WHERE IS A WALMART WHEN YOU NEED ONE?
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Beginning our week in Togo we awoke to our lovely screechy bird (oh no…now there are two of them), so I will rephrase…our lovely SCREECHY BIRDS. It is apparent why they picked our back yard to camp out as they have an abundant of mangos and papayas to gorge themselves on. In fact the original bird is now so fat we cannot scare it to fly over the fence…it is no longer able to obtain lift off. Anyway, they are our wake up calls. We got ready and headed off to worship in the Tokoin Branch. There was a lovely cool breeze coming through so we decided to sit outside in the open air which also affords us the opportunity to shake hands with all those attending, our favorite thing to do. As the service started we found ourselves surrounded by little ones who found us very amusing. They were quite naughty however and Elder Leavitt had to give them a lesson on being reverent and folding their arms, they eventually got it. Following the service we met with the Zone Leaders for a few minutes and then we headed off to Hedzranowae to pay the missionaries their soutien. We found out that they are still using their air conditioning and that did not bode well with my husband, as they had been told most emphatically not to due to the outrageous cost of electricity. We then stopped by the Souzza Netime Branch to see the missionaries and also pay them their soutien. We reminded all of them today that Tuesday we would be by their apartments early to inspect and for them to be ready. They are excited as the prize is quite nice this time around. Once we were done we headed back to the house to relax for the remainder of the day. We found the temperatures very comfortable today so we took a nap and then got caught up on our scripture study. Marv has committed to read the Book of Mormon, backwards and is really enjoying it. I am reading the Book of Mormon in English and French simultaneously and finding it interesting and hard. Before we retired for the day we called to check on Elder Fontaine and his Diarrhea…all is well so I guess my gesturing in the Pharmacy produced some good medicine.
Monday January 18, 2010
First order of the day is to get the mail and supplies delivered to the missionaries’ apartments. This is their “P” day and they have a sports activity and want to get an early start. (Elder Leavitt and I have now been in the mission field over three months and have never once had a full, uninterrupted “P” day and really don’t ever expect to have one on this mission). Then onto the bank and make sure we have money in the account and then get some cash. While Marv did the banking thing, I walked next door (sort of) to the Ramco Supermarche (different one) to check it out and get some supplies. The store was big and nice and I was basically the only person in there. As I perused the aisles there was some lovely music playing, mostly hymns that we sing but sung by an African choir and I just love their voices. My mind went immediately to the fact that you would NEVER find yourself walking through say Safeway or Albertsons listening to hymns…it would be offensive to most people. I found myself humming and singing along…loved it. I also got all happy when I glanced down on the laundry soap aisle and found a bottle of Tide with Bleach liquid…WOW. I picked it up and then saw it was 11,500cfa ($23.00) so I put it back down…NO WAL-MART PRICING HERE. Suddenly I heard a loud voice say “hey Sue” and realized my husband had caught up with me. We finished up our shopping and then headed over to see my friend from the Tokoin Branch who sits under a Mango tree with her little vegetable stand in order to buy tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and six pineapples for tomorrow. Shortly after coming back President Dieudonne called to say that the Landlady’s daughter of the new Be Apartment had been refused to cash the check we had given her for the rent. Elder Leavitt was livid and asked President Dieudonne to get the particulars. It seemed she had presented the check and HER bank was skeptical as to how she got that much money so they refused to cash it after stamping the check numerous times all over the front and the back. She then took it to our bank to get it cashed and they refused to cash it because it was covered in too many stamps. Then the man at our branch (the one Marv had the run in with) said if Marv would issue a new check and she would bring it right over he would cash it for her. She came to the house and Marv wrote a new check. President Dieudonne and Marv both talked to the manager who said he was there and would wait for her…so away she went. Side Note: We received a call yesterday (Friday 21st) from President Dieudonne stating that the Landlady’s daughter left our house and went directly to the bank as requested (maybe 10 minutes away) to find out that the manager had left for training and the person in charge refused to cash the check because it did not have a correct RID number. We have no idea what that is and neither does our accounting department in Accra. Now when we go back to Togo next Wednesday we start this mess all over again. Back to the journal. Following this we decided to have some lunch and then take some down time. We are buried in paperwork here and I have taken on a project to go through every draw and cupboard in this house and get rid of the mounds upon mounds of paperwork left by various couples that currently has nothing to do with anything. My goal (should a new couple come to work in Togo) is to present them with an orderly efficient environment, but that remains to be seen. We finished up our day with a lovely dinner at a new restaurant in our neighborhood called Lotus (Vietnamese)…it was delicious. One final entry for today. When Marv was visiting with President Dieudonne today, after the lady had left he asked him why he had not disconnected the air conditioner in the Hedzranowae Apartment, he said he had told them they were not to use it ever again and knew they would honor that request. Marv advised that they were still using it and what should we do. He paused, became very thoughtful and then his face brightened and he exclaimed loudly…”I WILL REMOVE THEIR REMOTES”. I thought that was so funny and it made me laugh.
Tuesday January 19, 2010
Woke up early as we need to get out and inspect the apartments early and let the missionaries get on with their day. We started with Hedzranowae. The missionaries were surprised we called so early (why we do not know as we had told them). When we got there their apartment was very clean and organized but they were a mess, sleepy, grumpy, bad attitudes, and a great deal of whining mostly over not being able to use the air conditioner. We had taken two fresh pineapples with us and did a presentation on how to say “welcome” in many languages, but then stated that our favorite was Hawaiian and “Aloha”. So we taught the new West Africans how to say “Aloha” and presented them each with a pineapple, symbol of hospitality…they loved it. We also took time to sit with them and hear their complaints and needs, took pictures and then we left. We felt sad because their apartment was really nice and clean but their attitudes were bad and they were not even dressed and ready. Next stop, Tokoin and what a difference. They had swept, mopped, and polished. They were ready and smiling all dressed in their white shirts and ties and they even had lovely music playing. Again we did our pineapple thing and again they loved it. We met with them, heard their thoughts, took pictures and noted things they needed. Then last stop, New Be Apartment. Again, beautiful and clean, all missionaries dressed and ready to go, great spirit, it was a pleasure to be there. Pineapple presentation again well received by the new missionaries and old ones too. On the way back we decided that it was going to be a tough call as to who would achieve “FIRST PLACE”. When we got done it was the new Be Apartment with Tokoin only ½ point away. Hedzranowae had it all together except themselves. Be outdid Tokoin because it was evident that they had listened to our last Zone Conference message about working as a team and treating each other as a family. They had been planning and setting goals as well as sharing and keeping their environment clean. Tokoin missed that part, but had made significant improvement over last time so they got a second place prize. Be Apartment received 2,500cfa each and a date for Ice Cream when the Leavitt’s return to Togo next week. Accra called and asked Elder Leavitt if he would price a Toyota Corolla in Togo to see if it was easier to just purchase the vehicle locally, instead of transporting from Ghana. They never take into consideration that neither one of us speaks enough French to negotiate, but we went over to the CFAO Motors anyway hopeful that somebody will speak English. Now when you go anywhere here there is ALWAYS a uniformed person who directs you where to park, which is a nice feature except they always make you park in tight spots eliminating an easy exit out of your vehicle. When you are newly arrived you are obedient and do as you are told, but when you have been here a while you park wherever you want to making them mad but now we don’t care. Well we parked in an undesignated area outside the dealership grounds and caused an uproar. Once inside we had a devil of a time finding someone who spoke English but finally a man showed up and then took us outside, walked us through a large service area, out the other side, through an open field and locked gate into another compound, then through another locked gate into a yard full of dirty filthy cars that had just been offloaded from a ship (we think). Finally he looked around and then pointed to a Toyota Corolla covered in filth and muck and said…when do you want it. Well, we said we did not think we did as it was not an automatic and we honestly could not tell the color, year or anything else for that matter. He shrugged his shoulders and said “au revoir” and walked away. I laughed and said to Marv, compare this experience with home and what you go through if you even look sideways at a lot, they are all over you. For the remainder of the day we worked on our individual projects. We did receive an invitation from the American Embassy in Togo to attend a reception next week and work with them on a security council, the date of the event is Wednesday evening. We will have to come back one day earlier than planned but we feel this is important.
Wednesday January 20, 2010
Woke up early to head home, packed and ready to go we made final stops at each apartment to check one last time on the missionaries before heading back to Benin. Our drive was under very, very dusty dirty skies…Hammaton is in full force now. You get lovely cool breezes but the dust in the air is horrendous. On our way into Benin Precious called to say that Pierre had been at the apartment the day before to have the air conditioner serviced and had painted our bedroom for a surprise…OH NO! She was concerned about the smell but we told her we would deal with it. We basically decided to head straight for the house and were hopeful for a nice quiet cool environment, but not to be. Once inside half of our apartment was without power to include the water pump downstairs and, the newly serviced air conditioner is blowing lovely hot air. My husband never gets discouraged but he sank down in a chair and looked at me and basically said…is it too much to ask that maybe just one thing goes right? We called Pierre and he promised to come over with an electrician, I commenced to unpack and Marv tackled the paperwork which needs to be addressed. He is concerned that we are getting low on money in the bank accounts in Togo and Benin and Accra assures us that all deposits have been made, but this is not reflected on the bank statements so…Elder Leavitt is going to commence an audit from day one we arrived. He hates working out of two separate bank accounts and finds it both difficult and frustrating. Pierre showed up just as the air conditioner commenced to work, we found that the power outage in half of the apartment had been caused by a surge which had blown all the lights and, the water pump switch had to be replaced…so after two hours all was well. The bedroom looked nice albeit a bit smelly. Finally we are alone and all is working and organized..we fixed some soup for dinner and then went to bed early.
Thursday January 21, 2010
We rose early to go to the apartments and deliver packages, supplies and mail that had arrived in Togo. We also need to get to the bank and Marv needs to obtain his PIN number so he can check his Benin accounts on line and last but not least we need food and supplies. Pierre announced to us yesterday that the seasons have now changed. Meaning, Hammaton, dust and cooler temperatures are here, when you awake in the morning you would swear that you were under cloudy rainy skies but it is dust, dust, dust. We now have Elder Golden’s schedule for his Mission Tour commencing in Togo on February 1st and it is a doozy…hope we can keep up. We also have to get the Benin visas going for Elders Bertoch, Starita and Geisler. This and anything else that gets thrown at us needs to be attended to. When we arrived at the bank we went to obtain our PIN number to be told we needed to go to another area. We arrived there to be told that they did not know anything about it. We were finally given a young man who was so out of his element and so totally lost as to what to do it was painful to watch. We finally just left our names, phone number and email and told him when he was ready to call us and we would come back. He assured us that all would be complete tomorrow…as we write this…NOTHING! We headed back home as Precious needs to meet with us as well as Geoffrey from Menotin Branch. Geoffrey wanted Elder Leavitt to help as the Menotin Branch has not received any of their LUBA for the last six months. Just got into the house and of course the power went off and stayed off for about two hours. Meetings over, we decided to take a nap….these naps save us these days as this dusty environment is taking its toll. The remainder of the day was a series of phone calls, emails and work but within the confines of our (for the most part) air conditioned apartment it was not bad.
Friday January 22, 2010
We had not really planned to go anywhere today but my husband has decided that he wants to have all the missionaries over to our apartment on Saturday after the baptism so, away we go to get the fixings to do sloppy joes. President Ayekoue also called to advise that he does not want to stay at the Benin Marina and wants reservations for himself and the Goldens at the Novotel Hotel, so we stopped there to make the necessary arrangements. Then on to Eravan for the ingredients, stop at the boulangerie, produce stand and then home. While in Eravan Marv got excited when he found a 10 pack of his razors for his Gillette Turbo until he saw the price…$58.00 NO WALMART PRICING HERE EITHER. Again, we walk in and the power goes off…(I am starting to wonder if I am responsible for this outage). We unpacked and basically just felt tired and lazy. Elder Leavitt did decide to finish his audit and found upon completion that the reason we are always low on funds is that four checks had not been approved and funded totaling about 5m cfa, and that three adjustments needed to be made totaling 2.2m cfa. This should all be resolved by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. We got the sloppy joe mix done and it came out very delicious, and my contribution JELLO, Americans love it…West Africans hate it…”TOO WIGGLY”. Towards the end of the afternoon when we were feeling relatively smug with ourselves that life was looking up, Sister Bailey sends us an email that a Sister Johnson from Accra was looking for us to advise that she is accompanying the Goldens from Accra and needs help with a project she is doing in Togo and Benin compiling the history of the Church in those two areas. We did get the call, I was very up front with her…SORRY BUT NO I cannot make arrangements to ferry her around Togo, set-up appointments for her, find early church members, statistics, places where early church services were held, oldest living members of the church and on, and on, and on. Lovely lady but she needs to know we have no time, we are in the middle of a Mission Tour when she comes, and the biggest problem of all WE DON’T SPEAK FRENCH. My husband also posed the biggest question of all, how is she getting from Togo to Benin, we have one vehicle and with Elder and Sister Leavitt, Elder and Sister Golden and President Ayekoue that just about maxes us out in room. Elder Leavitt’s suggestion was that maybe she schedule this visit when it is not in conjunction with a mission tour and we would be able to make all these arrangements in Benin and Togo and take here anywhere she wanted to go…but she would not hear of that….it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Saturday, January, 23, 2010
Basically our day has been….woke up went and bought bread for the sloppy joe’s, quick stop at the market for other supplies, produce market for veggies then home. Cereal and juice for breakfast, Sister Leavitt made Banana Nut Bread, Elder Leavitt continued with his audit and now we relax until time for the baptism and the missionaries…life is good, we are tired but today we are NOT GOING TO PUSH IT…famous last words…day is not over yet! Now we will tell you “the rest of the story”. When it was time to go to the baptism I, Sister Leavitt just had to listen to my body and say…not today. So, Elder Leavitt said he would run over (it was close) and check to make sure all was ok. I stayed and read some of my scriptures and then got ready for the missionaries. When Elder Leavitt returned he said it was a small baptism of 2 from Menotin but nice. We then readied for our 12 missionaries who soon arrived. We had prepared a HUGE pot of sloppy joe sauce, bought 12 baguettes (bread) fixed buttered corn, had chips and dip and for dessert, jello, with whipped cream, homemade banana nut bread and sliced fresh pineapples (two). When they left the only thing standing was a top from one of the pineapples everything was gone, gone, gone. I guessed they liked it. Now we are getting ready to call it a day…it was a good one.
Marv’s Weekly Observations:
I would never have believed that I would have been able to understand as much of the spoken and written French and still not have one iota of ability to communicate back to them in French. It is like I am living a one sided life with the ability to understand but not to communicate.
Sue’s Weekly Observations:
I loved the music in the Supermarche so much that I went and found the manager (who thankfully spoke good English) and asked him if he sold it. He told me no, but that he had bought from a vendor just down the street and then offered to go down and buy one for me. I was really touched by that.
As I go up and down the little streets I see all kinds of small shops (actually shacks) that provide a small income for the owner. They range anywhere from hairdressers, to food vendors, to selling recharge cards for your cell phone. But the ones I love are the tailors and especially the seamstress who spends untold hours creating lovely things from the amazing African fabric available here. I am fascinated as I watch them iron the project in progress…they use an iron with a removable bottom and place hot charcoal in it in order get a hot press.
Til next week…Elder & Sister Leavitt