Monday, August 21, 2017

Spiritually fed, physically dead

Sorry everyone for last week. I am so thankful I was able to write an email every week for almost a year in a third world country without major problems. But yes the connection here is not good and last week I wasn’t able to get online, so this week you’ll get a recap of two weeks.

So last week we were blessed to have an apostle of Jesus Christ come and visit our mission. This is the first time since the missions opening ten years ago. Elder Renlund was able to teach us about the importance of good work ethic and good attitude and how a combination of the two can bring miracles. It was a very inspiring lesson and it really motivated me to want to keep striving to become a better and better missionary each day.

I also had the blessing of getting a contact from, surprisingly, the United States of America. So some missionary who is doing an online French mission or something found some guy who was searching for a book that complemented and explained the bible. He likes the bible and knows it’s true but it’s written in a lot of parables and he knows it’s not complete. So this is completely missionary gold because the Book of Mormon is our thing. So we talked to this guy on Sunday and had an amazing first lesson. He has many other issues with churches and is really searching for something bigger. We didn’t have a book of Mormon for him at the time so we gave him our little brochure and he said it was way too small for him, because he really enjoys feasting on readings. We told him the big stuff was coming but I’m already so happy because no one ever reads the little brochures anyway but this guy is ready.

We got a lot of work done the week before this one. We are getting this young girl ready for baptism she is only 13 years old, Her family is non member but wants her to get into the church because this girl has been a little troubled in the past and to get her on a better road a member talked to the family about the program the church has to help young woman. The parents liked it so she has been coming to church to try to change the rest of her life which is super cool

And this week I’ve been dying. I had this weird feeling in my stomach which in a week turned into a pain and I lost my appetite. I could not eat anything the sight the thought the smell of food made me super sick. I never threw up but I was always on the toilet, you know. And after a week I finally got the name for the medicine against worms. I went to a pharmacy and drank that milky liquid and I’m feeling a ton better now. I killed those stupid aliens living inside of me but it did make me think back to the amazing days in the US where you can drink tap water no problem. But here it’s a big problem, but no aliens busted out of my stomach this week like it felt like was gunna happen. But I’m feeling a lot better now.

With Kadima

We brought Kadima's barber to the conference

The conference with Elder Renlund was at the national congress building

A family from church at the conference

The medicine that saved me

Good bread in Togo that I can eat again

I want people to guess how I took this piano photo. Contact my mom with your guesses.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Week 50 and the first no Monday contact

Kaelyn here (Riley's mom). I was warned that there might be a Monday Riley would be unable to write. It happened for the first time today. It could be due to connection problems, power outage, or any number of things. It was still a really hard day for me not hearing anything. Luckily there is a mission Facebook group and another mother posted a picture today that included Riley! So at least I got to see a picture. I don't know where or when it was taken, but I'll include it here. I hope we hear from him soon.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Foot Fetish Mosquitos

[Note from Kaelyn - I think Riley would rather be teaching, but that hasn't worked out very well lately. Instead you get some stories about the area.]

Well I didn’t really do any thing this week so I just thought I would try to let you all in on the weird things that are everyday life to me in Benin and Togo. If I said some of these things already it’s because they are still true. Let’s see, thoughts about Africa. Now when we talk about Africa it is a very diverse place and I have only lived in two countries on the west side. However, two countries that aren’t very diverse from each other are Togo and Benin. You can see how this is the same people just long ago some white people drew some imaginary lines and a people got separated and little differences popped up in there. Different languages and they both always brag about how they are better than the other even though they are really the same. Well what kind of things do we see, for example this week I saw a young guy who is twenty years old and the equivalent of a junior in high school. For a summer job he works at a restaurant where they cook only spaghetti and gets paid the equivalent of one dollar a day for about 12 to 15 hours of work. Is that work? no that is slavery, with money to get to and from work.

I still eat tomato sauce and rice every day, every day for both meals with cookies or bread in the morning, the food here is one of the biggest trials ever.

The mosquitos here are horrible not only do they carry malaria and I have to take daily malaria medication the mosquitos here have a weird foot fetish or something and they only bite my feet and ankles, and it drives me crazy. I get bitten at least twice a day on the feet it looks like my feet have leprosy from all the mosquito bite scars.

I’ll let you in on a little secret of this mission there is something here called tithing where the old missionaries collect money from all the younger missionaries they knew on the mission their last transfer to buy stuff. I have been subject for this many times it’s a tradition I hate but what can I do they paid it when they were young missionaries so now it’s their turn to collect. But because I’m such a nice guy I became friends with like everyone in the mission and 14 missionaries or so are going home this transfer including three of my old companions. My dad and many other friends so I don’t know what I’m going to do because the requests for tithing keep coming in and I’m only one guy. But I can handle it just fine.

Anyway an interesting thing about the church here is testimony meetings. Often times whole families will go up and bare their testimonies together. Like they all stand at the podium at the same time the wife goes and the husband will testify what his wife said was true then add some stuff, it’s different and kinda funny sometimes with bigger families or families with little kids.

This place is very unsanitary and many things that happen here would make my mom die along with all other germaphobes, especially where we buy our meat. Talk about "the jungle" but in Africa which sounds kinda of funny but no one wears gloves. The guy who cuts it always seems to have gone to the bathroom right before touching our meat with his bare hands, grabbing a machete off the ground, sloppily cutting our meat as it flies across the room and picking it up off the floor puts it into an already used bag and we take it home. But hey it’s normal here.

Every time a kid touches my white shirt it immediately gets stained.

Lots of people in Africa hate the French, some people ask me all angry about why the French can’t leave these countries’ alone then they find out I’m American and they like me a lot more.

Also being white helps you get all the ladies, not that you even try, but I get marriage proposals on a daily basis. Everyone thinks marring a white man means going to America to live in peace and die without problems for the rest of their lives. Interesting fact, if a lady gets pregnant here abortions are a thing, but if a black lady gets pregnant by a white guy they will never ever have an abortion. When I heard that I found that super weird but hey it’s just what happens.

White people means money apparently, so everything I try to buy is way more expensive. Anything anyone tries to buy around me becomes more expensive. And I get asked for money by everyone. Almost every conversation I have ends or starts with “yovo, you brought what for me?” or “give me 100 franks.”

I still wash my clothes by hand and I have gotten down to wearing the smallest amounts of clothes possible. Like two shirts a week, the same pair of pants the whole week, two or three pair of socks and just changing my underwear every day. It sounds gross but cleaning by hand is so time consuming and boring. I do it twice a week for an hour and half that is with doing my clothes conservation technique so I can’t imagine if I changed clothes every day.

I see some of the funniest things every day I see motorcycles carrying tons of stuff like other motos, cars, and caskets for dead people.

You speak the real language of any person here they light up and that works for all nationalities so I try to learn a little bit of every language.

There are so many more things that I live and see and if you have any questions about what life is like here please ask my mom and she can send the questions to me because I see a thousand and one crazy things a day that I don’t recognize as crazy.

A little piece of my heart will always live in Togo and Benin although it’s weird and I suffer a lot I have found another family here and I’m so glad I got the chance to come and serve them and show them the light of the gospel.
Mosquito bite on the pinky toe

I jerry rigged a toilet lid

Togo church building

With glasses I found in the apartment