Season's greetings from Provo, UT once again! Things are going pretty quickly now. It's pretty weird actually, because we have about 29 new missionaries coming into our French zone tomorrow. Now we're kind of like the "seasoned vets" and the role models for the new people. Doesn't feel like we've been here that long but I guess that means our time is getting closer and closer to getting out to Benin! As for as I know, there are supposed to be two Elders coming in tomorrow going to Benin, but there might be 1-2 more.
Speaking of Benin, I've been hearing some pretty crazy things lately. Frère Stiretta served in our mission back when it was part of the Ivory Coast mission (he said he served most of his mission in Benin & Togo though). He's the only teacher here who knows what we're going to experience and he's been so excited for us to go. Although, he has told us about some of the bad things... like having to wash your laundry by hand (so much so your hands start to bleed and you develop blisters! Sweet!) and also no warm showers (not that I was expecting them). He also said that recieving letters and packages in Benin was not a problem, but sending is much more iffy. I guess we'll have to see once I get out there. Anyway, he's super cool and he's been substituting for Frère Portwood since he's on vacation for Christmas... he has some amazing stories and everyone loves them. We're also going to a seminar at 4 PM today about Malaria prevention! We asked Frère Stiretta about it and he's like, yeah... basically everything they tell you doesn't work & is pretty useless. Sooooooo... looking forward to that!
Our P-Day was really cool so far! Usually we go to the Temple in the mornings, but the Temple is closed for the holidays. BUUUUT, we got the chance to clean the Temple this morning! So cool! Our supervisor guy was telling Elder Seidl, Evans, Ihalmo, and I some really cool facts about the Temple and what not. I'll have to share them later, but it was definitely cool to be in the Temple and have a chance to see how it functions. We were there for 3.5 hours, but it definitely didn't feel like it. Anyway... pretty cool stuff.
The French is going great though! My conversational ability is getting better as every day goes by. It's getting to the point where I can naturally start saying things in French without having to translate it first. Definitely in the rudimentary stages of that, but I can tell it's coming! PVLs have been going good. We're doing 3 days this week (one yesterday, tomorrow, and Friday). And I believe that next week we are doing a full week (yikes!). Should be fun! I would use more French in my letters, but with all the capable French speakers, not sure if I would just be embarassing myself! In the letter I got from Fro yesterday, she asked if I was starting to speak like a Frenchman and I can't say that I've gotten quite there yet but people compliment my accent and my ability to read it! Although, my end goal is not to speak like a Frenchman... but an African! Duh!!
But, I just wanted to say how cool it is to be learning French. I see all these Elders learning weird languages that are only spoken by like 3 people on an island in the South Pacific. Then I see the Elders learning Finnish (Elder Ihalmo likes to check up on them every once in a while) and their teacher, who served two full years in Finland, can't even have a full conversation with Elder Ihalmo (apparently Finnish is one of the hardest languages to learn and master). And I think it's a great blessing to be able to be learning French. And as much as (Uncle) John will say otherwise, I really do love French! Ever since I started taking it in high school, I've always wanted to learn it and speak a language that's pretty near and dear to my heart, since I not only lived there as a kid, but also since so much of our family can speak French (not to mention all our Francophone ancestory!). I just feel really blessed to be learning a language as special as French.
So, Christmas is one week away! Coming up quick, huh? Won't lie though... Chirstmas is on P-day... which is a...errrrr...ummmm... blessing? Not really sure because I don't know what our schedule will be looking like on Christmas. Hopefully they don't short us of a P-day next week, but I don't know. I guess if you'll get a letter next week, you'll know! I think, at the very least, they'll let me send a letter home either Monday night or sometime during Wednesday though so don't worry!
Just to answer a few things from Fro's letter... I think I can watch videos and recieve pictures here on my email. Videos might be a little iffy, but pics definitely. I was wondering if you could send me some more music though, we can't listen to any while we're in the MTC, but I really would love to have the Lord's Prayer (Dad showed me it a few years ago, it was with a famous Italian singer... I cannot for the life remember it though). Also, I'm gonna need a bag for my French scriptures (LdM & Bible). I'm not sure if they have any online, but the one's here look pretty cheap. Also, do I still have a pocket Oxford/Hachette dictionary? They don't sell pocket dictionaries here! Oh and, a picture of the Philly temple and my Farewell talk (I think it might be in my church bag or something). That would be great. Also, you asked if there's anything else I needed. Make sure you look at the letters I've sent in the past, especially that first one I sent home with that list!
Okay, well my time is up! I hope everybody is doing great. If I don't get a chance to tell everyone next week, just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Love and miss you all!
P.S. In case Elder Kunz doesn't mention it in his letter to his mom, he's our new district leader! Pretty cool stuff... I think he'll do great!
Note from the FRO: I have to say I've never seen my boy so excited about cleaning for 3.5 hours, I'm glad he had a great experience there! Also, I've been learning a few things about Benin myself from Mom's whose sons have gone before mine. I knew about the hand washing laundry in a bucket and lack of warm showers. I just decided he probably didn't need to know all that until he got there. Especially some of the foods I've seen served....like monkey. Not sure how to explain the canned chicken we're sending him for Christmas. ;)