Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life in Cococodji

Cococodji (or Kokokodji) is in Benin, west of Cotonou

A little about my first area:

Our apartment is really spacious, 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, 2 -1/2 bathrooms, and a nice-sized living room. We have one fridge and two gas burners for 4 elders. So cooking at the same time can prove tricky. The showers are cold, and I have to pour water into the toilet to flush. There are ants everywhere, including crawling all over our food. Extra protein, right? It is still a palace compared to the living standards here. We have 4 elders here, which is the norm for our mission. My companion is Elder Adjei, from Ghana. We also have Elder Florion, who is Tahitian, and Elder Seidl, who is from the States. 

To describe the area, first of all everything is dirt. There is only one paved road which connects a lot of the areas in the mission, We get pretty dusty and dirty just walking around. The terrain on the roads has a lot of little hills and dips, it is never just flat. And typically there are a lot of large puddles, depending on when it last rained. We usually have to walk across rocks or find creative ways to not get our shoes and pants covered in mud. The smell here is somewhere between gasoline and burnt food. 

And then there are the motorcycles zooming around EVERYWHERE! They like to come up right next to you. And they always believe they have the right of way, so you have to watch in front of you and behind you, constantly. The motos are always honking at everyone, or no one. They will honk even if no one is in their way, but just to be heard. You see motos going down an empty road still just honking nonstop.

Walking around, you see lots of hair places, seamstresses, and bars, which blast tribal rap crazy loud all night. One such bar is right outside my bedroom window!  And you will also see lots of tiny little markets selling eggs, tomato paste, beans, other simple things. There are lots of people
with tables on the side of the road selling oranges, or bread, or maybe food like patte or komme (which is like patte but more palatable). And there are lots of really old looking buildings without signs, which look empty, but are not. 

Most people here live in a one or two-room house, which is maybe half the size of our garage (in the States). And the homes are sweat-lodges because most people don't have good air circulation. If you stay inside, you will just bake. So, they cook outside and sit outside most of the time. 

The church building is super nice. It used to be a house owned by a wealthy person. The building is pink with lots of gardens and foliage outside. This past Sunday we had what the Saints in Cococodji like to call, "Missionary Sunday," wherein we four missionaries bless and pass the Sacrament, give the talks in Sacrament Meeting, then teach Primary, the youth, Sunday School, Priesthood and Relief Society! It really put my French skills to the test! I am sure this tradition started when they were a small branch. They are borderline ward size now (bigger than our branch in Tennessee). 

I had my first three baptisms on Saturday. It was a little difficult as the water was just barely past my knees! My comp and I spent our lunch hour filling buckets of water and carrying them to fill the font. One of the people being baptized was a very old woman and that was tricky!

Things are going well, and I am doing alright. I learned how to make ice cream (well, kind of ice cream) the other day. And we had a soccer activity this morning. Keeping busy!

Love you all,
Elder Walls

PS I can't send photos as this Internet cafe is riddled with viruses.