Monday, May 27, 2013

Rain, Lightning and More Sweat

Happy Memorial Day everybody! 

This is how people have to carry their water! Since not everyone has running water, most people have to go to a place that does have running water and move buckets of it to their house. There are even people you can hire that will do this for you all day (there's one lady I know who walks all over our sector moving water for people... she's super skinny needless to say!). But yeah... I don't have any water, but it's going to happen one day. Because it was getting late and we had another appointment, we didn't have time to do it, but I really want to just because it would be pretty cool to carry something on my head. 

Things have been going pretty slow out here in Togo. It's been raining every once in a while, but one thing that I've realized in being out here is that rainy season really just means "same blistering hot days with more rainy days mixed in between". I was expecting it to cool off a little bit because of all the rain, but that doesn't really happen... still hot... still hot. And you know, people would say I would get used to the climate here and wouldn't sweat as much... what a LIE that was!!! It's been four months out here and I still sweat like a "pregnant fish" according to Elder Owusu, whatever that means. In any case, I still sweat like crazzzzy... even a member, whenever I greet him he always says, and I quote, "Elder Hawkins, always sweating." What's really funny is that after it rains, it does cool off but the humidity sky-rockets. So, all the Togolais are "cold" and they see me still sweating up a storm! They're very stupefied because of this.

So this week has been really slow compared to the past few weeks... with the falls last week, all the mission conference stuff the week before... and then we're having Elder Dickson coming this week so that will be cool. Guess I'm back to having no idea what I'm going to talk about so we'll so how exciting this email will really be!

Elder Dickson speaking at General Conference April 2013, 
he speaks of West Africa about at about 5:35 into the talk. 

Gotta say that I have seen some of the coolest lightning of my life out here in Togo. We had a pretty huge freak electric storm hit us while we were at two recent convert's parcelle. All of a sudden you just hear what sounds like buckets being poured down onto the tin roof of their house... we didn't even realize how strong the storm was until the roof of their house starting being picked up because of the wind! It scared the daylights out of Christine and Florence (our recent converts) when that happened... It was kinda scary to think the tin roof could get ripped off and hit me in the face, but I thought it was pretty cool to see all the lightning! To this day, storms still fascinate me! 

(found a sample of the lightning in West Africa on YouTube!)

After the storm finally cooled down a bit, we were able to walk back home. Even though  the rain stopped, there was still lightning surrounding us... but it was sweet! The lightning was basically making these cool spider web patterns in the sky and they would light up the whole sky at the same time, almost like daytime really! 

Though this past Saturday/Sunday night, the lightning was not so nice as we were trying to sleep. Every time it rains, we have to go out to our porch and pull in all our laundry stuff, shoes, and patio furniture. So, after we did that, I was trying to go to sleep but the lightning was going crazy around us! My eyes were completely closed but the lightning was so bright that my closed eyelids basically did nothing... and the thunder was LOUD! Imagine someone cracking 1000 whips at the same time right by your ears and you'll get the idea of what it's like.

Let's see what else, what else... I think this might be the "winter" of Togo right now because just about EVERYBODY is sick right now. Yesterday, at church our Branch President's wife at to be carried into a taxi to go to the hospital after church ended. Honestly, the only reason I could think that people are all getting sick is that people are just malnourished here. Even though they eat tons of pate to satisfy their hunger, it has almost no nutritional value whatsoever, especially when it's not eaten with meat or vegetables. Other than that I'm not really sure what the deal is.

Maybe it's the bugs from the rain? Hmmm...anyway, our HUGE can of bug spray we bought to kill out all the cockroaches in our kitchen. Had tons of small little baby cockroaches come out and three HUGE nasty ones come out. Thankfully Elder Shearer did all the dirty work for the apartment... I also got a kick at how huge the can was because I don't think this would ever fly back in the USA!
The French is going good... I'm definitely feeling pretty comfortable in the language and can follow the lessons really well. Even in Church I'm doing a pretty good job in keeping up with the talks they give and the lessons during Sunday School and Priesthood. Don't get me wrong, it's still tough but I've learned how to deal with it! 

The prayers are helpful as always! I'm not really sure what to ask for this week in terms of specifics, but I'm always looking to better understand the people here and have the strength to work every day.

The inside of the Cocoa bean. Honestly, you just take the beans and lick 'em and suck on them... it's really good. It tastes like sweet yogurt with a little more of a bitter taste. Apparently, Elders Kunz and Welsh were able to make chocolate with their cocoa beans, so I'm on the hunt to find more in order to make some chocolate! 

Alright, got to get going now! Love you all and thanks for all the support. Hope everyone is partying it up today celebrating the awesome country that America is and all her heros! 

Have a superb week!

Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro:  Emailing back and forth this week from our Ward Memorial Day picnic.  Lots of people saying Hi to him, which was cool!  He also mentioned that he would be moving to a new apartment this week.  Said it is still not a great apartment and will never win awards for cleanliness, but that it DOES have a banana tree in the yard which is has REAL (as opposed to...?) bananas growing on it that he's real excited about!  He also asked for updates from his Aunts, Uncles and cousins....wondered how you all were doing!  Please try to drop him an email this week or send something handwritten, he'd love to hear from you!  Leaving off with his fav song for Memorial Day.  


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wild Pineapple Bushes, Colorful Cocoa Trees and the American Flag

Cool sunset photo from our sector.

The bright sun was directly above me. Beating down on my slightly shaven head, the beads of sweat rolled down my head like a Jimmy Rollins walk-off double... quick and like bullets. It was hot, needless to say, but I had a mission to accomplish. As I walked through the tall grass and overgrown bushes, my breath became heavier and heavier while fighting the tough African terrain. Even with the wild pineapple bushes and colorful cocoa trees on my side, I still had to go onward. The trail was tough with the constant ups and downs, the sharp rocks and the weaving streams. Fighting through the jungles of Africa, I knew that my mission was finally complete as I heard the rushing water... or maybe it just my sweat getting worse... but no! Lo and behold, the waterfalls were there! The jungles of the dark continent had finally given me my reward! Victory was mine, at last!

And there you have it, my first real adventure in Togo! Today we went to some waterfalls in Palimé. The mission paid for a coach bus for all the missionaries out here in Togo to go. The falls weren't that amazing in terms of being big or anything but they were pretty cool. We hiked a good mile or two to get to them and it was a bit dangerous but it was cool. President Weed, Sister Weed, and the Semkins (the couple who works at the Office in Benin) all made it so it wasn't that hard I suppose! I think Sister Weed sprained her finger or something though. 

But it was really nice to just get away from Lome for once. It was really nice to see how green Togo actually is once you drive up north... and we actually saw some mountains too! We saw some cool mountain villages and we all kept joking around that we should ask President if we could open up a sector there haha. We had about a two hour drive and it was pretty cool... especially because it was a legit air conditioned bus from China. Except the blow horn on it belonged to a freaking cruise ship... my goodness that thing was so loud and being in Togo, our bus driver used it nonstop... we had a lot of close calls also since our bus driver passed every single car/moto he came up to... I'm pretty sure 
he scared Sister Weed half to death because our driver was weaving that coach bus pretty good and it felt like a roller coaster at times. Still awesome though.

But... the only bad thing about the trip was that I FORGOT MY CAMERA!! Of all the times to forget... stupid me. I'm having Elder Shearer forward some of his photos for me though.

Also, another cool thing to add to my Adventures in Food book... cocoa beans! Man, those things are good! There was a guy at the waterfalls selling them so Elder Kunz and I decided to buy one. In order to eat them, you break it in half by hitting it super hard on your knee. Then you just take some of the gooey seeds and suck on them! It's actually very sweet and tasty! You just can't chew on the seeds because it's pretty bitter and not all that appetizing. Kinda weird to think that that's where they get the cocoa to make chocolate! Kinda feel bad for wasting all that potential chocolate since I would just spit the seeds on the ground. Oh well though! We also bought some passion fruit but I have yet to try that... I'll probably get to try some when I get back to the apartment. 

Also on the drive up to the waterfalls, right before we exited Lome, we saw this really big, nice building. I asked Elder Kunz (since he had the window seat) if he could tell what the building was because to me, it looked like a hospital. Then everyone was like no, wait... that's the AMERICAN EMBASSY!!!!!!!! All the Americans just got so happy. It reminded me of when I saw those American soldiers at San Marcos Pizza too. I just felt so happy and content to see something American... and of course, then we all saw that beautiful, large American flag hanging gracefully on its flagpoll. Oh... it was such a beautiful sight. To see a flagpoll with the Stars and Stripes on it was really an amazing sight. It is funny how things like that make an American happy in Togo. It's also funny how that one moment might have been more awesome than the actual trip to the waterfalls! I won't lie, I may or may not have saluted the flag on our way back to Lome... good times, good times.

Other than that, things have pretty much been same old, same old. It's been raining a lot, as expected. On Thursday, it was raining all morning but it finally stopped once we were supposed to go out. We were hesitant to go out because it was still cloudy, but we did anyway because we knew we were supposed to! Of course, we don't even get down our street and the rain just starts pouring... and I mean pouring. A river eventually formed accross the street we had to cross so there was no way we could get to our sector unless we had a boat. We tried to wait it out but it wasn't going away anytime soon so we went back to the apartment to wait it out. 

This is the river that formed blocking us from our sector. It had a really strong current if you can believe it! There were some crazy motos trying to drive through it too that were barely making it without stalling. Crazy motos!

Awesome rainbow!! The rain was teasing us on and off all day and we got rewarded by a nice, beautiful rainbow in our sector! Nice things like that just can't help but make you happy!

So yeah... that's about as exciting as my life gets during the week. Navigating the rivers is always super fun. On Wednesday, I partied up my 6th months on the mission with the Neguessan family. Had some delicious couscous like stuff with some pima, tomatoes, onions, and fish. And to top it off, Seour Neguessan made me some bouabob (spelling is probably completely off) but I think I've described it before (it's this drink/dessert with some tangarine juice, powdered milk, and other stuff). It's AWESOME and she made me a whole liter and a half of it so I'm stocked in terms of that. We had a pretty fun time hanging out with them, even though it was kinda a joke since I'm still just a youngin' at 6 months on the mission and my comp has 8 weeks left on his mission! Ohhhh well... ça va aller! 

I didn't burn a tie because they're all pretty awesome, but my plan is to just burn a full missionary outfit once I get to the end of my mission since I'll be DONE with those finally! Maybe I'll burn a shirt at the year mark since I have backup shirts.

This is my amazing plate of spaghetti and marinara sauce I made using ALL African ingredients. I was SO proud of myself for my amazing creation. It actually tastes like something I WANTED to eat and I made it myself!!!!!! Of course, I tried making it a few days later and it sucked big time....but! One victory at a time, right??

The cockroaches have been coming like crazy recently. I just swept up 3 of them that were in and around the kitchen the other day. I have no idea why they have been appearing all of a sudden (maybe the rain? No clue). Thankfully they're usually dead by the time I find them but I still don't like sweeping them out of the kitchen and stuff... they're so dang gross. If you really want, I can take some pictures! 

Anyway, things are going good however. I've been really enjoying the work this week and I've been feeling pretty good too. Thanks again to everybody for all the support and prayers because they do really help out. This week, we really need to be busy so if you could pray that we'll have people to meet and teach, that would be really helpful. We didn't have too many lessons last week which is a bummber because we have been working pretty hard, but sometimes that happens. But seriously, thanks again for all the prayers, love and support. I feel like I say that to everyone I write an email too, but it's true! I really am grateful for the backing I get from all of you guys. Some days can be really tough out here, whether it be from the heat, from the homesickness, or just the stress of the work, it's really humbling to know that so many people are cheering me on back home. 

Thanks to you all! 

With love,

Elder Hawkins

Elder Owusu and I had to get the classic missionary photo together. Made a mistake in not bringing my raincoat, but at least I had my umbrella!

Obviously Elder Mukenga and Elder Shearer had the same idea in returning to the apartment to take cover from the rain!

Note from the Fro:
Not so easy to juggle transatlantic traveling while trying to connect with your Elder at the same time! In between driving to the airport, returning a rental car, getting thru security, hoofing it to my gate, and settling on my short flight from Portland to Seattle, my phone was in constant refresh mode. I used every last second before those doors closed to "chat" with my boy. I cherish Monday's so much and that little tiny connection! Dear friends, please remind me NOT to book flights on Mondays for the next 18 months. (Ha! I accidentally typed Momdays, I think that's rather appropriate!) And ok, yes I like saying 18 months instead of 2 years. 18 months!!!  I told him how I actually met a Togolais this week! My brother John started speaking French with one of the kitchen workers at our Marriott hotel in Portland, then asked where he was from.  He replied, West Africa! I asked where in West Africa and his answer? TOGO! He was probably shocked that I knew of his country. So cool! Elder H is in good spirits as usual. Loved sitting on the bus with Elder Kunz while traveling to and from the falls. Almost as much as he loved the AC on that bus! He's asked that we send him his baseball mitt and baseballs, he misses playing catch with his brother.  He said he'll try to send pics of the waterfalls next week. And like he said, a few times even, he's very, very grateful for the thoughts, prayers and letters of all his friends and family back home. Thanks for supporting our boy! Sorry if this posts with a strange font, can't control much from my iPad. However, I can say that this is the first time I've posted a blog from the air! 

P.S. Let me know if you'd like him to send those pics of the cockroaches, I'll relay the message. Eeww!

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's the Small Things that Count!

Mother's Day!

It's all about saying Hi to Pixie!

It's that time of week again! 

Wow, how the time flies by when you're having, I suppose anyway. We had a ton of meetings this week, with our Reunion de Zone, Conference de Zone, and then we were able to watch the Priesthood Session of Conference at the new chapel in Kegue... it's the first chapel in the whole entire mission (so both Benin and Togo). It's super, super nice and has been in the planning for over a year so it's nice to finally see it completed. Like I was telling my family, there are a lot of American things they put in it, so it kinda made me feel at home, with just a little African flare! That was pretty sweet. I'll be sure to send some pictures for you guys.

The new building! Really pretty with the grass (even though it's crab grass looking) and the wide open space like that. It's pretty awesome. Also, it's built with real mahagony so the wood work they did looks really nice with the dark stains they put on it. At least, Elder Kunz (he does tons of woodwork) was really content to see how they used it. 

The new chapel! It's like the ones back home huh? And the chairs are actually the same ones that we had back home too. I'm not sure why they don't have benches, but the padded chairs are so comfy. I'm fine with that! Really wish my branch used this building! 
Unfortunately... we don't... *sad face*

Oh yeah... forget to announce the big "news"... SIX MONTHS! To be honest, it doesn't feel like too much of an accomplishment, but it's the small things that count! Can't hit your year mark without hitting the six month mark, right? Of course, the tradition holds that you're supposed to burn a tie to commerate the event, but we'll see if I actually do it! I know that on Wednesday, we're going over to Soeur Neguassan's house (our RS president... pretty much the Fro of our Branch) to have a little celebration. She's gonna be making me some buyabob (spelling is way off I'm sure) but it's this like juice mixed with powdered milk... doesn't sound great, I know, but it's really good when it's cold! So there's no need to fear, I'll be having a good time come Wednesday. 

Elder Hawkins, Elder Kunz, Elder Seidl
Look at all us! Got a good 6 months under our belts now so we're basically pros now, right? Right?!?! Oh gosh we have no idea what we're doing do we?

The rain has been coming down more frequently the past week... So don't "bless the rains down in Africa" because we don't really need them anymore. Really! We're good... thanks! I know one of these days I'm going to fall into one of the giant rivers that form in the streets, I just know it! My goodness I just cringe of thinking about what's in those puddles. At night, the bullfrogs/toads are SUPER loud. Sometimes you can't even hear the person next to you talking when you're next to a puddle/lake full of them. So, the loud toads, the toxic mixture of whatever people pour out into the middle of the streets, and large puddles of water... definitely don't want to be falling into that.

I also have another thing to add to my African Food Journal... fried termites! Yum! We got them from another apartment of missionaries. They really weren't that bad but weren't terribly good either. They needed some salt for sure. The gross part was when their little wings/legs get stuck in the back of your tongue/throat... that's why water is so essential in Africa! Not because of the constant sweating, but really because of the crazy stuff that missionaries "get" to eat... you know, for swallowing purposes and such. 

You know what the funny part about eating the fired termites was? The missionaries we got it from were the ones who caught them and cooked them. The termites come out when it rains, so what they did was left a bucket of water for them to fly into. Then they drained all the water and fried them in oil. They ended up giving us over a pound of these things... I couldn't believe how much they actually caught.

Mmmmmmmm... nothing like fried termites for lunch! 
I don't think the picture does the grossness much justice unfortunately. 
(Fro begs to differ.  Eeewww!)

Things have been going alright in our sector. Lately, the kids have been really getting on my nerves each time they sing the Yovo song or just call me Yovo... my goodness, that gets old too quick. I find it really rude when older people call me Yovo too, though I've been trying to look past it as of late. I know that it's really not going to change for the next year and a half, so I realized that I can keep letting it get to me or just let it go and think about something that doesn't get on my nerves. So now, every time I hear the word yovo, I'm going to think of something awesome... like ice cream sundaes. Honestly, who doesn't like ice cream sundaes?! So now, whenever I hear Yovo, I just think people keep saying ice cream sundaes  It's kinda weird that they keep saying ice cream sundaes every time I walk by, but it makes me happy, so no big deal! ;)

The work in our sector has been going a bit slow too, now that all our amis have pretty much been baptized and confirmed! We've been getting a few contacts from our Branch President, but other than that, we just visit our recent converts. So, that's going good. We've been talking with a group of teenagers and they seem somewhat interested... we actually had a interesting thing happen with them. One of them left in the middle of a lesson because a friend came over. He eventually came back (was only like 10 minutes) but after the lesson, he said goodbye and then bolted out of the house and disappeared! Turns out, his mom wanted to beat him for missing part of the lesson! Errr... yeah so we had to make sure she didn't do that... it's pretty crazy how beating kids up is still very normal here, but the people here are slowly moving away from it thankfully.

The French has been going good too... it was really cool to talk to Dad for a little bit in French yesterday! It will be pretty awesome for Dad and I to annoy Adele in two different languages when I get home! I never thought that would be one of the benefits of coming on a mission! 

Missionary transport! What do you do when you're too lazy to pay for transport!? Ask the APs to take you home! Yeah... that was the bumpiest ride in my life... especially since I was sitting on top of the AP's cots too... never realized how many pot holes and red lights Lome had until that car ride home.

I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer and nicer weather back home now. I asked Fro yesterday to ask people to send some handwritten letters to me out here in Lome! That would be super cool... along with some pictures too... that would be great... like I said back in the MTC, getting handwritten letters from home makes missionaries very, very happy! So please and thank you!

Well I better get going now... thanks to everyone for the love, prayers, letters, and support. I hear that the following on the blog is pretty good, so I'm glad that my random ramblings actually make sense to people! 

Alright, take it easy everyone... let's hope the next 6 months pass by just as fast as the first 6... okay, I would be lying if I didn't say I wanted them to go maybe even a little faster! 

Love you all,

Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: It was SOOO fun to see and talk to our boy yesterday!  His camera was a little fuzzy, but it was better than nothing.  We talked for about 2 hours which was fantastic.  Of course no one wanted to say goodbye and he told me today that he could have talked with us for 10 hours!  Awwww.  (me too!)  I'm just glad that it all worked. As for sending letters to Lome, you can do that two ways.  You can send through Dear Elder (which one of his friends did and it WORKED!), you just have to pay for postage on the site.  OR you can send via USPS to this address (it will probably take 2 wks to get there, the long number at the bottom is actually a phone number, I think it's only needed if you're sending a package, not a letter): 

Eglise De Jesus-Christ Des Saints Des Derniers Jours

Elder T.Hawkins
c/o Elder and Sister Leavitt
Rue 94 Maison EWF 1149BP
Lome, Togo. West Africa

Last but not least, I thought I'd leave you with an excerpt from our chat yesterday.  It fits nicely with the termite story!  (notice what he labeled our hangout in the upper left corner. funny kid.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Zeekly E'qil

Oh boy what a week it has been. Felt like it went like *that*! (You can imagine me snapping my fingers right there).

So, I finally figured out what rainy season actually is... really it's just more freak random huge storms than usual. On Monday we had a huge random storm that lasted for hours and hours from the early morning to the late afternoon. It was also May Day (rest of the world's Labor Day) so everybody was home or partying at the beach... however, because of the rain people just drop all their plans, hence why we taught no lessons at all that day. People just assume that if it rains, all your plans go out the window so a lot of people just canceled on us.

But things are going good as ever though... the rainy season unfortunately doesn't mean cooler temps though because it's still scorching hot and crazy as ever. Things between me and Elder Owusu are going good too... thanks for all the prayers with that... we had a pretty slow week this week, but we've been talking and joking around... sooo, I guess all is well.

Alright, so this French keyboard is killing me today (I'll leave it to Fro to explain why I'm using it, but I'm too frusterated to type on it)... sooooo... how about some pictures with commentary! Alright, cool...

So the big news this week was that I got a haircut... and it turned out awful because Elder Shearer decided I couldn't do it myself. That was what I would call a certified botch job. He totally shaved my ears and the back of my head completely wrong. Goodness gracious everyone was like... ohhhh wow... you look really... errrr... young? Even all Elder Shearer could do was laugh at me, so that made me feel great. However, my comp saved me a few days later and fixed it the best he could (he's pretty much the unofficial mission coiffeur). I now have the shortest hair I've ever had in the past 10 years or so. There will be pictures with the final cut to come.

I guess this would be a good picture to put with my baby pictures of me eating with my hands... I guess some things never change. It's funny though, because most people do have forks and knives, but they prefer eating "Togolais style" with the hands... plus they like watching white people eat with their hands for some reason. Weird.

Elder Kiputa, my first comp, got transfered this week... which, because all the others living in my apartement moved in after me, makes me the person who has lived in Tokoin the longest out of all of us living there! Didn't I just get there?? Gonna miss Elder Kiputa though... really great awesome guy.

So this is what happens to most of the roads when it rains here.... the world's biggest puddles form! it mqkes walking anywhere a pain in the butt and tons of motos just slide and fall into the mud which is kinda funny. However; that's zhy everybody's plans just get cancelled... nobody wants to go out and trek around the puddles.

Look, it's the Delaware!  No, it's just a puddle.

This one is for Dad... It's African style hot dogs delicious! Beans, tomatoes, dijon mustard, hot dogs, and onions... it's delicious!!

And then there's African style LU Petit écoliers... still good but not as good when they're melted like that... makes for a big mess breaking them all apart.

These are the Togolais trash people... they drive these freaking crazy welded together tractors that barely work and then like the 4 other guys not driving ride along... usually in the trash they collect... yeah... it's pretty gross and they don't smell much better either. And they never, ever wear gloves... sooooo... I guess if worse comes to worse, I can work for these people if I can't find a job when I get home... they make a good $60 a month soooo... yeah... maybe not.

Yeah... finally got out the ping pong table and just replaced our dining room table since we didn't use it anyway lol. Elder Owusu has been deemed the king of the apartment in ping pong... makes the very boring p-days just a little more exciting than usual!

The jolie elders of Tokoin! Ze got Elder Mukubu (replaced Elder Kiputa and is from Congo too... really nice guy!), Elder Shearer (who botched my hair), and Elder Owusu.

Had 2 baptisms this week. One was with Attigobe, who we've been teaching ever since I first got here and finally decided to get baptized! We were so excited when he finally told us that... such a good guy and says that he is really determined to stay in the Church! Definitely a great guy who was really ready for the Gospel.

We also baptized our Branch President's son... pretty good guy too (don't have much more time at the Cyber so gotta make things quick now!)

Elder Owusu looking slick in his all white baptisimal attire... he usually never baptizes but because his mission is winding down, he decided that this might be his last chance... you could tell he hadn't baptized in a while because he almost went swimming with our ami Attiogbe during the baptism! 

Just your average goats roaming outside the chapel. nbd.

This is our Branch Prez's other son Davide... such a cool little dude but a little trouble maker... cutest little kid though... doesn't speak a lick of French but whenever you ask him ça va, he always responds with his funny little oui, ça va bien. And yes... I gave him the box hat lol.

And finally, my feelings of the French keyboard... as displayed by the French keyboard itself.

Alright folks, that's it for this week. Thanks for all the prayers and support! Keep them coming... especially with the gift of tongues as always. 


Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: He just cracks me up.  Every. Single. Week!  Anyway, his usual cyber was closed so he had to go to a different one and couldn't get the keyboard to change.  I left his little "blip" mistakes because actually, I think he did REALLY well all things considering! He told me his glasses keep slipping off his face all the time and I replied that I could send him a nice head strap to hold them in place.  He said he was going to pretend I didn't write that!  Haha.  We made plans for Skype on Mother's Day...only 5 DAYS AWAY!!!  Woohooo!  We made a few back up plans too, so hopefully everything will work out.  Please send out a few prayers that they do, I'm really excited to "see" and talk to my boy!  Even if he has a funny haircut (which, in my opinion, makes him look more like that Osguthorpe side of the family. Don't you think, mom?)  We're going to surprise him by all wearing his hats from the Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, 76er's....all his fav's. It will be the best Mother's Day ever!