Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 24, 2012

Hello Family and Friends, 
Weather is hot like normal. It rained a bit on Friday, but not much.
Overall things are pretty tame. I've heard Togo is hotter, but since I
haven't yet had the opportunity to find out for myself, I couldn't
really tell you. I just know I'm scared to come home in January and
freeze to death.
There are a few new Americans coming out over the next few months. I
asked President about incoming missionaries and he told me there's a
wave coming in about 3 weeks that's mostly Africans with one or two
Americans, and then another wave at the end of November that's mostly
Americans and a couple of Africans. So that's that. I've been
interacting a little bit with Elder Ritchie, the newest American. His
clothes still look so nice and white and stuff. I can't imagine what
it must have been like to have made that trip by himself though.
This weekend we had the chance to go baptize Raoul. I think I talked
about him last time, he's the man who lives near the apartment who read up
to Alma 5 in his first week with the Book of Mormon. He definitely has
a testimony of the gospel. It was a great experience, the spirit was
definitely there. My companion baptized him and I got to confirm him.
That was my first time confirming, but it went pretty well. I said all
the important parts right at least. I'm excited for him, he's already
volunteering to give prayers. Lots of recent converts are scared to do
that. I'm really hopeful that we'll be able to help his friend Serge
to take the dive too. Serge has a testimony, but he's afraid that he
doesn't have enough faith yet to actually do it. So we're working with
him on that.
The baptism was interesting too because the younger brother of my last
convert in Gbedjromede was baptized. So I got to take some photos with
the two of them.
Primary Songs. Nobody out here has the Primary Song CDs. That would be
a really good thing to have.
I found out a little bit more why my companion was so excited to hear
from you last week. Turns out he hadn't heard from anyone in his
family in three weeks. So that really made a difference for him. Thank
Oh yeah, I made rootbeer this week. That was sooooo good. Of course,
depriving myself of carbonation for so long and then drinking a liter
in under a half an hour was not the best idea.
This week we had an interesting planning session. As in, it was in
English. I was really impressed with my companion. He was trying so
hard. He did really well. So well, he accidentally started talking in
English while calling an investigator. I laughed pretty hard about
that one.
We taught two Muslim women this week, but one of them is moving back
north soon and the other one sees her husband so rarely, we're never
going to be able to get his approval even if she accepts the gospel.
Had a weird morning this week where we didn't have any cellphone
service. Just our carrier was down. Silly MTN. Did I ever tell you we
used prepaid phones? The mission office gives us about 16 dollars
worth of credit every two weeks.
Sorry, not a lot of time this week. 
Love to you all
Elder Christensen

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 17, 2012

Things are going really well here, never fret. I'm learning and
growing as always. It's been really remarkable to see all of the
changes going on. A part of me wishes I had been transferred before
now, but I bet that it has more to do with how long I've been out than
where I'm serving.
I haven't done the blood test yet. I'm not sure when they'll make us
do that, I don't hear as much news as I used too. The Leavitts were at
church with us on Sunday though, and they didn't say anything about
it. So presumably not this week.
By the way, Elder Kiputa was super excited about the fact that you
wrote back to him. He just turned to look at me with the biggest grin
on his face. I'm guessing his last companion's parents never wrote
back. I bet Brother Evans or Brother Holbrook would be happy to help
translate if you don't trust google translate.
We've got two companionships in our apartment, that's how it is for
all of Benin. French really isn't much of a problem at this point. I'm
always learning vocabulary, but the local accent and the Congolais
accent isn't a problem any more. Sometimes a Cote D'ivoire accent can
trip me up though if I'm not careful. All of my scripture study has
been in French for about 3 months now, that's made a huge difference I
think. The stuff you sent for fon has been a little helpful, I haven't
really had enough time to use it a lot, but I've picked up a little
bit more and I understand the why of some of the things people say
Up until the last few days, I hadn't really listened to the cds I came
with. Almost solely the Echoes of the Sabbath CD. Everyone else just
has their own music, it's never felt like a good idea to pull mine out
and play "my music". But the Ivoirian being trained in our apartment
asked to copy some of my motab music, and so we've been listening to
that lately. I figured it was better to start him off with motab than
to have him start copying the music I know some of the other
missionaries have. I think that I'll probably start listening to them
more now that I'm here, I've definitely missed hearing good old Motab.
I've taken a lot of pictures, but not too many since I've come to
Fidjrosse. I'm hoping to get some pictures from the top of the
apartment building soon though. It's a really interesting view.
I'll either send the pictures home with Elder Terranova or Elder Bush.
Bush comes home right before Thanksgiving, from what I understand.
We'll see. Maybe Frère Van Duyse (no I have no idea how to actually
pronounce his name. If I've ever heard him say it, it was with a
Québécoise accent. That's a really interesting accent, let me tell
you. Most people just call him Frère Gregory.) would let me use his
computer to send photos, but I'm guessing not since that's technically
against the rules.
In response to Dad's question, the French keyboard is different. most
of the letters with accents are primary position for the numbers, you
have to alt to use the numbers. And the right alt is actually distinct
from left alt. Funny huh? If I'm actually typing in French I'm still a
little slow, but I've mastered the basic tasks for English writing.
I haven't heard anything about what has been happening in the Middle
East. All I really knew is that someone is still shooting in Syria,
but I wasn't even sure who or at whom. Interesting stuff, but I can't
let myself think about it too much right now. That google search bar
is waaaaay too tempting.
Want to hear something cool? Apparently I'm unique for an American
missionary. My companion says I'm the only one he's ever met that eats
sardines without complaint. So that'll make Jacob happy. Seriously
though, I eat everything. It's really weird. I have no idea what I'll
be like when I get back.
I made me some hot cocoa yesterday morning, it was really good :-)
Okay, missionary story time!
So this last week we baptised Valdes. He's been coming to church for
forever, hadn't received all the lessons because he's been so busy.
But this week we took a hit and left a little bit earlier than normal
every morning to get out and see him. It was really cool because he
really was totally ready. And his mom and several cousins are already
members, so he's in a good place. He was super excited about the
baptism. Going back to Gbedjromede for the baptism was a little
surreal, I saw all of these people that I know but that aren't in my
branch anymore. I got chided a little bit because I hadn't really
broadcast the news that I was going to be transferred. Oops, learned
my lesson. Found out that there will be two baptisms in my old area
this saturday. So I'm going to do my best to be there, I taught both
of them.
This last week we went in to teach these two neighbors names Raoul and
Serge. They had already received the first lesson really well, so we
went in planning to talk abou the plan of salvation. Before we start,
Raoul asks when he can be baptised! Turns out in the week since he was
given the Book of Mormon, he'd read up to Alma 5. Unfortunately, he
hasn't come to church the last two weeks, even though he came for a
few weeks before that. But I'm positive he'll finish the Book of
Mormon by the end of the month, so he should do well.
We've been teaching two sisters named Elodiane and Dorice. They've
been progressing well, although Dorice happened to hide until Sunday
that she'll soon be moving out of country for two years. Anyways, they
had a friend over during the last lesson who was very interested. But
somehow we got out without snagging his phone number. So this morning
we called Elodiane to ask for the number and fix a rendez-vous with
her. Turns out over the weekend, the friend joined a different church.
Generally speaking, missionary work is going really well. I'm really
starting to get into the "groove" of doing missionary work. The spirit
has definitely been in our lessons lately.
As far as "christmas presents" go, I'm not in desperate need of
anything for the moment. Socks is probably a good idea though, I'm
starting to see thin spots in a couple of pairs, and long dress socks
are a little harder to find here.
Okay, time to go. Love to all,
Elder Christensen

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 10, 2012

Howdy from Fidjrossé!

I spent my first few hours in the new apartment trying to figure out
what seemed familiar about it. I finally decided it felt like Keokuk.
I don't really know why, but that really explains exactly what it
feels like. I'm not actually in Fidjrossé proper, there was a
miscommunication there. I'm in the new apartment at AÏbatin. It's a
bit of a jump to go from the oldest apartment to the newest. Lots of
missionaries have left nifty things behind at Gbedjromede, but the only
people that have moved out of this apartment are the two that left
this week. There is a missionary being trained in this apartment, but
he came from Cote d'ivoire. My companion Elder Kiputa is great. He's
really chill and we get along well. I can tell that I'm going to learn
a lot from him. He actually is planning writing you mom, so just run
that through google translate. Also, there is at least half odds that
when he gets transferred, I will stay here and train a new missionary.
I don't know how I feel about that. Of course, I'll probably be around
my year mark at that point. I can't even begin to comprehend that.

As far as last minute requests go, I could use another little tub of
hair gel/paste. I gave one of mine to Elder Terranova so he could
finish out the mission (he's the only other American who grows his
hair out). I honestly think I have enough deodorant to last the entire
mission. I'm still only using my second stick.

Have I mentioned that it's kind of weird to know people started at BYU
with me who are now working on their third year of classes? That's
weird. I'm old. Also, I have no idea why my laptop would have just
given up and died like that. Weird. Oh well, I won't be able to have
an internet addiction when I get back.

My companion and I have both been having a little bit of illness these
last few days. Did you know that it’s possible to have a fever of 101°
for less than 6 hours? That surprised me. I'm feeling pretty good for
right now, but I think we're going to have to see a doctor this week
for my companion. We'll see.

The work goes here, but it's a little slow at the moment. We are the
apartment that is about 20 minutes away from the church. The goal is
that we'll baptize enough people to make a branch here. But we've just
started, so there aren't really that many people yet. We're working on
it though. The good news is that I already know a fair portion of the
branch here. Sometimes starting in the branch that hosts every baptism
and every priesthood training session has its benefits.  Fidjrossé is
a good branch, I'm excited to work here.

Fidjrossé is one of the branches that has been created in the last
year and a half, almost every single member is still a recent convert.
Except of course for the Van Duyse family. It makes me laugh that my
mtc companions are in Canada, and I'm in the sole branch that has a
Canadian family. (

I don't feel like I've actually written that much that is important
this week, but that's partly because I can't really tell you what
important things have happened this week.
Fun story. I've been seeing green water bottles everywhere, and I
always wondered what was different about them. I kind of assumed it
was just a recycling thing. Or maybe it's carbonated water. I've been
looking at the missing ingredient for root beer straight in the face for
3 months now. Don't I feel smart.

I hope school is going well, and I love you all
Elder Christensen

Thursday, September 6, 2012

These young women are in the street outside the
Doumassesse Branch building sweeping the street dirt and trash surrounding
their meeting house so that on the Sabbath it looks perfect.  
Picture taken by Sister Leavitt
Hello Everyone,
So it turns out that Elder Ta just likes to talk about transfers even
when he doesn't know. I'm not getting transferred to Togo yet. I am,
however, being transferred within Benin. I'll be serving in the
Fidjrosse branch with Elder Kiputa. That will happen Wednesday
morning. I'll actually be in another tripanionship for a week, Elder
Mukenga will be training an American, and they don't arrive for
another week. That makes me and two Congolese, so I think I'll be
eating a lot of foufou. We'll see. I'm excited though, I hear the
apartment is really nice. I'm moving from right by the lake to right
by the ocean, which is a little bit different. The Van Duyse (no idea
on spelling) family lives in that branch, so it'll be weird to see
white people at church who aren't missionaries.

Speaking of the beach, we went to Ouidah today. That was an
interesting experience. We did the temple of Pythons and the beach.
Yes, snakes were all over me today. Also, I had a really reflective
moment as I pondered the fact that I was on a shore that had changed
history (I think something like 8 million slaves left Africa from
there), and the fact that there was nothing but water between me and
Antarctica. Yes, I got lots of pictures, and I mean lots.
Speaking of pictures, I need more photos of me from pageant. Dad too.
I gave them to Elder Kabongo for souvenirs. Haha, souvenir is a french

We had a conference of all the Benin missionaries this last week. It
was really cool, we talked about a lot of things, but what stuck to me
a lot was loving your companion. My companion and I have grown pretty
tight. Obviously not as tight as we could be, but I'll definitely be
sad to see him go. I'm hoping I'll be able to get to work on that
right away with Elder Kiputa.

So update on my last baptism. We went and asked Amour why he agreed to
be baptized. He ended up telling us that the night he met us, he had a
dream that I baptized him. That kept him interested long enough to
give us a shot. I hadn't seen that coming. Elder Kabongo says that
whenever people dream about the missionaries, it's almost always the
yovo they dream about.

Last week Elder Kabongo found out that his uncle had died. It was the
older brother of his already-deceased father, so it hit him really
hard. I realized that I really have no idea how to comfort people in
situations like that. I did the best I could, but here's to hoping I
never have that situation again.

So you know how I said to send a few oil vials in the next package?
I'm actually thinking about more than just a few. Those are almost
impossible to get here right now. I think it'd be a really good thing
to leave behind. 

If you noticed the withdrawal on my bank account, yes, that was me. I
figured I'd just pull a bunch right before the card expired to limit
the risk of getting frauded.

We had an interesting diversion this week. We got to hold the funeral
for the mother of the first councilor in the branch presidency. That
was an interesting.

Sorry I have just about zero time to write today. Elder Gundersen came
down with malaria, so we have to go back and do a split so Elder
Bukasa can come to the cyber and write President. So I'll write you
next week!
Love you all!