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!
Hermana Hawkes


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