Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 26, 2013- SLOOOOOWWWWW Cyber

Hello everyone!  Another week has come and gone.  As of todays post, we have a mere 128 days until the expected release of Elder Gundersen...but who's counting?  The cyber was really slow and Elder Gundersen didn't have too much to say.  I was still getting random emails saying I wasn't paying attention to him at 7 p.m. that night!...Pretty sure he was offline by then!

Elder Gundersen is alive and well this week.  He is enjoying his companion because "he is really cool".  He loves the apartment and he is really happy in this area.  He still doesn't really love the food, he's finally just gotten used to it. He has found a few things that he would like to make for us at home- Looking forward to that!

This week, he drove a moto!  He went really slow because he had a member with him on the back of the moto- Like Moped slow!  He still doesn't think he wants to get a moto when he gets home though.  He says he has other priorities like finding a job and going to school.  At least he has his priorities straight.

We visited about possible future trips to Europe and I mentioned that we needed to go to France and visit Normandy and Elder Lemaire when he gets home.  He told me that Elder Lemaire wants to come visit us in Utah.  How awesome is that?  I can't wait to have the two biggest, most ruthless button pushers under one roof just for my entertainment! 

I told him the fair was pretty boring this year.  He replied that the fair is NEVER boring.  He enjoyed hearing how the kids did with the lambs. We sent him lots of pictures of the fair per his request.  I hope it was fun to see the pictures and that it didn't make him more homesick.  GOOD NEWS...he finally got the last package that Grandma sent.  (Thanks Grandma!)

I am still being blessed with pictures of Elder Gundersen from Bleck.  I love that kid!  I cannot thank him enough for these tender mercies he sends each week. 

Elder Gundersen "fanning the flames of his faith"!

Demonstration on how to properly move the fan by a helpful young lady.  Can you imagine cooking like this all the time?  I am so grateful for my beautiful kitchen and all it's modern amenities!
EBA (Cassava Porridge)
2 TB Red Palm Oil
3 C Water (can substitute 1 C chicken stock for 1 C water)
1 1/2 C gari or cassava meal
Place oil and water in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Slowly drizzle the gari into the boiling water stirring constantly.  Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until the eba has a firm consistency.  Serve hot with soups or stews- to be eaten with the fingers.
1 lb fresh okra
2 medium tomatoes- peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 habanero pepper- poked with a fork
1 C water
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and top okra, discard any blemished or hard pods.  Place okra, tomatoes, pepper and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and simmer, covered for about 10 minutes or until the okra is fork tender.  Remove the pepper when the heat level in the dish is to your liking.  Season with salt and pepper and serve over eba, pate, or fufu. 
Thanks to all for your love, prayers and support!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 19, 2013- Helping Hands!

Hello Everyone!

Sorry about the late post- Elder Gundersen had a slow connection at the cyber yesterday and I was still getting email from him after 7:00 p.m. last night. This is Africa!

Bleck sent me a few pictures this week of Elder Gundersen's last few days in Togo.  Elder Gundersen told me to enjoy all the pictures that I had received thus far because he didn't plan on sending me any more anytime soon.  Such a button pusher!

Posing for pictures the final days in Togo.

A friendly card game.

I hope his hair grows back when we get him home and eating lots of protein!

Wonder what he's doing playing with matches?

Also pictured- Elder Lemaire and Karen, Bleck's sister.

I lovingly stole this picture from Michelle Layton- it's from zone conference a few weeks ago.
Elder Gundersen made it safely to Benin on Wednesday and is in Fidjrosse.  Bleck said it was a difficult goodbye.  He now has a companion from Ghana and says he's a great guy.  In typical Hunter style, I have no idea what his companion's name is!  Elder Milambo is also in the apartment- he will be leaving the mission on September 12th.  Elder Milambo's companion is Elder Lynch from Scotland.  Elder Lynch is the one who took Elder Gundersen's boots to him when he went to the mission.  Elder Gundersen says he likes Elder Lynch a lot. 

This last Saturday, the mission participated in a Mormon Helping Hands service project.  I was lucky enough to get a few pictures of the event from a member in Benin. Elder Gundersen is the one wearing the plaid shirt.  He says that they worked to clear a field.  I asked what they were clearing the field for, for a new building?, a park?  Elder Gundersen said that they cleared the field to let it grow back so that they could clear it again next year!  He's such a card.  He said that they all worked really hard to clear the field and that there was media coverage as well.  How cool is that?

Sometimes I feel like these pictures are a bit like "Where's Waldo?"
"Where's Hunter?"!

Elder Gundersen just standing around! Haha!

Elder Baird is to his right.

In other news this week, he went into a store and actually found real ham!  He didn't purchase any though because it was $36.00 a kilo! Holy Guacamole!  That must be some really good ham!  He said that so far he has not found any really good places to eat (like Akif's) in the new area.  He does like his apartment though- he says that it is really a nice little apartment and that it is very near the ocean.  He misses home quite a bit this week.  It's the week of the Box Elder County fair and rodeo and Elder Gundersen has always loved the fair.  He should feel right at home in Africa though- the following is a quote from Elder Bailey Shaffer's blog from July 2011-
"This week was Pres. Weed's first trip to Togo...and he drove.  That doesn't sound like much, cause it's just a 3 hour drive.  You need to remember that the traffic here is nuts.  It's like trying to get out of the parking lot at the BE County Fair Grounds after the rodeo...all of the time!  It keeps you on your toes.  We saw a couple semis that had been over turned and a few moto crashes, but nothing out the of usual."
He expressed concern that so many things will have changed when he gets home.  I assured him that the changes that he would find were good ones.  I told him he now has a queen sized bed to enjoy when he gets home.  He laughed when I told him it had my old black lacquer and high gloss veneer headboard on it.  He asked if he could have light sabers mounted above it and Star Wars sheets just like Howard Walowitz and Sheldon Cooper!  Can you see it now? Only Hunter!
Thanks to all for your continued love and support!  Elder Gundersen will be home before we know it!
137 and counting!

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013- Packing Soon for Fidjrosse

The Cyber was doing goofy things today and I have been getting random emails through the afternoon. I'm still trying to piece our conversation together.  This is Africa!

Inside of a cyber in Togo.

Looks secure, right?  No one would ever look over the makeshift walls!

A few more pictures of the last dinner at Mama's.  Elder G is such a nut!  Remind you of any other pictures from his past?

So, he says he will pack Tuesday night for the transfer on Wednesday.  He had the chance to email for a bit with Elder Manning.  He seemed pretty happy about that. I'm sure they miss each other a lot.  He got a chuckle out of our Sunday Sacrament meeting.  He says that kind of stuff NEVER happens in Africa!  Here's the story...

Picture this...ward conference...full house to the point of opening the overflow curtains.  Stake Presidency on the stand.  We have the opening song, invocation, ward and stake business presented.  We start singing the Sacrament hymn and at the start of the second verse, the Priest at the end of the Sacrament table jumps up on the stand and whispers something to the Counselor of the Bishopric.  He gets up and hurries out.  The Counselor from the Stake sees a problem and gets up and follows him out.  HMMM...We finish the Sacrament hymn and the chorister looks a bit frazzled, she selects another hymn and we start singing it.  About halfway through the second verse, in hurries the Counselor with a Ziploc bag of bread!  They borrowed it from the Ward that follows ours. Seems the one assigned to bring the bread had a momentary slip of memory!  In all my years, I have never seen anything else like it.  About the end of the first hymn most people had figured out what was happening and a small snickering went through the congregation. Luckily by the end of the second song all was under control and the spirit was back.  What a great display for the Stake Presidency!  I am still chuckling.

So, it just goes to show, nothing is perfect. Nor will it be.  We are all just imperfect souls here trying to do our best.  Reminds me of this quote from conference:

I would guess that trying to get the church started in the mission area is very frustrating.  It's hard to teach people a new way of life and thinking after it is so ingrained in a culture.  I hope that our Elders remember this quote when they are dealing with others in the mission.  The new members are more than likely trying so hard to do what is right. They need the imperfect guidance from our amazing Elders and their leaders who are also trying so hard to do things the best they know how to establish the Gospel in the beautiful lands of Africa.  Which leads me to one of the messages from our ward conference- The threefold mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
First, to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;
Secondly, to perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
Thirdly, to redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth.

Seems simple enough, right?

In other Elder G words- he's still scared to get a dirt bike when he gets home. He's afraid that he will hurt himself. He is glad that he will have a queen size bed all to himself when he gets home.  He wanted to know when we would be hosting the Sister missionaries assigned to our ward for dinner. (Guess I better call and get on the schedule!) He loved the pictures of the farm that we sent this week- he misses the farm and Grandpa and the family and his friends. He got a good laugh out of my confusion with all the emails coming out of order and 30 minutes or more after they were sent.  In comment to Greg Madson asking if they have any razors in Africa...he only shaves about once every two or three days. Maybe that frequency will increase with him closer to the President.
Thanks to all for your love and support. Until next week!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 10, 2013-Moving On to Benin

We received word Saturday afternoon from Bleck that Elder Gundersen will be transferred to Benin next Wednesday.  I know that transfers come for a reason, but I have mixed feelings as I have really enjoyed the connection with Bleck and his family.  I love the pictures and videos of Elder G that they have sent and I love even more that they have taken care of Elder G as their own.  I will miss having him near their wonderful family. 

Mama sent me a message this morning. She said she is a little sad that her son Hunter is leaving to Benin next week. She plans to visit him soon as they can go to Benin whenever they choose.  I am grateful to this sweet sister for her kind service to our Elders.  She made sure that they were fed well on Saturday. The following is a video of the meal with all the Elders in the apartment.  It's a bit lengthy, but I know we all love seeing glimpses of our Elders.  So here it is-it's a bit dark and pixelated but loved nonetheless! The other Elders are Elder Lemaire from France, Elder Potter from Utah and Elder Sahue.

Pictures with Love from Togo!