i don't know when he's going to do that but probably soon.  

the other elders in the apartment with us are elder dagrou and elder desvergez, a frenchy.  its been fun to catch up with elder dagrou again and elder desvergez is hilarious too.  elder dagrou goes home in just a couple of weeks towards the end of may.  our secteur is nice too.  

i'm in a crash course of benin right now though because we are not really sure how long elder ritchie is going to stay.  he goes home about the same time as elder gnenenon in july just after president morin comes.  he could leave our area in just about a week and a half or he could stay with us until he goes home but i think that he is probably going to drop down and train someone for the last 6 or so weeks of his mission. no one knows though.  

alrighty!  thanks for all the letters and the pictures and everything.  i'll pray for dad this week with all his projects and finals and all that and for emma and nathan too.  thanks!
je vous aime!! [I love you all]

Elder Rybin

4/21/2014 - Transferring to Benin, new assignment

 oh my favorite family!

            happy easter to you as well.  i forgot.... elder potter reminded me in the morning that it was easter.  we had a "super special easter feast" right after church which just meant that we ate a lot of rice with some super old gravy packages that elder potter had BUT with lots of chicken.  it was good.  that night.... nothing special..... the togolese, like most of their parties some people got drunk and played their drums really loud.  there was a lot of people at church though which was good.  but i heard that the catholics do this jesus walk where someone pretends to be jesus and carries a cross through town while people beat him to reinact.  yeah i'm not sure how that all worked out but holidays here in general are just not as big of a deal.

            huge surprise this week though! we got transfer calls this last saturday morning...... i'm going over to benin to replace our american assistant and work with elder kognani.  crazy huh?! i'm still in denial about it all.  i still keep thinking that it can't possibly be true as if i'd heard wrong over the phone or something i don't know.... i'm still in shock. i'll be working in a secteur [area] called cocotome.  i'll work in another three with the two assistants right now, elder kognani and elder ritchie, for a couple of weeks to make a smooth transition.  also elder ritchie said that they are going to send me some information today to get me an international driver's license so that i can start driving as soon as possible.  he said that you have to do something back home and then mail it i think, but i'll let you know more when they call or write me.  but yeah.... the mission is full of surprises.  don't ever get to comfortable.

Kegue Grand Stadium

            other news: we went to kegue to the grand stadium to do our annual member versus missionary tournament on easter monday.  the members had four teams and we had two but we didn't win.... i took some pictures that i'm going to try to send at the end of my letter.  it was fun to be with all the missionaries and the members.  over the last year i've come to know a lot of the members here in lome.  it is weird saying goodbye.  with the way the mission is looking and the change of president weed to president morin, i will most likely stay assistant until i finish.  like i said no one knows and there's always surprises but most likely i will finish my mission in benin.  but i'll visit togo frequently for zone conferences and transfers and all that kind of stuff. 

            not much other news.  a bird pooped on my face yesterday.... it was very liquidy and green.... it felt like a big raindrop.... but the worst part... it was warm.  blessings i guess. just the week before last a bird pooped on my shirt too.  what is this!

            i don't have a whole lot of time today because of the activity so that's all for this week!  have a fantastic week! i love you all

loves, elder Rybin

4/14/2014 - acting on spiritual promptings

Hey family!!

            surprise again we got a call sunday night from president blaise.  he said that elder rav was leaving for benin the next morning at 8 am.  before they had said tuesday so we had lots of plans this monday.  haha that's the mish!  it was weird saying goodbye as always.  he's in benin until wednesday then he catches a flight to madagascar.  weird.  i love the guy to death he's so funny and we worked really well together even though he was at the end of his mission.  That makes two missionaries i've finished off!  who is next?!  even though elder Gnenenon has only until mid july i don't think ill stay until he leaves.  i'm probably going to leave in our next transfer in may.  we'll see though, you never know. 

            there is a quote from president monson if i remember right its: "there is nothing sweeter that to receive a prompting and to act upon it and then to find out it was the answer to someone's prayer or someone's need."  i've felt the spirit a lot this week.  the most obvious was yesterday but i'll come back to that.  through all these experiences it has been almost a supernatural type guidance we've been receiving to help people.  

            i did a split with another area this week that is really struggling to find people.  my companion and I went on friday morning and planned with a really young apartment in our zone.  (two new missionaries and their trainers who just became senior.)   during the split i had a couple of notes of journal topics for ch 9 but we talked for awhile during study and even i learned some stuff from where the spirit led us.  

            it was the same thing for friday. we got there that morning surprising them because we didn't tell them we were coming.  and one missionary says you guys are so inspired - we need you right now.  they had had an argument and needed some stuff worked out.  the principles we talked about were coming to us from the spirit.  i feel the better i get at following spiritual promptings the more i get.  it is amazing.  

            yesterday night we went to visit this member that we recently found out lives in our secteur [area].  when we got there we were just getting to know each other and doing the whole small talk deal-io.  then i felt prompted to share the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 101:16. [Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.]  we read it even though it was kind of out of the blue and she said thank you. this was the answer to her prayers.  she said that her mom died last month and that she had been going through a tough time. then just this morning she calls us and asks if we can come back and do family home evening at her house.  we already had plans so we said we'll go next week. then elder gnenenon said yesteday he was super surprised when i started to share this scripture but then it turned out to answer her question and be inspired.  it has been a great week.  i feel the peace and happiness of the gospel in my life.  i feel the spirit, and i don't think that i can ask for anymore.  

i'm hoping that the picture two weeks in a row will make up for the short letter..... sorry. 
i love you all!  have a great week!! 

Elder Rybin

4/7/14 - leadership council, pictures from kpalime hike 3/17/14

hey family,

good news!  i'm on a computer that can send some pictures so i decided to make up for the last couple of weeks.  this week has gone by pretty sneakily meaning i don't really remember what happened.  i am trying to think about some stuff to write and am pulling up blank.

i heard that general conference was this yesterday and saturday.  we can only hope that i'll be able to get the talks quickly.  if i have a couple minutes at the end here i'll hop on lds.org and see what i can skim through.  are there any top talks that i can read because maybe each week i could have time to read one or two if we have some time.  other than that mom you didn't send your moms patriarchal blessing.  or if you did i didn't get it.  could you try again?

i was looking through the talks you sent to me in the mtc and found the talk "give us our daily bread" by christofferson.  what an awesome talk!  i am continuously astonished by what a great selection of talks that was.  i've read it before but this time it spoke right to me and to my needs and how to improve.  i learned a lot.  but until now it's been in my suitcase forgotten.  i don't believe there are coincidences and it blows my mind how all that works out.

i heard once that someone in europe somewhere (pretty reliable exact facts to start this story off right?) got their patriarchal blessing and it said that he would have received the gospel a long time before if the missionaries at that time had been obedient.  god has everything planned out.  let's not miss the opportunities to fit exactly into god's perfect plan just because we're tired or prideful or etc etc blah blah.  why don't we just do it?  follow the spirit and we're so much happier.  it's so simple.  gods plan is beautiful.

we had our leadership council on this last saturday. it was a last minute change but a great meeting.  president talked about a lot of things that were really awesome.  the way he simplified and clarified simple but hard to answer questions was really awesome.  we talked about helping new missionaries.  he asked,  "what do new missionaries need to be able to adapt in the mission?"  we started listing off a whole bunch of stuff and he said yes but all these are only a means to an end.  he said a new missionary needs to feel the spirit.  so simple but as i've thought more about it - so true.  he also talked about humility.  he asked us how can we be continuously humble?  because once we think were humble were not so it's almost impossible to "see" progressing humility in ourselves.  he said reading scriptures continuously reminds us of our own nothingness as well as prayer.  and also he said journal writing helps us to be grateful for god and ponder his goodness, building our humility.  i love president weed.  he's such an absolutely amazing person and president.

well that's all for this week folks.  stay tuned for next week!  enjoy the pictures.  thanks for all your letters and love.  oh yeah i got benjamin's wedding invite on saturday..... about a month late..... thanks for the thought.


Elder Rybin

p.s. these pictures are from last week's hike with the zone to kpalime . . . 

"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."