Monday, May 6, 2013

Thank you mom and dad for the letters! Yes I am in Africa and WOW.. haha, so from the start, the travel was very good, and long! Sorry I did not call from D.C. our cards did not work there I don't know why! But yeah then we went on to Belgium.. in Belgium I began speaking my french with all the people and was feeling pretty good about myself and was getting around so I got pretty excited! Then I boarded the plane to Africa.. I slept most that flight when we flew in to Cotonou! We arrived late at night, and so it was dark... luckily.. haha I got off the plane and have never smelt such a terrible smell in my whole life! No doubt I will never complain about bad smells again after stepping foot here! I am used to it now though! Right away though people started to talk to me, and I had no clue what they said.. still this day, I hardly have any clue what people are saying! Because the accent here in Africa is so strong and they speak much different french so that has been the hardest part! But back to the airport, the President and his wife were there to pick us up so we met them! He is an amazing man and no doubt will be a great mission president for me, he was so welcoming and is such a loving and caring person.. We went back to there house, which is really probably the nicest house in Benin, and showed up and had to go through the three guards to get in the house.. his house had air conditioning and good food and all that so that night and morning was great!   We got to interview with him that next morning.. originally they had me serving in Menotin, with Elder Kimzey! But President changed his mind after, and he sent me to Gbegamey! This secteur is a newer one, and the branch is just starting out here! The hardest part though, is he put me in the one apartment with all french speakers.. so there has been a lot of pointing this past week to get things accomplished.. haha but they are all Awesome! Elder Kazada is from the Congo and Elder Langouet is from France and my companion Elder Soanantenaina is from Madagascar ( They have long names obviously) but he is awesome.. he has a strong testimony and he has a great knowledge of the scriptures, so I can learn a lot in that area! Back to the day though The second we walked outside to get in the car.. was a total shock.. it was a new day so it was light outside and wow! Never in my life had I ever seen anything like this, and I that is comparing to Tijuana and such.. but it was okay.. so we went out to our area, and slowly the quality of the area decreased.. we pulled up to our little shack of an apartment, which is luckily on the third floor though! So we don't have as many creepy crawly's and lizards and such! And we go in and it definitely is not what I am used to.. The environment I live in is third world, but really is one of the better apartments here! I will no doubt ever complain about anything after having been here.. You don't realize how comfortable we really live.. I am lucky to get a shower, a cold one at that! And be thankful for laundry because it takes forever to hand wash clothes and such! haha, and the clothes need a good wash because of how hot it is here.. It is INSANE how hot it is! It is like being in a sauna 24/7! No lie! And it never cools down even at night.. so you are always drenching wet with sweat! I am getting more used to that! The only part I really don't like is sleeping in a wet smelly bed but hey ill get used to it:)  We are also lucky as we get electricity.. because we usually don't have it.. I like to have it because then I can fan my bed when I sleep which is a little nice! So I have definitely gained an appreciation for those things.. and another one is toilet paper! I found out this first week African's don't use toilet paper! So yeah.. first night, no power so I walk in the dark bathroom and yeah.. take care of business.. only to look around and see.. Oh no, no toilet paper.. so yeah.. but luckily since then I have found an way to take care of that so we are good there! Another thing is the food.. we have to make our own food.. and we trade off each meal which is nice! But we went shopping.. and I had no clue what was going, I can cook quesadillas and such.. but in Africa the food is completely different! Haha, luckily I was able to communicate with my companion for him to help me with that.. every meal we usually have chicken ( African Chicken)... and if you see the chickens here you know what i mean.. and either rice or fufu.. fufu is the main food here along with pate.. it really isn't too bad, and I can eat it every meal! It is a paste out of cornmeal and is plain so you mix it with a beninoi sauce! So far I don't think I have had too crazy of food.. I think.. people give you food and you have to eat it so I do! I have had raw fish though and plenty of it! Another shocker here is about half the people don't wear clothes.. so that has taken some getting used to! haha.. a pretty funny thing happened when I stopped to talk to a young boy.. we talked for a little and while we were talking he reached down and just started to ... yeah, go to the bathroom.. that is just what you do here!I have come to realize though really that all these things don't matter! These are no doubt the happiest people I have EVER met! And the most kind and unselfish! You just smile at someone and they will light up! They are the best! There is no shortage of people to talk to! Anyone and everyone will talk to you so the challenge comes in finding the ones who are most ready to hear the gospel! They are amazing though, always happy, and know what the important things are.. The children are so awesome as well.. my new name for them is YOVO.. which means white man.. they follow me around and sing songs and such and love looking at and talking me with! It is funny because the really young ones, like Hayden's age.. just stare because they are so confused about me.. but the older ones think its pretty funny and love the big white man! Every time they see me they light up and come hug me! A lot of them will grab my hand and follow me everywhere! They are adorable and are so nice! I haven't felt too in danger here. and have been pretty safe! These people are no doubt the best though, and very understanding that I cant really speak with them yet. The branch I am with is no doubt very basic and beginning, I have also been given the responsibility to teach them all English, which is tough to do along with proselyting and not knowing french, but I know the lord will help! We had an interesting incident this past week in church... a new member told one of the leaders about how when she started praying she began to speak in the language of tongues(Adamic language) I'm not really sure why.. haha.... so yeah.. when she claimed that she could, he got  upset and so we had to come in and calm him down and handle that overall situation! But it is good now.. also the people at church got to watch conference for the first time because it just got here! So it was fun to hear what they had to say! A lot of my work involves strengthening the members and fortifying the leadership in the branch, it is very stressful and tough not knowing how to speak, but I know that the lord will help! This is an amazing place and I am so very thankful to be here! The Lord has prepared these people and his work will go forward! The President told me that the church here is like the church when it originated, and that we need to help with getting the foundation here! I love it here and each day become better with french.. I will have more stories next week, because I will have more lessons to teach so wait till then! I am just getting started out! I love and miss you all ! Au Revoir! Elder Oliverson

 Me, Elder Soanantenaina, Elder Langouet, Elder Christenson and  two investigator.
They keep to bugs down :)

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