Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 30, 2012


Wow, I've been in Africa for a month already, that's pretty incredible.

I don't have much time to write today, we didn't get to the Cyber until pretty late, and we have an appointment relatively soon. So I'm sorry siblings that I do not have the time to write back. I will do it next week.

Sending photos- I was aware of the opportunity to send back my SD card, I've been planning on doing that. I'll probably end up taking a fair number of videos, I don't know how I would take 1200 pictures in the next 3 weeks. I'm still iffy about sending pictures by email. I have no idea how long it would take to upload a photo, and I never have enough time to write. Also, I'm pretty sure that is why memory cards get fried, no telling who has done what on these computers.

I still have not cut my hair, BUT I will have it done today. I was actually supposed to get it done this afternoon, but it didn't quite happen. Don't worry, I don't have lice yet.
The work is moving forward. There are 3 "Groups" that are being made into Branches. I am not serving in one of those. I'm with the Gbedjromedé branch, it's the original one here (we're the only ones with a baptismal fount as far as I know). So, I am not moving, but I do know that some Elders have been moved in the last week. It's really good to have a new building here though. We were talking last night, and we're pretty sure that the size of the buildings probably drives people inactive. Our branch building is so full, in order for a new convert to have somewhere to sit, someone has to stop coming. At least that's what we are thinking. Also, just problems with figuring out who lives where. We found a list of everyone baptized in our branch from 2010 to when I went in the MTC. There was 150 names on it. We honestly have no idea if they are at church or not. So that is going to be a big push for our district over the next few weeks.

It's been interesting to see the other challenges/problems the church has here. I've actually had to spend some time in Manual 2 looking up church procedure. Never thought that would happen. (By the way, did you know the church discourages members from participating in hypnotism shows? At least, if I translated that right.)

The language comes in spurts, some days I do really well, and others I can't seem to get myself to say anything. I'm going to really try and push this week to just speak all the time though. I've had a couple of experiences that have really built my confidence, now just to apply them to lessons!

I haven't gotten the package yet, but it's only been a few weeks. I probably won't see it for another month. Speaking of mail though, I got my first letter from America this last week! It was from the Stake Presidency, it was a little thing about general conference and some notes from President Neilson's talk in stake conference. It was mailed before I left the MTC, haha. It was really exciting to get some real mail like that.

The missionary work is coming well enough. If you count the number of baptismal commitments we've extended, the work goes really well. If you count the number of people actually coming to church..... Well, that's a key indicator we can still work on. Luckily, a few of the investigators from before me and my companion came are starting to get a hold of us again. We still have to do a lot of OVB this week (Open your Mouth, street contacting essentially.) It's hard, but no one said being a missionary was easy. At least no one slams doors on us. Partially because no one has doors, half the time we walk up to a door frame and say "kokoko"

In other news, I get to really teach this week. We finally are in good contact with an English speaking recent convert. So I'll be teaching those lessons. I'm excited, but I'm not sure I've ever taught the lessons in English before! Talking with Nigerians is always an interesting experience, because in my mind I'm thinking "you aren't white, I need to speak French. Wait, you don't speak French, but English. But he's not white...." and so forth.

As far as what I said last week about struggling with my expectations and reality, I think that a large part of it is I was probably thinking of the missionary I want to be at the end of my mission, and not the missionary I can be right now. I'm getting there, it just takes a little bit of time is all. Sometimes it's really easy for me to see the end goal, but actually doing the day by day stuff just bogs me down.I'm getting there, don't you worry.

I've discovered two main secrets to surviving Africa heat. The first is to not move a lot. That doesn't work for missionaries. The second thing is to enjoy every breeze as much as you can. I am really good at that. I actually saw a kite a few days ago! I was shocked.

If you want a little taste of what I get in Africa, try making Bissap. It's really good. I believe it's boiled habiscus leaves. All I know is that it tastes kind of like tiger's blood snow cones. That's probably your most realistic chance. Or just eat everything with onions and tomato paste. That sums up most of my lunches and dinners. Mangez-vous (dinner appointments) are always fun, but we don't have one tonight. Also, I have no idea what the things we eat are called.

We are finally going to get to see General Conference next week. Or at least, some of it. Probably only a session or two. Oh well. I'm still excited, nobody spoil it for me!

I don't know how Mother's day is going to go down yet, I will ask the Southam's about it when I go over for my haircut.

Got to go now, shouldn't be late for our appointment!
Elder Ethan Christensen

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