Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hi Everyone,
The rainy season here isn't too bad. It rains about once a day,
usually in the morning. It's very rare for us to be actively walking
out in the rain, and it's not hard to avoid walking through the
puddles. People here understand how to live around all this. I love it
when it rains at night, because it makes it cool. Unfortunately,
sometimes it also knocks out the power. Over all though, it doesn't
really slow down the missionary work at all. Unless there is a monster
storm in the afternoon, for some missionaries that is too much.
Personally, I think it's awesome.
As far as things to send, it wouldn't hurt to have a few more pens. I
have about 4 months left in my journal, so factor that in. I still
haven't missed a day yet, don't fret. For quality, well, we'll see
with time. Also, I could see my watch strap breaking sometime in the
next year. Not soon though. As far as hygiene stuff, it looks like
I'll be running out of most everything around Christmas time. Based on
the rate I have been using stuff at least. Seasonings I'm good on,
they actually have a fair number of seasonings here to buy. Not every
dinner tastes like tomato now.
Funny story. Remember how I was joking about buying TOMS in Africa?
Well, I actually saw a pair the other day? Problem was, someone was
wearing them, and I didn't have enough small bills to buy them. Also,
that would have been weird. It was just funny to actually find a pair.
I got the chance to give a little lesson at District Meeting this
week. That was cool, I talked about how important the Book of Mormon
is in the conversion process. One problem we have here is getting
people to read the Book of Mormon, I assume that that is a problem in
every mission. Speaking of the Book of Mormon, we placed my Arabic
one! I didn't get to do it personally, it was the zone leaders that
got to do it. But the guy apparently was actually interested in the
church, so it's not like we just handed it out at random.
A few days ago I made an important milestone. I had a dream where I
was black. And there was a little bit of French involved too. I'll be
Africano in no time.
Yesterday notice went by for transfers. The only one moving out of our
apartment is Elder Mampionona who is going to Togo, and he's getting
replaced by Elder Attisogbe. So I'll be with Elder Ntengo for at least
6 more weeks.
A few days ago we were out tracting when we met this older man named
Christoff. He's one of those 'born Catholique' older men. But at the
end of talking to us he said 'you know, usually I just brush guys like
you off, but I felt something when I saw you, so that's why I talked
with you guys'. I have no idea if he'll ever join the church, but it
was really cool to have that experience.
This last week has been incredible for me in the scriptures. I've done
some more study about Christ-like attributes. It turns out that in
French, the verb 'to complain' literally translates into English as
'to pity oneself'. That was a really interesting line of thought to
pursue. I also decided that, once I'm really firm in the lesson
material, I'm going to read through the Gospels and probably all the
book of Mormon looking for Charity. That's something that I really
want to develop on my mission.
Do you know how awesome it is when someone you've been teaching for
two months finally comes to Church? It's great. Now to get him to come
This week I really saw some of the parallels between the church here
and the restoration of the church in the states. It is such a
testimony builder to me that, though we be but imperfect men, the work
goes forward. And, while some of the problems here are unique to
Africa (like the challenges that come with getting legally married),
in a lot of ways the church here is just like back in Utah. So I'll be
able to apply a lot of the things I'm learning here once I come home.
Speaking of coming home, Elder and Sister Southam go home tomorrow. I
cannot even imagine being at the end of my mission yet. On Saturday
there was a bon voyage party that all of the primaries in Cotonou put
on. It was awesome. I really felt the love that they had for the
Southams, and that the Southams loved everyone there. Which is
incredible considering that the Southams only speak very broken
The other night there was a wedding negotiation that happened under
our apartment. We didn't get to see the actual process itself, but we
watched everyone show up and there was lots of noises. I took a few
pictures of what I could.
On Wednesday we were in the Chapel and I saw a mosquito on Elder
Terranova's hand. I thought, oh, I'll do him a favor and smack it. Did
not even register that he was using that hand to hold the phone he was
talking on. Oops. We proceeded to make some faces at each other.
Have I mentioned that missionary life is not really different from
regular life? I kind of had this conception that everything would
change, but really it doesn't. You still interact with ordinary
people, and you haven't suddenly become perfect by being set apart.
You really have to work to become better. That's true for me and for
every other missionary. Also, what really hurts is when there is no
immediate punishment for breaking the rules. In the MTC, there was
supervision everywhere. Here though, you could break a rule and no one
would really know except you and your companion. And Heavenly Father,
obviously. I'm not guilty of any serious rule breaking, don't get me
wrong. What really pushes me to better myself is when I realize what
is required of me. Unfortunately, that usually involves someone else
telling me I've been doing something wrong. Or when I'm given new
responsibility. The trick of the mission will be learning how to
implement all that on my own. Because that's how I'll have to do it
after my mission. I have no desire to be who I was before my mission
again. Not now that I have an idea of who I can become.

Love to you all, take care,
Elder Ethan Christensen

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