Monday, September 2, 2013

Maybe, Just Maybe

Fro asked for a picture of me at the cyber. Here it is. Exciting, right? Just tapping away on my Pentium 4, Windows XP beast of a machine for 20 cents an hour! 

Yikes... gotta say that my creative juices do not seem to be flowing this week.
I might have to blame the fatigue... today, the District organized a sun-burning activity... I suppose technically it was a soccer activity, but it wasn't like the last soccer tournament we did at Easter time... this one was not at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium of Togo, to my displeasure. Instead, it was on a completely dusty field with absolutely no tree cover! I hurriedly put on some sunscreen before we left, but I feel like it wasn't meant to last in the sun for 5 hours. At least I know what continent to blame when I get skin cancer when I'm 30 years old! Yay African sun!

This week wasn't much different from the past few weeks though... you know, like fought a giraffe, challenged to a machete fight by a local tribe member, drove a Jeep Wrangler 10 hours to the North of Togo, rode an elephant to my lessons this week because the car was in the shop... you know... nothing special! 
In case you missed it, that was sarcasm because this week was just the same as last week. I've probably ranted about it 1000 times but sometimes the weeks just go by super quick here and I'm like... what?!?! Dang it! What am I even supposed to write home this week!?! Quick make up a story about how I killed a cow and ate nothing but its innards all week, but some how made apple pie out of its femur bones. But, nope, didn't happen this week and probably not the next either.

Looking from the outside in, you could say life here as a missionary is actually pretty boring... waking up, studying scriptures, going from door to door, teaching people, who probably just let you in because you were wearing nice clothes and seemed like nice people. Start with a prayer, ask a few questions, listen to a few comments, read a few scriptures, end with a prayer. Pretty standard procedure.

Then you go to the next rendez-vous, where you find the same thing happen over again. Stop by a few members homes, talk to a few people on the side of the street, go back home, plan out the next day. Repeat about 700 times.

But is that really all that is happening? Maybe in waking up, you thank God for giving you another day to live! Maybe in studying your scriptures everyday, you will learn things that have answered lifelong questions... maybe, it will even help you understand how to become a better person and appreciate the world around you. Maybe it will bring peace and joy to your soul, something that nothing else in your life has ever given to you.
Maybe in going from door to door, you find and learn new things that you would never have known. Like maybe you find out that the reason why the Togolais call everyone their brother or sister is because there is no word for cousin. Maybe you'll find out why people plant a certain bush or flower in their front yard. Maybe, just maybe, you'll even make a new friend!

Maybe in teaching people, you'll meet somebody who has been looking for the truth their whole life. Maybe, just maybe, you will find somebody who has never known how to pray, who has never known why we're here on this Earth, who has never really known how much their Father in Heaven really actually loves them.

Maybe in stopping by a member's home, you'll help somebody with a stressful problem. Maybe you'll give them a word of encouragement that will help them get through the day. Maybe you'll teach them a new cantique (hymn) that they never knew existed, but will comfort them in the rough waters of life. Maybe you'll give them a scripture passage that they had never heard, but turns into their favorite and helps them out in troubled times. Maybe, just maybe, you'll give them advice that will help them through their life.

Maybe in talking to a person on the side of the street, you'll find a new fashion style, like wearing a wife-beater tank under a fluorescent orange construction worker sleeveless jacket. Maybe you'll give them the time that no one else seems willing to give them. Maybe, just maybe, you'll just make another friend again. 

Maybe in planning at the end of the night, you'll reflect on your day. Maybe, you'll find that only one of your 5 planned lessons actually happened, but maybe you'll appreciate the fact that you could have had none. Maybe you'll even realize that there's no other place you would rather be at this moment now than being a boring old missionary. Maybe you'll think about all the lives that have changed because of your willingness to go out and do work that not many can do. Maybe you'll remember all the thanks you have gotten throughout your time as a missionary, for helping them strengthen their family relationships and becoming more Christ-like. Maybe you'll reminisce about those once-in-a-lifetime moments; like seeing a Flyers hat in the middle of West Africa, like watching another missionary kill a rabbit, or like being surrounded by thousands of dead animal skeletons at a Voodoo market. Maybe you'll even forget for a moment the difficulties of walking miles in the sun, being rejected daily, and the memories that just keep making you think about your good life back home. Maybe you'll even read a few journal entries from the past almost 10 months of your mission, where you might realize how you are not the same man you were when you said goodbye to your family on that cold November morning. Maybe, just maybe, you'll even find that, as hard as things might be, as hard as it is to think about the year plus you have, and as hard as it might be to do the same thing everyday, this little mission is really nothing in terms of the blessings, goodness, and love the Lord has given you through your whole life.

But, then again, that's just maybe.

With Love,

Elder Hawkins

After weekly planning, we found these random people tugging on a rope outside the cemetery and making tons of noise. I wasn't too sure what they were tugging at but...

Turns out it was just the bottom of a tree? Oh Africa, you will never cease to leave me with tons of questions.

Note from the Fro: Really?  No creative juices today?  I was all worried because that's what he told me in our emailed conversations too.  Then he writes one that makes me laugh and cry at the same time?  That kid. I love Monday's!  And my boy. 

This made me laugh too....
Elder HAlso, you need to ask dad how possible it would be to have a drum as a carry on and then putting a machete in your checked luggage.

FroUm...I asked him. He's just shaking his head like you're a crazy person.

Elder HFa-rooooo! This is a serious question! I expect Sur to have the answer for me next week, alright? I really want to know whether or not to spend money on these things!

Alright, got to get going now! Thanks for the emails as always. Hope everyone has a good back to school week. Tell keegan I said hi... didn't get a chance to reply to his short email and tell him to not worry about the missed email... but tell him I expect a good low down next week!
Love you bigger and thanks again for everything! Miss you too.
Elder Hawkins

P.S. Elder Hawkins has a Birthday coming up October 10th!  He would LOOOOOOVE handwritten letters!  If you send them soon, they might actually get to him by the 10th. 
Here's the address again (you can also find it on the sidebar of the blog---->):

Elder Trevor Hawkins
Benin Cotonou Mission
Cadjehoun Lot#1158- Bloc F
BP 3323
Cotonou, Benin, West Africa

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