December 22, 2014
I am really looking forward to Christmas, and getting to call home. On Christmas day, we have lessons until 5:00 in the afternoon, and then Elder Barnes and I will do our calls. I don’t know who will go first. I don’t really know the time difference between PA and ABQ, or if you have a preference, but my call could come between 5 to 7 Benin time (11 to 1 your time). I was thinking I would just use the home number, assuming that it is still good and I believe I just have to add the country code.
Week 2 in Porto Novo has been pretty good—we’ve been finding lots of people to teach, but few follow up with commitments and we’ve had little church attendance. The few people who have come, are the people whom we haven’t even taught and least expected to be there. Then there are plenty that we’ve found on the streets and convinced them to let us sit down with them and do the 'perfect' MTC lesson with the baptism invite and everything and they respond extremely positively and then don’t show up. That’s definitely a problem here, people don’t really care about being on time to things, and there isn’t a lot of bind to their words.
Training is going well, Barnes & I get along great. I am trying to keep the apartment only French, to help immerse him in the language, but with 4 Americans it’s been harder to keep the conversations in French.
We will soon be moving into a new apartment. Basically, how it works is that right now we're in the Porto Novo Branch and we split Elder Rich’s sector. As soon as we get a new apartment, we’ll start working in our real new sector, which is Tokpota. We will stay in the Porto Novo Branch for a while. We will have to get our investigators to make the trip of about 50 minutes walking. However, when we have a few baptisms, we can start our own new group. So, there will be lots of opportunity to grow. I’m hoping that I’ll stay in the new area for a while so that I can play a real role in the group’s birth. We’ll see though, they typically split up training groups after 3 months so we’ll see how it works out.
It’s been interesting in Porto Novo so far, with the Branch so young, there is a lot of work to do. I’m the permanent Sunday School teacher now, and this also makes two out of two weeks that I’ve had to speak in Sacrament Meeting. We’re also in the process of training our Branch leadership so that they can hopefully run by themselves. There is a lot of work to be done. We had Branch council yesterday and there was a decent bit of shouting and chastising going on (needless to say, next week’s Sunday School lesson will be on effective planning, communication and teamwork as a body in Christ!). There are so many jobs that get added to what we already have as missionaries. Not only do we serve as Branch leaders, but we are also the go-to person for everyone’s problems. Sometimes even nonmembers come to us like we are wise men or something! But it’s great because this is giving me a lot of experience in a lot of different positions. I feel like by the end there won’t be many church callings you could scare me with.
We have this one guy we found who really is not an investigator, but he loves drawing pictures for us. He took a missionary brochure from us and showed up at our apartment later with large drawing of the Jesus pictures inside. Now he’s working on the photos that Mom sent me with of the family. It will be interesting to see the final product. We’re going to try to start teaching him, but he is kind of elusive, as he has no phone, and always shows up without any warning.
We have a neighbor, who a member, who raises pigeons. The pigeons always poop on our patio, so he sends his son to clean our patio for us. The boy came into the apartment today, and my companion didn’t know someone would be coming inside. Elder Barnes was sweeping and he turned to see a 12 year old boy with a machete standing in our apartment and was freaked out--thought he was going to have to fiend off the boy with his broom! Luckily, no blows were thrown!
There’s always so much going on. I am really looking forward to our phone call on Thursday. Try to come up with some questions so that I can describe everything to you—right now, it all feels so normal to me so I don’t know what the best things to say would be.
Love you guys,