Hello Family and Friends,
Well, no week is ever quite like the others. That should be the lesson I take from Africa.
The big news for this week is that I went in for the Carte de Séjour (essentially a Green Card from what I understand). Yes, I got a blood test, that was a little scary. But that I know of, I came through clean. Which means I don't have AIDS or syphilis, which is good (<---big understatement). Then this morning we had to be to the mission office really early so we could go to immigration and actually apply for the thing. I'm not sure when we'll go back to pick them up, but I'm thinking about the end of the week. The good news is that with this we'll be able to get yearlong visas. The bad news is that I'll probably finish my mission in Benin, so I'll probably need to do it again. We'll see. Beats going in every three months at least.
Situation on the mail. I know for a fact that there is at least one thing sitting for me at the post office. But we can't get it because they are demanding that we route all the packages through customs like we did before. The problem is, we have no idea how much customs costs (that depends on the contents of the package). So we aren't getting any of that until we get that all sorted out. We were actually walking past a post office when an employee called out to us to ask if Elder Perkins was in the group because there was a package for him. Elder Perkins literally saw his package sitting on the counter but couldn't take it because of the problem. Needless to say, he wasn't exactly thrilled with that.
Today had a second adventure tacked onto it. After going to immigration, we walked from the office to the Walmart of Africa. It wasn't actually a Walmart, but it was the closest thing to it. They actually take credit cards there. It was almost scary, it felt like home. I felt a little out of place. I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to go back, it's pretty far out of the way.
The Van Duyses told me about the change in missionary age, and President Weed mentioned it again this morning. That's incredible. I'm pretty sure all of the girls I knew at pageant are calling their bishops today. I'm pretty sure the Brethren had it all planned out when they renovated the MTC this last year and opened a new MTC in the Philippines. That'll be exciting, but personally I'm glad I got to do a little bit of time in college first. Getting this call back at the age of 18 would have scared me. Also learning French would have been harder because I wouldn't have had the Arabic background. So I'm not really regretful.
Haha, yeah there's no Halloween here. I think the closest equivalent will be the giant voodoo festival in January, but I think that mostly involves people in costumes running around hitting other people. Or something, I haven't exactly figured it out yet. I'll tell you in 4 months.
I'm still taking pictures, but my rate has slowed down a little bit. I'm going to look into seeing if I can actually send one of my bubble envelopes by post. If that works you'll be getting photos soon.
Yes, I brush and floss, no worries there. I'm pretty sure I have more than enough floss for the rest of my mission. And maybe the next year too. And I'm starting to notice Colgate around, so I'm pretty sure I won't need more toothpaste.
Oh yeah, we got surprised yesterday. This Sunday, all the branches in Cotonou are going to be meeting in Cadjehoun for the formation of the Cotonou District! That came a few months earlier than I was expecting. The only problem is, no one really seems to know the location of the meeting. We know the general area of the building, but the precision is lacking us. The good point though is that the church is growing here. They could very conceivably announce a stake center for Benin before I leave the mission. That would be so exciting.
I got to teach the English class this week, that was interesting. It would have been better, but Elder Barker only asked me to do it about 30 minutes in advance, so I didn't really have any preperation. Or any idea what he had been teaching. So I kind of just wung it and it turned out alright. A fair number of people here actually have a somewhat decent idea of how English works, it's largely just speaking and vocabulary.
This week was my companion's birthday. I splurged a little bit and bought some ice cream so we could celebrate. That turned out to be a little fun. He really enjoyed it because no one likes it when their birthday is just an ordinary day.
I'm still really jealous of all of you for getting to watch conference. I heard a rumor though that Togo got to watch it as a district. If that's true, that means that even if I'm still in Benin next time, there's a chance I'll see it vaguishly live. That would be nice.
I had a new first two weeks ago that I forgot to tell you all about. Some one asked me if I was from Madagascar. That one surprised me. I'm tan, but not that tan. Not really sure why he thought that. Most people think I'm French or German when they first see me. Go figure.
Cotonou now has a bus system! So that's hopefully going to start taking some of the motos off the road, make things a little bit safer. Problem is, they are using Airport buses, the kind with all the space for carry on bags. So it's not the most efficient seating wise, but at least it's something official.
Accidentally cut my hair a little bit short. Going to carry groceries on my head until it grows out again. Yes I have and will take more pictures.
Okay, that's all I've got time for at the moment. Cheers! Elder Christensen