Monday, September 16, 2013

You Just Gotta Do It

Another week down and many more to go... not that I'm counting or anything, but you know...I did just past my 10 month mark on the mission! Almost on the other side of the mountain! 

This week started out pretty good... after the Cyber last week, we went to family home evening at the group, Some of the group members have been really hyping up the family home evening from last week... saying that there was going to be a huge surprise and everyone should invite their friends and what not.

Well, Elder Haggard and I were skeptical to say the least. A lot of times people hype up things and they never turn out as expected. And, family home evening has been super boring the past couple of weeks. We start a 1/2 hour late, then we talk about some random subject that is pretty boring, then we answer really weird and not funny at all French riddles... like here's my favorite: Name three pieces of women's jewelry that start with a b... the answer is boucles d'oreille, bracelet, and bague. Wow... wasn't that funny and witty?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Oh wait, nope... that wasn't even a riddle. Then we end with a prayer.

However, this past week was an actual good family home evening. First of all, tons of people came and we had a short little spiritual message (like it should have been!), then a game (which was the only weird part because they segregated the members and the non-members.... errr... awkward), then... the best part and the key to any successful Mormon activity... FOOD! And we got good food too, meaning not patte! We ate some Ayemolo which is just rice mixed with beans and pima. They brought out a HUGE cooler filled almost half way full of it (we're talking one of those big coolers that are like 2.5 ft by 1 ft by 1 ft! It was good, but well... for some reason African's love seeing white people eat African food for reasons unknown. So, when they gave Elder Haggard and I our dishes, they asked if we liked pima and we told them of course we did, but they forgot that gospel principle about taking things in MODERATION. So they just gave us two spoonfuls of powdered pima, which is the hot stuff. 

And let me tell you... with the already poor circulation in the church building, Elder Haggard and I were sweating up a storm. It was tough to get through our plates, but we did end up persevering to the end... but my goodness I have never sweated so much from eating spicy food in my life. I remember someone telling me (I think it was fro) that the reason they eat spicy foods in hot climates is because they make you sweat, thus making you feel cooler. Let me just put an end to that rumor and tell you that that is NOT AT ALL TRUE. Eating spicy foods in hot, humid climates just makes things 100x worse. Not only does it make you sweat even more on the outside, but it starts to burn everything on the inside too! 

Elder Haggard with the spicy Ayemolo... note the sweat face... 

However, the Family Home Evening was still successful. Everyone had a fun time and ate pretty well too, even if I did sweat like a pregnant fish (not sure what that means, but Elder Owusu would always say that!)

Other than that... the week was pretty uneventful... taught a few lessons, made some mac 'n' cheese, finished off the jar of knock-off nutella I bought last Monday in less than a week... I also found out that my hands and bleach, laundry detergent, and dirty clothes really don't mix well together. My knuckles are destroyed and have tons of (what feels like) popped blisters on them... on the bright side, I don't think my hands have ever been cleaner than after I do laundry! 

Something pretty cool did happen yesterday however... As I explained a few weeks ago, Africa time is pretty ridiculous... people will always promise to be on time, but they never, ever do! That being said, when Church starts up at 9, the turnout can be somewhat of a bummer and can get you down a bit. Still, before the passing of the sacrament, we had an alright turn out... kinda what you would expect. But, the real miracle came AFTER the sacrament. Kinda like back home, after the sacrament there were about 20 people who walked in (including an ami who came for the first time!) and the room was absolutely packed! To the point where we had people standing up! 

Now, the reason why we had so many people there was because of the initiative of the members. We gave them the ward list a few weeks ago and they have, since that time, gone crazy in visiting the inactive's and what not. Now, because of that we have been seeing a lot more people at family home evening and as of yesterday, at Church as well! 

That just goes to show that the missionaries are not what keep this Church going, they are not what make branches/wards stronger, and they are not the key to success... really, it's the members doing their part in visiting/home teaching and being true examples of Christ! Sure, the missionaries are very important but there is no point to our work if those who we bring into the Church just fall inactive... if you think about it in a family perspective, that's like a family adopting some kids, then the said kids run away and the parents don't even going out to look for them! What is that?!? That's not right! 

Anyway, my point is that it's the members that really keep this church going. Remember, President Hinckley said that we, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ are the symbols of our church. We need to be an example of Christ in helping our brothers sisters, whether they be those, strong active members for their whole lives, or our inactive neighbor, or even just a stranger... it doesn't matter, but the key is that we show our religion through our character and example.

You know, that reminds me of another cool thing that happened yesterday in Church... let me tell you a little bit about "Brother John." To tell you a little bit about him, brother John has been a member of the Church for about 4 years. He found the Church in Nigeria (he is in fact Nigerian) and has stuck with it ever since... he even still has some of the original pamphlets that the missionaries gave him back in Nigera! He moved to Togo not too long ago but he managed to find the missionaries out here in Kodjoviakope and was able to have them show him where the Church building was. 

Now, because Brother John doesn't speak Ewe or French, he is only able to get a moto to take him half way to the Church and then he has to walk the other half to the Church (about 15-20 minutes). Sometimes he comes on time, other times he comes late because of the walking, but despite that he still comes to Church just about every week. 

His faith is what really is the amazing thing here... he comes to Church even though he understands nothing that goes on! During the second hour, I usually translate for him which, I got to say is still tough because his English and my English are very, very different. As hard as it is for me to understand him, I'm sure that it's really hard for him to understand me too. Despite that, he always thanks me and appreciates the service I give to him.

Now, this past Sunday, because he came early he sat next to me. I've never translated for him during sacrament before because he has never asked me and I don't think any of the missionaries before me ever did translate for him either. Sitting in sacrament, I was thinking about how I could help him understand sacrament meeting... I couldn't just talk to him like I usually do because that would be distracting to everyone else and, because we have no microphone, might make it hard for others to hear. So, I decided to whip out my planner and to start just writing out what people were saying. 

At first, Brother John was confused as to what I was doing but then he realized that I was writing down all the talks in English for him so that he could understand! The smile on his face was so big when he saw that I was writing it out for him! I asked him after the first talk if he could understand what I was writing. He said he understood everything perfectly (probably better than when I translate regularly for him!) and he just kept smiling and thanking me for what I was doing. I think he felt bad for me too because my hands were sweating up a storm because it was so humid! 

I'm just happy that I was able to do this little service... remember, service doesn't have to be perfect (I am not the perfect translator), service doesn't have to be a planned project (I did not plan that at all!), and service doesn't have to back breaking (just palm sweating!). I don't think I can completely understand the impact that I have on translating for Brother John, but I know that he appreciates it greatly and it makes me happy that I can help him out. 

Just remember what Christ said...

"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

That's my message to all of you today... go out and serve! Doesn't matter who, when, or where... you just gotta do it! 

Love you all!

Elder Hawkins

P.S. I keep forgetting to tell you but a few weeks ago, you will not believe what I found on a moto the other day...I found a FRED BEANS Doylestown license plate on a moto! I would have taken a picture but it was getting dark and I think we were late to something but I thought that was the coolest yet strangest thing to find out here in Togo!!!

 Me helping out one of our amis Gibertine... I'm making "gâteaux" which are really the farthest thing from cake. It's really just fried dough. It tastes okay but... wellllll... there are better things to eat. Nevertheless, thought I could lend a hand and flip some greasy dough! To reward my efforts, our ami even gave us a nice meal of patte at the end! I think that's a true sign of service... doing something even with patte as a reward.

Note from the Fro: Well what can I say?  Service. Just do it!  :)

And speaking of service....PLEASE send letters (or hey, a package if you're in the mood!) for Elder Hawkins' upcoming Birthday (Oct 10).  I know he would LOVE it more than anything! Look on the side bar of the blog for his address.  It doesn't change!  Thanks for showin' the love. 

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