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,
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!