Monday, January 28, 2013

La deuxieme semaine

(view of Togo from the roof)

Wow... crazy, crazy, crazy week.

First, I'm really sad to hear about Grandpa. We had our interviews with the mission president on Wednesday and he told me the news. I was pretty sad about it, but I try not to think about it too often. Though, reading your email about the funeral and then Dad's talk really touched me. And of course, those little pamphlets I carry around with the title "Le Plan de Salut" helps as well! I'm glad the family was able to get together though... I think Grandpa was smiling down that day... I'm sure it was just what he wanted.

All things considered though... it was a pretty tough week. Had probably one of my hardest days on Tuesday, actually. During personal study that morning, I had read a lot about patience and learned tons and tons from the scriptures about it. Of course, little did I know that I was being prepared for the day ahead. I was just getting super frusterated with my French ability. It's weird... some days I can get a lot of it, while other days I just don't get anything. But on Tuesday, it was really tough. Everyone says that the French will come... and I'm sure it will... but from my perspective, it just seems like it's never really going to come. That, and all the stupid misquito bites, the sweltering heat and accompanying sweat, the little know-how I have how to do things here, getting a bit home sick, and just all the pressures from being so out of place really got to me. It really was just one of the hardest days of my mission thus far. 

However... those days are to be expected. All the missionaries warned me that I would have those days. Things are still pretty tough, but one of my favorite sayings comes to mind everytime I'm in a funk like I am now. It came from one of the YSA ward leaders back at BYU. Here's what he said:

"If life were full of sunny days, life would just be a desert."

So, in all, I'm trying to appreciate the rainy days for what they are. Frere Steretta, who was one of the teachers at the MTC and the only person who served in West Africa of all the French teachers, told us some good advice about always trying to look for things you like about where you are. He said he had been feeling down for a while during his mission. One day, he looked up and saw a tree... and he thought, you know what, I like trees and that's a pretty nice tree. So, he decided to smile about it. He said finding little things like that to appreciate really help the days go by. So, I've been taking his advice and I've been trying to focus on the things I like here rather than the things I don't like.

Soooo... what do I like you might ask? Well... I like the new air freshner spray thing I bought at the gas station the other day! Man... does that do wonders to our bathroom! Ahhh... from fresh burning trash to warm bourbon vanilla. That does make me happy haha. 

I also looooooooove singing here during Church. The members here litterally sing the loudest they possibly can... it is so funny I cannot help but smile while I sing the hymns. It takes a lot of will power to stop myself from laughing... oh my goodness... it's so funny but so awesome! You can tell these people really love to sing here! 

Also, we've been meeting some pretty cool people too. We're teaching a man named Attiogbe (pronounced Achobe), who at one point was training to become a minister but quit because of some accident (I need to ask my companion, again, about what happened). However, he asks loads of great questions and came to Church on Sunday... he owns his own photo shop called "Mo's Photos"... not sure why it's named Mo's, but it's pretty cool! I need to take some pictures of it.

We also met another lady completely random, her name is Mata (I think she said Martha but Elder Kiputa doesn't think so). We met her on Saturday while walking through her parcelle (they houses here are all fenced off, but you walk inside the door from the street and you get into this little courtyard thing and on the sides, there are a bunch of rooms where people live and stuff.. so we met her walking through the courtyard thing). She was pretty interested in what we had to say, but she only speaks évé (local language here). Thankfully, we had a member with us who translated for us. But we talked for about an hour and it was really cool... her husband died a few years ago and she loves the Bible, so she was very interested. And, the next day, she came to Church with her grandson! Elder Kiptua and I did have to pay for her moto taxi ride to the church and from the church though (she's too old to walk all the way here). Hopefully, she comes again without us having to pay haha.

We've been meeting tons of other cool people though. I don't have time to explain everyone I've met, but I'm sure I'll get a chance to tell you about them sooner or later! 

Oh yeah... it rained early last week and also a bit today during the morning... crazy! When it rains here, it's like a bucket of water. It rains like a hard summer storm back home, but for more than just a few minutes. Apparently, it's pretty weird for rain to happen during this time of year, but it does make things a bit cooler albeit a bit more humid. And the roads get grooooossss... huge puddles everywhere... makes me so excited for the rainy season in a month or two! (not really). 

Well, not too much more to say right now! Things to send: definitely the deoderant, more beef jerky, maybe something that could repel mosquitos or some crazy technology that doesn't exist here that can repel mosquitos at night? Elder Hanna gave me a mosquito yellow band thing his mom sent (completely uneffective)... ohhh a new pair of pants!

Funny story... we were at a member's house, talking to a recent convert. I went to cross my legs and my pants just completely ripped right by my upper thighs. It was so embarrasing! I had only worn them twice!!! And they were my loosest pair of pants... I guess it was just really junky fabric (it was mostly cotton and like 30% of these weird fabric that start with an A or something). But yeah... had to walk home while holding my bag behind me. Thankfully it was our last appointment of the day and thankfully it gets completely dark at night so nobody noticed. But yeah... new pants would be great!

But anyway... things have been going good when all things are said and done though. I'm going to try to send some pictures now... Hope things are going good back home now that things are settling down! 

Je vous aime!

Elder Hawkins


My zone... I'm in the yellow sector and my apartment is near the bottom right of the blue sector. Yeah... it's a long walk to say the least. We walk about 10 kilometers a day according to my companion... which seems about right because it takes about 30 minutes to walk to our sector (we make the trip about 4 times a day going back and forth so it adds up).

View from the front door... not as great at it might seem but I like to do personal study out here because of the breeze and I can listen to my music without disturbing anyone

Me and Elder Kiputa!

 That's Elder Imouhkuede... he's a crazy Nigerian fellow. He says some really funny things (from what I can understand though! Tough accent to conquer!)

That's Elder Hanna, the other American... he goes home in about 10 days so I'm going to give him some stuff to send home. He's pretty funny and he helps me out a ton! Great missionary!

Pick up truck?!? Why do you need a pick up truck when you can just strap 8 matresses on the back and save some gas while you're at it! You'd be surprised what kind of crazy things people haul on their little junky scooters... like furniture and tons of food.

Note from the Fro: It sure has been a rough week for the entire Hawkins' family.  Interesting that Trevor's roughest day was the very day, unbeknownst to him at the time, that his Grandfather passed away.  We got word to his Mission president, who happened to be in Togo and was able to give Trevor the news in person.  Not an easy thing to learn when you're so far away from family, I'm sure.  He was fairly certain that when he said goodbye to Grandpa Norm in Nov, that it was probably for the last time here on earth.  We are glad they were able to come visit us in PA from CA for his farewell and spend time with us before Trevor left.  I'm glad he's focusing on the positive!  Please send extra prayers his way!

P.S. That's two pairs of ripped pants now?  One in the MTC and one in week 2.  Maybe I should just send him some industrial strength thread!

Monday, January 21, 2013

First week in TOGO!

Elder Hawkins: A Mission Novel

Wow... crazy to think I'm actually finally here in Togo... let me just say, it's pretty different from the U.S of A! Before I get going, let me just apologize in advance for the misspelling and the mistyping... this computer is set to French so every word I spell is wrong according to the French dictionary and I have to use these stupid French keyboards... even though I changed the keyboard layout to USA, it's still shaped a little differently so it's kinda odd.

So... here are my thoughts on Togo... (I'm in the Wuiti Tokoin area btw)

The Weather

IT IS SO HOT! Think about how PA feels right after a big rain storm in the summer... now multiply that by every day of every hour and add a few more degrees and you have Togo! I didn't think it was possible, but my back has turned into Niagra Falls and it basically never stops. Really, there wasn't a smell like most people said there would be when I first got off the plane... instead, there was just this blast of humidity. I have to tell you what happened at the airport too... I'll write about that later.

But yeah, it's just really hot here. Just so you know, every night when I go to sleep, my temperature gauge on my clock reads at about 90 every night, without fail. Thankfully I have a fan for myself (and apparently it's like that throughout the mission). But yeah... those handkercheifs are saving me because I just sweet all the time. And honestly, it really doesn't cool down at all (a little in the morning, but every morning I wake up drenched in sweat and feel pretty gross). BUT! The cold showers do make me feel nice and awesome in the morning... you really don't need hot water here. So yeah... it's just super hot here all the time... and the best part? It's the coldest part of the year right now! Apparently, all the sands from the Sahara come down and cool down the area but it's always super hazy... though clear skies aren't uncommon. So that will end in February or something and the rainy season will come some time in March or April... can't say I'm really looking forward to that!

The People

People like...
  1. To burn trash. Just in the middle of the street. Like it's no big deal. I'm sure that's what the trash people do with our trash when the trashmen come and pick it up. But yeah... there is just trash everywhere. Recycling? Hahahahahahahahahahaha... what is that??? You can just burn it! Let me tell you, it's smells really bad in the morning, like the same smell when you wake up after having a huge fire while camping. It smells so bad... I know a place sells Febreeze so I will be buying that later I hope! But really, that's the only smell that gets to me. I can deal with everything else but I just hate smelling that in the morning. Not a good way to start off your day... especially with the drenched back. Oh... saw a dead chicken in one of the smoke piles while walking to church the other day too! Had to double check that one just to make sure I wasn't going crazy!
  2. To speak their own language... Thankfully, they don't talk to me like that, but sometimes these people just speaking crazy fast in their native languages! But that's not too big of a deal. 
  3. COIFFURES!!! Oh my goodness... if you could guess what the most common shop/place/thing would be in Togo, what would it be? WRONG! It's a hair stylist (coiffures in French). African women love, love, love, love, love to get there hair done. With so little money, who would have thought?! Honestly, every street has these little shacks (litterally, no joke. They are these tiny huts, probably the size of the bathroom downstairs in the basement) where people go and get their hair done. We're actually teaching a coiffeuse right now... super sweet lady named Elaine but we were talking to her one day while she was cutting hair with this crazy old razor blade! It was all rusty and it sounded like it was hurting the client's head as she cut hair! And they are all named in some way or another about God. "The Hands of God" "Divine Coiffure" "Coiffure of God" to name a few. It is really funny how many of them there are. I have determined that the Togolaise love three things: coiffures, motos, and blasting big speakers. Pretty crazy.
  4. Obama... just because he's black... seriously the only reason. They have tons of stuff about Obama. Every day I walk past a shop called Obama's Cafe or something, with a giant painting of his head and the slogan "Yes We Can." Saw a kid running around in Obama underwear yesterday too. Just some weird stuff...  
  5. I'm sure there's more but I have to move on! So many things to say!
My Companion
Super cool... his name is Elder Kiputa and he's from Congo. I'm not sure how old he is but he converted to the church when he was 14 (first of his family, but now everyone in his family are members). He's been on his mission for about 17 months now and I think I'm his 2nd or 3rd trainee. He speaks English a bit, but not with me! He only speaks French to me which is really hard but super useful at the same time. He's pretty nice and understanding of my American ways. He always knows what to do and he takes over on a lot of the lessons. I'm gonna have to start speaking up more, but it's been pretty nice to let him take the reins. He is also a New Testament master... I'm pretty sure he knows every random reference there is in the Bible because he can reference it like nobody else. Also, he likes to talk long awkward silences... sometimes we'll just be at somebody's "house" (they're kinda houses... I can't really explain it) and we'll just sit there and people will just be doing stuff like we're not even there. Kinda weird... but I guess that's why they say there's no such thing as awkward here because there isn't a word for it in French.

My Apartment
Pretty junky... but that's to be expected. We get a nice cross breeze going through the hallway when we have both doors in the front and back open, but the rooms get really hot. The toilet would probably scare most people who read this email, but it's all good. The one good thing about my apartment is that I have a washer!!! I think it's the only one in the mission, but how lucky am I for that?! It's pretty archaeic but it works (I think... I'm using it today so we'll see how it goes... I desperately need it though because my shirts are basically disposable shirts now. You can only use them one day and then you have to wash them because of Niagra Falls and the dirt (all the roads save the main ones are either sandy or dirt... pretty weird but it makes everything dirty. Nothing can escape the sand here)). 

My roommates are cool! Elder Kabango is from Congo (like my comp, but different areas... oh just so you know, they're both from the Belgium Congo) and he has a really cool accent... been here the same amount of time as Elder Kiputa. Elder Imokwaday (spelling is probably not right) is from Nigeria and has been here since November and can't speak French too well... but I can barely understand his English too (his second languge... like French is to most people here). Then there's an Elder from Madgascar who I have no idea what his name is because he's kinda anti-social and never speaks to anyone... he just reads his bible all the time. Btw... Madagascans have the loooooooooongest names ever! One of the Elders who left before me has a Madagascan companion who has as many "a"s as he has letters in his last name! They are at least 15 letters long. But, his companion (also my zone leader) is Elder Hanna who is really cool. He's from California/Utah so we talk a whole lot. He gives me tips and pointers when I need it... tells me what things I should be asking for from home, where to buy things here, and stuff like that. He goes home the 10th of February so not too much longer, but he's really funny and we have a good time. 

Oh, I have to tell you about the noise here. Togo is probably the most noisy country in the world... who would have thought for one of the poorest countries in the world?! But anyway, on the right of us we have the family from l'enfer... they fight ALL THE TIME!!!! The parents and the kids! It's just ever constant. Then behind us, we have a school so every morning it gets really loud because they surround the apartment on two sides. Then, behind the school there's a giant Mosque! Boy, I sure do love those 5 AM prayers now! And the other 4-5 prayers they do throughout the day, especially on their Sabbath days (think it's saturday or something). Then, on the same block as us, there's this weird Christian church that I have never heard of. They meet in this warehouse type thing but they are super loud! They also blast their speakers and it sounds like they're mad all the time! Makes for Sunday morning prep very intersting and very loud. Yeah... Togo as a whole is just loud though. You also here their claxons going off (horns) because that's how they try and get you too look up and see if you need a ride. In Togo, you don't need a license to be a taxi moto, so anyone can do it... probably why they are banned by the mission! 

Tell you what though, the food here is pretty good! The fruit here is probably the best I've tasted any where. The pineapple here is really, really, really good. It's not as tart as Hawaiin pineapple, but it's just a sweet... it's also whiter than yellow. Still, all the fruit here is dilicious and you can buy it anywehere. Also had my first Mangez-vous this week. Two actually. My first, we had this spicy spaghetti which was really good and had pineapple for dessert. The other, we had the infamous pate... it's pretty messy stuff. The one we ate the the Branch President's house was really spicy stuff and really messy. It was good though... but his wife gave me this weird chicken wing that I thought was a tongue at first. Thankfully, I figured out it was a chicken wing and I ate it... probably the chewiest chicken I've ever eaten. Elder Kabango made Congo pate which is a bit tougher but tastes much better in my opinion. Hopefully, future mangez-vous will have cool things. Btw... most of the food is super spicy here! Yes!!!!!

The French has been tough. When I first got here, I could not understand what they were saying because they do speak fast, quietly, and it's not perfect French either. Now, however, I'm starting to follow the lessons and what's going on... it just takes a lot of focus and a lot of attention on my part. However, that being said, people love my French-ish accent. I don't have the awful American-French accent that most missionaries comes with so people compliment my French on being very clear and percise, albeit rather European. I always have to explain that I live in France for about 8 years and the people seem to like me here. I had to bear my testimony in French yesterday in Sacrament meeting which was scary. Especially since I am the ONLY white person in the branch of like 40-50 people... though I've gotten used to being the only white person since getting here. All these kids sing this little song whenever I pass by... it goes like this...

Yovo, yovo, bon soir, ca va bien?, merci. 

Apparently it gets pretty annoying after a few months but I think it's funny right now. Yovo is the West African way of saying white person (kinda like gringo).
But yeah, the French is coming. I can feel the progression little by little everyday. It's hard to believe that I'll ever be fluent, but everyone says I'm going to be a translator soon since I already have a pretty good level of comprehension here. So, at least I'm already ahead of the game.

Don't have much time now, but the airport when I got there was a mess. Not having my yellow card was a problem. Had to go into this shady doctors office and talk to him (in FRENCH!) about if I had it or not. Paid him $10 to get a new yellow card since I already had it.

Okay, so I just realized I wrote a novel down in about an hour and I need to write other things now! Can't reply to everyone who emailed me this week, but I think this email answered a lot of questions. Also, thanks to everyone who sent me a letter before I left the MTC. I won't have time to respond to them today, but I will definitely try next week!

Now, here's what I need! Thank you for sending me all those drink enhancer things!!! SEND WAY MORE!! I thought they were a waste of space when I first got them, but the water here is gross!!!!!!!!! So send some more of the powder and Mio stuff. Also, if you can send some stuff I could make for dinner that's really easy like Mac 'n' Cheese and stuff that can be made on a stove (that's all we have... no oven or microwave), that would be really useful. More beef jerky too maybe. Also, maybe a letter explaining how to find ripe fruit on the sidewalk stands here? They have pretty much everything under the sun so if you could just email me that would be awesome. Also, if you can my comp really wants "References Par Sujet"... if Dad can find another copy somewhere that would be super awesome. OH, also I hear the deoderant here is awful. Could you send me some more deoderant (like 5-8 sticks) with anti-persperant in it? I'm sure I'll need other stuff but if you could send that stuff that would be really helpful. Oh also, my glasses fall off all the time. If you can get me something that will prevent them from slipping or glasses that won't slip that would be much apprecaited. But not one of those straps that go behind your head... that's just dorky. The constant sweat makes it a pain in the butt to wear the glasses. I have to wear my old ones that are all scratched up because they don't fall off.  Elder Hanna actually said he was like me and then he just switched to contacts because he had the same problem. He says he hasn't had any problems with the contacts here, but will get his eyes checked out when he gets home. I don't think it's a bad idea if we get the perscription renewed and then just send me the contacts. I have filtered water here and soap to wash with so that's not a problem. Let me know if you come up with anything.

Okay, got to go now! Sorry for the novel!

Love you all and hope to hear from you soon!
Elder Hawkins

P.S. My mosquito net apparently does nothing. I have over 40 (Elder Hanna counted for me) on one arm alone. Not sure when, but at this rate I will probably get malaria sooner or later. Not surprisingly, people say it's pretty awful! I am taking my Doxy every night though. And apparently, after the first two or three weeks, the bites start to die down a lot. I think it's just because I'm fresh meat to these mosquitos here. It does die down though, because Elder Hanna doesn't even sleep with his netting any more since they never bit him. 

P.P.S. Said Hi to Elder Maxwell... he says hi to Josh!

Note from the Fro: Well it appears that he didn't have TOO much trouble typing on that French keyboard as he was still able to type out a "novel" as he said!  He tried to send pictures, but they were taking too long to upload.  Hopefully he'll get that figured out next week.  Sending a HUGE THANK YOU to all you Missionary Mom's who suggested we send water enhancer's and handkerchiefs, he obviously appreciates it!  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

He's OFF and AWAY!

We've had the opportunity to talk to Elder Hawkins a few times while he's been traveling to Benin.  It's been so fun to hear his voice!  Fro made him record something for everyone during his last phone call in Brussels. They're due to land in Benin late tonight.  Hope you all enjoy! (he sounds really, REALLY tired....)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bonjour tout le monde!

Wow... what a crazy week at the MTC. Lots and lots to talk about.
So, we had a crazy bug on New Year's Day... on New Year's Day, we knew that Soeur Hall and Allred went down with the stomach virus (S. Hall had cramps, a sinus infection, and the stomach bug. Triple wammy! Poor thing!). As we were working out last P-Day, Elder Seidl came up to me and told me he threw up twice in the bathroom, so we then had to go to the health clinic (all the healthy comps waited outside while the sick ones waited in the clinic). We waited for about and hour. Then Elder Ihalmo got sick later that day and started throwing up around 6 that night... so that night, Elder Evans and I slept in Elder Kunz's and Elder Adam's room (they have two extra beds) since we were all healthy. That night, we were all talking about how one of us was going to go down the next morning and this was a lot like Russian Roulette! And lo and behold, Elder Evans was barfing big time at 3 AM in the morning. It was really gross but kinda funny because Elder Evans was so happy he wasn't sick the day before. Then Elder Kunz had some other stomach problems all through the night so they went down.
Sooooo... after it was all said and done... only Soeur Hoar, Elder Adams, and I made it through this whole thing not getting sick at all. Let this be proof to Oomps, Egg, and Meanie Butt!!!!!!!! Perfect. Immune. System. (thanks to God though! Don't want to curse myself). So with all the sick missionaries, on Wednesday, Elder Swenson (another district), Elder Adams and I got to direct traffic for the new incoming missionaries! All the other missionaries were too sick to do it, so we got to have walkie talkies and cool reflective jackets. I can't send any pics today, but I'll try to send them while I am in the field. We look pretty dang cool if I do say so myself.
I think in total, about 1/4-1/2 of the whole MTC got sick! It was crazy and almost like a ghost town. It was cool going to class with just two other people. Got some really cool personal lessons so I was happy to have that.
As of right now though, I think we are all pretty healthy now. Yay! I'm sure there's more to say, but there is no time to waste for I recieved my travel plans!
So, we are leaving the MTC at 6:00 AM this coming Monday (14th). Our flight from SLC leaves at 9:45 AM (I think we get to call you from SLC) and it arrives at Washington-Dulles Airport around 3:52 PM that afternoon. Then, we get on a Flight from DC to... drum roll please... Brussels Belgium (random!). That flight leaves DC at 5:55 PM and gets to Brussels at 7:15 the next morning (yes, a red eye). I hope the PennyTalk thing you gave me will still work for the phones because it says what number to call in France and not Belgium! Then, we wait in Belgium for almost 7 HOURS (what the heck?!?!) and get on a flight to Cotonou at 2:15 PM and get to Cotonou at 11:15 PM. In all, it's almost 48 hours of travel... I don't think I've ever flown that much! Maybe I can finish the standard works??
For FYI, our flights from SLC to IAD and IAD to Brussels (BR) are on United. Then we fly on the well known airliner "Sabena Belgium World" from Belgium to Benin... I'm pretty sure I'll be a frequent flyer on Sabena Belgium World just for flying to Africa. The district jokes all the time that we will be flying in the back of a cargo plane with chickens and random things. I'm just hoping we make it to Benin safe and sound!
I'm also the Travel Leader for our group so I'll be in charge of making sure we get on our flights okay, calling the church travel office if anything goes wrong, etc. I guess with all my travel experience, probably wasn't a bad choice huh? Haha, not really... they just choose based on alphebetical order. Anyway, it's a lot of flying! 

I finally got my package from Fro and Sur the other day... not sure if that canned chicken is going to fit (pretty sure it weighs like 10 pounds!!!!). I'm hoping I can get a package sent off with my old suit and shirts and stuff sometime this week. We're supposed to started getting all our daily stuff all packed up on Saturday. I don't think I really need anything though. I just was wondering when Chris's bag was going to be headed my way (is the wallet carrier thing coming too or should I just buy one here?). Also, thanks for the Priesthood line, calling stuff, and other things. They will all come in really handy! Hope I have enough room to fit everything however! I also got the Photobook from Tami (THANK YOU! THANK YOU!) and everyone loves it! It's super cool and everyone is kinda jealous that I have the coolest photo album. Some of the pictures from France are really embarrassing to show people, but they all have a good time with it!
Oh, I also never got the family history stories I wanted. It's not too big of a deal because I think you could probably just email some to me.
Wow... so I can't believe I typed this month and I still have a few minutes. Just so everyone knows, the French is coming really well. I feel like I can speak it at a pretty okay level know and not worry too much about it. Obviously I am nowhere near close to fluent, but the gift of tongues is defintiely real! I find myself remembering tons of random vocabulary that I don't think I would have ever remembered in school otherwise. It's been a really cool blessing and I can't believe that I'll be out preaching the gospel in a matter of a few days! I am getting really excited, not so much nervous but really excited.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who sent me letters. Just be aware, that if you want to send me Dear Elders, sent it to me before noon (MST) on Friday! I don't recieve any on Saturdays and I'll be gone by Monday! I'm going to reply to as many people as I can today but I don't have tons of time to write letters today (lots of getting things together to pack and what not).
Love everybody and hope everyone stays healthy!
Love and miss you all,
Elder Hawkins

P.S. repsonse to picture Fro sent... Fa-rooooooo! and yes I am sick of my suit already!

Note from the Fro: Thank HEAVENS for that "perfect immune system"!  He wrote in a letter that came yesterday that all the sick people resemble the zombies from The Walking Dead. He was wondering if they'd be issuing Biohazard suits. Feel so sorry for those that got sick! 

Some other "Trevor Talk Translations" in case you haven't spent time in our household and heard him refer to his siblings by other odd names.  Oomps (short for Oompa Loompa) is Sienna, Egg (also known as Eggnog, Nog, Noggin, or Deet....don't ask, I have NO idea!) is Keegan, Meanie Butt is Adele; meant in the most loving brotherly way of course (Adele IS his favorite actually).  You already know I am Fro (Fa-roooooooo is the long drawn out version of Moooooooooom) and Sur is his Dad.  Which is Trevor's slang for Monsieur, The Mister.  What can I say, he's a funny kid!  We miss his weird Trevor Talk around here, so I think it's hilarious when he uses it in his letters. As for being the Travel Leader, that's no surprise, even though he chalks it up to alphabetical....he's been traveling trans-Atlantic since he was a baby, so they are in good hands! The P.S. was from an email I sent asking specific questions that I needed him to answer today, in which I ended with "are you sick of your suit yet? That was a response to a picture I sent him of some African fabric to keep an eye out for.  His quilter Fro will need some for sure! 

TO MY FAMILY!  Please, please, please take the time to write down a family history story for Trevor!

TO EVERYONE: Please, please, please take the time to go on Dear and write Trevor a letter before Friday.  Go to, click on write letter to Elder in MTC. Click on PROVO, MTC. On the "envelope" Put Elder Trevor Hawkins in the next three boxes put 335, BEN-COT, 0116. Easy peasy!  So what are you waiting for?  No time like the present!  I even provided the link.  Thank you SO much for taking the time to write and support Trevor, I know he appreciates it more than you'll ever know!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Jouyeux Nouvelle Annee (hope that's spelled almost right!)

Happy New Year Everyone,

Crazy week at the MTC! 

Christmas went really well last week. I did get all my letter time cut out so I was only able to send out one letter last week, but with the Temple closed this week, I had three extra hours to write letters! No need to fear, my letters and replies are coming. 

On Christmas, we had Greg Olsen come and give a great fireside talk. He's a painter that the Church commissions a lot and he has some amazing pictures of Christ. I would highly recommend taking a look at them if you've got the time (To Fro: one of my favorites is the one he has of Christ in Gethsemane... you should look for it. It's really cool! Just thought you should know). 

We also had a talent show (some very talented people! Playing the Ukelele behind the back, cool yo-yo stuff, funny piano numbers... it was a fun time!). At the end of the night, we were able to watch It's A Wonderful Life... in COLOR! What the?!?! Crazy seeing it in color... and I feel awful saying this, but watching it in color made it somewhat more interesting than usual. I love black and white movies so I hate saying it but it was true. Elder Ihalmo had never seen it, but when Jimmy Stewart's character was about to jump off the bridge, Elder Ihalmo started saying "jump, jump!" to which the district all laughed at him because it's something he would say. Everyone around us was looking at us and giving us weird faces for laughing at Elder Ihalmo... they thought we were laughing at the movie I guess. So yeah, Christmas was very enjoyable.

Some random Igloo on the way to the temple, so Elder Kunz and I pretended to do some "porte-a-porte"-ing of Elder Adams' new home! Elder Adam's is such a goofy guy but we all love him!

Other than that, this week has been pretty low key. Except... things have been getting pretty interesting at the MTC over the past 24 hours. Apparently, there is some form of the Flu virus going around. At least 20 people went to the hospital last night (including Soeur Allred and Soeur Hall) because they were throwing up. So, people are getting kinda freaked out over here. Some elders are walking around with flu masks and they keep announcing that we aren't allowed to give hugs or shake hands... or even touch our head with our hands! Apparently the Health Clinic had at least 100 people in it this morning so it's been getting pretty bad. But have no fear! Sienna, Keegan, and Adele know full well that I have a perfect immune system so I will not get sick! So yeah... make sure they remember that 

The District. Elder Seidl's mom sent some Martinelli's and we shared it with the district. Elder Seidl has been slowly hoarding paper cups during breakfast on Sundays so we would have stuff to drink the Martinelli's out of! Anyway, we just picked a random time and counted down from 10 and celebrated the new year with the district (this was like a 1/2 hour before the one in the dorm). It was pretty fun actually!

The full weeks of PVL haven't been too bad either... I think that's because most of the time we kind of forget that it's PVL, especially when our teachers speak English. It's still been pretty good practice. Can you believe that I am officially two weeks away from leaving for Benin?!? Pretty crazy if you ask me! Time has been flying bye... we should be getting our travel itinerary's later this week. I'll let you know next week (probably my last email from the USA for a while!) about my layovers and what not.

Also interesting to note... I've been talking to the new Benin elders this week (there are 7 of them if I didn't say already)... and most of them, if not all of them, got their calls a whole month before I did. How lucky is it that I got my call a month later than they did but came into the MTC a whole 7 weeks before them? I think that's pretty cool! And really lucky to say the least! 

Hipster reflection picture for Sienna (it's of Elder Ihalmo)

Anyway... things have been going really well in class. I can tell my teaching is improving (in my lessons, that is) and it's pretty cool to see the progress I have been making. Some days have been pretty tough here, but it's been good overall. I am getting super itchy to get out to Africa though... argh... it's gonna be so cool! I'm tired of this snow too... in the two months I've been here, it has snowed more than it did the 8 months I was out here for school. Ridiculous! It snows just about every day and it is freezing! I'm ready for my sunny, 85 degree weather!!

So, I got to be going soon. Got some pictures to send off. Thanks to everyone who sent me their letters! This might be the last chance I have to reply to them here in the US. I think I'll have a lot more time to send people emails out in Benin/Togo so I'll probably be using more emails.

 So, the panorama is us celebrating the new years at 10:00 PM Mountain time... which means I was really celebrating the same time you were! I thought that was pretty cool... Elder Kunz's mom sent tons of new year celebration material and we all celebrated the "Philadelphia New Year" (everyone thought it was funny, but we couldn't stay up till midnight! But we had tons of fun and a big mess). Gotta admit, it felt cool when I thought about how you would be celebrating the new year the same time I was.

(This picture was borrowed from Elder Kunz!)

Vous me manquez et je vous aime! (I'm pretty sure I used manquer correctly, but if not, have Sur fix it before you post it!)

Elder Hawkins

P.S. Thanks for all the cool gifts from Christmas. I was just wondering... are there any other cool fro-y tips you could give me for the Lavender extract? I know how to use it for burns, but I remember fro saying it was pretty useful for other things too.

Elder Muldowney & Elder Hawkins.
Mongolia & Benin 
Finally got some pictures together! Pride of VF2 right there! 
Funny how we're going on the complete opposite sides of the map isn't it?!

Note from the Fro: First of all, I think it's fun not to correct his French because, well, it will be interesting to see how he progresses!  Happy Anniversary is really Bonne Année, but he'll figure that out by next year, I'm sure.  And about that "perfect immune system" (insert his siblings unison eyeroll here)'s true, he's got a pretty good immune system, doesn't get sick much.  But I know that virus is going around more than just the MTC!  Hope that "perfect" immune system holds up.  I will have to send him more uses for that Lavender oil right away!  Not that it cures the stomach flu mind you.  We also think it's funny he sends "hipster pics" to his sister Sienna.  He made fun of her and her obsession with Instagram all summer!  She's thinking about starting an IG account for HIM to post these pics in.  Too funny!  And last but not least.....14 DAYS?!!!  Last MTC email NEXT WEEK????  Trying really hard not to panic.  Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.  I know I can Fro this. ;)