Monday, June 15, 2015

Lots of Firsts this Week


We've had a pretty productive week. Lots of different things going on and I don’t really know where to begin with it all, so I guess I'll just go in order of when things went down.

First of all, we found a monkey! I know people think that Africa is full of elephants, giraffes and all sorts of animals, but we never really see any of those here in the more civilized part of the continent. We were just walking around doing some street contacting, and we stumbled upon a slightly drunk guy who wanted to show us some of his neighbors (we'll take any chance we can get to meet new people). We walked into the little parcel and immediately saw the little monkey sitting in a cage off to the side. The monkey’s name was Bobo, and he was very nervous to see us and couldn’t stop jumping around. We did manage to pet him a little without him freaking out or biting anyone.

Our next-door neighbors got robbed. Which is surprising because most of the houses here have better security than the others. Apparently, the robbers are pretty well known in our area and are pretty good at their job. Mom, don't worry about us, our apartment is the smallest of them all and is full of men instead of women and children like the others. We make sure to lock everything up securely. 

I also got to do my first baptismal interview this week with Solange, the ami of Ribera.  We had a baptismal service on Saturday, and it went pretty well. We showed up at the church with the plan to take a taxi to the hotel pool like usual, but found that the baptismal font at the church was finished, with plumbing and tiling, everything. So we starting filling it up, but the workers at the church showed up and insisted that we had to wait until the next week. The members wanted to use the font anyway, but we convinced them to listen to the workers. So we all piled into the taxi. As usual, we crammed it full with as many people as possible. In the past we’ve gotten as many as 13 people into the little 5-seater, but this time I’m not really sure how many we had in the car because Ribera and I had to ride in the trunk (see photo below). Definitely, not a very comfortable ride, but it makes for a good story. 

I got to direct the service, which was a first as well; everything went well except the pool management tried to give us problems. Every baptism we’ve done this past year has been at that pool, and we’ve always done it the same way. We can wear the baptismal clothes in the pool and we only have to pay 1000 cfca for each person that will enter the pool. We called the night before to assure that everything was fine, and they said it was. However, upon arriving, they insisted that we pay 500 cfca for every single person that watched the baptism as well, and that we could not wear the baptismal clothes in the pool. We already had to pay 6000 for the taxi and 200 for every single motocycle taxi for the members. We weren’t looking to compromise. All we said was that we were going ahead with our baptism as planned, and that we would never be coming back (that kind of shocked them--I don’t think they get much business). Luckily for us they didn’t know that we now have our own font and weren’t planning on coming back anyway.

Also during the week we found an exciting new ami. We were staying with one of our amis who cuts hair in his shop, and a young guy walked in to get his haircut. We talked a little with him and gave him a brochure with our contact. He seemed more interested in getting our help to obtain a US Visa then in hearing our message. I liked him though. And something about him caught my attention, more than other guys we have met. We called him up later in the week to fix a rendezvous, and he said that he would come to find us so that he could show us his house. (That is usually how we found people's houses here, seeing as there are no addresses.) What was different about this time was that he came to get us in a car! Definitely a first, no one here has a car unless they have money or unless they are a taxi driver. His car was much nicer than any taxi—it was a midsize SUV. We were both pretty impressed, and not sure how he had this sort of money. We showed up to his house and found that it also was very nice (much nicer than our own apartment). Turns out, he still lives with his father, who is the equivalent to a Senator. He has had much more education than our other amis. 

We taught both him and his father together. We were actually kind of nervous because we don’t usually teach people who have this kind of status. I felt kind of like being before King Lamoni. He says that he’s heard of our church before and is impressed with what he’s heard. We shared the Book of Mormon with him and taught a little, but he insisted that we'd have to be quick because he had to go to a devotional at his own church. We let him go, and then headed back home to teach one of our neighbors. We were sitting in front of our house with our neighbor, and we saw his car again heading to his church. We waved, and they waved as well, but continued on. We said an opening prayer with our neighbor, then saw that a crowd of people was assembling at the end of the road; we all went to go see what was happening and saw that his car (that we had been in just an hour or two beforehand) had caught fire! We put it out quick with dirt, and everything seemed fine, so we rolled it off to a mechanic and he remarked that this was God's way of telling him that he needed a new car. Interpret it how you like, in any case he wasn’t able to make it to his church that evening. Well hopefully be able to see him again in the week.

On the funnier note, we ate at Isaac's after the baptism; nothing special, just akassa, which is another genre of patte. He did however have me eat cow skin; which wasn’t that appetizing. It was very rubbery. I’m getting very good at disguising my reaction to foods, and also at swallowing without thinking about taste.

Sunday was crazy as usual as well. We left around 7:30 to make sure we'd be there well before 9:00, but a few minutes into our walk we started seeing heavy clouds and strong winds (uh-oh). Rain starting pouring about halfway into our walk, so we spent a decent 20 or 30 minutes walking/running in the rain. It was tiring because we were drenched and I honestly felt like I was swimming at times. But made it! On time! Completely soaked with no towels or changes of clothes or anything. We were a little worried because only a few other members were there. The actual Sacrament meeting started at 9:40 because of the difficulty for members getting there in the rain. We held Sacrament, then I taught Sunday School, and then we sang some hymns and closed because many of the other leaders weren’t there.

I really liked the Sunday school lesson; it talked about reasons why people fall away from the church and how we need to stay firm in our belief. I shared Hel 5:12 about being built on a strong foundation and then used an example I’ve always liked to convey the idea. I had Ribera stand on a chair, and had three young men come to knock him down.Then the second time I had the other missionaries come to support him and help him stay up. People liked it pretty well. Definitely one of upsides of being in a young branch is that people have never seen these object lessons before.

Anyways, that’s what’s going on with us, we were planning on having the baptism for Saurel this upcoming Saturday. However, with the rain most all of our amis didn’t come to church, so we are postponing.

Glad to hear from you all. Make sure to tell Grandpa that I got his message and that I’m thinking about him and praying for him as he goes through chemo.

Have a good week!
Elder Walls

No, I haven't been kidnapped! Just traveling in style to a baptism!

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