Monday, June 24, 2013

Bonjour! Another good week in Africa! The work is still great and not a ton of new stuff though! This next week coming us is when we will have our baptisms this month so I'm really looking forward to that! All of our investigators are doing great as well! Our four business men are still golden as ever and are preparing a ton for their baptisms. They have all had pretty rough pasts and have had to make some huge changes in their habits and such to be baptised, so its amazing to see that this conversion and desire to follow Christ, is helping them change completely around! In fact two of them Ambrose and Gilbert are getting married as part of the prep for the baptism, so we have been getting that all organized, which is definitely not easy but way worth it! We might have to push their baptisms back a week if we cant have the marriage done before, but that's not too bad.. Its definitely a big boost for the starting the new branches here to have new potential priesthood holders join the church! So all round this is a huge blessing for them and to the church and awesome to watch! Another ami Crystelle who is getting baptized this week is also doing great! She has had some trouble lately leaving her past church and all of the dancing and singing and such to join ours, but hey she decided to make the sacrifice so shes doing great! Haha a lot of people are a little disappointed to find we don't have all the dancing and singing in church, but they feel the spirit when  they come and realize why so that's always good! Our branch is also doing very well here in Gbegamey! With our new leaders and having a lot of new converts coming in its really fun to see how fast it is progressing! I was way excited this week as we had a couple new missionary aged young men join the church, and are already some amazing members, I love working with them and hearing how bad they want to serve missions and how they're already getting ready! To be honest was a little ashamed with myself to see how much better they're preparing and working to get ready than I was! But its definitely a huge thing to have people here from Benin already starting to get ready to serve their own missions! So the work is great! The problem still isn't in finding people, because everyone here wants to here the message, its just finding the most ready people! Its the best though as we are always teaching and always busy! The food is getting better, its still hot though, I'm pretty sure that one wont change! We did have a huge miracle no doubt this past week though! Definitely one I wont forget either as well.. This past Tuesday my companion and I and the A.P's got to go to the marriage of one of the new members here in our branch. The wedding all went great and we were just leaving with the A.P's to go eat afterwards, as we were driving back through Mentontin to go eat, things were all good and we were just driving on a busy road as usual, all of the sudden though a moto came up from behind going way to fast (not a surprise here) he tried to get around us on the side but we had another moto on the side of us, so as he went to pass, he slammed on his breaks and slipped, then slamming into the side of our truck and going under it.. No doubt right then I knew for sure it wasn't good, and when I looked back to just see him back on the ground, Ill be honest to say I though for sure he was gone, Elder Poll though said it was the moto we had run over so I knew we were good there.. The problem was though that there was an angry crowd there thinking that we had ran into that guy, and here with there not being much justice, we had to keep going, a little farther down though, three more motos came from behind and blocked us off from passing, along with that they had one of the police guys with them, I could already tell things weren't good, so Elder Owusu got outside being African, so he was fine doing so, and was working to explain what happened as the angry group were trying to get us arrested so they could get money or something out of us, the cops were ordering the other A.P out of the car as well, but before he got out he was able to get a call off to the Commissioner of police in Cotonou, and the assistant of him, that's where the miracle came in, that just a couple months ago he had baptized both the assistant to the commissioner, and commissioner of police here, and they both happened to be close by in Menontin... definitely a huge blessing! So after that he got out to deal with the crowd, and luckily the police were keeping things under control in a way from getting worse, but things were definitely leaning on the side of the angry group,  things just kept getting worse with that situation.. and just at the right time when the police were starting to get heated, the commissioner and mayor showed up to work the whole situation out for us.. We finally after an hour or two had gotten the whole situation straightened out and were back off on our way... definitely a quiet ride back till Elder Poll said... ¨Well I think its safe to say were blessed!!¨ and that's very true! Haha definitely hoping that one doesn't happen again though! Other than that the week has been good! I finally had the p├áte rouge which is much better than just the regular fufu, because it has flavor in it so that was pretty nice! I'm also still finding a ton more fruit and better foods, so were doing good in that area! We've had water also for the past two days so were doing fine there as well! Haha this work is the definitely the best though, and even when things get super tough just with being in Africa, the people are what make it great! They have no doubt taught me a ton in how to have real happiness! And its even better because we have the chance to even increase on that happiness with giving them the gospel! I love and miss you all and hope you re all enjoying America! Have a great next week!

These are the two business men we have been teaching Ambrose and Gilbert!! 
Elder Mundu & me. He is leaving in a week. He's Congolese and actually is really educated!! He wants to go to BYU after the mission. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bonjour! Another great week with some more random adventures! We found a new source for coconut milk, and mango's so were doing good and I'm still alive! I found a scale in a little store here, and either it doesn't work right (which I wouldn't be surprised) or Ive already lost 15 pounds, either could be true haha, but I'm right with the average for the rest of the missionaries if the second is true! I learned how to make fufu too finally, because we ran out of rice this week so I didn't really have a choice, haha But our ami's are all progressing very well and the work is going awesome! The branch is doing well, and the new leaders we got put in are doing awesome, and were starting to get more and more work going with them so that's really fun to work with them! Also things with those four men are going amazing! We were able to have a few lessons with them this past week, and they all four committed to be baptized,. along with their families, the 29th of this month! They're continuing to come to church with their whole families and are some golden investigators! In our lesson this past week on Thursday, we had a cool experience with one those men, named Ambrosse. We were walking up to his place for the lesson and for some reason he was there waiting for us with his Book of Mormon, before we could say anything he told us he had finished the Book of Mormon, and that he knew it was true, that he knew Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that our church is the true church, then asked what he needed to do to be baptized!? He has since given up drinking and smoking, and other bad habits already in his preparation to be baptized, and really it hasn't been extremely difficult for him because of his strong testimony he already has of the truthfulness of our message.He bore a full powerful testimony about the truthfulness of our message, and this is coming from one of our new ami's! He went on to explain, without us asking, why he stopped us that day with the rain. He said that Thursday was their usual day where they sit out in the afternoon and drink and have a good time with the boys. That specific day though for some reason, their usual guy who brings the drinks didn't show up and they're still not sure why. They were disappointed and were getting ready to leave when it started to rain, because of the rain they decided to stay on the patio a little longer till it finished. There was no one out because of the storm, until he saw two guys with white shirts walking down the road, he said that he had an impression like hes never had to invite us in out of the rain, and the rest of the men there said the same thing. Putting his side of the story of what happened that day with our side of the story shows that no doubt the Lords hand was involved, and the timing and the placement of us and them was too perfect to be just by chance! Because for us we were just trying to doing some tracking, and had the feeling to go give a little visit to a member on a road we don't usually travel, the member wasn't there that day, so we ended up being stranded on that road, we continued on to walk back down that road and that's when the men stopped us and invited us in. From that prompting to us to go down that road, and for the rain that day, and the prompting they had to invite us in, no doubt that was a miracle! They have since read and gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and are all planning to get baptized this month. They have already started to center their families on the gospel, and make the changes necessary, meaning a couple of them are getting married this next week in preparation for baptism, which is huge here with how expensive that is to get married. It is amazing to see the happiness they have found, and they always tell us how happy they are and how thankful they are, and they as well recognize that what happened that day wasn't just by chance. That has been one of the most coolest experiences Ive had yet, and it is continuing to get better as they are continuing to prepare for baptism. They will no doubt as well be a huge blessing to the church here as well! That experience has also really strengthen my testimony on the converting power of the BofM no doubt. And that book no doubt contains real power as it has caused those men and many others to make huge changes in there lives, so that they can become members of the church! Its also awesome to see the blessings they are already having and how the gospel is changing their lives for the better! Another one of our ami's that we found through a member is also being baptized on the 29th! She is doing great with her preparation as well, and has made some big sacrifices in giving up her old life, and old ways, even giving up old friends so she can follow the right! They're strengthening my testimony a ton in watching them change and their happiness grow! So the work is awesome! We have found many new ami's and members and have had some amazing lessons this past week, sorry I feel bad because I really cant include all of the miracles and blessings of the past week because there are really plenty each day, but I hope those couple are good! Haha on another note I did get my first taste of how bad the voodoo really is here, I finally realized that the reason that people from certain tribes have slits cut in their faces isn't to look cool (which to be honest it does look really cool) but it has to do with the voodoo, and too look like a snake or something? So that was crazy to finally find out what that meant! And I had my first glimpse of a Revanon, and hopefully my last!! They're voodoo "ghosts", which I don't know if that's true unless ghosts have legs.. because I could see their legs under their red robes....that roam streets outside the main city at night, they go down the streets with red robes and black voodoo masks doing tribal dances, and if you don't bow and respect them they beat you with sticks... Haha and rumor has it they have knives too, and for white people that don't respect the voodoo they'll do a little more than beat you with sticks!? But this week I caught a first glimpse of some coming from a distance, luckily we happened to be by a home of a member and they hurried us in and we watched is they did their dance down the road.. I'm pretty sure one of them saw me through the window so I didn't dare take a picture, and I'm sure that was a good idea! Haha so yeah, Ive realized just how prevalent that stuff really is here, as it has been the pastime of this area, but that just makes it even better to watch the church sprout up and grow and watch the light the gospel brings here! All people are already starting to know about the Mormons, and understanding that the white tall people are the Mormon's! But the church is definitely growing here and its the best to see and have a part in! The work is great though as always, but its no doubt the Lords work, and nothing is going to stop it from going forward! The people are the best, and the gospel is already starting to bless their lives unbelievably! We have some awesome members here in Gbegamey! Africa is great, hot and wet and more and more toads and lizards as always, with the toads being about as big as a little dog, Haha but like I said I found a cheap source of coconut and mango so that's a plus to the rainy season! A member is preparing jungle rat for us this week, so we'll see how that should be exciting, this is the first invitation I questioned a little, but this invitation doesn't come around much so I jumped on it! Haha I hope all is good though in America! I love and miss you all! 
Elder Oliverson
The Zone with Elder Dickson. 

Was able to go into the City. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bonjour! Another good week! I'm finally starting to see a lot more improvement in the language which is way nice! I have been able to have pretty solid conversations with people which is good to finally see! I'm even able to bargain with people finally, which is necessary here being white.. and even got a pair of sandals down from 8000 francs to 2000....(which is what they were originally) so I was feeling pretty good about myself! I got a little to confident though when I was talking with one of our ami's this past week, and we were talking about her kids, and apparently she asked me if I had any kids, and I thought she said something completely different so I said of course! She got super excited, and I was really confused, then only to find out she wanted her kids to marry my kids one day. Luckily we got that one cleared up though! Haha Ive had a lot of problem with getting proposed to, but now they're trying to set their kids up with my kids (which I don't have..) didn't see that one coming.. but hey its all good! haha still super hot and and eating fufu every day so that's good! I'm feeling a lot more at home here though now, and am pretty used to all of the craziness of Africa! Ill be honest I sometimes forget why everyone stares at me and the kids think I'm a monster, then I remember I'm white.. I don't see that changing any time soon though so Ive gotta get used to that! The work is going great though! The baptism this past week was great and no doubt the best feeling! It was really cool to see one of our ami's Marlene go up after the baptism and bear her testimony! I have no doubt she will be a strong member in this branch! Our ami's are progressing amazing, and we've made a lot of progress with them so that has been great. The four business men that we found the last week in the rain, have continued to accept our message and they are doing great! They have been coming to church, and are starting to bring their families as well, and are really understanding and applying our message as well! When you can show them how the gospel will bless their families it definitely sparks their interest a ton! So it was a really great blessing to find them! As it is very difficult to find a solid family with parents and children. They have committed to baptism later this month so that is really exciting to see how the Lord prepared them for our message! Definitely a great blessing for the branch as well to hopefully have 4 more solid new families! Another ami who we found through a recent convert as well is committed to baptism and she is amazing as well! It is just her with her two kids, but they are strong and their testimonies are growing a ton! Shes probably one of the nicest people Ive ever met as well.. for example every time we have a lesson with her, she tells us that because we are always giving her spiritual nourishment, she wants to give us nourishment, so she demands to make us a huge meal every time! We try to explain that she cant keep doing that, but she INSISTS, so I just go with it.. but hey I'm not complaining.. I also had my first lesson with a Muslim family here which was cool as well! Usually we don't teach with them and a lot of the time they want nothing with us, but this family wanted us to come so we did, and it was an amazing lesson! It was also way cool to pray together with them for really the first time in their life and helping them understand who their Heavenly Father is and such. I'm hoping they will continue to come along as well! Our branch is growing and doing well too! We had branch conference this past Sunday, and one of the new golden converts Larry who is from Ghana (so he speaks English) got put in as 2nd counselor in the presidency so that was awesome to see! Also I had another big shocker at church when another American showed up.. The first American non missionary Ive seen since Ive been here! So good to talk to him Ill be honest haha, but apparently he works with the U.S. Embassy here, and is in this branch area, also he said he learned french here in Benin, so there is hope! The work is great though overall! Elder Langouet the other Yovo in our secteur is being transferred to open up a new area, so Ill miss him! He helped me a ton with my french so that will be missed for sure! Things are great here though! And really we have a ton of little miracles each day, so we are very blessed.. for example this past Tuesday our little propane tank ran out so we couldn't cook any food.. so me and my comp went out to fill it up, only to find out the closest place to do so was over an hour walk away.. and carrying the big propane tanks.. and it was the middle of the day so it was barely physically possible for us to do that haha, but we went along and after about ten steps a random guy pulled up in a jeep and asked how preaching the gospel is going, and told us he appreciated what we were doing and offered to give us a ride... never would anyone usually do that for us!? So even though it was something random and small it was a huge blessing for us as missionaries!! Hope all is good back in the USA though! And you're eating good food and stuff... I didn't have anything too crazy this past week, but we are definitely finding more and more fruit especially because its mango season so that's the best! No doubt a lot better than in America, even the Bananas are better here!?  Love and miss you all! Good luck with everything this next week!
-Elder Oliverson

Marlen, my first Baptism!
Elder Soanantenaina, and the member from the muslim family who helped us find her!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Another great week! This one was a pretty exciting one too! The work was great, and it just continues to get better and better each day. The language is coming much better now, and is now doubt like our mission president explained, like being in a pressure cooker.. Being with only french speakers 24/7 and rarely getting the opportunity to speak to an English speaker is insanely tough, but I can see that I learn much much faster so what a blessing that is! Its still hot as ever but it did cool down to about 88 this week so I felt blessed there! I'm getting much more used to that though! I'm getting much more African in general id say too so hey that's not too bad! a little skinnier and darker every day, so hopefully one day I wont have to be the "Yovo"!! I hoping! I got a haircut today from my coiffure, which I'm becoming a regular at... because he has no clue what do do with white person hair I get the sweet lined up job, and hey that helps me fit in more too! Sorry I forgot to report on the cat, the cat was actually not too bad.. It was just like another meat and really wasn't too crazy Ill be honest! I have had some other pretty interesting things this past week that I had no clue, and really they were actually pretty good! The foods that I have learned that are the hardest to keep down are the weird combinations they make up here.. Like potatoes and milk? Or corn mixed with coconut?.. But hey its all good and I do my best to eat it with a smile because they watch you closely haha. I got the chance to split with another Yovo "Elder Langouet" from France, so how crazy that was to see two Yovo's at the same time here in Africa! I'm used to standing out insane but when two white people are together it was double the craziness! We also attracted some of the stranger people here for some reason.. For example on our way home we ran into a "wizard" or at least I think that is what he was.. He had a wand and had a couple screws loose for sure, but he was trying to talk to us in Fant, which we obviously don't speak, and then got frustrated and started trying to cast spells on us and started to freak us out a little bit, he then started pulling some weird wizard stuff out of his bag, and that's when we started to try to get away, as we did he ended up following, so it turned real fast into a foot race, and he no doubt wasn't giving up! We continued towards our place, and for some reason there was a little military blockade.(or in other words three random soldiers with machine guns in the road) which I'm not sure why they were there still?. Luckily this scared our wizard friend so we lost him, but then ran into the problem with the blockade, after trying to get past, I was pretty sure they were going to take advantage of the situation of having two white people and get money before we could get past. It started to get pretty sketchy for a while, but for some reason I didn't really get worried and felt pretty safe! I showed my passport as asked and we continued to talk, then one of them saw our name tag and the name Jesus Christ caught all their interest, slowly the conversation started to lead more and more into the gospel and we ended up giving them a couple brochures about the Restoration and inviting them to come to church with us this next Sunday, then we had some friendly handshakes and off we went on our way! No doubt I felt very blessed in that situation and knew that the Lord was looking out for us missionaries! Our ami's are definitely progressing very well too! We have some amazing investigators who have shared some amazing stories about why they continued talking to us! One big blessing we received this week came while we were doing OVB or tracking.. We rarely do this and usually it is just once a week, because we are usually teaching all the day. But this day we were tracking through some streets and it was pouring rain, for some reason when it rains here everything shuts down, people this that because of the rain that they cant do anything, for they explain they cant talk with us because it is raining, a little confusing but that's the case. We were going about and for some reason weren't having many promptings on where we should go, we were wondering what was wrong but continued to go, we continued going straight till we got to the end of the road, and turned back around a little discouraged, then out of  no where a group of 5 men under a patio called us over to take cover from the rain. What a great chance this was for us! We started off with a little small talk, then began sharing our message, the men were unbelievable prepared for our message asking amazing questions for example if Christ was baptized by immersion why was I baptized with the sprinkling of water? Really who asks that question, they were all very prepared for our message of the restoration and after teaching about the Book of Mormon they all asked for the books, and of course we gave them! Its not every day you have people begging you for the Book of Mormon here! But he gave them set up our next appointment and left! Sunday though all those men were at church with their Books of Mormon, and were just as happy as could be! After having the book for just 3 days one of them was already half way through Alma! This no doubt is huge here to have five men all of which have families who are progressing with our message and amazing for us to see how the Lord has prepared them! Another awesome chance we had this week was the our little visit with Elder Dickson, just being in his presence no doubt you knew he was called of the Lord! I as way excited for the visit and it was the best, I did find out after though that Elder Uchdorf was supposed to accompany him this visit... and after hearing that was a little disappointed Ill be honest! Haha but hey it was still an unbelievable experience to meet with him!! The spirit was so unbelievably strong just being around him so that was great! He really stressed that we need to focus more now on strengthening the foundation that we have set up here and fortifying the priesthood, because the growth is so rapid, it is hard for the organization and the church in general to keep up. So working more with the priesthood and establishing that and working with the members has been a big focus for us this past while. These people are the best though no doubt, and when I say they're the happiest they really are!! When they receive the truth its amazing to see how much they cherish it! They have taught me a ton in that area no doubt! So overall things in Africa are great! And the Lords work is going along! I also got a little humbled this week talking to Elder Gray who is in Cococoji, the one area farthest outside of Cotonou, and finding out he has been without water for the past 24 days and has been pulling from the well which is a ways away, haha after complaining about my every other week without water Ive definitely become much more thankful in that area! Hope all is well in the U.S of A, Love and miss you all! Elder Oliverson

Guard Monkey(Baboon)

I didn't dare get any closer to that monkey.. It was a fiesty one for sure!  
A member invited me to come eat! Honestly I have no clue what that is?????
Not your average house dog.. ha-ha Hyene!