Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 4, 2012

Hi Everyone, 
Wow, time flies. I can't believe that I've been in Africa for longer
than I was in the MTC. I can't believe it's June either. Partially
because the weather is no warmer than the day I arrived.
Lots of stuff happened this week. I went on a couple of different
exchanges again. I was actively able to prove to myself that I can
function as a missionary, even in French. Elder Burkhart and I had a
lesson which I really got to help out. I actually probably took more than
my fair share. Now the trick is applying that into my companionship
(my companion still has a little bit of a 'trainer-trainee' mindset).
Technically I still have a few weeks left of the official training
process, but my training has been anything but standard. I'm still
with my original companion, and may be for some time. There are some
transfers in two weeks, but both of us have only been here about two
and a half months, and President Weed usually doesn't move people
until at least 4 months. So we'll see. I could very well be in
Gbdèdjromédé through the rest of the summer.
We went to teach a lesson this week, and it was really interesting.
The guy was 19, super chill and generally cool. He had actually read
and understood the Restoration brochure we had left with him. The
problem was, he got stuck on a verse in John that says that no one has
ever seen God (there's a Joseph Smith Translation on it, but how do
you explain that to a new investigator?) It was kind of funny, at the
end we were both saying that we would pray for each other to be open
to the truth. The faith that people have here is incredible. They
really are so close to the truth, but are just led astray in a few
small and simple (but important) things.
One day during an exchange, my companion ran into some US cultist
people. Something called ECK, very bizarre. Their Mahanta leader
apparently taught Jesus or something. It was funny to read their
brochure, and also a reminder that that is how much of the world looks
at us, except we give our books out for free. Really what we have to
do as missionaries is just be as friendly and ourselves as we can.
There's a reason why the church does it's 'I'm a Mormon' campaign.
This week we got a 'Stand Ready' alert. Basically what that means is
drop what you are doing and go back to the apartment. So, we did. The
initial story we got was that there was a war going on, but gossip
being gossip, of course that wasn't the case. Turns out there was a
shootout between some robbers and cops about 45 minutes away, so there
was no real danger at all. So you can stop hyperventilating Mom. The
mission takes really good care of us, never fret. And it isn't really
dangerous here, that's the first time I've heard of anything like that
happening. Everyone I've talked to says that other than when the real
war broke out in Cote d'Ivoire, this is the first thing like it. So
quite likely, it will never happen again.
So two nights ago I was right about to hop into bed when all of a
sudden I heard some music that sounded very familiar. It took me a few
moments to place it. The bar that's kind of close to our apartment was
blasting 'Who let the Dogs Out?' It was awesome. Also musically
related, it turns out that the African singing on Lion King is Zulu.
And no, people here don't speak Zulu.
Saturday afternoon I was not feeling very good, and it started to rain
pretty bad, so we stayed in for a while. Figured going out into the
rain while sick, and fast Sunday the next day was a bad combination.
To compensate, I took apart my fan (they give every missionary a fan
to blow on him during the night). Mine had been making some
interesting noises. More or less, it's just old and crappy. That was
the eventual diagnosis. It probably has a few more months in it
Gospel highlight of the week was Friday night. I had read something in
a verse in Section 88 that perked my interest. I ended up reading the
whole section two or three times. I got a loooooot out of it. Which
impressed me because I read that section probably 5 times over the
course of my time with the JSSP. I really think that a lot of it was
actually from having been through the temple. It's the first time I
can think of a specific blessing from the temple, although I highly
doubt it is the first. One thing that I have been noticing is that
things that I've always known conceptually are really starting to be
real to me. Elder Bednar has talked about how understanding actually
occurs in the heart, not in the head. I'm on the path. It'll only take
the rest of my life.
Wooh, power just went out. Thank heavens for saved drafts.
No, I'm not really planning on sending another SD card with Elder
Shaffer. I took a lot of photos at Ganvie (the city on the Lake), but
not that many. I've still got a lot of pictures to take before I'm
done. I'm kind of thinking that I'll send that one home with Elder
Terranova in about 5 months, I'm not really aware of anyone coming
home before that. I can't even begin to imagine what I'd feel like if
I only had 12 days left.
I tried making root beer last night with the concentrate you sent me
with and some Tonic soda I found local. It tasted like root beer
flavored cough syrup. Absolutely disgusting. Such a disappointment. Oh
well. I think that you can carbonate water with yeast, yes? I can find
yeast at the supermarket, so that could be possible.
I need to go now, I hope this email makes up a little bit for the one last week.
Elder Christensen

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