Hipsta pic of my cell phone with the authentic TOGO CELL! It's actually the worst network on the face of the earth, but it's still authentic African coolness.
So things have been going same old, same old out here in Togo.
I got my big package though... so big thanks to Mrs. Hunter and Pauline for sending me some good stuff... they will definitely be put to good use while I'm out here. I will not confirm whether or not the whole bag of Starburst jelly beans have already been eaten (hint: they have). Carne asada beef jerky??? Yum! (trying to ration.)
So Happy Easter to everybody! I hope everyone had a much better Easter than I did out here... honestly, there wasn't anything special about it. If I hadn't looked on the calendar or if nobody told me that it was Easter, I would have thought it was a regular Sunday as usual. Even the talks in Sunday weren't on Easter, nor were any of the lessons throughout Church. Kind of strange. Soooo... yeah... probably one of the lamest Easters I've ever had compared to the ones back home. It's okay though! Today, we had a good Easter Monday, as the district had a little soccer game... the branches made three teams and then the missionaries made another team and they did a little tournament together. I didn't play because I'm awful at soccer and all the jerseys they had wouldn't fit me because I'm a huge American! They actually played the game at a legit stadium on turf...it was pretty weird to see in Togo, but the stands were completely run down, nothing like the nice field. I deemed it the "Cowboys Stadium" of Togo! Haha! Honestly, the stands look like they were made at the same time as the Coliseum in Italy...they were that junky...not even benches, just slabs of concrete! I was able to talk to all the American missionaries though as we waited for all the games to pan out...Elder Seidl scored a goal! Everyone was shocked, being that he's a little American against these big Africans! That was cool, and it's always nice to get to know the other missionaries in the field because they're the ones going through the same problems as I am!
That was a lot of fun today... and actually... we had a Relief Society activity this past Saturday too... I can only deem that experience as certified crazy. One thing I've noticed in all the district activities here is that the two I've been two have lasted all day on Saturday. At this activity, all the Branches did these really crazy dances that they had been working on for months. They were partialy native but also mixed in with some hip hop. Then, all the RS from each branch put on a little skit about... errr... I have no clue. I honestly had no idea what any of the skits were about but they were weird. It was funny seeing some of the women in my branch in pants though... I didn't even recognize them because all the women here wear pines 24/7! (Togo Fact: a pine can be best described as a skirt wrapped around your waste like a towel).
The one standing up is the wife of our branch president and it was really weird to see her in mens clothes like that. The one sitting down is our RS president. I didn't get many pics from the activity, so this was the best I could get.
So, yeah... those skits and dances took all freaking day to do! But during the half time (I guess you could call it that!), everyone separated into their branches and they all ate food together (yeah forget big tables with serve yourself food). I followed Elder Kunz and Elder Gunderson to their branch because I was talking to them anyway. I got to eat some pretty good mayo salad and some rice with chicken. It wasn't half bad to be honest! I also got three sodas! Score! It was funny though... Elder Woodland, who came on the mission right before I did, just keep getting loaded with food. He was next to Elder Welch, who kept saying that he was full whenever a lady would come and bring them food. So, they just unloaded tons and tons of food on Elder Woodland... most of it was pate... poor guy!
Elder Welch and Elder Woodland... notice the smirking face of Elder Welch as Elder Woodland has a huge plate full of rice (which was given to him after he ate three huge balls of pate). He was not happy to say the least!
So yeah... I don't think this RS activity was anything like the one's that go on back home! It was pretty fun though.
One thing that can get kinda annoying out here... the kids love to climb all over us. They honestly are not happy unless they're on our laps or messing with us in some way. Elder Kunz was trying to show me some pictures while we were eating and the kids just kept coming over and wanting to play with the camera. It was so funny watching him just talk to me as if he was having a regular conversation while he's batting away the two kids who kept trying to take his camera. He was a pro though.
Hola the crazy dog! She's finally not as scared of me as she was before so we're buds now.
Things have been going well between me and Elder Owusu as of late though... I definitely could feel the power of people's prayers for us this week. I haven't been getting annoyed like I usually was. It was really cool to see the power of prayer working again this week... hopefully we continue to get along better this week, because I can't say that all of our problems are solved, but things are looking up. The thing I've been noticing about him is that he doesn't like to talk about a whole lot of stuff, even when I'm asking him how things are going. It's tough, but I've been finding ways to handle it.
Let's see... what else happened... oh yes. So remember Mama Yvonne? She's been on a trip out to the village to take care of her mom for the past two and a half weeks. It was only supposed to last a week, but every time we called her to check up on her, she kept saying she was staying longer. So, I was getting kinda bummed. But, she came back! She called us to let us know she was back, but we were planning on seeing her at the RS activity. But, we went to one of the member's houses and she surprised us! Turns out the RS invited her to help prepare food for the RS activity the next day. When I saw her, I got so happy (as did Elder Owusu!). I wanted to go up and give her a big hug because I missed her so much!!! It was like seeing a long lost friend! Anyway, I'm glad she's finally back.
This week was pretty slow, but I'm happy to finally have two full calendar months out here in the mission field! It's still not a whole lot, but it's better than nothing. I try not to be one of those missionaries who counts the weeks or days... a lot of missionaries do this though: "So, we're basically almost at three months, which means, with the MTC, we're at five months... which is almost 6 months! So basically, we're already a quarter way through the mission!" Elder Kunz kept saying that today and I was like noooope... too new in the mission to even be thinking I have any time under my belt!
Well, it's getting to be a bit late now. Thanks to everyone for the support and prayers. I think this week, I'm definitely going to be focusing on the gift of tongues and speaking up during lessons. I've been trying to help out Elder Owusu this week by speaking more during our lessons, but it can be hard with the limited French. So, pray for that! I will say that the French does improve week by week, but it's very, very slow and can be hard to quantify most of the time. At times, I feel like I'm never going to be comfortable in this language, but I know that one day, it will come without me even realizing it! Elder Gunderson always assured me that the language barrior does fall, it just takes about 6 months or so. I worry a lot though, because my 6 months out here on the mission is coming up and I don't feel as comfortable in the language as I would like. But I pray for it everyday, with the faith that one day I'll be a pro at this whole French deal.
Love all you guys! Thanks for the prayers and support... it does help more than you can imagine.
P.S. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO FIGHTIN' PHILS!
Note from the Fro: Yes, it's opening day for baseball here in Philly...it was one of the first questions he asked, said he could "feel it in my bones"! Which made him "super depressed". This is a kid who lovingly stored away all his Phillies t-shirts, probably shed a tear to say goodbye to them! Luckily, his friend Steph bought him a red tie and hand-embroidered a Phillies "P" on the back so he can still feel connected. Thanks Steph! He said he was going to wear it tomorrow for sure! I also asked how the weather was. I hear it's been hot, dry and dusty, with the rainy season looming and that the wind causes power outages. Here was his reply:
"Just hot as usual. I think I'm getting used to it though... I'm still sweating a lot but the ring around the collar is definitely not as bad as usual. The anti-persperiant stuff you sent for my face actually works really well with that so maybe send some more if it's not expensive. Apparently the rainy season starts at the end of this month so that's when the exciting weather stories happen.
Not many power outages though... it did go out in the middle of the night. I thought I went deaf because I couldn't hear the fans as usual! Then I realized the power went out and I just prayed for it to come back. Not 10 seconds later, the power comes back on and the fans start pushing that nice hot air again! :)
Also, apparently, the power goes out in Souza (where Elder Kunz is) all the time... but where I'm at, the power is usually pretty consistant.
And I think my time is almost about up! ONly got two minutes left!
Thanks for all the prayers and the packages. And tell grandma hawkins I got her card finally! Tell her thank you very much for the card and also grandpa's funeral thingy (that said who was giving what talks and stuff) it was really nice.
GTG! Love you!"
This week, we'll be praying for that language barrier to drop!! Go Elder Hawkins, we know you can do it!