Sunday, June 8, 2014

Africaball and Baptism, Life is Good

I think this week could not have started any better because it all has to do with one of the greatest words ever to be created in the history of mankind:

Elder Hawkins swinging away and probably imagining my head as the ball.
(pics courtesy of Elder Haggard! He added the captions. Haha!)


That's right... I played baseball, Africa style. How? Well it all had to do with my favorite Mexican-American missionary, Elder Silvas from Anaheim, California (well near it anyways). He and Elder Buxton, both avid baseball fans like myself, found this baseball bat sized bamboo stick in their sector and had this crazy idea that they could maybe, just maybe, play baseball with it. So, for a while they were playing baseball with a ball made up of rolled up paper and they told me it worked pretty well.

Elder Hawkins and Elder Silvas posing for the camera as we set up teams to play Baseball.

Thankfully, they had the bright idea of bringing it to the beach for a mission activity we were having this past Monday. They brought the bat and an old tennis ball they found. We drew the lines in the sand and we had teams of about 7-8 people per team (pretty much all Americans... Elder Desvergez tried to play but... errrr... didn't quite understand that you had to run the bases after hitting the ball). 

Elders Hawkins and Jenkins (?) realizing that they aren't physically active enough so they needed to stretch.

I had so much hope that this little pickup baseball game that we were playing would actually work! It had been so long since I had actually played, watched, or seen anything that resembled baseball! (okay, that one time I ate at an Indian Restaurant and watched cricket does not count.) 

Elder Silvas batting

Little by little, the game was coming along! Hits were being hit, great fielding plays were being made, chants from Backyard Baseball were being chanted... ahhhh... it was just some good ol' American fun.


But have no fear, Elder Silvas, myself, and a couple of other missionaries hopped into the car to go down the road to Erevan, aka Heaven in Benin... where one can find all one's yovo needs. We were on the hunt to buy new tennis balls, no matter what the cost! But, typical Benin, Erevan did not have any tennis balls they were willing to sell to us! They had some back in storage that were "defective" and they refused to sell them to us even though we told them they don't need to be perfect tennis balls... just something good enough to hit with a bamboo bat! 

Alas, as we were walking away, completely defeated, Elder Woodland made a joke saying that they should know that old tennis balls just get sold as dog toys after a while. BINGO! We bolted to the dog section of the store and there they were: the perfect African Baseball! It was a little steep (paid $6 for two balls) but it was totally worth it as we were able to continue our game of Africaball. 

As for my stats, I think I had a couple of RBIs and even had a few runs scored... even had to do some sliding which is more like me just letting my legs collapse under me and fall to the ground (it was sand so I could do whatever). I did have one strike out which was pretty embarrassing but after that I regrouped and had some pretty good hits. Had to channel in my inner-2007 Ryan Howard after all. I even held up my bat and did the same batting stance that he would do before going to the plate and everything... I'm sure only Keegan and of course Fro will get that but everyone out here got a kick out of it.  

What our Companions chose to do in place of baseball. (Notice what flag they are centered around.)
OBAMA Beach!

Afterwards, everybody who was playing was talking about how that was probably the best P-day activity that we have all ever had since coming on our missions (I agreed). All the Africans were just watching us and probably wondering what we were doing, but I asked Elder Izekor about what all the other guys were thinking and he said they all thought it was pretty funny that we were playing American baseball. They said they were pretty interested so maybe we'll get a P-day Africaball league started out here pretty soon and teach these guys how to play some baseball! 

Elder Izekor, myself, and Innocente's family! Sammy, the little kid, was not likin' the baptismal service (as seen from the picture) but he settled down after a while!

On a more spiritual note, my ami Innocente got baptized today! It was a great baptismal service! Even though I was freaking out just a few hours before because someone told me that the baptisms actually started at 9 and not at 10... but it did eventually start at 10 like I thought so there were no worries... everything went very smoothly.

Lala did actually make the end of the baptismal service (though he was super late because it started raining)!

I'm really happy for Innocente... I actually mentioned her a while ago, in one of my posts when I had an ami ask me if baptism would solve all her problems and make her life worry free (from my email sent on April 12). We had a couple of problems with the baptismal dates because of things she had going on but she always kept faith that she would be baptized. She was telling us that she knew how it was a test from the Lord, testing her faith and her willingness to be baptized. 

I think it was for the best that she was baptized today though. Because of the extra time we had, we were able to really prepare her for baptism and really were able to reinforce all the lessons that we had taught with her so that she would be ready for her baptismal interview. 

I think the culminating point of the actual baptism though was the testimony she gave afterwards. All converts are invited to bear a little testimony with everybody and she was the first one to get up and bear her testimony on her baptism. She told us how scared she was the night before because of all the unknowns and what not. Then she said how she felt so heavy going into the water, but remarked on how lite (light? mo you gotta correct this for me!) she felt coming out of the water. She testified that she knew she made the right choice and honestly, my heart was so full of joy and love at that moment. 

Words could not express they joy a missionary feels when we see people walking along the path that leads to eternal life. I remember telling Innocente during that one lesson I mentioned earlier how baptism is not the solution to our problems but is a tool to help solve our problems! In fact, I'm reminded greatly of a scripture in Mosiah 5, my mission scripture actually: 

 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
 How true is it, that we enter into a covenant or an alliance (in French!) with our Father in Heaven! My goal with Innocente, now that she has been baptized, will be to help her recognize this tool in her life. What an amazing tool we have, a covenant and an alliance with God! I've heard it many times, both in English and in French, that succeeding in life is not about what you know, but about who you know! What better person to know, and get to know, than God! Someone who can give you anything in the twinkling of an eye, I think, no... I know that's a good connaissance to have! 

Thanks again for all the support, love and prayers that everyone sends my way. I got some great letters to respond to this week so I'll try and write back as soon as possible! 

'Til next week!

Elder Hawkins

MOTO MISSIONARIES! Just kidding, these belong to the guardians of the bureau. Oddly enough, they are parked in President's garage! 

me being crazy at the baptism... nice picture of my tie though.

Is that green or red? Do I go?

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