Monday, July 13, 2015

Approaching the Year Mark

Beach at Ouidah


Not too much to report this week, things are still going slowly with the work. I had time to study this week. I finished the Old Testament on Wednesday. The Old Testament is definitely a book that a lot of people dismiss as not being applicable today, but it does shed a lot of light on many eternal principles and creates a foundation upon which the Book of Mormon and New Testament build upon.

I found a fun service project to do during the week. A local university held an event for all of the English learners and I got to be the head judge for their English reading, debate, and singing contests. Lots of fun! I also got to visit with several former investigators that I had taught with Barnes who happened to be there as well. I am hoping to be able to restart teaching a few of them. 

Also met a few interesting potential investigators, The first is one of the English teachers at the university who is from....Philadelphia! (Can you believe it? Who would think a half a world away I would meet someone from near my hometown?!) He gave a speech during the event and I noticed that his English was remarkably better than that of all the other professors. So after he had finished, I went and spoke with him and it turns out that he is also a professor at Temple University! And he has a few friends who are Mormon. I got his business card and we'll see if we can get a foot in the door with him. He does live really far away so that might be a challenge.

Also met Joan Minor, who is an American Jazz/Blues singer, and her band. They showed up for about 20 minutes just to talk about English and music with the students. She’s touring in West Africa right now. She tried to teach one of the students how to scat (a technique used in singing Jazz), but it really didn’t work out that well. 

President Morin came to church on Sunday to help us with Melchizedek Priesthood interviews and ordinations. I got to translate for Elder Dyson (couple missionary) as he led the interviews. I really, really like the couple missionaries. They have tons of interesting stories. Elder Dyson is from New Zealand and is a widower, and Sister Dyson has biked across Canada and worked on the Alaska pipeline as a secretary. They haven’t been married for too long, and they are both still learning French. Even still, they manage to shoulder so much responsibility. There used to be 4 couples in this mission, but now they are the only ones. We have no record of any new couples that are coming out. So, if anyone in the Kutztown ward wants to serve a mission, we'll take them!

We had a zone activity at Ouidah again (the Temple of Pythons). I’ve been before but I got some good voodoo photos and I’ll try to send them through. (More photos below)

AT the Temple of Pythons
I agree, I can't believe that I am almost at the one-year mark--To answer your questions:
What would you say you love the most about Africa? The openness of the lifestyle here, most people are very simple and welcoming.

What has been the most surprising thing about Africa? The similarities to America and other wealthy countries— people here have smartphones, televisions (usually knockoffs), and there are American brands that you can find in supermarkets. If you have money, you won’t have too hard of a time adjusting to the lifestyle here.

What has Africa taught you? Endurance, patience, simplicity and honesty. 

What is the hardest thing about life in Africa? Seeing such low levels of education, also racism in the streets. 

Oddest? Funniest? There are so many little mannerisms that are completely different from what I’m used to that are the norm here. Such as littering anywhere, and not having addresses. And there are some local sayings such as 'its been three days' (despite the amount of time since you last saw someone). 

All in all, I’m fine. I do hope that everything going well back home--it seems like a lot is changing and not necessarily for the better. It kind of worries me and I wonder what things will be like in the US when I come home.

Hope that you enjoy your week!
Elder Walls

Entrance to the Temple of Pythons
Door to the temple
Painting inside
Another painting
One of the huts at the temple, the white flag represents Voodoo 

Another photo of the beach

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