Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy Birthday America!

We went to eat at President Kazoti's house (Fidjrosse branch president) on Monday.Elder Legbanon, my "fils", actually lived with him before his mission and this is his moto! 

Goodness, I think I'm becoming too old for this email business because my fingers start to get tired by the time I write this weekly email to everybody. I guess that's what happens when you've been on the mission for almost 20 months! Maybe I should hire somebody to start typing my emails for me. Ha!

Anyway, this week was pretty crazy with the Mission President change! It was really funny because while the Weeds were preparing to leave, you could pretty much tell that they were not really believing that the end was already arriving. However, they have done a great job in getting this mission up and running. President Weed will always be the "Papa" of this crazy little mission here in Togo and Benin. 

Before he left, we were able to give him a huge journal filled with letters and pictures from almost every single missionary in the mission. They already knew we were going to do it (thanks to missionaries who gave them their letters directly!), but I think they were really surprised to see how BIG the actual book was. In my letter to President, I thanked him for everything that he did and told him a story about how he was an answer to a blessing I promised to one of the members here! Soeur Ola, who owns a boutique out here and was actually found by President and Sister Weed over 1.5 years ago, always helps us go teach people we have. Well, one day I promised that if she came and taught with us, then the Lord would send a customer to her boutique (this particular day, she hadn't had a customer for the past few days if I remember correctly, or at least she hadn't had one all day!). Well, she came out and taught with us. The next day, I asked if she had any customers and she told us that right after she came back to the boutique, President and Sister Weed came over and bought some stuff from her! She thought that we had conspired with President but I promised her we hadn't, and that that was a blessing from the Lord! 

President Weed is surely missed in this mission! He was very inspired but he finished out his three years valiantly. I hope I will get to see them again after the mission! 

However, on the very plane that took President Weed brought President Morin, our newest Quebecois (still have no idea how to spell that!). We waited for about 30 minutes outside the airport for them and it was great to finally meet them in person... the whole time before they came, Elder Oliverson and I were investigating everything we could about them! The night that they got here, they had a 2 1/2 hour planning session with the couple and the Assistants because President Morin wanted to get started right away! 

Sister Morin, me, President Morin (I didn't know where to put my hands! gah!!)

The next day, he went to a district meeting with the Elders in Fidjrosse, where we were the ones to bring them charwamas! What a privilege it was to introduce President Morin to the wonderful world of CHARWAMAS!!!! He was slightly confused as to what it was at first, but soon enough, he came to learn of the wonderful goodness that is the middle eastern delight.

One of the funniest yet confusing things about him is whether to speak French or English. Sometimes he speaks to us in French, sometimes he speaks to us in English! I told this to Sur, but the funniest thing he said was "Ou est le garbage can?" He was speaking Franglish I think (unless garbage can is really how you say garbage can in Quebecois), but he said Garbage Can with a perfectly American accent. I found it rather humorous. 

Sister Morin is really sweet too. It's really great to see how excited they are to get to work and make this mission grow even more than it has! I hope that their zeal for the work will continue to grow and stay with them throughout their three years. 

One of the most interesting things that I've noticed is how much different President Weed and President Morin are! With President Weed, he had a very deep voice, he always seemed like he was busy, and he was also American! President Morin, on the other hand, is very soft spoken, is laid back (in a way where he doesn't seem stressed... though maybe that will change but he might just be really good at hiding it!), and he is also Canadian and a native French speaker. There are many other differences but those are just a few that I'll share for now... I've only known him for a few days, so I don't want to make too many conclusions on President Morin just yet! 

In any case, I'm really excited to work with him and get to know him. Though he will only be my mission President for 4 months, it will be interesting to see what I can learn from him in the time that I have left. 

In other news, yesterday was the Fourth of July! As you can imagine, Benin does not celebrate the 4th of July, much like last year that Togo doesn't either (I know, I know, you would think they would celebrate the birth of America!). But that's not stopping Elder Hawkins! I printed off some copies of the Declaration of Independence for my district to read! I also cracked the windows on the mission truck to show off my mini-US flags my mom sent me! (we felt like diplomats riding around!). We got a lot of weird looks from people, but I didn't care! Also, that morning I played MoTab's "God Bless America" album. Elder Izekor really loved that! At the end of the day, Elder Oliverson, Kunz, Seidl, Konduah, and I went to a big pizza place right on the waterfront to celebrate. It was amazing pizza (it was cheese stuffed crust pizza!). We spent way too much money on it, but it was totally worth it because we were celebrating the 4th of July!  

A for America...and the "Texan" pizza with cheese, mushrooms, French bacon, and ham


My Boys Kunz...

 ...and Seidl! (and Elder Konduah!)


Enjoying a beautiful pizza by the riverside (not pictured: trash in the river).

The sad part about the pizza place was that it would have been a perfect place to see fireworks as it was right on the water front. It kind of reminded me of eating out in New Hope, except the water smelled awful and it was filled with trash. However, if you look past the bad smells and the trash, it was quite delightful! 

I hope everybody back home was able to celebrate a great 4th of July! Our country is truly blessed in more ways than you can imagine. Sometimes, it can be hard to forget all the problems that exist back home, but look at all the things that are right about it: paved roads, constant power, great education, clean water, baseball... what more can you ask for?!?! 

In my personal study this week, I have been reading through the Alma war chapters in the Book of Mormon, which I just realized coincides quite well with the 4th of July, as the Nephites were fighting for many of the same principles that our founding fathers fought for as well. Here's a good quote from Alma 46:12-13: 

And it came to pass that he (Captain Moroni) rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. 
And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—

That reminds me a lot of the famous painting of George Washington praying at Valley Forge, who I am sure was fighting for many of the same principles expressed by Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon. I find it interesting that many things that are so valuable to us, like freedom and our beliefs, are usually the things that have to be fought for. I hope that we remember why America was born and what the people were fighting for when it was born, and that WE continue to fight for it too. 

God bless America! (and Benin and Togo, too... because we need it!)

Elder Hawkins

More Pix:

Elder Izekor with the ugliest car built on earth.



  1. What a great post this week. I noticed that it was the small and simple things that seem to be what he is grateful for this week and missing in Benin. It is so good to keep a small piece of Elder Gundersens mission experiences and friends alive in E. Hawkins posts. I bet they are all sad to see the Weeds leave, but they will love the Morins too in no time! Hawkins, you are a great missionary, your zeal and love for the people you are serving comes through in every post! Hunter Gundersens grandma Peterson

  2. Hey Trev!! Keep on keeping on!! :p

  3. I just love Elder Hawkins' sense of humor. And I loved the story about the sister with the boutique. What great faith he demonstrated by making that promise to her and how sweet to see how the Lord fulfilled it. He really is in the details of our lives. Thanks for your wonderful example, Elder Hawkins and keep up the great work!