(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, September 27, 2010

Back in Cote d'Ivoire and 4 months left!

That's a lot of questions...[[ enquiring mothers want to know!] Well I LOVE being in Côte D'Ivoire again! I hear French everywhere, I've eaten Atiéké [according to a google search, it a dish made from the cassava root] each day since I've been here, and the environment is just how I like it. Yakoussoukro is interesting. They have GIGANTIC roads, but very few cars... Three lanes going both ways and you see maybe 10 cars and a couple of motorcylces pass every five ten minutes. I would LOVE to drive here. Huge roads and NO cops. Lol!

Doing missionnary work is weird here though. The houses aren't close together. They're also Gigantic and on gigantic weird roads. I'll take pictures. I'll try to send some today. My Comp is Elder Dago. He's interesting. He's from Yopougan I think... Abidjan. We have Elder's Mbunga (From republic of Congo) andElder OulaÏ from Abidjan in our apartment. The weather is hot here. it's WAY up north in comparison to Lome, Cotonou and Abidjan. It's a little hotter than Lomé which was the hottest of the three that I listed. The branches are really weak here... The work isn't easy. There's a flipping HUGE catholic cathedral here. We're going to go visit it today and the "Crocodile Lake."

Ya Elder Jerman met me in the airport. He's the assistant. Unfortunately I didn't spend more than four hours in Abidjan. I got right on a big bus that was uncomfortable for 5 hours after that. Health is fine. I left a lot of things I didn't need at the mission office. I'll pick it up when I come home.

I said happy birthday to Dad and now HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUSTIN! That's weird that their birthday's are all so close... I thought that they were farther away from each other...

okay. So It was an interesting trip overall. I left Togo last Friday and I spent a bit of time in Benin. I stayed in Elder cloward's apartment so I got to talk to him a lot. elder Ba Bi who was at yakro before who is not Elder bo Bi talked to me a bit about how it is here and he was right. It's very interesting. The pictures aren't downloading... oh well. This cyber is fast but it's not downloading the pics... Wierd. So I took the plane from benin to Côte D'Ivoire. The flight was really short. It was great to be in a plane again. I kinda missed that. OH! So just before I got into the waiting room for the plane in Benin, I had to go through the Passport check. So apparently they said my Visa wasn't good, so I was like great. They said you have to pay 10,000 francs. So I said ok. I showed him the entry visa they gave me at the border and he said that's not good enough. So I honestly got a little ticked off and I said I have to call someone. Can I borrow you're phone? And he just sat there. I said you gonna answer me or not? and he just sat there. So I asked the guy next to him. Same thing. So I went around the airport asking people and everyone was like oh sorry. I don't have credit. EVERY FLIPPING PERSON until I had to CATCH someone that just finished making a call so I knew that he couldn't lie. He said sure you can call. I called the couple real quick and they said the Office would reimburse me so I gave the guy 1000 francs and he was super happy. Lol! So I paid the Jerk cop and he was happy. So THEN I took the plane. I got to Abidjan and saw Elder Jerman who picked me up. I got to talk to him for a bit. We got to the Office and Elder Bowman had just arrived also. so I was taking pictures with him and he realized that he had left his camera on the bus... We went quick to try and find it, but someone had already taken it. It was super hard for him.

So I got on the bus, I'm sending a little pic, and spent 2 hours in traffic in Yopougan. That was wonderfully hot in the bus... then we got on our way. The road was decent and pretty for the most part. Then it was around 19:30 and we stopped in a town called Toumodi. A lady stood up and said "that lady that just got off stole 7000 francs of mine!" A whooping 15 bucks and she got off and they started throwing punches and slapping each other around the bus. That was cool AND delayed us. Then we found out that the lady that said the other was the thief, was the thief... It was just wacky.

So I got to Yakro super tired and got to the apartment. I used the ironning board cloth as a bed sheet cause I thought I had left my second pair of bed sheets at the office (they weren't there). I already bought a pair here, don't worry. Then the following morning, I plugged in the iron to iron my clothes and the power cut out. I learned that in order to iron, you have to unplug the fridge. Lol! And then two days later, our power cut off. Just our house. We checked everything. Slept without a fan for a night or two. Then the electrician came and said the wires were fried and said that it'd be a hundred bucks. We said no thanks. So the owner of the house called her electrician. He fixed the problem for 7 bucks. Lol!

We're going to go to the Catholic Cathedral today. And the crocodile lake. It should be interesting. I wanted to get some pictures of that and send you guys them. It's seriously GIGANTIC! I can't explain how big this thing is. It's like a star wars building... I've been eating a lot of Atiéké too. Every day I eat it. Loll!

Well I gotta go. I hope the pictures load fast. OH! I met my old ex-missionnary comp N'Dri here! He lives here! Same with Kouassi! It was so good to see them again! I couldn't believe it!
He never got his hymn book... someone must've stolen the package...

Well I love you and miss you very much! click day on Austin's B-Day!

Elder Halvorsen

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back in Benin, then back to Ivory Coast!! Advice for Blake

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I wish I was there or that it was easier to send stuff off to you guys... Lol! I haven't made the list yet for Blake I think I'll keep this letter short and just add that at the end. I just want to get off some quick things that have happened that I forgot last week and some this week.
We were taking a taxi with this old man driver and he was SHOOTING down the road at night... All of a sudden the guy turns around with his old man gruffy voice, "I gotta make a stop." We were like okay... So he pulls off the road (still on the road of course) and he hops out of the car. We think that he's going to buy gas. He just stood next to the front left tire of his car and... Peed. Yep. Right in the middle of the road... It was ridiculous... Even Elder Bo Bi said, Do these people even use their brains? Lol!
I don't know if I told you guys this story or not, but it's really REALLY hilarious, so I'll tell it again if I haven't yet...
So. We were at this person's house, (now a recent convert) and her mom was there too. Her mom is really old and is handicapped. Her left leg was amputated. So she asked us, in her language, and voici her question. "IS it bad to pray to Mary?" We told her yes it is bad and we explained why. She gave her response to what we said, and her kids started laughing like crazy. We said "Tell us Tell us!" Voici encore her response. "Oh. I know it's bad to pray to Mary. I already told her that I couldn't pray to her anymore."
I've loved being back in Benin and seeing all the people that I baptized and my friends! I stopped by the market to pick up a few things and I'm heading for Côte D'ivoire tomorrow at 11.20 I'm actually going to go visit another family tonight real quick and pass by my old apartment. I stayed at Gbédjromèdé for the friday till tomorrow. It's been good to chat with Elder Cloward again. Just like in Koumassi. It feels like I was never even in Togo... It's the weirdest feeling of all time. That's why I'm telling Blake right now to NEVER hate a sector, cause no matter how bad you think it sucks, you'll miss it like crazy, you'll miss the people and you'll be thankful to God EVERY DAY for all that you learned. Don't EVER forget that or you'll regret it.
The list.
Mesh garments only. (I've given away my other types to the branch)
LIGHTEST pants you can find. Three pairs only.
Don't bring a pillow. It wastes space in your bags. They have pillows for you and they're cheap if there isn't one.
Just bring one pair sheets. Two if you really want to, but it's not necessary. One pair of shoes. Check that one with Bro. Hardy, but here, shoes are cheap and everywhere. Two pairs of shirts, one pair of pants, two t shirts, (maybe three) and a LIGHT sweatshirt. I think they call that a windbreaker. 2 belts that DON'T MELT in extreme heat. Don't over do the mosquito spray. I gave a lot of that away and missoinnaries leave some in the apartments. You don't need a butt load of medicine. IN fact I only take doxy. ok. 1pair of drylux for when you get cold. Soap, toothbrush, shampoo, toothpaste, all that is easy to find. Bring this towel from Missionary mall. It's super light and really good. Cloward still has his. I hate my heavy towel. Don't buy baptismal clothes. Not necessary. They have them there. I'll think of other stuff later.
I love you all and miss you!
Elder Halvorsen

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Transfer - back to Ivory Coast

I just got transfered. They called me yesterday and I leave tomorrow at 8am. I'll be going to Benin with the Couple Herr to get the necessary papers I need to go To Côte D'Ivoire. I'll be spending thursday to monday or tuesday in Benin. I'll visit some of my recent converts and buy some sweet ties for the boys. Then I'll fly out to Abidjan monday or tuesday. then I'll be LEAVING Abidjan by a bus I believe to go to Yamassoukro. I'm the new Zone Leader for the zone of Yamassoukro. I just wanted to let you know all that before I took off. The bus is completely safe. I'll be taking Elder Bowman's place. Elder Adams and Elder Bowman have finished their missions. I'll try and send pictures next week. My stupid card got a virus on it so I'm going to have to copy all the photos on to a blank card and then erase everything on the new card and clean it up. I love you very much! Hope you get this soon!

Elder Halvorsen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Advice to his brother and the work is good!

Lol! I loved the Craigslist ads. Lol! That was amazing. So with the package first, really just don't send me one. You can just get me some little things for when I get home, new garments... Uh... that's all I really need... Or an Iphone... I really want an Iphone... Lol! But really I don't think it's a good idea to send another package to Africa, especially when it takes two months to get here and I don't know where I'll be and president doesn't really deliver packages if you send them to him. He doesn't have enough room in his luggage to carry all the missionaries boxes. Lol! So just don't send it and save you money. That would be best.

That sucks with the Dedge's. It must be a catholic tradition. They do it even more here. "Oh sorry, we're catholic." Give them this scripture, 1 john 4:6. It's a great scripture I love using on people that say that. Lol! I think that Blake will see a lot of success over there too. I really understood why God sent me to this mission. I think if I got rejected anymore than we are at times, I'd go crazy. Lol! I don't know how Dad survived for a year and six months. I really want to watch the US open... Africans don't give a hoot about tennis so I can't really keep up with what's going on...
So I forgot my planner at home and I don't really have any stories or anything for you guys... But I made this gigantic list of things that Blake doesn't need and the things he could use less of. Really it ticks me off a little that I brought so much stuff that I just gave away or never used. Especially the fact that I paid 150 dollars to get my third suitcase to Côte D'Ivoire and ended up giving everything in the suitcase to people. Really he needs to pack light. I'll keep making the list over the next week.
We had one baptism yesterday. We have four this saturday and another four next saturday with another possible two that could fall into the date for the 25th. We worked SO flipping hard last month. like I said all we did was work for the month of August cause I was left with NO investigators. We've already got another possible five for October planned. Really what's great is that I've already reached my goal for myself so I don't even care about numbers. Really what is amazing is that I'm seeing the lives of my brothers and sisters changing. Every time we have a baptism I'm just so full of happiness and joy for the person. It's just an amazing feeling. I can't really expalin it..
Sorry for no pictures this week. These computers have viruses on them and I don't want to get my card infected and erase my photos. I'll send the pictures to you guys next week. I love you all and miss you so very much!
elder Halvorsen

Oh, so you DON'T eat the shell!

Dad's got a sweet beard. Lol! I can't believe Blake is going to the Philippines! I'm still the only french speaker in the ward... I really think I want to get married with someone that has french as their mother language... Just a random thought...

I don't really have much time today so I'm going to try to bust this letter out.

I can't believe that RJ'sbeen out for a year... That's just weird... Dad has still got his job too! But in your letters I don't know if you want to lose it or not... Lol! It's kinda hard to read intentions in letters... Blake did email me, but Mom and Dad... You gotta talk him into giving me his Ipod... If I don't have music when I get home, I'll go insane... I need to get this traditional pounding music I hear on the roads all the time out of my head... You can tell Chandler that it's not bad to play on JV. He's just gotta beat really well all the other players and prove he rocks. then he'll be bumped up. He can do challenges against other people on the Varsity team and take their spot.

Health is great. Yes they put icing on cakes but she ripped us off good. We'll just baptise her so she can be forgiven of her sin. Lol! Just kidding.

We use most of the building. It's for two branches. the Herr's actually served in Kenya so they think Togo is cake. But now that they have to cover Benin too, that might tire them. They don't have an immediate replacement for the LEavitt"s... They're looking... We have 9 baptisms on schedule. 8 for this month. One for next month. We'll have more soon too. Supplies will last till the end of my mission. (If I calculated well) which I hope I did... I need new garments when I get home... Mine are getting thrashed... Actually I gave my dry lux all to the branch for the poor members that can't afford them. I just have the mesh I've had since the beginning and the three newer pairs I bought throught the couple Herr. It's been raining a lot lately but yes. It's still hot. Lol! Thank you Mom. Lol! That would be really nice to see Blake before he takes off too. I gotta give him the Bou bou I made for him. (I hope it's not too small..)

Jsut a few stories and then I gotta go..

So this was random. We were walking along the lagoon just... Well... Walking. and out of the blue this guy screams at us "BONJOUR!" So we turn around. he was wearing jeans and a wife beater. A little bit of an older man. The second I laid eyes on him, he raises his fist and screams, "I DON'T LIKE THE MORMONS!" And then he just kept walking. That's our greeting that we give to the others now when we get home. It reminded me of the Baptists at our BBQ. "WATER DRINKERS!"

So a gross eating experience. It's with crabs. If the crab is small enough, you go ahead and eat the whole thing. Yes. The whole thing. I'll show you when I get home. But they gave us a little bit bigger of a crab this time. So I tried biting it. Dang it was tough, but I did it. I even finished it and ate it's brains which left a SUPER bad aftertaste that almost made me throw up all over the sauce.... They all start laughing. "'That's for the small crabs!" My comp sticks his finger in the crab's butt and FLIP! The shell comes off. "now eat this part. that's the meat." Thanks Elder... You couldn't of told me that when I took the first bite... Lol!

Random. We walked into this house to do OVB. (Open your mouth I.E. Door to door.) and this lady was mixing what I thought was the stuff for la Pâte but she used beans. So I said I love that stuff! She said i'll give you some. I accepted. SHE MADE PANCAKES! LEGIT PANCAKES! I was just so shocked! It was super cool! Until she mixed oil and pepper powder toghether and put it on the pancake... That was weird... I wanted syrup. But now I can make pancakes in AFRICA! Woot woot!

This sunday was great. It was the first time that a recent convert blessed the sacrament. he starts off. It's perfect, then the loudspeaker... Goes OFF! It's like he was screaming in our ears and it started vibrating that shook you super bad... So instead of listening to the words of the prayer (yes, he continued until he was done, and made several mistakes) everyone had their ears plugged. So After that excrutiating ear drum pain, the president says, "Do it again, but turn the microphone off" Lol!

Also this is great. I'm famous in the Taxi world of Lome for getting the lowest price possible. We stopped a taxi when I was with Elder N'Dri and we told the guy the spot. He said 1000. I said Holy cow! Are you saying that because I'm white and you think I have a lot of money? And he starts going off, I'm not a racist! Blah blah blah. And then I said so it's 600 right? And he says get in.Lol! so On the OTHER side of Lome a couple weeks later, Elder Call stops a taxi. Tells the guy the spot and he says a high price. Elder Call says no no. That's way too high. And the guy says "wait. You're not that white guy from Be right? He said the EXACT same thing and he was wearing exactly the same thing! Africans pay better than you white people." Lol!

We had a great spiritual experience this last week too. We were talking to a lady that has had a lot of problems in her life. We were going through the Plan of Salvation with her. She was listening to every word. Just at the end, we asked again. Do you have any questions? "Ya In fact I do. Why don't other churches teach this stuff?" We just said... Uh... Cause they're false. "Oh okay... When can I be baptized?" Lol! She really is great. She poses great questions and she just sees the truth in all that we see. I LOVE investigators like that! She'll be baptized with her two kind of children in a couple weeks. She saved the life of two little girls and has taken care of them for years. One is twenty actually, but she looks like she's 14... She's just great! And we'll be baptizing a great little family that I love too!

Well We gotta go. We're going to go see the Herr's. They just got back from a voyage to Benin. I love you all very much and miss you tons!

Elder Halvorsen