A Worldwide Day of Fasting and Prayer

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We’ve had an excellent day.  Four of the Elders spent the night at our apartment because of the curfew last night, and the rest came to join us for church here this morning.  We planned for church at 9:00 but by 8:30 everyone was here and ready to go.  We had a very nice sacrament meeting. Elder Sorensen conducted. Elder N’cho led the music.

John read this excerpt from the Salt Lake Temple dedication give on 6 April 1893:

“Heavenly Father, when Thy people shall not have the opportunity of entering this holy house to offer their supplications unto Thee, and they are oppressed and in trouble, surrounded by difficulties or assailed by temptation and shall turn their faces towards this Thy holy house and ask Thee for deliverance, for help, for Thy power to be extended in their behalf, we beseech Thee, to look down from Thy holy habitation in mercy and tender compassion upon them, and listen to their cries. Or when the children of Thy people, in years to come, shall be separated, through any cause, from this place, and their hearts shall turn in remembrance of Thy promises to this holy Temple, and they shall cry unto Thee from the depths of their affliction and sorrow to extend relief and deliverance to them, we humbly entreat Thee to Turn Thine ear in mercy to them; hearken to their cries, and grant unto them the blessings for which they ask.”

We talked about that and these interesting times. Then we showed the new First Vision film and everyone shared their testimony of the Restoration.  Then we showed this group the MTC MP Seminar training of teaching the First Vision and talked about how we can share this news. It was nice. I think the Elders really enjoyed a spirit-led conversation and a chance to share their testimonies. This may be their last time here.

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Our meeting lasted 2 hours. Then the other apartment Elders went home and the rest stayed while the 4 Sisters came at 11:00 for our second meeting.

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The second sacrament meeting was just as wonderful as the first.  We shared our testimonies and feelings about the Restoration and the blessings we receive today because of what happened 200 years ago.

After the Sisters walked back to their apartment, all the Elders came back and spent the afternoon watching the new Book of Mormon videos.  It was great to have them here.

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This afternoon we went back to the office to take care of some more finance stuff and preparations for tomorrow.

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Then we took the Elders back to their apartment.

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Tonight we received word that the flight tomorrow WILL HAPPEN.  We have tickets and itineraries for our 7 American Elders!!  We’re really sad to see them go, but so happy for they can get on with their lives and their next assignments.

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Our 3 neighbor Elders came back over when we got home and we celebrated this evening by watching one last movie:  The Other Side of Heaven.

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I think all the pictures I’ve taken of these Elders look the exact same.  They’ve been living in the same clothes for the last week!  They were pretty happy with the flight news that came in this evening.

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I showed the Elders how to find this blog so they can save the photos I’ve been taking.

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It will be a little lonely around here when these American Elders go.  They’ve been excellent neighbors and friends and wonderful missionaries.  We promised each other this evening that we’ll keep in touch in the coming weeks and months.  A lot of good has flowed out of Abidjan this last week.  And a lot of wonderful missionaries have joined us.  The work will go on.  As they exclaimed in the movie we watched tonight, “Hurrah for Israel!”

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Saturday Night with the Lewises

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We all arrived at the apartment this evening hungry.  I threw together a quick meal of scrambled eggs cooked with rice and peppers and some fresh bread that I was grateful I happened to pick up at the store this afternoon.  I’ve missed feeding missionaries.  I have not forgotten how MUCH they eat!

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The other 3 Americans came over.  They had already eaten–Elder Post made them fried rice.  We eat lots of rice and eggs here.

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Elder Sorensen insisted on washing the dishes.  A well-trained son.

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Then we all settled in to watch a mission approved movie:  Coco.  It was delightful!

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Our kids sent us an external drive with movies on it for Christmas.

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I made several batches of popcorn.

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We had a great evening forgetting the cares of the world.  These are exceptional missionaries living through an exceptional time.

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The Assistant’s Apartment

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We made a plan today to invite the waiting missionaries over for the evening to watch a movie at our apartment.  That sounded simple and good.  Then we figured out the logistics of making that happen.  First we had to take the 6 Elders living in the AP’s apartment home from the office to get their stuff.  Elder Bennett and Elder Sorensen have been spending the week there while they wait for their departure.

Staying with us to watch a movie would put us past the 9:00 p.m. curfew, so they’d all have to spent the night–with us and with the other American Elders staying in our building.  That meant we’d need an extra mattress for sleeping and something for dinner tonight.  And each Elder would need his overnight stuff.

While they sorted all of that out, I took a few pictures of their apartment so someday in the future they will look back and remember the good times they spent here.

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A room with a view:

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Laundry:

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Extra beds for Elder Bennett and Elder Gibbons:

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The kitchen:

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The bedrooms:

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The bathroom:

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A study area:

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Closets:

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Missing Elder Tenney:

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Ironing board:

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We offered to wash some shirts tonight in our washing machine.

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Missionary supplies:

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The fearless occupants:

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Heading to our apartment:

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Life Around Us

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Today the trash outside the Mission Office was picked up.

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And here’s a look at the supermarche at Cap Sud today.  We ran over to get some lunch this afternoon.  I picked up a few things here while John and the Elders ordered burgers at Burger King.

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The store today was very crowded and the lines were long.  People aren’t really respecting the 1 meter distancing marked on the floors.  Everyone is stocking up in case this store closes too at some point.

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We brought our food back to the office.  You can’t sit and eat anymore at the mall.  It’s forbidden.

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Wow, a burger has never tasted so good!

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Saturday at the Office, Missionaries Returning to Areas

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Yesterday Pres Binene and the APs worked on a “petite” transfer.  It’s time to get these missionaries more settled and back into their areas.  It looks like our almost 40 Congolese missionaries will be staying here.  The borders are closed.  Today many of them came to the office to collect their luggage that’s been sitting here all week ready to go.  Some are excited.  Some are disappointed.  There are plenty of emotions to go around here.

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We hear more rumblings of flights out of Abidjan next week for our Americans.  The US Embassy is organizing a flight on Tuesday.  We hear the church is working on something too, maybe Monday.

 

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Phone calls came in all day.  John now has 4 phones to keep track of.

We have a new Assistant to the President.  Elder N’cho is from the Ivory Coast and he’ll be serving with Elder Wanani.  He came to us from the Ghana Cape Coast Mission.

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The garage this morning:

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Elders coming to pick up their soutien for their food storage:

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Pres Binene and John making sense of the mission finances:

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Eveque Mel has been transporting missionaries non-stop all week.  He is one of the quiet heroes here.  He is always ready to help, any time of the day, any day of the week.

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Missionaries coming for their luggage:

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Many came today by taxi to get their luggage.

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Soeur Sala is from DR Congo.  Her mission ends next week.  She can’t return to her home because the borders are closed.

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Every franc that goes out of the office must be answered for.

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I wonder what Pres Binene is thinking as he watches his missionaries coming and going.  What an exhausting and emotional time this is for him.

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The garage is emptying.  The American’s cases remain.

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My historian heart always feels sad when I see missionaries leaving behind their planners.  They are full of memories and names of people and places and appointments.

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Oh, what a week it’s been!

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Working to Regulate the Mission

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This morning we gave the Elders our key so they could come by today and do some laundry while we were at the office.  They were happy at the thought of clean clothes and the area rug!

On our way to the office we dropped by the Sister’s apartment to give out some “soutien” or their missionary support allowance.  All of the new missionaries will receive some extra money this month to help them replenish food supplies in the apartments and prepare in case we have to go into lock down here.  We want the missionaries to be prepared with the things they’ll need.

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Then we went to the bank to restock the mission finances.  I waited (guarded the car) while John did that time-consuming transaction.  While I waited outside in the car I watched the street sweeper ladies around me.  Every day there are (mostly) women out in the streets dressed in green, sweeping.  There are sweepers on every street everywhere you go.

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A pineapple juice vendor:

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Then John dropped me at the Cap Sud mall.  I wanted to go to the supermarche to buy some meat for our freezer.  We are trying to stock up too.  I was surprised to find most of the stores and shops closed and very few people in the mall.  It was mid-day.

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People here are responding to the COVID-19 precautions.  Many wear masks and gloves.  Many try to keep a safe distance.

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The food court was cleared out.  You are no longer able to sit and eat.  The French bakery Paul was closed.  Burger King was still grilling, but you had to order take out.

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Here is the Italian restaurant where the Elders had lunch just days ago.  Now it’s also take out only.

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It actually felt a little eerie walking through the almost empty mall.  The grocery store was full of people filling shopping carts.  It felt panicky again, like people were back to stock up on more things.  Earlier this morning we picked up a few things at the Leader Price store–a cart full of dry goods and some cases of bottled water and some chocolate for John.   I’m feeling a bit more prepared now to face whatever comes.  We’ll have food.

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I was able to get some ground beef and bags of frozen chicken, and a few other things.  I’ve been feeling a little nervous about having some provisions in our apartment in case we have to stay at home.  I’m feeling like we have a 3-4 week supply now if we’re careful.

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Back at the office, we helped missionaries coming and going.  It’s feeling like our Congolese missionaries will be staying here in our mission instead of returning home to the Congo.  John worked all afternoon on the soutien and finances, getting money transferred to the new missionaries and getting money put on the cards of those who have been here.  He spent a long time a the money transfer shop.

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Elder Van Duzer has been working non-stop.  On top of everything else, we have a small transfer (or reset of mission areas) happening this evening.  Pres Binene and Elder Wanani worked on that all day.  We’ve had about 35 new Ivorian missionaries arrive this week.

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We hope it won’t be long before our mission is up and running as a normal mission again.  Wow, the disruptions have been huge!  And they’re still happening.  Today we got word that there will be no flight Sunday for the Americans.  Another letdown.  Another day at the office.

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Another Day in Paradise

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Here’s a look at our day in the Mission Office.  We hear there may be a flight for the Americans going out on Sunday.  We’re trying to feel optimistic.  We are wondering if our other African Elders and Sisters will be able to travel to their home countries.  Borders are closed now and there are no flights.  We preparing for Plan B:  keeping them here in the Abidjan East Mission.

We spent the day working on logistics and arrangements for the missionaries staying.  We need to get money for food supplies to them.  Many of the apartments are low on food and it’s getting harder to get out to purchase supplies for the coming weeks.

Yesterday a 9:00 p.m. curfew was set, with shops closing at 6:00.  Today they announced that workers need to be sent home at 2:00 and you cannot drive more than 5 km from your home if you live in Abidjan.  When we finally headed home this evening at about 7:30, the roads were almost empty (amazing!) and the street vendors were gone (unbelievable).

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When we pulled into our parking garage, the 4 Elders living in our building came out to welcome us.  They’ve been in the apartment all day long, waiting for news.  We invited them over to cheer them on.

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Elder Post, Elder Otieno, Elder Larsen and Elder Brown:

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We told them all the news of the world and of Abidjan that we knew.  They enjoyed our area rug most of all.

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Then we enjoyed watching one of the new Book of Mormon videos together.  It was the best evening ever.  We invited them back tomorrow night for more prime time viewing and popcorn.  Tomorrow they plan to wash their clothes.  They only have the clothes they are wearing and one change of missionary clothes.  They’re in good spirits, but a little bored.  We are all hoping the flight Sunday will really happen.  We’re already hearing rumors from the other mission that it may not.  What a roller coaster ride this has been!

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