Monday, February 27, 2017

The power is taken away, it's the great apostasy

Often we teach investigators that the apostasy is when God takes away his priesthood power from the earth. Everyone in my apartment but me was in the great apostasy, money wise. idk where all their money went but poof, no more money. That’s what happens in this mission. However, there was also no power too, best birthday present ever we came back after the cyber on Monday and they had cut the power to just our apartment. All our neighbors had power but not us. We gave our bills to the office to pay so we called them turns out the person who pays the bills got sick and didn’t pay, so no power for us. But hey, no problem right, it’s the Benin Cotonou mission. We slept up on the roof of our apartment complex because there was a little air up there because inside the apartment it was literally cooking us alive. It was like that from Monday to Thursday. We used candles, all our food spoiled in the fridge, the other companionship had fish in the freezer and it got so rotten. The apartment still stinks a little like rotten fish. However, we were not left in darkness a figurative angel Moroni came and we got the power back! The restoration is oh so good. Now I’m not saying this to complain I’m fine. I prefer to have water cut then power but really these experiences are so unique and I continue to live through things that I thought would be super hard but they are only for a few days and then back to normal. It was a good week.

Thank you to all who wrote me a note on that birthday banner. It seemed like everyone I know wrote me something so thank you so much. I got that package on Friday my sixth month anniversary on the mission, which really shocks me 6 months done is so cool. It has gone by fast, not super fast, but fast enough. I still have a lot left but I treated my self to a little bottle of apple juice to celebrate, it was great. Thank you all so much again for the kind words you wrote me.

In the middle of a birthday, six month mark, and power outages I’ve been out in the red sandy hills teaching. And boy is it hard, to teach here is difficult and I’m not complaining but I’ve done all this work to learn French and I come to Hevie and no one speaks French, or if they do they don’t speak it well enough and can’t read. I’m now learning how to teach super simply without scriptures without big words just simple phrases, lots of examples and things like that. We have quite a few kid investigators too because we teach a lot of families and it’s great you just tell them something and that becomes the truth for them if they can understand it. But some good things are coming out of this I’m learning how to speak Fon little by little, not super well but I’m learning new phrases and words every day. I can start a conversation ask how someone is doing and say that I speak Fon, even if it’s not true. Raveneau and I have convinced quite a few people we can speak Fon with our limited vocabulary, but its growing which is really cool. Just seeing these people’s faces light up when a Yovo can speak their language it’s just so fun. Every sector has its difficulties and upsides but I’m doing my best.

Me and Elder Ellison

Me and my huge birthday banner

Raveneau and Peterson - father and son

Monday, February 20, 2017

In the village part 2

Well I hope email will work better this week because last week the connection was so bad I couldn’t do anything so I’m going to try to give a little more polished idea of what my new life here in Hêvié is like.

My new district is awesome we have the chef de district, Raveneau, a Frenchman who is just four weeks from dying and he is just what you would think he would be, a funny Frenchman who is a little tired but wants to finish strong.

The other companionship in the apartment is Elder Ellison, one of the guys who was in the MTC with me. He is super funny. He went the Ivorian (from the Ivory Coast) route in the mission living with them and being trained by them while I’ve gone the Congolese route. We are both going to hit 6 months completed this week, which is crazy.

Ellison’s companion is Tshileu, a Congolese who doesn’t speak Lingala, just Swahili. He is a blast though, super tall and funny. He came to the mission one transfer after me which is so weird I’m getting older in the mission. Before I know it I’ll be dying like Raveneau.

Looks like the connection is just as bad as the week before so I don’t know if I’ll be able to send this this week. I’ll tell you a few new stories because I think you heard all the old stuff already, sorry. I really am in Africa, and Africa is a very diverse place, but when people say Africa they think of villages and like poor people and crazy languages and diseases and really third world. My last sector was nothing like that at all but Hêvié is a lot closer to that. There are actual village sectors in Togo I know but for Benin it’s primitive where I am.

Fun story!

I saw a guy in an Iowa t shirt! It was so crazy at first I didn’t believe it but then I looked closer and sure enough, it was the Iowa Hawkeyes t shirt! It was a shame I didn’t have my camera, I wanted to take a picture with him because that is so rare. Even in the US it’s like instant friendship when you see someone in an Iowa shirt. But the guy didn’t even know what his shirt meant. He just saw it, liked it, and bought it. It was such a weird experience. I’ll try to see him again to get a pic but not that I’ll ever get to send it while I’m here.

There are some cool people to teach here which is nice. Some people I teach just won’t understand like before we teach a lesson we ask if the person has any questions and this one mama has asked the exact same question the exact same way. Every time for 4 rendezvous in a row we answered the same question four times and no doubt she will do it again. I have gotten a little frustrated in this sector already but there is a ton of potential too. Everyone I invited to church the first week I was here came! That never happened in Menontin. We have one family of investigators that is just amazing. They are like my family here, they are the Mi____. The dad is Congolese from Brazzaville and the wife is an Ivorian from ivory coast they have three boys and two girls that I’ve seen but there might be more. One of the daughters is a member, she is 18 and is going to serve a mission. The littlest daughter is 6 and loves to steal my stuff and tease me that she can speak French and Fon better than me, which is quite true. The mom is the most prepared investigator to be baptized I’ve ever seen, such a strong testimony. It’s crazy her and her husband just have to get married first. Their marriage will happen the fourth of March: and the mom will get baptized right after the wedding! The dad really likes me because I know a little Lingala which is his language and he is also a professional singer for his job so you guys can look him up his name is Kembo Kembo.

The connection finally supported sending pictures!

A homemade drink (I put in a cola bottle) called Bisap - it's good
How you make brownies in Benin with no oven!

New bridge they are building from Cococodji to Hevie. We walk this way every day.

Mi___ house - a great family!

Monday, February 13, 2017

In the village...

I’m trying to send the pictures from last week but its taking so long maybe it’s because there are so many to send. The connection here is great sometimes, but other times it stinks. I’ll see how it will work out. And wow it’s so weird I have a new sector, a new companion, a new bed, a new life. It’s always hard to change when you have such a good system in one place. Each sector has its challenges and its good points so I’ll get along.

My sector is called Hevie it is like 25 minuets from the apartment and its quite villagy. I live in Cococoji with four people in the apartment. Elder Ellison who was in my MTC district who is so cool. Elder Tshileu a Congolese who doesn’t speak Lingala he speaks Swahili. He is super funny and all he wants to do is learn English. But about all the English he knows is anything to do with pooping like "I want to poop" "the poop was good". Sadly I was the one who taught him the verb “to poop" (he asked me and my companion), but he is great. In the past I used to eat with my companions in the apartment, but here people don’t have enough money or whatever so we all cook and eat our own food so I have been eating hot dogs, fries and a top ramen like thing for the last week. It’s actually nice to change up rice, chicken and tomato sauce all the time so I’m good. It’s hot hot hot out here in the village. Hot like wow I thought I was sweating all the time before and it is true I did. But I sweat even more than all the time now it’s ridiculous.

But the ward here is freaking amazing. It’s huge with an amazing bishopric and auxiliary presidencies that do stuff. Missionary work is a million times easer when the leaders of the ward don’t hate you!!! The bishop came with us to teach a lesson in the sector on Sunday and was so happy, that guy is fantastic!!! He really does a great job being a bishop.

Okay just found out the connection is no good today so I’m gunna send what I had written so you have something. Sorry it’s not a lot but to sum it up, I’m in a village with a Frenchman who is about to die.

[Pictures added 2/20/17 when he finally had a good connection]

Me and Raveneau

What I eat when I'm livin' large

Outside of my new apartment in Cococodji
Cococodji apartment
Cococodji bathroom - the bane of my existence - all 4 of us use the same bathroom
Cococodji kitchen
Cococodji bedroom

Monday, February 6, 2017

Lessons Don't Matter

I don’t have lots of time to write today because things are crazy busy. I have been transferred! I’m going to Cococodji (still in Benin) to work with Elder Raveneau, a Frenchman. But I’m not just going to work with him I’m going to kill him. In the mission if you are the companion with someone for their last transfer, you kill them. This is his last transfer of the mission wow!!!! I have heard a lot about Cococodji but I won't write the rumors I’ll tell you about it when I get there.

However, I guess the 12 apostles have changed mission rules or something because when we tried to send our weekly key indicators in this week and last week they only accept five, baptism, conversation, investigators at church, investigators with a baptism date fixed, and new investigators. Which means they cut out lessons as a key indicator!!!!! Which means that teaching a lesson to someone who won’t progress means absolutely nothing which made me and Kola go ham! Before when we heard about some investigator that could progress and they are miles and miles away we wouldn’t go, but now we would spend half the day heading crazy far away for that one lost sheep that needs the gospel. I think this new change is great and it will help me focus a lot.

I did a lot of stuff this week and I’m going to miss Kola a ton, but I have to pack up all my stuff to go to Cococodji. I don’t know when they could call me, they could get me at anytime. However, I did get to have my last baptism here in Menotin. I baptized the daughter of Mama Na___ my other convert. It was a great service because we did it right after church and the whole ward was there. I have seen tons of progression in this ward since I got here. The ward was in kind of shambles for a long time but this last Sunday, sure there were still tons of mistakes, but the ward leaders are really trying. I don’t think it was thanks to me that it changed but just people trying to follow Christ better and magnify their callings. It’s great to see. I have really learned a lot. Sorry not a ton of stuff said but I’m doing fantastic.

No pictures this week. The connection is too slow and I have to go. Time to move to Cococodji.

[Pictures added 2/20/17 when he finally had a good connection]
My last baptism in Menotin.

I am really going to miss Kola.

We had a zone activity and there was a random non-working plane on the beach. It reminded me of "Lost". I took a lot of pictures there.

This bulldozer came down the street at 7 am destroying porches. The people cried and screamed at it. Normal Benin.
My friend Benjamin from Menotin, I will miss him too.
Dorsey in the most "first world" store I have seen here.