Sunday, July 18, 2010

OUT OF AFRICA - JULY 11-17, 2010


Dear Journal,
We have most certainly worn more than a few hats this week as we have tackled the tasks set before us. Elder Leavitt most especially has donned more than his share…to mention just a few. Auditor, Real Estate Agent, Trainer, Motivator, Navigator and, most important guardian of Sister Leavitt to keep her sane and safe. Here we go.

Week of Sunday, July 11-17, 2010

Off with a stop at Gbedjromede to deposit some paperwork with the branch president then on to Menotin for Sacrament then finishing up at Akpakpa to conduct an audit. Sister Leavitt visited the Primary and monitored the lesson given and then Relief Society and did likewise. Following church we gave the man visiting from India a ride home as it was starting to pour with rain. Once home we relaxed for the remainder of the day and Sister Leavitt did more work on her primary book. Elder Leavitt: The audit was excellent with the branch clerk prepared and ready. He speaks excellent English as he is from Nigeria so the process was quick. Sister Leavitt: Sister Gbedjannaghi as she taught the Primary lesson had a baby on her back. I knew that she did not have a child of her own that small so I asked her who the baby was. She explained that an investigator was attending church and had her baby who was fussing so, in order for the sister to enjoy her first experience at church, Sister Gbedjannaghi strapped her baby onto her back and took her into Primary. The baby was a contented as could be and fast asleep.

The morning brought another visit to the proposed new Akpakpa church building with more pictures needed for Accra. This time we asked Brother Agassin (Pierre) to come with us so he could survey the work that needed to be done to complete the space.
It was interesting to see how Madame Vierin reacted to Pierre as they met for the first time. Elder Leavitt: One of the problems that you have when you take a West African to translate English to another West African is that you see a real hesitation for them to translate anything that is not a positive. During these negotiations Madame Vierin wanted all her money up front and I was not willing to do that. So we took about an extra hour before I could get Pierre to basically tell her what the terms and conditions would be. What should have been a 15-20 minute meeting ended up to be about 2-1/2 – 3 hours. Sister Leavitt: While taking more pictures I went outside on the balcony and took pictures of the street below. Because of the huge amount of rain the high water ditches that run down the middle of the street had become full. There were about 8-10 young men standing in the water with shovels cleaning the debris out that had been thrown in, so that the water could freely run and drain. It looked to me like a really awful job. It was interesting to watch Elder Leavitt and Pierre as they went and measured every room to get the dimensions for Accra. Pierre came with a tape measure, Elder Leavitt said he would just stride it off. Pierre did not think this would work so Elder Leavitt said, Ok I will stride it off and shout out the measurement and then you measure and we will see how close I am. In every single case Marv was within 1” of Pierre’s measurements. Pierre would smile and shake his head…it make me laugh to watch them.

Marv and Pierre made a return trip to the proposed new Akpakpa chapel today as more negotiations need to take place. Sister Leavitt stayed at the apartment to clean and do laundry. The negotiations with Elder Leavitt and Pierre took an additional two hours before they were done. By the end of the day we had received more and more rain. Brother Agassin told Elder Leavitt that after the 15th the rain will stop…we will see. Elder Leavitt: I took the remainder of this day to prepare for the upcoming audits and work on my working fund for Accra. Sister Leavitt: Call me nuts but I love to clean…cleaning is therapy for me. I feel normal when I scrub a toilet and that’s the truth.

Another day…another trip to the proposed new apartment for Elder Leavitt and Pierre. Today they also got to meet Madame Vierin’s mother. Following the meeting they also stopped by Precious’ shop to pick up the primary book, all finished…it looks good. Other events worth mentioning today, the air conditioner in our bedroom broke (yet again) and Elder Leavitt braved the floods and torrential rain in the late afternoon to go to Menotin for yet another audit. Sister Leavitt stayed in the apartment while the A/C man tried to figure out what went wrong with the unit in the bedroom. Elder Leavitt: It was quite delightful to meet with an older (but not entirely disengaged) party to this transaction. Her mother has a relatively good understanding of business and what it means to advance money and then withhold it from the rents in the future. Madame Vierin seems much more interested in getting the money for a trip to Paris, France with her family, than anything else. The mother, at one point in time told her daughter to stop and not act so stupid.
Sister Leavitt: Today while out and about, Elder Leavitt took the money to Elder Bertoch for his new shoes. He was very proud that he was able to buy from the market two pairs of new shoes for a total price of 20,000cfa ($40.00). I am questioning the quality of the shoes but he is very happy with them, so I will shut up.

Visit to the post office first thing which yielded three packages for Elder Geisler (birthday coming up). Elder Leavitt had decided to do a surprise visit to the Gbedjromede Apartment Elders across the street at 6:30am today. He has been noticing no lights on and wanted to see what was happening. Bottom line only one missionary up and dressed…the others in bed. They got a lecture and I am sure my children reading this will remember their Dad’s admonition for Seminary wake-ups with a loud…”FEET ON THE FLOOR”. Today amongst other things we went to the Bank and picked up more finished primary books. We treated ourselves to lunch out (Festival de Glace). Afternoon brought more work at the apartment and a pre-audit by Elder Leavitt for Gbedjromede. A/C man came back to finish the A/C unit. At 5pm we went to Gbedjromede Chapel for another audit by Elder Leavitt. Sister Leavitt read up on the “Mighty Change” program in preparation for a meeting with public affairs at 7pm. The rain continues to come down in torrential torrents…when will this end? Sister Leavitt: It was interesting noticing the facial expressions as I tried to explain to the public affairs committee that we needed to get this program back on track the way the Africa West Area Presidency envisioned it. Lots of nodding of heads and writing of notes. My husband’s admonition for me to NOT GET INVOLVED beyond giving them information will not fly…if it’s going to happen we will have to be involved to some degree.

This morning Elder Leavitt left early for an 8am meeting with Madame Vierin’s lawyer to go over the lease agreement. He took Pierre with him. The problem was the lawyer did not schedule a meeting for 8am this morning but rather 5pm on Monday night, COMMUNICATION! So, Elder Leavitt returned to the apartment as quickly as he left. All he could say was the lawyer was extremely arrogant and rude and he had to climb four flights of stairs and return back down again and his knee hurt…not a good start to the day. On their way back they delivered Elder Geisler’s three packages to him. Sister Leavitt called Sister Petersen in Accra to get some direction on pioneer costumes for this production…this will be interesting as Sister Leavitt does not sew and does not understand any type of pattern…Carline where are you when I need you? Elder Leavitt made several phone calls to Accra also getting some financial problems solved for Gbedjromede. At 12noon…all things settled we hit the road to Togo to take supplies to the Herr’s. Ride over (under cloudy skies) was uneventful and border crossing very pleasant. When we finally got to Elder and Sister Herr’s house they were not there but we soon found them and joined up with them for a late lunch at Festival de Glace (yummy, yummy crepes sucre for Sister Leavitt). Back to the new house and they have done a wonderful job with putting it together. The four of us sat and talked and talked and talked until after 11pm. I guess we were enjoying having a conversation and actually understanding one another. Elder Leavitt: This morning as Pierre and I were returning home and it was raining cats and dogs I reminded him that he had told me that after the 15th of July there would be no more rain, as the rainy season was over. Without hesitation he said, “You have to blame the French, they think they are in charge of the weather and now, they realize that God is the one in charge of the weather”.

Woke up with sunshine coming in the windows (have not seen that for a while). We packed and quickly said goodbye to Elder and Sister Herr and headed back to Cotonou. We had a good uneventful ride albeit the roads are atrocious because of the rain…lots of ruts and giant pot holes to dodge. On the way in we stopped at our Chinese restaurant for lunch and then headed for the apartment. We were so, so tired. Wouldn’t you know it, the power was off and Pierre had the plumber with him and they had the water pump in pieces servicing it. Pierre thought we were not coming back till Sunday…OH WELL SUCH IS LIFE for the Leavitts.

Till next week….Elder and Sister Leavitt, Le Couple

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