Elder Owusu, Fifi, her brother (named Herve), and me... looking super Yovo-y in my all white attire! At least that's what Fifi called me haha.
Well... another crazy week here in Togo! Nothing much happened this week... but I did have my first baptism! Her name is Fifi... she's a college student down in Congo but is with her family up here for a little bit. Her brother is a member already, but she loved to make things tough for us. Always asking funny questions... she's just really funny. She's the one who calls us her children (even though she is only a few months older than Elder Owusu!). Unfortunatly, she's going home in a few days to go back to school for two years so I won't be able to see her again for a while. I'll miss her a whole lot though... she's a lot of fun to just chat with and what not. I'm going to try to get her email address before she leaves. For a while, we were having lessons with her everyday, and one day we just came by and talked with her about random stuff. That's what really made us good friends with her... and I think just being there for her showed us that we cared about her a lot. Although... Elder Owusu kind of doesn't like her very much anymore because at Church yesterday, she deleted ALL of his pictures on his camera because she didn't know what she was doing (since his camera is in English). He was pretty depressed the whole rest of the day. We're going to try to give it to a member and see if he can recover it for him.
So yeah... finally got a baptism under my belt! The baptism itself went fine and was really nice because the whole zone only had 3 people being baptized so it made for a very peaceful and spiritual service. It was really nice and an experience I will never forget.
Other than that, things have been good. As always, French has been coming along well, albeit slow! I did have my first English hiccup though! We were talking about mosquitos one night (me and the other missionaries in my appt)... and I completely forgot that mosquitos "bite" you. In French, the verb is "piquer" and I could only remember the French way to say it. I was like, "Yeah, the mosquitos 'pique' you so much here." Then I paused for a moment and was like, wait HOLD ON! That is not English!! Took me about 10-15 seconds to remember that mosquitos bite you, not "pique" you! Forgetting English is a good sign, I think!
Hmmmm... what else to talk about... oh yeah... cut my hair for the first time today... errrrrr... yeah. What. A. Mess. Took me forever just because my shaver kept dying on me (so I had to let it charge a little bit and then use it until it died again after a few seconds). My hair doesn't look terrible but I'm not exactly sure it looks good either. I'm not done with it either because it ended up taking me so long that we had to leave and go to the Cyber to write letters home. And I have a ton of hair on my back right now, even though I took a shower before I came here... sweat, itchey hair, irritated skin... wow, what a wonderful combination! (that was sarcasm!)
So this week Elder Gunderson moved into our appartment to replace Elder Kabango. Elder Imoukuede and I kinda rejoiced a little bit because he kinda made us eat together with everyone (we would all put in money together and then take turns making food). Neither of us had the guts to tell him that we were tired of eating food we didn't like (as him and Elder Kiputa would make Congelese pate all the time with the same freaking tomato paste sauce all the time). And then we would have that same tomato sauce with rice and noodles. So, needless to say, I never really looked forward to lunch and dinner while Elder Kabango was here. One thing Elder Gunderson has been trying to teach me here is that you don't have to be depressed because of the food here. You can eat well on your own if you know where to look! So, at the end of this month, once we're finished with all of our food that we bought together, I think I'm going to start actually making good food. No more gross fish heads, chicken bones, or pate all the time! But no need to fear, I will have plenty of time to eat weird food... Elder Gunderson showed me the monkey he ate in Benin, so I'm sure I'll have the chance to eat bizzare foods still.
Today, Elder Gunderson actually took me to a place called Citimart. There I was able to buy REAL A&W rootbeer, Dr. Pepper, TEXAS PETE'S HOT SAUCE (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a few other things too. The hot sauce though was a splurge on my part... it cost over 2200 francs which is really expensive on a missionary budget. But, it will be put to good use if I have to eat more dull missionary made food. Who knows... maybe with that, Pate would actually taste good! Haha... who am I kidding... that's impossible. I don't think Pate could ever taste good.
The only problem I've been having is my money this month. I wasn't able to get it out of the ATM because it ate it all (basically, it says I withdrew it but I never got any money). Long story short, I'm short 13,000 francs this month. Rather than make a big deal about it, I'm just trying to survive for two more days (we can withdraw the last day of every month)... so I've been having to use some personal funds but that's not too big of a deal when you're using it to buy TEXAS PETE'S HOT SAUCE!
Let's see... I also left my sunglasses in a taxi because they fell out of my bag... so mad about that. Walking back to the appt around noon really, really sucks. I think I might have to buy a cheap pair but I won't be able to see. That's why I need my contacts!!! Ugh... it's pretty bad during the day... and I also noticed the weird tan line on my face, caused by my glasses... hence another reason I need my contacts haha.
People here seem to be thinking I'm losing weight here too... I don't really think that's the case though! I feel the same as ever, so I'm not sure what people are talking about here. I think it's because I got new pants that don't make me look as big. Through one of Elder Owusu's old converts, we were able to get two really nice pairs of pants for 2500 francs (or about 5 dollars). One of them had a hole in the crotch, so I took that (as well as my baptisimal pants to get hemmed and my old pair of pants that ripped) and got those all taken care of. In total, I only spent 800 francs (or a little more than a dollar) to get all the stitch work done. And they did a really great job with it too!
This week I'm going to try to take some pictures of my sector so people can have an idea of what I see every day. It will be hard though, as you're not supposed to take pictures while going out because people will think your a tourist and might try to rob you or something. I'll see what I can do though.
Feel bad that I don't have any cool stories to share with anyone! No real cool adventures this week... but with time I'm sure they will come. I've kinda just felt like my mission so far has just been a bunch of cool little experiences here and there... which is fine for me, but I feel like people expect me to fight Rhinos out here or have to ride an elephant to my sector everyday! I can say that I'm quite thankful that my life is not like that out here though!
I have this weird feeling like the week to come is going to be a really good week... not sure why, but who knows! Guess we'll have to wait 'till next week to find out.
Well... hope things are going well back home. Can't believe it's almost already March! I'm a bit scared though... as apparently, the rainy season starts this month and I've only heard bad things about that. I hope my umbrella will last through it all!
I keep feeling like there's something I'm forgetting to talk about, but I can't just put my finger on it yet... I'll probably remember it as soon as I walk out of here!
Miss everyone a ton and hope to hear from everybody soon!
Fifi and her bro. He's actually been a member for like 3 years or something, so he was really helpful to have with us at our lessons with Fifi.
Random picture that Elder Owusu took of me waiting to get changed... I think I got more wet in the changing room than the actual baptism. No breeze or ventilation of any sorts makes a really tiny changing room SUPER HOT! Needless to say... the sweat was pretty gross.
Me and my spiffy new hair cut (the bad angle on my hair, done slightly on purpose but also because I didn't want to take a thousands pictures just to try and get a good picture of my hair).
Note from the Fro: Didn't have the heart to tell him I couldn't tell the difference between his haircut and the wall behind him. Oh well! But YAY! A baptism! That sounds like a TOTALLY exciting week to me! And his pants fixed, woohooooo! Meant to ask him what exactly "Pate" is. Because in French if you spell that word like "pâtes" it would just mean pasta. However, if you spell it like pâté, well that's entirely different! That would be a mixture of ground meat and fat mixed into a spreadable-type paste. I'm kind of thinking that's what he's referring to, since it doesn't sound like he likes it much! Even with hot sauce. And trust me, he thinks hot sauce makes EVERYTHING better! SO glad he has Elder G to teach him how to eat in Africa!!! (monkey tasting aside....)
Tidbits to from a letter to Sur: I really like what you said about trying things that might not necessarily result in success, but trying is what counts. That's what I've been learning about French. It's really all about just speaking it without fear, or as you have mentioned before, pretending/acting that you're already French. I've realized that the only way I'm going to speak this language fluently is just pushing the fear away and just doing it. For example, when Elder Owusu first came here, I had to use the phone to call all our amis and what not, since I actually knew them. Since then, I'm still the one who is always holding the phone and, on occasion, answering and making calls. It takes a lot of courage because I still don't feel like a comfortable French speaker, but on almost all occasions, I usually come away with knowing what people say over the phone.
I've even been trying to apply this same principle to my lessons. I'm not sure where I picked this up, but I read somewhere (probably in Preach my Gospel) about how you shouldn't worry how to say things during lessons. You should try to focus on concentrating on what is being said and not on how you're going to respond. I've found that you really need to have faith on the Lord... when you know what to say (but maybe not in French) you just gotta try your best and just say it!
Cool story actually... we've been teaching this older woman named Mama Yvonne (anyone who looks like they could be a mom... we just call them all Mama). We had this super long lesson with her our first lesson (she was asking a lot of questions). At the end of the lesson, she asked about why we don't believe in people having evil spirits (like an anti-Holy Ghost type thing). My comp was about to respond, but I felt like I had the perfect explaination. I explained to her that it's a lot like night and day. The only difference between the two is the Sun... night is only a lack of sun, not an anti-Sun. So, I explained that in a similar way, people become like that when they lack the gospel in their life... in doing so, there is no good light, but there is ample oppertunity for the temptations of the devil to creep in and ruin things. So, I was pretty proud of myself for explaining that (with relative ease actually). I asked my comp what he thought about the explanation (after the lesson), to which he responded that I gave a perfect example.
So, it's little things like that that increase my faith little by little. I feel like my French is getting more and more comfortable, but I just need to keep fine tuning it. I haven't had much time to work in my French workbook this week, but I've turned all my personal study into French (rather than studying things in English) after a suggestion from Elder Owusu. It's going good so far and I get mostly everything that it talks about, but I just need to master it, you know? Still trying to get comfortable with it... I really want to be able to comprehend the media that I hear in the Taxis... so that way I can watch French stuff when I get home! It will come... but I just gotta have patience I suppose.
Tidbits from email conversations:
Fro: You didn't have to shave your head like Elder Kunz did you?
Elder H: No I'm not bald! I think I don't look half bad... it's short but not super short like most other people here. I haven't gotten the chance to see Elder Kunz, but I have been hearing about him through Elder Gunderson, who yes, now lives in my apt! I really wish I could see Elder Kunz sometime but I'm not sure when! I can't call him right now because our credit is super low on the phone (we get recharged on the first of the month). Hopefully one of us gets transfered into the same zone sometime soon...
And guess what? I didn't get the package yet!!!! UGH! I need to call the couple there and ask them to make sure the APs bring it with them this week with the new missionaries coming in. Maybe you should email them too!? It is there right?
Fro: Sis Semken told me she was sending it with the transfers. I'll email her again!
That's very frustrating. What have you been eating this week? Need a pic of your awesome haircut!
Elder H: Errrrr... right... maybe I can get a pic but it's kinda awkward to do that in the Cyber!
I've just been eating what the other's have been making... aka awful, cheap African food (pate, spaghetti/noodles with the SAME sauce every single time)... I think we're going to start eventually making our own food (because the missionaries from Africa, I hate to say it, really don't know how to cook good American food). So, hopefully I can make it by... when I get my money out this week, I'm going to try and see what I can do that's not too expensive. I'm gonna get Elder G and Elder Owusu to help me out a bit.
Fro: I will send you some simple recipes next week, just tell me some of the available ingredients! What else is going on ?
Elder H: That would be awesome! Nothing much really. Just writing up the letter right now. My big surpirse this week will be that I had my first baptism!
Fro: AWESOME!!! Can't wait to hear! That's so cool. :)
Elder H: Yeah really! Long time coming... it was good though. Hopefully I'll be able to upload a few good pics from it too.
Fro: Do we get more adventures-in-eating this week?!
Elder H: No, not this week.. Yeah we went to Akif's today and it was soooo good! I hope we can keep going there... problem is that it's a bit expensive going out there all the time... but Elder Gundersen is helping me find other good ways to eat well.