The things you can do in seven days.

…And she’s baptized! This is the best. TWO in one week?!
 
Anne got baptized yesterday…she invited some of her family that she thought would never come–and they came. They’re self-proclaimed “die-hard baptists,” but they came to support her in her decision. This was a huge step for her and them, because like I just mentioned, she grew up in the Baptist church. Everything she knows is the Baptist church. But when we started to teach her, she said there were holes being filled in that she didn’t even know were there. Anyway, the whole thing went extremely smooth. Compared to last week! Anne even asked me to sing and play something on the piano, so I sang “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” It went a lot better than I had planned, I think just because the Spirit was so strong. However, the moment that topped everything yesterday, was when her new Visiting Teacher was speaking about the ordinance of baptism. At the moment she told Anne that this decision would continue to change her life, I had my arm around her, and she just put her head down and squoze her little fingers into her eyes and just cried. She was so happy. She IS so happy. She got up to bear her testimony after everything was done, and sounded more eloquent than I’ve ever heard her talk before. She was the calmest I’ve ever seen her, the happiest I’ve ever seen her, and the most powerful I’ve ever seen her. I can’t begin to even comprehend the things that I’m witnessing right now. I can’t believe I just assisted Heavenly Father to bring Him two of his most precious daughters.

We also had Mission President interviews this week. It was really good to just sit down and talk to President Christianson. He is the most kind and powerful, calm and enthusiastic man I’ve ever met. I haven’t ever seen anyone so engulfed in the work that he has to do. He puts his absolute heart and soul into everything. He is what I think of when I think of keeping an “eye single to the glory.” He has turned down extremely presitious job offers, sacrificed his health, and has even missed his own father’s funeral to be here serving Him with us. He is what a Mission President is supposed to be. We do get a new one in June, and all of us are pretty nervous, because we don’t know how this new guy will top President Christianson! But President Christianson affirms and re-affirms us that whoever has the duty to take over the Cradle of the Restoration after he leaves will take it to a whole new level. I trust him. We just want to know who it is! That’s another thing that missionaries are always talking about: who the new mission president is going to be, and especially what is going to happen at transfers. Ha! Like I said, it was good to sit and talk to President..because he gave me some of the details about what’s going to happen. Seriously, if you ask him, he will tell you anything. I told him that I would give anything to stay in Brockport as long as I can. He said, “I know, I know. I would give anything for you to stay in Brockport for the rest of your mission. That ward is going to kill me if I take you out of there. But I have to close two sisters’ areas, and bring in 20 new missionaries and their trainers, so it’s not looking good.” NOOOO. So don’t be surprised in a few weeks when I (might) get transferred. Again. I hate that. But for more of an explaination, he needs to close two sisters areas, because we’ve got 10 new sisters coming next transfer, and he needs me to train again…and I have to train at the sites. Plus, being a cast trainer I have to be within 15 minutes of Palmyra to prepare for Pageant 2013. It’s complicated–I don’t even know half the stuff that goes on at transfers–but I know it’s all up to the Lord. You should expect it though, because when President Monson announced the age change, this is the after-effects! In total, we are opening up 17 new areas this next transfer alone, and our mission is expected to double by the end of this year. Prepare yourselves, people of New York, the missionaries are coming!

Anyway, now it’s back to square one. Right now we’ve got like half of an investigator. Ha. After focusing so much on these two baptisms, we haven’t had as much time as we’d like to find people. So, now is the time to do it! Finding people is always interesting, especially since tracting is now discouraged. We visit a lot of less-actives and a lot of the time, and somehow, their friends are there who want to learn. Imagine that! We’re going to keep trying that, street contacting, and especially getting involved in the community is a great way to find. The phrase, “Teach when you find, and find when you teach,” always goes through my mind when we are walking down streets. (Obviously it’s been in the teens, so it’s been too cold to walk for long hours everyday.) We have to always have our armor of God put on correctly so we can constantly be doing what Christ would do.
 
January has gone by extremely slow, so I’m hoping February will move a lot faster. My mind plays a lot of tricks on me, sometimes I feel like I’m in a dream, and then the next moment I feel like my previous high school/college life was a dream. It’s so weird. I don’t even have time to think about myself, so I think that’s why everything is just moving under me. I feel like I’m on a treadmill that I can’t get off. I don’t realize the importance of things until they are either in the moment or past–so that’s something I’m working on. Realizing. Comprehending. Understanding. I honestly don’t think I will until I grow up a little bit more. I found a set of scriptures from D&C 123 that I think describes perfectly what I’m trying to accomplish: 
 11 And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—
 12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
 13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
He’s right. We OWE this work to everyone. Everyone needs what we have, even though they don’t realize it. We have to work harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives…there is no “going home at the end of the day.” We take our work home with us. This is 24/7, giving 100%, for 18 months to 2 years. That’s why it says, “waste and wear out our lives.” Believe me, I’m going to throw myself on my couch the second I walk into my house in October…I’m going to be exahusted. However, now is the time for me to work, and to work cheerfully. We have to make this happy, or else it’s completely pointless. There is no reason in doing this unless someone gets joy out of it.
 
What a great week, and what a great time to be in the mission field! I LOVE being a missionary, and I love you all!
 

BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

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Study Series: Christlike Attributes

Most everyone who has studied Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel knows the basic attributes of Christ that envelop everything: faith, hope, charity, love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, dilligence and obedience. But what about other words that describe Him as a person? Here are a few I have studied recently.

  • Enthusiastic. en=in; theos=god. Literally, being enthusicastic means to have God in us. From the Dictionary, It’s a “supernatural inspiriation or posession.” For a man that is half God, half man, Christ is the essence of enthusiasm. It’s not literally having your eyes wide open at everything tearing whatever is blocking you in your path, it’s having your spiritual eyes wide open so that nothing can come between you and God. What about when Christ fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fishes? (John 6:5-14)
  • Optimistic. Think of how tired and thirsty Christ was on the journey to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria (and was very aware that traditionally Jews and Samaritans never cooperate.) Christ was so exhausted, that He stopped to take a seat at Jacob’s well in Samaria. A Samaritan woman came to the well to get some water, and Christ simply asked her to bring up something to drink. Now, think of a time when your mouth has been the dryest. Do you even want to speak? Let alone–think? He took this time to teach the woman about how she never had to come back to the well for water, because of the knowledge that He could give her of her Father. Regardless of how He felt,  Christ knew it would all be okay because it was God’s work. How optimistic is that? Christ literally was looking at the glass (or in this case, a well) half full. (John 4: 3-14)
  • Motivating. Who else could give us the strength to do hard things, or do things we don’t even want to do? I can guarantee that Christ wasn’t jumping and screaming at the chance to do some things He had to do. One particular time I can think of in the scriptures, is when He had to cleanse His Father’s temple. That would take some guts, but more importantly, a supernatural motivation from Heaven. (John 2:15-16)
  • Articulate. There was nothing that Christ said or did that didn’t have anything to do with the building up of God’s kingdom. One of my favorites is when He blessed the Nephite children in the Americas. He blessed each man, woman and child…one by one. Let’s say Christ spent just one minute, 60 seconds, with each person in attendance. Nephi records a total of 2,500 people that He personally spoke to. If my math is correct, that is a little of 41 hours straight of meet-and-greets. And I’m sure He made everyone feel like a million bucks. (3 Nephi 17)
  • Charismatic. I’m going to use the dictionary again so everyone understands what this word really means. “A special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires unswerving allegiance and devotion.” This one man has so much leadership capability that even the fishermen left their own jobs…these men earned their lives on fish. From the words, “Follow Me,” we learn that nothing matters more than giving our will up to God.  Christ simply told them to leave their nets–something that would “tie” them up in the world–and come to Him. Let go of everything we think we need, and give it all to the Savior. If we can set that example to our friends and family and give everything up, we will dominate this attribute. (Matt 4: 18-22)
  • Tranquil. Christ did not rush to appointments, He did not worry about a watch–all He worried about was bringing His brothers and sisters to our Heavenly Father. He did not worry in times of thunder or storm…well, let’s take a look at his day trip out to sea. As He was sleeping while a storm was thrashing the boat, His disciples woke Him up and said, “Master, carest not thou that we perish? How can’st thou lie asleep?” All Christ had to say was, “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:37-41)
  • Confident. In the Garden of Gethsemane, our Savior was completely diminished. The only thing that He truly relied on was the angels surrounding Him, but most importantly, His Father. He suffered every possible thing that you can imagine–every possible thing that any human being would ever go through. Yet through it all, He had confidence in our Father that this would be for good. “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.” (2 Nephi 26:24) (Matt 26:39)
  • Fearless. There is nothing absolutely more fearful than having no control over your own death, and in this case, dying for the whole entire world. I don’t even know if I could put into words what I learned about this: So I’ll let you study it on your own. (Matt 27)

In order to learn about Christ, we need to be like Christ. It’s a lot to try to develop all of these attributes in one day, so try taking one a week, one every two weeks, and see how you do. This is something I desperately need to work on–so I’m joining you in your effort.

Again, I haven’t shared everything I learned, because that would defeat the purpose of having the Spirit teach you what you need to know. Think of some more attributes of Christ that people don’t usually talk about. Let’s be realistic–He has every positive emotion you can find embedded into His person.

Heaven on Earth

“You guys are more than missionaries. You guys are truly great friends, and thank you so much for being here for me…I’ve never felt so much love in a friendship. :)” -Steph…text message on Sunday night!
 
Whatever else I say, this week has to top it all. Steph got BAPTIZED! And you wouldn’t believe how much Satan did not want it to happen. I would tell you all of the stories that happened within 2 hours that Sunday morning, but I’ll save you. If you really want to know you can ask me later. Let’s just say we get a text from Steph right when Sacrament Meeting starts: “I’m on my way to the emergency room…” HA. Doesn’t stop there…Corey the one who was baptizing Steph, was out in the hall with his head up against a wall in so much pain from his wrestling tournament the day before. Then we got news from the ward mission leader that she couldn’t be confirmed that day, it had to wait two weeks…it was crazy. However, after praying the hardest I’ve ever prayed in my life, everything came through. Perfectly. Steph had an infection from getting her wisdom teeth out three days previous, and apparently she told the doctor that there was nothing he would do to stop her from being at the church to get baptized that afternoon. Ahh, the sweet smell of chlorine has never smelled so good to me before. The actual moment she got dunked, I knew I wouldn’t forget that picture in my mind for the rest of my life. The smile on her face had absolutely no words to describe, and I’ll be honest…I was practically in tears from smiling so big. We ran back to the dressing room and gave her a huge hug–I’ve never been so happy to have my Sunday clothes soaked.
 
I think that’s my biggest news of the week. Let me check…yep. We had a specialized training with President last week in Batavia which was awesome as always; Sister Torres and I taught a training on the Holy Ghost. Today, we got to change our P-day to Tuesday this week to go to Niagra Falls with a less-active member in our ward…and her non-member husband. It was six degrees! Then finally it went up to ten, and stayed at ten. But it was SO NEAT! There was pretty much no one there, because there were ice chunks flying into our faces from the falls. But hey, when you’re a missionary, you only have so much time to do these things. It was so worth it. Mostly, it was great to have that kind of time with people who truly needed the Savior in their lives.
 
We also had a funeral of a ward member this week. We had been visiting their family for awhile, so it was sad to see them in that capacity. However, it was a good time to reflect on the Plan of Salvation and how much of an influence those who have already passed on are in our mortal lives. It made me think a lot of my Grandma and Grandpa Hawkes. They devoted their lives to this service, and I have no doubt that they are working harder than I am right now. I know for a fact that they are right here with me and encouraging me to talk to everyone that I can. I hope that all of you, sometime this week, think of the Plan of Happiness and how it can bless your life. You’ve all had close people pass through, and I can’t imagine anything more tough than having to attend a father or a mother’s funeral. But the only reason that happens, is because Heavenly Father sees the big picture. There’s a puzzle that we don’t have all of the pieces to yet, and we are only seeing it piece by piece…because it’s as much as we can handle as human beings. No matter how hard it may be, try to reflect on the memories and build them into something, so that the Lord can use them however He needs to use them.
 
There’s a picture attatched of us at Niagra Falls, and of course, me and Steph. This would be the caption to that picture: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” -Doctrine and Covenants 18:15.
 
Just another great week in the life of Sister Hawkes, and hopefully we’ll have the same good news next week for Anne’s baptism! It’s looking great!
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

Study Series: The Power of 3

Being a missionary definitely has it’s perks. The literal setting apart makes my brain think in a way that I would have not experienced otherwise. During study time, my brain goes into another world and learns WAY more than I ever could have learned before the nametag. Read at your own discresion, but remember–these are the findings of Sister Hawkes, and not of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This week was an emphasis on the number three. Why is the number “three” so symbolic? Each symbol testifies that Christ is the Son of God. I’m briefly putting bullet points, but it is up to you to expound by the spirit as your teacher what these things actually represent. In the King James Version of the Bible, Paul states to the people of Corinth, “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”  (2 Corinthians 13:1) There are many more, but here are the ones that I’ve found recently:

  • The Godhead. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They are three seperate beings, but all one purpose. They cannot operate without each other, and we cannot operate without them. (2 Nephi 31:21)
  • The Atonement. There were three distinct parts: Christ’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, His actual death on the cross, and of course being risen… three days later. (John 2:18-22)
  • Testaments. The Old Testament, The New Testament, and The Book of Mormon: Another testament of Jesus Christ. Finally, in 1830, the Lord knew we were ready for another testament that proved Christ really did come to Earth, and that He really did atone for the sins of the world. (Book of Mormon–Introduction)
  • The Savior’s Ministry. The ministry of Christ lasted three years long. Then, he died at age 33.
  • Days of Darkness. “And the God of our fathers…yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel.” (1 Nephi 19:10) Three different prophets told of the signs Christ before He even got here. The one I’m emphasizing here is the number of days. Once that third day came and gone, that was the proof they had been promised.
  • The Three Witnesses.  Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer. These three men were shown the plates by angel Moroni, and were commanded by the Lord to testify of the things they had both seen and heard. “I was relieved from a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear…I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.” -Joseph Smith
  • The Wisemen. (The older version of the three witnesses.) Three men saw the huge star on the night Christ was born. They brought him gifts, but most importantly, testified of what they had seen and heard. (Luke 2:17)
  • Missionary work. Wait a minute, we go two by two! You’re right. However, we cannot operate without the companionship of the Holy Ghost. That completes our work…in fact, he always should be the senior companion. There is also the relationship between the missionary, the investigator, and most importantly, God. Without any one of those three, we don’t have any work to do. (D&C 121:46)
  • Kingdoms of Heaven. As described in the Plan of Salvation, there has always been, and always will be, one of three kingdoms you will end up in. Ultimately, it’s up to you which one you want to be in. The Celestial, the Terrestial, and the Telestial. (D&C 76:50-98)
  • The Three Nephites. Like you, I wish there was more doctrine on this. All we know is that three of the Nephites were allowed by Christ to stay on earth until He comes again as Our King. Their wish was granted, and they were promised a “fulness of joy.” (3 Nephi 28: 4-10)
  • The Apostle Simon Peter. Christ told Peter he would deny Him three times, and immediately went to Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:34,69-75)

Again, these all testify that Christ truly is the Son of God. I’d be interested to learn of other findings that you have in your own personal study. Think about the things you read and hear from now on and see if they correspond with what I feel is “the power of three.”

J.O.Y.

Jesus
Others
Yourself
Maria…oh Maria. (The woman who we helped wrap her Christmas gifts.) She pointed this “JOY” formula out to us as we were walking out her door on Friday. This formula is the order in which your mind is supposed to operate. She’s a genius. She knows right from wrong, and not only that, actually tries to do the best that she can! (You would not believe how hard that is to come across.) For our lesson on Tuesday, we walked in seeing her Book of Mormon and pamphlets perfectly aligned with the placemat on the table, complete with a fresh bowl of popcorn in the middle. It’s almost like she was ready for my mother to come teach her the lessons! We discussed the Plan of Happiness, and how she can get back to her Heavenly Father. Re-teaching someone the Plan that they agreed to before coming to this earth, and showing them the step-by-step instructions on what they need to do, is another one of the most rewarding things as a missionary. You should have seen her face when we told her that she already knew these things before. She’s Italian (and very loud) so our lessons are always exciting, “You mean to tell ME that I knew ALL OF THIS before I met with you two? I KNEW this wasn’t just a deja vu!” Then in her prayer at the end, “God, please don’t give up on me. Because…I love you.” Man, I love my job.
Well, we have Steph and Anne’s baptism all planned! Anne asked me to sing and play the piano at her baptism; I am so excited. On Thursday, we started off a Book of Mormon study with her telling us she found this amazing scripture, and that she wants it very much incorporated into her baptismal program. Do you want to know what the scripture was? Mosiah 3:19. If anyone “gets” that scripture, they not only be on the road to full-activity, but extremely active in their callings, and therefore receiving all the blessings the Lord could possibly give them. I think my jaw dropped, again, when she said that. And Steph–I can’t even use words to describe how much I love her. A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about her so much, and what else I could do to help her…I was kinda worried that something happened! However, the next morning we went to see her in Hilton, and she told us she really wanted to go teaching with us, and even talked about serving a mission. (I know, I know, GOLDEN.) The more I’m with her, the more I realize that neither I nor Sister Torres did anything to persuade her to have this “mighty change of heart.” This was all done between her and the Spirit. We were nothing but guides of information. That’s all a missionary is! See Alma 5:13 for more explanation. I think I just couldn’t sleep because of excitement.
 
Maria, Anne, Steph, and another investigator, Lily were all at church yesterday, including lots of couples who are starting to become active again. Bishop Zundel came up to us after and said, “I need to talk to President Christianson–you guys deserve a raise.” Obviously it’s not all about the missionaries. But it is nice to actually see some fruit of our labors and have the ward know we can actually use the Spirit effectively! 
 
I think it’s cute that people think I don’t ever get rejected or have bad days. Are you kidding me? The week of January 7 – January 13 has been the longest week of my entire life. I think I’m hitting my “mid-mission crisis” where I suddenly realize that 18 months is seriously short. There is so much I can do within that amount of time, and if I don’t use it wisely, I’m toast. Which brings me to my next point…I want/need to clarify something…something I’ve heard a lot lately. I just want to make sure that no one else says it to my face. Absolutely, DO NOT say, “I can’t.” Hello, God isn’t stupid. If you are breathing, you can do anything. Why are those two words even in human vocabulary? I will never know. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you lose weight? Saying “no” once at a time. How do you grow from a boy to a man? One day at a time. If you tell me you can’t do something for some stupid reason, I’m not even going to listen to you and just say, “do it.” How do you think I came on a mission? I just did it. Lorenzo Snow even said, “There is a course for every person to pursue in which there will be no failure.” (That’s a hint to read the new Lorenzo Snow book we got in Relief Socitey/Elders Quorum…it’s got some pretty amazing stuff in there.) So, regardless of how much stuff you think you have to do, in such a short amount of time, Heavenly Father’s always got your back. The devil wants to make you think that you are missing out on every other opportunity by choosing to follow Christ. All I know, is that if you just do it, you’ll be much better off. We really don’t even fully realize the blessings until we pass from mortality. Just trust Him on this one. Let’s successfully put “I can” back in human vocabulary.
 
Exercise update: we finally got Elders in Brockport, and now we’re doing an early-morning MWF running/sprinting activity around the complex with them! I am so sore. It is fantastic. And did I mention it’s cold? Although last week we were in the 60’s. (Seriously.) But this morning it was in the 20’s. We heard it’s going back down again…oh well. Nothing is going to stop us. I’m saying that now, ha.
 
Last thing…I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned this week, besides never saying “I can’t,” is that God is always watching us. He truly knows of our needs, and He truly realizes what we need to come closer to Him. Before last night’s devotional with Elder Uchtdorf, I asked Heavenly Father a question. “How can I distinctively recognize the Spirit–and what specifically does He do?”  I’m not lying when I say that every single one of my questions were answered. It was an incredible talk about what the truth really is. Is there truth? Can anyone really know the truth? I never really stopped to think about it until last night. My brain just put it all together. The Spirit testifies of truth. Of course I knew that…but why did I not stop to think about it until now? It’s amazing what just asking questions will do. He begs us to come to Him in prayer. When He says “Ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be open unto you,” He’s dead serious.
 
Thanks for reading another letter from me. I get so much out of expressing my thoughts and findings to everyone who actually reads this, so thank you. Missionary moments? Anyone?  I LOVE reading them! Keep sending them! I’ve gotten a few…my uncle, Terri…and of course millions from my best friend Reb in the Philippines. I truly feel J.O.Y. when I hear other experiences. Anyway, thank you. Have a wonderful week!
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

It All Pays Off

Quotes of the week:
 
“Look at me. I’m 53, and finally getting it right.” -Anne
“I felt something…like this happiness I can’t even explain. I want that all the time.”- Steph
 
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…the Lord’s got not one, but TWO baptisms before January ends! Brockport is the Promised Land! Steph and Anne are getting baptized on the 20th and 27th, respectively.
 
Which reminds me…have I completely failed to tell you about Steph? That is a huge mistake on my part, because she is one of the smartest 18-year-olds I’ve ever seen in my life. She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and get this–a wrestler. And a super good one too. She has been friends with a girl in our ward, Monica, (great name!) and Monica has brought her to church for about 10 years…girls camp, the whole deal. Now, Steph is not only friends with Monica, but is best friends with the oldest priest in our ward, Corey. (Mom and Dad, you met Steph on Christmas. She let me use her iPad to call you guys!) Anyway, as of about three weeks ago, she hadn’t taken the discussions yet because she made sure she wanted to investigate for the right reasons. Which is the best sign to a missionary…we can always put our money on the Spirit. So we gave her time, and didn’t push a thing. We just made sure she knew we were normal people.
 
One day, we get a text from Corey saying that Steph is ready to take the discussions. The second week we started teaching her, she told us of a few spiritual experiences she’s had in the past, including one she had with Corey and his family. They were just simply driving in the car on the way to a movie, all joking and laughing with each other. She said, “I felt something…like this happines I can’t even explain. I want that all the time.” We offered to set a date for baptism, but wasn’t sure she was ready yet. She wanted to know it was true before she committed to something like this, because it is a huge commitment. The third week (last week), we again offered for a goal for baptism. We shot for late February, early March…but much to our surprise, she wants to get baptized before the semester starts! We had a lengthy talk about how big of a commitment this is, and in her own words she replied with this, “If anyone gets in my way [of baptism], I’m taking them down.” Well alrighty then! She chose January 20th, complete with who she wants to bring treats. We’re teaching her again tonight!
 
On to Anne. Yesterday, we got the greatest opportunity to teach her at the historical sites. We drove out with a woman in our ward, Sister Arrington, who apparently has known Anne for quite a few years. They told us that they spent an hour talking about the gospel just last week! Anne’s aunt is even one of our Relief Society teachers. That makes my job so much easier. Anyway, Anne came to church, announced in Relief Socitey her baptismal date, we took off to the sites after, and then another couple in our ward invited all three of us over for dinner. It was a long day for Anne, but a pretty nice spiritual one. We took her to the Joseph Smith Farm first where we showed her where Moroni appeared to Joseph, where he hid the plates, and most importantly, where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ themselves appeared to him as a 14-year-old boy. We then went on to the Hill Cumorah to show her that, and of course the new Restoration video. During the video, Anne was sitting in between Sister Torres and I, and had her arms around both of us. At the end of the film, she wiped away tears and said, “Look at me. I’m 53, and finally getting it right.” I don’t think it’s fair that I’m getting taught way more than I could ever teach.
 
Both of these situations prove that member support and fellowshipping have everything to do with everything. And that the Spirit has everything to do with everything. And the Lord has everything to do with everything. How in the world am I at the perfect spot at the right time? The spirit prepares these people. It’s up to us to find them, teach them, and baptize them. We help them realize this happiness they have inside. Pre-mission, when I thought of missionaries “getting” baptisms, I thought it depended on how hard you worked and how much you put into them. As I’ve had friends serve, and especially myself getting the chance to serve, I’ve realized it’s just being at the right place at the right time. Of course we have to work hard, but nothing is about the missionary. We are simply the guides in bringing this kind of life to them.
 
Let me explain with a perfect quote from President Spencer W. Kimball: “Now is the moment in the timebale of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried before. Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, ‘Come over and help us.’ He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, ‘And now, Lord…grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.’ (Acts 4:29)”
 
That’s all I have for this week…but it is probably the biggest news of my mission yet. I have helped two of God’s children come to the knowledge of Him. But that doesn’t mean we get to kick our feet up and watch the show. The baptisms haven’t happened yet, and Satan is still working harder than ever to stop that from happening. We need to work harder than ever to make sure that Steph and Anne are both on the right track to becoming missionaries for themselves. I love being a full-time missionary myself, even though I do find myself counting the days until P-day sometimes! It is the best work to ever be involved in, and also the hardest. I’ll be the first to tell you that choosing to go on a mission will be the most challenging decision you’ll ever make in your life, but it will also be the very best. It’s not “the best two years” in the moment–it’s the best two years for your life. Even coming to New York, I feel as if I’ve hitched my wagon of luggage and have ran the opposite way my ancestors did…back into the battleground of the Restoration. I’m doing this to prove that the work they did almost 200 years ago was worth it, and I know they are the ones guiding me through this journey of ups and downs. That right there motivates me to work hard every single day.
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

Starting My Year Off Right

It seems that the holiday season came and went within a few hours. It was definitely a memorable Christmas as a missionary, but where did it go? Hello 2013!
 
First of all, the greatest thing about Christmas was not the actual day itself–surprising as that may seem. It was the day after, when we gave most of our gifts to other people who needed them a whole lot more than we did. It not only gave us an excuse to visit members and non-members in their homes, but it gave us another opportunity to be like Jesus Christ. I didn’t need any of that stuff. The only thing that I needed was to forget about myself and give.
 
Giving of yourself to other people is what makes one happy. I have been really pondering this subject lately in response to people who ask me why I’m happy all the time. Is the whole purpose of life to be happy? Maybe to some people. Is it to me? Absolutely. Why in the world would Heavenly Father send us down here to earth, cause us to forget everything that we learned and new in the pre-mortal life, and not provide every possible opportunity to have joy? I want you to think of the times when you’ve been the most happy. When you look back, did it cause you to forget yourself? Did it help someone get closer to Christ? That’s a huge possibility. The whole law of sacrifice is real, not because our Father is bored and needs more people, but it’s for you. It actually causes your brain to forget about all of your problems, everything you’re dealing with, and see true happiness–the way God sees it. 
 
A few moments of true happiness I realized this week was in Gospel Principles last Sunday. (Side note: Gospel Principles is the fundamental class that is targeted towards less-actives, recent converts, and investigators. Basically the missionary’s pride and joy…that is, if it’s filled.) Anyway, after sacrament meeting we walked in to class and it was totally packed, even with a few comments being made about how full the class was. During the class, I looked around the room to think about each person who we visited the past week, and thought of their individual circumstances. I thought of how much they sacrificed to be at church that day–with most of it being pride. It was another one of those “how in the world did I get to be a missionary” moments. Not only that, but the whole class was involved in the lesson. They were making comments, reading, smiling…oh it was GREAT. I felt like a proud momma. Except it was the Lord’s work. Obviously I still have a pride issue to work on here.
 
Another moment was our lesson yesterday with Anne. We took Casey with us to teach the Word of Wisdom. (Another side note: this is the first time I’ve really taught the Word of Wisdom…the farthest I’ve ever gotten with an investigator!) So it was very exciting even just walking in there. However, it was pretty nerve-wracking because Anne loves her coffee. We decided to introduce the topic gently and explain the blessings of it first, so she’d be on her seat when we told her what she had to do. Hehe. We explained that this “thing” would keep you closer to God more often, and keep the spirit in your heart and in your home more consistently. Besides that, it was a commandment. Hermana Torres then told her that we simply don’t drink coffee or tea because of the addiction effects, and Casey slided right in by giving a great testimony of when she had to quit coffee to join the Church, and how much it has helped her come closer to our Heavenly Father. I may or may not have been looking straight at Anne with one eye closed expecting a bomb to go off after we were done. To my surprise, Anne said, “Really? I was hoping someone would tell me that! Did the Lord send you to tell me that? I knew you were servants of God.” She went on to tell us that for the past week she had been super sick–even so sick that she got laid off from her brand new job. She had been buying Coke after Coke, and drinking more coffee than she ever had in her life, trying to stay awake and hopefully get better. The day before we taught her the Word of Wisdom, she said she had a thought cross her mind that caffeine was an addictive substance and could harm you mentally and physically. She even found herself later in the week in the tea isle only looking for herbal tea, and she said that was way out of her thought process to ever do that. My jaw just dropped. Anne had been prepared. Before we could even congratulate her, she told us again that she knew everything we were saying was true, and that we have come to her give her those answers that “filled in the holes” that the other church didn’t give her answers to. She said she was embarrassed to even ask questions in her other church. Of course she didn’t hesitate to say yes when we committed her to live the Word of Wisdom, knowing how hard it will be. We are still preparing her for baptism and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later!
 
There’s an important lesson my father taught me when I was younger that has come in very handy in missionary work. Some people are motivated by fear of consequence, by reward, or simply by love–that comes with age and maturity. I think I may have reached the point that I am now motivated by my love for God and His work. This work is not easy. It is extremely hard. There are people who yell at us, who tell us we aren’t worth anything, and who completely disregard our message. I’ve even found that Satan attacks from the inside out, and wants you to feel absolutely horrible about yourself before you even start playing the game. But staying close to our Heavenly Father, and being an eye-witness of all of these experiences I write home is what makes me want to do more for Him. By obedience to His commandments, I get true happiness. I promise each of you can do the same. Being exactly obedient will always follow with the motivation out of love.
 
Now to worldly things with my exercise update: I finally got to play basketball with the elders on Monday. I’m a little rusty, but not as bad as I thought! I mostly realized how much I am in love the game…oh my goodness. I also decided that I needed to immediately join another basketball team when I get home. Ideas of where to go for next winter would be much appreciated. Anyway, I have a pretty good routine I do in the morning that is inspired by Rachel Jones and past volleyball coaches. Unfortunately it’s too cold and slippery to run outside that early in the morning, so we do what we can. Moral of the story is that I realized before my mission how important exercising was, but I never experienced how important exercising was until it’s basically gone. I would die without it. Literally. Oh, and I wouldn’t be this happy without it. (See 2nd paragraph of this email.)
 
Anyway, it was great talking to my family on Christmas, they are all so beautiful! Thank you all for your letters, cards, packages..I appreciate it so much. It made for a wonderful Christmas. Now we have these New Year’s Resolutions for missionary work that we need to get done. How in the world am I halfway done already? (Well…in 3 weeks.) Time flies. Make sure you’re having fun. And make sure you’re happy, or else it’s really boring and pointless.
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes