Monday, June 10, 2013

On My Way to Kodjoviakope!

I'll be going from Wuiti (A) to Kodjoviakope (B)! 

Hello World!

I had a pretty good week this week. A bit sad that I have to say goodbye to all these people in Wuiti, but I'm happy that I'll finally be a part of my first transfer! I will now be going to Kodjoviakope (say it like Kodjo via Kope with the e at the end like "ay"). It's right next to the beach and the Ghanian border, so that will be pretty cool.

However, it wil be a very tough sector to work in as it's still just a group (meaning only about 20 people show up to Church every week) and it's been like that for years now. The only thing the other missionaries tell me when they hear I'm going to Kodjo is "Bonne Chance"... meaning "Good luck (with that!)" So yeah, heading into the desert of the mission on Wednesday. The nice thing is that it happens to be the smallest sector of the mission so it won't be tons of walking and it's also the most built up part of the city. It will be an interesting change of pace for me, that's for sure. 

Okay, enough with this silly transfer business. The highlight of my week was definitely from today... going to the VOODOO MARKET! Now we're finally talking about some cool African culture here.

We went with Frere Francois, a return missionary who came back to Togo and married a Togolaise. He's French, but he knows everything about Togo since he's lived here for years now. He was our tour guide so that we wouldn't get ripped off like crazy... which is how touristy places tend to be like. 

Monkey skulls!

As we pulled up to the place, I instantly knew we were there because of all the crazy dead animal skulls and stuff. First thought through my head? This is AWESOME! I got pretty excited. We had to pay 5000 francs each to get in (10 bucks) which is 3000 more than other missionaries had paid a few weeks before. Fr Francois tried to talk them down the best he could, even spoke some Ewe to them, but we couldn't budge em. It's not too big of a deal because they gave us a card that allows us to come back whenever we want for free, whether it be next monday or in 10 years! 

After we paid, they took us around the whole market (which was empty aside from us and the vendors). They explained to us how they dry out the animals (which they never kill, but only take if they died naturally in the wild). They also talked to us about how they use them in sacrifices and in order to make charms and what not. It's pretty interesting stuff actually. 

Animal sacrifice alter for the "God of Fire"!

Porcupine needles!

Then, our tour guide took us into a "sacred room" with a Voodoo priest who only speaks Fon (Beninois language), so our tour guide translated for us. He should us several blessed trinkets we could get... one of my favorites was this little wooden stick that had a wire wrapped around it and at the end of the wire was a little piece of wood. It's supposed to be a Voodoo phone... meaning you talk into it and ask for protection during your journey. Then you put the little piece of wood at the end of the wire into the bigger stick... like you're plugging it up almost. Then, it's supposed to give you good luck all the way through your trip. 

I ended up buying a necklace from him and then having it blessed for me. It's this little bag thingy that has "over 41 special spices and herbs" in it and then two sea shells sewn on top of the little bag. It's supposed to give me good luck and good health wherever I go. It was funny because in order to bless it, I had to say my name into it three times, then the priest said some random stuff and shook a maracca (best way I can describe it), then to end the blessing, I had to say "I recieve this between my two hands" and then it was blessed! Boom! Voodoo POWER!

Of course, after it was blessed, we had to negotiate the price. They wanted me to pay freaking 18,000 CFA for it (over 30 dollars) for it. Fr Francois just laughed when we heard the price and I finally said I would only pay 2000 CFA for it (around 4 dollars) and they accepted the price, but they WERE NOT happy about it! I didn't even want to pay 2000 for it but I was afraid I was going to offend them or worse, that they would curse me with bad voodoo black magic! 

After that, they let us loose to do what ever we wanted. I took A TON of pictures (91 total) so I'll be sure to send as much as I can. To give you an idea of what there is, there's pretty much every animal you can think of over there. Dead dogs, cats, birds, geckos, lizards, owls, vultures, buffalo, hippos, frogs, bats, porcupines, chameleons, snakes, cows, sheep... EVERYTHING! They import a lot of stuff from all over West Africa. It was pretty cool to see it all... and best of all, TOUCH it all!

Left is python skin and right is crocodile skin. Crocodile skin is surprisingly heavy.

Elder Shearer with monkey claws!

Dog heads! (gross)

Cool animal skin! Tons of different kinds throughout the market to make tamtam drums

Cheetah head (I don't think it's a cheetah actually but I don't remember the animals name and I'm in a time crunch!)

Croc head!

That's a freakin' vertebrae to an elephant! Holy crap!

That's it's freaking leg bone!!!! It's extremely, extremely heavy! Like over 50 pounds or something!

Hippo mouth!

Errr...Gross bat

Overall, we spent over three hours in the market just admiring all the stuff and taking tons of pictures. I also was able to touch and play with a live chameleon! The guy brought it out of the bag, and at first it was all brown (like the bag!) and curled up. Then as we started playing with it, it started to change into a really cool green! And it's eyes are so cool! They're not aligned so it can move one eye in a completely different direction than the other. Also, did not realize that chameleons had claws... made it a bit difficult to get off my head!

Chameleon on my head!

I also got the chance to handle a boa constrictor... or at least I think it was. That was pretty freaky, but he was a nice little guy. He even got scared, which was cool to see because the snake basically coiled up into this ball with its head at the very center of it. Pretty neat... and it felt pretty cool too... first time I had ever handled a snake before!

Crazy snake in my hand!

Alright, well I should probably get going so I can upload most of the pictures I took from the day! 

Before I go, just want to ask everybody to pray for obedience for me! With this new sector, it's going to be really, really tough since there are no investigators and the church is so small. I know that through obedience to commandments, the Lord blesses his children... so this week, I will put my faith of that principle to the test... well, I'll be focusing more on it this week than I usually do!

Thanks to everybody for all the support, love, emails and prayers. It's much appreciated and I hope that everyone has a fantastic week. Take it easy everybody!

Much love,

Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: Whew!  Did you make it through all the pictures?  Ick, kinda gross.  Think it's so funny that his first thought was AWESOME!  Boys will be boys. I did love the chameleon, however.  I think he should bring that one home!  I do like that some weeks we see the spiritual giant and others....well, we see the boy. :) In chatting with him I asked if any other Americans will be in his new apartment.  He said: There will be a new American in the apartment. His name is Elder Haggard.. so that will be interesting... first time I'll be the oldest American in the apt! He's a little worried about his new comp as he only has a month left and hopes he's not too "trunky" (ready to go home!). I think that's why we'll be praying for obedience!  He's also a little bummed that he's leaving the 3 baptisms behind that he had set up for this week.  But says that he'll be even closer to Akif's and the Citimart, plus have a view of the beach.  Always looking on that bright side!  

P.S. Let's hope he's not wearing that weird voodoo amulet....

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