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, November 24, 2014

November 24 2014 "Thanksgiving in Africa "

   Bonjour tout le monde! je vais commencer en Francais pour montre que j'ai vraiment un 'pas mal' conaissance de la langue, et en train d'amèliorer chaque jour :) C'est fatiguant d'apprendre une nouvelle langue.

    There is some french for you guys! Today I will write about some things that have happened during the week and some general aspects of life.

    This Sunday was the district conference for all Benin. An event hall was rented out and filled with many.  There were joyous feelings felt by us missionaries as members and investigators from our respective areas entered the building.  This meeting was a non- live West Africa conference in which Apostles Elder Bednar and Elder Uchdorf spoke, as well as the general primary president. I didn't clearly understand everything that was said as it was in French but they spoke about raising children, the importance of paying tithing and the need to discontinue certain African traditions. Specifically  addressed was the tradition of wedding dowry. It is customary in Africa for the bride's family to demand a sum of money or list of items from the groom that must be procured before the marriage is accepted.  This discourage and/or delays marriage for the general population and especially young members. This creates difficulty for some couples who want to be baptized and is the most complicated aspects of the missionary work here,Ii would say. This tradition also places the workload of daily life on the woman as the man feels exempt for "having paid for her". Elder Uchtdorf especially talked about the need to discontinue  this practice as not to hinder eternal progression.

    After the meeting we spoke to our investigators and friends. Sister Cecile, an investigator, brought her children along with her. One of her sons (about 4 years old) was unhappy because he didn't want to use the toilet, he wanted to pee outside. I thought it was funny. There was also sand tracked in on the tile floor and little kids would run by and slip around.

    This experience happened the day of the baptism mentioned a while ago. Anyways, Sister Adelaide, her sister and small son, and my companion and I stopped and hopped in a taxi to take us home. When taking public transportation I often ask myself "how is this vehicle still working?" We had all filled the seats in the taxi and I was in the front seat. To my surprised, the driver pulled over to pick up a young lady and she opened MY door!. Apparently it's normal to share the front seat of a taxi, I didn't know that. Haha.

   I was conscientious about spending my monthly mision funds carefully so I wouldn't run short. I now find myself with only a few days of the month left and 50 percent of the funds. I guess we will have a nice Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Something I love about Africa is that you can buy a sandwich for 200 francs which is equivalent to about 30 cents. I also had chawarma for the first time, which is the food mentioned at the end of the Avenger's. It's like a chicken and lettuce wrap with french fries in it and some tasty sauce.Here they eat a soup with a piece of goat intestine, it is so chewy and rubbery, not my favorite, but I love the rice. What most people eat here is called "patte" and is a rubbery kind of corn dough that is eaten with the hand and dipped in a sauce, Groups of people dip the dough all in the same bowl, which is kind of hard to get used to. And people think the way I put it in my mouth is funny. I tilt my head back and set it in my mouth so I don't drip it all over but everyone says it's like I'm taking medicine. Haha.

    Well there is plentious (I feel like that's a word) amount of fun stuff for this entry. other than that the work is going great and we find people every day to teach. It seems that you don't really do "door to door"  in this mission but the challenge comes in keeping the members active and building the organization itself. The branch president itself ( of Cocomey, my area, if I hadn't  mentioned that) is a recent convert and so we are all working out the difficulties together. We await the baptism of Brother Justin this Saturday! He is a great investigator, he is ready but he felt he needed to wait just a little longer to be ready. He is strong and has shared with us an experience with the word of wisdom in which he asked his friend for sprite when offered alcohol at his friend birthday party. We are sure that Frère Justin will become a great friend and strength as we work to build zion.

    Farewell friends and family. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monday November 10th, 2014

We are getting this blog late for electricity difficulties in the mission field.   We probably hear from Elder Archer every other week :( .

   Hello friends and family! After two short 25 minute flights I am now in Benin, the mission field. So finally solved the Benin pronunciation mystery. The country I'm going to is  pronounced in the intuitive easy way of saying it: " ben - in". " Beh-neen" is understood, when pronounced that way, as being Benin city which is in Nigeria. There you have it.  We were greeted at the airport by the Mision President himself, his wife, and some other missionaries. It was comforting to see someone familiar as president ans sister Morin had visited the MTC a few weeks prior. The drive to the mission home was crazy but I'm still alive. us new missionaries got checked in, informed about funds and administrative things and filled out a lot of paperwork. During this time  President Morin was doing interviews  and I was first. (Alphabetical order I'm assuming) President Morin is from Quebec Canada and speaks French and English. He talked to me in English for the interview and we got to know each other, he is very kind. He told me to obey the mission rules, not to take "motos"  as motorcycles are the main mode of transportation here, and to not split off with the other English speaking missionaries during pday. He has a cool accent. Haha. He told me my companion would be Elder Amoah who is from Ghana and speaks English.

   After the paperwork and interviews. We were led across into another building in the same enclosed compound where we found ourselves in the main "living room" of the home. This room was nicely fixed with paintings, lamps, couches, a TV and a table set with a plate, cup, fork, knife, spoon and  napkin in each place along with some bread  and butter. There was also a small staircase leading to an elevated section with another dining table(where I sat) and a door on the left leading to the kitchen. I was amazed at the set up and was excited to eat lasagna! the food was served to us and was very delicious. Part way through  the meal, President Morin came and took Elder Hansen out of the dining room. I figured he wanted him to help bring out food or something. Later, President returned without him and ask me to follow him. I got up from the table and followed him out to the garage where we filled out paperwork. He told me " on va prendre un peu de sang" which means " we're going to take a little blood". I was thinking, really??  What is that suppose to mean?, it turns out that people who will be staying here for a long period of time need to give a blood sample for disease screening. It was ok but it just startled me at first haha. Then I had fun watching the reactions of the missionaries down below as I showed them my arm and pointed at them. Diner was finished with some vanilla icecream and chocolate cookies. Unfortunately during the dinner, I had left my camera on the table and the Elder next to me was looking through the pictures. Which was fine. But then he handed me the camera and asked me why he couldn't see the picture he took of himself. Apparently he accidentally deleted the pictures off of the whole memory card. I was a little frustrating but the majority of my MTC pictures and whatnot were safely stored on a different card.

   I departed the mission home with the assistant missionaries, with whom I live  ( I am writing this entry later that it actually happened because the power went out in the internet cafe last week before I can sent it). I was introduced to my new companion and trainer Elder Amoah! who is very friendly and an amazing teacher. We get along very well. As I said, we are blessed to live with the assistant missionaries who spend much of their time near the mission home or "bureau", as we call it, and who sometimes bring back heavenly food. About the fourth day in it  was Elder Rybin's birthday. (The assistants to the President are  Elders Rybin from Utah and leaves in December, Merril from Utah, and Bulunga from Congo) The Mission  couple at the bureau  made him curry stew and chocolate cake and he brought Elder Amoah and I some. It was wonderful because we had actually been fasting all that day and when we had come back from walking in the sun for three hours, we came home to find the kitchen locked. The APs had the keys. They arrived at around 8:30 or 20:30 rather (as the 24 hour clock is used here) and we were given this heavenly feast. Rice with curry potato carrot stew, chocolate cake, and fanta. We were thinking we were probably eating better than the other missionaries of the world. Haha. just that day :(  I haven't eaten anything strange here other than some soup with a clump of meat and a piece of goat skin and intestine, I was willing to eat it and I tried, but the rubberness of it kind of discouraged me. I will inform on later food experiences.

   Here baby goats, chickens, dogs, and pigs roam free in the streets. The other night I saw fireflies for the first time! they are really neat. It was almost like being in the garden of Eden with all the animals roaming around and the fruit trees. (Bananas, papayas and coconuts).

   I had my first convert baptism experience on Saturday November eighth. Her name is sister -or in french- Soeur, Adelaide. She is an older woman who lives with her daughter and two songs. My companion Elder Amoah had been teaching her with his previous companion for about three months. The day before the baptism Elder Amoah said I was going to baptized her. I was kind of startled, I figured he would, since he had taught her for so long and...  is proficient in the language. But it turned out okay. The prayer in French wasn't difficult ( or her name, phew...) and a member explained to her what was going on to happen and what to do in the native language of Fon. As I stood there dressed in white with her in the font I deeply felt the great importance of missionary work for God's children. The scripture in Moses 1:39 came to my mind many times that day: " For behold this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". I felt at that moment "vow", this work is being accomplished right now". I realized that I had been entrusted with part of this great work and through obedience could be a great instrument  in the hands of the Lord. This experience strengthened my determination to be faithful and obedient to all the mission rules and responsibilities so that I may have the spirit with me to accomplish  my purpose as a missionary. As I learned in the MTC, " You will spend an eternity preparing for a mission and you will spend an eternity remembering your mission , so don't have any regrets. If you were to serve again, be able to say you would serve exactly the same way you already did"

                                              Good bye!  -Elder Archer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

wed. Oct. 22 2014 last week at the Ghana MTC.

   My district and I leave for the mission field on the 28th, so only six more days in spiritual prison. Haha. Our days still consist of about ten hours of classroom time and some exercise/physical activity time outside. I like to play basketball or soccer, depending on the amount of people on the soccer field. Sometimes there's too many people for it to be enjoyable. But either way it relieves the stress from being inside all the time.

   I have been playing the hymns on the electric organ for every sacrament meeting since I've been here,  it has been quite enjoyable. I anticipate to giving a talk this Sunday in French. What's funny is that the speakers are picked right then on the spot and our district has only had about three people speak and those three have each spoken around two to three times.

   The pre-mission informative booklet said that a barber would visit the MTC fir haircuts. Apparently. ....that doesn't happen. The MTC has some electric clippers you can borrow but not skill hands and American hair is more technically difficult to cut than African hair., I would say.  So, Elder Larson (from Morgan UT) and I arranged an instructor - accompanied visit to a barber shop outside and across the street from the MTC. I got my hair cut firt and it turned out okay. Elder Larson told the barber that he wanted his hair cut just a little shorter than mine.  I try to contain my laughter when the barber decided to go ahead and run the clippers over the top of his head and buzz all of his hair off. I could tell by Elder Larson's facial expression that he was surprised at what just happened.  It wasn't completely gone, but it was very short. Everything turned out alright though.  It was funny.

   Well I can't think of anything else overly interesting or different from the regular schedule to write about. There surely will be more to write about once I get to the field. Ah yes, about the field. One of our instructors Frère (brother) Djoussou told us that everything is cheap in Benin and Togo. In his African accent he told us: " On my mission, Fanta was our wadah " hahaha. I am excited. If clean water is hard to find then I guess we'll drink Fanta.

                  Until then, farewell - Elder Archer.