Monday, 10 June 2013

the whole family writes: some things we've learned in Benin

1. Way more than 5 people can fit in a car.

2. Cold showers are a very, very good thing.

3. Chickens and goats and cows can live in the city and don't need to be in a pen.

4. Life can go on very well here without electricity when people don't depend on it to heat or cool their homes or for making their food. It is now a surprise when we have power for a full 24 hours.

5. You don't need a big vehicle to transport a fridge. All you need is a motorcycle.

6. Traffic can go on without traffic lights.

7. You don't need toilet paper to go to the bathroom.

8. Houses can be built by the people, not by a construction company, made with things that they find around them.

9. Kids don't need to be fully dressed to be out in public.

10. You don't need a pickup truck to take a table somewhere. All you need is a motorcycle. Same with a TV.

11. Arriving home safely deserves a "thank you, God" for safety on the roads.

12. Solid stools are a good thing.

13. French is very similar to Spanish. French is very different from Spanish. (that was Derek's observation) :)

14. You don't need a huge house or a nice dish set to offer genuine hospitality.

15. People stare at you if you don't dance in church.
people dancing as they bring offering to the front of the church
we were placed on the stage in a place of honour,
where everyone could see every move we did or didn't make during the service
after church yesterday
16. Zoe and Eden can survive a 3.5 hour church service in a language that they don't fully understand (French), with translation into Fon included (most common traditional language).

17. You can carry lots of things on your head. You don't need a car to take heavy loads home. All you need is your head.


  1. Enjoying everyone's fascinating observations and the photo album accompaniment - thank you!
    Just checking on #12 - is that a "sturdy type of raised chair on four legs?" or the "other"? :-) - Marcia

    1. Good question, Marcia. We meant the "other". :) Ah, traveling...

  2. "I wish I could live in that place for a bit." said Megan.
    "Me too. Cause I love Megan." said Erik.

    I love your outfits. Beautiful fabric. Erik saw the photo of you in chruch and asked "Is that you mom?"

    We have so much to learn here in Canada. Thanks for sharing these everyday observations that have so much to teach.

    xo Shauna, Megan and Erik

    1. We love Megan and Erik's comments. :) And that Erik thought I was you.

  3. Hello family,
    That's a great list of things you have learned/observed. It's interesting to compare how we live to how other people in the world live. We have a lot here in Canada, and a lot of rules too.
    How did you feel having everyone looking at you during the church service? You guys looked great in your colourful outfits! Can't wait to see your church dance moves.
    Bethany, Madeline and Amelia

    1. We didn't really like being stared at during the service. It felt kind of like you were on display and everyone was watching to see what you'd do next. It was crazy. Zoe

  4. We really loved this post!!
    It made me think how safety conscious we are all of the time here. I appreciate the way the people there seem to just do it! No big planning - just do it!
    You all look so lovely in those handmade dresses. It was interesting to see all of the colours - so beautiful!!
    I can imagine the entire experience being very humbling.
    Sitting in a place of honour is not something you are probably comfortable with, or being asked to preach, or lead a prayer or a song. But you just did it!
    I can learn something from all of you about thinking less about what mistakes I might make, or worrying about what people think. Just do it! And pray that God is there with you when you do.
    THANK YOU for letting us join along with you in spirit on this journey!!!!