Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

Hi Everyone,
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
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
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

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