(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!
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!