Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekly Craziness from Yours Truly! March 25, 2013

 Hey Everybody!

Things have been going same old, same old out here in Africa. Not too much craziness but here are a few things I've noticed.

This past week, I asked my family to help me out and pray so that I would be able to concentrate during lessons. A lot of time, because I'm usually wiped out because of the heat and walking miles through it, my energy can get really shot during lessons. But this week, I've definitely been noticing a difference. I don't know if my contributions to the lessons have been any different, but I've been able to focus much more than I have been able to before. Even Elder Owusu, who doesn't hand out compliments often to me, told me that he noticed I had been making a much more concerted effort to concentrate. I've also been trying to take notes in lessons so that way I remember specifics about the lessons and won't forget them later in the day or the next day... that has been helping me direct my study efforts so that way I'm not just studying random things! So, yes, of course the prayers worked this week! Thank you very much for the continued support.

But this week has been filled with tons of walking. With the new sector, we've been trying to get familiarized with the new sector as much as we possibly can! We've been meeting lots of new people, but most of them are recent converts... right before Elder Gunderson got here, Elder Kabango baptized 10 people in his 3 months here so it's been a struggle to keep them all coming to church but this week we've been having some good success. Usually, we get about 3 amis coming to church in a week... however, this week we had 6! We were worried because they were all late to sacrament meeting so we thought we were going to have none, but they all showed.

That actually reminds me... one of our new amis is named Antoinette and I've never taught her but we've seen her a few times... and she has a beard and side burns. What. The...? I'm worried for my first lesson with her because I think that concentration you've been praying for might come back to haunt me in a bad way... concentrating on her not-supposed-to-be-there facial hair! However, she did shave it for Church, so now I know she actually does take care of it occasionally... but she seems pretty cool otherwise. I'll let you know how she is next week!

But yeah... nothing too exciting out here... it's been getting up into the 100s everyday so that's been making life all the more interesting. I mean, it's not too different from what we see anyway, but the extra few degrees can be killer.

Oh yeah... we had a beach activity this week! It was for the youth and we stayed there for a few hours... it's not quite like anything I've ever witnessed in the states, that's for sure. All they did was go to the beach and chill out a bit. I think they played some games and ate lunch... honestly, I think it was more just a chill stake activity more than anything else. All I honestly did was talk to the other American missionaries, which is pretty much my go to activity anywhere I go. But... going to the beach made me homesick for the Jersey shore... when I was telling people that, they all thought I was talking about the show (which, by the way, I haven't ever seen a single minute of...)... and I was just like... you have got to be kidding me... people in PA don't go to the beach... we go to the shore... come on!

The water looked really nice, but apparently, there's some hidden grossness about it that people avoid so I guess I'm not going to be hanging out at the beach anytime soon! We'll see, I suppose.

Not many more crazy food adventures like the past weeks... so sorry about that! Oh... the worst news EVER came out last week... the FanIce machine out here in Togo is broken so they've stopped making it! I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned FanIce before, but here, the frozen treats are all from FanMilk which is a big brand out here that makes dessert, ice cream type treats... you can get tons of different things, but they're all made with powedered milk so you know... nothing like ice cream but out here their golden because they're sweet and COLD! Cold is key out here in Africa! They're also only like 20 cents or so for a little sachet (or, you could say a little plastic wrapper bag thingy). What you do is you buy it and rip the corner off and just drink it/enjoy. They do the same thing with water here too (yes, most people here drink their water out of bags!). Anyway, my favorite was FanIce (a vanilla flavored thingy) and they stopped making it. Thankfully, FanLait is mostly the same thing so it's not that bad! But still... it's the little things that count, right!

Well, I guess I got to be going right now. Sorry that the letter isn't too long this week, but the hours at the cyber have been cut short and I had a ton of letters to respond to this week! Thank you to everyone who wrote to me this week, they are much appreciated! If I didn't get a chance to respond to you this week, you'll be at the top of the list next week for sure!

Miss you all! Thank you for the prayers and support!

With love,

Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: I am posting the letter this week sitting under the palm trees, with an ocean breeze in Miami, so I'm sorry if my usual formatting is a little off as it's not quite the same posting from an iPad! A big thanks to all who prayed for our Elder this week. I told him that each week I'd ask him for something specific that we could pray for. It's a small thing, but just knowing we're behind him helps a lot I think! So this week we're going to pray that he and his comp are able to work well together through the added stress of a new sector AND the heat. He said they have problems sometimes, but are still able to work through them. I can only imagine as they've been together for quite some time already! If you have time to shout out a prayer or two for our boy this week, I know he'll feel that support. Today I taught him how to make guacamole and how to tell when a chicken is fully cooked. Funny kid! He said avocados are EVERYWHERE and I told him if he wants something to taste better, just slice one up, they make everything better in my book! ;)

Picture captions:

Elder Owusu always puts his hat on his face when the dust whips up! It's pretty funny and we were finally able to get a picture of it because the wind was so strong! He also does it to scare the kids on the side of the street, but usually they just look confused.

This was the Calzone I had last Monday... it was absolutely fantastic!!! It had mushrooms, tons of cheesy bread, and it was PACKED with meat!!!!!!!! It was absolutely amazing. Totally worth the $10!

Me and Elder Gunderson... cool dude. 'nuff said.

This is the beach! Looks nice huh? Off in the background, you can see some of the many ships that dot the Lome harbor. A lot of times they just sit there because the docks here in Lome are too shallow to fit them... so they have to get a bunch of smaller ships to get the cargo into the port. Oh Africa...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fro, fro, fro, It's Monday once Mo....! March 18, 2013

Whazzzzup Errrrrybody!?

Nothing much going on down here in the good ol' 00-228 (that's Togo's calling code, just FYI... nobody calls it that but I've decided at this very moment that I will be starting a trend!) This week went by crazy quick! Wasn't it just yesterday I wrote one of these crazy letters? 

So this week, I went on my first ever official split with Elder Imoukuede... at first I was pretty scared... I mean neither of us speak French fluently to say the least. It started off by visiting one of our ami's named Antoinette... we've been teaching her for a few weeks but she hasn't been progressing much. But, she was on our way home (we visited Kodjo first and that rendez-vous went so-so... nothing much happened). That lesson was absolutely awful. It was so noisy and she couldn't understand either of us. Honestly, when we went back home for lunch, I was pretty down after that lesson... Elder Imoukuede was really down too actually... he said he never wanted to go on splits again until he could actually speak French! I figured that we were just going to fail all our other lessons. So, yeah... needless to say, when we went out again for the afternoon I was bummed...

BUT! I prayed and prayed and prayed my heart out during Lunch that our next rendez-vous would go better. Our first rendez-vous of the afternoon was with an inactive member who I was meeting for the first time. She's been a member since 2002 or something like that... so a long time, but she's had some rough personal stuff recently with her health and her kids. I was really happy to meet her and we hope we can help her start coming back to church every week... so we had a good lesson with her, but the best part about it? Her name is Mama Adele! How cool is that!! I got pretty excited and told her that my sister was named Adele and she thought that was pretty cool. So, Mama Adele is really nice and I'll keep you updated on how she's doing.

So, yeah, that lesson went well, but then we had a lesson with David, who is Kodjo's brother (our recent convert). He always asks tons of questions (and they're usually pretty bizzare and random) so I was worried about the lesson to say the least, especially since we were introducing the Book of Mormon to him. So, we get the lesson started and honestly, the lesson could not have gone more perfectly. We read the introduction of the BOM with him and talked about that. Honestly, it was like I was speaking fluent French with him... I answered all his questions (and he was asking tons), we had good conversations with him (meaning that he was really understanding what we were talking about). Both me and Elder Imoukuede testified at the end too. The gift of tongues is real, my friends! Honestly, during that lesson I did not feel like some weird American trying to speak French, but I felt like a real, native speaker just talking like a normal person. 

I just found out that our Cyber is closing 15 minutes early today, so I guess this week is going to be a bit short, but I just want to testify that the Lord really does answer prayers. I could not even tell you how down I was before lunch and how inadequate (fro, Spelling help!) I felt. But after that lesson with David, our spirits really were lifted up and I was motivated like none other.

So, I hope that makes up for the short letter this week... I think that might have been one of the coolest spiritual experiences thus far on my mission. Hoping I can keep it up! 

Just to let everyone know, I'm doing fine and sweaty, as always! I just keep holding on to the Fro's favorite scripture in Proverbs... 

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding"

Love you guys tons... thanks for all the letters, encouragement, and support. It really does make all the difference.

With love,

Elder Hawkins

P.S. This week, I'm calling out P-Dawg V!!!! Where art thou!?!

Note from the Fro: First of all, AWESOME language experience.  I'm SO glad he was blessed with that. Also, I think it's really funny when he asks me for spelling help for words he spells correctly.  Haha!  Second, it's SO cool that he not only knows a Mama Yvonne, but now a Mama Adele.  Two names which belong to his Grandma Yvonne Adele Hawkins and whom his sister was named after!  What are the chances?? And lastly, if you HAVEN'T written to our Elder yet, you might want to before he calls you out in his weekly emails!  Pete, I'm guessing that one was for you??

Here's a little more info I gleaned from him while he was at the cyber. He was in really good spirits despite the fact that Elder G is being transferred. :( A couple of other explanations ....our family "theme song" is the one he quotes below, "how do you like that" food photos is referring to a certain sweet sister of mine who likes to post pictures of her food on fb! :) And I always end my letters "Love you, to infinity and beyond", which explains his version.  LOL. Funny kid!

Fro: How's your Monday going?

Elder H: It went pretty good! We played basketball again so I got to see Elder Kunz! I actually saw him for the first time a few days before and we were so happy to finally see each other! We really wanna make sure that we get together more often... because now with Elder Gunderson being transfered BACK to Souza with Kunz, it will be easier to keep in touch with him.

Fro: Oh darn....Elder G is being transferred again??? Maybe Elder Kunz needs him more. What about you, are you staying then?  And do you know who's taking Elder G's place?

Elder H: Sooooo... yeah... Elder Imoukuede and Elder G both got transfered. As well as Elder Ranto, who is the zone leader and was Elder Hanna's comp. He's going to be replaced by Elder Shear (I believe that's his name). I hear he's easy to get along with so we'll see how that goes. As for the replacements for Elder G and Imoukuede? NONE! They're downsizing our apartment to 4 and Elder Owusu and I will be absorbing their sector into our sector. So, instead of the branch having two sets of elders, it's just down to us now... so needless to say we are going to be very busy!

Fro: Wow! That'll be a good challenge!  Did you have another good week? Sounds like it was busy.  And according to Sis Leavitt...SOOO hot!

Elder H: Yup, yup hot hot hot... I think it's the hottest time of the year right now and it just kills you! But honestly, this week went by SUPER quick.

Today me and Elder G had some awesome CALZONES! They were HUGE but they were packed with cheese and meat. The best part of the day was that when we were waiting for our food, we saw some white people coming in and then we saw a guy in the navy and two others in the army (they were wearing camo) and we got SO EXCITED to see AMERICAN soldiers... like REAL people!!!! We said howdy to them and what not and it was so cool. They were like super heros to us... words cannot describe how nice it felt to see soldiers from America.

Fro: Oh my gosh, that's so cool!  That made me get a little teary-eyed with American pride.  You know how Fro-y I get about America.  You had huge calzones and didn't take "how do you like that" pics??? Yeah, you gotta get on board with the pic taking.  Haha.  I'm sure the families of those soldiers would love to know that they were like seeing the Avenger's in person to some American missionaries in West Africa!  I love it. Any new ami's this week?

Elder H: Yeah... I guess I'll start taking pictures of the good food I eat. I do have some pictures of some of the meals I've made that are completely American but i don't think they're worth sending! I did just back up all my pictures today so now I feel safe using my camera more often.

And we got a couple of nouveau amis this week... not many but we did meet with that contact from the Pharmacy that lives in my sector. She speaks a bit of English and her husband actually teaches English at a school over here so we'll have to talk to him sooner or later. I'm not sure if she will progress well because she can only meet with us on Saturday nights, but she seemed really interested! So I hope things start going well with her. (This was a woman Sis Leavitt met at the Pharmacy during Elder Hawkins' visit to the eye doctor last week.  She was very interested in talking to the missionaries and just HAPPENED to live in Elder Hawkins' sector! So they exchanged information and followed up with her this week.)

Fro: That's great that you were able to contact her though! I just read Elder Layton's blog for the week in which he ended "thankful for the gospel and this Fanta Orange I am drinking right now".  It's all about the little things, isn't it??? 

Elder H: Haha yes!!!! I haven't tried Fanta Orange yet just because I figured it would be like the one back in France, but I am very thankful for the gospel and Fanta Pomme, that's for sure! 

Fro: And American military in west Africa! You guys crack me up. I love how you always find SOMETHING positive about the situation. It's all about the way you look at things!

Elder H: "Always look on the bright side of life!"

And the cyber just said their closing early to do some training of some sort so they're kicking us out at the top of the hour! 

Love you! Thanks for all the letters and the fro-talk!!!

Talk to you next week!!!! 

To infinity and be-fro

Elder Hawkins

(I didn't steal your thing! I trev-ized it!)


Monday, March 11, 2013

Oh Africa....March 11, 2013

Well, can’t believe another whole week went by! Tuesday and Wednesday can start off a bit slow, but once it hits Thursday, the week starts to go by pretty fast. Then, what do you know, it’s already time to start writing my weekly email once again! 

Things have been going great out here though! Kodjo and Yvonne both got baptized this past Saturday, so needless to say, our week was a good one. The baptisms went well, although I think Kodjo is scared of water. Right before he would go under the water, he had the funniest face… like he forgot that he would have to go all the way under water! We ended up having to do the baptism twice, but he was pretty excited finally having done it! Actually, both Yvonne and Kodjo were super happy before and after the baptism. After the whole service, we were at a lesson with Kodjo’s brother and Kodjo just walks in and he’s got his swagger on as always (at least, that’s what Elder Owusu says… all he does is pop his collar up on his polo shirts, but I will say he does walk with a certain kind of boss/swagger-ness about him… don’t worry if you don’t get that!). 

 That is the all famous Mama Yvonne though! Haha... I just get a kick out of this picture... so ridiculous. Sooo... in Togo... they never count and tell you when they're taking the picture... hence all the really funny faces.

 These were all the people ready for baptism and their missionaries taking a picture together. I'm standing right next to President Weed actually! He came and visited Togo for some meetings and was able to attend our baptism so that was pretty cool. Apparently he always goes to the baptisms in Benin (since he lives there) but it's pretty cool to have him come out to one in Togo. I wasn't able to get a picture with Kodjo because he left as soon as the service was over but he's in the very back between two white elders on the right-middle side of the picture... descriptive I know but he's also making a really funny face. Which is why I love him because he's always making these super funny faces whenever we see him.

I’ve been doing pretty good as of late. Hit a few rough spots here and there, but that’s to be expected every once in a while! On Thursday, we got a visit from the Assistants (to the President) and they stayed with us. Elder Gunderson bought a grill to cook some chicken on… problem was that we weren’t able to get the coals hot at all. So, we just decided to give up and order some pizza. Yup, that’s right… got some good Hawaiian style pizza. Cost me 5000 francs for one pizza but it was totally worth it! Definitely not as good as the pizza back home, but here, you learn to like the little things that you can actually get. So, Elder Gunderson, Elder Robison, and I all chilled on the roof and ate our pizzas. Then we all slept up on the roof which was cool until the mosque went off at 5 AM as usual... who knew that walls could absorb so much sound. I was worried about getting eaten alive by the mosquitos, but they didn’t get me too bad.  Oh yeah… going back to that chicken we were trying to cook… we forgot that we left that chicken on our grill all night… and just so you know, they did eventually get cooked! Just took all night. We ended up throwing the three chicken legs to the school next door… I wish I could see the faces of the kids who find three fully cooked chicken legs outside their school classroom! Haha… oh Africa.

It’s actually been hotter than usual this week. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like this is the hottest time of year right now (right before the rainy season). However, I’m not sure what their definition of hot is here because to me it always feels hot. It’s been hard since losing my sun glasses too… I actually went to an eye doctor today and got a prescription. But, my goodness, when we went to the glasses place to buy some frames… I don’t think I’m going to get prescription sunglasses anytime soon. It was going to cost at least $100 regardless of the frames I got. And all the frames there were like these crazy designer brands (Gucci, Ray Bans, Coco Chanel) that I wouldn’t even buy in the US let alone Togo! Sister Leavitt told me that she just buys the cheap sun glasses and walks around blind most of the time and she says it’s just fine. I think I’m just gonna do that too because the sun is way too strong to walk around without sunglasses. Figuring that the sunglasses on the street are only 500 francs anyway, it’s not too big of a deal.

So, I’ve had a few questions about the churches around here. I’ve gotta say, people believe in some pretty crazy stuff. Here in Togo, there isn’t a whole lot of Voodoo but everyone believes in its power and is scared of it (won’t lie, I’m scared of it too!). But there are tons of crazy Christian churches here too. Apparently, what happens is people go to Ghana and get their “doctorates” to become pastors. Then they came back here and set up their own churches. You honestly can’t go on a road here and not find a church… most everybody here in Africa belongs to some sort of church. I would say that most are Evangelists, then Catholics, and then various other religions. Well, actually, I would say that Islam splits the country with Christians. Tons and tons of mosques here, always with the speakers too. I would say that pretty much everyone here is nice to us, regardless of what religion they are. 

There’s probably more I could say about the religion stuff, but I think people got the general idea of what religion is like here. People love, love, love to put Jesus stuff on their cars and things here. You always see these huge Jesus heads on the motos here, as well as in the taxis too. It’s kinda corny, but it’s kinda cool too! 

Soooooo… let’s see… nothing much else has been happening. The Leavitt’s told me and my comp to be looking for a new apartment in my sector… problem is that the people we’ve been teaching have all been on the outskirts of our sector so we haven’t really had the chance to find any good apartments for us. After our latest inspection though… I think we might win most improved! I think the price for that is 4000 francs… i.e. $8! Wohoo!!!! Crazy right?!?

The French is coming along well… I’ve been trying to study more often during my free time and Sur gave me the advice to study vocabulary during down time so I’m going to try and start doing that… I’ve got this cool dictionary that I brought from home (I’m pretty sure either Fro or Sur used it back in the 90s right before I was born because there’s a calendar thing in it dating back to July 1992, and the dictionary is organized by category, cooking, directions, daily routine, etc.). 

Thanks for all the support and prayers from everybody… getting close to having to go, but just know I love you guys and am thankful for you. Hope everyone is getting ready for Spring… sad I’m missing one of my favorite times of year, but it’s all good. I mean, where else in the world do you get to feel like you’re in a Sauna for free all the time!? 

No, but really, I’m having a blast here. I’m finding that the key to the mission is loving the people you meet and having fun too. I’m learning to really love this little country and I’m trying to cherish every single moment I can here… since Elder Gunderson and Elder Owusu both have under a year left to serve, they like talking about all the things they’ll be doing when they get home (and I don’t blame them!). Instead of getting down about how I have just gotten to the 20 month mark (ouch), I’m just looking at how I can cherish every moment here on the Dark Continent. You just gotta learn to appreciate the little things, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Anyway… love all you guys! Thanks for the letters and thanks for the emails. 


Elder Hawkins

P.S. To Sean and AJ: where have you kids been?!?! 

Apparently what people used to call Africa in the 19th Century!

So this is the aftermath of us trying to take a picture with Yvonne. Basically our Branch so us trying to take a picture and then everyone from our Branch came over. 

Yeah... kinda awkward when all of the RS came over and it was just me and my Comp (the only guys) in the picture! Our DMB (le dirigeant de mission de branche) came over for some random reason too... things in Africa are just random... oh and in this pic you can see how the African moms carry their babies! I've seen 8 year olds being carried this way... I think it's ridiculous if you're that old and your mom still needs to carry you.

Note from the Fro: Glad he manages to look on the bright side every week!  He didn't mention those "rough spots" in his emails to me and never says anything bad about his companions, which, as the Fro, I appreciate!  I laugh a bit about the pizza because he thinks Hawaiian pizza is SO not real pizza.  But I did cringe a little over the chicken in the school yard thinking those kids probably ate it!  Hope it was well and cooked and maybe on the chicken jerky side by that time. 

* For those of you who would like to hear from Trev, er, Elder Hawkins personally, please send him an email!  If you haven't emailed him, he doesn't have your email address.  He was very prolific at writing down street addresses in his address book, but forgot email addresses completely!  I know he would love to hear from you.  And you might want to write before he calls you out here in his weekly letter (ie. his Conestoga buddies this week)!  You can write to him at:  

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Email - March 4, 2013

It's that time of the week again! 

Africa, africa, africa... I think sometimes, when people think about Africa, I think they expect me to have to kill a lion with my bare hands every day in order to eat or fight gazelles at the watering hole in order to get fresh water. Thank goodness, it is not like that!  

Things have been going good though. With the care package I just recieved thanks to Fro and Mrs. Hunter, I have been surving and thriving well! Ah... so good to eat real food and drink good water! When I got that package I was crying tears of joy and happiness! Nothing makes a missionary happier than recieving a package from home... well, okay... that's not true because honestly, the people you meet out here are what really make you happy! Still, packages are amazing!!! 

So, can I just say that Mama Yvonne is just amazing!?! People always talk about the perfect investigators in the MTC... people who are just ready for the gospel in their lives... this amazing woman is one of those people! We've only been teaching her for about a week and we had a baptism set for her at the end of this month. However, it gets way better! We have had a lot of trouble in the past with getting the members and the branch presidency to help with missionary work. But of course, with Mama Yvonne, everything is different. Our Ward Mission Leader and our Branch President went over and visted her without us even asking! Then, when she came to church yesterday, it turns out that her neice is already a member of our branch! Small world, huh?! So, at the end of church yesterday, she just came up to us and was like... okay... I need to be baptized THIS SATURDAY!!!!! She has been loving the church so far and it's only been a few weeks... I'm really proud of our branch actually... they've been really friendly and open to her since she got here. So yeah... she's just awesome! I can't wait for this Saturday!

Our other ami that's getting baptized this saturday is named Kodjo... now, Kodjo is an interesting fellow. He really likes meeting with us but he just does not get what we're talking about at all sometimes. Like we'll explain a concept to him and then ask him if he had any questions and if he got what we were talking about. He always answers with this little smile and laugh, saying, "Franchement, j'ai compris tous." Meaning, "frankly, I understood everything." Elder Owusu and I have now learned that all that really means is "frankly, I didn't understand anything!" It's been really hard for us to get him to remember what we're talking about, but we meet with him everyday because he's currently between jobs right now. We've been meeting with him for over a month and a half now, so I really think he is ready now. He actually told us we should meet with his brother because he would be interested... his name is David and he's really cool... really down to Earth guy and always has tons of great questions for us. The fact that his brother his getting baptized will only help both of them. So, I'll let you know how things go with him this coming week, too. 

Anyway... other than that... nothing too exciting happened... aside from the crazy hurricane like storm that randomly came in Saturday night! Boy, that was super scary! Wind going at least 50-60 MPH with rain going like crazy... we had to move in everything from the balcony so that it wouldn't get wet, or worse blow away. I couldn't even believe how bad the wind was getting though. What was really bad was hearing the tin roofs of our neighbors just banging in the wind... I felt really bad for them! I cannot even imagine how bad it will get during rainy season in a few months... I've only heard horror stories about that! So yeah... the next day wasn't too bad in terms of damage though. A few collapsed roofs here and there but I was surprised how the place held up... but the stagnant water here is so gross... and smells really bad since people have no problems just "taking care of business" out on the roads... if you know what I'm saying...

So... fro asked me to explain what "pate" really is... no it's not noodles... it's really just flour or cornmeal (I think it's cornmeal, it's actually called "Foufou") mixed with water and beaten to death until it becomes a gooey/dough-y substance. Then what you do with it is you take a little handful of it and dip it into the sauce... which is usually this gooey mixture of weird leaves and their staple spice "pima" (like an African jalepeno). Oh, and you are only ever supposed to use your right hand to grab the pate and dip it in the sauce... never your left (and that's because, apparently, that's the hand you use to wipe your butt with! No joke... that is the soul reason you only use your right hand and not your left hand). Sorry if that's too much information for some of you guys out there, but I gotta tells things as they are! 

Pima (photo from the Hobo Traveler)

I actually had some yesterday... and let me tell you... it was a struggle getting this stuff down (as it's rude to leave any food on your plate). I honestly felt like I was going to throw up the entire time and then Elder Owusu was struggling too because the sauce was too spicy for him... we were both crying as we ate all the pate because it was just too much. After we finished he was like "Oh man I think there bringing out more pate." I just looked over at him and gave him a death glare. I was just like you better shut up man! He was just joking around... but I was really scared they were going to bring out more pate! Then, after the mangez-vous, I was sick the whole rest of the night for some reason... oh boy... pate is something I most likely will not miss when I come back home. 

Pic of FuFu (left) found on Wikipedia

So to make up for the pate yesterday, Elder Gunderson and I went out to an amazing Chinese restaurant in my sector today. When I walked in, you would really have thought you were in a Chinese restaurant from back home! Goodness it was so nice, but so expensive. We spent 17,000 francs there which is almost $35 or something! Still worth it though... had some good fried rice and curry pork. We walked over two miles just to get there so it was well worth the trip all over creation to get some real Chinese food!

Pretty good p-day I guess you could say! It's amazing how fast the weeks have been flying by though. I can't believe I'm already in my 7th/8th week... almost two months now! Now that I got some time on my belt (and I'm no longer the newest American missionary!) I feel like time is starting to go much faster. I feel like it was just a few hours ago that I was back here typing my letter home for last week! I can definitely feel the French is getting stronger and stronger now... which I think is what helps things get moving. I'm always praying to have the courage to talk to people in French here and I think it's working... Elder Owusu has been had a sore throat all week so I've had to step up my game a little bit to try and help him. He's been handing me the reigns a little bit too in lessons and what not, which I feel like is a good sign that he trusts me and trusts that I'll know what to say! Still, I'm always looking to improve though... I've been a little lazy this week in terms of my hour of language study every day... when I stay home from 12:30 to 2:30 (that's when you're supposed to eat lunch and do language study) it's pretty hard not to take a little sommeil! The heat just wipes you out during the day... I can easily understand why everybody just sleeps all day here! It's really hard not to because it's so darn hot. 

I don't have a whole lot more time but I hope everyone enjoys the letter this week! Don't feel like I had too much to write and I have much more to say but I gotta get going now! Sometimes I wish I could just copy and paste the things I write to people who write to me directly because you might get a bigger picture of what my life is like! Oh well... no big deal though. 

Hope everyone is doing well. I pray for people here and back home all the time so I wish everyone the best of luck. Also want to let Jack know that I got his letter from Christmas finally! And I also got Vicky's letter that she sent to me in the MTC. If I could get Vicky's email, I would love to say thanks (I already have Jack's!). 

So yeah... thanks again for the package! It was super awesome and a big helping me eat good stuff over here! Elder Gunderson and I are going to try to build a grill outside so we can get some good BBQ going... maybe you should send over some BBQ sauce!? That might be good for our grill that we're going to build! 

Oh jeez, almost forgot to tell Ben congrats on getting engaged! Best of luck to the both of you! You know... I hear the Ghana Accra temple is really nice this time of year! *wink

Okay, I really do got to go now! Hope to hear from you guys soon and talk to you next week!


Elder Hawkins

P.S. We got a "not-a-pet" bird this week... my comp named her Rihanna... she flew into our house one day so we decided to keep her! She's pretty awesome... well was... we haven't been able to find her since the rain storm :( My comp was really bummed... I hope she's not dead. I never got a chance to take a picture with her so I'm pretty bummed too... we had so many good memories... always finding her chilling out by the trash can or under a little weed in our driveway... ahh.. she was so cool. RIP Rihanna (only if she's dead though).

Yes, the African sun messes with you... big time.

No idea what "Rihanna" looked like, so I'm just guessing from a Togo stamp I found!

Note from the Fro: Oh how my boy makes me chuckle.  Ok, you're right, laugh right out loud at times!  Goodness, guess he's just telling it like it is, but still.  I told him to really paint a picture for us of what it's like there, and well....there you go.  I still think it's funny that he feels he doesn't write much in his letters!  I know for a fact that while he was at the cyber, he was emailing me back and forth, writing this email, and answering people that emailed him personally, at least 5 or 6 if not more!  Yes, that kid can type fast!  One little explanation in case anyone was wondering, an "ami" is a "friend" or someone who is investigating the church.  And according to the missionary couple in Togo, the heat this week has been almost unbearable!  They also confirmed that the wind and rain were, in fact, hurricane-like.  Although Trev knows better than anyone exactly what that sounds like having once camped through a hurricane here with the scouts, and experiencing Sandy before leaving for the MTC!  No wonder he thought the tin roofs would have all been gone the next day.  I asked him today if he met the new Elders that just arrived from Provo.  

He said: Yeah... I don't know half of them but of the three I do know, I met two of them at the most recent baptism. My goodness, they were SO WHITE! I kept thinking... gosh was I really that white when I got here! They were still in that shell shock stage where they just didn't know what to do really. I gave them the advice that there will be days that just really suck and you'll get pretty home sick... but I also told them that those days always pass, no matter how hard it gets. So, we're gonna have a few more baptisms this week so maybe I'll get to talk to them again and see how they are doing

I just love that they all watch out for each other out there.  So blessed to have such amazing young men serving together! I'm hoping that he and Elder G get some more time together still.  Sometimes, you just need someone willing to walk over four miles to find Chinese food in Africa. ;)