Monday, December 26, 2016

One Christmas Left

Well Christmas happened and one present we got was transfers, my first real transfer because things actually changed this time. I already can see why every missionary hates transfers. You get used to a system, even if that system is difficult, and right as things are just about as great as they can be they change it. But it’s the mission, I guess. My dad (Mukendi) is going to a village in north Togo called Kpalime. We joke that he is basically been called as bishop there because the branch there was just opened up 4 months ago so every one there is a recent convert. He will have lots of work to do. I will stay here in Zogbo/Menontin because Olela is going to Avotro, so the 2 sectors will stay with me and my new companion will be the zone leader again, he is coming from Togo. He arrived on a mission with Elder Mukendi and his name is Elder Kohla. I don’t know how its spelled but I will see. He is Congolese too.

You already saw what we did for our Christmas celebration with that service project in Grand Popo, that was cool to see the entire mission of Benin together. However this week was really weird because Olela was still recovering from his surgery and president wanted me and Mukendi to keep working. He did that mini transfer where Ranivo and the mini missionary were here, and because neither of them knew the sector I went out with the mini missionary a lot. He is cool his name is brother Damian and he is from Benin preparing for his real mission. He had a lot of questions and was so surprised I was willing to answer him because lots of missionaries here don’t like mini missionaries so he was super happy to work with me.

I wish I had some fun stories or a good joke this week because I know that’s what makes these letters interesting but I can’t really think of any. It’s really quite a sad day, because Mukendi just left, he got in the mission bus said good bye and like that he was gone. It’s really quite a lot for me to handle actually, I’m not gunna lie. They say the mission doesn’t start till your trainer leaves and so I guess the mission has really started these first 4 months were a joke. However through all this I know God knows my situation and will help me. I’m very young in life and in the mission but I’m continually growing up fast, There is hardly any time I spend in the comfort zone any more.

Life continues.

Merry Christmas to everyone I hope you have a great new year!

Me with the mini-missionary
My awesome scripture cases
Our Christmas decorations (our stockings)
Mukendi with our stockings
Good bye, Mukendi
My dad (trainer) and friend.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Benin Cotonou Mission

Dear Missionary Families and Friends,

Season’s Greetings from the Benin Cotonou Mission. This past week our missionaries in Benin celebrated the birth of our Savior by following his example and giving serviceWe met together at the Cotonou Stake Center early in the morning and loaded into buses to leave for Grand Popo. Upon our arrival, we helped paint an orphanage that gives a home to 26 kids. The work your children have done is incredible and will be greatly appreciated for many years. After the service project we had a wonderful dinner which was followed by a performance from each zone. The zones sang hymns and shared scriptures centered on the birth of Jesus Christ. We had a fantastic day together and want you to know that your children are serving diligently this Christmas Season as representatives of him whose birth we celebrate.

Attached are pictures from the activity. We hope you enjoy them.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With Love,

President and Sister Morin
Benin Cotonou Mission

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week of goodbyes

Well this week has been another week of changes, some quite big. Right as I kind of get used to how things are whether good or bad the mission always seems to try to flip things on its head agian to keep me on edge. However first off I want on the record that I ate a sandwich that had just fish and onions in it. If you know me those are my 2 least favorite foods yet someone eles made it and eating that is always better than cooking. And if any of you guys are throwing away leftover hamburgers, pizza any nomal food and somomone says some starving kid in Africa would eat that, they are right. I'm that starving kid. So make sure you eat your food. I'm actually not starving but I know I have lost some weight already I can see it, but it's all good I feel healthy.

This week had some sad moments a week of good byes. We said good buy to Jacob, the MTC employee who was in Benin to teach english classes for 8 weeks or somthing like that. He is the guy we found that one day trying to go to chuch, I forgot if I told you that story or not, I'm sure I did, but hey my mind is pretty fried, it's in the heat 24/7. However, his time was up and he gets to go home and celebrate Christmas in some thing called snow, idk, they say its cold but I don't know what that means.

To explain my situation now I have to talk about Elder Warr, it's quite sad for me to say that he had to go home early. It is sad because it wasn't his choice or his fault. He really wanted to stay, but his immune stystem is not the strongest and according to doctors and the area 70 and the brethren, his heath is more important and that he needed to go home. Which is really sad he is an amazing guy, loved the people, worked hard and stuck through some of the hardest things. Like getting his toe cut open without anesthesia and getting malaria and a ton of other viruses at the same time, what a strong Elder. I miss him already.

Warr's companion Elder Olela is still healing form his hernia surgery so he went to the mission office to work so now Elder Ranaivoarisoa and a mini missionaray are in our district and are supposed to work in Menontin but they don't know the sector so this upcoming week will be an adventure but me and my dad are still together and are like best friends. Today he told me he wishes he could just spend the last 7 months of his mission working with me.

And for your information Elder Ranaivoarisoa is from Madagascar and we call him Elder Ranaivo because his name is impossible for us to say without taking like 4 breaths. It's like reading a book, I'm just kidding. I already kind of knew him before but he is super cool. He speaks english that he learned here with english companions and studying, he loves to sing and is a good cook. I dont know how long he is here, but we will see at transfers this Christmas Eve.

So that's what happend this week some of that stuff took its toll a little bit, However there are 2 amazing missionary things that happened that I just have to share. One was something that just made me love being a missionary here, like in Zogbo right now. And it really helped me see the real value of what I can do and its all about St__. St__ became a member of the chuch here in Benin in 2004 and was super active with a call and everything. She moved in 2008 and fell inactive because there was no chuch where she went. She lost her bible and book of mormon in the move. Her contact with the chuch completely cut of and she fell inactive. Fast forward to 2016 me and Mukendi are walking around Zogbo and we hear "elders!" a lady that is sitting in a chair taking a break from work with a huge smile says, "how are you doing!" Because no one knows who elders are ever we know she had aready talked to the missionaries at least a few times, come to find out she has been inactive for 8 years, but still has a strong testimony. We had a few lessons with her, and invited her to come back to chuch, she didn't come. We called her for a few weeks every Sunday morning she wouldn't answer her phone, we were so sad and gave up. Then this week I'm sitting up at the front, because I was blessing the sacrament and who do I see walk in but St__!!! with a huge smile on her face!!! that matched me and Mukendis. Many members rememberd her and were so happy an amazing reunion and I have no doubt she'll be here for the next week and hopefully forever. There is no key indicatior we send to the president for reactivation of a really old member, but wow what joy me and Mukendi had that day, and the joy she had too, so much joy. I'm so glad I was in that one spot that one day and that St__ decided to open her mouth and say hi and not let us walk by.

Another amazing thing is we found a family to teach!!!! They come to chuch, the kids are super cute the husband and wife are super receptive to the gosple it's a little difficult because they can't read and are not civilly married yet and the marriage thing is required for baptism, and teaching without reading is hard however I have no doubt if they keep progressing like this we will for sure baptize them, so cool and we found them because they just walked into chuch one day, what a gift of God.

Each week has its ups and downs, but the joy is always found in the work.

Mukendi and Jacob

Me and Jacob

Me and Warr

Monday, December 12, 2016

Satan was angry that day, my friends

Hello everyone, it has been a busy, busy week. I couldn't begin to write everything I did this week. It seems like it has been at least three, but we were so busy it went by super fast. For the first half of the week it was still just me and Mukdendi at the apartment because Elder Warr and Elder Olela were at the hospital again. Elder Warr was super, super sick he got like every virus imaginable at the same time. So having two sectors means you try to put everyone in one sector on the same day, however that leads to a lot of people saying yeah I could make that time, but they never show up. On Wednesday we went out into the sector without eating lunch, which is super dangerous for your health, but we had to because there were people who needed to be taught and we just did not have time to prepare. It takes about an hour and half to cook lunch here, super labor intensive. And this is where I would like to thank my Mom. These past few weeks have been huge for helping me realize how much my mom has done for me for the past 18 years of my life. Because Olela and Warr are sick and Mukendi has the zone to worry about I am really the "mama" of the apartment. I cook every meal, I clean every dish, I do their laundry, I clean the apartment. I walk into the kitichen and think why didn't they at least just clean their own plate it's so simple and then I thought back to every time I didn't clear my plate or just put it in the sink like they did. Holy cow, my mom has done so much for me, every meal she has cooked I now realize how horrible it is to cook like that and why her favorite food is "anything she dosent have to cook." She never once got mad and I don't remember her complaining she just did so much for me and I'm so so so so so grateful and so sad I never truly understood all she did for me. She really is like a super hero, and her example is what now helps me to serve others here better thinking doing this for 2 years is nothing like 18, and I don't have to change diapers, maybe when I'm a parent I'll write another thank you note having really experienced that.

Mukendi is sure he is going to be transferred, and I feel in the air a big change coming to my sector. They are trying to split up all the 4 person apartments and I think they are planing on shifting missionaries and might close my sector. This is all speculation and nothing is fact, it is just my thoughts and because I get no information form the president I can say this because really I know nothing. However, as I was saying Mukendi is preparing to be transferred, and there was one investigator he said he needs to be here for her baptism so we went on teaching her everying and tried to get her baptized this weekend because, one, she is super solid and has an amazing testimony, asks great questions, is super nice, she is just great. And second, she is a nurse at a hospital and has weird hours and it is hard to find a perfect weekend where she can make it to both the baptism Saturday and the first hour of chuch that Sunday for the confirmation and this weekend was one that was perfect so we pushed to do all her teachings this week for her baptism Saturday. That date we also had fixed a brother who is an investigator of Elder Warr's but me and Mukendi have done most the teaching because we have taken over their sector. And, wow, is this guy solid, we would give him a brochure over a lesson by the next time he new it so well he would teach us the lesson, bear testimony it was true and we would be like, yeah that's correct. It is so sad he is moving next month to go to France, however, he already knows what ward he is going to be in there and he is going to get married in the Paris temple in a year, so cool. If that guy becomes a 70 or something I would not be surprised, these two people have bright futures and I'm so glad we were able to find them and teach them and help them walk through the door of baptism. However, Satan must have known that these two were like that and he was angry this week, especially the day of the baptism. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. It was super hard to get the baptismal interviews for them done because the person who was supposed to come was always late. There was bad planning. The bishop was angry. We are all ready for the baptisum and the font doors are locked and then we realize there are no baptism clothes and we send some people to go find some at the closest branch, 45mins away by car. And they come back and they didn't know who was getting baptized so they grabbed clothes that were too small so we had to improvise and find some random white pants and we used the bishops white shirt to baptize one of them. I can't begin to explain how crazy of a baptism it was. It got started three and a half hours after we had scheduled it. It was a great service, most members present at a baptism so far. Mukendi baptized the two and the office elder's had one baptismal candidate. It was Satan's last stand, but the heavens won again.

My little friend again. His mom says when he gets older he will come to America to live with me.

A butterfly that just landed on my hand to chill

Our amazingly, crazy baptism

Amazing food I didn't have to fix! Shawarma and youki

Me drinking water out of a bag. Those things are life savers.

Monday, December 5, 2016

It's not beginning to look like Christmas

I can't belive it is December 5, that means two months in Benin, which I totally can believe, it feels  like two months. But there is like no Christmas spirit here, no count downs, no cold, no Christmas trees, just normal Benin but with more expensive food. It kind of sad but almost good, to not have to think about all the happiness I'm missing at home. Because Christmas music is like a super contagious virus that  brings the horrible flu of home sickness. That's why I always skip singing those hymns in chuch, it just hurts. However this week has had some amazing things, but it has also been mixed with a bunch of weird things again.

The great things this week are I bought and ate my first Benin pizza, sure it was a ton of money. It was like the same amount as a weeks worth of food, and it wasnt quite like American pizza, it was still pizza and it was nice for a change. I have realized that if I don't have to cook it I can eat it. I was even tempted to eat street fish the other day so I wouldn't have to prepare food. ME, Elder Larson, fish, that is so not me, but like if someone else prepares it, I can eat it for some reason. However I'm not so desperate yet, because I didn't eat that street fish. My whole life I couldn't eat onions they made me gag, it was just horrible but the other day one of our amis bought me spaghetti with a ton of onions in it big ol chunks of onion and I ate every one happily.

Another great thing is I got a new fan!!!! Finally! My first fan was so old and it broke like 4 weeks ago and I have been using the super small one held together by dust and old age, and it barely worked, and because it is like an oven everyday here and every night that fan is essential. Any Benin missionary can tell you, that's why when the power goes out everyone hates it so much, not because of the lights or cooking food, but because of our fans. A missionaries best freind is his fan. And I got one that really works, it is so great!

Our teaching schedule was pretty weird this week because when your with the zone leader there is a lot of things you have to do that is not going out and teaching. Like giving money, geting keys for things, opening things, talking to people, setting up meetings, going to meetings. It is kind of sad because the sector is where the time passes the fastest. On top of it all Elder Olela finally had his surgery for his hernia and he and Elder Warr were at the hospital for a few days this week, so it was just me and Mukendi at the appartment for a few days. Then Elder Warr comes back with a million mosquito bites from sleeping at the hospital. And within a day he has malaria, throwing up all night and with a horrible fever, and Olela is sick with somthing else too. They both had physical surgeries now they have just illnesses in general. I'm so thankful me and Mukendi are healthy and it means that we do a lot of service for these two, who are quite crippled.
However in the midst of all this crazy we have another date fixed for a baptism with a mama who is so ready, she is so cool. She is a nurse at the hospital and was honestly searching for the right church she has been to so many and was super touched by our message. She has been coming to church, and will be a super solid member one day. And she is the reason I can get Mukendi to go out into the sector when he is super tired. She calls us when we are just a few minuets late to make sure were coming, and asks really good questions. She is scheduled to be baptized on the tenth with Prince and another super solid investigator of Elder Warr's.

I know there is so much that happened this week but my brain is really getting fried here, my memory is failing me and I am having trouble speaking both english and french now. I'm sorry this letter is so short, I guess not a whole lot happend that I can remember.

First Pizza in Benin

My new fan!

Elder Warr's convert that I helped with because Warr had surgery on his foot

Monday, November 28, 2016

When your father is Congolese....

Well this has been a week, that's for sure. This week included Thanksgiving. And I do have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for the times I had power this week. I am more thankful for the times I had water this week. I am thankful for my companion Elder Mukendi. I am thankful I have been heathy this far in my mission. I am thankful I get food for almost 3 meals every day. I am thankful for the two nice ladies who work at this one store that wont rip me off just because I am white. I am thankful for my wonderful family and freinds that support me at home.

It is good for me to write the things I am thankful for, I often ask myself could it be worse then this? Then I see Elder Warr who just got an operation done here in Benin on his foot for an ingrown toenail without anesthesia. And I see, yeah it can be worse. When we were on our 24th hour without power on Thanksgiving AND I was burning hot because I couldn't use my fan, I thougt how could it get worse? And then they cut our water. How could it get worse than this? And Mukendi said, just wait, he has been 1 whole week without water and power in Togo. He says it is standard to have at least one of those in this mission. I am a firm believer it could always be worse. So it keeps me thankful for what I do have. I am thankful for the little things too, I think I am so sick of being coverd head to toe in ants all day every day, and I think at least it's just ants. This week was a little rough but for some reason it didn't phase me as much as it would have a few weeks ago. Just with my talks with Mukendi I am becoming more and more determined to finish my mission strong. Elder Olela told me lots of Americans don't make it too the end. They get sick or just quit, this mission is not for the weak. I told him I am not weak, he said out of the 16 Americans who arived with me he thinks only 8 or 9 will make it to the end. If that is true I will be one of those nine. There are so many little stories that happen in the week I know but I am really drawing a blank.

I really want to write good long emails for the blog. I really try hard to make it intresting, but then again I think its just the reality of the things here that make the best stories. And I will never think of Africa as all the same place ever again. I live with two Congolese. Well really there are four Congolese in my apartment, two by blood and two by conversion The missionaries from each country bring there own flavor to the mix. And I am now an American Congolese, that's for sure. I almost feel patriotic at times, it's weird. However the Congolese are open people, if they don't like somthing they tell you. They don't get offended and sulk or talk behind peoples back, they fight back, they talk it out, or most of the time yell it out. Insults fly on a regular basis, it's really something to be apart of. They have a maner of speaking where almost all their conversations sound like they are mad at you. And this was hard to get used to at the beginning for me. When I tried my best to cook fries for the apartment, some got a little bit crispy and Olela gave it too me hard, told me my food was crap, I don't know how to cook, I added to much salt. Then I went in my room to be alone because I was quite sad and he followed me because he wasn't done. That was a bad day. However, now I have converted to the Congolese way. I let Olela have it back, and it's not like Olela was trying to be mean, he told me after, hey if I hadn't of made such a big deal, and just said "oh Larson your food is great thank you" you would never change. And it is so true. I can cook the one sauce I eat now pretty well, and I am becoming less and less timid each day. When someone does somthing I don't like I tell them and we talk it out, I have never done that my entire life but that's what Mukendi does and I follow the example of my Dad. I am so greatful for Mukendi, he is one of my best freinds. We joke all day long, and I respect him so much. He is very wise, He is like 6 years older than me and has gone through so much more in his life. Congo is crazy, a completly different type of crazy then Benin. One time in a lesson he was bearing his super strong testimony and he told a story of a time he watched his freind get shot and killed right before his eyes, and he had to run away. He encourages me constantly and gives me advice. And one piece of advice he gave me to help me go full Congolese is the way and manner to chastize people. And boy do the Congolese chastise. Mukendi knows how things are supposed to go. The chuch is well established in Congo and here it is just like the early days of the church the members who lead the chuch are all recent converts. It's not quite blind leading the blind, but kind of like that. It's to no fault of them, it's like a newborn child it needs to be nutured and shown the right path. And Mukendi has taken on himself the role of Parent for the baby church in Benin. And he parents by chastisement. He will see the bishop do somthing wrong and he will pull him aside and say hey bishop what you did there is not right that is not how a bishiop is supposed to act, here is what you do next time. He especially is tough on ward mission leaders. Because we work with them all the time. One time we went to another ward for a baptism for the sister missionaris and the mission leader came to the baptism without a tie and dress pants, just a white shirt with a collar. He chastised him hard after the baptism, He says your a return missionary what are you doing, you know better then this, you need to help your ward man. I love it. It is just so different the first few times we chastised the leaders of the church I thought it was bad, like it's not our place, but Mukendi uses the stories of Peter in the bible, when Peter was walking with Jesus and said that Jesus shouldn't die at the hand of the jews in Matt 16 Jesus calls Peter satan! And Mukendi says that's the kind of thing he does he rubukes just so the person can change for the better.

I don't know if this all sounds super messed up and I hope I haven't lost my manners when I get home but I have been rebuked by Olela many times and have changed every time. So I am converted to the Congolay way. I'm not sure I want that to be permanent but that's just how it is for the moment and I think it really gets resuts here.

And just one cool thing I wanted to leave you with. Is an update on my converts, Jo__ and his wife Ed___ and their son are becoming super strong members of the ward. They have come every week as a family, so cute. They have their hymnbooks and are learning hymns, saying prayers, cleaning the church and just being all around great people. It is such a joy to have baptized a family together, this gosple does bless families. Ed___ used to look so tired all the time, now I never see her without a smile. Jo__ bought a white shirt and I gave him one of my very few ties, I had to tie it for him but it was all good, they are my converts and I am here to support them. It was just super nice to see.

An African Thanksgiving:

I provided and cooked all the food for Thanksgiving. I used the canned turkey, freeze dried mashed potatoes, and gravy powder that my mom sent. Then I bought pineapples, bread, cakes, and sodas. BTW pineapples here are the best in the world, I didn't like pineapples before but now I love them they are soo good here. Like better than any American one I have had.

Mukendi was super happy to have a random huge meal for what to him seemed like no reson, he was scared to eat the mashed potatoes and peanut butter because he hadn't had either before, but he said, he really liked this weird American holiday.

Me and my chair. I spend so much time in that chair, I study there, I sit and think there, when I have nothing to do I am always in that chair. One time I feel asleep in the chair and Mukendi didnt wake me up so I slept throught all of companionship study.

I love this pic of me and Mukendi. We are just waiting for people to show up (that never do)
Picture by the house of one of the people we are teaching.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Taking it day by day

Wow, what a week. Everyday this week was an adventure. I think all this stuff happend this week, now that I think about it I don't really know when the week started. However this I do know. When a missionary puts in his or her papers they all have somwhere they want to go. Often times people will ask, if you could choose to go anywhere, where would you choose? And after hearing those talks in conference about how cool Africa was and wanting to go foreign and french speaking I decided I wanted to go to Africa, french speaking. And look at that, be careful what you ask for. I had little to no idea what I was asking for, and I still have only been in Africa for about 2 months. I don't know all of the gifts I will receive However I trust that I am here for a reason I have no clue what I specifically am here to do, but I keep trusting.

I have talked to a lot of american missionaries this week for one reason or another and they all have different views of the mission. Some love it, some are counting the days. I don't know quite how I feel. From what I have heard from what this mission could be I have been greatly blessed. And it is thanks mostly to my companion Elder Mukendi. I will never forget this Elder my whole life. He was meant to be my trainer. President Morin was very inspired. Some peoples' companions are rough, so hard, but with Mukendi I have realized how easy the mission really is. Me and him are like brothers. I didn't know this at first but we have a very similar sense of humor and now that I can communicate with him better we are having a lot more fun together. We make jokes in the sector, just talking and laughing just bringing two smiling young men to these people in Benin, it is so fun to just hang out with him. For example, at the end of all our texts on our companionship phone there is our names and most missionaries put a inspirational scripture reference or missionary power scripture but me and Mukendi put Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 which says:

"Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity."

We don't really hate the labor, however the sun is super hot and it is always a worry that when you leave your sector you might leave it to a bad missionary which would really stink, so the scripture works, it's just the clever humor I like to do.

The mission is hard though, Elder Olela and Elder Warr had to go to the hospital this week Elder Olela has a hernia and Elder Warr has an infected toe, they both can't go out into the sector, it's kind of funny. Olela will get an operation here in 2 weeks and it will be a three week recovery and I don't know what will happen to Elder Warr, I hope it will heal. But it has been weird this past week. I didn't go out into the sector very much because there was some craziness with people going home early and people missing flights and one elder dosent have a companion, it's just crazy. I hope things will settle down soon, because staying at the apartment is like prison, going out into the sector is like heaven after you have been stuck inside for a few days.

I guess there is just one other "only in Benin" story I had. On Sunday there was a face to face meeting with all the youth of Benin and some leaders and their parents. It was to talk with the three zone leaders of Benin, the mission president, return Beniois misionaries and the stake presidency to try to help coordinate an effort for getting more people from Benin to go on missions it was a weird format and I was only there because my companion is the zone leader. But one question somone asked was so funny. He stood up and asked "if I don't know my birthday, can I still go on a mission?" I thought that was so great, that face to face meeting was super weird and it lasted 4 and a half hours. I was at the church from 8:45 to 6:45 yesterday, which means it turned into like a fast Sunday but that's what happens sometimes. I am learning how to not let things bother me too much, this mission can really beat you down if you let things get to you too much.

And I know lots of people are praying for me which is so kind, and I love it so much. If you want to know something specific you can pray for, pray for my next companion, I dont know who it is, but I really, really need a good one, thank you so much.

Breakfast is the best meal here. Scones (with a side of Malaria medication)

The meal I eat for every lunch and dinner. Sometimes with egg, sometimes chicken (always rice and red sauce). I make the red sauce: tomatoes, peppers, onions, chicken powder, little bit of tomato paste, water and oil

Mukendi pretending to be dad (He was wearing this boys' dads' glasses)

Monday, November 14, 2016

The investigator formerly known as Prince

These weekly updates I write are very biased, I have realized. I write these emails when I am feeling the best about the mission. It is Monday, p-day, the best day. Everything is nice on p-days so I see the mission through rose colerd glasses. Because right now I feel good about everything, like I don't care that I woke up and found a few cockroaches in my bed, no big deal. But honestly this week has been rough, incredibly hard. I had to deal with a lot of things I never thought would ever happen on a mission, I am not gunna lie. But through all the horrible things that happend there were a few gems that made me feel a little bit better and those gems are what I will share because thats what I want to remember.

The first great thing is another "only in Benin thing". I really like our stake president he is a super spiritual guy and he is really young. He takes a taxi (moto) to the stake center every time he comes and on the way he teaches the driver the gosple and by the time they arrive the stake president finds the missisonaries and we get a new contact from every taxi man he uses. He really wants to run a  great stake and he is doing well. That is just so you know the kind of guy he is. So we are at the stake center waiting for the font to fill up for a baptism for Elder Warr and we see the stake president in a t-shirt helping people out cleaning the church and I read his shirt because it is in english it says "It's only binge drinking if you stop" with a beer logo. I know for a fact he has no idea what it means or he wouldn't wear it, but it was just so funny. The Benin is the Deseret Industries/Goodwill of the world. I swear if you ever have just donated your old clothes to one of those stores that takes them or anything like that, it ends up here and it is sold on the side of the street. The other day I bought a towel and I swear it could have been an old one I used to have when I was little that we gave away and I just bought it back. So I am sure that is what happened with the stake presidents shirt a hand-me-down from somone in Iowa.

Another thing was great was brother Prince. what a guy. He is a pretty young guy, maybe my age, I don't know but he was one day contacted in the street by Mukendi and his old companion a really, really long time ago and in the only lesson they had with him he said to Mukendi "you guys need to help me, I love your message and I need your help don't forget about me". But he would never accept another phone call after that and when they saw him in the street he said he had no time and they kind of stoped trying with him. However, Mukendi didn't forget about him and one day he said, "hey I got a feeling about this old ami (investigator), I will never forget about him". So we went and saw him and he is one of the nicest people I ever met, so humble, so kind, wow. We have started having lessons with him and it is like teaching a seminary teacher he like knows everything already and he has never been taught. It is really great. I extended the invatation for baptism in our third lesson and he enthusiastically accepted before I could even finish my memorized invitation. And Prince is why I am still alive this week because knowing that I am here to help that guy get to the waters of baptism and open the gates to so much more is what gets me through all the hard stuff.

Other than that not much else great to talk about. I pray every day that the power and water can stay on for at least most of the day. But the day to day living is not that bad, you adapt, you really do and you find uses for everything like an old missionary journal is what I have been using for toilet paper for a while. I am becoming very innovative with different things. For instance I use the clips I use to dry my clothes as a chip clip for this bag of crackers I bought. It is fun when you break out of functional fixedness. I guess that's all for this week.

Me and "E". He is one of my best buddies. I am really good friends with a lot of the little kids here. Sometimes they will see me out in the sector and run and give me hugs, it is just the best.
This is what the stands look like where I buy all my food.
I am so thankful for washing machines. Hand washing takes hours and hours.
My language study in 4 languages

Monday, November 7, 2016

Going Full African

I am not quite sure what to write this week. I do so many things during the week I cannot begin to describe all the stories. I really want to describe all my feelings but it is impossible to do that.
However I did have some great experiences this week and I want to share one with you.

We were walking the long walk to church the other day and we see a guy all dressed up in church clothes and he is white so he sticks out. He sees us and gets really excited, he runs across the street and says he doesn't speak french but he was so glad he ran into us because he is a latter day saint, he lives in Utah but is in Benin for 8 weeks to teach an english class. He fasted and prayed that on Sunday God would lead him to an LDS church and he went out of his apartment and just chose a random direction and started walking and he ran into us! Even though that was the opposite way to the stake center and because I spoke English he could explain his situation and we got to be the
answer to his prayer. That doesn't happen just by chance.

I also look African right now my hair is so short because Mukendi and Olela thought my hair was weird they made me go to the african barber and they have no idea how to cut American hair so I look super super different. It is all good, it will grow back and it helps with the transition to full African. Which includes eating the same exact thing for every meal every day (rice with tomato sauce) and super short hair, but hey I love it.

I also went to the serpent temple in Oudia today. It is a pretty short tour you mostly just go to take some pics with the snakes. It was really funny to see the people really freak out, some of the elders
were so scared it was so funny. I thought I would be scared but it was not dangerous at all, so I just really enjoyed it. However, that took all the morning so the apartment and clothes will stay dirty for
another week. You learn here just to roll with the punches. Like every time I grab a plate to eat I have to scrape a ton of living ants off it, I always have to have shoes on because our apartment floor is
coverd with a layer of sand that no doubt has been peed on. There are all sorts of little bugs and things in our apartment Mukendi already killed a mouse that was living in one of our pots. But this is not complaining in the slightest. I promise I am begining to really like it here. I know I am losing my mind, but I am okay with that.

One example of how I am losing my mind is that I am forgetting english. I had to teach a lesson to two Nigerians who don't speak French so Mukendi couldn't help and I struggled hardcore. I have learned how to teach and what scriptures to use and practiced all that in french, so I probably sounded like I do when I speak french. However, I have confidence the Holy ghost makes up the diffrence no matter the language. The french is really coming though, le don de lange is real and because I live with the Congolese I am starting to speak a little bit of Lingala because when the 2 speak to eachother it is always in Lingala and that language is super fun and simple and useful to talk to a lot of missionaries here and make good freinds. I am also trying my best to learn Fon because each time I say anything in Fon the people here love it because I am white. I learned how to say thank you very much this week, and you may think one phrase a week is slow progression but trust me it is not. Fon is so hard it is tonal like Chinese and is not written so it is hard to get help. Hey but I am learning I hope by the time I return home I will be able to speak 4 or 5 languages. I am well on my way. If you do it right a mission can be some of the best schooling ever. I am learning so many skills how to cook, how to wash cloths by hand (wich I am very good at by the way) how to barter, how to talk to people and I can learn a lot about the gosple too. So that is my goal, I've been here for a month already and I am so much better from the first week. It is still super hard, no doubt, but though the Lord and your prayers I can do all things, thank you.

Serpent Temple
Real snakes, and I'm not scared
Reading the Book of Mormon with my little buddy
My horrible haircut