Sunday, May 15, 2016

Funny Little Coincidences

Voodoo Hut at Ouidah Beach
Dear Family, 

So I guess I’ve got about 2 weeks worth of writing to do, since I didn’t really detail my week to you guys while we Skyped last Sunday. (Man, Skyping was so great!!)

So, I titled this email, "Funny Little Coincidences," because so many things have just fallen into place. However, I know that they are more than just a coincidence and that Heavenly Father has put these people in my path for a reason.

The first happened right as I was transferred into this new sector at Cocotomey. I got an email from an old investigator of mine from Porto Novo, named Kelvin. He was one of my favorite investigators while I was there because he was a very cool guy to be around, and also because speaks some of the best English that I’ve heard here in Benin (he speaks practically like an American). 

In his email he just asked how I was doing, and if I was still on my mission. I responded and asked if he still met with the missionaries in Porto Novo. He said he no longer met with them because he was now living with his parents in Cocotomey---

Turns out he's living in my current sector!!! I got his phone number and address ASAP. His email had perfect timing--had he emailed any earlier, I would have still been in the other sector of Cocotomey and would not have been able to teach him. I am praying that this time things will work out with him. 

And first, he warned us to be careful of his parents because they were very closed minded about religion, and would likely chase us out of their home. However we had the chance to talk with his mother, and she seemed very kind and open to hearing our message. She even joked that we'd have to work hard to try to get anything through her son's head.

Then yesterday, we got a call out of the blue from his father, who said that he was interested in meeting with us to learn more about the Book of Mormon and what we had taught his son. We are going to try to meet with him this coming Saturday.

They're a great family, and would be a tremendous asset to the Branch here. I can see them as very, very strong members. I’m hoping there is some reason why every thing has lined up so well, timing wise. Maybe now is the time that Kelvin and his family will be ready to accept the Gospel. Stay tuned---

Then, yesterday, we had a training meeting for young single adults who are interested in, or preparing to serve a mission. We had a turnout of about 12---My companion and I took two of them aside to help them fill out the paperwork for their mission application. I worked with a young man named Julien. I was surprised that he knew my name without having to look at my badge or struggle with the pronunciation. 

I asked where he knew me from, and he said that he was from Cococodji (my first area). I thought at first that he was a member of the church that I just didn't remember. When I asked him about it, he explained that my comp (Elder Adjei) and I had found him and started teaching him. (I have been searching my memory, and just can't remember him! I am going to have to go back through my weekly letters to see if I wrote anything about him.) 

So, I’m not sure how long we taught him before I left, but it ended up taking him a year to be baptized. By that time, I had moved on to other areas. So here he is, baptized and preparing to go on a mission himself! It goes to show you that you may not necessarily see all the fruits of your labors. And small acts, such as just being outside, walking with everyone and distributing brochures and copies of the Book of Mormon, can lead to success. It adds a fun and interesting spin on the Parable of the Sower.

In other news, Last Monday, we had another Ouidah activity. This makes 4 times for me so I wasn't too excited about going. However, it's our job to taxi all the missionaries around for activities. I’ll probably end up at Ouidah again before going home.

Also, this week I started driving. I think I’ve basically got the hang of driving a stick shift. Now I just need to learn is how to drive in crazy African traffic.

I am also putting a little more effort into playing the piano at church. As you may recall, they wouldn't give me much notice of which songs they were planning on for church. And even then, they would change them--sometimes even during Sacrament meeting. So I kind of had given up trying to practice them in advance. This time the Branch presidency gave me advance notice of the songs (and didn't change them). I managed to play 2 of the 3 songs with both hands, fairly decently (still have lots of work to go!). 

I’ve got a lot of learning going on: Driving, piano, AP duties, missionary apartment locations, new sector, new amis---it makes for a bit of fun stress, which helps the time go by fast. It also makes for a very tired Elder Walls. I did the math the other day, and the typically missionary work week should normally be 74.5 hours, including proselyting, studies, planning, and meetings. 

Moral of the story is just that I’m going to do a lot of napping when I get home! And let's plan on doing going to the DC Temple when I am home. That is something I've missed while serving here. 

I am working hard, doing my best, and enjoying myself along the way. I am trying to not count the days, however, I did note that I've only got 8 more Sundays here in Benin.

Just realized that my first Sunday back will be Alex M.'s last Sunday before he leaves. I am so glad that I'll get to see him before he embarks on his mission--that’ll be exciting. Do you think they’ll do a homecoming talk with a farewell talk? That would be a very awesome Sacrament meeting!

Love you guys, 
Elder Walls

Guess who just walked into the mission office front door? One of BYU's French321 professors (however, not the one from whom I will be taking the class). Very interesting to see a BYU prof on this side of the globe.

Also, BYU should be informing you sometime this week as to whether I am back on the drum line, and what position I will have. If you hear anything, will you shoot me a direct email? Thanks!

I'm sending a lot of photos this week. It is so nice to use the computers at the mission office--so much easier to send photos!

The mural on this voodoo hut is a representation of Mami Wata, the Mermaid Voodoo Goddess. I don't completely understand all of the legend/myth around her, but I do know that many people think she is responsible for many of the misfortunes that occur to people on the sea. A lot of people (including many church members) believe in her, and are afraid of her. 

Fishermen off the shore of Ouidah

African Canoe
Revenon ("Awoken voodoo spirit") Statue at Ouidah
GTV (Goat transport vehicle!)
Baptism of Fr Adrien
Mangez-vous (dinner appointment) with Sr. Diane, Fr. Emmanuel, L'élu, Ezekiel and Dominique
Patte with Peanut Sauce

Spicy Peanut Sauce!
This little cutie is the son of one of our amis.  

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