Monday, May 19, 2014

Glimmers of Hope

Life sure does have its ups and downs, doesn't it? This week has been a very interesting week... one that surely was full of ups and downs.

One of the most exciting things that happened this week was the opening of the new branch/area, Porto Novo! We found the apartment and the building they would be using about a month ago so it's exciting that everything did finally come together. Elder Lala and I helped bring out the new Elders to the apartment in Porto Novo this past Monday in order to complete the transfer. It's pretty cool to see how the Church is progressing out here... it makes me feel like I'm part of history being made! 

A lot of missionaries have been asking for the phone numbers of the Elders in Porto Novo in order to send them contacts. I'm sure they have been receiving contacts up the wazoo this week just because the members have been waiting so long for the city to finally open up. We even sent them the number of one of our investigators that lives out there!

It will be interesting to see how many people come out to Church in Porto Novo this Sunday. When I was creating the Branch proposal to send to the Area Presidency in Ghana, the local Church leaders here only knew about two large families that live there and we're attending Church at the closest Branch in Cotonou. I feel like a lot of members will be appearing out of nowhere once they hear that the Church is in Porto Novo now... or that they see the missionaries walking around out there! That's pretty fail proof most of the time... when you see the white shirts and ties, members (wherever they may come from) know who the missionaries are. 

Another up has been that we've been pretty busy at the office, with another new group of missionaries coming in (including the new Lala, i.e. a new French malagash Elder!). We've also been training Elder Izekor about how life works here in the Bureau. I can tell that he's having a bit of trouble trying to get used to our rocky, always changing schedule but I remember when I was in his shoes and had a tough time adjusting to the office too. It will come with time, I'm sure. 

Of course, the best "up" of this week was being able to talk with my whole family this past week! It was fun to be able to chat with everybody for a few hours and be able to catch up with how the family was doing. Oddly enough, I was kinda nervous before I got on Skype with everybody... I'm not sure why but I think it was just the excitement kicking in. Of course, everything went fine on the call (I don't know why I was so dark and blurry! I was using a really good computer! Curse of Africa I guess?). I'm glad everybody got a kick out of me and SisSieHawk talking together... I won't lie, it was good to laugh with everybody. Even Elder Christensen could tell I was having a good time because of all the laughing! 

THEN THE POWER WENT OFF AND RUINED EVERYTHING :( That was pretty sad... typical Benin just ruining everything by the power cutting uuuuuggggghhhh. I guess you could say that was the first down that happened to me this week. Happily I was able to call back using our phones and say goodbye to everybody, though it would have been better if I said goodbye on Skype! 

The other big "down" that I had this week was that I finally figure out that I don't like charwamas anymore. Haha! Just kidding! That will NEVER happen.

The actual big "down" that I had came to me this past Thursday... already, because of all the work that we were doing at the Bureau, we had had very, very few lessons for the week. And, to make matters worse, most of our planned RVs for that day were falling through... like flies. We tried calling people to get more RVs but nothing was working. Finally, we went to a member who works in our sector. We stopped by and then, she just started talking for like an hour and a half. Oh my goodness. It was about n'importe quoi too! I love her to death but honestly, even I wouldn't want to hear myself talk for an hour and a half straight. The only thing I can really remember about what she said over that hour and a half was that she believed that people were doing some weird voodoo stuff to her. And for some reason, I don't know why but these people can send bugs to her house and can watch her for them. So she told us about how she smashed this spider that was the size of her palm and then went on to burn it. Turns out, the next day one of her enemies died. Then she told us about a cockroach that was in her house and told us how she prayed (in the direction of the cockroach) saying in the name of Jesus Christ, if you are a demon sent by my enemy, don't move. The cockroach didn't move so she smashed it and burned it. Again, the next day another enemy of hers died.

You know... not that I don't like hearing stories like that because they're kinda funny but while I was listening to her telling us these kinds of stories, I just kept thinking to myself, "what am I doing here? Is this seriously why I came to Africa? To hear stories of people smashing cockroaches by the power of Jesus Christ?" I was just getting so down on myself... so tired of seeing the same people, hearing the same ridiculous stories, worrying over how to replace the 10-or-so investigators that have disappeared, moved, or we've stopped seeing because they won't progress. 

And then of course, I couldn't help thinking about how we could have done OVB rather than talk to the member who we were listening to... but then I couldn't help but think about all the amis that I found in the Area Book that never progressed and were found through OVB... so I know that wouldn't really work... honestly, on that night, I was just in a bad mood and in a bad place.

Yet, even though I was not at all in a good mood and was really down on myself, I still asked the member if she needed help her close for the night by taking everything inside. Of course, she was happy to accept the help and at the end of the night, she did really thank us for coming and having somebody to vent to... that did make me feel just a bit better but that didn't solve all the problems that were going through my head at the time. 

Of course, many of those problems are still running through my head at the moment. And yet, I know that things are going up now. Even yesterday, we were able to see one of our only progressing investigators who we were having a tough time seeing for the past two weeks... and plus, we asked her if she knew somebody who would be interested in seeing us and I think we might end up trying to teach her roommate, so even though it's really not much and it might not pan out, I think a glimmer of hope is better than no glimmer at all. And though I'm very used to glimmers of hope turning into ashes of despair, that's no reason to give up! 

For this week, I feel like my goal is to create more glimmers of hope... I don't think I can just change my sector from night to day in a heartbeat, but if I can just ask for a contact here, work with a member there, and meet some new amis, night might change into day sooner than I will be able to imagine! 

So, pray for me that I will be able to get some glimmers of hope this week! I'll be sure to pray for it too because I really need it... and more importantly, my sector really needs it too! 

Hope you all have a wonderful week... keep going strong in whatever you may be doing!

With love,

Elder Hawkins


 Don't worry, this truck will probably tip over on route to wherever it's going. It's normal.

The Lake and the only bridge that goes from Porto Novo to Cotonou

A little view of the city of Porto Novo.

Picture of the beach in my sector. Hopefully those trees will grow soon because if not, it's too hot to chill out at the beach!

Well, I don't think we'll be having rice shortages anytime soon.

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