Elder Benjamin Archer

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Winter Letter

Bonjour la famille! 

I hope you are all doing fine. You are probably freezing and I'm over here ... in the sun. Hehe. 
☀☀☀  ❄❄❄
☀ūüėß☀  ❄ūüĎ™❄
☀☀☀  ❄❄❄

So I've been driving the mission bus around. "Bus". In french they say bus ("boose") instead of "van". I like driving it, it's rides pretty smooth. I found out that you're not supposed to park your "bus" in front of the minister of taxation facility's front gate or they will call the police to come take your bus away :(  now hold on a moment before you get worried.

Experience: [It was a hazy Tuesday morning, the day that certain missionaries are supposed to go to immigration to renew their visas. Elder Adjo and I are the ones that transport them there, by bus, which is what we did once they had all arrived. There is a sidewalk alongside the immigration place for parking. I have been to the immigration many times so I was familiar with where the car is parked. I found a large empty spot and I parked the van there.

We followed the others inside to the place where much waiting and little work happens. The mission bureau secretary Sister Precious told my companion and I that we could leave to run other errands since they wouldn't be finishing anytime soon.

We walked out alongside the busy road when a short old man wearing a white suit approached and he seemed to be upset. He was saying things like: "are you crazy? What were you thinking? Do we park like this?  What do you think you're doing?" I asked him if he was talking about the "bus". He said yes. We hurried over and the van and the gate that I had apparently parked in front of was open and there were two armed military watch people over there. I told them sorry sorry, I didn't realize I had blocked the entrance. The short old man said "it's not a matter of saying sorry, the police are coming to take the vehicle". I think I would have normally been quite nervous in this situation but I was actually very calm, my mind was clear, as though I didn't think much of the situation. I'm sure there was a lot of help. We just stood there for a second and I asked the group how long it would take for the police to get there. They said they didn't know. I asked if I could move the vehicle.. since that was the problem, but they said that they had already called the police so we couldn't just leave the site. 

Suddenly, the short old guy turned to my companion and said: "and you, you're African, you should have told your friend that it's not good to park here, you know that, you're an accomplice". My companion is indeed African as the man had said, but he is from Ivory Coast and I had the impression to tell the man this. "He's not from here, he is Ivorian", I said, "we are both foreigners". This simple phrase seemed to neutralize the whole situation. "Oh, he's Ivorian?" the man said. "Yes, he's not from here", I replied. The three guys exchanged glances as though they had realized an error on their part. The short old guy in white looked down and started talking to himself, kind of re-explaining to himself what had just happened, "they're both foreigners? So ... they arrive here, the white guy is escorting this Ivorian to immigration, they parked in the wrong place... huh". They also seemed to feel sorry for having called the police. Their hearts were softened, we could say. Eventually one of the military guys went back inside to call it off. He returned and told us that we could leave. We told them sorry one last time and that it wouldn't happen again. Then we left.]

So that is our immigration bus experience. Then, just a couple of days ago, we were driving the bus on a beach road and we got stuck in the sand. Normally we drive a 4x4 pickup truck but it was in the shop, so we drove the bus. Needless to say, the bus doesn't do well in the sand. A buff guy walked over and asked us if we wanted him to get the bus out. We said sure. "Avez-vous de l'argent?" "Do you have money?" he said. Haha, people here and money. He asked for 5,000 CFA which is about 9$, a good sum of money here. We refused at first but then a small army of people showed up to help, so... we agreed. The left back tire was practically buried in the sand and they picked up the back of the bus and swung it over to the more solid sand. (That makes it sound easy but they actually lifted it like five times, gradually scooting it over) Finally they got it unstuck and I pulled out a 5000 bill. Now the problem was "who am I going to give this to?" Everyone wanted it. They were like the seagulls in finding Nemo: "mine mine mine!".  I gave it to the guy who first approached us and he said he'd split it with the others.The other's seemed okay with this.

So far, the only difficulties with driving. Vehicle placement I suppose. We are now in the Harmattan season. It pretty much means that air leaves dust behind whenever it touches anything. Dusty winds. If we leave a window open, everything will be covered in a layer of dust after a few hours. It's also kind of cold in the mornings. As cold as it gets here.

We are supposed to balance our office work with missionary work in the field. It is hard to do but we are working on it. Sometimes we are very busy and sometimes it seems there is nothing to do. It's very different.

I think we will finally be able to do skype! The internet here at the office works great and we will get a webcam. I will let you know at what time we will do that.

I will send more pictures in a few days. For now here is the baguette picture. 

See you next time! :)

Elder Archer

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Back to Benin

Well, I'm in Benin now. I was transferred to the "bureau" or mission office after having spent around five months in Togo. It surprised me when I found out that Id be working in the office and I felt sad about leaving my area in Togo. I had many converts there and made many friendships. I am happy however for the new experiences to come. I work with Elder Bretherton from Ventura California and we fill out paperwork, read emails, go to the post office, take people to and from the doctor, and takepropanetankstothesistermissionarieseveryweekbecausetheyinsistonnotcookingtogetherandcookingfoodindividuallyforsixpeopleonasinglegasstoveusesupthefuelprettyquickly. We have in our apartment Elder Destribois from France and Elder Yamapia from Congo. Elder Destribois likes to talk about technical sciency things like trains, cars, engines, and astronomy. He speaks pretty good English and helps us improve our French. Elder Yamapia is also a nice guy and will be finishing his two years next week.

It feels different. I feel like I'm not a "regular" missionary anymore, just because of the difference in the daily routine. We still teach people but our schedule is so variable and inconsistent that appointments aren't really sure. Recently, however, we met a chinese man at the hospital and did some "OVB". So in French we don't say "door to door" (porte à porte), we say Ouvre Votre Bouche "open your mouth" (which can be done anywhere and doesn't necessarily require a door). We introduced ourselves, gave him a brochure, and took his number. Later on, the 29th of November, we were able to go to his house and teach him. His name is Lincoln and he has a Beninese colleague that he works with named Komla. Lincoln speaks Chinese and English. He knows practically nothing about christianity but is interested to know all about it. Komla on the other hand, speaks French and English but is part of "Assemblies of God", an evangelical church, so the two are an interesting mix to teach. We taught Lincoln how to pray and he gave a kneeling prayer at the end of the lesson! It was very special. The two enjoy our company and we will see them again next week.

We recently had a visit from Elder Vinson of the Seventy. He came to speak to the missionaries and also at district conference. He and his wife are Australian, so they speak English. BUT, he gave his whole talk in French on Sunday! He spoke slowly and simply but what he did say was correct. It was a rather wonderful gift of tongues demonstration. "The gift of tongues" here in Africa (outside of the church) translates to somebody that has been "gifted" with a knowledge of the tongue of angels, translated again: somebody who screams nonsense into a microphone for the whole world to hear. Apparently "the spirit had descended upon them" a little too violently. Anyways, the Vinson's visit was a very special experience. This took place at an interesting building called Palais des congr√®s (palace of congresses?).

Until next time!
 Standing next to Elder Nsengyumva at the zone conference, the first missionary in our mission from Burundi.                            

 At  Palais des  Congres with people from my first area!
                             
Thanksgiving feast: turkey, mashed potatoes, meatballs, and cinnamon apple cobbler stuff.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Halloween in Africa!

Hello everyone, I've got some more exciting things for you.
So we decided to celebrate us some halloween and we carved watermelons
because there are no pumpkins here in Togo. They turned out great and
we took a lot of photos. We also took a special trip to a voodoo
market nearby that sells "medicinal ingredients". I don't know what
kind of medicine you make out of dog heads, monkey hands or dead
chameleons but it can't taste good. The place smelled pretty terrible.
We had a tour guide who showed us around and explained some
interesting things to us. Near the end Elder Atherton managed to
barter a python spine necklace down to 1000 francs (about 2$) when the
initial price was 8000. He refused to pay 8000 and started walking
away when all the vendors came over to sell him one cheaper. I was
standing off to the side but decided to take advantage of the
situation and had him buy me one too.

Before I left home, yolo became a popular saying in our culture.
What's funny is that yolo is said here in the local language. Yo is
said after dialogue to indicate agreement and lo is added at the end
of phrases as a kind of endearing touch. People often put the two
together and say yolo. It surprised me when I heard it for the first
time. People get so happy when they hear foreigners speak their
language. Elder Jackson and I decided to go find dictionaries in Ewe
today so we can learn their language better.

I am getting transferred to Benin at the end of this week. It is sad
to be leaving everyone here in Togo especially since there are going
to be around six baptisms this Saturday, but I know that more good
things are to come. I will be working in the mission office, there's
A/C there :). It is very possible that I will start driving also. That
will be interesting. Ill write about it next week!

Au revoir,
Elder Archer

Monday, October 26, 2015

Le Chat

This last couple of weeks has been very interesting. I feel that the
Lord has really been directing our efforts. There have been countless
times where an appointment would fall through, and we would find
someone right nearby who we were either supposed to teach a different
day or someone new who just “happened” to be available. When things
don’t go as planned, there was a different plan in mind.


Our mission president recently counseled us to find one new friend
every day. So far Elder Jackson and I have kept up with the challenge.
We have so many things to get done that we don’t have to “search” for
things to do during planning. I love it. We have the work set before
us and now we just need to chip away at it.  We also learned that it
is most effective to invite investigators to baptism on the first
visit. At first we thought it was a crazy idea, but we now know that
it prepares the investigator for what they need to do. First we invite
investigators to pray to know that our message is true. Then we ask
them if they will accept the Savior’s invitation to repent and be
baptized when they receive an answer to their prayer. Most people
accept. We invite others to be baptized and then we help them build
their faith and guide them to receiving an answer.


Recently an investigator named Gracia was baptized after waiting
almost two years. One of the difficulties of a mission in Africa is
helping couples who live together to get married.  The bride’s family
demands are often unaffordable. The process of obtaining the list of
items dragged along until Gracia had enough of waiting and took the
dot papers to her own father to have them signed. He agreed and
signed. Now the problem was getting them legalized. First of all the
two, Gracia and Patrick, work during the open hours at the state
office. Second was the cost. Elder Jackson and I finally took it upon
ourselves to go deposit the papers ourselves. We found the office and
were told that the ID card wasn’t acceptable and that the cost was
only 500 francs (1$), a lot cheaper than we had thought. We returned
to sister Mimi’s house (where Gracia learns tailoring) and spoke to
her about the problem. She told us: “I have a little brother that
works at the central office, I’ll call him up”. She got off the phone
and told us that her brother would legalize the papers for us if we
took them there right away. We sent Gracia over there with 1000 francs
and she called us later in the day saying that it was done!

Second baptism was Eugene who also has been waiting a long time. His
problem is his work schedule. He is busy every day except Sunday. He’s
been coming to church every Sunday and we had taught him all the
lessons. There were complications for several weeks in trying to see
him for his baptismal interview but everything finally fell into place
last week.


Last week I had scheduled a cat “mangez-vous” (dinner appointment)
with a member named Gloria, a returned missionaryAfter seeing a cat
get drowned in the morning, we met at Gloria’s house in the evening
for dinner. The cat had been fried and it pretty much did taste like
chicken. It wasn’t bad except the mental factor that it was a cat.
She had a brother from another ward that raises cats help us out with
the cat and she made a dish called jenkumeh (not sure how to spell
that). It’s basically tomato-spice-infused corn dough. Very tasty. Now
I can check off eat cat from my to-do list.
     Baptism of  Gracia and Eugene
                                       Fried cat, "Le chat"
 Next time you think about complaining about doing laundry, remember this picture. Next picture, on the way to zone conference.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Petite Message

Sorry again for the delay, a lot has happened since last time.
So transfer-call Saturday came along and the only change in our district (apartment) was Elder Atherton leaving to a place called Kélégougan where the Togo assistants live. The change would take place on the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, and to my somewhat great surprise, an emergency transfer took place the following day changing the zone leader (my companion) and I now work with Elder Jackson from Indianapolis Indiana. So far he has only worked in Togo. He began one transfer before me. We get along well and work hard.
School started on the 28th of September, which calls for lots of adaptation on our part schedule-wise. During investigator class last week, our ward mission leader was teaching about work and personal responsibility. He asked the class an interesting question: "if someone doesn't work, can they rest?" I thought about this question a lot and I realized that rest isn't really rest unless we've worked, otherwise we're just in an idle limbo state of nothingness mode. (pre-mission experience). Don't do that. I've realized that my walking past certain people in the neighborhood and saying hello was more work than they have done all day. Let's just say that some people are addicted to sitting/laying on a bench in front of their house.
There's a little bit of this week. I promise I will a little more next time.
Au revoir!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Only chawarma and ice cream can make this better



This week was pretty good. Tuesday night we spent cleaning the apartment for the arrival of our mission president for interviews the following day. Elder Atherton poured a heck-ton of cleaner in the mop bucket and foamed up the apartment floor claiming that the bubbles would "eventually just disappear". Haha. They didn't. The interviews went well and Elder Atherton bought us all chicken that day.
Friday the 18th was my official year mark! It seems to have come very fast. 
It was a pretty normal day. Before leaving the apartment in the afternoon, I handed Elder Atherton some funds to buy some chawarmas and ice cream for dinner. My companion and I then traveled all over the place to do some baptismal interviews in other areas. By the end of the day I was feeling very tired but was looking forward to eating the food that Elder Atherton would bring home.
When Elder Agui and I arrived at the apartment, he unlocked the front gate and I walked up to the front porch and waited for him with the key. When Elder Agui came over to unlock the front door he stopped and looked surprised. My gaze had been away from the front door so I turned and was surprised to see the door wide open in the still darkness. I turned to my companion and we kind of looked at each other and then back at the door. We walked over to it and he reached in and turned on the light in the front room. We were shocked to see chairs turned over, couches scooted away from the walls, cushions, books and papers strewn about the room, our mirror face down on the floor, the whole room was a mess. Apparently the apartment had been robbed. I couldn't believe and/or accept that what I was seeing was what I thought it was, and I hurried over to our room and on the way I was again shocked too see suitcases opened, clothes thrown around every which way and many signs of disturbance in the hallway and the other rooms.

Arriving to our room what I first noticed was that the box that I keep my money in, among other things, was on the floor, opened, and my money gone of course. My companion said: "they took my camera?", he had left it on charge but now it was missing. I couldn't find my camera either. I felt shocked and kind of overwhelemed but I didn't want to stick around and search for things without first checking to see if there was anybody in the house or outside. I went over to the back door which I had previously noticed being wide open and I peered out a little. The shock from seing movement kind of threw off my vision for a few seconds until I processed that it was... Elder Seri moving around in the dark! At that point Elder Atherton ran over from his hiding spot in the back yard to join him and they both started laughing. The idea that the whole thing was a joke had been in the back of my mind but the condition of the apartment had thrown that idea out! "It's too much work to put all of this back for this to be a prank", I thought. But, it was a prank. I just smiled at first and turned away but then I turned back and kind of tackled them and laughed as well. Then I went inside to tell Elder Agui that it was a prank. 

We laughed for several minutes while the others put all of our items back where they were. Then we finished off the day with some chawarma and icecream. And that is the story of how our apartment kind of got robbed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bonjour cher amis,

    Vow, well it's been quite a while since I had last written hasn't it? Oops. Well, I've since been working with my new companion Elder Agui for about a month now.  He is from the Ivory Coast,  a  French speaking country,  so I hope to further improve ma capacit√© de m'exprimer dans la langue Francaise.  Up until last Monday things seemed to be going pretty smoothly.  Let's just say that if I would have written about my companion last week you may have thought I had accidentally inserted a paragraph about Adolf Hittler into my blog, BUT, all is well now and the work advances. We all have weaknesses and some of them don't really promote a non-combat environment.  Let it be known however that these matters never evolved to the full extent of that stament.
         As to the happy side of things we had the occasion of witnessing five baptism take place last Saturday.  One was a rather large mama named Odette who lives near our apartment another the young nephew of the first counselor in the ward, two young brothers who live next to the first counselor and an albino child from the same area who comes to church every week with the other kids.  It was a little difficult to prepare them because they are easily distracted during the lessons but in the end they responded very well to the pre-baptism interview questions.  (Everyone likes to be in the picture with the candidates).
   I enjoy teaching with Elder Agui as he has an amazing ability of adapting and teaching the lessons to the comprehension level of  the investigators.  You could say he is an expert of communication,  the investigators feel at ease and understand everything the way it is intended to be received.  I have learned a lot from him so far,  especially in regards to teaching.
   Today we played volleyball at the University of Lom√© with our district,  which includes the sister missionaries. It was actually pretty fun and there were enough clouds to block most if not all of the scorching solar death rays.  We got in contact with a player on the team and he set us up with a net and ball. We played on a concrete court.  Sadly I didn't take any pictures at this time but we got some after at the language studies building gazebo. (Picture: Elder Seri, Myself,  Elder Atherton and Elder Agui).
        - Elder Archer-



   
 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bonjour!


Well this week has been pretty crazy. Preparation day was sacrificed so that Elder Sagers could go visit his converts in another zone called Baguida. We pretty muched walked from six in the morning to seven in the evening, with some breaks in between of course. It was fun to see another part of Togo and meet some new people but I was very tired after that.

Tuesday was our zone meeting after which Elder Sagers and I travelled to Kodjoviakopé to visit more people. We visited Sister Sylvie and her daughter Fiona. They made french fries topped with tomato and onion and offered us some drinks. Elder Sagers is very close to their family, they are nice people.

Wednesday 

Saturday morning began with a stake service project at five in the morning. We met up at a hospital with the members and some of our investigators were even there. After handing out a yellow vest, gloves and a dust mask we hiked over to where the service was. We hadn't been told beforehand what it was that we would be doing but eventually we stopped at a lot filled with small bushes and trees. Still nobody said anything but we assumed they wanted us to clear the lot of all plant life, which is what we ended up doing. We started pulling out plants by hand until several people showed up, one with  a wheelbarrow full of rakes, one with a wheelbarrow full of machetes, and one with a wheelbarrow full of hoes. It was a pretty entertaining scene because  everyone ran over to grab their weapons and then charged back and started attacking the baby trees. In about an hour a weed field turned into a dirt field. 

Two baptisms took place Saturday evening. One on the left's name is actually Moses. Pretty sweet huh. On the right we have Nadjombé, brother to Mawate who was also baptised a few weeks ago! He even brought his best friend to the baptism so we will begin teaching him soon.

Sunday was rather sad because it was the day before Elder Sagers' departure. He gave his final goodbyes and afterwards we had several of those precious few and far between food eating appointments in a many and very consecutive kind of format.

Today, Elder Sagers left to Benin. Where he will rest until Wednesday when he will fly back to the holy land.

That's a bit of the week for ya. Have a good week yourself!
Elder Archer




Monday, August 3, 2015

Life is good

It's been a while, but everything is okay. No worries. Ahhh, where to
start. Well, we have had several baptisms since I've been here in
Togo. First was Mike. Mike is probably the biggest eighteen year-old
that I've seen and he's actually a rapper. His mom is currently a
member of the church who previously decided to "go to a different
church one Sunday" and happened to walk into "l'Eglise de Jésus Christ
des saints des Derniers Jours". She loved it and soon was baptised.

Second was a young man named Prince. We taught him with his uncle
Junior who is around thirteen years old. Haha. Next is Ingrid, sister
Edwige's identical twin sister. It is always fun to go visit them, we
like to laugh a lot. I often get them confused, especally when they
decide to do their hair the same way to throw us off!

Third and fourth are Mawate and Dedegan. Mawate is a kind of younger
middle aged lady you could say. She is very smart and picks things up
quickly. We had taught her all she needed to know to be baptised but
she still would tell us that she was uncertain. She hadn't been coming
to church and we decided to stop the visits with her. Kind of sad, but
it happens. Then, we were pleasantly surprised to see her arrive at
church one Sunday. After the meetings she walked up to us and asked:
"when can I get baptised?" then she quickly said: "I can't believe I
just said that". She told us that she had prayed during Relief Society
to know if the church was true and she had gotten her answer. I
learned by this experience that church attendance is necessary for the
investigators :) Dedegan is an older woman who sells yams at the
market. She has no money to buy the yams to sell but she has a friend
at the market who trusts her with some yams and lets her keep some of
what she sells. She is very zealous and eager to learn.

Currently we have around 25 investigators that come to church and we
have about fifteen baptismal dates arranged! So now we just need to
keep on working and hope for the best. My companion Elder Sagers will
be finishing soon and returning home on the 19th of August. Taking
over the area when he's gone makes me kind of nervous but it will be
okay. I've done it once before and it can be done again. We have a
great ward and ward mission leader here who help us out a ton. It's
much easier to work in a well establish ward unlike the semi-put
together branch in Benin. I've heard that things have gotten much
better over there however. They called a new branch presidency.

Anyways, that's a little of what has been going on. Until next time!
Elder Archer - This is my banana tree that I planted.(Technically I transfered it from the front to the back yard)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A hike into the jungle

 We hiked in the jungle today to a waterfall. It was pretty cool. Elder Amoah got to come too.
                                                       Beautiful scenery
                                                                      waterfall
                                      Me with my dear trainer Elder Amoah
                                               Next to an Anthill thingy
 Baptism of sister Mawate(left) and sister Dedegan(right). S. Mawate received her answer that the church is true during Relief Society one Sunday. She hadn't been coming but this day she came and voila, that's what happens when you come to church like you're supposed to!

     Have a nice week,  - Elder Archer

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baptisms

 Well, I'm doing fine. We have some baptisms lined up for the 25th. We had one investgator who is very smart and has received all the lessons but she feels like she doesn't have an answer yet. It's been a while since she's been to church and we were just about to drop the visits. She came to church yesterday and we were surprised after the meeting were over when she told us that she had received her answer in Relief Society. She asked us when she could be baptised. We have several candidates but we will group them together on the 25th to make things easier for the ward.

Doing well. Say hi to everybody for me.
Love,

Elder Archer 
  This is Sister Ingrid's baptism, she is very nice. She has an identical sister too who is already a member.

Monday, June 29, 2015

= ) =(

Here in Togo, or perhaps in general, it is very bad luck to pass between two persons while walking. I found out when an old woman carrying a basket of baguettes on her head was approaching Elder Sagers and I. Elder Sagers went left and I went right. In what seemed like a minute as I passed this woman, I saw her frown and then begin stammering something in her language which may be rendered as: no ... oh  no no, no, nonono, NOOOO! Then she started mumbling things and that's when my companion told me that making people walk between us takes their luck away, hahaha. 

Another day, two men were approaching us on the road. The four of us walked right up to each other to the point where somebody was going to kind of really have to decide to go left or right. The guy on the left tried to go right while the guy on the right tried to go left and well... they ran into each other before the guy on the left grabbed the guy on the right's shirt and dragged him over to safety so that nobody would be walked between and lose their precious luck in a tragic disaster of events. Usually the things people don't worry about here are the things they should be worried about and vice-versa.

It's nice to work in an actual ward now. Bishop Tossa is very friendly and hardworking. We'll tell him we need information about a certain situation and he'll call people on the spot. Much gets done when people get things done. A simple idea but sometimes much neglected. We are expecting several baptisms to take  place on the fourth of July. What a day.

My companion has been sending me around to do splits at nearly every apartment in the zone now. That's been pretty fun. I've gotten to know the other missionaries in the zone and see how they live and work.

Well, that's about all of the exciting things to report for now.
Have a great week!
- Elder Archer

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Forgot the big fire in Togo

The big fire mentioned in the last blog.

 The big fire in Togo, Elder Magre in the picture. Good thing they learn these things at camp and......
                                            Random baby goats

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 16th, 2015.


Well today was my birthday. I woke up with a pretty terrible sore throat, which wasn't fun, so I skipped breakfast on the way to our zone conference. The zone conference was a little crazy because somebody decided to invite their ward mission leader over to tell us "how we should be handling things in the zone". Well, truth be told, he shouldn't have been there in the first place and was causing quite a disturbance. The Togo assistant Elder Dih happened to be at our zone conference and told the guy, in front of everyone, to leave, in an appropriate yet satisfyingly not-so-subtle-like manner. 

I was very pleased that Elder Dih also brought me a package from my family! Elder Dih's companion is Elder Bretherton who is technicaly an "office Elder" since the Togo missionary couple finished their mission and there is no mission office in Togo, Elder Dih and Elder Bretherton kind of have to take care of Togo for us. They do a good job.

We finished off the day with some banana pudding and some hamburgers which I managed to eat. It was an overall good day.

Later on (Sunday the 21st), the Gbandis family invited us four Americans over to their house for dinner to celebrate my birthday. How nice! We had curry rice, some vegetable sauce, and chicken. Sister Gbandis actually makes very good tamarind juice that my companion and I like to buy often. She made us some for the occasion as well as "bissap" or jamaica as it's elsewhere called. They actually hand-make these two drinks in Mexico too.

I also had the opportunity this week to go on splits with the other missionaries in our district. I went with Elder Magr√© on Wednesday and Elder Atherton on Thursday. It's a good experience to teach with other missionaries and see how they do things. Elder Atherton and I taught the only non-member son in a family the word of wisdom lesson at his house. 

The funny thing is that his mother sells alcohol for a living. There is a very powerful drink called sodabi that people drink here that's made from palm sap. It's cheap and apparently you can get smashed for like 20 cents worth. There will be a long bench full of zombie looking people and each have a small wooden bowl of sodabi resting in front of them. Anyways, this is the kind of business that this member runs.

So we're sitting there, right, pretty much in their family bar with his family and we get to the part where we talk about the harmful substances. Elder Atherton said (in French of course):" there are certain things that are harmful or addictive for us that we shouldn't take into the body, things such as ......... alcohol". We all burst out laughing haha. It seemed like one of those elephant in the room moments, everyone was just waiting for the mention of alcohol. I'm pretty sure mama had even served up some gin in the middle of the lesson. It was funny.

Other things.... we had an exterminator come and spray down our whole apartment. We had a cockroach problem. They were small ones but they seemed to be everywhere. We had to pack up all of our things and move them outside.

Just today, Monday, we decided to burn a rotten old armchair that has been outside for a while along with anything else we wanted to get rid of :) the fire almost lit up our tree, but luckily we had a water hose to control it.
     I wish you a happy week!                    -Elder Archer

                                             Making Uncle Harvey's banana pudding
                                            Banana pudding with cupcake and candle
                                             Birthday candle
                                      Birthday dinner "Mangez-vous at the Gbandis house
Elder Magre, Elder Atherton, Myself, Elder Sagers and Frere Gbandis