TIME TO SAY “GOODBYE” AND “HELLO”.
This has been quite a week for Elder and Sister Leavitt. We anticipated it being full and busy but we found it to be more than that. We have seen changes in the Benin Zone, not only with our missionary compliment but changes in our branches as well. We are committed to bring about more changes and hope that as the coming week evolves we will have accomplished more by the end of it. Here is our report for the week past.
Week of July 25 – 31, 2010
We planned to attend the Akpakpa Branch for Sacrament today and then immediately following take Elder Yao and hit the road to Lome, Togo. We realized as the meeting commenced that the branch was upset with the changes in their missionaries. President is pulling all four of their missionaries at one time. Elders Bertoch and Yapo have been a successful companionship and have done some great work for this branch and are loved by the members. Elders Yao and Geisler, likewise…such a hard working team and, again, made many contacts and brought changes into the branch. They were each, in turn, asked to come and bear their testimonies and it was a very spiritual and emotional meeting. Following it was hard to get away as everyone wanted their pictures taken with Elder Yao and, it was a tender goodbye between he and his companion Elder Geisler. As these missionaries work and live together they form a bond and become very close…that is what makes them so successful. The ride over was uneventful and it was good to be out in the country again and see the familiar sights on the way. We pulled into Lome in good time and immediately took Elder Yao to get him something to eat.
We then headed for the Tokoin building to meet up with Elder and Sister Herr who were attending the Be-Kpota meeting. We stayed with them through the meetings and Sister Herr and I attended Relief Society which was conducted not in French but the local dialect…very interesting. The Herr’s then took Elder Yao to his new apartment and companions in Hedzranowae. Elder and Sister Leavitt drove over to the Herr’s home and let ourselves in, unpacked and got comfy. We had a lovely dinner with Elder and Sister Herr and got caught up on the news from Lome and shared the news from Cotonou. We were more than ready for bed and a good night’s rest…tomorrow we head back to Cotonou with missionaries going to Benin and we have an early start planned. Elder Leavitt: Elder Yao who is normally an extremely talkative animated young man was very sedate and quiet as we took him to Togo. You could tell he was missing his companions and members of his branch, already.
The alarm clock went off all too early (5am) but we really need to get on the road and get the missionaries to Benin as we have five of them who need paperwork started for an entry visa into Cote d’Ivorie. We picked up Elder Ghisquiere and Elder Cruz first and then stopped and got Elder Kakou. It was good to see our Lome missionaries again and we told them how much we missed being with them but how glad we are for Elder and Sister Herr. We made really good time over to Benin and even made a side trip to Ouidah for Elder Ghisquiere. The whole time we worked with him in Cotonou he always wanted to visit Ouidah, we realized that this was his absolute last chance and so we made a quick ride through and he really appreciated it. Elder Cruz loved it too and even went and held a snake or two. Once in Benin we took and fed them as they were starving and then dropped them off at their respective apartments. The missionaries were glad to see them and old acquaintances were renewed once again. Finally back at our apartment we were ready to unload and even had a huge delivery from DHL to contend with. It seemed as though we only had time to catch our breath and we had to head out again for our appointment at the Cote d’Ivorie Consulate to get the paperwork in process for Elders Ghisquiere, Bertoch, Starita, Geisler, and Tshibasu. This entails pictures, passports, letters of invitation, copies of passports, copies of flight itineraries and forms to be filled out…it took about two hours total and then we took and delivered them all back to their apartments again. By the time we were all done it was going on 8:00pm before we were able to sit down and have a bowl of cereal and relax. Elder Leavitt: We are excited at the opportunity to have with us again Elder Cruz and his companion Elder Kakou. We knew we were going to be able to work with Elder Cruz since his last area of labor will be Cote d’Ivorie and we have the only Consulate here in Benin for that country and he will need a visa before entering. Sister Leavitt: Our DHL delivery today consisted of the August Liahonas for our missionaries. We laughed as we did not receive the May Liahonna until June, the June was not delivered until the end of July with the July issue. I guess we are making progress getting August actually before August. YEAH!
Today will be a day of getting our regular work done, we were both still very tired from our past few days and decided to take it easy. We also need to get paperwork to Precious today for the visa for Elder Cruz. To say it was a stressful day was an understatement and it more than took a toll on Elder and Sister Leavitt and their usual very amiable relationship. We realize we are missionaries but we are also human beings. I could tell that my husband was in pain with his leg today and I was not handling the environment at all well.
When we got to the apartment it was time for a meeting and re-commitment to honor each other’s private battles and be more sensitive, forgiving and most of all tolerant of each other and of those we interact with. Missionaries MOST DEFINITELY do have bad days, and today was a BAD DAY. Enough said!
Sister Leavitt needs this day to clean the apartment and get laundry caught up. Elder Leavitt needs this day to get caught up on email messages, working funds, couples exchange, and problem solving for projects he is working on for the individual branches. Sister Leavitt cleaned windows, cupboards, shelves, floors etc. Elder Leavitt made spreadsheets, balanced working funds and made a huge dent in a mound of project paperwork. By the end of the day, exhausted but fulfilled, we both felt really good.
Today we ran more errands and then took Elders Starita and Tshibasu to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We wanted to have some alone time with these two as they will leave us on Friday. We have found them to be such hard working missionaries and we are so sorry to see them go…they will be missed greatly in the Menotin Branch. Elder Starita loved his food but Elder Tshibasu (even though he said the Chinese food was good), he said it was not “very good”. This was his first time tasting Chinese food…Elder Tshibasu is from the D.R. Congo. Following lunch we took them home and then headed to our apartment. At 5:00pm we had an appointment with the lawyer to pick up our rental agreement for the new Akpakpa building. When we got there they acted surprised to see us. Elder Leavitt reminded them that they had told us to come. We sat and waited until finally someone called us in.
Bottom line they had not prepared the contract and things got a little confusing. Elder Leavitt usually has Pierre with him but today he was in Ghana so not available. It was a circus trying to communicate to this man who claimed he understood and spoke English. Then the landlady Madame Vierin showed up…someone had called her, so it got even more confusing. Finally we got a contract and ended up taking Madame Vierin, another lady and Tina (the daughter) back to their home. We then hurried over to our appointment at the Gbedjromede chapel for the Public Affairs meeting to discuss the plans for the Helping Hands service project and the “Mighty Change”. Last week we had left the meeting with some definite assignments which were to be reported on this week. Well as confusing as the meeting with the lawyer was…this was more so. They had not listened, they had not done their assignments, we have not moved along with anything one bit (in fact I think we have moved backwards in some areas)…very frustrating. Finally we called it a day and went home to our apartment and YES, another bowl of cereal for dinner. Elder Leavitt: Sister Leavitt seems to feel like we may have taken a step backwards with the Mighty Change however, I think we have taken a step forward unfortunately it is three months too late…we shall see. Sister Leavitt: While sitting in the lawyer’s office another couple came in obviously for an appointment. The lady seemed to be sick with a bad cough so I offered her a cough drop. All of a sudden she came and sat beside me and started to produce out of her handbag pictures of herself taken after some kind of a horrible attack. Her head was all bleeding and beat up, with blood streaming down her face and the back of her head. I did not know what to say…she told me she was attacked by her 44 year old brother.
Today we say goodbye to our six missionaries…this is very hard for us we have grown very attached to these young men…each and every one of them an outstanding missionary. We are proud to have worked and served with them, we will miss them greatly. We got them all to the airport and into the check-in line. We said our goodbyes and wished them luck with their new assignments in Abidjan. Elders Ghisquiere, Starita, Bertoch, Geisler, Tshibasu and Yapo will be great no matter where they serve. I told Sister Bailey they were getting the “cream of the crop”…she agreed. Following the airport we headed to pay phone bills, check mail, then to the Novatel Hotel to make reservations for President Ayekou and Elder Sitati who will be coming in August for a mission tour. Over to DHL to send mail to Accra then back to the airport to check to see if the missionaries were through and at the gate (they were) and check on the status of the flight leaving so we can communicate to Abidjan for their picking them up. We then went into Eravan to do some shopping and treated ourselves to some chocolate croissants. Then we drove over to the Leader Price Supermarche to meet with President Desiree on the lease. One last stop before home, a quick visit to the new apartment to see the progress being made there. Finally we got home and unloaded and decided a quick lunch and then a nap, was in order. The remainder of the day was relaxing until 9:30pm when Elder Leavitt and Elder Cloward headed back to the airport to pick up the four new missionaries coming in. The plane landed on time and they were able to deliver them to their new apartments. We finally got into bed at 1:00am. Elder Leavitt: As we drove away from the airport after watching our missionaries pass out almost every Book of Mormon Sister Leavitt had given them with a challenge to share them with a stranger on their journey.
We looked at each other and found that we both had tears streaming down our faces.
Today we have made a firm pledge to stay in this apartment and do nothing…I am pleased to say we have remained (for the most part) loyal to that pledge and have not gone anywhere, and only done small things as we have wanted to do them.
Til next week….Elder and Sister Leavitt