(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!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

All is well in Paradise

We're rockin' Zogbho. We just had two more baptisms with other dates set. No Packages. Starting to get mad at that fact... New couple a arrives the 12th I heard. The food is different, [in Benin] more rice and beans kinda stuff and lots of pastes with WAY more pepper and it's hotter here. I'm gonna need new shoes in a month or 3. Shirts are fine, pants, net, all that is good. Haven't opened my new garments. I haven't seen any games inside the stade, but there's people ALL AROUND playing. Sundays are CRAZY! Every sunday.

Sounds like a lot of fun things have happened this week. I feel kinda bad cause I haven't written specifically to the boys, but then again, the only time one wrote me was when Austin wanted the Iphone. : P Well boys, I don't have much counsel today, but Happy Birthday to Dad, Austin, and Chandler next week! I can't believe Austin has 16 years... That's just weird...

Well here are some of the things that I noticed this week:

We've had this girl that we reactivated that just left for Ghana for school today, and she UNLOADED all her CD's to me. So I have a ton of African and French music now. I'm seriously addicted to Zouglou, which is a type of music in Côte D'Ivoire. I hear it all the time in the Maquis. And I'm going to keep looking for more. Music is really cheap here. A buck a CD. There's guys that go around and sell CD's too.

I hope that you're keeping all the emails I send cause sometimes I forget to add things in my journal that I write to you, so I'm going to throw copies of all my emails in my journal.

since I still haven't gotten my card, I won't be able to send any gifts for Christmas... It's a real bummer cause I had some cool stuff planned... Grandpa airmailed a letter to me... Had a letter about stuff he had been doing. MAN that man is never stopping. Just keeps on going and he is BUSY!

We bought this HUGE bannana branch with like 40 bannanas on it. Guess how much? 4 bucks. MUAHAHAHA! Straight off the tree. they're good too. We took some funny photos.

We have a couple families that are progressing rapidly for baptism. I think We'll have some candidates for the 10th, but what I've leared in Africa is NEVER count 100% on something. Lol! Like our shower. I'm SO thankful for the all purpose tool I bought now. It's how we turn the shower on. Gotta use the pliers. C'est Afrique.

So I'm at a total of 45 marriage proposals for my mission. I just received five in one day.... None of which I have accepted which you will probably be glad to hear. [Yes, yes I am]

Out baptism went really well. We had two candidates, a mom and here daughter. This lady is SO funny and SO strong. It's great. On the Investigator sheet she marked Member, and we had to explain that she has to be baptised before she is a member. LOL! And her daughter is incredibly strong too. We thought that she was 18 or 20 years old cause she's got the form of a full grown woman. She's Twelve... E. Adams and I did not believe her. Then she pulled out her birth information... Dang... ANYWAYS, their baptême was the 26th.

First, let me telll you something. I DREADED the thought of having to baptise this woman. She weighs a bit. And she's short. So we asked her who she would like to baptise her, and she said let me think about it. So we called her later, and i asked again. She said, Maybe ghisquiere? I said that could work. Then she said, or better yet, You? Oh man. Of course I said yes. Let me also tell you that I have lost every ounce of muscle I gained and my arms are twigs.

So I get into the font and I'm nervous... She comes in and i'm like okay. PLEASE Lord, just let me be able to do this. So I do the prayer and go down and she starts wriggling around like a fish. Just so you know, Africans HATE water.

So she had a part of her body was still out of the water and I got her up but MAN did it kill. My arm was burning. So I try to reassure her and tell her she can't wiggle like that. so I prayed even harder the second time. Oh man did I pray. I finish the prayer and got her down and got her up and it was solid. So she gets out and my arm is just shuddering. Her daughter comes in, flawless. So here comes the next day. About half way in the day, I raised my hand to wave to someone, and yes. My arm was completely sore. IT KILLED! But really, I don't care if it hurt or even if it broke off. This lady is SO strong and she deserved to be baptised too, and I was just extremely happy that I'm the one that did it. : )

Another funny story. We were at an investigators house. Elder Adams had just finished talking and it was my turn. So I start bearing my testimony on a subject and this HUGE bug flies into my mouth and starts buzzing everywhere. So I'm sitting there frantically trying to spit this thing out and everyone is just cracking up. It was pretty hilarious. Fr. Florent said, maybe you were just talking too much. Punk.

Well that's it really. I can't think or anything too crazy. We had 8 investigators at church last sunday. Oh. And yesterday we were teaching a girl that's finally decided to change, and her brother (who takes no pride in personal hygiene. Like, NONE) decided to flick on the TV. He's a member too. We asked him nicely to turn it off for the prayer. And then he said "To hell with you and your problems" to his sister. We're definitely going to having a nice little chat with him VERY soon. ; )

Well Fam, I miss you all a ton and love you all very Much! I want the Boys to know I care about them too and miss them like crazy!!!!!!!!

All is well in Paradise,

Love Elder Halvorsen

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Realization is a sweet thing

No package or letter... We've got some good investigators. We had 9 come to church last week and we gave out six copies of the Book of Mormon. My companion is great. We keep telling each other that we're the American team, so we're pretty much bomb.

I have stories, but after I read your email and answer that. So the Stick bugs weren't in Edgewood... That was in the Yellow house. I remembered that and told the Elder's about that too. We set Roxy free saturday. We found a Male outside. We were actually trying to get them to fight, but oh well. She really kept the flies down... Regretting our decision now... The wedding sounds like it went well. Speaking of nativities, they make African ones in Togo, really cheap and REALLY nice. African style of course too. I coud pick up a couple for you whenever I head over there. With the memory card, I left a little surprise right at the end, I think you'll like it. It was really weird though... The member drives a nissan something. It's a 90's model. She's PYSCHO though. Really. I never been scared in a car until this woman...

Polygamy is pretty common in Togo Benin and Nigeria, cause they're really poor and voilà. They take on more wives. I didn't hear about it really in Côte D'Ivoire. But that's probably cause I didn't understand everything anyways... Lol.

Alrighty, so here's some of the stuff we did this week. Just gonna throw in some little culture stuff.

They have an interesting way to brush their teeth here. They use this little sticks, and a dentist actually said the stick is VERY effective if you don't eat sugar. Then you look around at what kinds of food people sell off their heards or on the side of the road, and it ALL has sugar. Not sure why they use the sticks still... Oh well.

Africans have a different point of view for distance also. When they say, "oh yeah. We're close." That means it's another 15 to 30 minute walk. It's kinda close" is an hour, and "It's a little far." is anywhere from an hour to two. Good times...

So I got my hair cut again. Elder Adams cut it. I must say. I look rather dashing with a very close hair cut. I really want to try bald. then I think of grandpa and change my mind... But with it short, the other elders said i'd look really good with a cowboy hat, so I might pull off the cowboy look when I get home. Lol!

We had a funny experience with a taxi driver. We stopped him and we told him "Terrain" so he told us 200 francs a person. And I said Nope. It's 150 a person. And he said fine. Get in. So we get going and he chuckled a bit and just said Yovo, Which means White. And I said "what's funny about a Yovo?" and he said "you're not a yovo. You're an African." so i said why do you say that? and he said "Cause you don't have any money." LOL!!! I was laughing so hard! I told him it's cause we've been in Bénin for a while so we know Système D. LOL! It was great.

We have this French device in our kitchen, and we didn't know what it was. It's called a 'jour de fête' and it's like a cheese fondu thing that Elder Ghisqiuere knows how to use, so we bought a bunch of stuff for it and it was good, but the cheese was 30 bucks... It's expensive here...So we're all stuffed and we're sitting around the table, and it was time to leave so I was like crud. So I said this french line that means, Well, we're off. But I said it wrong cause it had been a while since I had used it, and instead of saying that phrase, I said, (This is slightly inappropriate BUT I didn't mean it to be) my manhood. It's left. And elder ghisquiere just looks at me at said What did you say? And he told me that i said the wrong word and I just BUSTED up laughing when I was drinking some water and I shot potatoe and bits of cheese out of my nose with water and it just went everywhere... After that it was kinda hard to breath, but it came back, but man. It was funny.

Well I gotta save my little apostasy I created. So here's this story. We were at this lady's house who's getting ready to be baptized. She was NOT happy with her child cause she had been disobedient. Her child is 12 but she LOOKS and has the body of an 18 or 20 year old... It shocked Elder Adams and I to death [to find out how young she really was].. But anyways, she was talking to us about her in front of her and it was a little brutal... Like VERY uncomfortable. So She stops and looks at us and asks us, So what does the church teach?

I closed the passage I was going to read and said, if i can, I would like to share a little of the experiences that I've gained in these small 20 years I've been here on earth. And I told them how I was a disobedient child, too. I did what I was told, but I didn't like it and it took time for me to do it.

Then I told them that I changed my attitude, even if I didn't like what I was asked to do, and I just did it, and that my parents were always so much happier when I did it. Then I talked about how much my Mom and Dad have taught me in this life, and how much I wish I would have been more odedient to them when I was home.

It's amazing how much you realise you did wrong, you wish you would of did, and all the moments you missed out on in life when you finally get out on your own and are faced with situations that you never dreamed you would have.

I've seen strong families, broken families, kids that don't cared about their future, people wanting God in their lives, people living in houses made of sticks lashed together, others that have built mansions with huts of sheet metal aroud them, I've seen true fear and true love. I've seen Satanic things and the miracles of God. I don't think I can express in words how much I've learned just during these six months in Africa.

And I'm telling you boys right now, Don't let those moments you have right now pass. You have so much and you don't realize it. Appreciate who you are, what you have, and MOST IMPORTANT, what you stand for. You will get rejected, made fun of and yelled at, but know that no matter what they say, do, or in some cases, throw, they can't break what you have.

When people start saying things at me, I just turn and smile and offer a time we can have a little rendez-vous. NEVER forgot who you are and that you stand for something incredible.

And Mom and Dad. Thank you so much for all you've taught me. I'm 100% sure I would be home right now if it wasn't for what I have learned from your examples. I really am strong thanks to you and capable of life by myself, and eventually with my wife and kids, all thanks to you and your will to raise a snot nosed little brat who never talked like me. :)

Well just a little letter for today.

Love much,

Elder Halvorsen

P.S. We found a new internet café. A little more expensive, but SO much faster.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hospital contacting??

I WANT TO WATCH THE U.S. OPEN!!! Federer is my favorite... No packages, no card. I'm the senior companion in our new team. We work really well together. He's a typical Utah Mormon. It's really funny, but I love it! Health is fine. No baptisms, we have some set for the 26th. Things are difficult without the Black's. We had a load of responsibility dropped on us and paying for transport to certain places slaps us in the face, cause we're white... I'm not sure how i ended up with an American. President hasn't done that since the war, so we think we're the guiniea pigs. But we're gonna work hard. YOU GOT A 65 INCH TV?!?! [Mom's note: We got it for free and it doesn't work. We thought we could fix it, but it just wasn't meant to be.] I should chastise you guys about how poor it is over here and that you're indulging in unecessary luxuries. Lol! !just Kidding. THAT'S FLIPPIN SWEET!!!

For packages, I think if you put an insurance on it, it will reach no matter what, cause the africans KNOW they can't steal stuff from it.

Ya it was weird.. Still in the same sector toujours. that sucks about the vette. That reminds me of my prom date with the concorde and thermostat got stuck and the engine started to overheat. Just the Halvorsen Luck. LOL!

So Here's what was interesting this last week. IT flew really. I love it when the team is happy cause everything just runs smoothly. So here's some culture stuff. The kids play this game with a tire and stick and roll the tire with the stick and chase it FOREVER. They're like never stopping energized kids.

They put their last names first, then their first names and then their middle names. Every African is capable of speaking two or more languages. It is very rare to find one that can't. There is lingala, french, fong, Mina, indatchi, yakuba, and the list goes on. Also the people here keep monkeys as pets and walk them around on leashes. It's really funny. Baboons, spider monkeys. Etc.

So we have a pet. We've had a praying mantis tht flew into our apartment two weeks ago and we've been feeding it flies and it hasn't left. So we named her Roxy.

I was cooking some chicken in oil, and i had finished some pieces and i just threw a new piece in and it CAUGHT FIRE. It was a flame that jumped up a good three feet. IT WAS SO COoL! But at the same time i was scared out of my mind. Just a good thing most houses here are all concrete. I also cooked my self up a nice chicken neck. Those are so hard to eat... Oh well.

With investigators. We met this Golden family that believes everything that we teach. They're learning ridiculously fast. It's great!!! We also met another family next to the floating house village. They're interesting We'll see how they work out. Also, one of our investigators who is getting baptised the 26th. She was married to this guy who's now dead, but the story of this man;... Is crazy. He had 120 wives and 156 children. Ya. Crazy. He didn't even know most of his kids... Sad really, but crazy.

We have this member who drives us around sometimes and she scares the tar out of me... She doesn't even look, she just pulls out in the middle of the road and like, if they don't stop, they'd smash into her. It's funny cause the people who have cars just do whatever. They know the moto's will stop.

Also a couple weeks ago, we were working with a member who's getting ready for a mission and Elder Lah wanted to show him how to do door to door. So he goes to the first door, and this lady just comes out and says go in, and leaves. So Lah's feeling pretty good about things, and then this lady in this white coat comes out and says, yes? And Lah introduces everyone, and she says, This is a hospital... LOL! I can say I've contacted a hospital.

So here's so funny things. We were teaching in front of this store, and this old guy was kinda hobbling in front of us, then, in the middle of the road, stops and starts peeing. It went all over his clothes, everywhere.?.. It was interesting... There's also this other guy that when we sing songs in church, he directs, but like SERIOUS hand movements. But what's funny is, he's not the director. He's sits with us on the Benches. He lives in Gbèdromédé.

You have to love the sidewalk blocks here. I didn't take a picture of them, but every time you walkon them, you risk falling. It's really fun. Cause some of the blocks tilt, so if you're not paying attention, WHOOPS! Lol! I saved Elder Guillory today from falling into this huge hole cause some of the blocks were missing. LOL!

So I've reached a new level of French. I've been asked to slow down and use simpler words. I had this sudden spike in French when I was put with Elder Adams. I rarely miss a word. I'll miss maybe one a day. I know it's the Lord that has blessed me with this so that I rise to this new challenge.

Just a little more. Here's some things that will be weird to see in the U.S. People dressed again completely, Bathrooms that aren't just built out of sticks, and children running down the streets screaming YOVO! and wanting to hug me and hold my hand. It's actually pretty comical to see this white guy trying to avoid this horde of children running at him.

Last sunday I was asked to give a talk at the last second. I did a good job. Or that's what the people told me. And I have these weird instances where I just realize that everyone is black. And this guy is bugging me cause he's reading my email.

My memory card should be there soon. I know the Black's are home. Also, there are going to be two people by the name of Koudio who are going to add me as a friend on facebook. If you could add them, that'd be great.

Love you all and miss you very much!!!

Elder Halvorsen

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Better than nothing!

Sorry. The email that I sent didn't send. I'm with Elder Adams now, an American. Still in Benin

Love you all lots!

Elder Halvorsen