Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving--a Week Early

Elder Walls with his comp, Elder M.
Dear Family,

I am glad to be back at the cyber and to hear from everyone. I hope you all are doing well and getting into the holiday spirit.

Our week has been great, I’ll try to cover everything.

Tuesday: District Meeting at the University District:
We assisted at the district meeting for University District. The assistants decided to go with us, which was nice because it meant we got to ride in their air-conditioned car). We left on time, but just before arriving, we found a guy's truck stuck in a dip in the road. We decided to tow him out with our chain. It ended up being a more difficult and messy job than we expected, so we ended up showing up at the district meeting a little late, and not so fresh and clean. Interestingly, the car had broken down right in front of a voodoo rite that had been left in the middle of the road. 

Thursday: Thanksgiving Comes Early!
We woke up as if it were any other ordinary day, but at noon Elder T reminded us that it was Thanksgiving. We asked him if he was positive--Us: "Are you sure? Doesn't it always fall somewhere in the 20's?" Elder T: "Ya, ya, YA! It's always the 3rd Thursday, I'm sure." We went along with it and piled into the assistant's car during our language study hour to go to one of the better supermarkets in Cotonou to get some last minute Thanksgiving food. 

Our dinner was great! Fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, and some yellow rice. We made some chocolate cake to top it all off. It was all very good food, but also very expensive. We definitely can’t afford to eat like that very often. Oh, and we started what could possibly be a great Thanksgiving tradition as well. As soon as everyone finishes eating and feels nice and sluggish, we pulled out the 'Twister' mat that Elder T and Elder P had just found some lady selling randomly in the streets. Very fun! Although, not the easiest of activities after eating Thanksgiving dinner Maybe you guys can give it a try.

Our Ami, C’s, Birthday:
We had the chance to eat well a second time in the week when Sister C invited us over for her birthday, We helped her make ingyam pilĂ©, which is one of the high quality doughy ball foods. You make it by boiling yams then smashing them over and over with a huge stick until it makes a ball like food It is served with a grain sauce (I am not sure how she made that since she had it already made up). We also made her a chocolate cake. (Sometimes we go a little overboard with cake--we have a toaster oven in our apartment and the assistants know where to find cake mix in Benin.) It was very fun to celebrate with her and soon-to-be husband. They've been amis for over a year, and just about have the marriage thing determined, so they will soon be baptized. 

My New Convert, J:
J is progressing great. He’s working with us a few days a week and always has friends and neighbors that he wants to introduce to us, We got around 7 contacts from him in total this week, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep working with him and help his friends start coming to church as well.

We met a few other new amis during the week (other than J's contacts). Here are a few: 

R-- and G--: 
We had nothing to do one morning, so we just tried street contacting. I found one young man and decided to talk to him. (Generally, young men between the ages of 18-30 understand French, and also generally are not living with someone yet.) He said he was interested in talking and brought us back to the night club that his brother and he run. It was a very nice looking place, well decorated, and surprisingly no naked pictures or paintings on the walls. (Kudos to them, most bars do have that kind of stuff.) He understood the first lesson well enough, so we returned the next day to teach him again. This time we found R-- instead. She is one of the servers at the club. She was very interesting to teach--she is very honest about her beliefs and also really thinks for herself. She is interested in our lessons, and recognizes the we are not like the other churches in Benin. We are looking forward to teaching them again. 

We also met Ro who really seems to already have his testimony of the church.He has come to church twice and says the gospel has changed him. He really appreciates the law of chastity, saying that he understood it and knew early in his life he would be different. He has agreed to be baptized next month.

It is interesting too how he found the church. He was introduced through his ex-girlfriend, A (who happens to be our Primary president). They had 3 children together, but later separated. They have stayed friends since then. She found the church and joined, and Ro said he noticed a real change in her which led him to want to investigate the church. And yesterday, they showed up to church together in the same moto. (Wink, wink!) If they were to get back together, that would make for a very neat story!

E is not a new ami, but I really love him. He is 19 and loves talking about the church, reading the Book of Mormon and everything. He is getting baptized next week. 

Playing the Piano =)
In other news, I thought I had the piano situation figured out. The counselor told me to just pick the hymns for this week, which I did and sent to him so that he could approve them. Then Saturday night he called and gave me 4 new hymns to play for Sunday. I practiced maybe 20 minutes and thought I would be OK. Then Sunday, midway through Sacrament meeting, they changed one of them! So after church, I made him sit down with me and pick FIXED hymns for next week. He told me to just play the same ones as for this week. Hmm. I am thinking I will be getting a last minute change again. I don't like making a fool of myself on the keyboard, but it is still fun being able to play. I got to play for the Primary as well yesterday--or at least tried to. We couldn't fit the piano in the tiny little room with all of the kids, so we just tried to teach them a song by singing it ourselves. My comp and I were having difficulty remembering how the song went, so this might prove a difficult project to continue. 

Love you guys, I’m doing well out here, less than 8 months left to go, what?!?!
Elder Walls

PS I actually did have a bit of congestion two weeks ago that I caught from my comp. Never realized you can catch a cold in Africa.

Towing a man out of a ditch. Notice the little pile of stuff in front of our truck. That is voodoo. Not sure what it was there for--most voodoo is for protection. Maybe it was protecting the house. 
Elder M and Elder Walls peeling yams for ingyam pile
Ingram pile. Boiled yams that are then beaten into a doughy ball and served with a sauce
My Thanksgiving dinner plate
Our Thanksgiving spread
Don't worry, we didn't eat this! The couple missionaries were coming over to do a cleaning inspection. I remembered one Christmas where mom put oranges and cinnamon sticks in a pot of boiling water and made the house smell nice. So, I thought I would try it. It worked, the whole apartment smelled great, but then all the water evaporated and I was left with this burned cruddy pot to clean. 
Sister C with her children

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