Monday, October 20, 2014

Three Things a Day

Another visit from Brother John!

As always, I once again find myself sitting at the cyber wondering what to write to everybody after another week has flown by.

Strangely enough, next week will be the very last time that I will have this experience of wondering what to write to everybody. 

As my time has been dwindling down in Africa, Fro challenged me to look for things that I enjoyed about my mission in Africa, or rather things that I would miss upon my arrival home. She challenged me to write down three things each day on things that I would miss.

At the beginning of the week, I was doing pretty good but by the end of the week, everything was just going by too fast that I ended up forgetting to write down the things that I love about here. I feel like I probably already have talked about a lot of the things that I wrote but if not, this will just give you a reminder of the things I like about this crazy little part of Africa and about my mission in particular.

Okay, I'm just gonna get the food out of the way because that's what most of my list was.

  • Aloco (fried plantains): The Ivorian staple, Aloco is awesome. It's pretty easy to make so if I can find some plantains I can make it really easily back home. 
  • Viju Milk/Juice: This is a Nigeria drink that is absolutely delicious. It's basically flavored powered milk but don't let the name get you to think that it's not good. They have tons of flavors like orange, apple, pineapple, strawberry, etc. It's funny because I hated flavored milk back home but I'll give it to those Nigerians, they did a pretty good job with it. 
Viju juice! Present from Brother John.

  • Coconuts: Ahhhh... coconuts are so good. Whether they be cut fresh or ones that you buy already cut at the market they are all really good. I really love drinking it with fresh lime too... very refreshing after a hot day. And eating the coconut "flesh" is always very good too. Now that I know how to open coconuts without breaking a cutting board, it's pretty dang easy to drink.
  • Beesap: The drink that turns your mouth purple, this is amazing and so good to drink. It's made from sugar and hibiscus leaves (mostly imported from Burkina Faso! How 'bout them apples?!). I hear that Mexicans make a similar drink so I will be on the hunt once I get home!  
Some nigerian patte with beesap made by sister Precious... the beesap was sooo good!
  • McDonalds - African Style: So we have this African mama who sells some pretty dang good fried food right down the street from our apartment. Among the varieties offered are enyam (the local spud here), bean balls (mashed white beans), aloco, but the BEST are the at-tele which is fried banana... man those are so good. You can eat them just by themselves! No pima required (the other stuff, save the aloco, is eaten with some pima hot sauce). After I had inherited President Weed's ketchup when he left, I also ate the stuff with ketchup which is really good. But now I'm out and have no more ketchup and it's too expensive to buy again... so piment it is!

    Also, once you get a variety of these things, it is best to buy a hot dog and about 200 francs worth of spaghetti to go with the dinner. What you do is you take the spaghetti with your hands, pick up a bean ball or a piece of fried enyam and eat! It's pretty dang good.  The spaghetti helps the enyam go down your throat. Exciting.
My fried foods with spaghetti!

  • 60 cent sandwiches: Usually, on any given lunch break, you can find me on the wall of our apartment hunting down a sandwich lady. Sometimes it can take a half hour for them to come, but they always come! When I was at the bureau, I would always buy a sandwich with avocado and mayo for the morning (that's considered a breakfast meal here)... but for lunch out here in Menontin, they only have mashed beans with spicy oil which is great for lunch. I'll usually by two of them, one with a hot dog and the other with a hard boiled egg (for the protein of course)... man I'll sure miss my sandwich ladies. Maybe I can look into Wawa making similar sandwiches and hiring people to walk around New Hope with bread on their heads! That would be awesome!
  • Enyam pile (mashed enyam) with peanut sauce: Man this is probably the best, most filling meal that you can get. Usually you eat this with either chicken or cheese, but I usually just get it with cheese. I am definitely going to eat this this week before I go home. Because the peanut sauce is filled with pima and is literally very hot, you are guaranteed a runny nose by the end of your meal! 
Okay, now for the other stuff:
  • Scripture study: One thing I will really miss upon my arrival home will be the fact that I won't have a time set aside to study the scriptures. One nice thing about the mission is that you always have a time dedicated to reading the scriptures, and nothing else! My Gospel knowledge has increased one hundred fold thanks to scripture study and I will definitely continue once I get home, but I know it will be a lot harder.
  • "Bon assis!": I'm definitely gonna miss weird African phrases too. The most common one people say is "Bon Arrive" which means good arrival... I suppose it's the African way of saying welcome. They also say all the traditional French ones like bon appetit, bon soir, bonjour, bonne digestion, bon voyage, etc... but my absolute favorite is Bon assis, literally meaning "good sit" which is what people say to you when they're busy and you're sitting around waiting for them. It's kinda like they're saying to you I haven't forgotten that you're there! It's so stupid that it's funny.
  • Negotiating prices: Okay, this is actually a double-edged sword because sometimes this can really bite you in the butt if you're not sure of yourself. One thing I like about negotiating is the fact that you can always get things at a lower price if you know what you're doing. When I go souvenir shopping, this is pretty key so that I don't accidentally spend $100 on only a few objects (yeah that happened near the beginning of my souvenir shopping experience)... of course, one thing that I have learned is never be afraid to walk away. Also, if you want to get a good price from a Beninois/Togolais, just make them laugh and they will be more willing to give you a better price.
  • The Heat: Another double edged sword because most of the time it is too hot! But it's nice never to have to worry about whether I need to wear long sleeves or short sleeves! And oddly enough, I have become so used to sweating that sometimes I don't even need fans to cool me down anymore because... well... that's my life: sweat.
  • The People: Of course this is the very reason I am here! I really love getting to know the members and making friends with people that I would have never imagined to be my friend! Sometimes it can be hard for me to relate with people here but usually as long as you can joke around about stuff, people will laugh and smile which makes them like you! In just about every place I serve, there is always somebody that is very dear to me and somebody I really hope to see in the future! Attiogbe/Sr Ngessun from Wuiti, John from Kodjoviakope, Precious from the Bureau, and Ismael/Betty from Menontin (I think it's kinda funny that there are two Togolais/Beninois on the list, then an Ivorian and then three Nigerians!)... of course there are tons more people that I love from every sector but those are just to name a few. 
  • Mission friends: Do you know that missionaries are actually awesome people? It's so much fun being here with so many other people doing the same exact thing that I am doing. The friendships that have been made here will definitely last far beyond the mission.
  • Moto taxis: So I don't take them anymore (don't worry) but while I was taking them I actually really did love them! I was still scared out of my mind when I took them, but they are a lot of fun... plus they're cheap and fast! Of course, I've seen some gnarly accidents from motos but... that's why I prayed every time I got on one.
Honestly, there are a lot more things that I could talk about but I'm going to limit myself here. There are a lot of things that are really hard to deal with here in Africa as well. But if there's one thing you've got to learn about living in Benin/Togo, it's that if you're only going to focus on the bad stuff, you're in for a long, long mission. 

It's hard to believe that I have one more week to live in such a crazy part of the world. I will be trying to take advantage of every single last bit of this place this last week. Saying goodbye to people will be really tough but I know that we will see each other again, whether in this life or in the next life. 

Thanks again for all the prayers from everyone... I'll need every one of them when I'll be traveling home this next week! 


Elder Hawkins

New text signature on our phone made with what I think are Ethiopian characters.

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