Monday, April 8, 2013

No Eternal Root Beer

 Cool pic of the flag that I see out of my window every morning! It's from the school out back and they have their little flag raising ceremony every morning with drums and marching... it's really funny to watch. 
I need to get a video of that!

Hey everybody!

Hope things are going well back home... hot as ever here (one day it was in the 100's all day and all night!) but I'm glad that heat is finally coming your guys' way. As you can imagine, there really isn't a spring time here because it's hot all the time! So... I guess you could say this is my public service announcement to go out and enjoy the beauties of the Earth! It's pretty cool once you start going out and exploring a little bit!

Things have been going pretty slow this week. Not too many exciting things happened though I did get to hit up the American store today... bought tons of goodies that should hold me over for a while in terms of missing home! Bought some canned chilli, canned peaches, American sodas (including Ginger Ale... that's for you Sean!), and some pringles... not exactly the greatest grocery list in the world but I take what I can get!

I've been trying to test out some of the road side foods as of late... a lot of people here just set up little tables and make tons of food for you. You can get rice, beans, yams, plantains... just tons of stuff. They're always hidden under blankets though, so you have to ask around and find out who sells what. No helpful signs or anything telling you what people sell. One of the things I do everyday for lunch is I buy about 100 francs (or 20 cents) worth of beans everyday with two little loaves of bread. Then, I boil up some hot dogs and slap some Dijon mustard on the bread... load the bread with beans and the hot dogs and it makes a pretty filling lunch! I know Dad used to eat "Hot Dogs Delicious" or something like that on his mission... so, I guess you could call this my own version of that: Hot Dogs Delicious: African Style! 

So that usually holds me over for lunches, but I've been getting kinda tired of that recently so I've been trying to find other road side people. I just found a lady who makes fried Enyams, which is some sort of yam/potato thingy. It's pretty darn good, especially with the spicy tomato sauce that they make. I always found a lady who makes fried bananas and enyams... soooo good but she's only open at night and sometimes we don't pass by her. And just so everyone knows, the average I spend on a meal here is about a dollar... so, yeah... I can survive on about three dollars worth of food everyday out here. How do you like them apples?!

Not too much happening with Amis this week. We have a baptism next week with our ami called Samuel. He is really cool... totally prepared for the Gospel. He's also really social so he hasn't been having much trouble with the socializing aspect in terms of Church. Problem is that church attendance has been kinda lame as of late. Aside from the super strong members, it can be really iffy for the recent converts. It has been really hard with being the only missionaries in our branch to handle all the recent converts to be honest.... making sure they all come to church and stick to it has been next to impossible. Needless to say, we have been doing a lot of walking when we have been going out, but a lot of things have been coming up with our amis and recent converts... lots and lots of tombez-vous. That's really hard on the mission, when people's rendez-vous fall through and you don't see an ami. We always try to have a back up plan, but those usually end up falling through too. Maybe that's something people can pray for (for me): pray that people will be willing to see us! 

Sienna asked me to send a pic of our church. This is a pic of our chapel... it's out of a house so we kinda all have to squeeze in this little hot room. Nothing like the chapels back home.

The French has been going pretty good... slow as ever but I've definitely noticed that I can understand people more thoroughly than before. It still takes a lot of concentration but I can now understand what people say with almost 100% understanding. It doesn't happen with every conversation, but I'm getting better and that's what counts. So, I guess you could say that I'm getting the ears of French, but the mouth hasn't come as well as I would like! Building up my vocab has been tough, but I want to make an effort to memorize more words and stuff like that. 

What else, what else... we had a pretty interesting Fast and Testimony meeting this past Sunday (since we didn't watch conference). Elder Owusu bore a really good and simple testimony and talked about what a testimony really is. He told a story about how he had a convert to the church who didn't think she had a testimony. So, he asked her if she believed the Book of Mormon is true. She replied yes, that's the main reason why she converted to the Church! Then he asked if she believes Christ is our Redeemer and Savior... she replied yes. He asked a few more simple questions like that and then he told her that that's all a testimony is... sharing the small and simple things that you already know! No long stories, crazy spiritual experiences, scripture references, or anything else is required! All it is that you need to tell people what you know is true! 

I just want to share my own testimony with you guys, too. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that this Church is true. I know that Christ's church was really restored through Joseph Smith. I don't know where I would be without this Gospel in my life today, but I know that I wouldn't be the same person, not by a long shot. I know that through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, we can truly repent of our wrong-doings and sins... we can become closer with our Father in Heaven. He knows the path to Eternal Life, which is the greatest gift he can give to us! 

It's funny actually... I've really come to appreciate what Eternal Life really means. Whenever I have things out here that are from America, I of course really enjoy them, but sadly enough they always come to an end... no eternal root beer, pringles, etc. There's an old saying that "all good things must come to an end" and while that's true in most cases, through Heavenly Father's plan, that really isn't true! Because of Christ's atonement, he has overcome death of the soul and body. We can live in eternal happiness after this life if we try our best in this life right now! And I know the only way to do that is through Christ's example and gospel. 

Usually, I'm pretty shy in sharing my testimony with other people... I often worry about what other people think and about being "preachy" to others. But, I'm a missionary! Isn't that my job? :)

Thanks again for all the letters and prayers. They give me the strength and courage to go out each and everyday... sometimes the heat can be unbearable, the French can be tiring, the work can be stressful, but your prayers really do work. They keep me going everyday.

Love and miss everybody!

Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: I continue to be incredibly grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who watches over my boy and fills him with knowledge and the strength he needs to get through each and every day.  It's certainly not easy where he is, but I'm grateful that he makes the most of it and continues to see the good all around him.  His strong and simple testimony warms my heart. I told him that the leaders of our church spoke about West Africa in our General Conference yesterday.  It was incredible to hear of the very area that Trevor is in! You can find one of the talks by clicking *here*.  Meanwhile, since he wasn't able to view General Conference, I gave him some highlights and finished with one of my favorite quotes of the day by Jeffery R. Holland:

Hope on!  Journey on! Have Faith!  All things are possible to them that believe.  

Hope on, Elder Hawkins, hope on!

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