Tuesday, August 6, 2013

By Small and Simple Things

What's up!?
Another week down and, well, what seems like millions more weeks to go. Ca va aller, though, right?
First thing, the big news around the neighborhood was Adebayor's brother dying. Now, if you're like any red-blooded American, you should have no idea who Adebayor is... and that's a good thing. If you do know who he is... SHAME ON YOU. STOP WATCHING SOCCER. That's right, he's the world's most famous Togolais, because he plays soccer in the premier league. Everyone here seems to love him, or so I thought, but now I have come to understand more of who Togo's most famous person is.
Now, I heard about Adebayor's brother dying earlier in the week from a member. They were saying that it might be a bit dangerous to go out because there would be a lot of memorials going on in honor of his brother. At first, I thought that was really lame because I thought the only reason people were mourning over his brother's death was because he was the brother of Adebayor.
But, I actually came to find out that Adebayor grew up in Kodjoviakope! Pretty cool huh? World's most famous Togolais turns out to have grown up in my 'hood! Apparently, Adebayor's brother, (named Peter) was pretty loved and liked in the neighborhood. He had been sick for a while and died about a week or two ago... so I guess there were actually people who did miss this guy and weren't mourning just because he was Adebayor's brother.
Anyway, I didn't think much of the funeral, but on Saturday, that ALL changed. We were sitting in the apartment when all of a sudden we just hear these motos coming up and down our street making tons of noise; revving their engines, honking their horns, etc. I didn't think much of it at first because we just came out of the elections and that happened all the time when people were campaigning. But, they were staying around so we went out to watch them anyway. Then, we see this HUGE group of people start coming into our street! And I mean just TONS of people start crowding the street like I have never seen before. 

So, we went up on the roof to watch what was going on. It was absolutely mad chaos. Tons of people dressed in red shirts... even saw a moto accident because they were being stupid trying to avoid people. Then people started swarming the cemetery that's across the street from us... people are like hoping walls, jumping over tombs... who would have ever known that a cemetery could be so noisy and chaotic. 

Of course, then we see the casket be carried through the crowd. That I expected to see. 

What I didn't expect to see were like 5 random people walking on 10 ft. stilts through the crowd! 

I also didn't expect to see crazy random Voodoo priests and revenons! I'm not sure I'm doing this massive spectacle much justice, but trust me, it was a funeral march for the ages. 

(Cousin It from the Addams Family!?)

Now, remember this random Adebayor character I was telling you about? Got to see him too! I was surprised that I recognized him, but I knew it was him by his hair, gold chains, gold watch, and... well... just all the bling he had. I think it's pretty cool that I can officially say that I have seen the most famous Togolais with my own two eyes in his flesh and bones! Pretty sure not every American can add that to his resume, if you know what I'm sayin'. 

That was the exciting event of the week. Now, I tell all my investigators and recent converts about how I saw Adebayor with my own two eye balls! I think they're pretty impressed about it. I never actually thought I would get to see him during my time here in Togo, but well, you know what nobody says, anything can happen in Togo!
Other than that grand event, life has been pretty boring in Togo. The work is still as hard as ever, don't get me wrong, but I seem to make do. It's been tough trying to find people to teach for the second time. We seem to have no problem finding new people to teach as of right now, but it just seems like nobody is ever home for their second appointment or they seem to flee every time we go over! It is really frustrating and rather discouraging. 
It's also been hard to get the few amis we do have to actually come to church. It's really frustrating because right now, they don't really have any excuses. Back in Wuiti, people always said it was too far because it wasn't in the neighborhood, but here, it's not even that hard to get to! People promise us up the wazoo that they will come to church, but what happens? NOBODY shows up! This past Sunday was almost like that... we got the meeting started and about 15 minutes before sacrament meeting ended, we got a phone call from an ami we didn't get to see all week because she was traveling in Benin. But she calls us and tells us she's near the church but needs help finding exactly where it is! It made us both super, super happy! 

Her name is Pelagie and we found her doing door-to-door knocking. She has got some problems we have to help her work through, but she is really accepting and really likes talking with us. And, to tell you the truth, I have never had any of my amis who I found via door-to-door come to church before so this is a first and that gives me a lot of hope! I have a lot of faith in her, but we've still got a long way to go.

Unfortuantely, I've got to get going now. Thanks for reading through my random thoughts for the week. I'm sure Fro will fill you in on some other problems I have been having in the sector, but that's going to be it for me. Thanks for the support, prayers, and love everybody. Enjoy your summer and have a great week!
With Love,

Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: This week we'll be praying for progressing investigators and also that Elder Hawkins will have the patience he needs to do the work he was sent there to do. He is feeling a bit more discouraged in the sector he's in.  Still people are canceling their appointments, or just not showing up. He said: "I realized this week that it has been almost 3 months since my last baptism and I feel like it could be another 3 months before my next one. Talk about discouraging. I still have faith but it is really, really being tested. When I first got here, I got to thinking like okay... I can change this place and I can do some good work out here. But so far, it's all been for naught. It's been almost two months in this sector and nothing seems to be happening."

When this happens, and they have no more appointments for the day, his comp just wants to go back to the apartment, which is tough on Elder H as he feels it's a waste of the "Lord's time".  He's going to try to challenge his comp this week to make door-to-door contacts instead, even though by making the suggestion, he knows he will be the one that will have to do most of the talking. Which is one of his struggles!

Elder H: That's another thing I'm trying to get over.. stop caring what strangers think about me. Whenever I go into a parcel, I just feel like a clown walking in with my missionary attire and my white skin... like everyone just stops what they're doing and looks at me. It's so awkward and they aren't always the nicest people (some don't even respond when I say hello). The one thing I've learned on my mission is how much it sucks to be a super-minority .. you see a lot of ugly things because of it and it's hard for me to feel comfortable when EVERYBODY is judging me because of my missionary attire and white skin.

Fro: Hmmm, interesting lesson, being on the flip side, huh? I know it's a tough lesson to learn, but one you'll draw on your entire life in the way that you view yourself and treat others. You know if you were here, Dad would be pulling out the Starlight Express! Onnnnnly YOUUUUUU have the power, within you!!! ;)  Hahaha!!

Elder H: FAAAARRRROOOOOOOO... do not need starlight express pump up music.
It's just tough. A lot of times I just don't feel like there's much I can talk to these people about. I feel like I'm at a loss of words for some reason. It makes things kinda awkward to be honest. But, I always remember that there is no such thing as awkward in French because the word doesn't exist!

Still, it's pretty hard to get out of my comfort zone. But, I think for this week I'm going to start to try and start small. Maybe try to do ONE thing that isn't in my comfort zone and then feel good about doing it. Once I get good at that, I can actually start raising the bar bit by bit.

Fro: That's the spirit! And just remember.... "But behold, I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass;" (Alma 37:6)

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