Monday, July 8, 2013

Unforeseen Circumstances and Looking on the Bright Side

Hey Everybody!

Well, usually when I write these emails it just reminds me of how boring some things are here but this week has been quite the opposite. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Elder Ngandu got transferred out last week and nobody replaced him. Meaning, I've been working the past week with Elder Rama and Elder Haggard. It's been a pretty crazy week and definitely not what I was expecting but things are moving along as always.

Unfortunately, because of the craziness this week, I haven't been able to do much in my sector this week. We could work in it if we wanted to but there really is just nobody to see in my sector. It's still rather tough, I decided to clear out our area book (where we keep records on everybody we teach) and it hasn't been updated in MONTHS and had stuff in it from over two years ago which is rough, but hopefully my new companion is willing and ready to work so that we can try to get this sector going once more.

One of the nice things that happened this week was that I was able to go up to the Kegue building to attend the other equipe's baptism. I got to see Elder Owusu's last baptism on his mission (it's actually the mother to one of my recent converts and actually someone I started teaching while I was still in Wuiti!). So it was cool to see her get baptized too. After the baptism, we headed over to my old sector for some mangez-vous. First, we met up at Soeur Nguessa (cool Ivorianne) who, even though we didn't plan on eating at her place, she always HAS to feed the missionaries (and there were 9 of us!). So she fed us some rice and pima sauce which was good as always... it was cool to see all her kids again... they were all watching TV when I got in there and I popped my head in to say hi to all of them. They were really surprised to see me! Even the youngest, Koukoo, was like we all really missed you! It made me feel loved! Although, Sr. Helene their maid/servant said she was really mad at me because I never said I was leaving! I could have sworn I did but whoops! It happens though and she did eventually forgive me.

Then we all headed over to the Asima's parcelle for the real mangez-vous. My goodness, that was the king of mangez-vous! Sr. Asima (who is a great cook) made us comb, which is like pate but it takes a little longer to make and is usually wrapped in corn husks. Of course you take those off and then eat it with sauce. She made two different kinds of pima sauce which were both really hot! I really, really liked it! She even fed us all fried/grilled fish (I'm really not sure how they make it). Me, being the rough/seasoned vet that I am, just took the fish and started eating it like an African. It completely grossed out Elder Jenkins and even Elder Seidl was a bit surprised at my African-ness. The fish wasn't half bad... the head was better than the last one I had. Although, I have to say that the eyes are not as good as Elder Owusu said they are (he really likes fish eyes). They're really hard and chewy... not my favorite. Overall though, the meal was great!

One thing that was funny was seeing Elder Haggard champion his way through the meal. He took it like a champ but by the end he was crazy! The pima really got to his head! I tried to send the picture I got of him while he was eating but it's priceless! He wasn't speaking in complete phrases and it seemed like he got really hyper because of it all! It made me laugh.

So that day was pretty awesome. Throughout the day I got to see a lot of old friends, some recent converts of mine... it was really just a great day. It made me really miss Wuiti! Thankfully I'm still in Togo so I can go visit them (Sr. Ngeussa was telling me before I left... alright, when's the next time you're coming to eat!). The problem is that it's kind of expensive to get up there (yes, a two-three dollar taxi drive is expensive on our missionary budgets!).

Down here, things have been going alright. Kodjoviakope is still Kodjoviakope. A lot of people asked me how my 4th of July was and too be honest... kind of lame and didn't really get to celebrate it as I would have liked to but oh well... one more to go and then I'm home back to all the good BBQs, fireworks, etc... still a long ways away but maybe I can have a little more fun next year. I hope you all had a fun time and remember the significance of our country's independence! Even here, people don't celebrate their independence like we do. It was a few months ago and it was probably the lamest thing I have ever seen. Meaning, I saw nothing. It was just like a normal day! Back home, I know that that would not fly! 
In fact, I think the funeral I talked about a couple of weeks ago was more festive. People here are somewhat patriotic, but that's really only when their national team is playing in a big tournament or something... wow... woooohhhhooooo sooooocccceeeerrrr... I'm sorry, but if you need soccer to get you excited about your country, you got some major problems! (oh how I miss real sports).

I want to send a big shout out thanks to the Fro and Mrs. Hunter though! Thank you very, very much! I got the package today and am super happy! I also went over to Ramco and Citimart today (spent like 40 bucks!). My cupboards are stocked to the brim! I even don't have enough room for everything! It was getting rough there for a few moments, but no need to fear, all is well now that I have my reinforcements! And my new prescription sunglasses. ;)

Not much else to report this week. I'll let you know how my new comp is and hopefully I'll have some good stories and pics for next week. Next week I will definitely be going to a new Cyber so no need to fear if you send me an email next week... I should be able to respond. Well, that is if the cyber is better than the one I am currently at! Here's hoping!

Alright everyone, that's it for this week! Thanks for the love, emails, prayers, and support!


Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: He's really sorry he's been having trouble uploading pictures.  Hopefully next week the cyber cafe they find will be faster!  He admitted in his emails to me today that it was a really, really rough week.  He keeps most of that out of his weekly emails to everyone, which is nice, but sending a few extra prayers his way this week wouldn't be remiss.  I wanted to add a quote from Elder Haggard's blogpost from last week, I like the way he put this: 

There is a heavy weight that falls on the shoulders of the American
missionaries here, and that isn’t to boast or brag about or capacity
or how amazing we are. The truth is that we have been blessed with
living within the states so close to the church and truly seeing how
it is meant to work. The Africans here are floating in the same boat
as many of the recent converts and investigators, they have the
message and a testimony, but the building a church from nothing is a
truly tasking feat. The resources are limited here, and none of them
have seen the most recent General Conference, and that includes the
missionaries. We essentially are sailing at night in a raging tempest.

The hope I have from this mission is like many scout leaders have
taught me with camping, always leave the site better when you leave it
than when you found it. Hard work is what is required. Appreciate
life; you only have one with these trials and difficulties. Yes, enjoy
the challenges that come, they will be worth it.

SO true!  To read more from Elder Haggard check out his blog at:
Since he's in the same apartment as Elder H, it's fun to see another point of view.  Funny, he didn't mention eating fish eyes and spicy pima in HIS letter this week!  :)

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