Monday, August 26, 2013

Proper (American) English and Herbology

What is up, people of Amrica!?!

This week has been a good week... I can't believe another week has flown by, just like that! Pretty crazy I got to say, but there's still many, many more weeks left to do while I'm out here so I'm not getting too crazy just yet! 

Not too much happened this week but we did finally start up our brand new English class this week! It's about time, huh? We started it on Wednesday, and in order to get people to come on time we are starting at EXACTLY 6:30 PM and ending EXACTLY at 7:30 PM... no exceptions! 

I'm not sure if I have complained... errr explained... about Africa time yet... or lack thereof. People here are usually AWFUL about coming to things on time. To make matters worse, you know Mormon Standard Time? Yup, still applies out here and is a double whammy! Our sacrament meeting is usually pretty full by the end of the meeting but at the start (meaning at 9:00 AM) we have almost nobody there! I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Fr. Alex, our old Group leader, would always start Church about 10-15 minutes late anyway but as of late we have been starting on time and ending on time too, whether or not anybody is actually there! 

But yeah, yesterday would be a good example of people not coming to Church on time, even our new group leader. My comp and I decided to go to Church early (well, he did and I had to follow along). Good thing we did go early! Nobody was there and the doors were closed (it was about 8:20). So, we had to set up all the chairs, the sacrament, pass out the hymnals, open the doors/windows, etc... it's not a whole lot of work but starting sacrament meeting drenched in sweat because it's so humid is not exactly my favorite way to start out my Sundays.

Back to the English class though... aside from us also trying to teach timeliness, we do actually teach English! Of course to make things better, I bought cookies to give out as prizes too! I made sure not to tell anybody about that though so that those who did actually come would be rewarded for coming! 

We had a pretty good turnout... about 10 people I think which isn't half bad. We had about 10 people on Friday too which isn't too much to complain about. We have even been getting some people who aren't members of the Church to come, which is good because apparently people think that if they come to our class we're going to force them to be converted and baptized into the Church... we keep trying to explain that it's just a form of community service that we the missionaries are doing in order to help out, but we'll see if more people actually start coming. 

We had loads of fun teaching! It's kinda tough though because these people act like kids when they have a lot of fun like we were having... I've been digging back into my Middle School/High School French class games in order to get people to participate and interact. So far, we've done board races and counting games and people have really liked them. 

The one problem I have been finding is how to be able to teach everyone, because everyone has a different level of previous English knowledge... also, some of it is Nigerian English sooo... not that I'm saying Nigerian English is bad per se (coughit'sawfulcough) but I'm just trying to teach them... proper English! Yeah, that's it... "proper" American English... you know, the good kind! The understandable kind! 

Also, I wanted to share some interesting stuff I learned this past week from one of our member's Mama Happy. She's divorced so we try and visit her every so often to see how she's doing since all her kids are moved out and she's just kinda there selling stuff out of the shack in front of her house. As we were visiting, we noticed that she was taking care of the plants in her... "yard". We started to ask about them and it turns out that every single plant she has had some sort of meaning to it/special purpose. I made sure to write them down and share my newfound traditional African knowledge! 

So, in the picture I sent, we will start from left to right. The first plant, right next to the bowls with the big leaves, is a plant that, if you put one of its leaves in your mouth, will protect you if you need to do something scary. That's to say, maybe you need to go into a sketchy part of town or you need to do something that you're scared to do, it will give you the strength to return home safely. 

Close up of the purple good luck plant 

Next to that plant is a little purple plant that I'm sure you cannot really see. It has these really cool purple leaves that are supposed to give you good luck on a trip or journey. Put it in your pocket or anywhere on your person, and you're in good shape. Mama Happy was nice enough to give us each one and I have mine resting in my scriptures, nice and safe! I'm thinking that if I ever need extra luck I'll put that and my cursed Voodoo necklace that I got a few months ago... hmmm... maybe I should wear those while I'm walking around my sector! 

The next plant, the one that's rather tall with red/purple bean looking flowers on it, is well... supposed to help you when you lack blood. So, it's good for tuberculosis I guess? She wasn't really specific on its purpose but my comp seemed to know what she talked about when she mentioned it, so it must cure something that I don't know about.

The next plant is on the very right in the big white pot. Its purpose is to help you get something you want... for example let's say that somebody owes you something or you lent them something and they won't give it back to you. Stick one of the leaves in your mouth (I guess you tuck it in under your lip so it doesn't get in the way? Not sure how this Africa stuff works) and go up to the person that owes you... and... BAM they will give it back to you! It's magic, I tell you!

The next plant is the plant in the bottom left corner of the picture, with little beans. That is a plant that, if you boil it into a tea, will help cure malaria! I'll be sure to stop by Mama Happy's when I get malaria! 

The last plant in that image is the tall tree looking one. That plants purpose? To cure diabetes! Who would have thought that Africans even knew what diabetes was. Small world, huh? lol

Okay, now the very last plant I will talk about is the one with Fr. Peniel standing in front of it (the biggish tree)... btw... Peniel is awesome, but that's besides the point. This tree is a pretty special tree. Apparently, if you take the leaves and wash with them, it will bring you good luck and peace in your day. But, let's say you're going to court and you have to tell the truth... if you take 3 branches of this tree that has EXACTLY 7 leaves on it (no more, no less or else it won't work) and then wash/bathe/drink it, it will force you to tell the truth in court, even if someone tries to bribe you to say otherwise. 

Another one of its uses is at funerals. People will take the leaves and put it in a bowl at the exit of a funeral. You're supposed to wash your hands in it so that way no ghosts follow you out of the graveyard and haunt you. Thought that might be a pretty handy one! 

Wow... that took forever! I hope you all are up to date on your African herbology knowledge! I thought it was pretty cool to learn about and it made me realize that every plant that is in somebody's parcel actually has a very specific use! It's never just for looks/shade... whether it produces fruit to sell or brings good luck to the house, it has a purpose! I know a lot of people have plants that they make sauces out of (they're pretty gross) but I never knew there could be so many things you could do with them! Ahhh... the mysteries of Africa are forever unfolding before my eyes! 

To wind things down, things have been going alright. We had three people come to Church yesterday, and it was the second time for all of them so I would consider that my little miracle for the week! Hopefully we'll see more progress in this week to come. I'm sure we will though! 

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and the support. Thanks for reading my ramblings every week (to the few who still do!) Take care and have a great rest of summer! 

Much Love,

Elder Hawkins

More pics: 

Sweet classic french car that I found! 

My tortilla mess. Props to the mexicans who make them every day. I am convinced that the only way to make a perfect tortilla is through dark magic and wizardry. 

Note from the Fro: Love the tortilla making!  And the water bottle rolling pin.  Yep, that's my kid!  I asked what he filled them with and he said "Ayemolo of course!" Which is apparently African rice and beans with pima sauce.  He says it's delish.  But unfortunately avocados are no longer in season, so he's a little bummed about that.  Also, the French car cracks me up!  It's a Citroen 2CV or rather Deux Chevaux (2 horse power).  They are pretty fun looking cars, I can see why it made his day!  I think it's fun he's learning about some of the plants and their properties there. Reminds me of my time way back when working with the World Wide Fund for Nature.  Ah, those were the days!  I told him to respect the plants, they really are medicinal.  Not sure about the good luck, truth telling and gets rid of ghosts aspects, but they DO heal!  Oh Africa. 

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