April 29, 2013 - Rainy season and "cooler" weather, Gaston and Cherita Baptized


another week has flown by already.  crazy!  it was a good week though.  it has started to cool down as we are entering the large rainy season, which is nice for most of the time.  i have actually got cold a couple of nights.  meaning i turned my fan down for high to medium haha and showers in the mornings are getting tougher.  sometimes the water is really cold when it rains at night.  

our schedule for the days is a little different that most missions i think.  we get up at 6 am, do all the waking up stuff, work out, eat, get ready.  we study until 10 30 counting formation time for the last hour.  then we go out until 12 30 and come back for lunch and language study then leave at 2 30 again.  at night we come back at 8 to eat get ready and go to bed at 10.  it works out good it keeps us out of the heat for the hottest part of the day, but it is not too much come and go because sometimes we are pretty far from the apartement.  we walk a lot i have no idea how much mile wise but a lot.  to get to the old church building from our apartment it is like 20 to 30 minutes walking.  the new building is closer but still not in hedzranawoe.  (ps google earth try to find hedzranawoe marche that is my sector and closeish to where we live. there is not really addresses here at all so couldn't give you anything there sorry).  

thanks for the update about brandon and mitch.  brandon still hasn't replied but that's alright. he will eventually.  is austins email austin.watts@myldsmail.org or something else?  

Charles and the missionaries

charles was a contact we got from somebody.  he is a student at a university wanting to become a history teacher.  he is really smart and loves to learn and really understands what we are talking about.  he is a great missionary too.  he has given us a bunch of contacts.  one of which lidia, his neighbor, is really awesome and i think she is going to love the gospel.  we have had two rendezvous with her and the second one we followed up about prayer that we taught and asked her about it. she said the night after you guys came i went almost directly to bed and had a dream that i was imprisoned somehow, blocked from the things she wanted kinda deal.  it's hard to describe it exactly the way she said it, but then she said someone came and freed me.  it was really cool. we didn't really talk about it much more but it was like she was implying that that was us.  i really think that she will progress, she has some connections already in the church which helps a lot.  but charles is great he says that he wants to learn the gospel like us so he can teach good in church.  he's great.  

also we had two other baptisms this week!!  hurrah.  gaston and cherita, a couple.  they have a little one and a half year old daughter who is so cute.  but so annoying in lessons.  she'll come up and say mama mama until she is forced to respond and then says something like look there's a lizard.  were like yep that's cool.  ten seconds later... mama mama there's some dirt, mama mama i want to eat. mama mama.....ahhhh!  go be cute somewhere else!  but they were excited to get baptized, and want to go to the temple and be together forever as a family.  

i am going to try and send pictures this week so hopefully you can see them all.  the their daughter didn't come to the baptism, so i don't have a picture of her though.  

dad happy birthday this sunday!  i hope you have a great day and that finals at school all work out for you and benjamin too.  for mother's day i'm not sure how things are going to happen.  other missionaries have skyped before, so it's not impossible, but a lot of things have to line up that we haven't heard anything about yet so we'll see but it sounds like around 8pm my time 2 pm there would be best? that or after 8 at the earliest.  i'm sure they will let us know.  

well sorry i'm trying to send pictures here but the computer is being difficult. so i'll try again next week.  I think that is all for this week.  I love you all. :)  
Elder Rybin  

April 22, 2013 - Three dinners in one day! Charles baptized

hey family
how are yall.  i'm doing pretty great.  the weather this week has been faking us out by not raining very much even when it thunders or clouds over, but when it rains it rains, and i haven't even seen the worst yet.  elder hales said that someone told one of the other missionaries at church that they thought that the weather was being weird like this because the Chinese built a machine to mess with the weather..... haha africans..... so crazy i love it.  

i don't have tons of time today because we are late getting here because we were eating at three people's houses this afternoon.  im sooo full.   eating at amis or members houses is like fighting the boss at the end of a video game because they bring out a ridiculously lot of food, and you insult them if you don't eat it all, so you're like ok bring it on and eat and eat and eat.  (most of the time with hands too :) and then you finally finish and then they bring out the rest of the food, which is like doubling what was there, and they are like, you're american, you eat a lot and are fat, its good!  eat.  so you're in your video game, you get to the end and finally just barely beat the boss, but he comes back to life and you have to beat him again with no life!  great analogy i know haha but its true.  i love africans.  they are so weird and crazy and totally different.  

thanks for updating me about the garlicks.  tell brandon that i still want a letter.  i didn't get a chance to make the pancakes this week, because i couldn't find baking powder for awhile, but i made the syrup which was great, with some french toast.  

this week saturday we had another baptism!  his name is charles.  i think i said a little about him last week, but i don't have my camera so i'll have to send pics next week sorry.  he is so awesome.  i taught the sunday school lesson in church yesterday on the law of chastity.  it turned out to be better than i expected, and helped me.  oh!  and the new building that the church built here is officially open and we are moving there on the 5th of may to the church.  our church will start at 9 am instead of 1:30 too.  it will be awesome!!! I'm super excited.  our amis will be able to come soo much easier and it will help us out a lot.  thanks for all your letters (minus benjamin haha) and your stories.  good luck with the end of school.  

love love love.  Elder Rybin

April 15, 2013 - Charles, Tango and questing for new food

hey family
thanks for the letters and telling me what is happening back home.  i love the stories of trina curtis and heather and glad to see that everything is going well with the move of crystal and ryan.   thanks for telling me about john cannon.  can you find a way to get me his email so i can send him a quick note?  thanks.  

i am devastated to hear about the garlicks and i will pray for them.  pass all my love, support and encouragement on to them and their family.  tell brandon to write me back.  i will write him today again.  there is a talk that i absolutely love by elder eyring called "mountains to climb"  that has taught me many things.  one quote: "if the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble". he talks of laying a foundation of faith based on consistent effort to make right choices.  and when this foundation is laid, no mountain, no trial, no burden is too heavy to bear.  he also says that he cannot promise that our trials will be taken or even will seem but a moment or pass with ease but with a foundation of faith all is possible.  its such a great talk, so powerful.  

i think i have mentioned charles already but he is one of our  investigators and if all goes well he should be getting baptized this saturday.  he is super great and loves the message.  he has gotten some of his siblings and neighbors to come and listen and he wants all of them to have a book of mormon.  he accepts and understands so well.  he is really awesome.  he told us the other day that he had been doing a bit of missionary work and talked with his neighbor and we should be going to see them both tonight. he's great.  

also we finally had another lesson with tango, he went on a trip to his village or somewhere to visit his family and was there for a bit, but he is back now and still loves to learn.  he told us that his family had already seen some kind of change in him and he said that its because of the book of mormon and so his sister wanted to get one to read, so he called us up and said can i get another one my sister wants to keep this one, and we were like booh yeah!  it was great.  i am excited to keep teaching him.  

elder hales and i are on a quest to find the perfect fruit salad drink here.  you get one of the big huge mangos, which by the way are straight from heaven and no joke are really huge, but you get one of those and then a pineapple and some bananas a can of spite.  its really good, we are going to try it with some youki, a fruity kind of soda that they have here.  we will perfect it one day.  so i just heard a huge burst of thunder and so i fully expect to get some rain while we go out in a little bit.  just from the bit of sky i can see it doesn't look too bad, but any rain here is a lot, and a lot is really a lot.  it'll be great.  

it rained last night, but i pretty much slept through it all.  that's happened a couple of other times.  i wake up and it feels a little cooler than usual and ill say to elder hales, did it rain, and he can't believe i slept through it because it gets pretty loud.  at least our roof is not metal like most people,  i don't know how they sleep with the rain on the metal roof, it gets really loud.  speaking of food though.  

i asked last week but can you send me the recipe and directions for how to make simple syrup with vanilla flavor and sugar and water, and also your pancake recipe with directions and also an emphasis on what is absolutely necessary in your next letter?  thanks so much, i am starting to get a little creative, and aspiring to recreate some things.  it will be an adventure, and definitely will not be like home, but you just make do here.  its great.

dad we have water in a giant tank already saved up, sister weed is great at keeping everyone healthy, knowledgeable, and safe here.  i think that is all i have for now and wish you all good luck with finals and all that end of school fun.  thanks again for everything.  
love you all so  much!  Elder Rybin

April 8, 2013 - Life in Togo, Hedzranawoe Marche

hello family
hows it going.  this week has been pretty good.  we didn't get to watch conference or listen at all but the Leavitts (the couple in togo) said that the branch might show a few sessions and the missionaries usually get together one monday night and watch priesthood session, but most will probably be off the magazines i guess.  we get the liahona every month so i'm waiting for the conference issue.  kinda a bummer but at least i get to read them.

this is what an average cour looks like. [A cour is a walled compound.] some are bigger more open some smaller more like a hallway but they have little shacks inside of them like that.  i hope you can see good enough.  

that sounds great about crystal and ryan moving.  you'll have to take some pictures of the new house and send them to me when its all done.  and in the mean time good luck staying in cedar hills.  your trip in salt lake sounded like a party and spring break sounded good.  

[Question from home:  You haven't said anything about power outages.  Are they ever a problem?  How long has the power ever been out for you?]
power outages happen pretty frequently but not for very long usually. it'll go out at least every three days, sometimes more frequently. sometimes a couple times a day. the longest it has been out has been only a few hours, that we have noticed at least because we were home.  the water goes out with the power which is the worst part.  it's gone out a few times during my showers, but luckily i was near the end.  just africa.  you make do.  

[Question:  What does Togo sound like?]
togo usually is not super loud.  at night, especially on the weekends, there are some bar type places outdoors that blast some music really loud or church on sunday there are a lot of preacher guys who love to yell into a microphone to teach.  but whenever africans play music they like to listen to it really loud.  my personal favorite example of this is when someone will get some huge speakers and put them on their porch and turn them outward towards the road and then sit right behind them.  they do it so that they can keep them all the way up...africans.  also africans are way too liberal with the use of the car and especially moto horn.  every little thing people are honking all over the place.  its crazy.  sometimes i'm pretty sure they honk for no reason at all, just like honking at random stuff.  

[Questions:  Your hair looks short.  Who cut your hair?  What is your favorite food from Togo that you have eaten so far?  What food have you cooked?]
 yeah elder mrccray cut my hair pretty short before he left.  its too hot here to have even close to long hair.  im not sure what my favorite african thing i've eaten is yet.  we have had some pretty good meals at members houses, but usually at home it's just spaghetti and chicken or rice and chicken with occasional fish.  i cook, though we rotate cooking for once a meal.  oh and go marci's kid!!  thats pretty much how we do it in africa :)  ...just kidding. and guess what!  i found some cinnamon in our cupboard last week and so i made some french toast on saturday morning.  oh my goodness, that was so good.  the africans weren't big fans, just cuz it was different, but elder hales and i were lovin' it!  speaking of which, i want to make some syrup with some vanilla extract that i found too.  how much sugar did you put in with your syrup mom?  will you send me some instructions.  i heard of an elder who found some maple syrup, and i probably could find some in the market but just in case.  also will you send me instructions on how you make your pancakes with some notes about the absolutely essential things, because i'm going to try and make those african style.  we'll see how it goes, but i need a little variety.  

these three pictures are the view from the church second floor. 

the last one is me and my makeshift bench press.  elder mccray made those weights when he came to hedzranawoe.  you kinda get the weights up on your knees then slide your butt off the front of the chair so your crouching and kinda lean/fall back into the chair and get situated with your head out the back and your good to go....africa.  

well that's all for this week.  love you all have a great week in school.  good luck with the end of school everyone, and have a great week.  
loves Elder Rybin

Native languages spoken in Togo and Benin: