Bonjour! Glad to hear, despite elbow pain and flu season, y'all are still chugging away.
Things are going great here in Akpakpa! Every three months, we have to go to the bureau to renew our visas, so on Tuesday and Thursday morning, I went with Elders Herring and Neubert (Elder Neubert is an American who entered the mission at the same time as us, but he went to the Ghana MTC), and some other elders to renew our visas. It was a change of pace, and it was fun to kind of do a different side of the work. Plus, right next to the bureau there is a bustling stand that sells dégé: it's this yogurt drink that is mixed with some sugar and grains that look like dirt. The first time I tried it, I didn't like it too much, but now I've developed a crazy craving for it! And by crazy craving, I mean that I buy that stuff by the liter. :)
So, as for this week, the things that come to mind are just little stories to show how crazy the people can get here, but also how lovable they are.
One day, me and Elder Hansen were waiting for a member to show up to accompany us in a lesson, and while we were waiting a man approached us. I didn't get a chance to take his name down, so I'll call him Gary (short for "Guerison"). Gary asked us what we do, and so we started talking about the Restoration, etc, missionary street contacting. We gave him a brochure, and then he asked us why we both were wearing glasses. Elder Hansen told Gary that he has some vision problems, and then Gary asked if he could heal Elder Hansen's eyes right then and there. You know, because people you meet on the streets can apparently heal your vision. Elder Hansen later told me "I thought he would tell me to close my eyes, and then he would try to take my wallet". We kindly turned him down, and he was really upset by that. He kept asking us "Is it bad to do good? I have faith and I am charged with the Spirit, I can heal you!" We told him various reasons why (we like our glasses, the Savior commanded us to pray in our secret places and not in public, if you want we can stop by your house and talk about the priesthood power of healing and where it comes from, etc). Ultimately, Gary refused to meet with us because we had refused his blessing. He walked away, and then about a minute later he came walking back, asking to at least bless Elder Hansen's hand so that way when he rubs his eyes, his eyes will be healed. Elder Hansen said no, and so Gary asked to at least shake hands in parting. They shook, and then Gary grabbed his hand, started shaking it, and then started blessing it ("I charge this hand with the Holy Spirit, and when you rub your eyes, they shall heal and you shall see, and when you wash your hands, this power shall not go away, it is charged with the Spirit!"). Gary then asked to shake hands with me, and I proposed that we bump elbows "like we do in America," and so he started to walk away, but as I turned to talk to Elder Hansen about what just happened, Gary darted in and high fived me ("Ha! Charged with the Spirit!"). So there you have it, I can now heal eyes by rubbing them. Hahaha.
We were in a lesson teaching a new investigator named Pierre (not the one with a date fixed, we'll call this one Pierre 2) the Restoration. He was really enthusiastic, and when Elder Hansen recited the First Vision, Pierre's response went something like this:
EH: "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun,"
P2: "Above the brightness of the sun? Wow, that's bright! I can't even look at the sun!"
EH: "which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description,"
EH: "standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—'This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!'. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ"
Elder Hansen later remarked that it was probably the most animated first lesson he had ever taught.
So, Pierre 1 moved into the sector of the other missionaries, so Friday morning during weekly planning, we decided to give him as a contact to them. Then, Friday evening, the assistants did transfer calls a whole 24 hours earlier than normal, surprising everyone. Elder Hansen will be staying in Akpakpa 2, working with Elder Marurai (From Tahiti, and he only has 2 weeks left on his mission), and I will be transferring to... the other bedroom. Elder Destribois is transferring to Dbegamey, and I will be working with Elder Dakouri in Akpakpa 1. It's not a total goodbye to the people in Akpakpa 2, I'll see them at church still, but it was hard to say sort-of goodbyes nonetheless. Yesterday evening we went to say hi to Julien and Leoni, and their kids were sitting on the floor eating dinner, and when I said "Au revoir," they all waved goodbye with their spoons. I had to keep myself from crying right then and there. I told Elder Hansen afterwards: "You have to baptize that family."
Elder Hansen has been the best trainer I could have ever asked for. He has been kind, loving, patient, and has been willing to embrace my quirkiness and match it with his own. We've laughed together, we've sang songs together, we've crashed on the apartment couches when we were too tired to walk to the bedroom to do planning, and so forth. These past twelve weeks have honestly been the most wonderful and life changing weeks of my life. I owe a lot of that to Elder Hansen, and all of that to the Savior. Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.
I am also really excited to work with Elder Dakouri. He's from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and he's a native French speaker, so the language will be a barrier, but it'll be good to completely immerse in it. Elder Dakouri has only two transfers left on his mission, so I will probably be his last companion. I've made the commitment to be his best.
I wish you all a good week! I pray for you and hope that all is well. Make it the best week ever!