Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Morning rush hour in Cotonou, Benin

Ganvie Fish Market

October 22, 2013- A Day Later!

On Monday, I waited hours to hear from Elder Gundersen. I finally got two brief messages around 8 p.m. his time.  The first was the flight itinerary- I'm glad he has it too, we are all on the same page.  The second message was a quick, "I will write tomorrow I just didn't have time today so we will get on for a while tomorrow afternoon."

Yes! At least I will get some chat time this week.  Tuesday, he was true to his word and sent me a few messages.

He is still alive. The picture from conference, he was not sleeping...he was sick with a stomach ache. He's feeling better now.

Front, left- sick, not asleep!
"Check my account so I can buy stuff. Elder Odonkor says hi. Tell Wes hi because he is not answering me. Zac's baby looks like a baby. I have to go now so tell everyone hi for me and have a good week."
The message to my Mom was a bit more informative...
" dont have much time today i just stopped by to tell everyone i am
alive and that the work is doing well. we are getting a couple married
hopefully by the time i leave they will be baptized. they are a
wonderful family and an answer to your prayers in september about
finding a family. we found them on the 4th of that month. i hope you
have a good week and enjoy the flight plans!!"
It's good to know that he is still working hard in the mission in spite of being ready to come home.
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and support on Elder Gundersen's behalf.  You are loved and appreciated.

October 16, 2013- Travel Papers!

It's official!  Elder Gundersen's flight plans were sent today!  Of course, he made sure that they were sent to WES and not to me.  I had to punch Wes in the arm to make him show me the itinerary.
As of October 16, 2013- this is how many days we now have remaining!
Without making you do the counting yourself, I'll just tell you...
DECEMBER 26th! Woo Hoo!  What a fantastic Christmas present! 

October 14, 2013- Really Trunky

This week we are patiently awaiting the travel papers for Elder Gundersen.  The travel request has been submitted by the mission office and it needs to be approved by the church travel office and then they can purchase the tickets and send notification.  Seems like it should be a fairly quick and simple process.  It feels like it is taking forever.  I will be the first to admit that I am probably more trunky than Elder Gundersen.

Anyway, this week in our chat he did a lot of school planning.  Apparently, it would be very bad if I register him for any art or music classes. Let's math, no arts, no music...what is left to take?  We chatted about laptops for school, cell phones, registering his truck, and all the other things that are important to a returning missionary. It's almost as much work getting things ready for them to come home as it is getting them ready to leave. (It's not a complaint, just a fact. I'm MORE than happy to accommodate!)

This week he finally received his last package that we sent.  He got it without having to pay a crazy amount of customs fees for it. He and Elder Lynch have not had the chance to sample all the candy in the package yet. I told him about the video I posted of the rain water running down the road.  He said that it is hard to believe the amount of water that runs in the road.  "It puts water over the hood of the mission trucks". That has got to be an amazing site to behold with your own eyes.

The mission challenge of the week...trying to get your companion to stop unplugging the fridge every time you leave the apartment.  Guess he thinks he's saving electricity???

Bleck sent a few pictures this week and a video too!  It's so cool to hear Elder G's voice.  Listening to him speak French is a bit odd.

On the bus-

President and Sister Weed
The back of Elder Gundersen's head and Elder Kunz!
The scenery out the window is very pretty.
The video is a bit long and you'll need to turn up the volume on your device.  It's neat to see the apartment and where they meet for church.  I am grateful for are worth 1,000 words, but video and hearing voices is indeed priceless! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rainy Season in Benin- Near Fidjrosse!

This made me smile a bit!  Fidjrosse is where Elder Gundersen is currently serving. 


Discover Togo!

Just sharing a cool video from YouTube about Togo!  It shows the falls at Kpalime and a few other familiar sites!

October 7, 2013- Early at the Cyber!

It was a great surprise to have Elder Gundersen online early this week.  He is alive! 

He had an okay week. He still likes the area and his companion.  The weather in Benin right now is "hot and miserable". It is nice having the ocean breeze on occasion to keep him a bit cool.  He hasn't really cooked to much this week as it is too hot. 

His package has not made it to him yet. Apparently, there are troubles again in customs and they are trying to tax the candy in the package- which they have opened.  Here is a brief explanation sent to families by the mission office of the package troubles-

    " Today when we went to pick up packages at customs we were greeted with a big shock.  This is not surprising since this is where we are.
     Customs told us that if the contents of the package plus the shipping exceeds $100 U S Dollars we will have to pay custom duties on the the amount over $100.  So if the package costs $77.00 to ship the total value of the candies, socks, etc exceed $23.00 then duties have to be paid.  They decide what the value is. They can decide that the announced amount is false.   We didn't get into this discussion because by bringing it up it may give them another idea.  But, if peanut butter costs $3 in the US; the same jar may cost $8 US here. They also informed us that the duties rate on candy and sweets is 50%. To give you an idea, a package full of about 40$ (US) of candy would be charged an additional 38,000 cfa or $76 US dollars.
     Another lady behind us received goods worth $106 for baby clothes (she looked like she was 7,8, 8 1/2 months pregnant.  They wanted to charge her over $200 for those clothes.  They said if you don't pay everything belongs to the state.  So, apparently they will not return the package to the US.  
    We are not sure if they are doing this because of Christmas or not.
     Last year the President had a visit with customs people to see what they could do for us.  So, we will see if he can intervene on our behalf again. "
Pretty crazy stuff!  Well I hope Elder Gundersen gets his package soon and that it's not missing too many treats since this is his final package!  Thanks to Jerine and Kris too for their "package"!
He told Grandma that they have several Amis ready for baptism and that it may take place on Saturday.  He never tells me this stuff so I have to get it from other sources!
Our wonderful Bleck has blessed us with a few pictures of our Elder this week.  I believe that these were taken in Togo when all the missionaries went on a hike in the jungle to see the waterfall at Kpalime` back in May. Contrary to what he told me, he looks like he was having a good time.
On the bus (obviously!) Love the sunglasses...Future highway patrol?

Elder G in a real African jungle!
Well that was pretty much it for Elder G's update this week- (besides he's ready to come home), here is a cool slide show off of YouTube of the Togo area.  Enjoy! 
Thanks for all your love and support!
Since I'm updating on Saturday- we have 83 days left!