Monday, October 14, 2013

Whatever, Wherever, Whenever

Our second to last days as companions! Elder Kapuku and I. Picture taken at the very north limit of my sector, lagoon in the background. It's gross and not blue/magical as one might think.

Hello tout le monde!

Wow... to tell you the truth... usually in these letters I think nothing happened in the previous week but this week was one heck of a roller coaster week. Not sure if it was quite the Millenium Force, but definitely like El Toro at Great Adventure in NJ... fun, fast, but definitely not smooth and a little bit tight. Let me explain!
First, this week started off with Elder Haggard leaving on Tuesday, which left Elder Digbe, Elder Kapuku and I in an awkward tri-comp... of course, Elder Kapuku had already long ago checked out so it was really hard to get him to work... thankfully, I had Elder Digbe to help me out. So, Tuesday and Wednesday were kind of a mess as we were waiting for him to leave.

Akifs + Birthday = AWESOME!

However, the climax of the week of course fell on my BIRTHDAY! Ah, what a glorious morning! Though, it wasn't all about my comp leaving (trust me, I did like him!) but I also got some cool visits from people in doing transfers (meaning the APs and all the other people being transferred to Benin). Then, the office gave me a call to see whether or not I got my big b-day package (malheureusement, I didn't), but in calling me all of the office Elders and the missionary couples in Benin sang me Happy Birthday, which was very nice! Elder Haggard also sent me a nice text and the ZLs gave me a call too.
To top everything off, I of course had to pay a visit over to Akif's and got some good charwamas... ahh... soo good. I didn't get much in terms of gifts or anything, but I really wasn't expecting anything to be honest. Just the fact that people called me and wished me a happy birthday was good enough for me! At the end of the night, I celebrated with my what once was Tastykake (thanks Sister Lowe!)! I tried putting matches in it and blowing it out... however, 20 matches later and no success. We ended up just ripping a piece of paper out of my planner, making a makeshift candle, and I (errrr... well the wind really) blew it out.

My awesome birthday cake and cool birthday hat (thanks to Teagan Lowe! Letter is on its way btw). My face is cherry red because we had to close all the windows so that the matches wouldn't blow out. Turns out that the apartment gets hot with now wind and apparently newspaper hats conduct heat! Learn something new every day! 

Probably not the most exciting birthday ever, but will be one of only two I will ever celebrate here in West Africa, so I think that's special in and of itself. Jared asked me if I got to celebrate any cool African birthday traditions .. unfortunately, no... and I think that's mostly because people don't really know when their birthday is and most people never tell you how old they are right away anyway... so I think birthdays aren't that big of a deal around here!

The candle that I could have used as my b-day candle, but was bigger than the tastykake itself and extremely dirty as it has been sitting in my window! 

However, the real birthday present came this past Saturday... when I finally reaped the fruit (well, a fruit) of my labor and I baptized one of my amis, named Balbina!

As many of you know, this has been a long time coming, as it has been over 5 months since the last time one of my amis came to the waters of baptisms. To tell you a little about Balbina, she's an ami we've had for a little over two months now and is the sister of a member in the group named Olivier. Now, when I first got to Nyekonakpoe, Olivier was inactive but thankfully we've been able to meet with him and work with him and he is active and has been active in the group now.

Olivier, Balbina, and the whitest yovo you will ever see.

For a while, I was getting discouraged out here because we've had about 4-5 amis who we've fixed baptismal dates with, but for one reason or another, they just would always fall through. Whether it be they weren't ready or they were traveling (as in the case of Balbina's about a month ago), I was getting super, super discouraged. Though things in my sector had been getting better, I felt like I was hitting yet another barrier and another problem in this sector.

However, the Lord has heard my prayers and I don't really think I can aptly describe how happy I was the day of her baptism. To be honest, I didn't even notice how happy I was until other people around me started to tell me that I was! I was the one who performed the baptism for her... and, it took two tries, but we finally got it done.

Balbina and I... for some reason there was a crowd waiting in line to take pictures so Balbina (who is rather timid!) clasped onto me... it was kinda cute and funny at the same time!

This baptism has taught me a few things now... first of all, the Lord really does work in mysterious ways because, even though it was really hard not to baptize anyone over 5 months, it made this baptism all the more sweeter and all the more special for me.
Second of all, it taught me to understand the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants, that says:

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (18:15).

Let me tell you, I have been spending a lot of days "crying repentance unto" the people of Nyekonakpoe. A lot of days under the hot Togo sun. A lot of days walking and wondering when things would get better. A lot of days thinking of why nothing was happening. The list goes on and on, so I'll stop myself there, but I think you all get the point that these past four months here in this sector have been a tough four months to say the least.

Yet, after Saturday, I can honestly say that every last yovo yovo song, every last "il est sorti", every last "je suis occupĂ©"... every single last disappointment, discouragement, and sorrow that I felt over these past four months is gone. I wish everyone who reads this email could have been at that baptismal service and could have seen that smile on my face... but even more so, I wish that people could have felt the incomparable joy in my heart. For the joy in my heart really was great and oh so sweet.

As for when next time will be, I'm not really sure to be honest, but for now, I can't ask for much more. This past week was a blast for multiple reasons. It has given me the courage and the strength to continue to march on and move forward. Of course, the road ahead will be neither easy nor simple, but it is always and will forever be doable and never impossible. Like I was saying last week, the coming months will be hard in training a new missionary, but I feel as though the Lord as given me a big boost and a new dose of life! I'm ready for whatever comes, wherever it comes from, whenever it comes!

Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name!
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing!
God our strength will be; press forward ever,
Called to serve our King!

Thanks for all the prayers everybody! May the Lord bless each and everyone of you, wherever you may be. May he bless you through whatever trial you may be going through as well! I know He has certainly blessed me through mine!


Elder Hawkins

Note from the Fro: Not a thing Fro can add to that awesome testimony.  Except that he's asked that we pray for him this week to have the strength and motivation to continue to work hard in this sector with his new companion.  And to thank everyone for helping to make his first Birthday in Africa so special.

No comments:

Post a Comment