Sunday, June 29, 2014

Work, Work, Work....Repeat

Work, work, work! That's really all I can say about this past week. We have been working like crazy this week. I still don't know how many lessons we taught in all but it seemed like every day was just packed with lessons and people to teach, which is great! I give a lot of the credit to Elder Izekor, who has an amazing ability to just talk to anybody about taking missionary lessons, which is something that I am still trying to work on! 

It's been really funny working with Elder Oliverson though... it's weird being around another American 24/7 because well... it's just weird! I feel bad for Elder Izekor because we just team up on him all the time, but he takes it all like a champ! 

Anyway, I suppose I can talk about a few of the amis that we have because I can't think of much else to talk about!

  • Gouda (like the cheese): This was a contact that we received from one of the Guards at the bureau. He is also a guard, but he works at night which is why we are able to talk to him during the day. He has been very interested in what we have had to say, but he has been tough to talk to. He's one of those people who believes he has the worst situation in the whole world and that God has really forgotten him. It's really weird that he even still believes in God and that he says he knows that God loves him, but sometimes I think he just likes to vent to us which is why he keeps going on and on with his "Woe is me" type thing.

    One funny thing that happened this week was that we taught him the Word of Wisdom. His two biggest problems will be to stop drinking coffee (which is hard since he works the night shifts) and also his weird tobacco habit (he has this ground up tobacco, that from what I understand, he puts up his nose and snorts it... it's weird. Elder Oliverson just told me that it's called snuff which I have heard of before but never wondered enough to find out what it was. Still weird). Anyway, he told us that he would give up the coffee for a week and see how it all worked out. He refused to give up the tobacco for the time being because apparently it has too many healing abilities (ironically, he was sick when he was telling us about that).

    Well, the funny part is that when we came back the next day to teach him, he told us that 5 minutes after we had left the previous day, his tobacco fell out all over in his pocket (I guess you can't sniff it once if falls into your pocket?) and he said that was the first time that that had ever happened since he had started doing it. He was totally surprised and he knew that it was a sign from God but he was like what the heck?!?! That's not fair!!!!! Haha, it was funny but hopefully he doesn't buy some more because his baptism is slated for next week and he can't get baptized if he's still sniffin' away!
  • Rebecca and Sarah: This is a mother and a daughter we are teaching of a member in our branch (Romario if Elder Christensen is reading!). We contacted them last week and have taught them maybe 4-5 times in the past 10 days. At first, she was telling us that she was just going to listen to the missionary lessons because she wanted to know what her son believed in (she and her daughter are devout catholics). So far, the lessons have been going great. Both of them ask great questions (Sarah is only 16 which is even more surprising!)... and in our last lesson with them, Sarah had whispered to Elder Oliverson that she knew everything that we were teaching was true... Elder Oliverson (he told me all this after it happened) was caught by surprise and was like, errr... hold on, wait a second, what?!?! But yeah, then I jumped in and heard her talk about how she knew everything we were teaching was true and that she had prayed about it and she had a good feeling come over her. 

    Anyway, it has been nice to teach them. I'm not sure if they will be baptized anytime soon because I think the mom is still a little hesitant to join the Church, even though she knows what we are saying is true. But with a little prayer and a little luck, you never know what can happen! 
Also, I wanted to talk about this lesson that I had this past week with a few new investigators. We were teaching these two teenage guys the first lesson, but there were like 3 other people there who were just tuning in and listening. (side note: that's the one cool thing about Beninois/Togolais. If there's a stranger who comes into their house and starts talking they will all come over and start listening, even if they weren't invited over!). Anyway, one of the people that was there started asking some legit questions. The questions were "why did Jesus choose Peter as his prophet and apostle if he had known that he would deny him three times?" and the other one was "why would God just wipe out all of the wicked with a flood during the times of Noah if he had really loved us?". Anyway, I had to explain to them that Jesus picked Peter not because of how he would fail him, but because of how he would be a powerful apostle/prophet after His (Jesus') death. I talked about how nobody on Earth was or is perfect, save it be Jesus Christ. And then I explained the Noah question in talking about how many times the Lord had told Noah to warn the people to repent or else he would punish them. I then used an example of how a parent would try to tell a kid not to touch a fire yet he keeps getting close to it and even touching it. I told them that a parent would eventually punish the kid for not doing as he was told (I said that the parent would actually hit the kid, because you know, everybody hits their kids here so that example works really well unfortunately).

Anyway, what really hit me was that, a year or two ago, I probably would not have been able to answer those questions the way I had that night. One thing that the mission has taught me is how to respond to questions, both professionally and correctly. A lot of times, people will try to ask questions just to get you fired up and angry (Gouda, the ami I talked about, likes to play devil's advocate so he would be one of those amis!). But, that's not the way the Lord taught while he was on the Earth, did he? But, I think the most impressive part about being able to answer those questions was feeling the Spirit flow through me and help guide me through these answers. 

You know, one thing that surprises a lot of people about us is that we go through so little training. People believe that you should have to go through years of training in order to become missionaries like us, but in reality, we only go through weeks of training before hitting the mission field! I really believe that that attests to the divinity of this work because the Lord can take rather immature 18-21 year olds and turn them into incomparable missionaries! 

How great of a blessing it is to feel the Lord's hand in this magnificent work! Despite my imperfections (my companions can tell you about them all!), the Lord gets what he needs done... He helps those with questions get answers... and, most importantly, He helps us change lives for the better. 

I thank you all for the support and prayers! They, as they have since the beginning of my mission, have really helped turn me into the missionary that I am today.


Elder Hawkins


MANGEZ-VOUS! Ate at one of Elder Oliverson's recent converts from the branch. They are a really great family. The wife is the RS President and then their husband has apparently been called as the DMB (ward mission leader). They have a few daughters and they are really nice! Anyway, we ate my absolute FAVORITE beninois meal, djenkoumen (red patte). And plus they had made really good chicken. It was great. I will miss that when I get back home.

Elder Kunz, Elder Konduah (GHANA!), and Elder Oliverson.

Dorkas, their littlest daughter, who is a spaz and saw me
taking a picture of my food and then wanted me to take a picture of her food. Haha!

Just my next door neighbor cookin' a cow hoof. No big deal guys.

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