(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!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Here he grows again!

Health is great. Companion, I'll explain in a bit. Weather is normal HOT, Got the money, don't send shoes, bought a pair today. There is One American and Three Ivoiriens in our apartment. Our Branch is called Souza Netime. I had an interview with Ayekoue yesterday. Explain that later. Insights in the email. We don't eat too much beef. Fish and chicken a lot. Elections are done. One person killed. French is rolling along. Doing great. Translated for the couple for our conference today and I translate into English for the Couple also. Yes it's the heat and dust that's killing me. I have sun spots that poke out all over my face since Côte D'Ivoire... They bug me. oh well. I haven't been too hot on my journal... Gotta work on that.

Can't believe Jon is home in two weeks. Just yesterday it was Five weeks. And the day before that Six months. Wow. The boys are doing amazing! Runs in the Halvorsen blood. Not bragging. Just a fact. The bike story was funny. I'm missing so much. But it's only 9 months and 29 days left. Wow that's crazy...

Okay I have a few stories to share. This last week has been a spiritual high for me. I read 200 pages of the bible, read till 1 Nephi 15 in French, read all the Liahona's for 2010 and one that came out in 2007 about the temple. I finished the 5 lessons in Preach my Gospel a second time and and currently marking my french scriptures like none other. I've just been absorbed in reading and praying.

I don't know where this change came from but I just have so many desires that are going everywhere. My job, Wife, kids, where to live, how to be, how to help, how to grow, I don't even know. It's just been utter bliss. Honestly reading the scriptures before, I would start to fall asleep after one chapter, but now every morning I find myself rushing to get dressed so I can spend more time reading. I've conquered being a leader also.

My interview with president lasted an hour or more. I had asked him a question about his thoughts on me and how he sees my progression in this mission. He didn't answer my email. He came for the interview and told me, "you know why I didn't respond? I wanted to talk to you in person because I saw that you had reached a new level or being, of humility, of spiritual comprehension and of leadership." He had been putting me in these hard situations to shape me and he did nothing but compliment on how I've become. He told me how he was impressed with the area book, the relation with my companion, my level of understanding, and he used me for an example with my crazy marked Preach My Gospel, and he chose me to join in with the blessing of our President here in Togo.

I'm realizing more who I am and that I have no limit to my potential. It's an incredible feeling. It's times like these that you BEGIN to understand the love that our Heavenly Father truly has for each one of us. It's the proof that he is there and that he wants us to be with him and one day take our eternities into our own hands. The Gospel is amazing.

Our President, Dieudonné, his wife passed away last week. It's been hard for him. We all went to his house today. It was to him that we gave the blessing. All the missionaries and the President and the couple Leavitt went there. It was a time of love and peace that each of us felt. I've never prayed so hard for someone like I did when we placed our hands on his head. Just as I knew I'd see my grandparents again, he's be with his wife and beautiful family.

The relation with my companion is great. I did something weird last week. I asked him to forgive me. I took all his criticism and put it into practice. That's how I conquered my anger. I realised if I truly love everyone around me as the Christ asked us to do "Love thy neighbour as thyself" I have no reason to be angry. Even if something happens that I caused, I broke or if it was something or mine that was ruined, it's for a short time that these things will exist. If I can't control my temper after two seconds, how will I do it for the eternities? God is a God of Love and Understanding. He only destroys the people if they're REALLY stupid and turn away from him. I know I have to follow Jesus's counsel to "be perfect even as your Father which in in Heaven is perfect."

Here's a couple funny stories. First, there's these two kids that always try to talk to me in Eve (eh-vay) and I don't understand anything. So one day they ran and hid behind a well. I picked one up and told him I was gonna throw him in and he started screaming! So I set him down and he runs off. We came back another day and I saw him again. He hid in his house. Right before I left, he came out. Well his sister was just next to him and I told her to grab him! So she grabbed him and I took two steps toward him and he starts screaming, "Yovo Duna! Yovo Duna!" That means "The White's going to eat me!" LOL! I was laughing so hard! I gave him a piece of candy and left. Our relationship is a little better now.

One quick thing. Our Branch Mission Leader was teaching the Kingdoms of Glory in the Investigators class. He drew up on the board the names but below the Celestial he drew a moon, terrestial a round moon and telesial a star. I said Uh.... Ayih. The Celestial is a sun... And He says a sun? What's a sun like? LOL!!! Everyone just stared at him witth these dumbstruck faces... Then someone said,"You're African! You see the sun EVERY DAY!" LOL! It was a great moment in Church History.

Well that's about it. I hope that this letter was enjoyed and savored.

I love you all!
Elder Halvorsen

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cat, cow skin, and the mish is still good!

Sold the Truck... Oh man... I loved that Truck. Oh well. Got a new sink but the Water company charged us cause we cut the water to our house to stop the flooding. WOW! Toilet [paper] isn't really expensive. Honestly life is better without it. : ) Health is good. I got a stupid little cold but nothing too big. Weather has been a little over cast but makes it hot still cause of the humidty. It's rained a couple of times but only at night.... HAd to use a sheet! Love It.

Companion is doing better. We had a little "repentance" thing and it went well. Been good ever since. Oh and something crazy. I have MASTERED my anger. That is right. I have NOT gotten angry or let myself say anything stupid out of rage. One big accomplishment in my mission.

I don't really know what I want for my birthday... Deoderant would be cool. Just pictures. Stuff. Lol!

e had FOUR baptisms! I'll tell you one story about that later. Church was good. Another interesting story.

Number one. I got to eat another cat. They didn't kill it the same way this time though... They cut his throat. It was really gross. I didn't take pictures. But I've decided I really don't like cat... The meat smells like pee. [ewww..]

We had a marriage at the Church. It was beautiful and really well done. It made all us missionaries just think of the future... UGH! Lol! Also they were doing a dance thing like at all weddings and Noah kept saying the dance floor was open and nobody moved, so I ran up to the front, grabbed a chair and everyone started busting up laughing. Then everyone started dancing. Got pics of that.

Apparently I sleep talk in French. My companion said they came in the room to scare me and I shot up out of my bed and then said in French "What? What do you want?" Then fell back asleep. I do not remember that at all...

Had another delicious meal. Cow Skin. It is DISGUSTING! They kept telling me that Americans are weird cause we eat only the meat. I almost threw up when I chewed on that skin. I barely swallowed it down.

We had a stinkin power outage for two days. It was intervals of two hours for the two days. All my clothes are garbage from sweating in them so much. Lol!

I did pick up a pair of shoes in cote D'Ivoire but I gave them to a member that didn't have a pair in Benin...

So the baptism. We had four baptisms. I baptized three and Kakou baptized the other one with two other candidates. WE BAPTIZED AN OLD GUY! He's 62 and he leaves his house at 6 thirty to be at church at 8 thirty. He is great. I'm gonna give him a pair of my old pants. But his baptism was so funny! After Kakou finished the baptismal prayer, Paul the old guy, shoots his hands into the air in praying formation and almost drops in the font. Kakou caught him and put his hands where they should be and pushed him under. Lol! I love baptisms.

And the Church story. So we had a non active member come back to the church. He wanted to do an activity to help bring people into the church. We said that's great! What do you want to do? He said well. I want to gather a bunch of people that are sick, and have problems and bring them to the courtyard. I received the power of Healing from God and want to heal them all! We looked at each other like Oh no... Then he told us to look at his hands and how they were glowing with power. They gave him a blessing and he's calmed down a little.

Also, the elections are over but it's the aftermath that's rough. It should have finished last week. We'll see.

I love you all!

Elder Halvorsen

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mouse droppings anyone?

That Butt paste thing was funny. I could only imagine the guys face. Lol! For the money transfer, I found a new way to hide my money that is invincible. I'll try the money thing with the ATM but the transfers will be in two or three weeks. I needed to buy rechargable batteries cause they died three weeks ago and my razor died too just two days ago, so I just bought them today with my mission money, but I gotta put my own money back in that now, and also I need to buy a pair of shoes. I have the Fusion razors too so I'm good. Mine are done. I have one pair only, the hush puppies, and they're toast.

Well just a couple things quicky, we're going to go eat cat. I need the email for the Black's. I would like to ask him a couple of questions. The blog thing doesn't work that well ;I haven't tried mine, but for the family that doesn't work very well. I need six pairs of socks also. All mine are fried. I can't believe that Jon will be home in just five weeks. that's just too weird...

I'm going to give the Jesus the Christ to a member here. I already read it. I'm trying to get rid of as much weight as possible. I'm also going to give the French Book of Mormon to an investigator. I read the entire Missionary reference library. There's some really good stuff in there. It's True to the Faith, Our Search for Happiness, Jesus theChrist and also Our Heritage.

Here's just a little story.

So We've had a little mouse problem lately. BIG mice too. I went into the kitchen at 3 in the morning and found a good size one trying to squeeze under the door. So anyway, It was our turn to cook. I cut up the stuff really quick and made a sauce, then Kakou cooked the noodles. So They served themselves. I went to go serve myself. I looked into the pot and I saw this little speck on one noodle and I was like weird... So I put the little round thing in my hand and squished it. Mouse Terd. So I told Kakou, I'm not eating. He said why? And I showed him the mouse poop in the noodles. He said. Gross! .... Oh well, and he ate MORE. It was disgusting. Well sorry I gotta get going.

We might get on the internet again a little later. I had a ton of problems with the computers here... Seems a typical thing here... Oh well. Nothing too crazy this week. Love you all!

Glad you got home safely!

Elder Halvorsen

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grandpa Tracy passed away

Well I took the news of Grandpa pretty well from Elder Leavitt the first time but it just didn't seem real. I cried just a little but now I'm in the internet café and bawling. Lol! Stupid tears. But Elder Leavitt told me something that really helped me. He said that "It's times like now that you find out if you really believe in what you teach." and for some reason that made it much easier to bear cause I DO believe in what I teach. The only thing I regret is that I didn't get to know Grandpa as well as I feel that I should have. I wanted him to be there when I got home too just so I could see him one last time. But I guess we do have the eternities after right? : ) I was really worried about Mom too and hope you're doing well. I remember how Dad was like when Grandma Halvorsen died and how Mom was when Grandma Tracy died and I wanted to be there so bad. I'm glad that you are doing alright. : )

I say hi to all my cousins too. Man I miss Hayleigh. We definitely will take more pictures. : )

Health is good. We got Ghisquiere and Elder N'Dri (not my old companion) here in Togo. I don't know if I'll be moved soon. I really miss the other guys; Cloward, Legere and Forman. I hope I'll be able to go and see them soon. I've been kind of alone without them. I've had so many different experiences. It's just too weird to think about.

Elections have gone pretty well and there wasn't much trouble. The day of elections, the thursday, was actually the best day here in Togo. No motorcycles on the road, no people, everything was closed. It was just peaceful.

The motorcycle sounds cool. I've been dreaming of a bike for a long time now. It's hard to get off my mind. I found a Bandit here too and took a picture. lol! I wish I could do that with you, but I know that we'll have the chance.

Today we played a little soccer and I got a little burned. The sun is kicking my butt here. I keep getting new stocks of sun lotion from American mish's so I'm well stocked.

I had a couple of interesting things happen this week.

Here goes, We were on our way to Tokoin to do a couple of baptismal interviews and we got a taxi to go over there. Our driver was a ONE EYED guy. I was kinda nervous but we got in. So we were right in front of our destination and what do you know, the guy looks at me to ask where to turn, and BOOM the car jumps up cause he NAILED the sharp edge of a curb. The tire exploded and he was ticked. We didn't know what to do so we paid him and he just drove off like that...

I had a guy paint for me the facsimilies in the back of the Pearl of Great Price. They're pretty cool. Also I need the Black's email. I want to ask him a question. Also the site for the Family blog and the site for my mission blog. You said I had one right?

So this is the real good story. So we've stopped using toilet paper to save a little money cause I learned how to use the budai in our bathroom. So I went to go use the bathroom and I started closing the door, but it got stuck on Elder Kakou's sandal. That happens a lot, so I put one hand on the door and one hand on the sink to balance myself and kick out the sandal. So I kick out the sandal and all of a sudden my right hand drops. I thought it slid into the sink bowl. NOPE. The sink went CRASHING to the floor and exploded into a hundred pieces. That's not all. When it was falling to the ground the water line cut and brake so it started jetting out water from the wall. So all this happens in a matter of seconds and I don't know what the heck to go.

I called our guardian and Elder's Dea and Kakou searched frantically to find the water shut off valve. they found the valve for the house and shut it off. So we have no water and shards of sink in a flooded bathroom. We just called people and waited. In the meantime my body reminded me I needed to use the bathroom. So I went in the other bathroom and sat down, did my thing and then remembered that we didn't have water OR toilet paper. So I'm just thinking it's all over and that's when I remembered my Ice cold drinking water in it's bottle in the fridge. Next thing I open the door and start yelling for Dea to bring me the water bottle. He handed it to me and asked me why I was going to drink water on the toilet. I explained it to him afterwards. Lol!

So the Leavitt's came and I told Sister Leavitt my story and she said "It sounds like you had Frozen ASSets! It was an interesting day. Well I love you all very much and I'm so thankful for all that you have done for me.

Elder Halvorsen

Monday, March 1, 2010

Some flew over the cuckoos nest

Health is great. Sunday was good. We had seven investigators come. Baptisms are next week. Looks like we got one. Maybe two.

Haven't heard much [about the elections in Ivory Coast] but I don't think it'll be that big in Côte D'Ivoire. Here in Togo, there's just people with whistles on motos and sitting on top of vans going by at 35 MPH. Like twenty people on the roof. They're so strange...lol.

I think that what Blake feels is best, that's what the Lord wants for him, even if I miss him for a while... Home teaching isn't that great. We're helping fix that. Yeah people walk around no matter how hot. It's when it rains that no one goes out...

That Golf sounds like... Fun. Lol! Cars. Not missing the fixing part. Though it pains me to see these mechanics here taking apart motorcycle motors and putting the pistons and rings in the dirt and then putting them back in... Huh. I wonder why my motor is making funny noises AFTER it went to the mechanic? Lol! Sand is just everywhere. Cold Stone closed? That's sad. But it IS Washingon... It's already cold there... Should make like a sauna place. People come and pay to sit. Cheap to do AND low maintenance.

Well don't got much time. We're in a TINY cruddy cyber today so yeah. Here's some stories. Oh and I can't find GOOD black socks. I bought a pair... IT lasted three days... Okay. So here are the stories. So Elder Cruz and I were outside and we were kicking the soccer ball back and forth and we started kicking it harder and harder until we were pelting it. So I kicked it high and it almost hit the light. I was like dang. That was close maybe we should stop. SO Elder Cruz kicks it and I see it fly stright towards the light above me... My mouth just drops and I duck and cover my head. Elementary school fire drills taught me something! So the light explodes and Cruz comes over, Are you okay? Ya I'm good. You get any glass shards on you. Ya but man, those glass shards are hot. Lol! I didn't get cut it was really funny.

These next stories all happened the SAME DAY!

Had another crazy guy experience. He looked completely normal. He was walking next to us so we thought that he was just going in the same direction. So we get a little ways out and then we decided to ditch him at this store and talk to a less-active member. Before we even go in the store he gets in front of us and talks to her in Eve [ev-ay - the local dialect]. She looks at us and says go and come back later. I was just like what? So I got kinda ticked off at this guy. I said "What's your problem? Why are you following us? and he said " I thought you guys were for the elections" And we said no so now you can leave. And he said" well I want to teach with you guys" and we were like you can't teach with us we don't even know you. And then he said My stomach hurts... We were done after that. We told him You've changed your story three times in thirty seconds, what do you want? And he wouldn't talk, so I said we're going this way, you're going that way, got it? So we start walking awy and we turn around and he is RUNNING towards us. So Kakou and I had just had it. We told him to tell us why he was following us or LEAVE. So he wouldn't so we told him he had to start walking and we weren't going to move until he was a good distance away. We took a TON of back roads too. It wasted so much time.
So we reach our destination. Guess what? Another crazy! He tried selling us A WALL! I guess he's some guy that thinks he's an artist and just finds like trees and jars and buildings and signs his name on them then tries to sell them... Lol!

Then after that we started heading home and ran into a campaign with Voodoo guys. Wo I took a picture and we kept going. Lol!

Then that night, we did a random contact at this house and we walked in. Before we even said ANYTHING, he told us to sit down, so we introduced ourseleves and sat down. That's when I noticed two bottles completely dressed up in this funky bead and leafy stuff. It looked EXACTLY like Jack Sparrow"s hair. After we had talked a little bit, that's when he said some crazy stuff. In his OWN words. "I love the story of Adam and Eve and how they were Africans and through them, Jesus Christ was born into this world an African too." That's our cue to leave. I just said., "Ya. That's true. Thank you for your insights, we're going to finish with a prayer..." ALL THE SAME DAY!

Then sunday, we were dumb and didn't plan our food well. So I found a little left over rice, a can of spam I had. I added the seasonings you gave me with a little soy sauce and had a meal. YA AFRICA!

I love you all very much. I might need a money transfer. I'll know next week. I want to ship some stuff home. I know it's gonna be kind of expensive. I have some little gifts for you all. Love you!

Elder Halvorsen