The Ivory Coast has been a hotbed of tensions after their presidential run-off elections there. The boys were in "regroupment" or sequestered for 2 weeks for the 2nd elections held Nov. 28th, 2010. The first elections on Oct. 31 resulted in no clear winner gaining over 50% of the votes, hence the run-off elections with the top two vote-getters. Things have been tense there as the Electoral Commission has declared a clear winner in the new candidate, but the incumbent refuses to concede. Both had seperate swearing in ceremonies which only added to the tension. So far, things have remained relatively peaceful, with some riots and protests throughout the country, but the elders have been put in apartments located in sectors of Abidjan which are considered more safe.
The typical regroupment has anywhere from 12 to 15 boys in each apartment. It's been tough on them as they are not able to work and visit with the members, but they are making the most of the situation. They wile away the time playing UNO, reading their scriptures, writing their testimonies down, catching up on sleep, and just talking. It's been good for them, but hard all at the same time.
As of this last week, all of the western missionaries (or ex-patriots, as they call them) have been flown to nearby Benin and Togo (which is still part of the mission). They will stay there indefinitely, or until they have further word that things are truly stable in the Ivory Coast. It has been a difficult and sad thing for them, as the people of Cote d'Ivoire have been wonderful to the boys and the mission president is Ivorian and don't know when or if they'll be able to see him again. For Cameron, he comes home in 6 weeks, so perhaps not. I don't know how often President Ayekoue will be able to fly over to meet with the elders seeing as they had already closed the borders and all traffic in and out of the country via land, air and sea. They opened the corridors briefly to allow all westerners access out of the country.
We are waiting to hear from Cameron today to see where he ended up. He is still scheduled to arrive home January 29th, 2011, and we are all excited to see him and hear of his experiences there!! The exciting part of all of this is that the church is creating a new Togo/Benin mission in July and the boys will be very instrumental in helping get things set up for that! The work goes forward and we learn once again that the adversary cannot thwart the mission of the Gospel!!
(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!!