Monday, July 17, 2017

Chicken?

This week was a pretty normal week with Hypote which means we went to the hospital a lot which is not a huge deal. I really just want him to get healthy again.

On Wednesday Elder Ny cooked some food. I though I got my normal chicken, tomato sauce and rice and sat down to eat. I bit into the chicken and wow it was super good, like way better than normal. I ate the rest of the meal and went on with my day. That night I thanked Ny for the chicken, it was super good and he told me that that wasn’t chicken it was rabbit. It was the first time I’ve eaten rabbit, but it was great. Anyone who has had rabbit before knows it’s good stuff.

One day on our way to the hospital I saw a full out fistfight between two guys on motos. They both got off the motos and went at it. They were swinging, they fell on the ground choking each other. It was nuts but it didn’t really surprise me. I know these things happen every day. But I wonder why they were so mad.

We went to Weme again and are now super popular over in that weird place because we have not only walked all the way out there to see them once, but we came back the next week. Now the mama I’ve seen a ton of times at church now likes me and has learned my name which is great!

I guess this is the time I talk about gari. Gari is a staple food here in Benin its wiki page I could only find in French and it’s like a weird form of chipped flower type stuff made from manyoke. It’s kind of sour and people love this stuff here. You can find it anywhere, any time. It’s a snack they make it into everything. Me and Ellilson have grown to appreciate this food and have eaten it a lot with sugar milk and water in the mornings and are teased about being from Benin. On one of our trips back from the hospital the wheel came off our taxi so we waited as these guys fixed the tire and the sealant they used to help the tire stick to the metal part in the middle they used a gari paste. It was super funny to see how this food is so idolized in this country enough to use it when it probably shouldn’t be used. In America you use duct tape to fix everything, here its gari.

Other than that, I have meet some pretty amazing people here. If everything goes as planned, which it almost never does, but if it does we will have two baptisms this Saturday. A young man named El__ and a sister named La__ they both come to church all the time and El__ is just super cool a young guy who came up to us one day and asked to be baptized. He works hard to understand and prepare to be baptized the work is not easy here but sometimes these miracles can happen.

This morning we had an activity with president Goury we all, including him, played soccer. The first activity of my mission with more than one zone it was super fun. I didn’t play soccer, but I watched and I talked to my good buddy Dorsey who just got back from the US after his medical problems. It was so great to see that guy again.

Mosquito bite on the eye lid

My and Hypote eating in Weme

With my buddy

Soccer with President Goury

Dorsey is back!

T-Shirt logo



Monday, July 10, 2017

If you could hie to Weme

This week was exciting lots of stuff happened we had a meeting with our new president and his wife. He seems really cool his wife doesn’t speak French yet but she is learning like all of us had to.

I had a super cool reunion with my two MTC companions Segal and Linderman because they are the two drivers to the assistants, which is cool. I’m still nothing in the mission but that’s how I like it.

Apparently fourth of July happened, who knew?

I went to the hospital every day this week for my companions back, it really hurts him sometimes. It is kind of annoying to go back and forth from here to the hospital because we are so far away and the road construction here is so bad if it rains all the roads turn to lakes. As we were driving to the hospital one day we went through one of these lakes and the car got flooded like both the engine got flooded and the actual car, so we had to pay people to push us and stuff. And when Cococodji floods Hevie turns into a mud pool, so the only road to get to my sector is so muddy no cars or motos can pass without getting stuck. I walked through that mud mid way up my calf but still three of my investigators walked through that stuff to come to church, so that was really cool.

There is a place in Hevie called Weme and there are a few members out there and lots of investigators but when I worked with the old missionaries they never wanted to go there because it is so far away but I always wanted to go so we made a plan for Thursday. There are some investigators that have come to church for a while that are just waiting for missionaries to teach them and baptize them because they are already taught and prepared by the members. So rain or snow we had to go, and it was raining hard, but we took the hour and forty five minute walk to Weme in the pouring rain. But it was cool its super villagy out there and there are tons of corn fields.

I have been waiting for my day to see a dead guy because I knew it was coming. In this place it just happens, and this week was my week, There was a dead guy all cut up and bruised on the side of the street we passed in a car after our meeting with the new pres. He had just stolen something, got caught by the vigilantly justice, and was murdered and we saw the after math. That was my fourth of July.

Also here there is a weird thing that if a white person does anything it becomes funny, even if it’s a normal thing. Haha a white guy is walking, a white guy is eating corn, a white guy is in a car, a white guy is walking with us in the mud, a white guy is buying something. Everything I do people laugh like it is the funniest thing and mock me in their language. But it doesn’t bug me that much because they insult me in a language I cant understand.

Yeah, that was my week. It was a good week.


Walking in the rain

Muddy shoes

The flooded car
On the way to Weme

Making Pat

Reunion with Segal and Linderman!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bacon

Sorry I have no connection or time this week to talk about everything but I can give you some highlights.

We got a new mission president. I will see him on Tuesday it’s a big change but has had no immediate effects on the daily suffering I go through. I’m kidding it’s not that bad.

I ate my first piece of bacon in 10 months, Ellison’s mom sent him some and he shared two pieces with me. I have pics I’ll send next week.

Me and my companion taught a lady who kept all the money she had in a book of Mormon we gave her daughter because she wants to get more, the Beniois are super superstitious.

Elder Hypote has super old back bones for some reason and it pains him to sit down and to lie down. I never have heard him complain and the doctor told him to rest a lot but we keep going out to the sector. I hope he will be blessed for this because I don’t want him to die.

Yeah, I have some fun pictures but I’ll send those when I can with a few mores stories.

Sorry it’s short but I’m so blessed I got at least this much sent.




[Pictures added later when connection improved]

Bacon for the first time in Africa
Teaching
Banana anyone?
Survivor themed package
Hypote made me a burger!




Monday, June 26, 2017

There's an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes

This week was pretty cool. It is super hard to work in the rain and mud but me and Hypote took to heart the principle of the lost sheep. We walked through water mid-way up our legs and through all sorts of mud to go see one person but she came to church which is super cool.

We had 7 investigators at church one was the little sister of Judith and another her friend. Now she is doing missionary work and is really getting involved in the church and seriously it is the best thing to see.

Elder Hypote got me this cool looking African shirt and it reminded me of religious clothing for other religions so on Tuesday when it poured all day long I took some fun photos with that thing.

I also worked super hard this week with Hypote and we found some great new investigators but something super sad happened to one of the most prepared investigators I had. He was sent back to his village by his boss because he decided to go to our church. It was so sad to say good bye we don’t know if we can bring him back to Cotonou because he is super far away and has nowhere to stay. He was just a week away from his baptism and the evil boss didn’t even pay his whole way home only half. He was left in the middle of nowhere he called us and we sent money through our phone to help him get home, but seriously it was such a sad day.

We have fun in our district we are eating a lot in the sector for some reason everyone we teach gives us food now and if you refuse anything is super rude.

Sorry not a whole lot was said this week the cyber is packed today and I have little time sorry.

Sunset in Africa

Our shoes after going out in the sector

Borrowing my companions shades

Helping Judith make pat

Doing the "Lionel" in the shirt Hypote gave me

Zen

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Change of Heart

This week was super cool. Last week I talked about leaving Congo, but really Mayani left on Tuesday. He will be missed, such a chill guy. This week I worked with Ellison and Ny till my companion came. I got to learn from them and they learned from me.

There are these weird insects with four wings and with a worm like body that come into the apartment by the dozens and fly around and drown in water and kill themselves by running into light bulbs and stuff.

Then my new companion came and we were super zealous together these first few days. We visited almost every member in our sector taught lessons like mad and fixed baptism dates like no other. It’s like we did one week’s worth of work in two days which was super fun.

I really thought I had more to say this week because it was so much stuff.

However I would just like to show that the sister we baptized last week strengthened my testimony so much of how this church can change people’s lives. She used to not smile a whole lot and she used to talk about having bad dreams and like a guilt that never left. Now she smiles all the time and says all her bad dreams have gone away.

She also could not speak French very well or read at all and we had to teach her every time with an interpreter. Now she speaks French and is starting to read and is growing her testimony as she reads the Book of Mormon each day. I’m so honored to have been an instrument in the hands of God to help and teach sister Judith. She is going through the big change of heart talked about in Alma 5:14. The lord knew she needed help and used me to help her. The gospel is true. And I love doing the Lord’s work.

Sorry not a lot of stories it seems when I get to Monday my head freezes a little especially when the week flew by.

A cool sunset
The day Mayani died
Weird bugs that come into our apartment
I made french toast
My new companion - Hypote

Monday, June 12, 2017

Leaving Congo

Transfers have happened and my good buddy Mayani is heading home. It has been a really good time with him. We got to finish our time together with a baptism of a super cool sister. I would use her name but on the blog it gets blocked out so it's kinda worthless. Anyway, she left a really bad relationship and many freindships in preperation to become a member, she is a super hard worker, and if she stays in the church everything in her life could change. She has already seen many changes.

I am staying in this village of Hevie for the transfer. After this transfer I will have done a fourth of my mission here. I will be working with the father of Ellison, Hypote, from the Ivory Coast. The apartment will be a family apartment with the Grandpa - Hypote, Dad - Ellison and the Son- Ny with just a random Elder Larson still there.

This week was packed with stuff. This last Monday we had an activity with President Morrin where we ate pizza and did skits.

Ellison got sick with some unknown sickness. Me and Mayani had to go on a huge adventure to get to the zone conference because our taxi didn't show up and it was pouring rain. It has been raining so much every road around is flooded, so to get to the cyber today we just had to walk right through the water.

I have been blessed to find some really prepared people to accept the gospel and I know a new family will soon be able to get married and join the church. Seeing the blessings of the gospel in other peoples lives is a super big testimony booster and somtimes I can see the change more than they can.

I did lots of other stuff this week, but the most important stuff has been said.

Getting soaked


The baptism

Eating at the ward mission leaders house

Monday, June 5, 2017

Are there seasons in Benin?

To answer my question I will say yes, there are seasons in Benin but not like you know. There is hot and humid with rain and there is hot and humid without rain. Sometimes it rains every once in a while sometimes it rains every day. For some reason the month of June it rains like every day which would seem nice because it gets colder but there is only one road to get to my sector and it’s dirt and my whole sector turns from dry desert into a mud slide. But we continue on destroying our shoes with mud up to our ankles.

Also, now is the season of corn. For some reason a bunch of corn stands have popped up everywhere. You can’t walk a few feet without seeing someone selling corn which is funny. I don’t know how any one wins when everyone sells the same thing right next to each other.

Despite the rain and the corn God continues to help his people! Normally when it rains no one comes to church and this Sunday it rained (it rained every day) but 9 investigators came to church and some of them were people I’ve wanted to come for forever. Like the husband of this person. There is a wife who brings their four little kids to church every week. Sometimes when they don’t have money for taxis they all take the one hour walk in the rain to come. I know it so tough on that family because these little kids are all wet, crying and tired when they get to church. But her faith is so strong she not baptized only because she is not married legally to her husband. So we just wanted the husband to come to church so we could help them get married, and this week he came. It is great seeing progress and that’s why I’m here.

I say time and time again the hardest thing on this mission is the food and the week before this I was forcing myself to eat the tomato sauce and rice so that I didn’t starve, but my brain and body kept refusing to take it in. So, this week we took a huge trip to the super market and I went ham buying all sorts of food. Yes, it was super expensive, well actually it was super cheap compared to America but living on 114 US dollars a month and with US priced food it was super expensive. But now I’m eating good until the food runs out... and I’m dreading that day.

But it was a very good week. I slept well I ate well and the work went well so I’m super blessed.

Some of the food I cooked this week. NOT RED SAUCE WITH RICE!

Teaching myself the piano

Teaching someone around a pile of "stuff"we helped her sort through to find seeds.

A bunch of pictures of my district (Ellison, Ny, Mayani, Larson) at the church.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Well, not a lot happened

Before I start my letter home I would like to make a shout out to my brother and friend Elder Abbott. I know he reads the blog and he is a super cool dude. Our many hours in that small MTC classroom were some of the funniest moments in my mission. He was the best office Elder I’ve ever seen and I wish him the best of luck on his adventures in the Americas.

And in regards to my last email if anyone of you is worried about me don’t be, I’m alright! Day to day life here might seem really hard but you get used to it, I promise. I’m doing great!

However I know each and every week I see and hear the weirdest things and I know if I could just recognize them as weird they would be great interesting stories but honestly I’m beginning to not see things through the same eyes. Things that were weird have become normal which is going to make for a hard culture shock going back.

However I have a really weird story. All day everyday people insult us, jeer at us, say all sorts of stuff to us in their native language that we don’t understand. It so normal we just ignore and walk on. How could an insult we don’t understand affect us? But sometimes we work with members who speak the language to translate for those who don’t speak French and they sometimes find it hard working with us because they understand everything.

One of these days a super old lady, like super old, missing teeth and stuff old kept following us and saying stuff in Fon and the member with us kept laughing but we kept walking. He asked if we knew what she was saying and he explained she was following us because she wanted yovo babies or she wanted the white guy (me) to give her white babies that made me feel uncomfortable, but I’m trying to forget about all that.

Also, one other observation I have made. This mission is small, very small in Benin we only cover two cities but the sectors are so massive and there are so few missionaries not many people hear the gospel. Things are progressing little by little here and the mission is only on its second almost third mission president but I met this guy who loves our message but can’t come to church because he lives with his family in a village two hours up north and he just comes to Hêvié to work but he just has all these friends that he wants us to teach up in his village. He wants to have church meetings up there and have his whole family join. It’s sad because it will be many years before that can happen maybe it will be through this guy the church gets up there, who knows. I’m so happy to teach him though it shows how the gospel can change lives even if the person doesn’t get baptized the teachings and applications of the principles are what matter and I know God knows his heart, the little joys of this work.

Yeah other than that no big news that I can remember just waiting for something to change.

I didn't take any pics this week, but here are some old ones I haven't sent before

Me with Abbott in the MTC - my good friend

My district eating yin yam peele

Zone activity

With Sister Morin - the meeting where she gave me my birthday tie (two months after my birthday)

Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm a survivor

What am I a survivor of? This week. Well yeah Elder Larson everyone made it through the week, oh yeah you’re right...But let me tell you about mine.

This week was rough. It started with the rain. All of Tuesday it rained and if you want to go teach in the rain in Cococodji you’re going swimming because the roads are so poorly designed that they are flooded and the water can only leave by evaporation. So that means wet and muddy shoes for us for the rest of the week too.

On Tuesday they cut our power yet again because the mission forgot to pay our bill, once again. And our phone died so we couldn’t plan and everything was still flooded.

On Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, maybe Friday too I can’t remember completely but we had no water so we had to go find some people who we could get water from. We were able to find some water so we filled up some old big plastic tanks that the people use to transport gasoline, washed them up and had to walk them back to our apartment. As we suffered to lug those heavy things back I watched as all the people we passed mock me, the weak white boy struggling to carry one tank while my companion marched ahead with two.

All of my progressing investigators left Hevie at the same time or found work so we lost lots of good people to teach and motivation. Last week I talked about two new investigators I found that were just golden yeah they were chased away by some ex-members and other investigators that go around preaching our church is the church of the devil.

So seeing those people refuse to answer our calls really hurt me and my confidence and Saturday it rained again.

All the times we stayed in, the disappointment in the sector, the rain, no power, no water, and it is almost month nine and all I’ve eaten is tomato sauce and rice! It sounds really hard but I’m smiling big today because there are not just 6 days in a week but the Sabbath day can change it all!

The past two Sundays we only had 1 investigator at church but this week I had 7!!!! Out of no where people who said they couldn’t come because they had no money for transport, walked to church, non progressing investigators became progressing; old investigators who had stopped coming came back and some new faces brought by my converts came too and the joy of the work made all the bad memories and the pain go away! Now I’m not just surviving, I’m living.

My muddy shoes
The bridge under construction

The following are a bunch of pictures I took on the roof of my apartment:
Some junk on my roof