Monday, January 25, 2016

Mechanics and Tacos

Tacos! We finally had some time to use the taco makings you sent in the Christmas package--yum!!
Dear Family,

Sounds like you guys are enjoying the winter weather.--that is quite the impressive snowfall. I’m happy, because the dusty Harmattan season is finally over, so it’s starting to feel a little more humid now which I like.

This week hasn’t been too eventful. We continue doing our work and trying to have fun along the way. I did splits at the University District which was fun. I got to help motivate one missionary to get out of bed and get to work. Sadly, that is sometimes a problem here.     Overall, the splits went well. We had one fun experience. We were trying to find someone who would let us into their home to teach them, and the weather looked like it was about to let loose with rain. We kept running into people who said they were too busy to talk to us. We finally found someone who would let us in, claiming he could only talk for 5 minutes because he had to leave to go somewhere. As soon as we sat down with him, it started pouring. We ended up getting to spend an hour with him (he wasn’t going anywhere in the rain!). And he ended up accepting a baptismal date. As soon as we closed the lesson, the rain stopped. 

Our amis are still doing well, especially Ro--.

We made tacos this week which were great. Thanks again for the fixings to make them.

Saturday was kind of a wash. We spent the morning teaching, and then stopped at a restaurant where we had pre-ordered lunch at noon. They made us wait an hour before serving us. We took the food home and ate with the AP’s. Then we got a call from a mechanic who said he was coming by to install smoke detectors. I suggested he come at 8:00 pm, but he said that would be too late for him, and told us to be at the church around 3:30 or 4:00. We were there at that time, and waited forever for him. Unfortunately, we didn’t have his phone number since he had called us on a different phone than the one we had with us. We called around and finally got a hold of him (this was at 4:30), and he then told us it would be 6:00 before he could be there. So, that left us with an hour and a half to teach, but the person we were planning on teaching was an hour’s walk away (each way), so we had to reschedule that appointment. We decided to walk to another ami and see if we could teach him (he doesn’t have a phone for us to call ahead). He wasn’t home, and by that time we had just enough time to walk back to the church to meet the mechanic. We got to the church and waited, and waited. We called him again, and he said it would be 30 minutes. We finally decided to just go back to our apartment and wait for him to call us when he got there. He finally called at 8:00 pm (hmmm, wasn’t this the time I originally proposed??), and we walked over to meet him. Only he wasn’t there! Finally, after 30 more minutes of waiting, he showed up and took literally like 2 minutes to install the smoke detector! We still greeted him with a smile :)

Well that is about it for the week. Oh, I almost forgot, I was asked at the last minute to teach Sunday School as our ward mission leader had a problem and wasn’t able to teach. Needless to say, this P-day has been so relaxing!

I am happy, life is good, and the time if flying by—I can’ believe I have less than 6 months to go.

Have a great week

Elder Walls

Monday, January 18, 2016

Our Amis (investigators)

Dear Family,

Life is great here. I am kind of crunched for time because I spent quite awhile trying to figure out how to do my ecclesiastical endorsement for BYU---so I’ll just tell about some of our amis.

Great guy! He is an older man who has lost most of his family. We found him quite by coincidence. We wanted to teach his neighbor who wasn’t there and B-- just happened to be there and was ready to be taught. He is very poor and walks all the way to church. It just goes to show you what great faith he has that he is willing to walk so far in the heat to come to church--he shows up every time, sweaty, but he is there. He has also completely stopped drinking alcohol, and is helping his friends to do the same. He should be baptized Feb 6th.

Another great guy in his twenties. He is very nice. His brother is a member, which really helps for him to have an example to follow. He does a great job studying all the brochures we have given him, and the Book of Mormon. He always has very specific questions like, "Who is Ammoron," or "Where is Zarahemla," which shows he is really thinking as he reads. He should be baptized on Feb. 26th.

We found Re-- through our English class. He comes with his two friends. He is a very interesting guy. He apparently was studying religion with a German for 4 years until this man died. Re-- thought we were the same church at first, but is starting to see the differences between us and other churches. 

Our squatter ami whose husband left her with 3 kids. She found a new home that her brother is helping her to finance. Right now, her circumstances are so dire that she is more focused on money than the gospel. We have tried to help her and told her about some of the programs the church has, but she has to meet with the Branch president about that. She hasn't come to church yet, and isn't planning on doing so. I am not sure what will happen with her and her family. 

He is the brother of a member. Awhile back he was so close to getting baptized, but then he he suddenly stopped coming to church for some reason. We have started reteaching him the lessons, and he came to church on Sunday!

C and J --
This couple has been investigating the church since I started my mission. Marriage is such an expensive step for most people here, and unfortunately, not being able to get married ends up keeping many folks from being able to be baptized. I am happy to report that we finally got C's birth certificate, so the next step is marriage! I am really hoping I am here for it.

I love teaching people here--there are lots of good people. One interesting story from this week: We were eating at a nice outdoor restaurant here, when all of a sudden the lights dimmed and the music came on the loud speakers. Then a little person came out and started dancing for about 20 minutes. He was pretty talented, and it was a great show. 

Loving the work, can't believe I am hitting the only-6-months-to-go mark on Wednesday. I will celebrate with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!

Love you!!

Elder Walls

Monday, January 11, 2016

Voodoo Holiday

The revenon dancers are able to keep their costume spinning around their neck as they dance around.
Dear Family,

It is good to hear about all you guys' respective illnesses, cuts and problems with your bones. Always the highlight of my week ;)

We continue to teach our amis everyday, the best we can. And we are starting to see some progress. 

One of our amis is R--, he is the adult brother of a longtime member of the church. He has always known the church, but has just decided to start investigating it. Another amis is an older man by the name of B--. He is literally talking to everyone in his neighborhood about the missionaries, which makes our job a lot easier.

In other news, I finally got my haircut situation figured out, it took quite some time. As you recall, last Monday I started cutting my hair with the clippers that I had purchased at the beginning of my mission. They broke halfway through the haircut, leaving me with half a haircut, and not very happy. I tried to find a barber, but they are all closed on Mondays. So Tuesday morning, I went to a barber and ended up waiting almost an hour ("he's on his way, he's almost here"). Finally, Wednesday, I was able to get a barber to finish up my handiwork. Unfortunately, the barbers here are not used to cutting yovo hair and I was left with pretty much a bowl cut. Finally, I found a pair of scissors and had Elder T do damage control--took about an hour. After 3 days and 3 different haircuts, I am looking good. 

We started teaching an English class. We'll see how it turns out. The first class only had a few people attend. It should pick up as more people hear about it. 

We got to go on a split with the missionary couple here. It was a lot of fun to teach with them. They don't speak French, so we translated for them. It was a great experience. They have great testimonies that they shared with those we taught. 

Then Sunday, Jan 10,  was the national Voodoo holiday. It is quite the strange sight. (Details have been deleted.) It is an unusual religion. We did get to see some voodoo dancers (called revenons). The revenons supposedly are spirits that have awaken from their graves--if you were to take off their mask, you wouldn't see anyone inside. I got some photos that I will send you. 

We went to the Temple of Pythons in Ouidah again. However, this time I didn’t even go inside. I was able to purchase some souvenirs outside the temple as they are cheaper here than in other places. I picked up some African masks and wooden animals. 

I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves back home. I’m enjoying my work here. 

I miss you and love you!
~Elder Walls
This group of revenons caused quite a scene right in front of our house 

Close up shot of one of the revenon dancers. If you look closely, you can see his hand outstretched asking for money from us. I am not sure what a spirit is planning on doing with money--who knows.
We walked really far out in our sector and found this amazing landscape
Cows on the beach. You never cease to see new things in Africa!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcoming in 2016

"I figured I should get a picture with a chicken--Why not? I see a thousand of them everyday!"
Dear Family, 

I am glad to hear all your news, my week has been great as well. A few highlights:


To start the week off, we had a caroling activity for the zone. On Christmas Eve, President Morin asked me to organize it. With such short notice, we ended up doing after Christmas. We all met up in Calavi. Unfortunately, my taxi was late, and we had to pick up the Cococodji Elders, so that meant about half the zone was late. However, we finally made it and started singing. 

Caroling isn’t really a thing in Africa, so the African Elders found it odd, but people actually really liked it! I bought some Santa hats for the Elders to wear. While they were singing, I distributed candy canes and Pass Along cards with the Calavi Elder's phone number on them. It went really well, and I was able to distribute a good amount of Pass Along cards. Good activity!

Branch Party

We also had our branch Christmas party on the 31st. There was lots of singing, dancing and fun. The missionaries decided to put on a little dance\sketch for everyone. We had my companion, who is still pretty new to the mission, start dancing to a song in his white shirt and tie. We then had one of our branch missionaries stopped him saying, "Wo, wo, wo you don’t know how to dance!" He pretended to call the rest of us on the phone to come teach him how to do it. The rest of us jumped out of the side room wearing boombas and doing the African traditional dance moves the best we could. People loooooved it. 

New Year’s

After the branch party, we got home and counted down to the New Year together at the apartment. We made some cake had some non-alcoholic champagne and a few fireworks, which were nothing compared to all the fireworks that our neighbors bought. I'm not sure how people can afford all the fireworks here--the banging and popping literally didn't stop all night. New Year's definitely is a bigger holiday here than Christmas is.


New Year’s Day we were invited to all sorts of eating appointments. Anyone we saw on the road would invite us to come over and eat with them. We were stuffed by the end of the day, and I spent a loooong time in the bathroom that night =) It was nice to not have to cook for myself, though. I am always very thankful for anyone that is willing to feed us. 

Crazy Voo Doo Guy

Sunday night we stopped by J--'s house and found an old drunk man screaming and waving his hands at J's neighbors, M-- and A--. We tried to intervene, and asked what he was so upset about. However, it seems he really didn’t speak any French. The only French words he could get out were, "I am a man of FORCE." And, "If you see this face, you better RESPECT it, or I’ll call the COPS!" He eventually left and moved further down the road, all the while screaming at no one. So, we were then able to teach M and her family. 

When we left M's house, about 30 minutes later, we asked what the Fon words were for, "Come get this present." They told us, and we proceeded to give the man a restoration brochure. He was very surprised and happy, and then he gave us both hugs and stopped shouting after that. I suppose the gospel really does change people's hearts.

Electronics Curse

And also, I currently have half of a haircut. I cut my own hair with a pair of clippers that I bought at the beginning of my mission, and today is the day they decided to break. (Most of the electronics you can buy here are pretty cheap quality.) Sadly, they decided to break midway through my haircut. I tried to use my P-day (prep day) to go to a barbershop and get a haircut. However, even in Africa, the barbershops shut down on Mondays. 

I’ve also been trying so hard to watch General Conference on our little DVD player, but the disc is scratched. And we've also trying so hard to see, "The Other Side of Heaven" but we have had no luck because it is on a USB card that is in an unsupported format for our DVD player . . . So, I’m really feeling cursed when it comes to electronics lately!

Everything is great. I’m happy. The work is going OK--things slow down around the holidays and there really is nothing you can do about it. I am sure it will pick back up this week. 

Anyways have a great week!

Love you guys,

Elder Walls