Greetings from Nykonakpoe, my crazy sector. Let me apologize before I get this letter started because I really feel like I have nothing good to say this week but, we'll see how things shake out.
This week was tough but good at the same time. The sector is really, really, really empty. Now that I spent my first full week in the area, I realize how bad things really are. Nobody to teach. Nobody to see. Nothing to do.
Well, that's not too true. There's A LOT to do. This week, we were able to do OVB (door-to-door contacting) a few times. This is probably the least favorite thing I do on my mission. My first two companions hated it too so we almost never did it. However, because of how painstakingly bad my sector is, it's really one of the only things we can do. The rejection is pretty tough, but it's not unbearable. Some people are also just pretty mean too us... sometimes they just flat out reject us and other times they just laugh at us.
It's not far from what I expected though. Even though a lot of people think this mission is just an easy, sit-back-and-relax baptizing mission, it's not at all. People are people, no matter what your circumstances or where you live. While people here are more God-worshiping then they are in other countries, people are still people!
One of the things that really gets a missionary down though are people lying to us! Usually, we have a pretty good plan of the people we're going to go teach and what we're going to go and do the next day, but we our plan almost always falls through. For example, there's this one recent convert who we plan to go and see a lot. We've even called him and confirmed appointments the night before many times. Of course, when we go there he's never there. Ever. We've probably tried to see this guy about 5-6 times since I've been here and every time, no matter what time, he's not around! And this happens with EVERYBODY!!!! So frustrating and really discouraging when it takes you a half hour to 45 minutes to get to their house.
But, as the people say, ça va aller! And, like they say, there's always a good side to the bad side!
The good side is that there are tons of great members here! Soeur Sonya is a tailor and has this awesome sewing machine that Fro would really like. She keeps trying to sell me this really kinda crappy ties though... so I told her last week, you know what, I really didn't come to Africa to buy crappy things I can easily buy at Goodwill (not the exact words, but close to it). I came to Africa to buy African things! So then she responded, so would you buy a tie made out of pine? (that's the traditional fabric out here) and I was like you bet! So, hopefully I get some pretty sweet looking ties soon (but she's usually pretty busy so I hope she doesn't forget!).
We also have some other sisters in our area. One is Soeur Nathalie who is this funny 20 year old who is almost as tall as me! She doesn't really work or anything so she's always home chilling out. She likes to make fun of my comp a lot so needless to say, I find her pretty funny. One day, we were chilling at her house and she asked me if I wanted "bouillie". Of course, having no idea what that was, we looked it up in my dictionary and the translation is "gruel". The first thought that came to mind when I read that was... hmmm isn't gruel the stuff you usually imagine mean, fat lunch ladies in middle school slopping down on your lunch tray? So, needless to say I wasn't too enthusiastic to eat or even find out what weird middle school lunch lady gruel actually was... but, I said yes because, well... why not? Turns out, gruel is pretty good! It's basically like sweet oatmeal, but less chunky. We even bought some beignets (donuts) to dip it in. Maybe mean middle school lunch ladies know something that I don't, huh?
We got plenty of other awesome members in the group, but I got to say in the week and a half that I've been here, I've really grown to love these people. They're a pretty tight nit group, despite the fact that they really don't like their group leader at all. It's kind of a shame that they don't like the guy but he's a bit of a power hog and doesn't like to share responsibility. Meaning, he's overwhelmed with all the work in the group he has to do... meaning, he doesn't do half the work because he has too much to do! It's frustrating, but as we always say... ça va aller!
So, as tough as things might be with all the problems in the sector and with the group, things are still going great. I'm loving the mission right now because I'm loving this challenge. There's a lot that needs to be fixed in the area right now, but I'm ready to get to work and make a difference in the area.
That reminds me, Elder Haggard has also really inspired me to start writing in my journal regularly and daily again... it's so awesome I forgot how awesome journal writing is! I've found that it's really helped clear out my thoughts and helps destress me too. If that's one piece of advice that I can give to people today, it's that... keep a journal! It's really amazing the kind of inspiration you can get when you write down your thoughts every night.
I guess you can say, so far the recipe for success in my mission so far is not to let the bad outweigh the good... which, I've found to be pretty easy when you got the Lord helping you out and pushing you through the days. Thanks to Elder Haggard who brought a whole iPod full of conference talks, I was able to listen to a talk given by Elder Holland this past conference. It really inspired me as he talked about how small our faith really has to be in order to see miracles in our lives (see the parable of the mustard seed to understand more of what I'm talking about). Sometimes I've felt like I haven't had enough faith for miracles, but I know I've always remained confident in the fact that nothing is impossible to God.
That's my goal this week, to exercise my faith and see miracles happen in this sector... because honestly, that's what it's going to take to be successful in this part of my mission. I have confidence that God can work miracles in this sector... as for whether I see those miracles , next week, or even after I get transferred out of this sector, I'm not sure... but I do know they will happen.
That being said, I feel like there really is only one way I can end this email...
P.S. Oh African cybers... won't let me upload my pix. Have to do it next week. Sorry!
Note from the Fro: Mean middle school lunch ladies. Haha! Still not sure about gruel. Anyway, we will pray for faith and miracles this week. He was really bummed his sister hadn't opened her mission call yet. But it was fun to email chat with him as we were driving together as a family. It was almost like having him in the car with us as he was making us laugh hysterically as usual. I'm going to share the email he wrote to Sienna, it made us laugh the most (but probably only because we could "hear" exactly how he'd say this out loud!)
Thanks for checking in on mes! Sos I'm likes nots deads so that's pretty goods. My next sects sucks but it's okays. I guessles it will go betters with a few prayers and stuff. But, idbk like who knows... oh buts its really hots. Theres like this big orange ball in the sky that gets really hot... like really really really really hotz. OMbgeebers it's a really hot orange ball and it like doesn't go away all day. Ughz...
Haha, anyway... now that I think about it... of all the ridiculous shoes I have seen here, I have yet to see Ugs out here! I guess it's just not hip here anymore... maybe it's because it's too hot but people wear ridiculous coats out here that would be super hot so I don't think it's because of that. Maybe it's because Rihanna doesn't wear ugs or something. (yes, people's style of fashion really does go off of rappers and pop singers back in the states... guess you really can't ever get away from crappy American pop can you?) That reminds me of when I went to visit a member last week and she was singing Justin Beiber... I was like ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I didn't even think Africans liked that music!
Don't got much time to write this week so my email will be a bit short this week, but I got to ask you how the scripture study is going! Don't be like me and get lazy after I finished up at BYU! Got super, super lazy but I was able to reread the Book of Mormon before I went out on my mission and was able to read part of Matthew... so yeah, don't get lazy! Just read!
Got to get going now. Thanks for the letter. Have fun in Cali! Can't wait to hear about your call next week! I'm sure that's all anybody is going to talk to me about next week haha.