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:  

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