Happy Easter everyone. We promised some photos of the new chapel this week. It has been pretty much a construction site for the last couple of weeks but now a few things are starting to get finished up so we are excited as are all the members. President Lokossou is like a kid at Christmas time. I think he spends most of his time up there just supervising, dreaming and whatever. Since it is only 150 yards or so from his house, it makes it pretty easy. Saturday morning the branch had an activity for the youth and anyone else who thinks they are a youth. That means we did not go but apparently there were a lot that did. At 6:30 am everyone met at the chapel and did some jogging and exercise then cleaned afterwards. They got most of the things we moved over from the old building put in the rooms where they belong at least – like the library things. Still have a way to go but it is definitely shaping up and both branches had a full schedule on Sunday.
We didn’t come back to Cotonou until Tuesday. On Monday we had all the elders over to celebrate the birthday of Elder Kounkou. His birthday was actually the week before but we weren’t there. It is fun to celebrate the birthdays of the African Elders. Africa in general is oriented a little more towards thinking of self, and birthdays are not often recognized or celebrated by others. You would be surprised how many members on the church records do not even know when their birthday is. I would say that before 1960 or 1970 it is rare to find someone who knows their birthday. Since then, people often know their birthdate, but to have a cake just for them!!!! There are other things we take for granted but people over here have to get used to as they begin to adopt the culture of the Church. To many members over here, the church means everything as it gives them friends, hope, and standards to live by that they have never had before. It is a lot of fun to see the changes that occur in their lives and how meaningful it is to them. Of course change doesn’t come without challenges, and not everyone makes it but there really are a lot of wonderful members, and we enjoy our association with them very much.
We got back to Cotonou on Tuesday just in time to go to the airport and pick up Elder Turner. He is from Michigan–north of Detroit–and is going to be a very good missionary. Right now the language is a little difficult, but he seems to be adjusting rapidly. Our count now in Cotonou is: African Elders from Ivory Coast – 4. White Elders from the US – 4. I think this is what President Ayekoue has been wanting – Native Elders working with North American Elders. That way they cross train, and it is good for all the missionaries.