Once again, mail update. Every week I learn more about this. Regular mail will make it through almost all of the time, and it's only a little more than a dollar. The only time there is any question about mail getting through is going out, apparently what I heard the first week is wrong and that is possible. So I'm looking forward to you all sending me letters! (I know most of you won't, but even a few would make me happy).
All right, confession time, I have not really been taking that many pictures yet. I really don't want to look like a tourist, so I've been pretty discreet about it. Don't worry, I will do it eventually.
I have been in Africa for almost a month and not yet cut my hair. I got used to the heat after the first few days, so it hasn't really been a problem since then. Plus, no one here ever uses hair gel, so they find my hair really interesting. I am going to get it cut in the next week or two though. Head lice would not be good.
French is coming. I'm starting to push my limits, which is frustrating but good. I understand most of the things people say unless they are talking to me, which is mostly a confidence issue I think.
I'm not actually the only missionary to play the piano, just the only one in the district. I've heard two or three other missionaries play at baptismal services (our chapel has the only fount in the country), and honestly most of them are better than me. Oh well.
Last night me and Elder Burkhart cooked dinner. We made chicken flavored rice, a ranch/taco sauce, and some scrambled eggs. The Africans didn't like it, but I thought it was a wonderful change. No tomatos or onions involved. Having meals like that every now and then will hopefully keep me sane. I'm doing really well with water, I can down a liter in less than 10 minutes, I don't know my fastest speed though.
It didn't really rain all that much for us this week. We had one big storm and that was it. It was interesting walking in the streets afterwards though, lots and lots of puddles to avoid. I hear it's worse with that in Togo, there are even less paved roads there. I'm not wearing my sandals yet, I've decided I'm not going to unless it's actually necessary. It's just something that helps me remember that I'm a missionary. That being said, it might be totally necessary the whole rainy season. I really don't want to use them though.
I'm not going to lie, this last week has been a little bit of a struggle. I feel that I could have progressed a lot more than I did. I'm definitely not as confident as I should be in lessons, and I've released the stress from that by judging my companion a little bit. Not that he knows, it just completely drives the Spirit from me when I do it. I'm also just finding the balance between what I expected missionary work to be like and the realities of what it can be here. It's a new week though, and I'm going to push really hard to make up for last week.
The good news is that my gospel study has made leaps and bounds. I've really been learning and growing in terms of the gospel. I had the opportunity to read through the book of Mosiah in the last week, I had never realized how much it talked about Christ and the Atonement. That's really my goal for the next while in my gospel study, learn more about the Atonement. It's pretty much the greatest thing before or after sliced bread.
I am officially out of clean shirts from Provo. I was saving one for a special occasion, which turned out to be Sunday thanks to a washing mistake. So now I'm officially Africano. Which is ironic, because Sunday was also the first time I've had a real shower since the mission home. Our shower head for our bedroom was broken, we had to just use the house. Then than broke too, so we have to use another bathroom now. All six of us now use one shower. Thank heavens we're men.
The amount and variety of American culture here is bizarre. I've seen on TVs now: Shark Tail, Brer Rabbit, and sonic the hedgehog. I've also seen a smart car and heard Phil Collins and Justin Bieber. Oh, and the only western drinks I've seen are Coke, Sprite, and three flavors of Fanta (not Grape, unfortunately).
Funny story time! Elder Terranova and I switched placques on each other on Wednesday during study time. Then we forgot to change back. Elder Ntengo and I stayed home most of the day because we still had the painters in our apartment, but Elder Terranova had a full day of appointments. Oops. I didn't find out until branch choir rehearsal that evening. At least I was wearing one, only one word was wrong.
One of the zone leaders got malaria this last week. From the looks of it, that's not fun. I definitely don't want to come down with it.
It's so weird to me that Finals week has come and gone for BYU. I wasn't stressed at all about tests for the first time in a long while. I felt a little lost, school still has a strong grip on me.
As far as how the work is going, it is definitely going. We got Prince confirmed yesterday, and we have a few more expected baptisms next month. Hopefully those will pan out, but maybe not. One person we had committed ended up in Togo on a mostly permanent basis. Most people are willing to talk to us if we ask. Getting them to church is harder. Also, a lot of people think we are Jehovah's Witnesses. Apparently they had a missionary effort here, but something bad happened and they were kicked out. The Church is still new enough here though that we have to make the distinction fairly often.
Over all, things are good here. I'm learning and growing in new ways I wasn't expecting, so it's almost like school. I'm happy though, and hopefully the Lord is happy with me. He might be getting tired of me asking him so many questions though. Hope things are going well back in Utah and other associated places, take care. Love you all, Elder Ethan Christensen