Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

Hi Everyone,
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
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
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
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
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
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

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