Last night we arrived at the hotel in Togo quite early. We are staying at an IBIS hotel (French). It is really nice and clean. Has clean water and a great AC system. Last evening Southams and us went out and ate a nice meal at a nice little restaurant on a patio overlooking the pool, with palm trees and tropical plants everywhere. The grounds are beautiful like the hotel we stayed at in Benin. It is probably not quite as nice but almost. I told the Southams we had been in Africa 8 days now and spent two of them in nice hotels. If we could keep up that ratio it would be nice. Their response was that they had spent 2 night in hotels also and they are almost ready to go home. They are really fun people to be with. We enjoy them a lot and they seem to enjoy our company also.
I better back up to Monday before I get to far along with the Togo trip. Monday was P day so the Southams picked us up in the morning to go do some shopping. We went to the market where Charlotte and I went last week but this time we were a little better prepared and Charlotte was not quite so traumatized. We also hit a couple of small markets that were not bad. One place has a meat market that is downright nice – the equivalent of anything we have at home. We were glad to find a place to buy clean meat even though it is a little pricey. Good hamburger was about $5 per pound. We were happy to see, however, that there were places where we can buy almost anything that would be available in an average small market at home if we are willing to pay the price. Since the Elders were fixing some crepes for lunch we even bought some Nutella to go on them. It was about $10 for a bottle but made the Elders smile.
After shopping, we went to the Southams apartment and with Elders Hubbard and Carter in charge helped fix a nice lunch for everyone. Crepes, plenty of pineapple, mangos and papayas and Charlotte even fixed a bucket of rice pudding for desert. After everyone was full we all went to a cultural event called a Revenon (I don’t know if that is the way it is spelled or not but it doesn’t matter.) It is actually a Voodoo event. The African drums start drumming and then the voodoo men come out dressed in brightly colored costumes and dance. That part was okay and fun to watch, but then they go around asking for money. The idea seems to be that these are spirits and they are supposed to chase away other evil spirits. In order to do this they take a stick or other weapon and chase people, especially the young guys who seemed to enjoy being chased. Being aware of all of this beforehand, Elder Hubbard had made arrangement with the supposed chief of the event for we palefaces to come and watch the event and for an up front payment of some $50 they were supposed to let us take photographs, not bother us, etc. etc. Well, that turned out to only be partially successful. There was a guy there that was supposed to make sure everything was okay with us but first they came by wanting more money. We gave them a few coins. As the crowd grew bigger and the drums got louder, quite a few young men had gathered on the ground in front of us. Without warning one of them attacked the guys right in front of us with a steel sickle kind of a thing. They pretty much ran us under trying to get away and before it was all over one elder had his hand cut quite badly across one knuckle. We retreated behind a members fence after that where we were a little protected. It was colorful and I enjoy the African drums and got some good pictures but in retrospect we probably shouldn’t have been there and won’t go again. The spirit just wasn’t right for much missionary work.
Tuesday morning we had our regular district meeting and then headed off for Togo. It is about a 4 hour drive including about one hour to convince the authorities to let us cross the border from Benin to Togo. Actually it wasn’t too bad. Just a lot of paperwork looking at passports and Visas, recording by hand all the information from the passport, vehicle papers etc. on the Benin side and then going about 100 yards to the Togo side and doing it all again.
Now back to our Togo experience. I already told you about our nice evening at the hotel. We had a really good breakfast there, then the couple who are there in Togo (Brother and Sister Gillis from Alberta Canada) picked us up and took us to their home where we met President and Sister Dil. That was a very enjoyable experience. In their back yard they have a Gazebo kind of thing with a African thatched roof. We sat out there for probably 3 hours and visited with President and Sister Dil. They welcomed us to the mission and gave us a thorough orientation, answering all our questions about missionary work. We talked about everything from African traditions and how they affect membership in the Church to what is expected from the elders and health matters. They also confirmed the rumor that we had heard that when they leave in June, Togo and Benin are going to be put into the Ivory Coast mission. That really makes more sense because now the entire Cape Coast mission is English speaking except for these two countries. Since there is only one city open for missionary work in each country, the eight French speaking elders really just get transferred back and forth and don’t have much to do with the rest of the mission or missionaries. It will be interesting to see what kind of changes a new mission might bring. Ivory coast is further away. Oh, also we were wondering at home about the Church News article that said Togo and Benin were being transferred to Ghana Accra mission. I guess that was the original plan but when President Dil was called as the Cape Coast Mission President and could speak French they scrapped that plan and left them in the Cape Coast mission. It seems like the bottom line is that these two countries are French speaking countries in between two large English speaking countries (Ghana and Nigeria) and nobody knows what to do with us.
After our orientation, President Dil took us all out to lunch, the assistants to the president showed up with our little pickup, and we started the long trip home, including the reverse process at the border. We got home just after dark to find no water. The power and the water go off regularly. The water is still off this morning. We will send a picture of our little pickup and talk more about driving later. Right now we are just glad to have wheels.