The following is a portion of an email Elder Walls sent his aunt:
August 31, 2015
Dear Aunt Lavinia,
In response to some of the questions you asked:
The experiences that have built my testimony the most...that's a very deep question! I don't have a lot of time to reflect, but I will try to give a good answer.
There is a scripture in one of the gospels that talks about Christ in Gethsemane and said something to the effect of, "Being in an agony, he prayed more sincerely." (Sorry, my English scriptures, the ones where everything is marked, are back in the apartment. And my French ones have just the bare necessities, so I don't have the verse of the top of my head.) But like you said, there are a lot of challenges that accompany any mission and this one isn't any exception. When times have gotten the toughest, are the times when I've prayed the hardest and when I have gotten the best responses. There have been a few times when I've been discouraged or scared, and have just asked to feel God's love. And the response has been just a feeling that someone was hugging me. I've definitely learned how to REALLY pray as a missionary.
Another experience that built up my testimony was when I was training my American comp--I was a brand new American myself, and he had a really difficult time with learning French, and he felt really self conscious about it. I don't know if he believes it, but there were times when he was teaching and would just go for it and try his best to teach a lesson, that he had the gift of tongues. Not that he spoke perfect French, but he spoke French way better than he could around the apartment.
Another experience was with two of my favorite investigators, L and M. They lived in Cococodji, where I was trained. I was transferred right before they got married and baptized, which bummed me out a little. Later, at a district conference, they flagged me down, and I honestly almost didn't recognize them! L. was so well groomed and well dressed (usually when we would teach them, he would be shirtless). When I saw his wife behind him, I came to myself and was so excited when I recognized who they were. Members can live miles away, but they really do their part to participate in the gospel. And you can see the Light of Christ in their eyes. So seeing those two amis, as members was really special. You could see the difference the gospel had made in their lives. I wish I had had my camera with me because I would love a photo of them. Maybe the next conference I will see them if I am still in Benin.
Anyways, those experiences are definitely special. I am sure I have had others, but these are the ones that come to my mind first.
As for the distance from Cotonou, it takes about an hour by car to get there. However, because the road conditions are so bad here, that doesn't necessarily mean that we are that far away. If you look at the map of Benin, the church has really only has a small presence along a small portion of the south, along the coast.
I imagine so much has changed with you all since I left, I can't wait to see you all again.
Eric--I usually just sign emails to family as Eric, but some people don't like that, if so--