11/25/2014 - West Africa District Conference & Zone Conference notes

Hey family!

It’s been a great week.  Last minute we found out about a zone that wanted to go to Ouidah and so we got roped into taking a part of their zone out to Ouidah.  I got some pictures but I was hoping to go shopping today.  I still have a few more things to get.  It takes time talking down all those prices. A little here a little there.  I have some pictures that I'll send home today.  

This week we are heading out to Togo. This will probably be my last long visit to Togo.  I am hoping to visit a few converts in between our super busy schedule.  The only other time I will be there is probably to pick up the people like Elder Hales and Potter in Togo that are leaving with me. But that will probably just be a quick visit.  Go one day, drop people off, and come back the next day.  We’ll know tomorrow morning.  We are finishing the transfer with president tomorrow morning.  After that we establish how all the missionaries are going to get where they need to go.  

We had district conference yesterday.  It was a special broadcast for all of West Africa.  Besides some technical difficulties it was really amazing.  We heard Elder Gay from the 70, the General Primary president and then Elder Bednar and President Utchdorf.  They talked a lot about how here in West Africa we cannot let our cultural traditions get in the way of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the culture of the gospel, respecting the commandments then our own cultures need to be removed.  They hit the nail right on the head with a couple of big points.  It was so direct that it was verging on harsh, but awesome at the same time.  The primary president talked about the future of the children.  I was thinking the same thing as I saw all the children in the room.  Most of their parents are converts for the littlest ones which means that they are going to more or less grow up in the gospel.  So where is the church going to be in just 10 years when these kids grow up?  What about 20 years, and 30?  It is so amazing to think about that.  I can't even begin to imagine.  

One last quick thing.  During the Zone Conferences President Morin talked about Zion’s Camp.  He compared this to our missions.  It was really great.  He talked about how while others thought that the Zion’s camp march and all their effort was a failure and  a waste, 9 of the 12 apostles came from the about 300 people that marched and ALL of the 70s.  The leaders of the church were called just a couple months after the end of Zion’s camp.  He explained to us that our missions are a way the lord uses to find out who we really are and if we are really willing to be obedient.  Because he needs to find out who's really going to help him in a short while being the next leaders of the church.  I really liked it.  President Morin is really amazing.  I'm so glad that I've got to work so closely with him.  

ok family!  I hope this was a pretty good letter this week.  I feel like it was long.  AND I’m going to send some pictures so be happy!! 

love you all!
Elder Rybin 

11/17/2014 - Back to regular Elder Rybin missionary life

Hey family! 

Time is slipping through my fingers.  Its hitting me more and more often, but since we are so busy it doesn't really give me the time to think about it.  This week was pretty great we had time to teach a lot.  Actually its this week that zone conferences start.  on Thursday and Friday here in Benin and then next week Thursday and Friday in Togo.  This week is going to be fairly busy.  Tomorrow we are going to the border to pick up Elder Merritt and Elder Baker.  I don’t know if you remember them but they came with my group.  They are both going home just a few weeks before the rest of us though, mainly because Elder Merritt is in the military and has to report.  It’s going to be weird to pick them up and say goodbye since we came together. 

More good news.  I haven't had any more kidney stone related pains.  Everything feels fine.  I have been taking it easy meaning that I have stopped playing soccer with the others in the street in front of our apartment or during activities.  And things like that.  I don't know if that's too cautious or not but I figure I want to finish on December 9th more than I want to play soccer for three weeks.  

Elder Amoah is from Ghana.  I really like him.  he is so happy all the time.  And he is a good cook.  lifesaver in the apartment. 

Yep, I'm "training" someone.  I'm sorry I didn't mention this but we've been together for maybe 2 or 3 weeks.  His name is Elder Merrill.  He is from Herriman Utah.  He has been out on his mission for 10 months now.  Young buck but a great guy.  We have similar families. We were just talking about this like 2 seconds ago.  He rides 4 wheelers and dirt bikes, plays lacrosse and hockey.  It's been fun to get to know him better.  And also nice to have another set of hands around to share the load. 

I'm super excited for AF football. There is a missionary here in the bureau, Elder Oliverson who played football for Bingham.  I hope they kill them.  Haha.  

Thanks so much!  I love you all!!!
Elder Rybin

11/10/2014 - Busy, happy to stay to the end - December 10th!

Hey family!  

yeah!  I'm staying!  I'm glad that the doctor called you or emailed you.  I'm not sure how everything is going to work out when I get home, I'm just trying to get there (on the 10th of December) first and then work out the rest.  Time is going by so quickly I can't believe it.  Thanks so much for your prayers.  I feel fine now.  It hasn't hurt since that one incidence the first time. I hope I can just slide into home plate like this and finish strong. 

Today our office meeting went really long because we had people come from a phone company to talk to us and we had a lot to work out.  Then since we finished moving this morning we didn't really have that much time to eat and so we had to run out and grab some food to eat and got back and the internet wasn't working, but miraculously it just came on just a couple minutes before we said we were going to leave if it didn't start working.  So, short, but hopeful sweet letter this week. 

We are in the process of moving apartments right now because like I said the church was in our old apartment.  now they are going to take that all for the church and we are moving out.  its been a little crazy this week living in two houses but today we got the last big things.  now its just getting settled into our new apartment.  

Did i tell you all that we got a new Elder in our apartment?  Elder Amoah is training Elder Archer.  He is from Layton Utah.  and he actually does archery.  pretty much awesome. I've thought a lot about Elder McCray lately.  Do you remember him?  he was the older American when Elder Hales and I got into Hedzranawoe in the beginning of my mission.  he was there for 3 or 6 weeks before he left.  he was awesome.  he taught me so much.  I hope I can be Elder McCray for Elder Archer.  As of a couple weeks ago our group is the oldest in the mission.  We are the next to leave.  Actually Elder Merrit and Elder Baker are leaving in a week and a half.  they came with us but Merrit has a military report date.  Kinda weird.  Anyways I feel like the old man around town though.  I say "I remember this one time" way too much.  but its good.  We have zone conferences coming up next week and the week after.  

ok I really need to go.  I love you all so much!!!
Elder Rybin

11/07/2014 Letter from Elder Hill, MD -- Elder Rybin is staying!

Note:  Our family spent a week on our knees, hoping that Elder Rybin would be able to stay to finish his mission, but turning the decision over to Heavenly Father.  We received this note on Friday, November 7, 2014. 


Sister and Brother Rybin,  
Your son had some back pain and has been seen by a specialist who did tests showing that he has a left sided kidney stone.  This stone is blocking the ureter and the ureter is slightly dilated.  His urine function is normal as is his creatinine which tells me that there is no damage being done to his kidney.  He is pain free for the last week and since he is so close to the end of his mission I think he will be able to complete it.  The idea then would be to have an extraction of the stone or possibly an ultrasound breakup of the stone when he gets home.  The only down side of this would be if he started to have pain again and there was the possibility of kidney damage.  

If you chose to instead have him come home early I would both understand and support that decision.  I am a long way from your son and haven’t spoken to him directly but have only spoken to his Mission President and wife.  Please let me know how you feel and if you need more information.

Elder N. Grant Hill MD
AMA Africa West

We replied to Elder Hill to thank him for his help and told him we would be thrilled for Elder Rybin to stay and finish him mission.


11/3/2014 - good birthday & his health challenge: home early or stay another month?

Hey Family!

Mom, sorry, I just have to rip off the bandaid....

They say I have kidney stones.  A doctor in Ghana is going to decide after a few more tests this week if I have to come home early or not.......

OK, deep breath.  Now that the bandaid is off I can start at the beginning and explain everything because I'm sure you have tons of questions especially since just last week I said I was feeling fine.  It started the Thursday before last.  We were in Togo and I woke up in the middle of the night and had this pain right on my back above my hip on the right side (right where my kidney is).  I had no idea what it was and just thought I slept on it wrong.  It was bothering me and so I got up got a drink of water and then because I was so tired fell back asleep. And then when I woke up in the morning it was gone and I didn't think any more about it. We went through the rest of the week, no problems, and I forget all about it.  Then Monday rolls around.  About 5 in the morning I wake up with the same pain, first just bothering me, I can't get comfortable, turn, get up walk around, sit down. Just keeps getting worse and worse.  So I tried to drink some water, and eat some bread to take some Ibuprofen but when I took it I got nauseated and a few minutes later threw it up.  We called Sister Morin (who is a nurse and awesome with health stuff) and she said that it’s probably a virus and that it'll pass just keep trying to drink water and hold on.  So I would try to drink water, throw up, and then suffer.  It was not pleasant.  I started to get cramps in my stomach because of throwing up. Then after a while of that I threw up one more time and it just started to get better.  We put hot cloths on my stomach and the pain started to go away and I thought it was done.  Sister Morin said that is what was going to happen so we all thought it was just a virus.  By the end of Monday I was feeling pretty much fine.  Walking around in the apartment, eating, drinking, really no more pain.  But I stayed home just to rest but I told Elder Oliverson to write you and say that I was feeling better, because I was.  

Then I got up Tuesday, I felt a slight pain in my back but I thought I was just sore from the pain yesterday, then it just started to get worse and worse, until I said, ok something’s wrong, this isn't just a virus. So we went in and saw a doctor.  That’s when I found out for the first time it could be kidney stones.  She told me to go and get an x-ray and an ultrasound and to come back.  So I fixed an appointment and that was on Thursday. 

After a lot of waiting, we got them done.  While the doctor was doing the ultrasound he said he saw a few kidney stones on the LEFT side (opposite of where the pain was) but that they were kind of small.  Then on the RIGHT side he saw a few big ones.  He said they could range from 9 to 12 mm with one probably around 15 mm.  With that in mind he said to come back the next day (Friday) to get the results all written up with the pictures.  So Friday morning I go and pick those up and bring them back to the other doctor and Sister Morin.  First Sister Morin said that she has to send them to a doctor in Ghana, a guy named Doctor Hill.  But she said that those are some pretty big kidney stones and that I might need an operation and might have to go home early, even though it’s just a couple more weeks.  Then I went back to the first doctor and she said, yep I thought it was kidney stones.  She asked me when I was going home and I said, Dec 9th and she said oh ok that’s not too far, do you want to go home or stay to get it fixed back home.  I said, obviously I would like to stay and she said ok.  Since the kidney stones are so big that means that I have been living with them for a while now and that just another month is not that much more.  That comforted me a little.  That night I went home and we were out teaching someone and Sister Morin calls and says that the Doctor Hill in Ghana called and said that he got the x-ray and ultrasound and that he would like me to take some more tests to make a better decision, but that I might have to go home early even with one month left. 

Sister Morin called and fixed an appointment with a specialist for Monday (Today).  That is why I am so late writing.  We waited there for awhile and then he said to do this blood test to see how the kidneys are functioning, and then to go and get a SCAN thing, not an MRI but something like that, it’s just called scan in French.  And that with those results he will write us up a report.  So we called and fixed the visit to get the scan.  It is on Wednesday at 11:30 am.  I got my blood taken there and will get those results tomorrow for the scan on Wednesday.  Now, Sister Morin said that after we get the results of the scan on Wednesday we will send those to Doctor Hill in Ghana as well as the report for the other specialist and he will make the final decision if I stay or go. 

ok, That was a lot, but I think it’s all. Take another deep breath.  

I don't want to come home early.  But if there is one thing I've learned on my mission, it is that God has a plan.  True happiness is when we want what God wants.  That is internal peace.  So, while my initial reaction was fear and honestly a little bit of frustration verging on anger, those have quickly passed.  Obviously I've been thinking about it a lot.  I've adopted a "thy will be done" attitude.  Whatever happens will be for the best, in the long run, the eternal run.  

Mom, if you have any questions don't wait to write them, write them back right away, I will be here for a little bit longer, not a whole long time, but I'll try and give you more details if you want.  

I love you,
Elder Rybin

ps, besides for that, the week wasn't that bad, had a birthday, ate some delicious cake the couple made, made potato salad, taught some great lessons.  so sorry that I didn't really have time to fill you in on the half of the glass that is still full.  loves! :)