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