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, April 25, 2016

Sad Experiences :'(

Hello Family 🙃

So another week goes by. This time some sad experiences. Brother Blessing, a convert to Elder Amoah is a tiler. He works with tiles. He is a busy person, he works far from home and usually stays and sleeps there for the work week before coming home on Saturday evening for church the next day. He lives very modestly with his parents and younger brother.

Several weeks ago, brother Blessing had called us several days in a row saying that he was told to meet someone at another branch for his Melchizedek priesthood interview but the person would never show up to the appointment. I was frustrated by this, especially when it happened the second time and we called the leader in question. It sounded as though he had just awaken and said that he didn't go to the appointment because it had rained that morning. From my experience living here I have concluded that the relationship between Beninese/Togolese people and rain is equivalent to that of American people and spiders. 

I was upset by this because I knew that Blessing needed to be at work but he must had sacrificed what would have been one day, but now two days of work so he could have his interview. It was later on Sunday that I found out, when he told me, that brother Blessing hadn't been at work the whole week because he didn't have enough money for transport. He asked me if I could help him with 1000 francs, which is almost 2$ so he could simply get to work. That broke my heart. I only had 500 francs with me at the time but I borrowed another 1000 from Elder Mayani to give to Blessing. Later on, brother Blessing gave me a letter that thanked me for helping him make it through a hard time. It's crazy how many people's lives here hang on a thread. People get kicked out of their homes because they fail to pay the last 1500 francs on their 5000 franc($8.60) per month rent. Many fall asleep not knowing if they'll have food to eat the next day. Many rely on unstable jobs to provide for their families.

Last Thursday night, as we pulled into the driveway at our apartment building I saw a man standing nearby with a little girl in his arms. We got out of the car and as we walked over to the building the man approached us and said: "You are missionaries right? Can you help me pray for my daughter? She drank bleach". The little girl seemed uncomfortable moving but the man told her to open her mouth to show us the scarring and damage that the bleach had done. He said that he had taken her to the hospital but was refused treatment for lack of 4700 francs. He had been wandering around all day since the morning looking for help and he found us. It was around 8pm. Elder Adjo and I brought them into the garage and gave the little girl a blessing. Then I gave the last 5000 francs I had for the month to the man and told him to go take care of his child. It saddened and bothered me that this little girl risked dying over a matter of 4700 francs. I left the man our number but I haven't heard from him since.

Then just the next day, we were delivering propane gas to the sister missionaries when a man approached our vehicle, crying, and asking us if we had anything at all for him and his family. I gave him some coins that were in the car. 

Well there are some of the sad depressing moments.

But here are some fun pictures!

1 The new president doesn't live in our neighborhood anymore, so the power goes out more often :( we had to sleep outside on couch cushions because it's too hot to be able to sleep indoors.
2 Here we are in front of the airport waiting for Elder Stanfill to arrive
3 Practicing hymns
4 I made the invitation for the conference and it was cool to see it made into a large poster
5 Me at the conference
6 Elder Adjo, me, Elder Mayani and Elder Ouizan Bi (we are all in the same apartment)

This week is transfers. I will send another email about the conference soon!

Love you all ❤

Elder Archer

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bapteme de la soeur Cecile

This week was pretty special! Cecile and Joseph from my first area in the mission field were finally married on Monday. It took place far away so we weren't able to attend. However, today Saturday, was their baptism and we were there! This is a moment that many of us have been waiting for. The chapel was completely full and there were around six other missionaries who came who had also taught Cecile and Joseph previously.

As is customary after the baptisms, the candidates are invited to share their testimonies with everyone. I was touched by what sister Cecile had said: "I had never been baptized before. Some of my siblings have been baptized elsewhere but I was always too uncertain about baptism that I never accepted to do it.... Then, the missionaries came to my house and they showed me the importance of my life and the life after death. I have waited all this time, and now I have found God's church and am baptized. Now I know that I need to persevere with my family.."

After the service, food was served to everyone and we basically had a party. Something that I admire about the members here in Benin and Togo is that when it comes to food and feeding groups, they really know what they're doing. There is always enough to feed everyone and they somehow manage to coordinate everything so smoothly. Everyone sit down, about three sisters hand out plates and forks to everyone, then someone comes by and serves a scoop of vegetable salad right on each person's plate, then someone else tops it with lettuce, then someone else with a piece of bread, then when the salad is eaten a prompt serving of rice, then someone comes by with a piece of fish, then someone else with more vegetables, then someone with a little dab of pepper sauce, and then someone with the drinks. They know how to work together. It was a wonderful sight. It was great to see everyone again in Cocotomey.

Well it's time to go, until next time!

-Elder Archer
 1. Me with Cecile and Joseph

2. Food
 3. Me with MTC friend Elder Miller
4. Me (with Israel) Cecile, Joseph, Petite Isaac and Elder Adjo

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Easter Letter

So  Benin has a new president now, Patrice Talon. No wars or problems happened so I guess the people are happy. If the people are happy the missionaries are happy, if there's electricity.

Easter time is an exciting time here in Benin. No school and people like to celebrate. Monday is also a holiday and nobody works. Brother Blessing, our Ghanian convert told us on Sunday that he wanted to attend a family home evening on Monday, since he wouldn't be working, but he didn't know where to go. Our rendez-vous with Armel fell through so we decided to do the family home evening at his house. The two other investigators who are hard to get a hold of were all there that evening and we all sat down to talk about Easter and the Savior's Resurrection. It is pleasing to see how much people know the scriptures. We had a good lesson and then we ate some cookies that we had brought for them.

Last week Elder Adjo and I had gone off into the neighborhood next to the bureau in the search for new investigators. We found a small monkey leashed to a gate. WE WILL GET PICTURES OF IT FOR NEXT TIME! Afterwards and around the corner,we met a young woman named Modestine who lives with her mother Rose, Rose's brother René and several other relatives in the same complex. We have been back to see them two times and we plan to visit again tonight! They are catholic and have a good background knowledge of the bible. They are happy to visit with us and "talk about God" as Rose says. They are very friendly people.

We weren't able to see Sandra on Tuesday this week. Hopefully next week. We did see her at the store though! We were buying Nutella and she was arranging items on the shelves.

This month will be the creation of the first stake in Benin! That will be cool. We are inviting as many persons as possible through Facebook, radio, face to face contacting and text messaging. It will be a very large event.

Well, that's about it for this week. Until next time :)

Elder Archer  [Para mama: ❤]

Here are some pictures taken from the car.

A truck tipped over and spilled bags of... something mysterious... at the Étoile Rouge (Red Star) roundabout.