Monday, March 18, 2013

March 15, 2013

Hi Everyone,
Things are going a lot better this week. I figured out that some of my
unhappiness problems was actually coming from some rather poor dietary
choices I was making. Fixed those, doing a bit better now.
In continued health news, I DID take my first immodium pill this last
week (anti-diarrhea medicine). Only 489 pills left before I run out.
It actually worked pretty well, go figure. Luckily I never have
diarrhea anyways.
The mission office got a bit better. I am expanding my vocabulary a
little bit. I've had to learn a bit of bank vocabulary this last week.
We've had a couple of problems with the bank lately, they have some
organizational problems. We have to translate everything for the
office couple, they don't speak any French. There's an interesting
line between an exact translation and a useful translation. I usually
just cut to the chase and tell Elder Semken what he needs to know.
I didn't go to the zoo on monday. I was going to, but right after I
emailed you I realized that Elder Tshizanga was completely out of the
loop about it, we hadn't even asked him if he would like to go. I've
already done some cool stuff in Benin, so he went instead. I've heard
it isn't a terribly exciting zoo anyways, so I can wait. I did get to
go on another kind of field trip this morning though. There is an
Elder from France that finished his mission about a year ago (I never
knew him infield), who came back and this morning he married one of
the local members. So we got to attend that, he was Elder Tshizanga's
trainer. Very interesting experience. Just a civil marriage, the
governments here don't recognize religious marriages so you have to
have a civil ceremony before going to the temple. The best part though
is that the Southams are back! They are the couple that lived across
the street when I was in Gbedjromede. The girl that got married had
been their translator while they were here, so they flew out to see
the wedding. It was super cool to see them again, they were even all
dressed up in the traditional clothes they bought last time. BTW, tell
Tyler Calder that I got his letter, even though I'm not entirely sure
how he got it to the Southams in the first place.

Driving is going better, I've gotten a lot better handle on it. Now I
just have to get used to things like getting passed on the right hand
side by motos and driving all crazy and stuff. I might need to learn
how to parallel park too. I failed that part of my drivers test, and I
never tried again after that. I have not yet received the
international drivers licence though, I assume it would come this
week. It just has to come before the first of April.
Way to go Cameron! Oboe is a challenging instrument, but it is fun.
Nice build up into the saxophone too if he wants to do marching band.
I've never been to a lacrosse game, I'll have to make sure to go to
one next year, assuming Robin is still on the team.
Transfers are coming this next week. I'm not going anywhere. Although
I will no longer be "district leader". I'm not sure if we are just
taking turns or if I failed a test or what. At any rate, 14 months in
and I'm junior comp again. No problem, I don't think I'm anywhere
close to being a good leader anyways. No longer my fault when things
go wrong.
We have been having serious problems with power outages lately. Ever
since I came back to Benin, almost every night the power will go out.
It always comes back on right about the time we are going to sleep,
but it makes daily planning hard and we can't use the rice cooker.
Thank heavens we finally went out and bought more spaghetti.
Funny story from church last sunday. The ward music conductor woman
does not know the difference between dotted eighth notes and dotted
quarter notes. So the hymn Abide With Me, 'Tis Eventide, became one of
the slowest hymns I have ever sung or played. On the other hand, the
branch already knows I saw a mighty Angel flying (or something like
that, I'm not sure exactly what it is in English, we sing it so
Super cool that all those people have mission calls, the only bummer
is that I won't have anyone to hang out with when I get back.
Occupational hazard I guess. My brain can't really figure out how much
time I have left. Sometimes it feels like forever, but the weeks just
seem to be zipping by and I can't really grasp how the mission could
take that much longer. I guess I come home when I come home. Unless
there's weather delays, that wouldn't be very fun.

Alright, love you all a lot (especially you mom),
Elder Christensen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 9, 2013

Hi Everyone,
Okay, well first off, sorry for how short the last letter was. We had
a couple of Elders call in having problems with their bank cards (we
recently switched banks) and I had to work on that in the middle of
writing time. I'm going to try and put a lot of detail in this one.
So as far as whether or not I like the mission office.... I still am
not sure. I definitely did not like it last week when I wrote. I'm
doing a bit better now though. As far as our duties in the office, we
come in in the mornings when we would normally be proselyting.
Normally, we are supposed to be out in the field after lunch. However,
sometimes things pop up that keep us in. Those things are almost never
planned, so it runs a hassle with investigators sometimes. It also
sometimes gives office Elders the idea that they should just expect
those things to show up so they shouldn't bother scheduling
appointments during that time...... That's why I had so much down time
at first. We are doing better at getting out now, but it's not perfect
As far as official office responsibilities go, I do a lot of phone
calls and translating. Our office couple has no French capacities, so
every time they have to meet with a landlord or go see a potential
building or go to the bank or anything like that, an office Elder has
to go with them. It sometimes feels like Elder Semken is my new
companion thanks to that. I also get to put the information from the
baptismal recommendations into the official system. What else.... I
train Sister Semken on how to work in an office, we help Sister Weed
with her projects. We get the mail from the post office and run other
little errands. I've decided we are the Office Minions. We can be
really useful at times, but we aren't important like the assistants so
when they don't want us they can just push us out of the way. I think
that means that President Weed is Gru.
No I haven't received the new driver's license yet. I did have my
first experience driving a stick shift this afternoon though. It went
alright, but who wants to bet that I forget it all before I get behind
the wheel again? I'd better get it down fast, there's a chance that
I'll be needed to help run the next transfers in two weeks. Especially
now that we have some apartments a bit farther out.
So you ready for this? Apparently I lived through an African coup
attempt. A couple of people were arrested for apparently trying to
overthrow the president. All I knew was that there were a lot of
policemen out on the streets for about 4 days, and even that was only
because I'm in a car a lot more lately. I'll check that box off my
bucket list I guess.
I found out that one of the sons from that family I was working so
much with back in Doumassesse has a baptismal date for next week. I
hope that holds, I put so much effort into that family. They mean so
much to me.
So on Friday we'll be taking Elder Tshizanga (one of my companions) to
the doctor so he can have a cyst cut out. I wonder if they'll let me
take pictures....
Speaking of pictures, I'm going to the zoo on Monday! The Finagnon
zone is going up to Porto Novo to see the zoo, and I managed to snag a
seat. That'll be fun, guess I will see a lion in Africa.
Haha, I actually ate a falafel this last week too Mom, there's a place
nearby that makes them. Everyone else thought I was super weird for
ordering it though, most Elders just order hamburgers or Chicken
Speaking of Shawarma and Falafel, I found something out this last
week. Apparently they have just dedicated the first stake center in
the Middle East. Apparently there is a stake in Abu Dhabi, which I did
not know. They say that it's full of Americans and Phillipinos. So
there you go.
Oh, and the curse of knowing someone that knows the other missionary
continues. Elder Semken knows the Darowskis, who were effectively my
bosses when I worked with the Joseph Smith Papers. Always a small
Okay, I think I got in a bit more detail this time. Hope that makes up
for the last time.
Elder Christensen

March 2, 2013

Hello family and friends,
Well, I'm still hanging in here. Doing alright.
So update about my life right now. I'm district leader in the mission
office. My district consists of just our companionship though, so it
doesn't actually mean anything special. I don't even get to lead
district meeting, we do that with President Weed and he runs it. I
really am not doing much of anything actually, and it's starting to
get on my nerves. I don't mind the office work, it's important and
interesting. I learn a lot of stuff and get to be useful. It's when I
get done with my work.... and then we don't leave because the others
are still working. I know I've become stronger since being a
missionary, because if this had been at the beginning of my mission I
probably would have been all over the internet by now out of sheer
boredom, but for the moment I'm holding strong. Give it a month though
and I might cave if nothing changes.
We serve in the Gbegamey branch. It's a split off from the Gbedjromede
branch, but it was split before I got out here. Our companionship is
the only companionship in our apartment, which is weird. It's me,
Elder Burkhart, and Elder Tshizanga.
We got to greet new incoming missionaries this week, that was fun.
I got the two packages this last week. That was a lot of food. One of
the packages was slightly opened, most of the tootsy rolls were gone
by the time I got it. Didn't seem to be a rat this time though, much
too neat. I did a calorie count on the box. 22155 calories. Give or
take maybe 100, I had to guess on one or two small items. You sent me
more than 10000 calories of peanut butter. That's a lot. And it is
going to taste sooooo goood.
I have no time today. Sorry. Not that I actually did a lot worth
talking about anyways. I was mostly just kind of grumpy because I
wasn't doing anything.
Love you all.
Elder Christensen