Monday, October 17, 2016

I will cotonou onward

Okay I have been in Benin for a week and a few days, I guess, I have no clue really. It feels like I was born here. I am bewilderd by the bright lights, I am helpless, I don't speak the language, I am cared for by these two people who call me their son, which is true. When you are in formation (forgot Engish word) the trainer always calls the trainee "fils" which is son. It is funny I spend all day with my "dad" (Elder Mukendi) I have met my "grandpa" (formature of Elder Mukendi) and my uncle (another fils of grandpa). They are both in my zone they seem to like me because of the new missionaries in Benin I can speak enough French to make jokes and that's all they care about. Anyway it's just weird. I was born here the paralles are undeniable except my parents are two Congolains so that's cool.  However let me back up, Conference was so cool. I was feeling pretty sick before we went up to the choir loft but when I was there I sang better than any practice. I got to see up close all the apostles just walking around talking to people and I got super close to Chirsofferson because he came up to the loft to talk to the organist. I am still embarrassed about my super huge vowels but they said always look at the director, even in practice, so I had no idea I was singing so different than everyone else. I guess these guys didn't go to west high for choir. But it was such a cool experience and it happened so fast. I got to see all the behind the scenes of conference which was fascinating for me and when I watched the Sunday sessions, I knew how all the cameras and TelePrompTers worked, so that's cool. But honestly that is a distant memory, it feels like a dream. Here I don't speak English like ever so it's like everything I ever learned in english has left my head and it's all trying to remember crazy names and french words.  Like I saw a poster of an actor and it took me a whole 5 mins to remember the name of Sylvester Stallone, ugh it's crazy my brain is becoming just like this country.

This country is crazy. not in a bad way at all, but I don't even know how to describe it, it is just absoulutly nuts. It is not that Africa is crazy it is just Benin and Togo this special little corner of the lords vinard: like missionaries by them selves are weird enough, but when you put a whole bunch in this place it is a recipie for something. I don't know what but it smells like burning food, or trash or just Benin depending on where you are but it never smells like pleasant. It's not bad as I have said it's just crazy and boy will this place change you...Elder Mukendi showed me pictures of him at the beginning of the mission and he is almost un recognizable. He had much much lighter skin, he had a longer face, he had glasses, he was taller. Africa changed him so much he is worried when he goes back home his family won't recognize him and he says the same thing will happen to me.

I would try to explain but it's too hard I can try, it's just these two countries are just so weird like I saw some article about the church here in west africa and how its growing and stuff and that is all true but it seemed to not highlight these two countries as much like Ghana and Algeria. My zone leader says he reads his mtc buddies e-mails and he says they have no idea how much different this mission is. Elder Olela says this is the realist mission there is, I don't know about that, all missions are real, but I would put my money on most crazy.

I have lots of stories as evidence here is one. I have just a quick thing to help you understand my life here in Africa. It is Yovo. Yovo is what I am. All day every day kids will call me Yovo. It is white in fon (tonal language in Southern Benin) but some take it to mean a racial slur. There are songs about it and drunk people call me it. I can't go 30mins in the sector without hearing it. The song is "yovo! yovo! bonsoir, ça va, bein merci" followed by laughter. They will shout yovo all day until I wave at them and then they laugh. It might mean something offensive, but I am not offended. All the white elders say you get really tired of it and I can see why. It's just so funny. I have learned to say goodby in fon and that really throws them for a loop when I say that. Most little kids don't learn french until school. Everyone here speaks fon, and boy do I wish I could too. if you try to buy anything here there is a price for if your black and speak fon, then there is a price if you use french which is more expensive, and it is most expensive if you are a yovo who speaks English. And even more expensive if you are dressed in a white shirt and tie, so we often go home and change before buying the next days groceries. It is just Benin, what can you do? Is it racist, maybe, but i don't care I love it anyway. Some of these kids are just the cutest little things some will come and just grab your hand and start playing and some cry at the sight of you but that's that. I had my first baptism. Like I actually baptized somone into the church, I said the prayer in french and did it all. it was really cool his name is Hete Hypolite I only taught him 2 lessons he was pretty ready when I got here but i just did the baptism because my companion has done so many already.

The french is coming along pretty well I can express to my companion almost everything I need and we have many conversations I have taught one lesson and prepared a few meals. I have destroyed my hands washing clothes by hand and have given my self an awful hair cut. but I am happy the days are long and I have the same few foods every day (eggs, onions, tomatoes, peppers; oil salt rice and chiken) evey day however its not that bad because its only the begining Elder Mukendi has had the same sauce everyday for 17 months. so it's nothing for me right now.

There is so much to be said and not enough time. I just know I am being helped from the lord and from your prayers thank you all so much.



Me with my "dad" "grandpa" and "uncle"
 
First Baptism

This is Benin

Me & Elder Mukendi (dad) by the lagoon