Monday, December 7, 2015

Farewell to Elder M

Found this mural in my sector. I have a lot of respect for the local artists. 
Hello Family,

This week is my companion's last week, so we’ve been visiting lots of members and converts, and doing lots of no complaints here!

One interesting story happened last Monday right after I finished emailing you guys. We left the cyber to go to a branch combined Family Home Evening activity. We didn't expect too many people to show up, however tons came--almost the entire branch. The missionaries gave a little presentation on, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." It went rather well. The interesting part was after we were done, and had retaken our places (we were standing in the doorway because it was so crowded), President Comi got up to give closing remarks. Instead of announcing a closing hymn and prayer, he invited the missionaries back up to the front to dance for everyone! (Huh??!!) He put on some traditional\modern African music and we went ahead and gave it our best shot to perform for everyone. We got a quite a few laughs. Good fun.

It definitely seemed odd dancing for the branch, I suppose it is not against any rules, but it's just not something you'd imagine missionaries doing. (Of course, to not dance, would mean we'd have to disobey our local priesthood I suppose it'd be worse NOT to dance.) We danced about 3 minutes, then we invited the rest of the branch to come join in. Several did. Again, lots of fun.

Serving in Africa is very interesting, because the Church is different here---not that any of the fundamental aspects are different (like priesthood authority, or doctrine), but just the way things are done is completely different. And tons of unwritten Mormon traditions just don’t exist here. It’s nice, I suppose its important to keep in mind that building the Church here doesn’t necessarily mean that we are copying and pasting the Church from America.

As I mentioned, we’ve eaten a lot this past week with different people. Lots of patte, ingyam piléé, agbeli, etc. My convert, J--, promised to make us cat before Elder M-- leaves, but it looks like that might not work out now--maybe sometime in the next few weeks. We'll see. 

Another thing I have noticed that is different from America, is the way people feed us here. Yes, it's less frequently and quite different foods than in the States, but what I have found is that when people feed you here, it's because they really love you. It makes you feel really special that you, or one of your colleagues, was the one to introduce them to the gospel. Oftentimes, people won't even want to eat with us. When they feed us, they just want to watch us eat and be happy. And they really make a big sacrifice to do so. 

It’s been special to see people saying their final farewell to my companion (whom some of them have known for over a year). Elder M has been an awesome missionary here. I am grateful to have been able to work by his side. 

Transfer calls are in: I’m remaining here in Cocotomey as the zone leader, and I’ll be training another new American from SLC named Elder F--. I’ll meet him for the first time tomorrow. I’m sure we will do great together. I am only slightly not so excited about having to force myself to speak French with other Americans again (like I did with Elder B) to help him learn the language. Overall, I’m sure it’ll be great. We will continue to have Elder P (from France) and Elder T (from Hawaii), the APs, in our apartment. 

By the way, I tried to pull out a little personal money this morning because we were going to the Art Hall for my comp. It didn’t work, maybe you could check my account and see what is going on there. 

I wasn’t really planning on getting any souvenirs, but Mom will be happy to know that I found nativity sets at a super good prices. (Usually the merchants try to capitalize on the fact that you are a white American, and won't sell you one for less than 20,000 francs.) However, we found a guy and were able to negotiate to 7,000 francs. I figured I'd buy some sets--some for us, and for Aunt Lavinia. Not sure I'll see that price again. We will be going to Ouidah again soon, so I might try to get some African masks for you guys (they are half as expensive there). 

I love you guys lots!

Elder Walls     

Love the goats here in Africa! Thinking these photos would make great inspirational posters! 


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