Missionary regulations notwithstanding, in Africa sometimes you just do what you have to do. Regulations say don’t tend children or hold them on your lap but it didn’t say that Happy couldn’t sleep with her adopted Grandma and Grandpa so that is exactly what happened. President Ayekoue took Stephan and went to Lome in a Taxi on Sunday. We stayed with Sister Ayekoue and Happy to give Sister Ayekoue a little more time to recover before traveling. As she was not doing well Sunday night, Happy chose to sleep with us instead of her mom. It has been a while since we had a 15 month old kicking us during the night. Actually she didn’t do too badly except for when she tried to crawl over Soeur Black about 1:00 in the morning. She never did cry and we discovered she loves to have her back patted. After Soeur Black wore out, I pulled her back into her place and patted her until she went back to sleep. The only time it was not pleasant was when she chose to put the tressed volcano in hair (see picture) into our face.
On Monday Soeur Ayekoue was still not well but felt like she could go if she laid in the back seat of the pickup so we went to Lome where she went to bed as soon as we arrived. With her not doing well, they decided to go home on Tuesday night instead of Wednesday as planned. With all the uproar, I am sorry to say we didn’t even get any pictures in Lome of the zone conference or the farewell. The only time we had a moment to take a picture was when the Branch Presidencies came over to the house to meet with President Ayekoue. We really did not get a chance to visit with President Ayekoue about our leaving and the Leavitts coming except for a few minutes in Cotonou so I suppose we will just have to make most of the decisions ourselves and try to leave things in as good of condition as possible for the new couple.
Our departure is somewhat official now. On Saturday, the three Cotonou branches combined to have a going away party and what a party it was. The Gbedjromede chapel was packed to capacity and a lot of people were standing outside. I think the young men and women along with the Primary kids had been practicing for weeks. We were invited up to the front and draped with a beautiful African sash after which the entertainment began.
There was singing, dancing, skits, drama, piano solos, tributes, and really nice gifts of a bronze African woman and a picture. It was just a wonderful evening. We wish all the family could have been there to share it all. After it was all over, they asked Soeur Black and I to respond. We had previewed that so Soeur Black had worked up a little farewell all in French and did a great job. It was less stressful for her than on Sunday in Menontin Branch when she was called up extemporaneously. Again, however, she did a good job – all in French with just a little translation help. I talked about why we call each other Brothers and Sisters. Just like we do work in the temple to ensure that families can be together through the eternities, we also know that spiritually we are brothers and sisters and will have opportunities to associate again in the eternities as an eternal family where there will not be an ocean to separate. We didn’t make any promises to come back. It is a long way to Africa.
A lot of these folks appear to be genuinely sad to see us leave. There are some things we will miss about Africa also. Most notably some of the good members we have come to know and love. A few have been over to visit since and express personal appreciation for us coming. There are a lot of mixed feelings. The sense of loss that we feel as we leave here combined with the joy of anticipation of seeing all the family and friends left behind a long year and a half ago at home. Several times I have told Soeur Black I didn’t know a year and a half was so long or I would not have come on a mission. At the same time, as we look back, the time has passed rapidly. I guess that is the way life is.