Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Elder Milambo and Elder Gray just walking....
 I was lucky enough this week to catch my family this Memorial Day and was able to somewhat communicate with them through the miracle of the internet. (It was AWESOME!!!) I don't have a whole lot of time left here, but hopefully I can share a quick experience that'll open our eyes as to just how blessed we are.
      This week we received a contact from one of our investigators. Vincent is awesome. He's a man who was born with a deformed right foot, but supports his small family by being a taxi-motorcycle driver. I've already told Elder Pickering I've found his future career. 

      Anyway. He offered to help us his brother's family. It's a really good thing he was there. For those of you who don't know this the people here speak two languages. French and Fawn. Fawn in the tribal language that is found specifically in Benin. It's a completely oral language; nothing in written except for names. Nearly everybody here than can speak French can speak Fawn, but not everybody that speaks Fawn can speak French.

      While French is the language of love and is known for being eloquent and fluid.... Fawn is the exact opposite. I would describe it as baby babble. Very very angry baby babble. 

      Vincents family speaks only Fawn and it was very hard to communicate with them. They also live in the middle of nowhere and then past that. To give you an idea of how... I don't even know how to describe this... How... isolated(?) these people are I'll give you a small example.

      We asked them how old they were, just trying to get to know them, and their answer was they didn't know. They honestly didn't know. Then they asked US what month/year and if we could figure out their age for them because they knew their birthdays. 

      That's it for this week. I'm sorry it's not all that much/great. I hope y'all have an awesome week! :D 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Voici le photo pour la fête de l'anniversaire du Président.

President Weed's surprise birthday party.  

Voici la photo que nous avons prise à la conférence de Menontin zone.

Picture of the Menontin Zone - - May 2013


Hello everybody!

Sorry for the last couple of weeks that have gone by without an email
to everybody. Things have been kind of crazy here. Last week was
definitely the hardest time that I've had since being here. Problem
after problem after problem just managed to pile themselves up one
after another. Not the business. An answer to a desperate prayer came
through another missionary in a small email full of random quotes. One
of them is written on the front of my planner.

"If you want to see the rainbow; be prepared to endure the storm."

Knowing the bigger storms mean bigger rainbows; I'll use the words
from one of my favorite movies the Emperors New Groove. "Bring it on"

With that new atitute things have really really turned around. Not
much has actually changed and the situation here is still all sorts of
difficult, but I can really tell a difference with just a positive

I heard that Bishop McGrath gave the same advice during sacrament
meeting one of these past Sundays; I can only testify of that. When
bad things happen and when the rain comes; chose to be happy and
you'll be happy. It's really just that simple.

Progress for our mission is starting to explode. We made our own
church history the other week as we started our very own group in
Cococodji. The first week we had 58 people in attendence and then 73
the second week. We already have more members in our little group than
some missionaries have in wards in other missions.

Our little group will soon grow into its very own branch, and
eventually its own stake. I'm just glad to be a small part of the work
here. I can't tell you how blessed I am to be with these people. I've
been told by many a families that I'm already Beninois (Be-neen-wa) I
have grown to love these people so much already. I'm starting to dread
the next transfere date; and hope with just about all I have that they
don't make me leave this area.

I don't really have any crazy stories or adventures other than I'm
pretty sure I'm never ever going to use silverware ever again. It's so
much more effective to mange everything with just your hands. It's
probably not the most santitary thing in the world... but let's be
honest. It's more fun eating like a four year old. Totally worth it.

I promise to actually have a decent story or a half decent email to
send out next week. I want you all to know that I know why I'm here. I
love you all and hope that you have the best of weeks.

-Elder Gray

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best Mother's Day Email

Hello, Sister Gray I told Elder Gray I would email you with this photo for Mother's Day. They had 59 people at the first Group ever at Cococodiji. They were so excited to have people come and we had Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School. But, a sister volunteered to do the Primary and someone else did the YM and YW. I am sure and it will not be long until they have a Branch out there. The road was terrible, bumpy and full of mud which makes it more fun to travel out there. From the Mission Home it took 1 hour to get there. So, it is so nice for themembers be closer to a Branch. Elder Semken and I are on the right and the Eastmond's (CES couple are on the left.) Elder Milambo, and of course Elder Gray (the most enthusiastic missionary!!!), Elder Mulumba, and Elder Mary. I will send you one more picture to show some of the people who came. This is an historic day for the Missionaries and the Group. We could feel the spirit so strongly. I hope these pictures help you to have a wonderful Mother's Day!! You have the greatest son/Missionary!!!  

Have a wonderful Mother's Day! Sister Semken

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I'm 98% sure I ate dog!!! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

BEST MOTHERS DAY EVER! ! ! After several hours of worrying and after receiving an email from Sister Semkens we were finally able to connect with Elder Gray.  It was wonderful to be able to  listen to him laugh and hear the excitement in his voice. 

Today was a banner day for the Elders in Cococdji.  After going  (and I quote) "all rage"on Pres. Weed they were able to make arrangements to have the first "Group" meeting in this new area.  A group meeting is the first step in getting a branch going.  There were 58 people in attendance. According to Elder Gray that number will only increase in the weeks to come because not everyone knew the meeting was going to happen.  How exciting to know Cheston is part of this amazing growth in Africa.

I ask him what his favorite thing to eat so far was and he said Foo foo (I am pretty sure I spelled that wrong) and fruit, his least favorite....nothing so far, even the fish heads were pretty good tasting just hard to know what it was.  Elder Mary told him that when he finds something he won't eat he has to call him. because apparently that may never happen.  Then he said, "Oh and I am 98% sure I have eaten dog, it sure wasn't beef!"  He said his health is great, he  faithful about taking his doxy (malaria) medicine and was excited to know that somewhere in his medicine cabinet I sent there were vitamins.  He ask for a few specific things for his next package, mostly sweets and said they were so glad to still have running water.

He sounded absolutely wonderful, happy, excited, and even broke into a little french now and then.  I couldn't have asked for a better conversation. 

There were many questions asked and answered today, but most of all my mommy heart felt peace.  I know that my son is where he is supposed to be, doing exactly what Heavenly Father needs him to be doing.  I am so proud of him and  how hard he is working. 

A big shout out to Elder and Sister Semkens for sending me the pictures of Elder Gray and the 1st Group meeting.  They are the best!!!


Love Mom

Happy Mother's Day ~ Thanks Sister Semkens

Elder Gray with some kids at the first "Group" meeting in Benin.

1st Group Meeting in Benin.  The Elders have really pushed to have a Branch in Benin and this is the first step.  There were 58 people at this first meeting.