(French for: "This is Africa") A common term used by the missionaries when they want to express "thats just the way it is because "THIS IS AFRICA"! ie..."the power went out..AGAIN... C'est Afrique...or sometimes denoted as TIA...This Is Africa!!)) Elder Halvorsen has been serving a full time mission since January of 2009 in the Ivory Coast, Abidjan West Africa Mission. This mission encompasses the countries of Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast. He loves it there and is enjoying his experiences serving the Lord and the people of West Africa!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

This is what happens when I don't get my Monday email!!!

Dear Elder and Sister Black,

Just checking in on my son, Elder Halvorsen. We hadn't received an email from him today and know that there are periodic power outages over there. Just making sure everything's alright. I know zone conferences are generally on this day, too, and that it can be a busy day for the boys!

Call me a worry wart...but the last time we didn't get an email from him, he was in the hospital with malaria. :/

Thanks so much for your service and watching over the elders in Benin. Itis a great comfort to us knowing you're there!

Sis. Kalleen Halvorsen

The reply:

Just checked with your missionary. He diligently tried to get an e-mail off on Monday and again on Tuesday but West Africa won which means he, or rather the computer, lost. I realize this isn't like hearing from him but all is well. He and his companion have, I think, 4 baptisms tomorrow. They are working hard.

Elder Black

Parent's response:


Monday, July 20, 2009

Bargain shopping and interesting diet

I haven't been able to take a lot of pictures like that, because like you said, I'm not supposed to act like a tourist. Also two other reasons. Once you take a picture, EVERYONE wants their picture taken, even if you'll never see it again... And then the other is when you see poverty like this, you just feel bad taking random pictures of any place where there's people in the photo that you don't know. It's hard to explain.... But i have good pictures. I'm sending the card home in September. So SOON you'll see the life I live, however so slight.

We have been surviving on rice and spaghetti with just soy sauce for the last two days. Toay was our "rétablissement" cause we got our money. Lol! We even started eating rice with just ketchup. Ya it was bad. Lol! TIA.

I've become quite the little barginner (I haven't spelled that word in a while. Quittes là!) with buying things. This lady wanted 1000 Francs for these ties I liked and I just said, "Non Maman. ça n'est pas juste. Je vais vous donner 500 chacun. Elle a dit, non non mon fils. 1000.
[Google Translation: "No Mom. It is not fair. I'll give you 500 each. She said, no no my son. 1000"]

I ended up buying six for 3000 and I said, Quoi? Non Cadeau Maman? Mais vous avez dit que je suis ton fils. Vous devez donner un cadeau à ton Fils.
[Google Translation: "What? No Gift Mom? But you said that I am your son. You must give a gift to your son"]

And I got another tie for free. Lol! It was great. They think that because I'm white that I have a ton of money, but that most definitely isn't the case. Oh. look up Mesabo. That's the Market I shop at. Supposedly it's really big...

Elder Halvorsen [the bargain shopper]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The price of fruit, and other random things

Power converter is great. It gets a little warm if it's left in the outlet for too long, but not like burning hot... Just warm. Yeah I use it a lot, to charge my batteries (batteries are expensive here) and my razor. It's been a life saver.

I am SO glad I don't have a hat. I gave away those two baseball caps I brought. It's suicide to your head if you wear a hat. It's better to just get used to the sun. I have no clue what the stomach thing was. I think it was the honey that I bought.. Eh oh well. No I'm good on garlic till the end of my mission. I'm taking precautions no worries. I'm going to send my card home with the Blacks. My memory card. And maybe some presents, but shipping isn't that bad.

YAH!!! THESE PEOPLE CARRY WINDOW PANES AND HUGE TV'S!!! These people are crazy. I see that everyday. Elder Ghisquiere. He's my little Frenchie. LOL! A journey of Faith is about the BOM. It's an amazing documentary. I've never seen anything like it... I WANT TO SEE THE SIXTH HARRY POTTER!!! I DIDN'T EVEN SEE PREVIEWS!!! Dang it.. Just another year and six months right... You need to buy all the good movies so I can just watch all the ones I missed. lol. Dang...

Sounds like a lot is happening with life over there. I hope Chandler picks up the Car Spirit also. That'd be cool to see. ANOTHER HALVORSEN CAR MAN!! Lt's just start a garage. Halvorsen's African Auto.Lol LOL!!! I'm glad people talk so highly of me over there! About the hiking all the music and all that! But really, it's only 10 to 15 miles on flat ground. You guys hiked mountains! That sounds fun. The mosquitos here probably don't suck as bad as the ones there too... I laughed SO hard about the Subaru. I thought you were going to sell that... Well I wish I was there to experience all of that. It sounds like it was a lot of fun, the hike.

Here's what's new in Bénin.

So I met my first cult. That was an interesting experience... He was saying how Jesus teaches them and that they meet in his house... He only had one scripture to defend himself and it didn't even work for the situation... lol. Just bizarre. Greg Allen says he wants ALL my emails. did I tell you that holding hands for people of the same sex here is not weird? It's weird when you're walking down the road and your companion tries to hold your hand... So we had a rough spot with our companionship, but I just told him what was bugging me and he said he would change and he did... He's a great companion. We work well and efficiently together.

Can you tell me the set up of a Mancala board? I think there's six holes for each player, so twelve in the middle, and then the big oval holes on the ends. And how many rocks for each hole. Thanks.

There was this guy at a baptisimal service we had that was like waving his hand around and pointing at the conductor when we were singing. I was laughing pretty hard, but apparently he knows all the scriptures by heart, and he's not a member yet... That was a slap to my ego and how judging before you understand can make you feel like a complete fool. I felt like a total jerk.

Another guy basically yells when he sings, and we had to tell him to sing quieter. The day my companion and I made up was crazy good. We had one guy that, as soon as we showed up at his house, he said, I've read the BOM and I want to be baptised... that was amazing. THen after that, we visited one investigator we had just found to remind him of church, but he wasn't there, but his mom; dad; and sister were and said, yeah, he talked to us about( it and we all want to come... Lol! and THEN! a family emailed us and said they wanted us to come by and teach them. Good GOOD day.

I gave another talk. I guess I'll be giving a lot cause our branch is small and there's only ten missionaries here. Have I talked about the Alleuhia preachers? They are interesting. It's just like the people we imitate in the US for fun. and it's everyone... And it's crazy... They'll all be running around while music is playing. I've seen people yelling at each other when music was playing.. I've even seen one guy who was just yelling at the door.... It was weird...

I'm having this awesome painting made for me! The guy is in the ward. They look so cool! Elder Guillory is now in our apartment. He's the new companion of Elder Ghisquiere. He's from New Mexico. We instantly clicked. It's good, but bad at the same time. We try to speak to French but switch back to English a lot... Eh... C'est comme ça.

What did you find out about the music Ivorian, Togolese, and Beninoir? That's Austin's job, if he's willing to take it up. I'd really appreciate it. The mood in our apartment is great. The weeks are really starting to fly and I'm almost six months out. Just a couple more days. That's so weird but saddening at the same time. I want it to pass, but I don't... It's an interesting feeling and dilemna.

Shipping is about 16000 Francs per Kg. So I think I'll be able to ship something ome for all of you for Christmas. AND I NEED YOUR MEASUREMENTS MOM! Elder Black took us shopping today at this place that looked like Wal mart. That was good. It's funny, cause we were like everything is so expensive, but if you convert it, it's actually WAY ceaper then America. Like we buy fresh pineapples off the street for 5 for a dollar. They're good siz too. and forty oranges is 6 dollars. I bought ties for a dollar a piece too. NICE ones.

Well I've gotta go. Wrote a lot about random stuff.

Well I love you all and miss you a lot!!!

Elder Halvorsen

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Learning F)ongbe (that's how you really spell it)

I had a couple [of baptisms this week]. My total is nine now. We don't have any scheduled for the 18th cause we had meetings and such. But we've got a couple scheduled for the 1st. I was trying to hold this, but there are quite a few more mosquitos here. I'm fine, though. Ya We have a filter and If we don't have water, we buy bottled water. sweet about the debit card. Thank you.

But you didn't give me your measurements for a dress Mom... I need that. Ya I can send the card [camera memory card] with Elder and Sis. Black. I was nervous about sending it and losing all of my photos possibly...

So I've started learning f)ongbé. That's the af)ongandea that you wrote. I can just present and say hi bye thanks. Just simple, but it's a start. Ya I'm excited for Christmas too. My mission has already been flying and I'm counting UP to my year mark. When that hits it's downhill, and it's faster going down the hill then climbing it... lol! Ya the girl that got hit was fine. That's funny about the bikers. And sounds like everyone has been crazy busy. Oh, and about Elder Lah, I thought about all those things too. I told him there's a good chance it probably won't work because of our economy, and he knows that. I'll talk to you about that on Christmas.

Well this weeks been interesting. I forgot to tell you how people fill up. There are big Glass bottles of gas on the side of the road, and people pull over and pay the person and bam. Gas. MY shoes I've had gave out. My Hush puppies are doing good though. Oh. I don't know if I've said this, but I'm not Tubabu here. I'm a Yovo. The kids all chant this song; "Yovo! Yovo! Bonjour! ça va bien? Merci!" [Google Translation: Whitie! Whitie! Hello! How are you? Thanks!" Sheesh, you'd get thrown in jail for saying something like that in the states!] It's really funny.

I saw 5 people on a 100 motorcycle. That was... Not safe. I've seen people carrying televisions the same size as ours on the back of motorcycles. OH! On top of Cassava, can you see if you can find music from Côte D'Ivoire, Bénin, and Togo? We had a zone conference, which is for the 10 missionaries in Bénin. We met in Gbèdromédé. Elder Anulou of the 70, the guy that gave me a boost of confidence, was there, along with the president. It was great. You've got to get the movie, A Journey of Faith too. AMAZING!

I think I talked about our little well where we draw water... That's fun. I gave a talk in Church and then right after that, taught the young men. That was a lot of fun. I really love it. I've had a little stomach problems today. The president, Elder Black and Elder Lah gave me a benediction so I could be better and immediately I felt better. You've gotta love this church and the power we have as the true church of God! Well I think that suffices for today.

Love you all! Adabo!

Elder Halvorsen

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Food, animals and public restroom facilities...oh my!

Hanging out at the mission couple's home -- Elder and Sister Black -- for the 4th of July.

Abofongea? That's Fong for bonjour. You can only really do Fong Phonetically. Yako is a word in Bouwly, a language in Coté D'Ivoire. Lakai Bangies are a sweet type of sandals. Jatalas are ties. Accumé is a corn paste that's amazing. Atieke is cassva mashed up with sauces. dégué is a drink that's like yogurt rasins stuff... Bisap is a purple drink that I can't explain. It's amazing. And then Rognon is liver in this sauce that is flippin amazing. That would be easier if you just sent it to the mission home for Elder N'Dri. Rainy season is cake. A little soaked all the time and everything floods, but no big. Works goin good. Tiny branch but we just baptised two people on saturday and we think we'll have 2 to 5 more the 18th. My new companion is great. En fact he'll probably be sending you an email here pretty soon.

Ya I heard about Jackson the day after he died. That's good that Tabby is engaged. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! I JUST READ THE PART ABOUT BLAKE!!!! Alright gotta stop laughing. All the Africans look at me funny...

Ya I've used a sheet a couple times. I'm going to freeze when I get home. And It's gonna be weird when I first realize I'm not sweating... I forgot to tell you about the motos. Most are little Suzuki and Chinese brand 100's. Occasionally there's the 125. Tons of scooters ranging from 80 to 125. You rarely see anything bigger. There are a couple Dirt bikes that are nice. I've seen one crotch rocket. All are four stroke. And THERE ARE MOTORCYCLE TAXI'S! The little one hundred's normally. I've seen four people one on bike. I've also seen them carry someone holding glass panes and dressers on them and three bags BIG BAGS of heavy things... We're talking full sized dressers too... I'm in Cotonou, Minnontin. The food is really hard to explain, but I can make most of it already... So I'll make it when I get home. Can you see if you can aquire cassava over there? That's pretty neccesary.

Alright. SO this week was very eventful. I met the daugther of Satan. Her house was the darkest place I've been in in my life... And she was horrible... Everything we said she said no that's not true. No that's not true. It was just dark. I started feeling really sick in her house and really tired... I was seriously depressed in her house too. As soon as we got away from here house I started feeling better. It was horrifying to see that the power of Satan is very real. Everyone says that but you don't really understand until you experience it...

Lighter things, my intelligence with the scriptures is improving very well. With my French, I still miss a couple of words but it's doing well. I'm improving rapidly. I'm going to start learning Fong bhé in a month too. Then in Togo I will learn Mina.

The animals here a little different. Like the 5 foot long bats that fly around at night and the goats and pigs that run around. I've seen a baboon here and a bunch of monkeys, but only even as pets, not wild.

I found a game they play called Awalé and I'm buying that today. It's like Mancala, but not.

The fourth was fun for me. I woke up and started belting the National Anthem. Then i found my hymn book and sang all three verses. Elder Ghisquiere was just like, American. Lol!

We saw a little girl get hit by a motorcycle. She was literally rolling in the street... It was crazy... Her sister ran back and picked her up. She was in crazy bad shock but after 10 minutes she seemed to be doing good... It was just scary and crazy. The driver just yelled and tried to justify himself then drove off. Just like that. It's a different world here...

Have I talked about bathrooms yet? They have these public restrooms but you have to pay and they're disgusting. Never used one of course. Most people just pee right on the side of the road anyways. Like... Right in the open... No shame in Africa. TIA.

Thats all that was really exciting anyways.... Lol! Fun times in Bénin. I really do love it here. OH!!! I forgot.. I said that I always take a shower and always have water last week right? Ya. That night, we didn't have water for almost that entire week, but luckily we have a little well just outside our apartment so we could wash..

Well love ya all and missed you guys more then usual this week. I'm going to try and send every gifts for their birthdays this next week, but we'll see if it's crazy eexpensive or not.


Elder Halvorsen

Almost forgot. Elder Black needs my Missoinary call and also a criminal record report letter from the police saying I don't have a criminal record. He said if you can just scan and email that, that's great. : )