Elder Benjamin Archer

Elder Benjamin Xavier Archer
Benin Cotonou Mission
Quartier Cadjehoun #1158
Block F
01 BP 3323 Cotonou
Email: benjamin.archer@myldsmail.net

Monday, August 15, 2016

Last Letter from Elder Archer :'( :')

Well it's the last week of the mission and there's been some interesting things going on. We recently had three convert baptisms. Matthew is the nephew of a current member. They come to church every week and he decided to begin the missionary discussions in preparation for his baptism. Parfaite, whose name is one of the longest I've seen and doesn't even include "Parfaite", is a young lady we met near the market and lives next to two other members. She is very kind and also understands easily. Her parents live apart but in the same neighborhood. She spends time at both. Her mother runs a hairdressing shop and her father has a farm in his backyard. We helped one day to pull weeds out around the sweet potato plants. She is now the only member in her family but she has two member friends her age who live nearby and they come to church together. Third is Yawovi who we met in one of the farthest parts of our area. I believe he approached the missionaries first, asking to be taught the gospel. He is very zealous, yet humble. A man of his word and is sincere about what he does. He understands well and openly asks us questions. He has a wife and two baby girls Felanda and Frida, who he says will suffice. He says he always wanted to give his kids spanish names. He also lives around the corner from a couple of active members and they regularly hold family home evenings together. All of these converts are solid and they have good support around them.
We have a ghanian investigator named Celestine who is preparing to be baptised this saturday. She is also close to many of the members and they even read the french church brochures and explain them to her so she understands. She is making good progress. We were invited over to brother Eli's house yesterday for a farewell get together. We had chicken with djinkoumé which is pretty much corn flour dough made with chicken broth. Very tasty. I'd say that the anxiety that comes from the idea of going home just hit me yesterday evening. Elder Whitt, from my MTC group, came to my sector to visit his converts. I was thinking: "wow, Whitts going home! - I'm going home!"
Well I'm sure that this week will go by quickly and safely. I'm so excited to come home and tell you all about it!

See you all soon.

-Elder Archer
Picture of me with Nicola, his mom and twin sisters.
Next is the dinner at frére Eli's house. He's the one at the end of the table.
Last is me with sister Sandra. She made us amazing food! This time it was beet salad with boiled egg, onions, carrots, and tomato. She also bought us a drink and bread.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Early Farewell for Elder Archer

Baptism of Sister Ramolino and Brother Yawovi.  Brother Yawovi is one of the nicest people I met on my whole mission.  He always buys us fruit next to his house and if there's no more fruit he won't let us go until he buy us some fruit somewhere haha!

Three of the pictures were at our zone meeting. We had our regular
zone meeting and then we had a small party afterwards as a farewell
for me :') the sisters made rice, chicken, this white pate stuff you
see on my plate and fish. It was good. All of the missionaries in the
picture where we're standing are American and the African on the left
is our zone leader, Elder Ndibu. He planned it all! He's nice.
The picture with us and the coconuts: We were walking down the road
when a lady asked us to come over to say hello. We went inside and
greeted like 12 people, then we had a random coconut picture for fun.
   - Elder Archer

Monday, August 1, 2016

Greetings from Togo!

We were planning on having three baptisms last week. One of them went
through but the other three were moved to next week. Matthew is the
nephew of one of the members and he was baptised. This is our first
baptism at Baguida. It was a little hectic because the font filled too
slow and the members started cleaning the branch at the time the
baptismal service was to begin. It worked out and everyone was happy.

One of our dear investigators is named Yawovi. We have been teaching
him since I've been here and he comes to church regularly. He is one
of the kindest and most sincere persons I've ever met. I've noticed
recently that he refers to the church as "our church" which gives a
very endearing quality to his questions, for example: "do we pay
offerings at our church"?

Many people ask us why we don't do cash collections in our church, why
we don't pass "the basket around". It's one of those prevalent things
in nearly every church here. It makes for an interesting teaching

I am proud of the members here at Baguida for stepping up their game
when it comes to branch missionary work. They've held meetings after
church to discuss what can be done to further the efforts. We don't
lack members to accompany us during weekly lessons. Last Sunday
evening, we were outside, far from home and kind of late. We were
hoping that we'd find someone who would feed us. We were near a
member's home and we decided to stop by to say hello. Brother Augustin
opened his gate and he told us: "do you guys eat pâte?" Pâte is pretty
much dough made of corn flour and water that the general population
eats every day with sauce. It's the staple food. There are two things
that foreigner white people do that please Togolese the most. The
first is to have some knowledge (however small) of their language.
After establishing the fact that you took interest in learning
greetings in their language, the very first question anyone will ask
you is: "do you eat pâte?" Well yes, of course we eat pâte we
answered, and the member brother Augustin told us: "good, because I
jus got home and you're going to help me eat". His wife served us a
single lump of pâte which we shared with tomato sauce and smoked fish.
It was really good. How nice of them. He goes on visits with us with
people who live in his area.

Today, Monday, was another market day. The market always makes me feel
uneasy because there are hundereds of people, motorcycles and cars
moving constantly left and right. Being familiar with prices was one
of my biggest worries when I first started but now I have a pretty
good idea of the general cost of things. Many tourists, often from
Europe, visit the market, and not being fully aware of the value of
merchandise will consequently pay higher than would be generally
reasonable. One man today tried to sell me a t-shirt for 18,000
francs, which is like 35$, insisting that there was nothing rediculous
about that rediculous price. That can be annoying.

Until next week :)

Elder Archer

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Birthday Boy - PICTURES

Picture # 2: We hang the rabbits upside down from a tree, with some eagle scouts knots.  We ended up swinging a broom stick handle into it's head, which I think killed it, and then we cut its throat.
Picture # 1: Then we pulled the skin completely off, including the ears.
*********  The next two pictures are of me at 20 years, and the bunny feast.
Picture # 5:  Elder Atherton and I being transported by a member called Eli in his little cargo moto thing.
Picture # 6:  Our friend Frank.
Picture # 7:  We visited the waterfall again in Kpalimé, Togo.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I got to see the "true" Africa

This week was a good week. Transfers calls were yesterday. The second
companionship in our apartment is transfered out so Elder Atherton and
I will have to take over both areas, but we get the huge house to
ourselves :) That means that the mission will end here in Togo, and I
never got to train somebody :'( oh well.

This week was good. We visited our investigator Frank a little later
than usual and he invited us to eat with his family. We ate pâte with
and fish and vegetable sauce. He even bought us some soft drinks, it
was nice. He is progressing very well and he came to church for the
first time yesterday! The memebers greeted him and sat next to him and
made sure he was comfortable. He asked questions and had a good

We teach an English class on wednesdays and only a few people come. We
have a good number of investigators also but very very few come to
church :( it's sad. Everyone knows how to get there, but nobody comes.

There is a memeber named Eli who takes us around in his moto-trailer
thing. He teaches with us and sometimes gives us a lift when we come
across each other in the area. Yesterday he took us to the north to
visit somebody and then even more north. We got to see some of the
"true" Africa, the natural part with the trees and grass and rivers.
We travelled on a wide sandy road with jungle on either side until we
reached the river where some people were waiting in a canoe to be
paddled across to the village on the other side. It was cool.

There is a statue on the beach, near the road by our apartment. It is
more of a memorial for when the germans arrived. It shows two women
standing together each holding the other's one hand in the air and
behind them is a figure that looks like sails that is supposed to
represent a boat. Long ago, when the german ships were in sight, all
of the african men fled to the north and left the women near the
shore. The germans sent one of their women out onto the land to show
that they came in peace.

Well, until next week :) have a happy day.


Elder Archer

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Birthday Boy!

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes! I had a good day. I bought
two rabbits from the patriarch and we buchered them up and slow cooked
them with some vegetables, spices, and barbecue sauce. Then we made
some food from Ivory Coast called "foutou" which is made of (cooked)
mashed up cassava
roots and plantains. All this and drinks for four people, what a meal
for under 20$ huh. The sauce even lasted us the whole following week.
Unfortunately I do not have my camera with me, so I will send the
bunny pictures later.
Well I am still doing okay. We found some more families to teach!
There is a guy named Frank who we met who is a religion researcher guy
who doesn't currently go to a church. Still looking I guess. His wife
is a seventh day adventist but he doesn't agree with the sabbath day
being on saturday, haha, but they are together anyhow and they have
two sons. He reads many historical things and information about
churches and he says that our message about the apostasy is like the
"missing piece" to the puzzle he's been putting together in his mind.
He looks forward to hearing our message about the Restoration.

We helped clean the church on Saturday and we had to cut down a
diseased papaya tree. That was interesting. Everything on a papaya
tree is hollow, the branches the fruit and even the trunk. It came
down easily.

Last Monday we went back to the waterfall in Kpalimé. Same old same
old, but the missionaries were different. I also found a cocoa bean
pod thing on a tree and broke it open to look at the inside. That's
all the excitement there was. The trip down and back was pretty fun

   - Until next time, Elder Archer

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rainy Season

So we're in the rainy season and there are lots of puddles. Some
puddles cover entire intersections in the neighborhood and we are
obliged to take alternative routes. Sometimes people place bricks or
rocks in the water to make stepping stone shortcuts. Just the other
day, Elder Atherton and I went out to one of the farthest places in
our area. There were some pretty serious looking storm clouds coming
in from the north, so we ... did what people do when in dangerous
situation these days, take pictures. Haha. Being minutes away from the
ocean I would have thought that most storms would come
in sea-side but apparently they come in from the mainland. Anyways,
Elder Atherton turned to me and said: "umm, I think we need to go
home, right now." Several minutes later we were hit with few heavy
raindrops which quickly developped into thousands of heavy raindrops
and we ran as fast as we could to find shelter. We only ran about two
blocks but we were completely soaked when we finally stepped under a
small tin-roof shelter. It was one of the hardest rains I've ever seen
and the wind was just driving it across the land. It calmed down after
around fifteen minutes and we were able to make it home to dry off. It
was quite a memorable experience.

Baguida has a nice branch with wonderful people. It had been months
since they've had a piano player in the area so they were happy to
hear the piano again in sacrament meeting. The branch mission leader
is a returned missionary so he knows how things are suppposed to work
and works hard. We accompanied the branch president this week to the
home of one of his lifelong friends. Brother Améké, like the branch
president, is one of the kindest and understanding persons I've met
out here. He knows just about everything there is to know about the
Gospel and the church but he still won't commit to a baptismal date.
The current theory of ours is that he doesn't want to go to a church
presided over by his best friend. We have several progressing
investigators but we are always finding new people to contact. The
problem with Togo is that people will never tell you no. They will
always accept an appointment on a given day but it doesn't mean that
they will be there when the time comes. That makes things difficult.

The Euro Cup soccer season has started and is on every television we
come across. Oftentimes we see large groups of people in the road
crowded in front of one television in a "boutique" or small shop. You
can hear their shouting and cheering from the apartment.

The other night I woke up late when I felt something scurry across my
legs.I heard some fluttering or buzzing sounds. There are quite a few
moths in our apartment so that's what I attributed the sound to. I was
facing upwards and a good-sized sturdy something (definitely not a
moth) dropped right onto my face and scurried across my upper body and
up onto the mosquito net. I sat up quickly, searched for the movement
and drew near to see the unmistaken elongated shape of a cockroach
climbing up my net against the moonlit window. I climbed out of the
mosquito net, found my flashlight, found the cockroach on the inner
wall of the net and I flicked it, stunned it and then swept it to the
floor and smashed it. That's probably my best cockroach experience so
far. I don't know how it got into the net... I'll have to check again.
First mosquitos getting in and now cockroaches. Maybe I'll get a
lizard next time.

Aside that little story everything has been going fine. We cleaned the
"apartment" today. The problem with living in a big house is having to
clean a lot, but everyone did their part.

Have a nice week!

Elder Archer
* This is our house =)