(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, November 29, 2009

Some real quick stuff

Hey! Just letting you know a couple of things. Elder Adams and Elder Guillory are being transferred to Côte D'Ivoire soon. Just got the call yesterday afternoon. I'm going to be in an all french speaking apartment again. I was speaking french all the time for the last two weeks anyways, so that doesn't change too much. I'll be with Elder Kahblan and Elder Ghisquiere is with Elder Kouakou. Two Ivoirians. Also, KEEP IN VERY TIGHT CONTACT WITH THE BAILEY'S As soon as my package with the debit card hits Abidjan, they need to send it with President or by mail immediately. Do not send ANY packages to Côte D'Ivoire. Only the Bénin address. Apparently I just got one of your packages you sent in August. The Leavitt's just told me I got one that was sent in august. I don't know who from. We had a good dinner with the Leavitt's. We ate at a thai restaurant. SO good. Man I miss chinese. Also you can pick the time and day you want to make your phone call here. So choose one that works out well. Love you all!

Elder Halvorsen

Thanksgiving in Benin

No packages, but I would like that you call/email the Baileys and have them send all my packages over here and check the post for the others. I am sure president has some over there. The weather is hot but bearable. I'm glad I didn't start my mission in this weather... Lol! The work is good. We just baptised another 2 people who are really strong, and we have 7 already planned for the 26th, but we're shooting for 11 or more. Insights maybe later. Scripture. I'm reading in the Old Testament right now and Jesus the Christ. HAven't finished. It's hard to study french, scriptures, Jesus the Christ, and BOM in thirty minutes in the morning... We're always busy. I'm working at it little by little.

Did not celebrate thanksgiving. I don't even think we ate that night... Lol! I wear my clothes like that cause I HATE WASHING BY HAND! Especially socks. they kill. But it works out alright in the end. I still gotta wash once a week. They don't really get stinky. Or I don't notice anymore which really worries me too... I haven't opened my other g's yet. I am going to open them the 4th of February cause that's my real year mark kinda... Lol!

This year has been faster for me cause I'm so busy and the surrounding never changes. Always dirt trees and hot. Sometimes rain. Lol! If I didn't have a calender I wouldn't know what season or month it was.

They do have tithing settlement. They pay in cash. yeah I liked the school plan too. The only other thing was sell the car, get a little pick up, a dirt bike, and a street bike. Suzuki Bandit 1200. : )

The laid off thing doesn't sound very positive... That sucks about Blake's ankle... Hope he does better... And Austin's blowing his cash already. Lol! I'll have to come in and tease him at Fred Meyer when I get home.

Here is some of the things that went on this week. this was crazy. We were heading out to teach someone and I grabbed a "L'évangile de Jésus-Christ" pamphlet in which I thought I had grabbed in French. We got to the guys house and he had a nigerian there. So we taught him and he was really interested. so I was like well we only have this brochure in french, but you can have it... Pulled it out. ENGLISH! God is great. Then we went to his house to teach him and his brother was there. I would like to tell the Primary Children that both of their books of Mormon have been placed. I took a picture with them and their new books of mormon, and also, THEY WILL BE GETTING BAPTISED THE 26th DECEMBER! Good job Primary!

These are just a couple other random things. Ghanians and Nigerians say "Your welcome!" every time you visit and at first I was like, what did I even do? But I quickly realized they meant "Your welcome (at my house)!" Lol! That really confused me... But it was interesting none the less.

Also I found out that Congo uses American currency more then their own. They have clinton, jefferson, francklin, every bill! I laughed so hard when I saw pictures of that and the Frère Farya told me that.

I had a question about customs. If I have only African clothes, statues, masks and paintings in my bags, are the custom people going to stop me? I wasn't sure if I should try sending packages home or what; It's got me a little worried...

Well I'm glad to hear you're all doing well! I love you all very much and miss you very much!

Elder Halvorsen

ADDENDUM: I forgot! I think I said we just had two baptisms with another 7 or more on the way, but just in case I didn't, voilà! And then something else. The call that you guys will make is anyday near christmas you want. So we pick a day and time. Then you call. I think Sr. Leavitt is going to send you guys an email talking about that. Just a heads up. Love you!:

Elder Halvorsen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reach out and touch... the yovo's hairy arm

Elder Adams is actually doing really well. He's staying here and he's back to his normal self. No packages, health is good, we have three baptisms this week, and the work is going great, but at times it worries me cause you have to REALLY chastise people here to get them to do things. That little thing to the boys was NOTHING! Everyone is so busy all the time over there now. Dad's been having a lot of fun on the big toys again... lol!

SO the things going on here. It is HOT! Your guys winter is our summer. It flippin kills. It's hard for us to want to leave the apartment and we sweat almost all through the night. Well I do cause my fan sucks... Lol!

So just a couple things this week. Here is a lot like Bro Hardy's mission. People just think it's so weird I have so much arm hair. Their skin is tough too. So they love to squeeze my arm, rub my arms, and pinch and hit me to see if it hurts. The children are really funny cause when they shake hands with me, they check their hand right after to see if their skin changed. lol! It's also common for people to touch my arms just randomly when i'm walking down the street.

Here's my interesting life which concerns my clothes. I wear the same pair of socks for 2 to 3 days. The same shirt for 1 to 3 days. The same T-shirt for 1 or 1 1/2 weeks. The same pair of pants for 3 to 4 days. Pair of shorts for the same time as the T-shirt. BUT I change my g's and tie daily, so no worries there. : )

So I've been thinking about life after the mission and I have a plan and wanted to know your thoughts. I'm also writing this so I don't forget it. : ) I would like to head to BYU 2 1/2 months after I get home. There I will find a job and maybe live at a cousin's house for a bit. I'll work until the school season comes and work half time instead of full. Then when school starts I can move out to an apartment and pay rent. VOILA! I think it's solid. It's a little more detailed then that, but that's the gist.

Sadly that's all I have really this week... Oh. Family, it is possible that you will be receiving a package from an INREDIBLY nice man here in Africa. He wants to send Africa clothes to you. I will also include some SICK ties that are made here. That's a HOPE not a PROMISE! I'll try and send a package despite that.

I love you all and miss you all SO much. Christmas is gonna be a little weird... We'll probably eat spaghetti Christmas morning... Yipee... OH! Yes we have a cell phone so you can call that. ######## and there is the number. You can give it a test shot a couple weeks before to test it out and make sure it works, k?

That's crazy I'll be speaking to you guys soon!

Love you all,

Elder HAlvorsen

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A little chastisement goes a long way, translating, and receiving the Primary childrens Book of Mormon

No transfers. It looks like I will spend my First African Christmas in Benin and head for Togo in January. Just a prediction. I translated for FIVE HOURS for Elder Dickson the last Wednesday. 4 hours for the zone conference and then another hour for a fire side. Work is going good. Maybe one baptism this week and at least two the week after. : )

No packages, but one which I will talk about later. Eating TOO much actually. I'm getting fat again... It's killing me to not have a gym... I would like money so I could buy stuff... That's killing me too. How did Dad not have the itch to buy souvenirs? THAT WORD IS FRENCH! Lol! Barbash is a word in Chti, a French variation in the north of France. Ghisquiere uses that so it's caught on...

A FREE WII DIDN'T ENTICE THE BOYS ENOUGH!?!?! Wow. Boys. If you are lazy with the simple things in life, for example the Eagle Scout award which is really CAKE, then it will difficult to serve your missions well. It is time RIGHT NOW to kick your butts into gear and GET IT DONE! Even if it doesn't have a bribe attached to it, you need to get it done. Not everyone has a father to help them do things in life. It makes me sad to tell you this but the Father of my companion Elder Adams, passed away. You don't know how hard it was for him. He's a year and a couple months into his mission now and now he doesn't have a great motivator always there to help push him to success. Listen to Dad and get your work done. You're lucky to have someone there to help you through these things. And it's not hard! Just spend a little time and finish up so you can move on to other projects: Stay active and get it DONE! But really. Love you all and I hope the Missionary chastisment wasn't too much. : )

Well I'm glad all is well. Got a lot going on as usual. Austin got a job huh? That's pretty cool! So here's the things that happened in my week.

First is to the Primary: [The primary children in our ward sent Elder Halvorsen 2 Books of Mormon to give to people in W. Africa. They earned the Books of Mormon for being reverent] Thank you so very much the package that you sent me! I was so excited to get my first package here in Benin! I will look very hard for a couple wonderful Nigerians to whom I can give the books! Since I'm in a French speaking country, I have to look for Ghanians or a Nigerian Family. [because the books were in English, not French] I'm sure they will be very happy to get such a beautiful copy with a picture of all of you! I hope you all are doing well and I would like to say hi to my old class also, David, Natalie, and Demmick! I would like to share my testimony also in French with you!

Je sais que Jésus-Christ vit. Je sais qu'il nous aime et il a donné sa vie pour nous, ses frères et ses soeurs. Je suis réconnaissant pour les exemplaires du livre de Mormon vous m'avez envoyé! Ils sont précieux à moi et les gens dont je serts. Merci beaucoup et à bientôt mes amis! ~Elder Halvorsen

[Google translation: I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know he loves us and he gave his life for us, his brothers and sisters. I am grateful for copies of the book of Mormon you sent me! They are precious to me and the people I serve. Thank you very much and see you soon my friends]

Alrighty. Here's some fun things we've been doing. Ghisquiere and I have clicked real well the last couple months. we've thrown sandals at each other, used whipping sponges, end wrestling. It's been fun. I added another scar to my lips. Tried eating a noodle that was over 500 degrees hot and found out it was filled with water... Wasn't too pleasant... I think it's fading.

The translation went really well. My voice was really tired after, but it healed over the night, so it wasn't bad. It was really fun to get to know Elder Dickson better also. I was happy I had the chance to serve another Washingtonian, and it was crazy that he just happened to be a relative to the Dickson's back home!

So here's a funny story. We were walking past a primary school and they had JUST let the kids out. We were just waiting for trouble... And it came... We had at least 30 children walking behind us for over 10 minutes singing as loud as they could, "Yovo Yovo Bonsoir! Comment ça va? Merci!" [Whitie Whitie Hi! How are you? Thank you!"] It was really interesting... Everyone was laughing their heads off.

We had some funny little things like this kid that was standing on the side of the road. Normally the kids just walk to the curb and pee. So the kid had only underwear on and he was about to pull his pants off and start peeing and he looked over and he saw... The Yovos. Us. Lol! He completely forgot to pull his pants down and it looked like a WATERFALL coming from his pants.... It was SO funny.

I also was wondering, Mom; if you are sending another international license in the next package, or if you sent it in the first one? I wasn't sure.

Well family, Life is going good here on my end. Thank you for the all the support you give me! Blake, keep workin hard and DUNK all the time, cause I tell EVERYONE you can dunk. Austin, that's so cool you got a job! Next the license and you will be able to have a little more freedom. Budget your money well! And Chandler, I can't believe you're already 14... You're growing up fast. You robably don't even talk the same... It's too weird to think about...

And.. HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY, MOM! Even though I'll write you next Monday too... I love you!

Dad, Thanks for all the stuff you're maintaining for me... I know it's a pain... Thanks for the example you've given me too. I don't think I would be the missionary I am without the example of constant diligence that you've given me! I love you!

I love you all so much! Thank you!

Elder Halvorsen

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chewin' on rocks tastes like...well...chewin' on gravel

YOU HAVE A WII!!! [No, we do not have a Wii...we told Cameron we tried bribing the boys with one if they worked on their scouting for a certain amount of time each week...which they failed to do, so we did NOT buy a Wii] WHAT THE HECK IS THIS!!! YOU SEND ME OFF TO AFRICA AND BUY A 65 INCH TV AND A WII!!! I see how it is... :. ( No really. That's flippin sweet.)

A Project, [for the boys] help out at an orphan home. Get a bunch of old toys or newer cheap ones and do that for their Christmas. They would love it and you'll have a blast too. Really I have this urge to help orphan kids... It's strange but REALLY cool!

Bonus from Home Depot. SCORE! Don't have the email for the Levitts. They were in Togo this last week. We had one baptism. We taught her in a week. BAM! Baptized. Her family looks really good too.They're all really interested. We have 8 planned, but we'll see how it goes. I think it'll be a good outcome. Church was fine. I was supposed to teach but we confirmed 7 people so i didn't have to give it. : )

Alrighty. Here's the news for the week. And I brought the wrong planner... DANG! Really. Barbash. Well I remember most of what I wrote. First thing. Any mail sent to Abidjan, or packages, sometimes are not checked unless sent to the mission bureau. They will not be picked up and then the Ivoirians will enjoy what you have sent. I had the mailing address too but that's in my other planner...

Culture shock. I've told you they brush their teeth with these little sticks before, but here's something a little more interesting... They eat rocks. They pack these rocks that are chewable in little plastic baggies on the side of the road. I don't know why they eat them, but they do... And to answer the question you are probably asking yourselves, yes. I ate one. It tastes like putting a piece of gravel in your mouth and chewing it up...

There was someting interesting that happened on Sunday. There was a HUGE Voodoo group that passed right by the church. It was about 30 to 50 voodoo people with huge drums and hundreds of people. I didn't know at the time so I stuck my head out the door real quick. One saw me and said, "Hey, White! Come here!" I just laughed and went back inside. So he came to the door of the church and he said, "White, I said come here!" I just lazily pointed and told him to get lost. He just said. "Oh..." and then left. It was SO funny.

I believe there are transfers this wednesday cause the President is coming. I've been here for almost 5 months so maybe I'm getting transferred. We'll see how things pan out.

Here's something a little nerve wracking. (I think it's spelled with a W...) Elder Dickson of the 70 is coming with President. I have been chosen to be the Translator for him for our Conference meeting... I'm excited yet still nervous. It's weird cause I'm the person here with the least amount of time in the mission and they chose me... But that's so cool at the same time!!!

Well I think that's it for this week... I hope I didn't forget too much... I love you all VERY much and miss you too!!!

Elder Halvorsen

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Necessity is the mother of invention

Health is great. no packages. Levitt's are rockin it up. Transfers are coming up le 12. I have a GREAT story this week, but after I read your letter.

They [the voodoo priests] hit them and they are SCARED to death of anything voodoo, so they pay... interesting stuff... I have the email for the Levitt's, I'll ask. And I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT HALLOWEEN!!! It was depressing... Sounds like Halloween was a bit of a let down.. Oh well.

Okay, so I have THE funniest story that can only be fabricated in Africa...

It all started one night when Ghisquiere and I were hungry. We had a couple a of packets of noodles, some eggs, some spices and salt and pepper. So we decided to throw it all together and make a little whatever. So we get it ready to cook and click the stove. Nothing. No gas. So we check the tank and we found out there was NO clamp holding the feed to the back of the stove so it had fallen off... So our tank was empty AND our stove couldn't work. So, as I said at the beginning, Ghisquiere and I were hungry. He had remembered that he had bought some charcoal, cause I guess if you put charcoal in your shoes, it gets rid of the smell. ANYWAYS, we remembered he had the charcoal, so we debated on how to burn the charcoal. So we started searching through the apartment and this is how we constructed our little outdoor stove.

We took an old metal fan and pulled off the front cover and put that on two bricks. Then we put the charcoal on the inside part of the cover and got a bunch of extra paper, old progress records, old curch news, etc. and began our fire. We burned SO much till the coals lit. We built a little fire underneath too. After2 HOURS of stoking this stupid thing, we commenced with the cooking.

It took another 30 minutes to cook the noodles, and 20 to cook the eggs with the noodles. We enjoyed our little meal.

So in the morning, we didn't have any charcoal either; so I had a bowl of oatmeal wheats in cold water. Luckily the Levitt's saved us that night, but man. Reminder I'm in Africa. We took pictures.

I had two baptisimal REQUESTS this last week! Patriartical blessing coming true baby! YA! LOVE THIS CHURCH! I also spent a day with Ghisquiere in my sector. We're both going a little nuts here. There's a good chance I could head off to Togo this next transfer. We'll see. It's crazy to think January is coming up. Soon I'll be halfway... Scary thought... It was 80 degrees with a fan on and I started getting cold so I think I'm DEAD when I get back...

Love you all so very much!!!


Elder Halvorsen


Fast food doesn't exist here... We spend 30 mins to an hour making our food...... I eat yams and cooked flour off the street sometimes... That's my mcdonalds... And there's a TON of Chinese people here, too...Lol

Elder Halvorsen