Yesterday was Sunday and that is probably worth another daily. We had to be at the Church for a Branch Presidency meeting at 8:00 so we had our taxi come and pick us up early. I was a little discouraged when we got into the Branch Presidency meeting and Elder Southam understood more than I did and he doesn’t even speak French.
Sacrament meeting begins at 9:00. Of course they asked us to introduce ourselves. Charlotte did an good job on the introduction in French and then bore her testimony in English which I translated. Then I bore my testimony and told the saints that all the French I knew I learned in Paris a long time ago. I was finding the accent very different here and they might have to be a little patient with us until I learned to deal with the accent and that I was sure they had the same problem in understanding my French. The chapel is actually a large home. I understand it was occupied in times past by a member of the church from the US here on assignment with the government and then, after the branch began here, the lease was assumed by the Church and with some remodeling it was turned into a chapel. It is quite nice and there are a number of classrooms etc. but it is getting crowded. There were probably about 140 in attendance and that is about all it will hold. It is divided up into three areas. The main chapel is where the meeting is conducted in French. In a covered patio attached to the main chapel by some large doors the talks are immediately translated into Fon, the native African dialect here, and then at the same time in a little room at the back, again attached to the main chapel by large sliding doors, it is translated into English. There are a lot of Nigerian people here who speak English better than French. Charlotte and I certainly don’t understand the Fon, the French is only a little better for me and the English not a whole lot better than that for either Charlotte or me. The one thing that is nice here is the singing. The singing of the African saints is legendary and the legend is well deserved. Here in the Branch there is a man who is quite a musician. He plays quite well and directs music also. He has hymn practice just before the meetings start and I am quite sure you can hear the church hymns throughout most of Cotonou when the branch starts singing. It is just wonderful on a Sunday morning. We went to the English Sunday school class that was taught by Soeur Precious. Thankfully everyone around here uses Brother or Sister and then the first name. That works a lot better than trying to say the last names. She has only been a member for a couple of years now and gave a Sunday school lesson on feasting on the words of Christ that was the equal of anything I have ever heard at home. She is an amazing person. I think I said that Carol who has her mission call was one of the first missionaries from the Branch. That is technically true but I guess there are two missionaries who are currently serving also in Ivory Coast but no return missionaries in the branch yet.
After church we were invited to the Southam’s house for a nice chicken dinner. Sunday evening, we went with the Southams and met some of the Branch people in their homes. I visited with the Branch President for quite a while as we sat around shelling palm nuts for palm oil and I think I am starting to get used to the accent a little. I only had to asked him to repeat about every other sentence instead of every sentence.
Today (Monday) is P day and we are going shopping with Southams and then have dinner with the elders. Charlotte is on a campaign to fatten them up a little. Every one of them have lost so much weight they have had to put new holes in their belts and in some cases have new pants made. It doesn’t seem to bother them. They are just hard working elders but I suspect they will be glad to see Charlotte here as soon as they discover her culinary talents.