Sunday, June 16, 2013

January 7, 2013 Nearing a Year!

This last week I made a countdown block set to count down the last year of Elder G's mission...I know...a bit crazy!

Elder Hunter Gundersen is alive and well this week. He took an excursion with the Eastmonds to Ganvie. He said they enjoyed it and that it looks exactly the same as when he was there last. He has been in the Chez Raphael restaurant that is in the pictures on the link I posted (it's the red building). He did not eat there though. He said that it is not a place I would eat. It doesn't look as kept on the inside as it does on the outside. He said his favorite place to eat in Gbedjromede is called J'adore. It's an Italian place run by natives of the area. He usually gets pizza or a calzone and says it's decent food and pretty clean.

The big news of the week is that Elder Milambo will be moving to the same apartment as he's in. They won't be companions though. The president must've thought that they made a great team in Togo to put them together again...kind of together anyway.

He asked what was in his next package so I sent a picture of the contents. He did his "editing " of the package and sent me to the store. He's just a little spoiled.

I told him about all the new missionaries who are heading to Benin. He said that when new missionaries get to Benin they are in shock and it takes awhile for them to adjust. Some are scared and the environment only makes it harder. His advice was they need to just remember to calm down and get to work. When I asked how long it took him to feel comfortable there, he didn't elaborate. He just reassured me that all is good there now and he's used to the way things are in Benin. Good to know...

No packages again this week and still no Christmas package. Maybe it will get there for his birthday. Cross your fingers. Just a reminder that his birthday is the 15th. If you want to send him birthday wishes next week, message me and I can send you his email address.

Thanks to all for the prayers, letters and support!
Here's a cool link to learn more about the city of Ganvie:

Excursion to Ganvie...courtesy of the Eastmonds

January 1, 2013- District Leader

Elder Hunter Gundersen is alive and well this week. He had a shorter email time and we didn't get to chat much. He got a new companion and Elder G is now a senior companion. His companion is from the Ivory Coast and he says he's a really nice guy.

In other news Elder G is now the district leader. He says it doesn't make him anyone with power. It just means he gets to hold the phone and send the President a bunch of numbers each week.

His Christmas package still hasn't made it to him. Too bad. He saved his Mickey macaroni and cheese and had dinner with Amis on Christmas. He has really enjoyed having the Eastmonds close by. They were planning to have dinner with them last night as well for New Years Eve.

It's still really hot there and the sun is rarely seen due to the dust cloud that continues to hang around. He says you can still get sunburned though.

He was able to withdrawal some money from his account for real meat, (thanks Grandpa) and that he was probably going to have queso for New Years Day...or maybe save it for his birthday.

Happy New Year to all! One to go!
Borrowed from another Elder...who knew Elder G played soccer????  He never mentioned this activity.  Probably didn't want the harassment from family members!

Rains Down in Africa

Here are a few videos and pictures that Elder G sent to us. The rains here are something else!


December 24, 2012- Christmas Eve and Christmas Call

Guess what I got this week? A Christmas card from my missionary! That's what all the Sprite was for!


Hi alive.  I got the big Christmas package you sent and one from Grandma.  I called Wes with the number for our call tomorrow. I got the queso, that was a cool surprise, I don't have chips yet. Of course I already opened the package! Why wouldn't I?

i have to go soon.. i have to go eat at a members house...Have everyone there tomorrow to talk to me. I can't wait. Love you!

So we had a really good call with Elder G on Christmas...worth every single penny!  Sure miss that kid!

Some of the things he said...

Malaria is like having the worst flu feel like you may are thinking that maybe you should go to the hospital and then you think...wait this is Africa.

He misses work and the horses.

He likes having the Eastmonds close's nice to have someone from home that knows grandma and grandpa. They are really nice people.

It was really hard to hang up!

December 17, 2012- Almost Christmas!

Had a great time in Layton at Skyler Wolthoff's report. It's wonderful to hear from these great young men and to socialize with other Moms from the mission.

Good news! Elder Hunter Gundersen is alive and well. I know you were all on the edge of your seats waiting for that news. He is really hot and it makes him tired. At least all the mosquitos have died because of the extreme heat...or so he says. On the upside, the cyber he was at today had air conditioning.

No packages this last week. Cross your fingers that his Christmas package makes it there some time this week. He is feeling the midpoint blues already. He says he's ready for some alone time. To go where he wants when he wants and to eat where he wants would be awesome. People are driving him crazy right now.

I told him I still hadn't put the Mickey tree up yet. He told me that was good because it was ugly anyway...followed by a "ha,ha!" I told him I was going to put it up in his room and send pictures next week. He didn't believe me because there's no one home to carry the tree into his room for me. We will see...

Today he was craving a grilled ham and cheese from the Golden Spike Grill but was likely going to settle for a pb and j for dinner. He said the jam is pretty good because it's from France. It's not the Roadhouse but he says it will do. He says he's getting fat due to the lack of good hard farm work. He weighs about 155 soaking wet. Glad to hear that the weight is coming back. He hasn't had any monkey nuggets this week but says he's had a lot of goat since he's been there. He says goat isn't too bad. I'll pass thanks!

I asked about anything new or funny that happened this last week. He responded that Africa is always the same....nothing changes. It's boring. I find that hard to believe. I asked about the mission split we've heard about. His reply??? Don't believe it until it happens after all it's Africa!

He asked how everyone was doing. He wanted to know about the school shooting in CT. He asked about Sparky and the possibility of an upcoming race. He asked what fun things we had planned to do when he gets home. One big news item...he told me that when he comes home he's planning to fly here in an F-16. That way it will only take a few hours. He continued on and pushed my buttons a bit about the kids, getting a dog and how he planned to pick on me when he gets home. I told him I would promise to have a better sense of humor about his teasing if he promised to give me a hug. "Only at the airport" was his response. I think the heat is getting to his brain.

He is looking forward to the call on Christmas. (So am I!) He mentioned he hoped his Grandparents are all there to talk to them too. Thanks to all for the letters, love, prayers and support. Enjoy the snow!

December 10, 2102- Anxiously Awaiting

This week Elder Hunter Gundersen is once again alive and well. He had the new couple missionaries from Logan Utah over the other night and made beans and rice for them. He's quite the cook I guess. He said they are really nice and that they live in the apartment right in front of his. I think he was super excited to have someone from home (who speaks English) nearby!

He was in good spirits and wanted me to send him several pictures of the new fallen snow and the neighborhood and said he loved seeing all the snow. It's really hot there right now and he said he would love to have a little snow in Africa...just for a few minutes. I would gladly trade him the chilly weather for a few minutes of warmth and sunshine. Anyone know how to arrange that?

He says there are several small plastic Christmas trees around the area for sale but he doesn't know anyone that can actually afford to buy one for their home. He says he still doesn't mind missing putting up all the decorations at home. He is super excited for our phone call on Christmas. He is most excited to talk to Grandpa. He misses working on the farm with him a lot. He says he's put on a bit of weight lately (finally), but says it's all fat and that he misses working hard. He's wanting to throw a few bales and shovel some muck from the stalls. He's a funny kid!

He didn't get any new packages this week and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his Christmas package from home. He will be very surprised to find all the makings for one of his favorite New Years Eve treats tucked lovingly inside. He found out that his companion will be getting a package from his sister who lives in Boise Idaho. I'm glad that he will not be left out of the package receiving for the holiday. It makes me sad that many of the West African Elders do not receive packages from home. I wish I had funds to send all of them something.

Elder Hunter Gundersen sends well wishes to all and thanks everyone for their prayers and letters. Until next week!

Making Bissap!

December 3, 2013- Not Sure Who Was Sending Emails...

So...this week I didn't get the usual "Hi Mom, I'm alive!" email from Elder Hunter Gundersen. So the correspondence I had may or may not have been with him. Although, no one else but Elder Gundersen would've taken the time to harass me about buying a puppy for the twinners...hmmm.

Anyway, he seemed well. The transfers last week didn't affect him or anyone else in the apartment. He is still with ...Elder Rako (an abbreviation) and likes him a lot. It's been really warm there but Monday was nice. It was only about 83 and it had been overcast all day.

Other than that, he only wanted to talk of other things...nothing else about the mission. )0:

He said he's a hungry boy and that he's hoping his treats last until his next package makes it there. He gets to go to the Mission Home on the 24th with the other Benin Elders and they are being treated to a holiday dinner. I guess he will be able to save the Mickey Mac-n-Cheese for another special dinner. He looks forward to spending time with others that speak English. I'm hoping and praying that his Christmas packages make it there in time.

Thanks to all for your prayers, packages and letters to Elder G. He loves you all!
Highlights from his email:
on the 24th we are having all the benin elders get together for christmas and the mission is paying for dinner for everyone. That will be cool.
How is Ginger?
I miss her too... can we get a lab to keep animals away at our house when i get home? you would notice a difference around the place... a lot less skunks and deer eating the grain.
How is my photo book for Christmas coming along? I am excited to have pictures from home. i miss working with wes.
No, I don't have a Christmas tree...Just where would I find a tree here?

November 26, 2012- Just Another Week

hi mom

im still alive. nothing has changed here. and i thought of salsa in a package too. did you like the pictures I sent home with Bush?

So, no lawn in yet? Are you saving it for me? oh man... i really am looking forward to it... i miss real hard work.. i have lost so much muscle here and put on fat. no im  back to the same weight as when i left.
So my comp,
he likes anything.. i ate the tuna you sent today and he yelled at me cause i started putting the juice down the sink and he wanted to drink it. it was sick.  the flash is good... my player wont play wmp files.. so I cant listen to most songs on there... the ravioli was good. Thanks.

So, How did you like Bush? How long did you get to visit with him? I like him a lot. I miss him.

No, I don't remember Ritchie from Chili' shes at the Roadhouse now? if i saw her i would... i have forgotten lots of stuff... i now have a new goal of marrying the hottest waitress at the roadhouse...

im almost 1/2 done. All my friends are getting married. It's weird. Even Adrienne now. Elder Robison? Yeah,  i know him... i have another goal too.. retire at age 50 with 50 million dollars

Yes you are! We are almost to the angel Moroni at the top of our countdown poster!  Any baptisms set up?  Do all adults in Africa dislike their faces photographed? The bissap lady was funny about it.

no baptisms soon... she just didnt think she looked good... i took a picture with her sunday.
pictures dont show what really goes on here.
i miss the snow so much... i want there to be 4 feet at our house when i get home. i am not used to heat.. we dont have a/c here.. and i sweat so bad when i wake up my bed is sopping wet.
Better power lines than in Togo.

New construction in Benin

Daughter of the best bissap maker in Benin.

November 25, 2012 Elder Bush

We were able to go meet this wonderful young man today.  He did a great job speaking. We loved hearing about the good things that happen in the mission.  Hayden had great things to say about Elder Gundersen...and he asked how Grandpa and Sparky were doing.  Thanks Hayden for bringing us home the SD cards.

November 19, 2012-Guess What?

Hi alive.
we ate a monkey

thats a dead frozen monkey we ate... ask tasted like shredded beef... yes i sent him with 2 cards... my comp borrowed one card and ruined it.. hope you can get the pictures...
I got the package you sent, one from grandma and the one Aunt Rayona sent.  Rayona knows how to pack a good package!
So, you asked about the President..hes a good guy.. really smart.. and as far as the rumors of the mission will never happen while im here. Don't believe all the rumors that you hear.
As for the other Elders you were asking about...
almost all the other americans are from utah and arizona or idaho... there is a ton. So there's a guy coming from Pennsylvania? Cool. Maybe I will get to meet him. So yeah, the French guy is still in the apartment with me. I plan on not being able to remember how to speak French when I get home. my French now might not be good enough for France.. Going would be like sending a Mexican to Spain.
In the package you sent, i found the flash drive with the Christmas music. no the rats didnt eat it... so will you guys go back to the temple this week? people here will literally save every penny they have for 2-3 years to go and its like 100 miles away.. its really important. Just go as soon as you can.
Love you.
Look what was in the program this last week at church...Too bad he missed it!

November 12, 2012- Glad You Had Fun

Hi Mom...I'm alive.
Could you please send Ranch in the next package?  I got the package from Kris and Jerine and one from grandma.  Tell them all thank you.  I'm on a little early because we have a thing to go to at 4:30.  i see jasper died. he was my favorite to do shut ins for.  I will miss him.
So how was the trip to Europe? 
... did you understand a word when they spoke french... and did you have a translator?
next time you go, if your paying ill translate. i want to go see a few things there but not any time soon. I just want to be home.
if we do it has to leave me a few years of being home... i want to be home for a while. 
ok... the French guy in my apartment lives not too far from Brugge. he says he knows exactly where that building is at. Pretty cool.
Are you going to Elder Manning's farewell? Make sure to tell him hello from me.
i miss the cold.. its too hot here.
Elder Bush is going to be bringing you an SD card. hes from park city... he goes home friday... he is the only reason i stayed here when i started. He helped me keep perspective. he says you can go to his report if you would like and pick it up yourself at his homecoming. he says to add him to facebook and you can find the address there. its elder hayden bush. I like Bush...we get along really well.
So you're heading to the grocery store after vacation today? you would die at a grocery store here... they're little and dirty.
Is it easy to find stuff in your grocery store?
if you want to pay 20 bucks of your 140 for the month on a kilo of chicken
My favorite Elder G quote of the week:
"just put a smile on and be ok with it.. you will grow to enjoy it if you have the right attitude about it."



October 29, 2012- Breaking Rules

Elder Gundersen is still alive and well this week. He was in the best of spirits and said he'd had a great week.

On Saturday, he baptized a 39 year old lady and an eight year old boy. He didn't elaborate too much on their was clear however, that these two people mean very much to him. I cannot wait to hear the stories of all these wonderful people when he gets home.

There was a holiday in Benin and he witnessed the slaughtering of goats. Sounds like a holiday I would choose to miss. He saw his favorite Sister missionary, Sister Leavitt. He adores her! I feel very blessed to have angels like her watching over our missionaries.

Still no packages, President Weed is meeting with the Customs officials this week to see if they can get that little situation straightened out. I'm praying for his success... I would feel bad if Elder Gundersen wasn't able to get his packages.

He asked what I was doing and when I told him "laundry" he was a bit envious that I was using a washer and dryer. As much as I didn't want to do the wash yesterday, it made it easier to bear knowing I wasn't doing it in a bucket.

He is excited for Christmas and is looking forward to his one year mark. He says his companions are all good and that they are having many successes. He had to leave a bit sooner than usual as he was heading to a FHE activity.

Love to all, thanks for the prayers, letters and thoughts.
Here are a few pictures provided by Sister Leavitt
The new building in Togo

Elder Gundersen and Sister Leavitt

October 22, 2012- Debit Card working! Bring on the Sprite!

Elder Hunter Gundersen is still alive this week. He was able to finally use his debit card and was able to purchase some extra food. As a result, he was pretty cheerful today.

One of the first tasks he assigned me was to take money from his account to pay the tab on his tithing that he left in January. He said that it's pretty hard to try and teach the Law of Tithing when that last bit he should've paid before he left gnaws at him. I assured him I would take care of that ASAP.

They're still having a hard time getting packages. He was hoping to have one at the mission home when he visits this week. He's down to the package of Mickey Mac-n-cheese that I sent him in August. He says he's saving that for Christmas dinner in case he doesn't get anymore packages. I hope he gets something before then...mac-n-cheese for Christmas doesn't sound very special... even if it is from Disneyland.

There was a transfer in his apartment and now there's an English speaking Elder from Liberia (I think that's what he said) but he can't remember how to spell his name. Unfortunately, he and Elder Gundersen don't speak the same "English"! He says they all get along great and it's been nice. He met the Semkens last week and says he hasn't seen them since. "I don't get to spend time with the old people.", is what he said. He means this with all due respect. He loves spending time with the older people in his life. He calls them wise and says he learns a lot from them.

Nothing exciting happened this last week in his least nothing he was willing to share. He says he misses Grandpa's dog Ginger and says it would be nice to go get her out every morning and spend some time with her. He misses just being listened to without someone making judgements on his comments.

The work continues and he's doing his best to keep his shoulder to the wheel and to keep a positive outlook in spite of the many challenges. Kind of like Dory says in Finding Nemo..."just keep swimming".

Thanks to all for the thoughts, prayers and emails. He loves you all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

October 15, 2012- Grumpy Boy

I heard from Elder Gundersen today. He is alive still this week. He sent me his new grocery list first thing. They must not be feeding him enough over there.

He was really grumpy today. He is still having troubles with his debit card. Hopefully, I got that taken care of today. That's been an awful mess. Maybe if he can access his account he won't be so cross. He must be feeling quite s...tressed over things. He wouldn't email much more than two or three words at a time.

No new baptisms, he's really anxious about that. He says that the kids love the magic trick we sent and any other little simple trick we can find to send would be great.

Other than that, he didn't have much to say. The Semkens arrived and he says they seem like they are capable of sufficiently spoiling them. Good to hear!

Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers, emails and care packages. He sends his love to all...

What I Did for My Birthday

Elder G LOVES ties...the wilder the better.  He has quite the collection still here at home in his closet.  His Aunt Mindy sent him the most awesome tie ever that she picked up from the DI...It's a 70s vintage for sure.  You will notice it in many of the pictures on the blog.  It's the greyish blue one with orange colored flowers.

I wrote messages on the backs of the ties I sent Elder Gundersen today. He will probably think it's corny but it made me feel better. I'm missing the kid a lot today...

Happy Birthday to me...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

October 08, 2012- Moving Along

hi mom im still alive.. yes i got your package.. the oreo one.. how hard would it be to send otter pops?. thats the only one i got this week. and did wes send an email?... cause if he did i didnt get it.
ya i talk to ryan manning... I told him its pretty freakin crazy here…you wouldn’t believe the things ive seen.
Sister Leavitt sent me a nice email about how you're an awesome missionary and that she loves you to bits!

do you know what city you will be in in belgium and what dates... my favorite member will be in belgium in november... no baptisms
Brussels Nov 3rd through the 9th.  Wes will know for sure.  There are other cities too.  It would be fun to meet up with someone you've met there.

ya shes gonna be in benin then... never mind... so has anything happened at home that nobody wants to tell me? cause im not gonna go moapin around... im a big boy. i didnt hear i was just curious...
Are you working on my picture book? make sure theres a picture of ginger.. I miss ginger…shes my best friend. yes the dog... shes my best friend... she doesnt say dumb stuff and she listens to me. oh... well that will be weird with grandpa moving to town, wont it?. nothing is exciting here anymore. malaria sucked.. i still get tired fast but oh well.

The new couple from Logan isnt here yet. I will miss the Leavitts when they move to Togo…the bbq sauce is fine... you can stop sending deoderent. i have enough for the rest of the mission.

Would you use things like canned ravioli?  I'm trying to fill the box the best I can since it's so expensive to send.  Does Ryan's mom work?  I think I know her at the school.

raviloi would be amazing.. his mom works.. i dont remember what she does but she makes amazing cheesy rolls... im not gonna upload pictures at this cyber... ever.. the computers are not good here. and no wes did not email merice a roni would be awesome

i dont eat rice anymore.. i have avoided rice the last month to be able to eat it from time to time.. i think new ages for missionaries are going to produce more’s good…i sometimes get the church magazines here…just really late.

The girls here were way excited.  Maybe some of the girls your age will go and then you'll have more to choose from when you get back! Ha! Ha!  More missionaries was the goal in all of it. Conference was good.  Wish you could have watched it too. Doesn't it take about a month before you get to see it?  Who usually delivers your mail?  The mission branch leader or the Leavitts?

some of the girls my age are already doin their papers.. the mission is going to eat some of them alive. it takes about a month to get my mail once it’s here and whoever comes over to the appartment or whoever goes to the office brings it.

I found out I never have to get blood drawn again. it lasts for a year. Wes finally emailed me. How’s Ryan doin? i miss the little cuss... why dont the twins write me more?

Cause they're nine. They wrote letters for your package and drew pictures.  Ryan took pictures with his camera for you too.  He was so excited for that.   Wes is supposed to get the wifi on his phone hooked up to the computer so they can email you easy.  It's hard for them to email with the little phone keyboard.

oh... hows grandma and grandpa Peterson? they are awesome.. i love grandma and grandpa... i have gotten a letter every week since the beginning of the mission. i get letters before packages usually.

Ryan and Kate need to write to you more.  Wes will get the wifi fixed this week. I will make sure. 

oh sweet!!! thats gonna be awesome... i was thinkin about a .270 this last week and decided a .308 would be better for elk.

Any more souvenir shopping this last week?

nope i dont buy souvenirs often... i figure the last 2-3 months ill pick up most of it. i miss my friends...

I'm excited for the family sculpture.  Of course you could buy any sculpture and say that's what it meant and I'd never know! LOL! Do you think you'll go back to Togo sometime?  How is Elder Baird doing?

i would assume ill go back to togo sometime.

Did you like Togo better than Benin?  Have you ever met Elder Layton?
i like benin better... yes i know layton... we were in the mtc for a few weeks together but i havent seen him since ive been in Africa.

His mom is really cool.  We had a nice lunch Friday.  Next time we're going to invite Ethan Christensen's Mom Laurie and the other Moms in the area. Are the comps your with now still good?  Are the members treating you good and not feeding you cats? LOL!  I'm sure I would starve to death there!

my comp is cool... the k viller in the apartment is a well a vkiller.. most members treat me well... i dont eat at peoples houses no cats. im really fine here... i heard you asked sister leavitt if i was fine... im used to everything here... im pretty sure i will survive…don’t worry about me.
I just worried a little since you don't want to talk too much about the mission and asked her if that was normal for American missionaries.  She assured me you were doing well and that you're a fantastic missionary (I already knew that part!).

i just dont like to talk about the mission 24/7..i dont like planning and scheduling... getting up early doing laundry by hand... i just dont enjoy the lifestyle here.. i love the people here i just need a break for a few hours a week…that’s all… i miss grandpa a ton.

Totally understandable!  Does that mean you'll like doing laundry in the washer when you get home?  I have a pineapple there a season for it or do you get to eat it year round?

do you like your hands bleeding when you do laundry?... no.. my hands are almost callused... im done talkin about the mission for today i have stopped eating pineapple but you can eat it year round here.
How's the sprite project coming along?  I hope that wasn't a mission question. It wasn't meant to be!
its coming along... its more than just sprite.. but you will find out sooner or later

I'm excited to see what it is.  I can only imagine what creative genius you are applying to this project. Are you planning to Skype for Christmas?

no im not gonna skype...if i can get a good place to do it i can skype but it is hard to find a good connection here…so don’t plan on it.

Well im going to take off…have a good week!
Dreaming of home...