Monday, March 27, 2017

The Benin Sock Monster

History repeats itself. So, as I said in the MTC using those laundry machines I lost a sock, for no reason, right. The mythical sock monster ate it, even when you look inside the washer and dryer three times each, poof its gone. Well the same thing happened here, but here it was no mystery. When you’re hand washing clothes you have to wash them three times each. So, you have two big tubs and you wash then fill the other tub with water and go back and forth like that. I hope you have a little image of what it is like, well when the old water is finished in one tub you dump it down the toilet to get rid of it. Well me not thinking I forgot to check in the tub before I dumped it and shwooop the sock is down the toilet into who knows where Benin sewers, if there even is a sewer system. And by the way, washing cloths by hands is not easy, ya'll better give some respect to all these Africans. Man they are literal washing machines, they do what takes me hours in minutes and it’s way cleaner.

Also, my new companion is here his name is Elder Mayani he is from Congo again as you could have guessed, but yet again I’m probably going to kill him because he only has two and a half months left on the mission so he is old, and very tired. Yet he is also super cool so we get to do work in the sector. He likes me a lot so he has adopted me and calls me his son.

We thought we were going to have the baptism for the couple Mi___ this week but it’s been pushed off yet another week because of scheduling issues but this week it looks good and I will finally get to baptize two people who are just like family to me. Really the gospel is a beautiful thing, sure missionaries are not perfect and the mission is hard but there is so much joy to be found and I really enjoy serving here.

My new companion Elder Mayani from DR Congo

Ellison and his "son" Elder Ny from Ivory Coast

Monday, March 20, 2017

Healing the sick and Raveneau is dead

Okay, so this week went by really fast. It was a week of traveling around and saying goodbye to everyone. Not much news to talk about because it was Raveneau’s big week. Last week in this mission. One day I’ll be in his place, but it will be nice not having to think about going home because I have a new companion. I am still in Hevie and my new companion is coming from Togo his name is Elder Myani or something like that. He is Congolese, so back to what I know best, working with Congolese. He was the trainer of Elder Kerr, one of the guys who came to the MTC with me. I hear a lot of rumors about him, as you always do here, but they are never true so I’m just waiting to see him. Elder Tshileu was also transferred to the other side of Benin and Elder Ellison will be training in our apartment, so we have some fresh meat coming to Cococodji which is great. He is from the Ivory Coast.

So, good news, lots of baptisms coming up which is great. The fruits of my and Raveneaus’ work will be shown in this upcoming week, I hope. It has been a good week, not many big things. The transfer was kind of crazy, almost everyone form my generation is coming to Benin and we have quite a few of us as zone leaders or co-zone leaders so that is super cool. A funny thing you guys might find interesting is that there is a saying the people use here in French which translates too "it’s been three days" they usually say that when they haven’t seen that person in a really long time, but its super funny. Raveneau went to see people he hadn’t see in more than a year but they are all like what?! Raveneau?!?! “it’s been three days!” It’s funny because everyone says it.

Oh yes I forgot about the sick. Yeah well the medical system here and sanitation is just not good as you could probably guess, not just because its Africa, because some places are good. But yeah, people get sick a lot and no one goes to the hospital it’s ether too expensive or they don’t trust it. I’ve seen many of my investigators and people sick this week. Lots of malaria, small pox, fevers, seizures, and more. It’s bad to see these people sick but its better they come to us for blessings then the witch doctors. But yes, that has been happening, eye opening experiences happen every day, I can’t even explain it.

Another Benin fact, stealing is about the worst thing you can do. No one here likes stealing, like the way they talk about people who steal makes you fear for your life, young and old it’s like thieves or robbers are the devils angels. How did I find this out? While we were out visiting some of the converts of Raveneau we hear some yelling in the streets and lots of mottos going crazy the guy we were visiting then explained to us that two guys just stole a motorcycle. Then the people in the streets scream “voler” (steal in French) or “ole, ole, ole” (in Fon) and all the taxi men and everyone around goes on a chase to go get them. We hear about thirty minutes later that they caught them. And because the police were not involved the guy we were with explained what happened to the two guys who stole. They were beat with fists and rocks then decapitated and their dead bodies burnt. He said it is normal, if they don’t get away they are dead. I’m very glad I didn’t have to see that, but just that it happened so close to me, yikes. However, don’t worry for me I’m completely safe here, even more safe for things like that because of this anarchy program. Stealing is very rare here so if I don’t steal, I’m very safe.

Okay that was my week lots of good news coming up I can feel it and I killed Raveneau. He gets to go home, I’m really happy for him.

Raveneau is dead
[note from Kaelyn - it is just an expression in the mission when you are companions with someone and they go home "you killed them". Riley assured me this was just for fun - he would never hurt Raveneau.]

Raveneau playing with chicks

Good times with the district: Larson, Raveneau, Ellison and Tshileu

A picture I really like (Raveneau, Tshileu, Me)

Eating with the assistants

Pictures with Raveneau

Raveneau cooking crepes before he leaves

Bye,  Raveneau

Ward mission leader's daughter
Eating with the ward mission leader

Monday, March 13, 2017

Eating with my hands

You may not know this but I often eat with my hands. You are always taught not to eat with your hands but there are many types of food here that if you try to eat it with a fork you get mocked for being a white person who knows nothing. I have started to learn the art of eating with your hands. It is often things with the form of foofoo, that corn flower jello type stuff. When that stuff is fresh it burns but you’re not allowed to show that you are in so much pain. And when you eat you better finish it all. However, this week I had some amazing dishes that you eat with your hands. I had
igname pilé pictures below, that stuff is amazing. I don’t really know what it is but it’s made by two mamas that smash it with big sticks in a wooden basin. It’s really crazy, but so good. I also had some junguly which is like flower beans, spices and all sorts of other good stuff mixed together, picture also below if the internet connection will allow me to send it.
This week was good, we took some time to see the converts of Elder Raveneau because he is leaving soon and it reminded me that I have some converts too so this last Sunday I called them up and wow it’s so great to hear how my converts are progressing in the church. Mama Na___ and her daughter are doing great. It was so great to talk to them and joke with them in Fon because I’m learning more and more every day.

I’m glad many people were interested in all that voodoo stuff I talked about last week and it really is crazy to see the things I see. I have begun to realize the things I see that are just normal weren’t like that at the beginning but you know it just shows human nature how when you see something weird so many times it just becomes normal.

I do want to finish this email but there is some dude right behind me watching everything I write and it’s making me super uncomfortable he is literally right there asking me all these questions. It’s good he doesn’t speak English or he would understand all this but I’ll just send it anyway.

Me eating igname pilé
A plate of junguly
My first booumba - tailored to fit me
A caged monkey we pass every day
The tree stumps I talked about last week

Monday, March 6, 2017

Believing in Marriage

Believing in Marriage, what does that mean? I’m not quite sure but I saw that title in an old liahona in my apartment and thought, you know what? that is exactly the motto for my sector because I have been a little sad that we have lots of people who want to get baptized and have their spouse and they are not married. They are living together, they say they are married, they have their children, they are a family but they just haven’t done the hard work. Which means going all the way out in the middle of nowhere Benin, pay a bunch of money, and sign a paper. We can’t baptize them if they don’t do that. It is very discouraging at times.

But earlier in the week I saw that in the liahona, I cut it out, put it on my planner and I started believing in marriage, it’s possible. And what do you know this week we had a marriage!!!!! Papa and Mama Mi___ finally got married!!!! What a joy it was to see that happen! Now I will get to baptize this amazing family, I love the Mi___ so much they call me and Raveneau their sons, don’t think that is weird, here it’s a huge complement. Anyway, there will be pictures below. 

However, it was a civil wedding in Benin, so it was a little weird and unprofessional. The guy who was running the thing took a weird phone call in the middle of the ceremony and we all just watched and listened to him talk for a while. There was also some random really old Swiss lady at the wedding and she just latched right on to Tshileu and talked to him the whole time no one knows why but it was super funny. 

That was the good news for the week. Just a little bit more about Hevie, my sector. I have no idea why but doing missionary work is possible but everyone has time only two days of the week, Wednesday, and Saturday and that’s it. You walk down the streets on Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, you know all the other days and it’s just a red sandy ghost town but Wednesday and Saturday everyone is there and they want to be taught. They don’t really speak French but they come to church and progress so we do work. It’s weird but it’s true. 

Also, voodoo is a thing, a big thing, I have not talked a lot about voodoo. I think it's mostly because I just try to forget about it because it’s very, very messed up. I’m not quite sure what exactly they believe but you can spot voodoo easily. I’ll give you an example of some of the weird stuff, I’ll skip the creepy though. I guess sometimes there are like trees that have bad spirits in them so what do you do if the evil spirit tree talks to you? Well you do the logical voodoo thing, you get naked, you burn the tree, you dance around it, you cut it down to a charred stump. You wrap the stump in a white cloth, you sacrifice a few chickens to it and rub all that nastiness on the stump and then idk what they put on next but it smells horrible and then after that the stump becomes like a good luck god and if you touch it you will get a motorcycle or something. If it sounds stupid, it is. I’ll try to take a picture of one of these stumps because they are everywhere in my sector.

However, voodoo is not good stuff so stay away kids, far away.  I thought that might be a little interesting for you guys to read because I’m in the country with the most voodoo in the world!

The Mi___ get Married

At the Mi___ wedding

A random Swiss lady that no one knew came to the wedding. She latched onto Tshileu, it was funny.

Me and Tshileu

Me and Raveneau getting ready to go out into the sector

My District: Raveneau, Ellison, Tshileu and Larson

Yes, people carry things on their heads. I can't believe some of the stuff these mamas can carry on their heads.