First of all some going home plans. Wow it seems like a long time since we were able to talk about going home without any guilt. Last week we got a message from President Ayekoue that he needed to arrange our travel so I guess that makes all discussion legal. We will fly from Accra to New York, then on to Salt Lake City on September 11, arriving about 11:00 pm. Before that, we will try to go to Accra a day or two early and go to the temple. The plan is to report our mission in Sacrament Meeting at 1:00 on September 20. A lot of former missionaries, missionary parents, friends etc. have suggested they may come. All are welcome and we hope you will. Remember that it is a long way to Blanding, however, and we will not have a roll call or be offended if someone isn’t able to be there. For those who do, the family will put together an informal social on Saturday evening at African Time prompt at our house. For those who may not know where that is, write us, call us, or ask most anyone when you get to Blanding unless everyone has forgotten us by now. We will also have a little lunch around 11:00 before sacrament meeting on Sunday assuming that most will need to return home after Sacrament Meeting since our meeting schedule is late. Most importantly, the plan is to bless little Dodger, the latest addition to our growing family at sacrament meeting. We get excited just writing about it all.
We also received the good news that we are going to be replaced by another couple. The bad news is that they will not be arriving until a month or so after we leave. The Leavitts from Mesa Arizona, have accepted a call to come to Benin. We have visited with them a little on Skype. They will do fine. About the end of the year they completed a mission in Nigeria and now are coming back to Africa so driving in a sea of motorcycles will not be new to them. We are excited to have them come but have our work cut out the next three weeks, not only getting ready to leave but arranging things for the interim and for their arrival after we leave.
We may be about through with picture taking. We have been here so long now that nothing really seems out of the ordinary and worth taking a picture of. Arranging things for going home doesn’t produce many “Kodak moments” either.
We might just have to include some of general interest from prior weeks. The Cotonou elders did have a baptism of 8 people this week. This is probably one of the largest groups we have had in Cotonou. There were a couple of member’s children mixed in and it was a very nice baptism. As mentioned before, one of the down sides of trying to cover both Togo and Benin is that we are lucky if we get to meet the baptism candidates much less get well acquainted with them as we used to do. Nevertheless, the Elders do a wonderful job, and in the past year or so there have really been some strong people baptized who will become future leaders in the Church here in Benin and also in Togo. After the baptism on Saturday we had all the missionaries over for a little celebration of Elder Adams’ birthday. The battery was dead on the camera so we did not even get any pictures of the doings. Getting together and eating some of Sister Black’s food always seems to be a highlight for the missionaries. Especially now that they work in different areas of the city, they love to get together and visit and we ended up having to chase them away so we could go to bed as we were tired. I guess at 65 you just don’t have the energy of a 20 year old. The missionary program of the church is wonderful and amazing and we really appreciate these elders and the work they do. For many of the members, it is a big step to accept the responsibilities of membership in the Church. Even basic concepts of honesty and responsibility are not well established in Africa. These have to be learned, sometimes through painful experience, when people accept the gospel. I don’t mean to imply that all who are baptized become honest and responsible either here or at home. I guess all of us are in a learning process as we struggle to follow the example of the Savior. The difference seems to me to be that whereas at home dishonesty and irresponsibility is generally frowned upon, in Africa it is a part of the culture and pretty much an accepted way of life for most. Maybe that is why every door has three locks. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could live the principles He taught us.