Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekly Update


Hey guys,

I just spent about an hour and a half trying to log into my email, so I don’t really have much time to write. This time I believe the problem was because of the church’s servers. They just changed the format of our email, trying to simplify things, but ultimately making my Monday much more complicated!

Had a decent week. However, our baptism with G* scheduled for Saturday didn’t happen. She’s 18, but still lives with her aunt. Her aunt decided the night before to refuse to let her be baptized. We will talk with her again; it’s hard though, because she doesn’t speak anything but her own tribal language.

Saturday afternoon, we had an activity with the branch members that was to start at noon, but that fell through. We missed lunch in the process of waiting to see if the activity was going to happen. At 2:30 the Assistants to the President showed up, unannounced, and explained that they wanted to work with us today. I really enjoyed teaching with the APs, as they are top-notch missionaries. It made for a fun day, but I was starving by the time we got back home.

Love you all,
Elder Walls
*This post has been shortened from its original content. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Making Progress, One Day at a Time


Hey guys!

This week went by pretty fast, now I’m already back at the cyber again. It’s been a decent week. We are just keeping at the work, trying to help some of our amis in the sector to make some progress.

I’m planning on baptizing my ami, G*, this Saturday. She’s a youth (about 17 or so) and she goes to school with one of our recent converts, Annette. When we gave Annette a photo of her baptism day, she apparently brought them to school and showed a few people. And through that we found G* (this is back when Barnes was still here).  We were both fairly excited because there usually aren’t many problems with baptizing youth, as they usually don’t have the difficulties some of the older people here do with drugs or getting married. We were also excited because we could teach her with Annette. We need to teach with members present as much as possible. It is difficult to do so here because the members don’t have good transportation, and there aren’t as many members here.

G*'s Aunt (her guardian) doesn’t really like her coming to church. She thinks some of the youth in the church don’t respect their parents (a lot of parents here say that—they treat the youth like slaves, and the second the youth resist, the parents say they are possessed by the devil). So, her aunt had forbidden her to come to church, but we have been talking with her (which is difficult because she doesn’t speak French). And for now, she is allowing G* to come to church again. So, her baptism is planned for this Saturday.

With Cyrille we might have to wait a little longer. His schedule changes and he is busy, so it is hard to teach him. I am sure he will get baptized, it will just take some time. (I really hope I am still here when that happens, because I really like him.)

We did some deep cleaning today in the kitchen and found a huge pile of maggots behind our shelves and in the fridge. We sprayed them all with hand sanitizer and then lit them all on fire. It proved to be pretty effective.

Things are going well, all in all. We have interviews with President this week, so we will see how everything goes with that. I think he is getting pretty frustrated with the levels of disobedience, and some of the crazy things the missionaries do here (which I understand completely, because it frustrates me too). We’ve had a few incidents lately, and some of the missionaries might be sent home.

But everything is going well. I am making progress everyday and seeing others do the same. We’ll see how long I stay here—I just hope that I can be here to see my amis take the plunge. You grow so close to your amis and you want to see them take that important step of baptism.

Anyways, I hope you both have a good week without too much stress.

Elder Walls

PS With the sandals, I might be able to find some here, but not in my sector. And definitely not the quality like you’d find at home. I like the ones I came with, but they didn’t last long. So, if you want to look for something better, go for it. Dressy-ness doesn’t really matter as long as it is closed toe.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Work Continues On

Hey guys!

Glad to hear from you always. This week’s email is better than last because there are no Germans demanding my attention and help. So, I can just focus on writing.

Everything is going well here, continuing to work in my sector but with Marurai now. Not sure how long they’ll keep me here in Porto Novo. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay awhile, or go and help open Tokpota when that area is ready to be opened.

Nothing really interesting to report on for the week. I don’t have any fun stories to share (well, there is always something crazy going on, but eventually it all seems normal to us here!).

We are getting our ami, Cyrille, ready for baptism. Will probably be about two weeks before he is baptized. Cyrille is one of my favorite amis. He is around 25 years old and is an English teacher, so he always speaks in English (he’s really good at it). He’s a smart cookie and really good hearted. I think he will be one of the future leaders of the church here. Hopefully, we won’t have many roadblocks along the way to baptizing him.

Mom, you asked if I get to drum much here and the answer is not really. I will drum a little around the apartment, but I would never bring it to church. Drumming and weird dancing is a common part of other churches here, so we don’t want to look like them. So, if we were to drum like them, it would not set us apart. I did get to drum for the Missionary Christmas party and that was a blast. And I drummed the other week with a funeral party that was going past our apartment. Occasionally, some of the young men from the church will come over to try to hang out with the missionaries, and sometimes I will drum with them.

The music here is pretty much like home—except the hymns are slowed down. And we often get a few wrong notes here and there. It isn’t “Africanized” music like you might hear on Youtube. We do sing probably the same 15 hymns over and over—I do miss being in a big ward with strong singers and an organist.

Mom, you also asked about what to send in my birthday package. Everything you send is great. I like the Cliff bars and the Zone bars better than the Quest bars you used to send. The Zone bars might be a little melted when they get here, but I can just stick them in the fridge and they are fine. And a pair of closed toe sandals would be nice. The ones I have now have a hole in the sole from walking on the rocky and uneven terrain. I haven’t gotten the Valentine’s that the ward sent yet—I will check at the Bureau the next time I am there.

That’s pretty much it, have a good week! Ill do my best to do the same.

Elder Walls

Monday, March 9, 2015

Semaine des Fetes (Week Celebrations)


It's great to hear from you all. I’m really glad that I'm able to email today. We’ve had some rain and the power just barely came back on. Hopefully it doesn’t cut out again.

I've had an interesting week, seeing as I was without a companion from Tuesday morning until just an hour or two ago when my new one, Marurai, arrived. I have been working with the other two companionships in the apartment the whole week mostly in their sector, but also a little in mine. It’s been interesting. I’ve seen some really good teaching techniques. I’ve learned lots, and have lots to consider. All in all though, it will be nice getting back to staying in my sector with one companion. I’m excited to teach with Marurai because I hear he is a good teacher.

I had another baptism on Saturday evening for my ami Ronald (21 year old student). It was probably the most bizarre baptismal service that we’ve had thus far. We arrived at the pool to find a party already in progress. Loud music, dancing, drinks, etc. Luckily we convinced them to stop the music for just long enough to the baptism, as soon as Ronald came out the water it started right back up, so we drove to the church to do some singing and pray to finish the service.

I’m currently helping a German polygamist make hotel reservations in Accra, I wouldn’t usually be so nice with my computer time but he seems pretty lost and can’t speak a lick of French. However, he is very good at describing in English how much he likes black girls. Hmm. He is monopolizing a lot of my time here--this email might be short. 

Also, another interesting story. There was a funeral party going on outside of our apartment all day on Sunday. We were in our little side yard, behind our gate, just talking with a few of the youth. I was showing them my drum that I bought. When suddenly we heard drumming and dancing coming from the other side of the fence so we decided to go out and drum with them a little. It made everyone’s’ night seeing a yovo (white guy) playing one of their drums and they offered us all beers, but we convinced him to just give us Cokes instead. We took the Cokes and danced our way back into our gate to celebrate our victory.

Work is going well, I hope to have more baptisms coming up soon.

By the way, I have a humongous virus on my SD card of photos. I will be sending it home so that the geek squad (or Andrew) can hopefully save my photos. I will start using another card in its place. Look for that in the mail. So, I probably won’t be sending many photos in the future.

All right, I love you all. I need to help this German man find a place to sleep tomorrow night. Have a good week, and save some of those blessings for me.

Elder Walls

Monday, March 2, 2015

Great Things are Happening


Hey guys,

Glad to hear things are going well there. We are all doing well here as well.

We just had another baptism for our ami, Isaac, this past Saturday. We have really worked with him—he was one of our first amis here. But he finally made it! And he’s doing really well. He got up and gave a great testimony on Sunday about how the gospel has changed him. Barnes and I both were amazed at the changes he has made. Isaac even got the little formalities down—like ending his testimony with “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen,” and everything. He also volunteered to give the prayer in Sunday School.

The Baptism itself was kind of amusing. We perform the baptisms in a pool and it is not unheard of that when we finish the ordinance, and the Elder Rich invites the missionary to exit the pool that they do it by swimming to the other end of the pool (which is closer to the changing rooms—which the changing room is really just a dark little cave with no where to put your clothes!). Isaac saw Barnes exit the pool this way and asked if he could do the same. We said, of course he could. So he started to “swim” but he didn’t really move forward, he just flailed his arms and legs while he slowly drowned. He got to the bottom of the pool and pushed himself back up above the water and the pool attendant ran over and told him to turn himself around and get out because he couldn’t swim.

Isaac is doing really well. He even said he is considering doing a mission! So that would be really cool. He’s 23, so if he decides to go, he will leave before I am done with my mission.

Transfer calls came that night too. One change: Barnes is leaving (his training is done) and he’s going to a sector in Cotonou called Gbegamey, and he will be in an all French apartment—so he will learn a lot of things really quickly now.

They are sending a Tahitian named Elder Marurai to be my new companion. He’s been out for about 14 months I believe (he came at the same time as Rich). I am excited because I really like Elder Florion, who was in Cococodji. Florion and Marurai are both Tahitian, and Tahitians are generally very nice, generous and funny. They are really nice to everyone.

The interesting point that threw us off is that Marurai has actually worked in Porto Novo before, back before I got here. It is kind of unheard of here to have a missionary go back to an area. Also even more bizarre is that they told me that I would be the senior comp.
I am certain that we’ll have lots of good experiences together. Florion was a great guy, and he is good friends with Marurai. I also hear that he is a really talented teacher, so I’ll enjoy learning things from him.

I’m excited to be staying here in Porto Novo as well. We have a couple baptisms coming up. Plus Rich, Ribera and Mayamba will be staying here as well, and I really like them all.

Oh, and that is fine if Dad wants to move to a new area. You can go ahead and move if you want, just don’t move to West Africa, I will be having my homecoming in one of the 50 United States of America and that is final!

All right, everyone have a good coming week! Love you all,
Elder Walls