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.