The Service Project

Last Sunday was our anniversary as May 10 marked our departure date for home at exactly four months! That sounds like quite awhile but looking back at the last four it will zoom by real fast. That is only about six or eight more trips to Togo. We are in Togo again this week and we really like being here but the trip is getting to be wearisome. The first part of this week was spent doing administrative responsibilities which are pretty routine with things like getting the mail, working on elder’s carte de sejour (resident card), paying bills, and trying to communicate with Accra.

On Tuesday we helped move a sister’s things from Akpakpa to Calavie. We had not seen Soeur Juilianne for quite awhile so we took Landu and Precious along with Lydie, the girl who was moving, to see her. Juilianne’s mother had been staying with her for three months and she was unable to leave her and come to church. I always like to go to Calavie as once we are there it is a little more rural with more greenery and vegetation. We can even see the lake from her house. She has another garden of corn and manioc planted. Over here there is no growing season so you can just start over again after the harvest. Every day is a growing season here!

On a sadder note, our latest elder made up his mind that he could not stay here any longer. We tried everything we could think of to help him to reconsider without any success. He was bright, learning the language real well, and was willing to work. We could see the potential in him and the personal growth he would experience if he stayed. But we also told him the Church wouldn’t keep him here against his will. Finally on Friday we put him on a plane for Cote d’Ivoire so he could visit personally with President Ayekoue. We haven’t heard the result of their visit but hope that it was positive.

On Friday evening we were back at the airport to pick up Southams, our couple predecessors, and Caleb Ellis who arrived for a visit. Frere Ellis and Mama CatherineCaleb is Elder Ellis to us as he was a missionary here when we arrived. After about a year of his mission, he had to go home because of severe headaches. They found out that some African bacteria got in his sinuses and really caused havoc. He went through two surgeries and seems to be doing just fine now. He loved Africa and the people here so it is great that he can see them and leave on a more positive note this time. He came over to Togo with us and it was fun to see him surprise some of the members as they did not know he was coming.

President Lokossou in center ready to workEver since arriving in Cotonou we have been interested in promoting a service project. We have suggested it a time or two but couldn’t get anyone really excited. We were surprised last Sunday when the branch presidency member conducting gave a good talk on service and then announced that there would be a service project on Saturday. He made a pretty good announcement about how important it was to give service and encouraged everyone to be there. Then he said, “Now I will say it in Fon so everyone will be sure to understand. We want everyone to be there on Saturday.” Gbedjromede Relief Society at Service ProjectWhen Findlays were here doing the measles campaign, they had some money left over and asked if we wanted some “Mormon helping hands” vests so as a result of that, we had a number of brand new vests just needing to be used. Saturday was a very eventual day for the members in Cotonou. All three branches met at the chapel where we handed out the vests and then everyone cleaned up the Round Pointe Gbedjromede. The Round point is a traffic island where four major roads meet. It is right by the chapel. The bright yellow vests really drew the attention of the motos and cars which were continually buzzing around the round pointe. We had about 70 people there working hard in the hot sun. We walked over to the round pointe from the chapel and President Lokoussou announced we were going to get rid of all the weeds, grass and trash. Africans like to work bending overWe thought that would take all day or maybe even longer. But people started in with their grubbing hoes and rakes and in about two hours it was clean. It was such a thrill to see everyone working together and having a good time for such a worthy cause. Service is a concept that has to be taught here as in a survival society one usually just considers taking care of himself. To see the members developing the Christ-like attribute of charity was such a thrill.

Southams are very friendly and loving people so everyone was happy to see them. I think that their two weeks will go by so fast that they will not be able to see everyone they want to see.

Gbedjromede Round Pointe

Gbedjromede Round Pointe

Note the Hoe and the Vest

Note the Hoe and the Vest

Finishing up

Finishing up

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