Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Few Changes

December 15. 2014

Hey guys,
It seems like it’s been a while since last emailing you--even though I only missed last week. There has been quite a bit of change since the last time I wrote. Here is what has happened:

My comp and I received a call to go to the mission office to go to a training meeting. I expected this to take place because we had done a meeting half through my training to talk about how things were going. At that time, they said that we would do another at the end of my training. So when they called, that was what I was expecting. (By the way, in case you didn’t pick up on it, I have finished training!) Once we got to the mission home, I realized that it was actually a meeting for future trainers—meaning that either I would be a trainer, or my comp would train another missionary. (I haven’t heard of Americans training right after their training, but maybe it is something the Mission President wants to start.) I expected that if I were to train, that I would train either an Ivorian or a Congolese missionary as they are African and speak French. Saturday night, I waited to get the call from the mission office—it didn’t come in until 11:00 at night.  I had been asleep, so the call woke me. It was the assistant who asked if I wanted to know where I was going. (Going? What do you mean going?) I then learned that I would be opening a new sector in Porto Novo, the historic capitol of Benin that is known for its large Muslim population.

Then they asked if I wanted to know who I would be training, and told me I would be training an American. (WHAT?!?!) That has literally never happened—ever. They rarely put Americans together as regular companions. And they have never ever put an American as a trainer for an American—much less an American who hasn’t even been in the field for 3 months.

So lots of bizarre firsts.

I am now in Porto Novo with Elder Barnes who comes from Albuquerque. We will have to start from scratch with finding investigators in an area that is known for Muslims and Voodoo. This should be interesting.

We have 6 Elders in our apartment: Myself, Barnes, Peterson from
Oregon, Mayamba from Congo, Rich, from Utah, and Konan from Cote D'ivore. (Mom, I hope you didn’t write the names of my former roommates on the Christmas stockings you sent in the package!) We only have 1 shower here, and it doesn’t work. The other Elders have been here awhile and started a small branch. For now we are working in their area, but soon Elder Barnes and I will move to a new area in Tokpota with another companionship and open a new group from scratch.

To answer your question Mom, yes I shaved my head but don’t worry, I haven’t gotten a sunburn yet.

I am doing well. We have a few amis (investigators) here already. We need to find more, of course.  When we leave this area, we will turn all of our amis over to the other Elders and start from scratch in our new area. It is all good.

An observation since changing sectors. The children here will dress in masks with a sweater to cover all their skin. And they wear hula skirts made from paper. Following behind will be a whole band of other children banging on drums and making lots of noise. They try to dance for money, and when they see a yovo, they will not let you say no. They grab onto you and try to stop you, all while screaming, banging on drums and demanding money. You try to get by, and then all the adults will start saying, “Just give them money, they are entertaining you.” It can be challenging to get around as we run into a different group every 3 or 4 minutes.

The cyber café here is much better, so I will send a few photos.

Love you,
Elder Walls

The roads in Cococodji

 Red dirt and white shirts don't mix!

Another road--rainy season

 First baptism

 The craziest kids I know!

 Sr Rose et Moi. Her mother was one of my first baptisms

 The family Delphine

 Just doing some door to door proselyting!

 Me and my favorite Ghanaian

Seka getting excited for Christmas