Sunday, August 22, 2010

OUT OF AFRICA Aug 15th - 21st 2010

Attached is our journal from the week past...we hope this finds each of you, our family and friends in good spirits. Remember we love you and we love our work here.

Dad, Mom, Grandma,Grandpa, Marv,Sue

Elder and Sister Leavitt


Dear Journal,

Our (albeit cheesy) clever title this week comes from the fact that yesterday (Saturday August 21st) we participated and completed our All Africa West Humanitarian project entitled HELPING HANDS. The word for hands in French is “mains” and we attracted a lot of attention….now you know the rest of the story.

Here is our week, past.

Week of July August 15-21, 2010

We attended church again in Akpakpa as we have designated the month of August to concentrate our training with them. We are so grateful that we have found them a new building as each week their congregation grows and grows and, by the time Sacrament Meeting is over they are spilling out the doors. Following the services we headed home to spend the remainder of our day preparing for our very busy week.

With a list as long as our arms we headed out early to get all accomplished. Tomorrow we leave early, early, in the morning to drive to Togo to meet up with Elder and Sister Herr and help drive back the Ayekoue’s and Sitati’s. We made the rounds of bill paying, bank, post office and even picked up a package for Elder Halterman from the Airport Postal facility without incident (miracle). Shopping at Erevan for last minute supplies was also achieved. Back at the apartment we spent the remainder of the day catching up on paperwork and projects that needed our attention. Grateful that we were able to accomplish all items on our list we decided an early night would be wise. As Elder Leavitt was walking towards the bedroom his knee locked on him causing excruciating pain. Sister Leavitt helped into the bedroom and into bed. We elevated the leg and he asked her to push gently down on the painful area. A loud cracking sound ensued and painful screams from Elder Leavitt, but then thankfully the knee was working again. We are anxious that this is the second time an incident such as this has occurred and feel strongly that we need to now address it with our area authorities.

We decided to leave for Togo around 7:30am and all night long the rains have been coming down so, the roads are wet and very muddy. The knee is behaving itself today, albeit the pain is now a constant companion for Elder Leavitt. As we drove out of town we hit a giant traffic jam which held us up for a good 45 minutes. Our border crossings were uneventful and quick but we got drenched in the process and that was not fun. By the time we hit Lome, Togo it was close to 11:30am (Togo time). We decided to grab some food at Festival de Glace as Elder Leavitt needs to take some medicine and not on an empty stomach. The restaurant was empty. When the rains come down, the people disappear. It was raining very hard and the roads were flooded. After our meal we decided to head for the Supermarche Ramco downtown but the roads were so very bad we had to turn around and went to the one near the Ecobank. We were able to find just about all we were looking for that we cannot get in Cotonou. It was then about one hour away from the Togo Conference conclusion and so we headed to the Be Apartment where it was taking place. We arrived on a break (which was a good thing) so that we were not a disturbance. The missionaries were glad to see us, and we them.
Elder and Sister Herr, President and Sister Ayekoue and Elder and Sister Sitati were in attendance and Elder Sitati was just getting ready to give the final remarks of the conference. We are meeting the Sitati’s for the first time and quite honestly Elder Sitati was so much younger looking than I imagined. They are from Kenya, and he is a member of the First Quorum of Seventy and the Second Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency. He is very tall and a quiet soft spoken man. Sister Sitati is just about the most humble sister I have ever met and a joy to sit and visit with. Both are converts to the church and share their wonderful conversion story and bear individual testimonies that are very spiritual. As they concluded the conference the spirit was very strong. We greeted them as well as President and Sister Ayekoue and then, with Elder and Sister Herr, left to return back to Togo. The Ayekoue’s and Sitati’s stayed to interview missionaries and will drive later. Sister Herr had packed us a lunch to eat along the way and we were enjoying their company when, just minutes from the Togo/Benin border Sister Herr remembered she did not have either her or Elder Herr’s passports. We quickly pulled over and called Blaise who found them in the house, he then jumped on a moto to head to meet us halfway and brought us the passports. Back we go again this time making it into Cotonou just after dark. We unloaded everything from the truck and headed up to settle in for the night. Today we made the decision to make Doctor Maughan aware of the escalating problems with Elder Leavitt’s knee…it was not a decision made in haste and took the entire ride over to Togo to come to the conclusion that things are getting worse and the pain is becoming unmanageable. We also made Doctor Maughan aware that we had an opportunity of being with our Mission President for the next two days and a member of the Africa West Presidency to discuss the matter. The decision was made to take this to the next level and see what has to be done. Doctor Maughan assured us that we are doing the right thing and it is time to take action.

We woke very early to get ready for today. We start the conference at 8:00am and go til 1:30pm so it will be a long day for all. We are anxious to hear from President and Sister Ayekoue and Elder and Sister Sitati. The missionaries are excited too. The conference started on time but….Sister Ayekoue did not come as she was sick. Sister Herr acknowledged that she did come to the Togo Conference but spent most of the day asleep on one of the missionary’s beds. We were well taught by President Ayekoue however and Sister Sitati. Then the Leavitt’s and Herr’s were asked to contribute their testimonies and a spiritual thought, which of course we did. Elder Sitati taught us well, (between 2-3 hours). He has a wonderful way of involving you in his teaching and urges and encourages participation. All too soon it was over. President and Elder Sitati then started missionary interviews and we all sat and visited. Then Elder Sitati requested an interview with us. We took this opportunity to make him and President aware of our problem and the fact that we were in dialog with Doctor Maughan who has stated that his recommendation to the Africa West Area Presidency was that we return to the U.S. for evaluation and treatment. He is not recommending that anything be done in West Africa. He has further received communication from an Orthopedic Specialist from Salt Lake who feels, (given the description of what is happening), that the tibia which houses the prosthetic knee is fractured and is causing the pain and allowing the prosthetic to move.  Elder Sitati was not aware of the attack/robbery to Elder Leavitt that took place on March 30th of this year which has resulted in causing these problems and was very concerned. He said he would call Dr. Maughan this evening and President Cardon to get further direction. He counseled us to look forward, to be thankful for all we have done to this date…he thanked us for our diligence and service and for our faith in trying to hold it together and finish our assignment here. He said it was time to take care of the problem and of us, he said the Lord will take care of the people we have come to love so much. We left feeling humbled and thankful for his counsel and this lovely man. That evening Elder and Sister Sitati conducted a Fireside for all new converts and investigators which was very well attended. President Ayekoue shared some thoughts. Again, Sister Ayekoue did not come. After the Fireside we were invited to go back to the hotel for dinner with the Ayekoue’s and Sitati’s. We asked that we be excused, we have so much to decide and contemplate and wanted to talk with each other and work things out…they understood. Elder and Sister Herr dropped us off at the apartment and went to dinner. We learned after they returned later that the dinner was one event Sister Ayekoue did show up for. Sorry if this sounds bad but it is our journal and an outlet for feelings and we both feel that she has seriously let her missionaries down this time.

Today everyone leaves. We went to the hotel to say goodbye to the Sitati’s and Ayekoue’s. They were very gracious and shared their love for our missionaries and members alike. Elder Sitati reported to us that in conversation with President Cardon he was in total agreement that we are to return home and get the evaluation and treatment needed for Elder Leavitt, as soon as possible. However, he will not release us as missionaries but wants to keep us as “active”. They are so very concerned about the lack of seniors coming forth to serve (less than 3000 currently serving in the field) and need us (if possible) to return to the field of service. So, we will come home, get the knee taken care of and receive another assignment to finish. We do not know where that will be; President Ayekoue said he and the missionaries will pray us back into West Africa. We were overjoyed with this news…we are not ready to NOT be missionaries…we love the service and YES the blessings we receive. So even with a crippled painful knee, surgery, therapy and whatever, we will wear our badges, remain missionaries and when ready…GO BACK TO WORK IN THE FIELD…HOORAY! After the goodbye’s we had breakfast with the Herr’s and (as we do so well) talked and talked. They will carry the torch for us while we are gone…cannot possibly think of a better couple. They are more than ready…more than capable and more than willing…THEY ARE A TRUE BLESSING TO US. For the remainder of the day, the Herr’s drove back to Togo and we drove around Cotonou and took care of our business then…back to the apartment for some rest.

First stop the bank then the post office and then back to the apartment. We have more rain today and cool temperatures. Elder Leavitt worked on his working fund and had a meeting with Elder Cloward and Elder Gnohohi on our leaving. We organized our minds and made plans so that when the time comes to leave we are leaving with everything in order. We also took this day to come to grips with our situation and mentally prepare our minds for the changes it will bring. Our evaluation and surgery will take place in Salt Lake and physical therapy/healing in Mesa, Arizona. We have Sister Casey living in our home and she has agreed to vacate by October 1st, what a blessing she is. We also sold our vehicles and have no car to drive when we get home so that has to be worked out…so many things, so many emotions.

Well today is the ALL AFRICA HELPING HANDS SERVICE DAY. Cotonou has decided to clean a median strip about 50’ wide running from a roundabout in Gbedjromede to another roundabout (about ½ mile long). As is always the case it is full of trash, weeds etc., well you name it, it is there. We showed up at the Gbedjromede Chapel at 8:30am and our lovely missionaries were there…then members started to show up in droves armed with rakes, brooms, hoes, trash bags, baskets…we had it all. We started about 9:00am and worked until 12:30pm non-stop. When we started it was a filthy mess, when we finished a clean, trash/weed free beautiful addition to any neighborhood. We had local dignitaries come to cheer us on and the mayor even sent a large garbage truck to receive the results of our efforts (I am pretty sure we filled the whole thing). We laughed, took pictures, and just plain had a great time. Elder Leavitt tried to participate but ended up cheering us on out of the window of his truck. We could not have had a better project or have expected a better execution of the project. I have attached a picture of the group at the conclusion. We attracted a lot of attention, (especially Sister Leavitt with the children) so we took this opportunity to stand at the concluding roundabout and sing “How Firm a Foundation”…our audience loved it. The day continued on as we took everyone back to the Gbedjromede Chapel for drinks and hot dogs. That afternoon at 3pm we had a great baptism with six people being baptized. Elder Halterman and two local members did the baptisms…what a great day this has been. With a trip to take Elder Cruz and his apartment elders back to Menotin, we finally hit the apartment at 5pm thankful for a fulfilling day, answers to prayers, and the blessing of serving with some really great missionaries.

PS: With not knowing what will happen this week…this may be our last journal entry for a while. Do not worry, we will make it through and return back to missionary work…we thank you all for your love and friendship.

The attached picture was taken at the conclusion of our service project and just as we had finished singing our song…what a great bunch.
Elder and Sister Leavitt

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