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 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 -


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  2. I almost forgot, I asked Ben, what did you get in the stocking after all?, and he said: " Haha. In my stocking there was a sheet with the mission rules during "festivity period". There was a Christmas card from the first presidency :) (same for everybody). And a candy bar, a pack of cookies, and a bag of roasted almond things. Some small candies too".

  3. Hey Elder Archer! This is Sister Brown. I'm so glad your dad shared your blog with us so that we could follow your mission adventures! Sounds like you are having a great time. I'm sure being there makes you appreciate your family, your country, your food! Everything! I think you learn that you can be happy with so much less than you thought you needed when you were home in your "former" life. The people there are very blessed to have you serving there. We are so proud of you! Keep being strong! You are in our prayers. Bro and Sis Brown