Hipster pic for Sienna
Hope all is well back in the states... no matter how cold it is (or hot, for those reading in AZ!)
This week was a good week and a quick one at that! Finally hit the one month mark so I'm really happy about that. I feel like as I get more and more time under my belt, things will really start to pick up timewise... well, that's what I'm hoping for at least! We shall see.
So... my African Adventures in Food have continued this week. First, this week... I ate what was probably the saltiest fish known to man... at moments, I really thought I was eating pure salt water when I ate this fish... not sure what it was called, but, needless to say it was gross. Secondly... I ate a fish head this week! When dinner came around, Elder Kabango brought out all the plates of food and I noticed that mine had a fish head on it... usually, when that happens, I'm like... errrr... noooo thanks and I switch with someone. But... all the other plates had fish heads too! I should have seen it coming when the day before everyone had a fish tail but I wasn't that smart. It was actually not that bad... had to eat around the fried in eyes and the mouth though... that was gross. Elder Imoukuede ate the bones for me though (eyes and all) as I just couldn't do that. But no fear!
(sorry, I couldn't resist!!!)
Not much other news... but P-Day was exciting! We went to the Grand-Marche today... wow... that was an experience. It's basically just downtown roads with tons and tons of vendors on it. There's really nothing like it I can compare it to in the states. It's not like one big place like I imagined it to be... it's really just streets that have been taken over by thousands of street vendors. And of course, being white, EVERYONE wants MY attention. Everybody kept coming up to me and showing me what they were selling. I just keep shaking my hand and saying "non, merci". So annoying! In the 2ish hours we spent there, I only saw three other white people so you can imagine all the other stares I got... I stick out like a sore thumb... I'm pretty sure the only thing people see when they see me is money... everyone just assumes that I'm loaded and ready to spend on anything. Really, really annoying. Still, had a fun time at the marche! Bought a pair of dress pants for 1500 francs ($3) and they fit quite well (I'm wearing them now in case you were wondering!).
Then, later today, we also went to Champion which is a Super Marche here... basically, a huge French grocery store. They had everything... Nutella, a butchery, cheese, frozen pizzas... everything! It would be really easy to shop there if it was closer and if I actually lived on a real budget, not a missionary budget. It was funny because I saw toooons of white French people today! Complete opposite of what the Grand Marche was.
Sorry everybody! I ran out of time today so I won't be able to type anything else right now. Hopefully next week I can send more stuff, but we didn't have too much time today especially since I had to reply to a bunch of emails today.
Hope everyone is doing well back home!
The song the little kids sing to the Americans. So cute!
Note from the Fro: He ran out of time as he had lots of emails to respond to, which is nice, THANK YOU all who wrote to him! So here are some tidbits I gleaned from letters he wrote to his Dad and siblings. Also, a few things I chatted with him about. He's doing really well, in good spirits and sounds like he's got his groove. Hooray! Also, scroll down for pics!
Fro: Did you get your package?
Elder H: Not yet... but they are doing exchanges on Thursday when they will be bringing a new missionary to replace Elder Kabango (got transferred to Benin) so I'm sure I'll get it by then... I'm excited though... because I'm ALL out of my American goodness! Fa-rooo! Not good!
Fro: So is there really a lot of sand blowing in the air?
Elder H: Yeah... not sure how you heard about that but recently, it's been super windy in the afternoons and night... it always gets windy at those times (makes it really nice when you have to walk so much) but the sand has been bad lately. Like we were having a lesson the other day and our Investigator (in French, they're called "amis de l'eglise which I think is better, so I might just start saying ami... I'm sure you already knew about they're name in French though!). But anyway, the wind kept blowing sand up into his face which made it really hard for him to read everything we gave him... so yeah, wind has been crazy. Oh, and ask Elder Hanna about the package he took with him. And tell him he needs to email me!
Fro: Have you eaten at Akif's yet?
Elder H: Yeah... funny story about that. We had it when I first got here... didin't think it was that great, though I did think it was pretty good. Then, last Tuesday came around and we had Zone Conference with the mission prez. For lunch, they got us all hamburgers and chuwamas (arab burrito basically)... same thing I ate when I first got to Togo. It was GLORIOUS!!! It was soooooooo amazing... even though it was the same exact food I ate when I first got to Togo... it was soooo much better after eating what I had to eat everyday... now every day... I have the craving to go there but it's just too far away from our sector to get out there so... yeah... sadness :(
Fro: Lol! It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it??? Well you better work hard to win the clean apartment award so you get taken out for a good meal! I'll keep my fingers crossed that you win one of these days!
Elder H: Yeah... me and Elder Imoukuede and I really want to win it... but it's almost impossible. Elder Kunz thinks his apartment is bad? Ours is worse! Our apartment was the very, very first apartment the Church ever bought for missionaries since they opened up Togo. So it is suuuuper old and realllllly junky... the newer apartments always win the best apartment... hopefully we can win it this next month with a little elbow grease but it will be hard. I'll let you know how it goes. But trust me... with the food we eat everyday... I REALLY want to win!!!!
Fro: You can do it! Just get yourself a plan and say I know I can! (family joke)
Fro: One of the moms posted a video of meat being sold off the street in Benin. Had a whole cow they were butchering right there in the street. Gross! Pretty much burned into my memory now. :/
Elder H: Yeah... they butcher things right on the street... extremely unsanitary!!!!!!! But that's how we have to buy our meat! I'm kinda afraid I'm going to get worms or something. Anyway, I gotta go, we have an appointment! Tell everyone I'm sorry for the short letter but hopefully the pictures can make up for that (each picture is worth 1000 words right?!)
Anyway, love you! Hope you have a good week! Thanks for all the love, support, and prayers!
The Executioner. (aka Elder Hanna!)
Us all enjoying our last meal with Elder Hanna... aka the bunny meal
Me and Elder Imoukuede at a Zone Conference
Just me turning into an African (notice what my ring has done!)
(Fro: I'd say he has a ways to go still! LOL!)
That's our RS Pres's dog! Her name is Hola because the RS Pres' husband works in Guinea, where they speak Spanish (therefore, he knows spanish) I didn't find out that he spoke Spanish until yesterday, so I always though it was really bizzare that their dog was named Hola! Like... huh... that's random! She's so scared of the missionaries though, so we don't get to ever pet her or anything :(
Elder Ranto, Elder Kabango, President Weed, and Elder Imoukuede
Me with a recent convert... a couple that Elder Kabango and Elder Imoukuede taught together. They're really nice and I think they will be awesome in the Church together... they have a cute kid too.
This was last night at a mangez-vous with our Branch President and his family... it wasn't Pate! Hooray! That's my whole apartment right there... it's funny, because here, I've found it very weird how when people feed the missionaries, they rarely eat with you... in fact they never do! So, it's kinda awkward when you're just eating there with your comp while the person who fed you is doing other stuff or watching you eat... yup... kinda weird.
Tidbits from letters to the family:
To Sur (aka Dad):
Anyway, things have been going good here though. I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of things here more and more. The bad days will come, sure, but I'm getting much better at handling them I feel. The French is coming... slowly but surely... I feel like my comprehension has improved a lot, I now it's just finding the right words to say after they're done speaking. My companion has been giving me the reigns latlely, so it really is trial by fire right now! It's going good though... I always have my comp as my backup plan in case they don't get everything I say... sometimes, the accent can be really hard for them, so he's always good to have by my side. Hope you have a good time celebrating those two great presidents! I miss American history a lot! I haven't learned much African history (just because it's not a huge topic of conversation, but hopefully as I progress with my French I can learn more about the country). It really is amazing to see how inspired those individuals were... how so many things could have gone wrong but they added up perfectly... Washington could have done so many things that would have changed the course of American history forever. Being in a country like this, and hearing about the countries where all my roommates are from (Nigeria, Congo, and Ghana)... makes you really apprecaite America... I tell you what... people really want to go to America too! They love Americans (I think it's iffy with the French sometimes!) but everyone here wants to go to America some day... even all the missionaries. It's hard not to brag about the US sometimes, but I do! I feel like more Americans need to live in another country for a long period of time... it would make the USA a much better place just because people will realize how amazing our country is! Anyway... got to get going now. Hope your trip to Asia goes well! Let me know how China is... funny thing is, all those motos you see over there are the same ones I see over here I bet! They import all these junky Chinese motorbikes here because they're cheap... they're awful! I always see them breaking down and the stall right in the middle of the street when they stop at a stop light.
Thanks for the letters again!
To....MEANEST PERSON EVER IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!! OHHH! (aka Adele!)
So, you asked what I have to do differently here in Africa... how about EVERYTHING!!! Cold showers every morning, fake milk (you mix powder and syrup together with water), sweating constantly... man everything I do is different. It's fun though... I'm really starting to get used to things here now and starting to adjust. I have to take two showers every day here now because I sweat so much, and the one at night is sooooo nice with the refreshing cold water. Other things I have to do differently... I have to put mosquito spray on every night... so I feel like I'm camping every night lol. Yeah... Africa is definitely a differently place from America. Also... there's no such things as a grocery store here... you have to buy everything in open markets and on the street because the super markets they do have here are expensive... so, a lot of times I'll see people just chopping up raw meat right in front of me on the road... I'm surprised I haven't died yet with the food I have to eat! I haven't really met anybody who has inspired me lately. But I'm going to look for that this week! Ask me the same question next week and I'm sure the Lord will show me somebody this week if I pray to have someone inspire me! I'll let you know how it goes! Anyway, thank you for the email. I always appreciate it! Stay strong and keep reading your scriptures! I'm proud of the example you set forth for your friends... so cool!
Talk to you soon!
To Deet! (aka Keegan):
Oh baseball... I knew it was starting soon because I always remember that pitchers and catchers report around Feb. 15! So, when that day came, I was like... aghhh! Baseball is almost starting!!! Speaking of which, right before I got here, I we were at a mangez-vous and there was a girl wearing a Nationals cap... the whole time I was just thinking... get that dumb hat off your head! Haha... I see tons of random baseball caps here... including a Phillies cap and a BYU cap! I need to mention those in my letter today. Hopefully the football coach doesn't get you too crazy... I still say stick with baseball, but if you like football, you can still do both. I like the WR idea... but yeah, trust me you would not want to be playing baseball out here. In the afternoons, it actually gets super windy which feels really nice for me, but would be awful for a baseball player! Glad to see that you made it through the Gosepls! I really, really need to read them all the way through because we quote so much scripture from the New Testament during classes. I'm telling you, look for scriptures that talk about Christ setting up the organization of the Church... those will come in really handy if you decide to go on a mission! Here, it's all about convincing people of the authority of our Church, which means comparing it to the Church that Christ established on the Earth when he was alive... because everyone here has already been baptized, whenever we invite them to be baptized, they're like, yeah I was already baptized... so yeah... Acts is a good place to look at for the organization of the Church. Also, Acts gets cool when you start to see the conversion of Saul! Well, glad things are going good. Got to get going now, but just know things are going good out here in Togo. Glad to see you like the letters! And don't go crashing the car like I did lol... I remember my first time driving... it was weird at first, but you start to get the hang of it... you know, you could just come out here to Togo where you don't even need a license to drive the motos here... it's so crazy... which is why it's against mission rules to use Moto taxis! But yeah, my advice for the learner's permit test is to use the manual that PA provides online... they have practice questions with answers... and they happen to be the same exact questions that they use on the exams! So just familiarize yourself with that.
Good luck in school. Hope to hear from you soon!