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. ;)

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