Baptism of Soeur Helene Briga

Some weeks are better than others here in Africa and this past one has been one of the best! I guess weeks like this are the fuel that keeps us going and going like the energizer bunny. Last Sunday the Akpakpa elders wanted us to take them to Porto Novo for a family home evening with Rodrigue and Carole. Rodrigue, Carole and AmenRodrigue has been an inactive member for several years but has become very active after the Akpakpa Branch was formed. They will soon be married so Carole can be baptized also. In a country where traditional marriage, and abortion are common practices, we do a lot of teaching about the family and living the plan set for us by our Heavenly Father. Carole had fried plantains and hot piment ready for us to eat which were very delicious. It is hard to believe that anything green could be so hot! Elder Black says it doesn’t matter how much you eat as a little bit is just as hot as a whole bunch. They have a little toddler by the name of Amen. We have mentioned before about some of the different names kids are given here and when I found out his name was Amen, my imagination went wild as I wondered if after he was born, it was such a wonderful feeling that all his mother could think of was Amen. Maybe he was the answer to a prayer or maybe it just meant the end. Anyway, he is a cute little guy and we really enjoyed their family.

Eating FoofooWe haven’t done anything special on P-day with the elders since we went to Ouida so we invited them to eat lunch at the Foo Foo bar. We have some new elders that had not been there yet so we thought it would be a good cultural experience. Foo Foo is made from the igname (African yam) It is a big root that can be a foot or two long, peeled, cooked and pounded into a thick glob, which is about the consistency of bread dough and very sticky. It is served with a peanut sauce made with something like peanut butter, tomatoes and piment and probably more that I am not aware of. To this sauce meat or cheese are added. We go for the cheese as the most preferred meats are Agouti and tough rabbit. Agouti is simply another name for rat. Even though the word rat brings up visions of the little creatures at home that are best seen in a trap, this rat does in no way resemble ours at home. It is about as big as small rabbit with a rat like snout. Elder Turner practing the art of FoofooBut still a rat is a rat and I would rather not eat one. But I did try a small taste once and I will have to admit that it was not too bad. Two bowls are place in front of you, one with foo foo and the other with the sauce which you eat with your fingers. First you pinch off a bit of foo foo and then dip it in the sauce. It is very good but very filling. (Soap and pitchers of water are on the table to wash before and after eating.)

Landu, the member who teaches music on the keyboard, has been living in Porto Novo for the past several years, decided to move to Cotonou as it is about an hour taxi ride that he had to make at least three times per week. Therefore, on Tuesday we were back in Porto Novo moving his belongings to Cotonou. Over here whenever anyone does anything a little out of the ordinary, it really draws a crowd and this moving process was no exception. Loading Landu\'s thingsImmediately after stopping by his house, several young boys were there to see what was going on and offering to help, in hopes of getting a few cfa’s. We persuaded them to be bystanders as loading that much stuff in the pickup was best done by one or two, not a crowd. It took two trips and all day but the job was accomplished and Landu was very happy but at the same time a little sad to be leaving his beautiful garden.

Charles and Helene Briga and MaelleWe have been teaching Soeur Helene Briga for the past few months and on Wednesday night she was baptized. Her husband, Charles joined the church in Angouleme, France in 2002 when he was assigned there in the military. He is also the first counselor in the Menontin branch presidency. We have posted pictures of their cute little girls previously on the blog and have grown to really love their family. Whenever we arrive and leave their home, we get the biggest hugs from the girls. Meila, the two year old, is always so happy to see her Yovos. The gospel of Jesus Christ simply outlines the path we must take in our lives to live once again with our Heavenly Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ together with our families. It was so wonderful to see another family on their way to becoming an eternal family. Helene insisted that Elder Black baptize her even though he tried to talk her into having her husband, Charles, do the honors. After a discussion in their native language, the final word was that Elder Black would baptize her and Charles would give a talk. The baptism was well attended with members from all three branches. Our Singer Girls (and one little brother)Their little girl, Maelle sang “I Am a Child of God” with two other little girls in the Menontin Branch, Marjolaine and Jeanette. They did such a good job. In fact, everyone was so thrilled, it was all we could do to refrain from clapping and saying, bravo. Charles left on Saturday for six months on a military assignment in the Congo. Helene is also in the military and leaves in two weeks for Cote d’Ivoire. She too will be gone for six months and the girls will be staying with an aunt. We feel bad that we will be home by the time they get back in Cotonou.

Early Thursday morning we were on the road again for Togo. Elder Kounkou was scheduled to go home to Congo on Monday after serving here for two years. Once again, a visa was need so he could leave and we needed to be at the Togo embassy before noon on Thursday so we pick it up on Friday. (They get you coming and going with this visa deal.) We will be here all week as we have two elders going home, two coming from Cote d’Ivoire and four being transferred between Lome and Cotonou. It was wishful thinking hoping that we would have a little time to relax on this trip to Togo.

Foofoo makers

Foofoo makers

Helene and Vivian

Helene and Vivian

Helene and Branch Friends

Helene and Branch Friends

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