Did you know that “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is a good hymn for prelude music in Sacrament Meeting? We have been struggling to get all the chapels outfitted with everything they need. One of those items of course is a piano. Yamaha makes a electronic piano for the church that has the hymns pre-programmed onto the machine. Not being successful in finding out how to get one, we solved the problem in each branch so far by using one of the little student models that we have to teach people how to play. It has some pre-programmed music but not any hymns. Last Sunday in Lome it was raining and rain always keeps people home. It is not fun to ride a moto or even walk in a torrential rain. Of course, we are one of the lucky few who have a vehicle so it doesn’t bother us as much. When we arrived at the chapel, the piano player was not there (He arrived about half way through Sacrament Meeting) but the piano was reverently playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” over and over. We listened to that for probably 30 minutes or so before the meeting started (almost a half hour late on account of the rain). Everyone was very reverent, even more so than on most Sundays. Maybe we should consider putting that one in the hymnbook. I remember years ago, President Joseph Fielding Smith gave a talk–I think it was at BYU–and although I don’t remember the context, I still remember his poem.
Twinkle, Twinkle little star,
I don’t wonder where you are.
I surmised your spot in space,
When you left your missile base.
Any wondering I do,
Centers on the cost of you.
And I shutter when I think,
What you’re costing us per twink.
That is probably even more appropriate today than it was then considering the pace of government spending.
Back to mission things. We had promised the Lome missionaries for some time that we would have a zone activity. President Ayekoue has allowed and even encouraged us to do that once in a while. As the missionaries come and go, some of them miss out or get in on several depending on the timing. Elders Halterman and Carver, two brand new missionaries, arrived in Togo on Thursday and the activity was planned for Monday to go see some waterfalls at Kpalime. We thought it was an hour or so out of Lome but it turned out to be a 2 1/2 hour drive. We only got to see one waterfall as the rain had made the road very bad according to the report but the one was almost worth the trip. Best of all we got to see some small mountains which was a welcome site as we have seen nothing but flat land and seashore for a long time now. Soeur Black and I fixed a fine lunch and we got in the two mission vehicles and headed out with Blaise and his son Alma as guides. We will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. At the base of the falls, it is damp and dare I say even cold. Soeur Black says “The elders were anxious to see me drive and I found out that I can still drive but the motos scared me some. Thankfully most of the driving was out of Lome. When we went around a corner and saw a mountain in the distance, it was mighty thrilling.”
Before coming back to Cotonou, we arranged to get some benches built for the Lome Chapel and worked on some other problems in the missionary apartments. Then we learned the other big news of the week–the arrival of a new grandson. This caused us to hurry a little faster back to Cotonou in hopes of being able to see him on the web cam. Dodger M Black, son of Andy and Alicia, is the newest member of the Black family and the 2nd one born since we left for our mission. Once again we are so thankful for modern technology as a picture was e-mailed to us when he was only one day old and then we saw him on Skype when he was two days old. All he needs is a Grandma and Grandpa to help rock him in a big rocking chair.
We got back in time to welcome the two new missionaries that came to Cotonou the same day the ones arrived in Lome. They are not brand new, having been in Africa a couple of months now. Elder Halvorsen is from Washington State and Elder Ghisquiere is from France. We are really glad to have them here and it brings our count up to 10 elders in Cotonou and another 10 in Lome. Ironically, we also have the same makeup in each city — 5 from Cote d’Ivorie, 4 from the US and 1 from France. I don’t know if President Ayekoue planned that or not but that is the way it turned out.
We have mentioned that it is absolutely essential to have a good sense of humor here in West Africa, and another music story is applicable for the 4th of July. We had a nice baptism in Cotonou on Saturday, July 4 for three people. Elder Ahoutou was playing the prelude music before the baptism. He is really getting quite good on the keyboard having practiced quite a lot since he came to Cotonou. Of course, we and the American elders were thinking a little about our hometown celebrations and patriotic songs, when the prelude music turned to “Joy to the World.” If you stop and think about it, a baptism is certainly a joyous occasion. After the baptism, all of the missionaries came over to our apartment for a little Fourth of July celebration. We had hamburgers and French fries and 7-Up floats. Root Beer is not even heard of over here so we had to substitute 7-Up for the root beer. We put some Mormon Tabernacle Choir patriotic music in the computer to put us in the right spirit. All we needed to hear was “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, born on the fourth of July.” Everyone had a great time even without fireworks.