Things have been going pretty well this week. Not in the least because we got to baptize an investigator. Of course, he wasn't confirmed a member because he was late to church, but hey, what can you do? His nickname is Prince (pronounced Prance, yay french), I can't pronounce his real name. I don't think that I'm actually going to get the chance to get in the water and baptize someone while I'm getting trained, my trainer doesn't believe in there being lots of people doing the baptizing. He just hands it off to another missionary who is already baptizing. Oh well, I'll have opportunities later.
As far as emailing goes, it has kind of been left to us to decide what to do. The goal behind contacting people back home is to stay updated and show the miracles of missionary work for both the missionary and the family, and not to distract/bog down the missionary with thoughts of home. So I'm going to play it by heart for a little while and try and find the balance. So if I don't email you back for a little while, be patient.
Health wise, things have been going much much better this week. I've been drinking a lot more water, which has helped a lot. I drink about 3-4 liters a day, which probably still isn't quite enough. I've also gotten some bread back into my diet, which has been nice. The bread here is absolutely delicious. It also has zero preservatives, so it can go moldy in 3 days. Also, I found the fried peanut butter I saw on the internet. It wasn't in rings, but it was still pretty cool. Tasted exactly like a peanut piled up with peppers. One of the spiciest things I've eaten. And about 1 cent a pop.
In other health news, I had the chance to weigh myself today. I'm the same weight from when I left the MTC, so I seem to have made a decent transition. Of course, I did hear that I may have actually lost a few pounds and then made it back with water weight. I guess we'll see.
Also, apparently my hair is long enough that I have a legitimate potential to get head lice. I just don't want to give it up because I won't be able to get it back for the rest of my mission. Also, it fascinates the African children here.
Also, I use the word also a lot in this email. But my sleep is improving. I'm still waking up a fair bit at night, but I have so much more energy now. Probably a part of being more hydrated. Also, thanks to the Doxy, all my acne has cleared up except for some on my face, and even that is doing a little better now that I'm handling the sweating better (the washable handkerchiefs are a lifesaver! So much help).
As far as real mail goes, I've gotten a letter! There was a sister from Ghana in the MTC who was going to Cote D'Ivoire (and no, we don't know why she wasn't sent to the MTC in Ghana). Apparently there is some sort of pouch system between our two missions, because I got a little note from her. It was cool to actually get some real mail. Especially since this mission is no longer a Dear Elder pouch mission, I think my real mail is going to be a little slim from here on out. On the other hand, if you do send me a written letter, I promise to do my best to send a response. It might just take 4 months, I don't know right now.
Weather here has really been pretty decent since I arrived. It's started getting the tiniest bit wet, we're heading into the rainy season in a few weeks. Now when I say the tiniest bit wet, I mean it rained like a real downpour from Pageant, nothing you could possibly see in Utah. A storm did pass by us this morning, we could see it. And hear it, the first time I heard thunder here, I thought a building had just collapsed. It can literally go for 30 seconds or more.
The work here progresses. I'm becoming more involved in lessons slowly, I'm getting to the point where I feel I could, I'm just not sure what to say. I had the same problem in the MTC for a while. The trick is just going to be to open my mouth and start talking. Good thing I'm good at talking.
Fun story, we had a bible bash the other day. That in and of itself isn't all that fun, but when we got there, I realized that it was the wrong house. We accidentally blew off our actual appointment to have a bible bash. Oops.
I got to play the piano for sacrament meeting today. That was interesting. I'm a little more rusty than I thought. Also, I had to basically sight read a hymn, I think it's number 124 in English. They sing hymns a little differently around here, I'll have to demonstrate when I get back. Also, I've been reading through the lyrics of a lot of the hymns in French, and they are really quite beautiful. I need to go back and compare them to the English versions. God Be With You Till We Meet Again in particular I like so much more than in English.
Okay, it's good to know that my visa card isn't going to work at an ATM. There are banks I can do money transfers at, but at the moment I don't trust my French enough to go do that. I wasn't really planning to use it until the end of my mission anyways to buy souvenirs. Don't worry too much about my funds; I did the math, and I'm pretty sure that we as missionaries get more than the GDP per capita here, on top of free housing and utilities. So we're pretty rich. Plus, rice is suuuuper cheap.
I was thinking about the email I sent last week, and I realized that this mission is a lot like the Hill Cumorah Pageant. The best stories are the miserable parts, and then people ask you if you actually like it, and you say "Of course! I want to go back so bad!" Know that there is really no place I'd rather be right now than here, I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be.
Love to you all, Elder Ethan Christensen