Down (up?) the Erie to Brockport!

I never fully understood the meaning of “bittersweet” until yesterday. I am getting transferred out of Newark and going to full-proselyting Brockport!

Brockport is about 20 minutes west of Rochester, but too far away to go to the sites. In the NYRM, there are about 36 sisters that serve as “site sisters,” and six at a time that get shipped out to either Brockport, Buffalo, or Dansville. And I’m lucky enough to be going! I seriously screamed when I found out! Every sister that has been there just raves about it. And that’s not even the coolest thing. At Zone Conference, Hermana Torres and I were joking around with President, telling him that we’ve had dreams that we were supposed to go full-proselying together for her last two transfers on her mission. Apparently he wanted to give us an early Christmas present…because it actually worked! HA!

However, leaving the Lyons ward is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Leaving Sister Graham, Sister Butters, Sister Adams, and especially the Lyons elders in our district is absolutely horrible. We called ourselves the “celestial district” because we had so much fun together. We got so much work done, and everyone got along so well…even us with the ward. I felt like it was my home ward. We figured we’d get transferred soon enough…Sister Adams is going to Seneca Falls, and she’s living at the Peter Whitmer Farm, right where the Church was organized. Sister Graham is getting Sister Park from South Korea. They are going to have so much fun together–Sister Park is hysterical! Then Sister Butters is getting Sister Fetuli from Tonga. And my new companion is from Nicaragua. Talk about the gathering of Israel!

Instead of wallowing that I’m leaving Newark right after I fell in love with it, I am going to think of a million other reasons why I will absolutely LOVE Brockport. First, Hermana Torres. I’m making her speak Spanish to me all day every day. We have 12 weeks together–don’t you think I could get pretty good? Second, we are the only missionaries in our ward. President just closed Brockport elders area and gave it to us, so we now have double the area, which means double the work! YES! Hermana Torres and I are the only missionaries in the small Brockport ward, so it will be such a great challenge. I’ll have to work super hard and super long, but that’s the only way I can grow. However, without the sacred grove 2-3 times a week…I don’t know what we’ll do! Oh well, I’ll be back to the sites in time to start training for the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

So that’s the update for what’s happening to me–I CAN’T EVEN WAIT! Oh my goodness. It’s easier to just remember the good times, and put trust in the Lord that the good things keep on coming. That’s what I had to learn when I graduated from high school, left BYU Athletics, BYUtv, my best friends back at home…and now it’s happening in the mission field. Mom and Dad, I seriously don’t know how you’re going to drag me out of this place when the time comes. We won’t talk about it…

I’ll leave you all with a great experience–my last at the Joseph Smith Farm until I come back in the Spring/Summer. I had the privilege of taking a 19-year old member named Brittany, and her 20-year-old non-member best friend Alyssa on tour. Brittany brought Alyssa to the sites because she’s been talking to her about the church for a long time. In fact, Brittany wears the Church on her sleeve, and talks about it with everyone. I am so impressed with her–she opens her mouth to absolutely everyone that comes in contact with her. And, she doesn’t even wear a name tag yet! Anyway, we went into the log home and I explained the First Vision to the two girls. Brittany turns to Alyssa and said, “I know, it’s a lot to take in. But I know it’s true.” Alyssa kinda laughed and said, “psh, yeah!” We then went up the narrow stairs to Joseph’s bedroom where the Angel Moroni appeared to him when he was just 17 years old. I emphasized the Book of Mormon, however, we got into a fantastic discussion about “being a Mormon” is a way of life. Alyssa told the both of us that she was so impressed that girls our same age would give their lives to something that means so much. She also said that we obviously are happy, and it’s a happiness that comes from within. Brittany and I both bore our testimony about the things that happened here in Palmyra and what it’s done personally for our lives. I ended up getting her contact information very easily and gave it to the elders that are in her area. They already contacted her, and are starting the discussions in the next two weeks. The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to share the gospel with anyone, even your best friends. If 19 and 20 year-olds can do it, you can. Sometimes people want to know how happy you are, but honestly have no clue what to ask. People don’t realize it’s the gospel that makes us happy. If they turn you down, don’t worry about it! Just resume the friendship. But–think of what can happen if they accept. When President Eyring says, “thousands will call your name blessed,” he really means it. However, that can only happen if you ACT. You don’t have to be awkward about it. In fact, please don’t be awkward about it. We want these people to think we’re normal. You could say, “My family and I are having a Family Home Evening on Monday night. Would you like to join us?” or “Do you want to come with me to the YSA activity on ______?” Then explain to them that Christ is the reason for everything. If you say it with confidence, they won’t even question you. Don’t think about it! Just do it.

It’s time to go to transfer meeting, so I’ll give you the update when I can! I’m glad we got to e-mail l because we didn’t know if we had time…but we figured it out! I’m really sad about leaving the sites and Sister Graham, but being with Hermana Torres will be a huge adventure. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures soon! I love you all! I love being a missionary.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

p.s. MERRY CHRISTMAS! How is everyone doing on talking about mormon.org/Christmas?

Fine Tuning

Isn’t it just great that when you think you’ve got it, you don’t? It’s been an occurring theme in my mission.

Ether 12:27–“And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

So He’s saying that when we finally get the humility to come to Him, we get smacked in the face with weaknesses? That’s exactly what He’s saying. He never said it was going to be easy. Coming on my mission, and even in the MTC, I thought that if I just slowly but surely work at all of these things, they will come. However, I have learned that I still have to work slowly and surely, but they don’t come all on my time frame. This is what I call fine tuning.

Yesterday, we spent a lot of time on mormon.org chatting. There weren’t too many people at the Hill Cumorah so we had time to get our brains fried. Teaching people online is probably one of the most mentally draining thing I’ve done. (Besides producing my first show at True Blue.) We get every single kind of person from all over the world asking absolutely anything they want to. We had some great conversations–members who didn’t know quite the correct doctrine and are too afraid to ask their leaders in person, investigators with their missionaries who are making sure this is the truth, and Bible-whizzes sincerely wanting proof that the Book of Mormon is real. However, we do get some who are bored, and just want to argue. That’s when I know my study for the next day will be centered around Preach My Gospel Chapter 6: Christlike Attributes. I never knew how upset I really can get when someone jokes about my Older Brother. What they don’t know is that this could bring them happiness. Pure joy. That person they are speaking lightly of can literally save them. That’s when I have to tell myself that the war in Heaven is continuing and it’s little annoying Satan that wants to make my job more difficult.

In Doctrine and Covenants 84:88, Christ says, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” Now tell me that isn’t comforting? That single scripture (along with many others) has pulled me through those rough times. There is no other person in the entire universe that could give me the feeling I get when I know He is lifting me up, and magnifying my words.

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at the sites happened just last week. Sister Graham and I were working at the Peter Whitmer Farm in Fayette. We were chatting online waiting for some people to come in for a tour. Finally, a very cute Canadian couple, each not over 5’5″, walked in and said they were “site seeing in Western New York.” (Um hello…? There’s a barn over there, a tree over there…oh and a corn field across the way!) So as you can tell, it was the Spirit that led them here. They introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Latley. They were Catholic, and hadn’t heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before. They said they had 15 minutes before they had to leave, so I took them straight to the log home. As we were walking there, I gave them the watered down version of the Church. Hard to do? Yes. As soon as we got in there, I just took a deep breath, and said, “So this is where the Church was organized.” Apparently the spirit magnified my voice, because they got silent. I let their heart and eyes wander for a bit, and then I went on to explain what happened on the day of April 6, 1830. Mrs. Latley then said, “You mean to tell me, that this is the same church that Jesus Christ formed on the earth?” I said “Yes, and nothing has changed.” I then explained the Book of Mormon and where the record came from. Mr. Latley then questioned the use of the Bible for us and I told him that the Book of Mormon, in fact, proves that the Bible is even true. That’s when both their eyes got very wide, and listened to even more of what I had to say. After about half an hour, I had explained most of the details of the Restoration. They mentioned they had never felt like this before, and telling me when their next trip to the sites would be. Without even me asking, Mr. Latley gave me his card for me to call them and explain more. Now, five days later, we have exchanged e-mails back and forth and they are doing some “real soul-searching, and will call me with any questions.”

The reason that experience was so memorable, is because I could physically see the spirit working on them. They knew that what I was telling them was true, and they could not deny it. They gave it away right in their eyes. They were absolutely impressed with the dedication, diligence, and spirituality that all of these young sisters have. What they didn’t know, is that we don’t do this on our own. The spirit worked through me to invite them back to the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and then for them to ask me to  personally give them another tour of the sites next year.

The experiences I’ve had this week have fine-tuning in patience and love to help me be a better daughter, sister, mother, wife, and friend. Yes, I came to Christ. Yes, I did realize many more weaknesses in myself. But that’s just because it gives me the opportunity to make them stronger. This is a lifelong journey and I will continue to be humbled with weakness. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thanks, again, for all of your support. The missionaries appreciate it more than you can even imagine, and going home after a long day, knowing that someone still remembers you, is one of the best feelings in the world. Thank you so much. I hope you all have a great week!

BE HAPPY!

Sister Hawkes