If you didn't understand the subject for this email, neither did I, and welcome to my life! It's awesome.
Basically. The plane rides were awesome. DC was awesome. Brussels was awesome (all we did was sleep because the airport was huge and empty and kind of boring but awesome) The flight here was awesome. Stepping off the plane here literally felt like walking into a steam room wearing a suit. It smells kind of funny and I'm apologizing now for when I get home and smell funny. When we got to the mission home there was enough water in my shirt to wring a small puddle of water. President and Sister Weed are awesome, but we didn't have a whole lot of time to talk to them before being shipped out to our apartments. Driving is scary.
If I die here. It's going to be during a transfer or when we're taking a taxi to wherever we're going to go. The roads here fit the description of a video game. No rules, no lines, no police. You just get where you need to go as fast as you possibly can without killing yourself. What appears to be the common rule is if you're bigger you have the right of way. Motorcycles yield to cars, cars to vans and trucks, vans and trucks to bigger vans and trucks. The people get to play frogger when they cross the street. If it wasn't so stinking scary it'd be really cool.
Anyway. I knew I was going to be in for the adventure of a lifetime when the zone leaders who dropped me off had this conversation just before they left.
"Well Elder Gray here is your new apartment. When I was here we didn't have power and the water only worked every once in a while."
"Don't tell him that! You don't want to scare the poor guy just before he goes in there..."
"Well they don't speak English here! I figure somebody should tell him about it now just in case they can't!"
They were not far off either. The power is off for most of the time, but the water situation is a lot better than what I imagined. It works most of the time, which means we can actually take showers using a shower and not the bucket of water that we prep every night. Showering is kind of fun now. When the water is on you shower. When it dies you brush your teeth and try to shave. It's tricky though, because if you put more shaving cream on that you can shave before the water comes back on then you waste it. It's kind of fun guessing when it'll come back. Sometimes it's ten seconds other times it's it's around two or three minutes, but there isn't any way to tell.
I'm sorry if this letter seems random or jumps around a bit. The power keeps going off and kills the email. Thank the heavens for the "save draft" button. I figure that's why we have so much time here. Everything is so unrealiable.
Anyway. My companion is Kefa Milambo. Good luck with the pronunciation. He's from the Congo. We're living with Elder Mary from France and Elder Kouadio from the Cote D'Ivoire. We're working in Cococodji. (you say the cococo part like you would for an extra co in coconut and then add gee afterwards, Co-co-co-gee)
I love Elder Milambo so much. It was a match made way before I got here. He is the perfect trainer. We're so alike in everything we do. Considering I don't speak very good French and he knows very very little English it's scary how well we can communicate. My French has gotten infinitely better in just this first week. I can follow conversations and lessons and jump in with a comment or two. Sometimes he'll just let me at it and then translate the bits that I didn't explain very well. We're so in synch. I almost regret having him as a companion at the start of my mission here, because it's going to be insanely hard to come close to how well and how good things are with him.
Cococodji is the Celestial Kingdom for missionaries. We had 14 baptisms or so this Saturday, with a whole bunch more scheduled for the 6th of April. This week alone with a companion that doesn't speak French Milambo and | were able to bring 17 investigators to church. 17. Five of them we found this past week. Two of the five we found this week have committed to being baptized on the 6th of April.
Teaching new investigators is pretty straight forward. The gospel makes sense to these people. They love God so much, we just explain that he is our loving Heavenly Father and that the same church and the same gospel that was taught during the life of Jesus Christ. If they have questions about how or why their church isn't true all we do is mention baptism by immersion, the gift of the holy ghost by the laying on of hands, or the plan of salvation and they're willing to come to church and to read the book of Mormon. It's insane.
I can't believe it's already been a week. It feels like I just got here a couple of hours ago. Despite the fact that we have little to no power, unreliable and not the best tasting water, I've ruined two of my shirts from the dirt and sand that is EVERYWHERE, this place makes hell feel cold, the people here have nothing, I get pointed and laughed at because I'm white, and I'm more tired than I've ever been in my entire life; this is the most fun I've ever had. Being a missionary is amazing. I’m so happy.
I've already taught people I know I needed to teach. Some of them almost seem to recognize me. It's an amazing feeling knowing what to say or remembering that scripture I read that one time by the power of the spirit. I'm learning French. I'm learning how to be happy. Truely happy and I love it.
I miss you all and I'll write you again in what'll feel like a couple of hours. I love you all!
-Elder Cheston Russell Gray