Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Joyeux Noel!!

We did the classic abbey road picture going to the temple.... 
we're going to work on getting a better, more organized picture. 
Kind of awkward when people started taking pictures of us 
who weren't from our Branch/Zone!


What a crazy day so far! 

So, our Christmas/P-day extravaganza so far today has been pretty crazy. We tried to do our laundry today at 6:00 AM like we usually do so we avoid the lines. IT WAS JAMMED PACKED! People had been waking up at 4:30 to do their laundry. We just decided to see if we could do it during our free time today because there was no way we were waiting in that mess. Which is where I'm at right now! We decided to do our laundry rather than the Temple walk because everyone who has a P-day on Tuesday was pretty much told they have to make do with what they've got. Good thing I did too! I ended up being able to get one of the computers down here in the laundry room that doesn't have a timer on it and one that we can send pictures on! Since nobody gets to call home, they let every missionary have 20 mins to send an email. Which is great for everyone else, except for those who have P-Day today (since we get shorted 10 minutes). I didn't get many (or any) Christmas pictures however... but pictures are pictures nonetheless! 

So we got to hear some pretty cool things over the past few days. Last night, we had a Nativity fireside (a mix of recounting the Christmas story, singing Christmas songs, special musical numbers and so on). It was really cool and made you think about how humble the Lord's birth really was. Then we watched "A Christmas Carol" (it was kinda weird, from the 60s or 70s) but it was really good! Tonight we get to watch "It's a Wonderful Life"! At least that's one Christmas tradition I get to keep today. 

Today we had a very spiritual devotional. Elder Russell M. Nelson came and spoke to us. I was pretty excited because his Mormon Message (cue the FRO! Embed it!) on how Men's Hearts Will Fail Them. He talked a lot about how we should be enjoying missionary work as the field will be growing so much... they keep calling us the trainers to the new generation of younger missionaries. Thus, we have a big responsibility to show all this new, younger missionaries how do be great missionaries. Hmmm... where have I heard that before... being an example to the younger ones? 

Speaking of younger missionaries, I read about Abe Muldowny (sorry about the spelling!) being in the MTC last Wednesday and was trying to keep an eye out for him. The next day, I was in the bathroom (sorry, I can only recount the truth!) when I heard somebody's voice who sounded very much like him... so I come out of the bathroom, and lo and behold, it was ABE! AHHHH!!!! We were so excited!! Turns out his classroom is on the same floor as mine and he has a very similar schedule to mine, so we see each other at dinner and during gym a lot. We haven't been able to get a picture together yet, but I will definitely do that because VF2 needs to be represented! We talked a lot about being how the old ward was doing, what we had been doing since I moved, etc. etc. Anyway, what are the chances of that happening?! Mongolian and French on the same floor. Crazy stuff, isn't it?

Thanks for all the cool Christmas gifts. I love the pillow! It's pretty heavy but everyone is pretty jealous of it. The watch is pretty cool (the manual is huge and I have no idea how to use most of the functions). The hugeness and toughness of it definitely reeks Africa! And the shirts were... nice... haha just opening five of the same thing is always exciting! But, really it was very nice. And the head shaver thing looks pretty cool... not sure how my hair is going to turn out when I do it myself however... And thanks for all the treats too! We've found that everyone has gotten so much food here, from their parents and friends, that we're forcing people to take our candy and baked goods! So much food! 

We're pretty sure Elder Adam's has narcolepsy because he falls asleep all the time! 
He even admits he has no idea how it happens. Maybe it's a food coma?

The cards were really sweet too! Everyone got like one or two cards, and I had six so my whole district was shooting daggers at me! They were pretty jealous that I got one from Pixie too! Speaking of which, I'll be needing Jon's address to reply back to him. 

Anyway, things at the MTC are going great. Don't have a whole lot of time left (3 weeks or so)... the malaria pills aren't too bad that we got... they'll only burn our esophogus if we don't swallow them correctly so nbd, you know what I'm fro-in? 

So, I just wanted to leave a quick spiritual thought before I get going. We were reading in 1 Nephi about when Nephi sees the vision of Christ's birth and the angel tells him, "Knowest though the Condescension of God?" (Fro, If you could correct that spelling for me, that would be great!). And I've been thinking a lot about that. Christ, a God above all but the Father, came down to have a birth of the most humble means. He was the God that parted the Seas for Moses, allowed the Israelites to cross the Red Sea, and performed so many different miracles in the Old Testament. And this King, came down to be born as a baby in a manger. Not a hospital, not a warm home, not even a warm room... And this was for a being who would perform the most miraculous and most amazing act ever done in the history of the galaxies, the Atonement.

I invite everyone to think about Christ's purpose here on Earth, as that is the gift above all other gifts. Even though we might only think of Easter as being the day of remembering the Atonement, Christmas is the start of Christ's infinite gift to mankind. 

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I love you all and miss you with all my heart. Thank you for the many letters and the kind gifts I've gotten the past few days. I appreciate the support that I've gotten and even though this is my first Christmas away from my family, it is one I'll remember forever.

With Love,

Elder Hawkins

P.S. I hope Christine is doing well! I've been keeping her in my prayers over the past few weeks since I found out. Hoping for a quick recovery!

Oh and a hipster pic of my scriptures for Sienna. Instagram!

Note from the FRO: It was tough not getting a call from our Elder today, but were VERY happy to still get an email!  We are SO excited he gets to see Abe Muldowney whom he grew up with in the Valley Forge 2nd ward before we moved.  They haven't seen each other in a few years, so amazing that they end up on the same floor at the MTC! In reference to the Christmas card from Pixie, our good friend (ok, really, he's part of the family) Jon, wrote him a special card in the voice of Pixie the dog.  And I love that I get personal instructions on embedding videos and correcting spelling!  Oh so Trev.  We also got a handwritten letter in the mail from him on Christmas Eve. He admitted there are a few things he misses this time of year, like the sing-a-long Messiah, "That's one tradition I didn't really think I would miss until I got here." and "All the decorations Fro puts up every year.  I only have the stuff Sienna sent to me, which to be honest is more that enough for me, but doesn't quite compare to the Fro-dazzle!"  He makes me laugh!  But he also said, "I've been so blessed while I've been here at the MTC.  I feel like my testimony in Christ has grown 100x since I got here, which seems crazy since I thought I already had a really strong testimony of Christ before coming. I'm so grateful for this opportunity!" That's my boy.  We love you Trev! Merry Christmas.

Sienna, Pixie, Adele, Keegan....
missing their brother on Christmas morning

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Busy Days!!

Hey everybody!

Season's greetings from Provo, UT once again! Things are going pretty quickly now. It's pretty weird actually, because we have about 29 new missionaries coming into our French zone tomorrow. Now we're kind of like the "seasoned vets" and the role models for the new people. Doesn't feel like we've been here that long but I guess that means our time is getting closer and closer to getting out to Benin! As for as I know, there are supposed to be two Elders coming in tomorrow going to Benin, but there might be 1-2 more.

Speaking of Benin, I've been hearing some pretty crazy things lately. Frère Stiretta served in our mission back when it was part of the Ivory Coast mission (he said he served most of his mission in Benin & Togo though). He's the only teacher here who knows what we're going to experience and he's been so excited for us to go. Although, he has told us about some of the bad things... like having to wash your laundry by hand (so much so your hands start to bleed and you develop blisters! Sweet!) and also no warm showers (not that I was expecting them). He also said that recieving letters and packages in Benin was not a problem, but sending is much more iffy. I guess we'll have to see once I get out there. Anyway, he's super cool and he's been substituting for Frère Portwood since he's on vacation for Christmas... he has some amazing stories and everyone loves them. We're also going to a seminar at 4 PM today about Malaria prevention! We asked Frère Stiretta about it and he's like, yeah... basically everything they tell you doesn't work & is pretty useless. Sooooooo... looking forward to that!

Our P-Day was really cool so far! Usually we go to the Temple in the mornings, but the Temple is closed for the holidays. BUUUUT, we got the chance to clean the Temple this morning! So cool! Our supervisor guy was telling Elder Seidl, Evans, Ihalmo, and I some really cool facts about the Temple and what not. I'll have to share them later, but it was definitely cool to be in the Temple and have a chance to see how it functions. We were there for 3.5 hours, but it definitely didn't feel like it. Anyway... pretty cool stuff.

The French is going great though! My conversational ability is getting better as every day goes by. It's getting to the point where I can naturally start saying things in French without having to translate it first. Definitely in the rudimentary stages of that, but I can tell it's coming! PVLs have been going good. We're doing 3 days this week (one yesterday, tomorrow, and Friday). And I believe that next week we are doing a full week (yikes!). Should be fun! I would use more French in my letters, but with all the capable French speakers, not sure if I would just be embarassing myself! In the letter I got from Fro yesterday, she asked if I was starting to speak like a Frenchman and I can't say that I've gotten quite there yet but people compliment my accent and my ability to read it! Although, my end goal is not to speak like a Frenchman... but an African! Duh!!

But, I just wanted to say how cool it is to be learning French. I see all these Elders learning weird languages that are only spoken by like 3 people on an island in the South Pacific. Then I see the Elders learning Finnish (Elder Ihalmo likes to check up on them every once in a while) and their teacher, who served two full years in Finland, can't even have a full conversation with Elder Ihalmo (apparently Finnish is one of the hardest languages to learn and master). And I think it's a great blessing to be able to be learning French. And as much as (Uncle) John will say otherwise, I really do love French! Ever since I started taking it in high school, I've always wanted to learn it and speak a language that's pretty near and dear to my heart, since I not only lived there as a kid, but also since so much of our family can speak French (not to mention all our Francophone ancestory!). I just feel really blessed to be learning a language as special as French.

So, Christmas is one week away! Coming up quick, huh? Won't lie though... Chirstmas is on P-day... which is a...errrrr...ummmm... blessing? Not really sure because I don't know what our schedule will be looking like on Christmas. Hopefully they don't short us of a P-day next week, but I don't know. I guess if you'll get a letter next week, you'll know! I think, at the very least, they'll let me send a letter home either Monday night or sometime during Wednesday though so don't worry!

Just to answer a few things from Fro's letter... I think I can watch videos and recieve pictures here on my email. Videos might be a little iffy, but pics definitely. I was wondering if you could send me some more music though, we can't listen to any while we're in the MTC, but I really would love to have the Lord's Prayer (Dad showed me it a few years ago, it was with a famous Italian singer... I cannot for the life remember it though). Also, I'm gonna need a bag for my French scriptures (LdM & Bible). I'm not sure if they have any online, but the one's here look pretty cheap. Also, do I still have a pocket Oxford/Hachette dictionary? They don't sell pocket dictionaries here! Oh and, a picture of the Philly temple and my Farewell talk (I think it might be in my church bag or something). That would be great. Also, you asked if there's anything else I needed. Make sure you look at the letters I've sent in the past, especially that first one I sent home with that list!

Okay, well my time is up! I hope everybody is doing great. If I don't get a chance to tell everyone next week, just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Love and miss you all!

Elder Hawkins

John 16:33

P.S. In case Elder Kunz doesn't mention it in his letter to his mom, he's our new district leader! Pretty cool stuff... I think he'll do great!

Note from the FRO: I have to say I've never seen my boy so excited about cleaning for 3.5 hours, I'm glad he had a great experience there! Also, I've been learning a few things about Benin myself from Mom's whose sons have gone before mine. I knew about the hand washing laundry in a bucket and lack of warm showers. I just decided he probably didn't need to know all that until he got there. Especially some of the foods I've seen served....like monkey. Not sure how to explain the canned chicken we're sending him for Christmas. ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Almost a MONTH!!!

Hey everybody!

Can't believe that it's been almost a month! Like I've said before, it feels like I've been here for a year, but it also feels like I just got here yesterday. 

Actually, awesome story just happened to me last night! So, my roommate from BYU last year, Mike, who's going to Kennewick, Washington, Spanish speaking is here at the MTC right now too. He got here a month before I did and I've seen him around but recently I haven't seen him at all. I was getting kinda bummed because we were never able to get a picture together. One night I heard his name get called on the intercom, so I thought maybe he left early or something. So, fast forward to last night and Elder Seidl's name gets called down to the front desk. I'm all like UGH! I just got out of my suit and everything. Because I don't have any sort of long sleeve PJs or P-day clothes, we have to go out in the FREEZING Utah cold to the main building. So, as we go into the building, I go up the stairs and I hear a "Hey, Elder Hawkins!" And lo and behold, it was Mike walking down the stairs past me! He couldn't see my face, but I was wearing my bright orange Flyers shirt and he told me that he thought "there would only be one person in this whole MTC with that shirt!" So, I told him, we had to get a picture ASAP! Then we freaked out because we didn't have a camera, buuuuuuuuuuuut the whole reason Elder Seidl got called down to the front desk was because he lost his camera and we were going to pick it up! So, after we picked it up, we met up in the laundry room to take a few pictures and say goodbye... since he ended up leaving the next day! How lucky is that?? Didn't see him for a few weeks and happen to see him the night before he leaves! I'm going to attach some of the pictures we took! Anyway, I'm really thankful we got the chance to take some pictures together at the MTC. 

 Me and Mike! Wish we coulda been in our suits but I'll take what I can get!

At least we have our tags.

My arm is extended, btw, because that's where Joseph should be! 
Crazy kid! Hope he's having fun at BYU. Tell him we miss him!

Anyway, things at the MTC haven't been too exciting, but the French has been coming along. Elder Seidl and I had a pretty tough time teaching our lessons this week, but we're starting to get more into a groove. I think we're finally starting to get into the swing of things and actually teach good lessons. We also had another PVL last week and it completely failed. I think most of the day, we just forgot that it was PVL because our teachers were speaking a lot of English for some reason! But, we have another one tomorrow and one more on Saturday. Our goal is to work up to two full weeks of PVL within our last three weeks here. That's going to be pretty crazy! I know I can do it, but it's still pretty hard. 

Elder Adams was feeling sad so he went to the 
corner for a bit... haha lol just kidding. 
He's so goofy we were just having some fun!

It's been pretty cold in Utah lately though... we were walking to the Temple for our Sunday walk (we joke around and call it our yard time since it's like the only time we get to have time to just walk around to stop and smell the roses, per se) and it was pretty cold for us African elders! The sisters were like, why don't you have any coats on. Then I promptly replied, "Because we're going to freaking AFRICA!!!!" and then everybody laughed... but it was still cold. It also snowed that Sunday and then yesterday as well and it's super icy here... since we're kind of on the edge of the campus, they don't salt it as much so we were slipping and sliding on our walk back to the residences last night. Everyone keeps saying oh you should enjoy it since this will be your last winter for two years... in my head, I'm thinking... ummmm... I lived in PA for 10 years. I think I've had my fair share haha.

 The district... Sister Hall is the short one! 

So, our new sister came in! Her name is Sister Hall and she's from Vancouver Island, BC. She's going to the New Caledonia mission, apparently, but there's some weird island too that she's going to (it's starts with a V or something). Anyway, she's pretty cool. She's in a trio with Sister Hoar and Allred... they seem to get along well. Although I feel pretty bad for Sis. Hall because she has to pick up French pretty quick since she's essentially three weeks behind us. She honestly knows nothing about French but the resource teachers come in and give her personalized lessons during language study. She'll be a pro by the time we leave (since she leaves three weeks after us and still has to do the 2 weeks of PVL with us) so I'm sure she'll be fine. 

Elder Seidl and I... with the sisters sneaking behind us lol.

Thanks to everyone for all the letters this week! Sienna sent me some pictures of the family, which I'm really glad to have! And thanks for all the stuff Sienna sent too... I'll write to her in a letter and talk to her more personally but I will say... I got a back scratcher so I am happy! :)

As for the shirts, I'm more of a fan of the non-Oxford collar ones (the one's that need collar stays). I bought like 20 collar stays before my mission so the shirts with buttons kind of make those a waste of money. As for the fabric, they both feel fine so feel free to send whichever. Still need to get baptismal clothes so I'll try to get that done within the next few weeks. 

Oh, one last thing before I clock out. The BYU Men's Choir came for our Fireside on Sunday night and it was amazing. When they sang O Holy Night, the Spirit just hit me like a ton of bricks. I absolutely love that song. I'm super bummed that I missed Adele singing it at the ward party, but I'm sure I'll get to hear it when I get back. But, that choir sounds absolutely beautiful. I wish they sang Handel's Messiah chorus because I really miss hearing that. Yeah, it was really awesome to say the least. (Cue the Fro, find videos maybe?)

(Couldn't find a video of the BYU Men's Choir singing O Holy Night...
But I think Trevor would appreciate this one!)

Hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season. Just remember to take a step back and remember what it's all about... if you need help, just sing a Christmas hymn or two. I'm so thankful that I have the chance to be here and spend it with these amazing people, even though I miss being with the whole family (and we definitely don't have a 15 foot Christmas tree here!) The MTC did decorate the trees outside with Christmas lights and it looks really cool. I'm going to try and get a picture of it if I can. 

Miss and love everybody,

Elder Hawkins

We HAD to get the classic coats picture!

Note from the FRO: Nice to know our boy is still recognizable by his undying love for Philly teams! What he didn't mention about Sienna's package and his most prized "back scratcher" is that poor Sie went shopping all over Provo just to find one and then couldn't fit it in the box.  It was partially sticking out when she sent it.  Nice to know it arrived the few blocks to its destination without any mishap!  And I LOVE that he mentions a back scratcher when his own FRO sent him a box of Philly Soft Pretzels and Tastykakes!!!  What?!  *shakes head

Remembering what the season is all about!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Hey Everyone!

So things are going good right now at the MTC. Life has gotten pretty normal now that Thanksgiving is over with, so I have definitely started getting into a groove. Not much has been happening around here though. The MTC is definitely getting smaller and smaller as everybody anticipates all the new missionaries coming in from the announcement in October. They're renovating buildings all over the place and putting new chairs/desks into the classrooms. It was so awesome when we got brand new mesh chairs and huge desks to work on! We had these dinky little desks that were pretty hard to work on, but now we have so much more space! It's kinda sad because we realize how lame it is to get so excited over new desks and chairs, but it was like Christmas came early!
Anyway, I'm doing good now, too. A lot of the French mission elders get to go to San Francisco for a day and pick up their visas, so Elder Kunz is tagging along with us for the day while his comp is in San Fran. Definitely kinda cool, now that the other four Benin elders left this week, we are the 3 left right now. Apparantly there are some more elders supposed to coming a week before Christmas. And that new sister I said was coming last week? She's actually coming tomorrow and is going to some random island (not New Caledonia).
The district has been doing well though. It's really weird to think, but we see each other probably around 10-12 hours a day. Needless to say, there has been some rough spots here and there as people start to get home sick and pet peeves start to get more annoying (don't worry, I've gotten used to my companion singing! I think somebody might have actually told him to cool it down, because he has been much less sing-y the last few days. Thank goodness!) But yeah, we've all been doing well. Our first "Speak Your Language" or "Parlez votre langue" was last Wednesday and I gotta say, it was pretty tough. Not communication wise, but it was just a lot of work, even for just a half day. Thankfully I was able to get through it and it was only half of the day. But, we have another one coming up on Saturday and I think I'll be much more prepared for that one!
So, just to fill some people in, I have TONS of time to write letters home on Tuesday (like 3 or so hours). Last week, I only sent three out but they took me forever to write! I also think I'm going to write a weekly snail mail letter home in case I forget to write something on my email here. So... be expecting that. Also, thanks to everyone for sending DearElders! I love those! Just FYI though, they don't get delievered on Saturday and Sunday, so I won't get to read them until Monday. Not too big of a deal since I can't reply until Tuesday, but just thought I'd say something.
Some more nit gritty stuff... so the Church pays for two checked bags at the airport. Should I buy another bag at the bookstore? Because I will definitely be needing another bag for all my books that I was given here. Also, mom was talking about how some of the moms on the mission forums were saying what to bring and not to bring. What things should I be stocking up on here before I get out there? And I wouldn't mind getting Jared... errr Elder Koncurats address to write to him. Also, Mr. Eberly sent me his email/address so I wouldn't mind writing to him about my French experience thus far.
On Sunday, we had the wonderful opportunity to watch the First Presidency Devotional (cue the Fro: post a link or embed the video to that on my page!). I really loved President Uchtdorf's talk about Christmas not only being the season of giving, but also the season of being a thankful reciever. While we should be trying to give to people out of love, we should also be recieving those gifts out of love. Because if we don't then it can really hurt somebody. So, I liked how he talked about how Christmas is also a time of appreciation. Because really, the gift we should be appreciating the most is the God's gift to us, Jesus Christ.
That reminds me about how much I'm looking forward to the Christmas season this year. Sure I don't have the traditional Christmas music to listen to, the big tree to decorate (I still roll my eyes when I think about that 15ft tree haha), and the parties to go to. Here, I have the opportunity to really focus on Christmas for what it's about. And you know what's even cooler? I get to appreciate that with almost 2000 people here! Our district is doing a little secret santa thing. I happen to have Elder Ihalmo, the funny Finnish elder, and I know exactly what I'm going to get him... a huge American flag! Just kidding! I do have an idea of what I'm going to get him so I'll let you know how it goes when I give it to him. But yeah, I'm really looking forward to Christmas here... if Thanksgiving was any indication and also how spiritual the hymns have been during devotionals/firesides (we have special speakers come every Sunday/Tuesday night), I know that this is going to be one Christmas to remember.
Anyway, I hope everybody just takes some time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas this year. I know everything gets super crazy with finals, parties, decorations, gifts, and food (okay, that I DO miss!!!! Send me a Bouche de Noel and some raclette!). But, if you do reflect on the great gift that was given to mankind over 2000 years ago, I can absolutely guarantee you that you will have a much better Christmas season. I know it's been doing wonders for me just thinking about hymnal music and reflecting on this truly great time of year.
Love everybody and miss you tons,
Elder Hawkins
P.S. Thanks for all the letters this week. I'll be writing letters later today. No pictures today though, sorry! Nothing much to send and the computers down in the laundry room were super crowded. Also, Fro, could you send me a print out of that picture of Christ on the ship that I like a lot? It used to be on my ipad lock screen. Oh, and when will I'll be getting my photo album?? Everyone's been sharing their stuff, so it's really depressing when I can't tell everybody about how awesome everybody back home is! Alright got to go, already went past my time! Ahhh!!! I did hear that in the mission field we will get tons more time to write (like over an hour maybe) Anyway, love you and thanks for the almost daily letters! I love hearing about everybody back home! Good luck with the Christmas party (I know it will be awesome like in VF!). Also can't believe it snowed out there first before here! Everyone's hoping for a white Christmas and I'm like... ugh... I guess I won't have any in Benin though! Okay gotta go! Love you!

Note from the FRO: Sigh, we're working on that photo album....my fault, his Aunt has been waiting for me to upload pics. If anyone has pictures to add to it, you know, so he can refer to you as "awesome", please email them to me, or post them on Elder Hawkins' facebook page.  Also, thank you THANK YOU for those of you who have written to our Elder.  Please keep it up!  For those of you who haven't yet, please do.  You will get a nice long letter back in return....and, he actually has legible handwriting.  Bonus!

As per my instructions, here's the First Presidency Devotional for you all to watch.  A fantastic way to kick off the season. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yo, yo, yo everyone!

 Our District

Hey everyone!

Well, week 2 of the MTC has finally come and gone (well, officially after tomorrow but still faster than I thought it would go!). There's an old saying here that the days go slow but the weeks go by fast here, which is pretty much true (but, it's not too big of a deal for me since things have been going pretty well and I haven't been too homesick!) 

Thanksgiving was really cool though. The food was, ehh... umm... MTC food so not amazing but everything else was! I know Mom's gonna be so jealous when I saw that Elder Jeffery R. Holland came and spoke to us Thanksgiving morning! He gave an AWESOME talk, it was mostly about how big missionary work is becoming with the new announcement (apparently, it's going to start spiking in mid-December with all the new people... then President Brown, the MTC mission president, sat with us for lunch and dinner one day and gave us the low down). Anyway, he was really encouraging and talked about things that we might not have thought about being thankful for before. A few of his grandkids (how cool would that be!?) and his wife gave talks too and there was a really great spirit throughout the meeting (throughout the day really). We also made these medical emergency kits and educational kits for kids in Mali (everyone piled up in the gym and we made over 3000 care packages or so. It was pretty cool!) At the end of the day, the MTC presidency surprised everybody with a movie (17 Miracles) and gave everyone big bags of kettle corn. It was a really cool movie and honestly, the whole day was really special. It wasn't the typical Thanksgiving (no football *sad face*) but it will be one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I'm excited to see what we're going to be doing for Christmas now! 

So, this week has been going good. Our district is actually getting a new sister tomorrow who is going to New Caledonia! Maybe I can ask Grandma and Grandpa to give her the low down on the country. The French has been coming pretty quickly for me... Right now, I'm just learning gospel vocab and brushing up on my French. Tomorrow we have our first PVL (parlez votre langue, or speak your language) which will be from the morning to after Lunch. So, it will be me and my district (who can't really speak French at a great conversational level!) speaking only French all morning... I'll let you know how that goes! Although, I'm really proud of my district because they are learning French way quicker than I would have ever learned it if I came in with no French! I'm really happy to help everyone though because it really helps me solidify my own French. 

Things with Elder Seidl have been going well. He is... an odd character sometimes! He has the weirdest taste in food! Hot Cheetohs with vanilla pudding? Ketchup and bananas? Peanut butter on every freaking thing IMAGINABLE!?!?! Are you kidding me? WHO EATS THAT!?!?! Haha, but I'm happy he doesn't make me eat the things he does. He has a huge thing of JIF PB to bring to Africa with him... glad he has his priorities straight! So far, things have been going well though. We get along pretty good but he's pretty quiet. It's hard to teach lessons with him because he doesn't speak very much French at all like the rest of my district, but we're getting better! But, there is one thing that gets on my nerves a lot... he loves to sing. Oh my goodness, it's like being with a male version of Sienna all the freaking time (kidding! Sort of...). I swear he hums and sings random hymns all the time and it gets super annoying!!!!!!!!!!!!! We went to the music center today to get some music because he wants to audition for some upcoming solos. Thankfully, he got Oh Holy Night (one of, if not, my favorite Christmas songs). He's pretty good (sings pretty high for my taste) but it gets pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty annoying. I really hope I don't get sick of it this coming week! I'm trying my best to look at him through the eyes of Christ though, it's hard but it's making the singing more bearable. 

Comps being goofy!

Thank you so much for the suit! It fits perfectly. I'm going to try to get my other suit dry cleaned and fixed up this coming week so we can figure out what to do with it later. The shirts you guys sent me are nice, but they aren't wrinkle free! So, I like them but for my other shirts maybe you can get wrinkle free ones?! Also, could you send me my family tree? Forgot to get that! And I also need some family history stories too (maybe Grandma & Grandpa Koncurat & Hawkins could help with that?). Also, might need a box of Philly stuff to show my district (Tastykakes, pretzels, Birch Beer, etc... they're missing out!)

Thanks to everyone for their letters this week! I got soooo many it's going to take my all day today to reply to them all! Anyway, got to be finishing up now. I feel like I had so much more to say, so I'm going to start to keep a running tab of more experiences I've been having and such.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.


Elder Hawkins

PS Sending a few pics home... Sending the Christmas pic Fro asked for. Sending more pics in other emails because there's a limit! 

Elders Hawkins, Seidl & Kunz - the Benin Brothers

NOTE from the MOM, er Fro: You will all have to wait to see the Christmas pic Fro asked for *wink*. And yes, YES!  I'm SUPER jealous he got a visit from Jeffery R. Holland. For those of you unfamiliar with Elder Holland, let me introduce you.....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First Letter from the MTC!

Hey everybody!
So I've made it to the MTC and it has been a crazy week to say the least. It has been pretty short actually (meaning it felt like yesterday that I was just back home!).
Yeah... so I'm not sure if some of you heard but... I ripped the seam of my pants right before I got into the MTC getting into Ben's truck. It wasn't bad at first, but then it started to get bigger and by the time I had to meet with my Branch President, it wasn't looking pretty. Thankfully, I channeled my inner-Fro quilting skills and have managed to completely sew it shut (the hole was like 3 inches long so it took forever). Needless to say, I'm a little worried about what's going to happen when I dry clean it. So, yeah, PLEASE send me my other suit! I told Sienna to tell you before I got into the MTC but it hasn't come yet so I guess you haven't sent it. 
Anyway, my companion is Elder Seidl from Post Falls, Idaho. He's a pretty cool dude (whoops, I mean Elder since I'm not allowed to use slang haha). He has a schnoodle too! His parents are moving to Arizona so he kinda hasn't heard from anyone since his family is moving. He also has no French experience, but he's doing a great job in really trying to learn the language. The MTC is pretty much trial by fire so I give credit to people who come here with no prior French knowledge. Also, Elder Seidl is going to Benin with me!
So, my district includes Elder Evans (from Utah... somewhere... and going to Paris, France) and Elder Ihalmo (who is from Finland and going to Lyon, France) is learning French as his third language (he is honestly the funniest guy. We started keeping a book about Ihalmo-isms because he says so many funny things. He's also obsessed with cookies). Elder Adams is also really funny and is going to Lyon, France (he is from Plano, TX and sounds EXACTLY like George McFly. You could close your eyes and you would think you were in Back to the Future). His comp is Elder Kunz (from Utah... somewhere) and he's awesome too. We run together during gym and talk about pretty much everything, especially since he is also going to Benin (so, in my district, there are 3 of us going to Benin). We're actually pretty lucky because we have sisters in our district. Soeur Allred (from Utah... somewhere... and going to Lyon, France) is really nice and then we have Soeur Hoar (going to Paris, France), who is from the England so we always love to hear her speak (we especially like to make her do Southern accents haha). Our disctrict is actually awesome, we're pretty much always laughing and having fun (but being serious when we need to be!). All our personalities gel, so we get along great. 
Life at the MTC is pretty cool though. Honestly, the waking up at 6:30 and going to bed at 10:30 doesn't bother me because with the time difference, it just feels like going to bed at midnight and waking up at 8:30. Aside from my pants ripping, everything has been going great. I've noticed that right after I get into bed, I'm always smiling and am in a great mood. I definitely feel like this is where I should be and I'm so happy to be here. The spirit at this place is amazing and it's so cool that I get to share it with so many amazing people. Including my roommate Mike from last year! I got to see him a few times and that is cool. We still need to get some pictures together before he leaves in December.
Anyway, this first week has been amazing. We're already teaching our first "investigator" (coughbyustudentcough) in full fledged French. I've been doing really well (I already memorized the First Vision in French, which is amazing since I'm so awful at memorizing). Soeur Hoar and I are pretty much the go to people for French, since we've taken French before (everyone else has taken very little of it or none before). So, even though the level might be a little easy right now, I feel like I'm with the right group of people and we all use each other's skills to our advantage. It's amazing these Elders and Sisters can do with just a little faith. I don't think I could have given three lessons if I was in their shoes!)
So, the MTC doesn't sell short sleave button down shirts in November (go figure) so PLEASE, PLEASE send some shirts! But more importantly the suit! Hold on, let me say that again: SEND ME MY OTHER SUIT! We have to wear a suit every day and I don't want to tempt fate by continuing to wear this suit that I sewed up! Oh yeah, and my 100 ft water proof watch? The digital stuff stopped working the third day after washing my hands. So, the analog clock still works but maybe a new one would be nice for Christmas (hint, hint).
Wow, time flies writing these things. I just wanted to say thanks do you (Mom), Dad, and Mrs. Hunter for the Dear Elder letters. They make the missionaries' day when we get them! It makes us feel loved! I'm going to try to send pictures of my district next week because the only computers that let you upload pictures are in the laundry room which is packed.
Well, hope this letter is long enough to let you know how I'm doing. Just want to say I love you guys and hope to hear some responses before my next letter! (although respond by Dear Elder and not email, because I get Dear Elder the next day)!
Alright, time is officially up! Talk to you next week and Happy Thanksgiving!
Elder Hawkins

NOTE from the MOM: When Trevor refers to his "inner-Fro" he's actually talking about his Mom.  I'm either Fro or Mo, or sometime Yo. He has different names for all of his family members, which may pop up from time to time! ;)