Sunday, June 26, 2016

Enduring to the End

Dear Mom and Dad,

I hope everyone is doing well back home. I miss you guys a lot, but I am doing my best not to count down the day until I am home. I am working in the mission office, and sitting right by my computer area all the farewell envelopes for the returning missionaries, so that isn't helping! I suppose I shouldn't peek at those until they give it to me officially :)

My companion is feeling better, so we have been able to work in the sector a few days. We also assisted President Morin on his interviews with the missionaries. Every 3 months, President Morin takes a trip around the entire mission to interview everyone. We follow and support him while he conducts his business. 

This round of interviews was based on companionship study. President Morin read some scriptures with each companionship and then discussed their efforts to study together. While he is working with the missionaries, we look through the area books for each companionship. 

Overall, it has been a good week. I am hoping we will be able to spend lots of time in our sector this week. We are still working with Brother Mensah and Sister Josephine. I am hoping to be able to see them be baptized before I leave!

So, that's been my week. Again, I hope you are all doing well. I will see you in not so long!

Elder Walls

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Isaiah 52:7

Dear Family,

So my companion is feeling kind of sick and probably won’t want to stick around the office for too long, so I’ll keep this email shorter than usual---

I've had an unusual, yet productive week.

The first story relates to the scripture found in Isaiah 52:7.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

I think I told you about the warts on my foot a few weeks ago. I had a few ugly little warts on the big toe of my right foot. I treated them with an acidic cream that I purchased from the pharmacy. It worked, or at least I thought it was working. The skin in the area died, and peeled off, along with the black warts. And the skin underneath looked good. 

I just let the new skin be, but I suppose there must still have been a little bit of the virus left because the warts started coming back. With a vengeance! Since there were quite a few warts, I scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist. There aren't too many dermatologist's offices, but I was finally able to get an appointment in a small clinic in Cotonou. 

I assumed that the doctor would be able to use liquid nitrogen to freeze them off. However, when I asked about that, he just laughed. He said there isn't enough money in Benin for things like that. What he said he could do though, would be to electro coagulate them off---or basically use electricity to burn them off.

I called the Morin's and got their "OK," and told the doctor to go ahead with the treatment. I didn’t quite realize how crazy painful it would be. First of all, I needed anesthetic shots in the foot (I was told that I would only need 4). The bottom of the foot has a lot of nerve ending and is very, very sensitive to tickling, pain, etc., so each needle felt way more significant than any other shot that I’ve gotten before.

After the shots, he started burning warts. However, I could still feel basically everything that was going on, so I got more shots. Shots, burning, shots, burning---etc etc. Very tiring. I think I got probably more than 14 shots in total and the doc said that he had found over 20 warts including ones that were hiding underneath other warts. It took quite a bit of time, but it finally was over. 

One funny moment. The doctor had a very, unintentionally, funny nurse helping him. When she noticed that I was still feeling the burn from the electrode, she said, "Don't worry, I'll turn the AC on." Hahaha, as if a little AC would really do anything for the pain!

Anyways, the electrocoagulation left some nice scabs and open wounds for the first week or so. I've got some gnarly looking feet right now, but they are getting better. I am using an antibiotic cream to keep any infections from starting. And I change my bandage morning and night. (Mom, thanks for sending me out with a nice first aid kit and gauze! :-)

I’ll send you guys a photo, try not to gag.

One of the missionaries in our apartment has malaria and has really been out of shape. And my comp just started coming down with something yesterday--possibly malaria. Both seem to be doing better, so don't worry. 

I am excited to see that we have a big group of Americans coming to the mission! There has not been a group this big as long as I've been here. The timing is good, because in the next few months, we will lose almost half of the Americans that are here. It is funny to look at the photos of those who are coming--you can see a resemblance to another missionary who will be leaving soon (or has already left). Some even have the same last name as previous missionaries. It is great to know that others are coming to pick up where we leave off, and continue the work we have been doing. Hopefully, they will have a real impact on the mission and the people of Benin. 

I love you all, and I can’t wait until we meet back up in the airport!

See ya in a few!

Elder Walls

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sweet is the Work

Dear Family,

It is so good to hear from you again. Only 4 more Sundays after today until I am home! I have to say it is getting hard to not be constantly counting down the days, especially since tomorrow will mark one month left. 

We have had a good week. It's been so nice because we have been invited several times to eat in the homes of members and investigators. It's funny because at the beginning of my mission I had a really hard time eating African food (I could barely swallow it!). And now, I am going to miss quite a few of the local dishes. I doubt that I would even be able to prepare them the way they do here, even if I managed to find all of the necessary ingredients. I've really grown to love this place!

I got to do a split with Elder Jackson (from the MTC). He is in my old sector, in Cococodji so that was fun. President wants us to do a split there every Thursday, so I will have the chance to catch up with an old friend and former investigators (who are now members). This will be a great way to wrap up my last few weeks here.

Since I don't have much news today, I will tell you a little about some of our current investigators. 


We met Josephine while my comp was still working with Elder Mutumbo. We were on a split and I accompanied Pellevoizin into his sector. While visiting some of his recent converts, we were introduced to one convert's grandmother, Josephine. She has been in the Catholic Church since she was very young. She has been very friendly and open with us. It is very easy to see that her family is very important to her. While talking about one of her sons, who is now living in New York and hasn’t contacted her in the past 6 years, she couldn’t help but crying. (Side note: You hardly ever see anyone cry in Africa. Young children are beaten for crying, so they learn to not do it, and the habit sticks with them as they get older.)  

She started coming to church with her grandchildren and has really liked everything she has seen. She plans on being baptized soon. We are just working to make sure that she is truly converted and not just coming because she likes the way we hold our meetings. 


Mensah is an older gentleman. One day he just wandered into the church building and asked if it was a church. He hasn't missed a Sunday since! He has accepted all of the lessons and seems to be a perfect investigator. He asks good questions, was already living the commandments, and has already introduced us to 3 of his friends. He is planning on being baptized soon.


Kaka is the younger sister of Natacha, a recent convert. Kaka has not had much schooling, so we have had some difficulty with the language (people here learn the national language, French, in school). She is progressing, slowly, and comes to church on Sundays with her sister. 


She is the wife of a member, who attends church in another branch. She is ready to be baptized, but we have to get their church attendance stabilized. Her husband doesn't want to leave the branch where he was baptized. And Honorine doesn't want to come to our branch without her husband. And the missionaries in Fidjrossé can't come to visit them because they live out of their boundaries. 

We are doing well. I am doing my best to stay focused on the work. (Although, I can't really help but think about home from time to time!) My hope is that this last month will be smooth sailing--no unexpected illness or problems, and I will be able to focus on doing the work! And it is WORK :) I am looking forward to being able to sleep. 

So, I will leave it at that. When I am home, we will have time to talk about everything. 

Love you--say hi to Grandma and Grandpa for me!


Elder Walls

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Togo, Togo and More Togo

Baptism for Ge-- and No--
Dear Family,

It is always great to hear from you. It is crazy seeing my flight plans finalized--it makes the end seem all the more. I think we only have 5 more weekly emails. Crazy, right?

This week has been super busy with lots of trips back and forth to Togo and back. 

Monday, we went to the border and picked up the sister missionaries who are going home. We drove them to the mission office and waited for them to finish their final interviews.

Tuesday, we went to the border again to pick up Elders Epperonnier and Ranaivosoa and drove them all the way to Porto Novo, where they will be working.

Wednesday, we got to work in the sector, as well as part of Thursday. We also spent part of Thursday in the office, finalizing the transfer information on the computers for President Morin. And we picked up the newly arriving missionaries and brought them back to our apartment to spend the night. 

Friday, we drove the new missionaries to Lome (which is beyond the border), where we dropped them off. We then did a split with the Elders of Hedzranawoé. I worked with Elders Roundy and Kayakez. 

We spent night with Elder Jorgensen at Kelegougan (always great to see that guy--can't believe how fast the time has gone by since we were in the MTC together!), and then drove back home with Elder Gonzalez, who will be working in Benin now. Before leaving I got to see Elder Barnes (do you remember he is the one I trained in Porto Novo?) I always love getting to see him. He is doing great and will finish just a few months after me. We got home, driving Elder Gonzalez with us, and went straight to our baptismal service for Norbert and Geneviève. 

Geneviève is a friend from my former sector. Elder Mayamba and I found and taught her. Well, actually she found us. She stopped us on the road and said that she had brothers and sisters in the church (in other branches) and that she was interested in hearing about the church. Her conversion was pretty quick. 

Norbert is in my current sector. My comp, Elder Pellevoizin, started teaching him a while back. Norbert is a really solid guy and will be a great convert and will really help the Branch here. 

In church today, it was so great to see Geneviève, Norbert, Paul, Beatrice, and Mariath all be confirmed. I have worked closely with all of them and it brings me such joy to see them participate in their first gospel ordinances. 

I love this work! I am doing my best to finish strong. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf. I am praying for you, as well, and hope things continue to go well for you.

Love you all!

Elder Walls