The time is really flying here, it's hard to believe that this week is 4 months. Crazy. I'm fast coming up on having been in Africa for the same amount of time as I was in the MTC. I actually went this morning to get my Visa renewed, that was an interesting experience. They took scans of all my fingerprints, I didn't even need that for the actual passport!
My companion is doing a lot better with his knee, Sort of. The surgery was a complete success, they got the bone-thing out. It looks like a pizza bite (I did get pictures of that). He's been inside all the last week, but I've been out on exchanges with the zone leaders for pretty much the entire week. So while not a lot of work was done in our area, I still got to participate in missionary work. That was cool, but it's pretty fair to guess that I've had more exchanges than any other trainee, and probably more than most missionaries total. I wonder if I'm ever going to have a normal companionship for a full transfer or two. Probably not.
Actually, going on exchanges has been really interesting. Our area of the city is a lot better than I thought it was. I've been out by the lake a few times now, and that is a little scary. That's more of the slums Africa I was expecting. I'm glad I got to start where I did, if that had been my first few days it would have been a little challenging. Also, I taught a Muslim for the first time yesterday. That was not very different from a regular lesson, but it's possible he was just being nice because his friend was there. We'll see I guess.
That's crazy that Jacob is old enough to be an Elder. Watch out, he can be Elder's Quorum President at BYU now! I'm glad I never had to worry about that before my mission.
The rainy season is officially here. It's been raining most every day this week. The evenings are actually quite nice, at night with the fan it can even get a little cold. I heard Friday night went down to 75 degrees. I've been taking pictures, don't worry! Also, I found all the forever stamps I lost in the MTC, so it turns out that that isn't a problem.
Speaking of mail, I got the package! I was really surprised, I wasn't expecting it for three more weeks. I didn't really schedule the candy out well, but it was Easter candy. I wouldn't have done that back home either. The tootsie rolls were delicious, but sending them again is probably not a good idea. Apparently there have been problems with food getting sent and bugs/bacteria/nasty getting into it. So it should probably have a seal of some kind. I'd also forgotten about some of the things I'd asked for in the past, so that was cool.
The mission office doesn't actually give us the money straight. They give us a card which we take to the ATM and get our money there. But it gives us our money in 10,000 notes, and bread only costs 100 per loaf. So you just have to find ways to break it down. In honesty, I think it would probably be easier if I hadn't come with so much stuff. I'd have more things I needed to buy. That's the irony of things. I did go buy the generic Nutella they have here, it's pretty much indistinguishable from the regular. And about half as expensive. I even found a Mars bar, which I'd never seen before(it's a milky way). They also have Canadian Smarties (M&Ms).
I feel like there are two kinds of people who want to talk to you about Jesus. There are the people who call you over and say "tell me about Jesus" and then just look at you. Then there are the people who try to preach Jesus to you. It almost feels like those people are waiting for you to contradict them about something so they can show how much they know the bible. The thing is though, they're about 95% right. So what has happened a few time this week is that they talk and we just go "yep, that's true" for 10-15 minutes. Still trying to figure out a way to gain control of those situations.
This week I've had some great study in the Book of Mormon. One experience I had in particular I read something early in first Nephi and saw something new. I proceeded to read the same 20 or so verses 4 times and learn something new each time. The scriptures really are a treasure. I wish I would have realized that more before my mission.
Do you want to hear about how small of a world it is? I'm 8000 miles away in Africa, and I have personal or one separation connections with at least 8 missionaries here. They're all Americans, but still. It's crazy.
Fun story time. I was out with Elder Terranova when all of a sudden we got a call from the Senior couple. They had a dinner appointment with the wife of the Branch president (she's a nonmember). The problem was, they had misheard the day, and we were already a half an hour late. So we ran over there and ate a lot of food. It was all really good. And for dessert, cake and ice cream!! So all in all, that was a good day. BTW, did you know that mint water was actually a thing? It tastes interesting.
In working with some of the members this week, I got the chance to see what happens when missionary work goes right. Some of the members here are crazy strong in the gospel. Their testimonies are stronger than a lot of people in Utah. I can only hope that some of the people I baptize will end up like that. The faith they have, even in the face of incredible adversity, is simply incredible. I don't know that I ever want to go to Togo, even if there are more members. The people here really do mean a lot to me. I'm probably still not quite to the level of charity that I need to have, but I'm getting closer.
Are you guys studying out of Preach My Gospel as a family? I think that would be a great prep for pageant. Wes could lead the family in some good old-fashioned companionship study. Actually, it's not a bad idea for cast team either. Those YSA are going to be missionaries real soon too.
Okay, time to go. Love to you all, Elder Ethan Christensen