So where to begin . . . so much has happened this week. I left Porto Novo on Thursday morning. Before then, I said my goodbyes to everyone, which was really hard. In this mission, we are not transferred as frequently as in other missions, so you really become attached to folks. Saying goodbye to Porto Novo and the people there was really difficult. (I got to thinking--I believe that I stayed in Porto Novo longer than we lived in Greeneville, TN! I arrived in PN on December 10, 2014 and left October 1, 2015--maybe you can do the math and see if I am right.)
I am settled in my apartment and it is comfortable. The water and power situation is not as bad as it was in Cococodji. We actually have a pet pig here! Well, she's not exactly a pet, but we keep her in our gated yard. The assistants were planning on raising her for food, but now I think we are going to give her to one of our amis so that they can raise a little pig family. Then they will give us a male pig, or at least, I think that is the plan.
So Thursday, the assistants came and got me with their car and we headed to Cocotomey. Since then I’ve had to do a significant amount of travel back and forth to the office and back. Friday, we spent the morning there renewing my companion, Elder A's, passport. It was interesting because they actually let me go with him and Sr. P into the Nigerian Embassy (normally they’d have me wait outside with the office Elders). It was fun going in--I joked with the embassy workers by talking to them with the Nigerian’s 'brocken English' (pronounced 'Brah-kin). A few examples--you say, "Howfa," to say "how are you?" Or they will say, "How you day?" in place of, "How is your day?" Also, there is "How the body?" to which one replies, "The body is in clothes." The embassy workers are all very well educated, so they don't speak like that, but they knew what I was talking about.
Friday afternoon I met a lot of our amis, members and converts. They all seem very nice. They remind me of my amis from Cococodji--genuinely interested in the church. If they say they'll come on Sunday, they'll be there.
Some of the ones I met---
Sr. A and her daughter Sr. M:
They are both really funny; A. is probably 50 and her daughter 30, they were both recently baptized. We came by to give A. her genealogy packet, and she was so excited to see that we had a little manilla envelope for her with her name on it. She kissed it a few times, laughing, and hugged it. We explained to her the importance of family history and temple work, and showed her how to use the 'My Family' brochure. Then she explained that she wouldn’t be able to do the genealogy because she would have to go to Godomey (a little far away, but still in our sector), and ask her family to help. She said that her whole family is savage and would chase her away. We made the connection that her story was like that of Nephi and Laban's, and how they journeyed to a far place to get family records from a wicked relative.
C and J:
A young couple that started taking the lessons while I was in Cococodji. They are active in the church, though they haven’t been baptized yet because of the difficulties in getting married here. They are very fun to be around and both have a great sense of humor. My comp was reminding them what time to be at church, and C. assured him saying, "Don’t worry I will be there at 12 o'clock sharp!" (church starts at 9:00 :). I would love to help them get married--I'd gladly give them the money they need for the permits and so forth, but I know that swooping in and taking care of all of the bills and forms isn't the best solution and that is would be better for them to work things out. So for now, we encouraged them to get the the marriage form they need and fill that out--that seemed like a good first step. We can talk about saving money later. We actually are going to give them our pet pig so they can start a little pig family and use that money towards getting married. That should help some.
E. is a 17-yr old member that teaches with us a lot. Turns out that he is the younger brother of Fr. D. from the Cococodji branch! (I sent you a few photos of Fr. D. and his family just before I went to Porto Novo--he has a wife and two daughters--one is a baby, the other is maybe 5. There was a photo of him laying on the couch while wearing a boomba.). Anyways, when I met him it was like I already knew E. from somewhere. I’m not sure if I ever saw him, but I definitely knew his family.
Saturday, we helped with cleaning the branch building. I had to kill two semi large lizards that had made there way into the church with a stick.
Sunday, was great as well. I really like the branch here. It will take awhile to learn everyone's name, but I will do my best. Many people had just returned from a temple trip to Ghana, so that was great to hear their testimonies. Many of them spoke in Fon (the tribal language here), so I didn't catch most of the details, but you could really feel the Spirit.
Today we made a stop at Tokpa, the grand market of Benin. It is crazy! Motorcycles flying everywhere, people going in every direction, lots of shouting and people trying to sell their stuff. I am surprised there aren't tons of accidents all the time with the way people drive here.
That is about it for the week. I am here and feeling so much better about how things are going. My comp and I get along just fine. It feels so good to be working again!
I love you all,