Sunday, May 9, 2010
OUT OF AFRICA MAY 2-8
A bit behind this week but have been very, very busy. Hope this finds you all well and happy...we certainly are doing great. We miss and love you all...thanks for your emails and support. Love and miss our children and grandchildren most of all.
Til next week, we continue to be
Dad,Mom,Grandpa,Grandma, Marv Sue
Elder and Sister Leavitt
Sunday, May 2, 2010
We awoke today under very cloudy skies and to the sound of rain falling. We realized that we had received quite a bit of rain in the night as the streets were flooded. In all the branches today they will show two sessions (their choice) of General Conference, and we are grateful that we have received the DVD’s in both English and French to fill the need. Because Sacrament will not be passed and, due to the fact that we have seen all sessions of the conference, I decided that today I would like to stay in the apartment and get some rest as I am feeling quite worn out. Elder Leavitt wanted to attend the Gbedjromede Branch to make sure the newly baptized (as of yesterday) men from that branch were confirmed and received the priesthood. The Branch President did not want to take care of this but wait a week and Elder Leavitt advised him not to do so. So, Elder Leavitt left and I stayed home. By the end of the day I felt much more rested and Elder Leavitt was able to witness the confirmations and ordinations so it was a good day. We read our scriptures and watched some CES Firesides which we really enjoyed. Towards the end of the day Precious came to stay the night with us as tomorrow, very early we are headed for the village of Azove to deliver food supplies to the Village of Hope Orphanage as donated by our grandson Evan for his Eagle Scout project. We had a nice dinner together, and went to bed early.
Monday May 3, 2010
Well this will be a big day for our grandson Evan, the Village of Hope Orphanage and a very full day for Elder and Sister Leavitt, Elders Dagroue and Kouassi and Precious. We packed a picnic lunch and headed out the door by 6:30am. We were in hopes that the rain did not present muddy impassable roads for us and the drive over would be smooth. It takes about two and a half to three hours to get to the village and we had promised David (the owner) that we would try to be there around 9:00am. The ride over was spectacular as the recent rains had washed everything so fresh and clean and made the vistas quite beautiful. We had documented earlier what a beautiful and interesting drive this was and today was no exception. We were highly entertained by Elder Kousassi who seems to have acquired a harmonica and is in the process of learning how to play it and proceeded to go through the hymn book starting at hymn number one. About hymn number twelve Sister Leavitt could not take any more and asked if anyone minded if she inserted a church CD of songs…there was a resounding…NOT AT ALL. The plan for today is that Sister Leavitt will stay at the Village of Hope orphanage/school and David will accompany the missionaries and Precious into the markets to purchase the supplies. Evan has raised approximately $1,117.62 and (with our input) has given us directions as to how to execute the project and what to purchase. David of the orphanage wants all the money to go to food as they do not currently have enough to feed the children. The $1,177.62 converts to approximately 500,000cfa (Grandpa and Grandma added some to round it off) and that will go a long way towards food supplies. Elder Leavitt will drive to the market but then hide as his big white face will only increase the pricing and hamper the negotiations. So with all plans in place we approached the orphanage right on time. David wanted Precious and the missionaries to see the facility. It was just as humble and meager as we remembered it. We could hear the children in their classrooms singing and participating and that was a good sign. We were thankful for Evan, and that we had chosen to come this day as we saw the two women cooking their one meal. Having run totally out of rice their meal was beans, cooked vines harvested by the children out of the surrounding fields of cassava and a soup to pour over it. While Elder Leavitt and company left for round one of the purchasing process Sister Leavitt camped out under a mango tree and was entertained by a little two year old who was fascinated by her white hands. After about two hours the truck returned loaded to the hilt with rice, beans, salt, and a huge basket of dried fish. David had hoped that we would have enough money to buy the fish as the children just love it. They grind the fish up and add it to just about everything and it gives them a lot of nutrition in their food. The next round started right by the orphanage as negotiations began for garri (a flour like substance made from the yam). Precious took the lead and it became very intense but ended up yielding two giant sacks at a good price. David called over two of the older orphans and they brought a cart and started hauling over to the house. Then the truck left again for round two. Sister Leavitt again stayed and this time was entertained by some of the orphans who came and literally lay on top of the fish basket. When she asked one of the women what they were doing she replied “they are smelling the fish…they love it”. Sister Leavitt thought it smelled absolutely awful but then, Sister Leavitt has never been hungry. Some of the older orphans came back to their home from secondary school and each one, as they passed us three women sitting under the tree “greeted” us with a “bonjour and a bow”, very respectful. Eventually the truck returned again this time bringing salt, sugar, tomato paste, onions, pepper and other spices. The day’s purchases yielded the following:
100 Pounds of Dried Fish
130 Pounds of Beans
800 Pounds of Thai Rice
500 Pounds of Garri
5-Cases of Large Cans Tomato Paste
200 Pounds Sugar
13 Gallons Cooking Oil
9 Pounds Salt
160 Large Onions
Various Assorted Spices
The supplies will provide food for the children for approximately two months allowing them three meals per day. Suffice it to say David and the children were beyond grateful. They held up a sign saying “Merci Beaucoup Evan” and one little girl (my favorite) held his picture so tightly we could not get here to let it go.
Precious and the missionaries loved every minute of it and we all left the Village feeling very blessed and so grateful for Evan who enabled us to do this. Our drive back was uneventful with one stop along the way to eat our picnic lunch. One funny thing was that as we pulled into what we thought was a vacant lot to eat our lunch; all of a sudden two men came out. One proceeded to take the picnic cooler away from Elder Dagrou supposedly to carry it for him (but we actually were not going anywhere) and then it became a tugging match between Elder Dagrou and the man with the cooler. Elder Dagrou won due in large part to the fact that he was starving. We arrived back into Cotonou in good time and dropped everyone off with many thanks for their help and support. We all agreed that it was a most wonderful worthwhile day.
Tuesday May 4, 2010
Today we must get our regular business done having spent yesterday at the orphanage and so we did. For the most part our power in Cotonou has been good but, today it was off for a five hour period which did not make us happy.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Basically a repeat of yesterday except the power behaved. We need to keep on top of things as we have a busy weekend coming up with Zone Conferences. Paid bills, banked, post office and basically stayed focused.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
We will prepare all that we need today for Zone Conference as President arrives tonight. We need to come up with a fun activity on the Book of Mormon (and we did). We have had very cloudy skies so the rainy season is most definitely making an appearance and we are loving the fresh air. We paid more bills and did some grocery shopping…good day.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Up early and out to the hotel to pick up President. Sister Leavitt had not had a good night due to stomach problems. We arrived at the Gbedjromede Branch building in good time and started to set up for conference. The missionaries arrived promptly and we were so proud of them. The conference was great and our activity was very well received. We also acknowledged birthdays with ties which the missionaries loved. We ate our Zone Conference lunch at (where else) the Festival de Glace and then had President take us back to the apartment as he will start missionary interviews and keep the truck. We did receive word from him at lunch that we will be expected to teach and train tomorrow at the Menotin Branch Conference (that was a surprise) so we were glad to get home to prepare. We were absolutely exhausted but remarked what a great day it had been so we hit the bed very early for some much needed rest.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Slept in (oh what luxury) then we both started to prepare for the Menotin Branch conference. President will pick us up around 1:30pm; we will train from 2-4pm and then attend the adult session of the conference from 4pm-6pm. The day was hectic but the training went very well on both our parts. We anguished over how much these members DO NOT KNOW, and how inadequate we feel with no language skills. President is thrilled that we do as much as we do, but we wish we could do so much more. Elder Leavitt had 12 brethren (including two investigators) and Sister Leavitt had five sisters. During the combined adult session all of a sudden we were announced as speakers so we spoke, there is always a surprise at every turn. Following the conference session we waited for President to meet with members and take care of business and then we took and dropped him off at his hotel. We headed home extremely tired but feeling good about our day. We ate cereal for dinner, then packed as we will leave tomorrow for Togo after Menotin’s Branch Conference, to start Zone Conferences there, then went to bed.
Marv’s Weekly Observations:
Oh how the French love to smoke their cigarettes. There is no such thing as “no smoking” here in public area most especially restaurants. It would be nice to be in a nice restaurant, eating your meal without cigarette smoke becoming a part of your menu.
Sue’s Weekly Observations:
Some of you donated money to Evan’s project may we take this opportunity to say “thank you”. Please know that you did a wonderful thing and you made a difference. We hope you enjoy the “Merci Beaucoup” picture.
Til next week…..Elder and Sister Leavitt