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, January 26, 2015

Tower of babel people

Well, I am now done with training. I have graduated from cadet to  I
also got to stay with Elder Amoah
after this last transfer! Things in our secteur are going well. One of
our investigators Sister Silvianne speaks very good French. She was
very happy last Sunday after being asked to orally translate the
lessons in the investigators class and in Relief Society. As there are
some people who speak very limited French, talks and lessons are given
in French and then repeated in the local language called Fon. She did
a very good job and she felt very included and supported from the
members which is very good. She kind of has a spontaneous-drinking
problem which we hope we can help her abandon. The thing is to help
her realize the importance of being free from that kind of influence.
Her baptism is scheduled for the 7th of February and we know that she
will be an excellent addition to the Cocotomey branch.

Speaking of language, language is a huge part of life in Africa. A
common question we ask new people we meet is: "which languages do you
speak?" ("Vous parlez quelles langues?") Usually everyone speaks their
native language, and then they learn the national language, French in
this case, at school. Therefore, everyone that has been schooled is
automatically bilingual. On top of that people usually know one or two
more languages. I would say that the average is around three. I think
this is where all the tower of babel peoples came to after their
dispersement and whatnot. So far I've learned one or two words in the
following languages from local people and from missionaries: French,
Fon, Italian, German, Chinese, Lingala, Yoruba, Zamelana, Malagasy,
Portuguese, Zulu, Swahili, Evé, Twi, Fanti, Mina, and today I learned
that "salam" is a general greeting like "hello" in Hindi! Crazy huh.
It is also here that I learned that the song at the beginning of the
lion king is in Swahili and that "simba" and "pumba" mean "lion" and
"hog" in Swahili.

Anyways, there's some good stuff that's been happening to me lately.
Have a good day!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


As many of you know, Ben ELDER ARCHER is a  perfectionist  and I love that, but  mama made a mistake in copying  the story of the older fellow, professor of international affairs. So Elder Archer said:

                                                     "We have a new investigator who is
an older fellow and apparently is an expert professor of International
affairs and of the globalization of democracy. Something like that. He
likes to take up most of the time to tell us about his life stories
and world events. One detail is that he is missing his left hand as it
was lost in an industrial accident. In our very first meeting, and in
the small amount of info that he managed to tell us about his
religious beliefs, he expressed that he believes in an afterlife but
expressed: "Will I have my hand back as it was?... probably not". His
comment made us excited to teach him about the résurrection. We gave
him a Book of Mormon in our next visit, and left him Alma chapter 40
to read. I'm excited to see what he has to say next."

   The picture above   was courtesy from a couple of missionaries serving with Ben. Elder and Sister Christensen. How Sweet!

And these pictures courtesy from Elder Amoah. Such a sweet Elder.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bella, don't be jealous!


   Dear family and friends. This week had been very interesting. I'm happy to say that our recent converts are doing very well and are progressing quickly. it is wonderful to visit them and to do work with them in the church. However, there are some challenges with the branch leaders.  There are some challenges with the  "give someone a little power and they will start dishing out control" kind of a thing. In short there is some friction between the leaders and the members. It's frustrating because if things continue this way, it kind of nullifies our efforts as missionaries. We need to arrange things at home so we can invite people in.

   Other than this things are great. We have a new investigator who is an older fellow and apparently is an expert professor of International affairs and of the globalization of democracy. Something like that. He likes to take up most of the time to tell us about his religious beliefs, he expressed that he believes in an afterlife but expressed: " Will I have my hand back as it was?... probably not".  His comment make us excited to teach him about the resurrection. We gave him a Book of Mormon in our next visit, and left him Alma chapter 40 to read. I'm excited to see what he has to say next.

   As far as "extracurricular activities" (if you can call it that) today we traveled to a village called Quidah to visit..... yes, a voodoo python temple and the ocean. First the assistants drove us to a carved tree monument. I'm not exactly sure as to it's meaning but it seemed to be depicting something to do with slavery. After this we traveled on over the python temple where we were toured around and had interesting things explained to us. Far from doctrinally correct, but  interesting. Basically pythons are sacred and worshipped. After all the explaining, we entered into a small round and freestanding building that had  descended  in the center to a lower level. It was full of snakes. There were probably 50 pythons in there, none of them were terrible large, but there were many. We had the opportunity to hold them and take pictures.

   After the snakes we went over to the beach and walked along the shore. The weather was kind of hazy but it was a nice scene, there  were some decent sized waves too. This small activity took place during the morning and we returned to the apartment at noon. I will send some fun pictures for you to see.
   Have a nice day!                                      - Elder Archer -
                                                         - Voodoo phyton temple -
                         - We found and exterminated another mouse " dramatic mouse death pose". -

Monday, January 5, 2015

Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas! and Heureuse Année! Happy New Year!

  -At the Christmas party! Elder Amoah, Elder Adjei(with hat), Elder Archer-

    Merry Christmas! The mission Christmas celebration took place on the 23rd. This began at the mission home where bread was eaten with jam and where some of us were pleasantly surprised to be given packages  from home. Myself included! After this petite petite-dejeuner we were transported to an orphanage in a town called Calavi, where we helped wash hundred of soiled jars that would be used for the orphanage's food storage. After the service we climbed up to the top of the five story building to sing some Christmas hymns and hand out candy to the children. They were happy to see us and we were happy to help out and spend time there.

   After the service, we were taken to an events center that the mission rents out for large groups. there we had a delicious beet salad and a slice of bagette lunch to support us until dinner. In the meantime, we watched some videos (of which the "He is the gift" video, sadly, was not shown :( sang some hymns, heard some words from the mission President, and watch some others planned talented and musical performances by the missionaries. Dinner finally arrived after a while , which consisted of a mound of rice and a piece of chicken topped with some sauce. It was good but to some  of our dismay(s?), sadly, there were not seconds. One thing  I fascinate myself with  here is reading the labels of packages food products to see where they come from. I had myself a Fanta from Saudi Arabia. How about that? I still prefer US Fanta, just saying. After dinner we had a fruit cup for dessert and sister Morin handed out Christmas stockings to each missionary. Probably the most memorable moment of the day was when an Elder at my table commence what I later found to be called "the cup song", which is a game where a cup (or in this case, soda can) is manipulated and tapped on the table according to a specific pattern and beat preference. If you have enough people involved, you can get cups being passed around the table in a circular motion. Elder Hanks began doing this and before we knew it, we were all doing it. Id imagine there would be some cool videos on Youtube about this game.
   When all was said and done, we exited the building and my companion and I had to wait with the assistants(as they live in our apartment and were our ride home) for everyone else to leave. During this time, I held my stocking in my hand and decided to reach in to see what I would find. Right at this moment some departing missionaries came by to shake my hand. After they left, I reached back down into the stocking and the same thing happened again about two more times. At this point I figured I'd wait a while. Interestingly, what I thought to be hundreds of birds flying overhead were actually bats. Hmmm... I wasn't sure if I should be concerned or not. I figured id look back down into the stocking. Right when I had my hand on the bag of something inside the stocking, this group of kids came around the corner  banging drums, singing and wearing strange voodoo clothes. They saw me and walked right over and started dancing in my presence. I had to take my hand out of the stocking once again because I thought they were casting a spell on me or something. Eventually the security guy of the building chastised them for singing an inappropriate song and told them to leave. I guess this singing and dancing is a regular occurence during the holidays.
   Needless to say, we made it home alright, I am alright, and probably not cursed.
-At the orphanage(they ran out of yellow vest, so I didn't have one) :(  -

   Heureuse Année! Happy New Year!
   Christmas day was a good experience. We visited a few members  and investigators in the morning (yes, missionaries still work on Christmas). In the afternoon we had a mangez-vous or eating appointment  with the Ameou family. We had some smashed yams in peanut sauce. It was truly one of the best meals I've ever had. The yam is placed in a dish  and the sauce is poured on it. Everyone eats from the same dish. A piece of the mash-potato like yam is pulled off and dipped into the sauce and eaten, We had a nice little Christmas dinner there and shared a spiritual thought. After this dinner we traveled back to the apartment to called home!! I used the small Nokia phone that we use day to day. Worked okay. It was wonderful to hear everyone's voices.

   New Years. We had been planning an amazing New Years party with the others missionaries in our apartment. We had acquired many foods of divine nature including steak, oreos and ice cream. We also developed the means which we could gain access to our otherwise unreachable three-story apartment roof. There is always a way. We waited in anxious anticipation for the evening when these things would be carried out. However, it turns out that the branch New Years party was planned also for this day. We were invited and we stayed until 19:00 which is when we were supposed toreturn to the apartment according to our "festivity period" rule sheet. The relief society had prepared very good food for that. We are working on improving  the organization of events, as we arrived at the announced time of 17:00 but everyone else including the presidency arrived around 18:30. It had a good turnout nevertheless.
   We returned home from the party and decided to eat the junk food stuff as we were too full to justify eating the steak. ("junk food" in french is "cochonnerie". Cochon means pig. I thought this detail was very funny) we put on our traditional clothes and made our way to the roof! We had a currently unused mattress that we set up there along with some pillows and all of the snacks. We stayed up and watched the stars and fireworks. Right at 00:00 the fireworks started going off EVERYWHERE. The fireworks here were louder and in greater quantity than home but not as colorful. We climbed back down safely and tried to sleep in the noise. This was a very fun experience that will definitely be remembered. Happy Holidays!
                                      -Love, Elder Archer
- Elder Amoah, Elder Merril and myself -
- Amazingly, the crescent moon here appears horizontally rather than vertically -