Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy African Birthday to Me!

Just thought i would send some pix of our apartment. Now these aren't of our part of the building (on the lower level) but they're cool to see nonetheless.
I don't get to see as much cool wood carvings as I would like! Pretty cool though huh? I think they work perfectly for a missionary apartment... 
How do you like our German Psalm Well?

Here we are... back at the good ol' Cyber. Thankfully the sun has gone down so the glare is off of my computer and it's a bit cooler, thus making me able to see my screen now that the glare and sweat are gone! Counting those blessings.

Today was a fun day! There was an activity planned for the missionaries out here in Togo, but that all fell through so Elder Haggard forced me to go and do stuff with him. So, we decided to go to the French bakery that's about 15 minutes away and get some delicious French pastries... now you should know that my luck with this place has not been good. Last week when we went, we both got Pain au Chocolat. Mine only had 3 little chocolate chips in it but Elder Haggard's was FILLED with chocolate. Needless to say, I was not pleased.
But, we went back. I was tired of getting the pain au chocolat like I usually do so I decided to try something new. The thing I got looked good on the outside so then I started eating it expecting something wonderfully sweet, but there was a hot dog in the middle! What the fro?! Once again, foiled by the bakery... at least I only spent 80 cents on it!
After that, Elder Haggard and I decided to go on an adventure and visit Elder Kunz out in Baguida, the newest sector out here in Lome. Elder Haggard and I figured it wouldn't be too bad of a ride because it's just a straight shot from the main road outside of our apartment... were we wrong...
That brings me to one of the things that tires me the most out here on the mission: negotiating with taxis. Since there are no such things as mile counters or anything, everything is negotiable. Taxis out here always at least double the price of everything when they see my whiteness and it's always a chore just to debate the price down to something reasonable. Of course, what you all will find the most ridiculous is that we're usually negotiating just a few dollars or cents! Still, when you're only living on $140 a month, you gotta be thrifty! 
Anyway, we kept trying to negotiate with the taxis to take us out to Baguida for about 3 dollars... we weren't exactly sure how far it was, so we thought that would be a reasonable price because you can get pretty far here in Lome for 3 bucks. The trick is that (because it's on a straight road) you can't rent out the whole taxi. That means that the taxi driver can pick up other people on the road and you give them permission to squish you into the car like sardines in a can.
So, we did find a taxi that eventually took us to Asigame (the Grand Marche) for a dollar (that was a rip off though since it's probably only 2 miles away). Then he made us get out of his taxi and get into another taxi that was taking people to Baguida. That guy only needed about 70 cents a person to get out there so we were more than happy to take that price. So, squished in with 6 people in a 5 person car, we were off to Baguida!
Which turned out to be like halfway to Benin! My goodness it took us forever to get there! It wasn't really halfway to Benin but we passed a ton of stuff. In talking to Elder Kunz when we got there, apparently, Baguida is technically not part of Lome and told us that if Lome becomes of stake, it would be out of the Stake limits! So yeah, it was pretty far. In total, it took us 45 minutes from the time we left the apartement all the way to their apartment. However, the time was well spent and Elder Kunz and I got to talk for a good long while which is always great (we're MTC Brother's after all!). 

Posted this pic before, but Elder Kunz is the one in the middle!

On the return trip, Elder Haggard and I stopped by le Festival des Glaces to celebrate my birthday! Got some pretty great ice cream and burgers... it was a bit on the pricey side ($10 for everything) but it was worth it and I figured I could splurge a little bit on my birthday! It was definitely a great birthday treat... and I also made sure Sur (Dad) knew that "Le Festival des Glaces" has a location in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, his dream country. 

Anyway, that's the gist of my p-day today. It was pretty fun if I do say so myself... exploring as always been one of my favorite pastimes, even in tiny third world countries! 

I'm sure as most of you might know, my comp is leaving this week and I will officially become a senior companion and a trainer... aka a mission father! I'm very excited but really scared too! I don't want to mess him up and I hope that he's willing to work hard, which is the key to a successful mission. I can't say that I've always worked hard out here on this mission, which I probably give too much blame to my near "dead" companions for, but I'm ready to do things right with him. 

The scary thing is that I'm not really sure exactly how that's all going to work out because I'm really short on ideas, but everyone seems to be sending me the quote from this past conference on how we need to "doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith." There are a lot of doubts that go through my mind about training in this sector, because it's still tough. Maybe not as tough when I first got here, but tough nevertheless. Sometimes I doubt that we'll find new people, that we'll get people to come to church, or that I'll even have the strength to do this work, since it will be me doing a lot of the work now.
However, I'm not discouraged and I believe good things will happen if I work hard... which also scares me to death because when I imagine working hard, I imagine doing door-to-door knocking, my least favorite missionary activity! But, I know that the Lord will give me the strength to do it, if I just ask for it. And who knows, maybe my companion will end up loving it and will help me love it too! Really, the future is full of possibilities, both good and bad. Sadly, we only tend to focus on the negative outcomes that might happen rather than the positive ones... I mean, today was a perfect example of that! I was a bit scared we were going to get stuck in the boonies trying to get out to Baguida today... I was scared our driver was going to take us to some village by accident and then we would have to hike our way back to Kodjoviakope! Instead, I just trust my instincts and the fact that the Lord would watch over us, and look what happened! I had a great day... so that's the outlook I'm taking with this new chapter of my mission... just got to start doubting the doubts and not doubting my faith.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf's recent conference talk about doubting your doubts, not your faith!

Like Sur says, life isn't fair, but with a little luck and faith, we can always turn the odds in our favor... but, it all depends on you!
Thanks for the Birthday wishes and the love everybody!

Elder Hawkins

Note from the FroSo glad he got to go see his good friend Elder Kunz, no matter what the obstacles.  He was in really good spirits today for sure.  He was able to download some of this weekend's conference talks and put them on his mp3 player.  Plus we sent him some music especially for his Birthday that he was able to download as well.  Not sure if you've noticed, but sometimes he makes little spelling mistakes and spells words in French like "apartement", which I just have to leave, because it's fun to see the French slipping through!  

Also, a special shout out to the LOWE family, he received your package and was thrilled! The TASTYKAKES made his day! Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

He was also excited from this little conversation he had with the new couple in Togo: I was talking to the new couple the other day and they told me that in November, the Young Men's president and the Sunday School president would be visiting us... of course, a couple of seconds after he said that i was like WAIT A SECOND, THAT'S UNCLE RUSSELL!!! 

How cool would it be if someone from the FAMILY actually visited his mission??? My mom is checking on that right away.

Meanwhile, I'm leaving you all with one of the songs we sent him for his Birthday.  It's dedicated to him from our dog Pixie.  She likes to sit on the top of the couch (not unlike a cat) and look longingly out the window.  Elder Hawkins always imagined she was singing this song in her head (and he would sing it in the voice he has for her!).  Now we know she's definitely singing it to him! ;)


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