I get to stay in Brockport for five more weeks! This is a dream come true. Seriously, I thought I was getting transferred because I am so comfortable in this ward. It was funny how I found out…last night at President’s fireside in Greece. (Yes, that’s a city in New York, along with Egypt, Lima, and Rome…etc. Two of the villages in my area are Ogden and Murray.) Anyway, President was talking about how he gets answers to prayers. 90% of them come through scripture study–not while he is on his knees. But he does get some in the shower, and he quickly writes them in his little notebook. “For example, last night,” he said, “I had thoughts about transfers.” All of the missionaries gasped, of course. Then he looks at me and says, “Let’s see if there is one about you…Oh, yes. Keep Sister Hawkes in Brockport for one more transfer.” There was probably 50-60 people there and the people from our Brockport ward screamed…of course my jaw dropped and I started laughing so hard! Then he went on to tell more people about where they were going. I was very relieved, since he had given me the impression the past month that he was going to move me. This is a total miracle, and my new companion, Sister Johnson, is a genius. She is a Joseph Smith history buff, and really knows the gospel well. And she’s really athletic! I am SO excited. Other changes in the mission field: We are opening up two new zones tomorrow, so now we are the only sisters in the Rochester West Zone. We are sending 7 missionaries out, getting 19, and then in March, we are only sending 3-4 out and getting 20. Elder Holland said it perfectly, “There might be a more exciting time to be a missionary, but I don’t know when that would be!”
Speaking of church leaders, we are getting one of the Twelve coming to our mission this next month. We all have our bets on who it will be, so I’ll keep you updated. I really can’t wait for March, we have so much going on. On my birthday, we have a big question and answer session at one of the local colleges about our religion. Talk about a birthday present! We also find out who the new mission president will be on Saturday, so I’ll keep you updated on that as well. I was in tears yesterday thinking of how incredible it is to be here at a time like this. Heavenly Father saved me to come to New York right before the flood of missionaries. I get to prepare for it, see it all pan out, and then train the new army that’s coming in. I want to share with you something that we recite each morning and every meeting in our mission. Joseph Smith wrote “The Standard of Truth” in the Wentworth Letter to try and describe the Work that has been prophesied for ages. Little did the world know that it was then about to break forth:
“THE STANDARD OF TRUTH HAS BEEN ERECTED. NO UNHALLOWED HAND CAN STOP THE WORK FROM PROGRESSING. PERSECUTIONS MAY RAGE, MOBS MAY COMBINE, ARMIES MAY ASSEMBLE, CALUMNY MAY DEFAME. BUT THE TRUTH OF GOD WILL GO FORTH BOLDLY, NOBLY, AND INDEPENDENT, TILL IT HAS PENETRATED EVERY CONTINENT, VISITED EVERY CLIMB, SWEPT EVERY COUNTRY, AND SOUNDED IN EVERY EAR, TILL THE PURPOSES OF GOD SHALL BE ACCOMPLISHED, AND THE GREAT JEHOVAH SHALL SAY, ‘THE WORK IS DONE’.”
Picture our whole mission standing and repeating that from memory. Yeah, it gives me chills too. Anyway, I feel like this is all I write home about–so sorry if it might be getting boring. For me, it’s anything but boring. This is my life. This is your life. I’m on a mission to get the training wheels I need until I die. Once I go home, those training wheels will be taken off, and I will still be expected to soar above the world. Recently in my personal study, I have been studying our identity and destiny, and the grand purpose of why we are here. In Alma 34:32 it says, “…this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.” Now, what does ‘meet’ mean? It’s not just a “Hey, how are you.” It’s literally meeting Him at the same level. When we meet our goals, we reach them. It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. We are literally being prepared to become exactly like him. Our foreordination and election is no coincidence. We each have a grand purpose in life, and I wish I could tell you the one He has planned for you, but you have to figure that out for yourself. You have to. Please, I am begging you. Plead with your Heavenly Father to give you an positivity that what you are doing is the right thing. As President Eyring told President Christianson, “If you don’t have an absolute certain witness that this is true, this will be so hard you will want to quit.” I can testify that that is the truth…whoa. This is all true. Beg Him to let you know for yourself. He will answer us when He decides we are ready. After all, He knows us way better than we know ourselves. Let me just say this one more time, this is all true.
Well, now I guess I should let you know what’s going on in our area. We just got a few new investigators with some pretty rough backgrounds. One of them has been recently held to gunpoint by her ex-husband and had to change her name to protect her and her daughter. We taught her yesterday, and she said, “You might think this is weird, but we didn’t really believe what the Catholics taught us. We are looking for something more…I just know that there is always something good waiting for us after really rough times.” We, as in, her mom and twin sister. I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, “Just listen to me! This is not a coincidence that we are here!” I didn’t grab her by the shoulders, but I did say something like that. I hope she starts reading the Book of Mormon and feels the incredible power it emulates. Other than that, we are doing lots of finding, and lots and LOTS of re-activation. We had one more person come back to church yesterday that hasn’t been in a very long time. Another extremely rewarding moment.
I’m having the time of my life. I love this work more than anything. Last night, I just dropped my head on the pillow and had another moment when I couldn’t believe I was actually here. I have noticed that Heavenly Father has broken me down and is building me back up again very slowly–but very surely. My testimony isn’t even nearly anything close to what it was before. I have a new, real relationship with my Father…something I could never have otherwise gotten from not serving a full-time mission. I know I still have light years to go, but that’s what eternity is for. I love you all, and have a great week!