Shopping at Socoprix

This morning we went to a place we haven’t visited before.  It’s a warehouse store called Socoprix near the Abidjan Mall.  We needed cases of water for this weeks zone visits.  This was a fun place to shop.  It’s like a huge case lot warehouse where you can buy things in bulk or by the case.  Most items had a 3-5 minimum purchase.   They had a good variety of things found in most small vendor shops–cleaning supplies, canned goods,  and staples like flour, sugar, rice, oats, powdered milk and pastas.

We see COVID-19 billboards all around town, encouraging us to practice good hygiene.  The number of cases in the Ivory Coast is around 15,000 now, with only 100 deaths.  We still wear our masks when we are around others and we wash our hands a lot, just like this sign advises.  Hopefully we’ll all stay safe!

2020-7-29 a Soco Prix (10)

Bendixsens Meet & Greet in Adzope

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (4)

Adzope is one of my favorite areas to visit.  It’s about a 2 hour drive from Abidjan, up into the lush green village areas of Cote d’Ivoire.  It reminds me of where I lived in Nigeria, so for me, it feels like going home.  It feels peaceful to me here and my heart feels welcome and at home.

Here is the entrance to the church building in Adzope.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (5)

As we approached the building, we heard beautiful singing in the back room.  These four beautiful Soeurs and a few Elders were practicing a special musical number, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” with one of the verses in English–a special welcome for the Bendixsens.

Two of these Sisters just arrived last week and they have started their missions here.  They’ve been called to Madagascar and London.  We’re grateful to have them with us for now.  They are beautiful and we love them.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (6)

The others were waiting patiently for our meetings to begin.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (8)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (9)

Our two new Elders are also serving here.  Here’s an interesting piece of information about this Zone right now.  We have 16 Ivorian missionaries serving here right now.  Not one of these 16 was called to serve in the Abidjan East Mission.  Every single one has been called to another country or another mission, but because of COVID and border restrictions, they were not able to travel there.  We are so grateful they are here!

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (10)

Elder Amani taught beautifully about the 4 in Mark chapter 2 who helped the paraplegic man find his way to Jesus.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (11)

John is always taking phone calls from missionaries throughout the mission needing help.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (12)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (13)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (39)

The special musical number.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (17)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (14)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (15)

Our sound equipment goes with us for each conference.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (16)

Pres & Sis Bendixsen introduced themselves to these missionaries and spoke to us about their family and their vision for our mission.  We talked again about leaving Babylon behind us and developing a mission culture of obedience and being the very best we can be.  The missionaries had a chance to ask any questions they had before the conference ended.  Afterwards we had some fun taking photos.  The missionaries were excited to have their picture taken with Pres & Sis Bendixsen.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (18)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (20)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (22)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (24)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (25)

The Adzope Zone

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (27)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (30)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (31)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (33)

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (36)

The more we get to know these good missionaries, the more we love them.

2020-7-30 Adzope Zone (38)

 

Bendixsens Meet & Greet in Abobo

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (2)

There is a chapel in Abobo on a noisy busy street where we met this morning for our 4th Meet & Greet with the Bendixsens.  Abobo is a hub of activity with masses of people.  The traffic here is always horrendous.  But our missionaries are great.

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (3)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (6)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (7)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (8)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (9)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (10)

Pres and Sis Bendixsen were excited to meet this next group of Elders.  We have no Sisters here.

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (48)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (12)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (13)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (15)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (16)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (17)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (19)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (21)

We enjoy watching the missionaries respond to the love they feel pouring out of the Bendixsens.  There is excitement in the air here.

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (22)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (24)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (25)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (28)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (29)

The missionaries haven’t had their smartphones long.  They’re pretty excited to have cameras with them all the time now.

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (37)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (30)

John is always collecting receipts and taking care of the financial reimbursements.

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (32)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (34)

Pres Sossou (First Counselor Mission Presidency) and Elder Kamlemo from Cameroon (who has been here several extra months).

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (35)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (38)

We bring our portable wifi box with us for these meetings.

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (39)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (40)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (42)

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (43)

The Abobo Zone

2020-7-30 Abobo Zone (46)

 

Bendixsens Meet & Greet in Dokui

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (1)

This afternoon we visited this beautiful oasis in Dokui for our next Meet & Greet with the Bendixsens.   The Dokui District recently became a Stake and this is their beautiful building.  A room full of reverent missionaries greeted us here and they were thrilled to meet the Bendixsens.

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (4)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (5)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (6)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (8)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (9)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (12)Here are some of our wonderful Dokui missionaries:

After the meetings we took some pictures with our friends here.

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (21)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (23)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (27)

The Dokui Zone with smiles hidden and exposed.

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (28)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (29)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (30)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (31)

Beautiful friends.  Beautiful faces.

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (35)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (39)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (40)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (42)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (45)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (46)

2020-7-29 Dokui Zone in Dokui (48)

Bendixsens Meet & Greet in Cocody

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (1)

This morning we met with the Cocody Zone at the Cocody Stake Center.  The Bendixsens enjoyed meeting more of our wonderful missionaries.  This is such a fun time for them to finally get to meet each other and look into each other’s faces.

Elder N’cho conducted the meeting.  Elder Amani taught about the 4 who helped bring the paraplegic to Jesus.

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (2)

Sister Bendixsen introduced their family.

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (3)

And President Bendixsen shared his vision and feelings about missionary work.

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (5)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (10)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (11)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (12)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (14)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (15)

Our Cocody Zone

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (16)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (17)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (18)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (19)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (20)

2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (21)

Around the Neighborhood

There are so many interesting things to look at here.  Here are a few from this week:

Towels and a wig drying2020-7-28 Neighborhood (10)

Chickens in transport2020-7-28 Neighborhood (7)

Fish for dinner2020-7-28 Neighborhood (3)

Another batch of laundry finished2020-7-28 Neighborhood (1)

Handwashing station at the mall2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (36)

COVID sign at the mall2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (37)

A large load2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (23)

John transferring money to a missionary2020-7-30 Neighborhood money exchange

Belts, bags and things for sale2020-7-29 Neighborhood

Another wandering sewer2020-7-29 Cocody Zone in Cocody (27)

Mannequins 2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (3)

A Tabaski ram2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (33)

This week is the Tabaski holiday here in West Africa.

This ‘Feast of Sacrifice’ is the most important feast of the Muslim calendar.  This festival is celebrated throughout the Muslim world as a commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice everything for God.

Tabaski lasts for three days and commemorates Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son.  The same story appears in the Bible and is familiar to Jews and Christians. One key difference is that Muslims believe the son was Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament.  According to the Quran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son when a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to make something else as a ‘great sacrifice.’ In the Old Testament, it is a ram that is sacrificed instead of the son.

In Islam, Ishmael is regarded as a prophet and an ancestor of Muhammad.
During the feast, Muslims re-enact Ibrahim’s obedience by sacrificing a cow or ram. The family will eat about a third of the meal a third goes to friends and relatives, and the remaining third is donated to the poor and needy.

 

Bendixsens Meet & Greet in Grand Bassam

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (6)

When you receive a call to preside over a mission, your hearts immediately expand.  For months you wait and prepare and imagine what it will be like to put your arms around the missionaries you will serve with.

That day has finally come for the Bendixsens, but we are living in interesting COVID times and we have to try our best not to touch–not even to shake hands.  We wear masks that hide our smiles.  We have to tell all with our eyes.

Today we began touring the mission with the Bendixsens so they could meet the missionaries in each zone.  This afternoon we traveled to Grand Bassam where this fine group of missionaries waited to welcome our new mission leaders.

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (7)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (8)

Sister Bendixsen told us about their family.

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (10)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (11)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (12)

Elder Amani and Pres Bendixsen taught from Mark 2 about the 4 individuals who lowered the paraplegic through the roof into the room where Jesus was teaching.  Who were they and why did they do that?  How can we be more like they were?

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (13)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (15)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (16)

We also talked about Babylon.  We sand “Ye Elders (and Sisters) of Babylon” and talked about what it means to bid Babylon adieu.  How do we, as missionaries, leave that place behind?  Is it possible to carry a piece of Babylon in our hearts?  Can we leave it and not return?

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (18)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (19)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (9)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (20)

A few photos after the conference:

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (24)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (26)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (28)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (29)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (30)

Group photo:

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (22)

Here’s what was going on outside in the parking lot while we met:

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (1)

2020-7-28 Zone Grand Bassam Meet & Greet (5)

28 July 2020 Abidjan Temple Progress

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (7)

Every day there is progress.  It’s so exciting to watch these men at work, building a House of God.  These men look happy as they work.  They are all busy and they work as a team.  I love holding my camera phone up over the tin walls surrounding the temple to snap a few pictures.  Here’s what I captured today:

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (9)

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (8)

This is the auxiliary building to the south.

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (6)

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (5)

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (3)

I love to see the temple.  I’m going there someday.

2020-7-28 Temple Site progress (1)

 

 

Bendixsen’s First District Meeting in Cocody

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (1)

We had great fun today watching the Bendixsens meet their first batch of missionaries!  We all walked to the Cocody Stake Center this morning for our District Meeting.  There was plenty of time to visit while we waited for someone to come with the key.

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (2)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (3)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (4)

The Bendixsens have been longing to meet their missionaries for a long long time.  It feels like their hearts have been overflowing from afar and now, finally, the meetings have begun.

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (5)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (6)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (8)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (10)

We had a great meeting.  Things are still slower than usual because of COVID, but we’re finding new ways to do things here.  And we have a temple being built in our backyard.  There are great things in store for this neighborhood, this city and this country!

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (11)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (14)

Our Cocody District:

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (15)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (17)

2020-7-28 DM Cocody (18)

 

 

A Baptism in Bamako!

2020-7-26 Baptism Bamako Adeles daughter (2)

Today was a big day for my dear little friend in Bamako!  I was so thrilled to receive these pictures.  We miss our Bamako friends every day and hope to be able to return soon.  The borders to Mali are opening next week.  Our 4 Elders will be returning to Abidjan after that happens.  Three of the 4 are completing their missions.  As soon as things in Mali are more stable, we and other missionaries will return.

2020-7-26 Baptism Bamako Adeles daughter (3)

2020-7-26 Baptism Bamako Adeles daughter (1)

Simply beautiful.  Beautifully pure.

2020-7-26 Baptism Bamako Adeles daughter (4)