My Declaration to the World

“I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world … that the Book of Mormon is true.” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I had to quote it. I’ve felt and seen way too many witnesses for me not to exclaim this for myself.  Living and serving in the very place where the Book of Mormon came forth for these last days gives me authentic proof that it is the truth.  Obviously, the truth is worth my life.

How much is the truth worth to you?

“And now, my beloved brethren…hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words…” -2 Nephi 33:10-11

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“If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit.” -Elder Holland

To read Elder Holland’s whole talk, Safety for the Soul, click here.

It’s all true, guys. If you don’t believe me, just ask Him.

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Our Higher Destination

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“We do not preach and teach in order to “bring people into the Church” or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives. We honor and appreciate the many ministers and others who are involved in the kind of ministry that makes bad men good and good men better. That is important, but we offer something more…we are concerned with a higher destination.” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks

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Earned Not Given

…said the Nike slogan right above President’s head projected at Zone Conference. I knew I came to the right mission.

We had to earn absolutely everything this week. (Nothing new, really.) Who knew that filling up our car meant we had to earn things, too? As we were coming home from an appointment on Saturday night, we stopped at the usual place to get some gasoline. To our surprise, it said, “Please see attendant for cashier,” which to the both of us, meant “someone in there needs you.” We walked into the store armed with our Book of Mormon, when immediately a man yelled, “You’ve got to be KIDDING me!” He proceeded to tell us he knew all about our church, and that we had no idea what we were talking about. Obviously, the conversation was pointless, so we ended professionally. Not much time later, the cashier announced to the rest of the convenience store, “These girls have a really cool church, and it’s all about families!” We immediately had three different women with their children come up to us. One, Joy, said that she had been talking to her sister just the day before about how she needed to join a new church that actually had something for her two little girls. I think we pulled up to the right gas station, don’t you?

Most of the week was filled with exchanges, baptisms, and both Rochester Zone Conferences. Sister Steel and I had to present trainings about online proselyting, and it went really well. We took a couple of our investigators, Brittany and Mandy, to the baptism at the singles branch in Rochester. Both Sister Steel and I were independently praying so hard through the whole thing that they’d feel just something. Not to our surprise, right after the closing prayer, Mandy turns to me and says, “Everytime I come to one of these things, I want to be a better person.” Whoo! They are coming closer and closer to their Savior everyday, and progressing so well. I wish I had more time to expound on them, but seeing as I typed more than half of this letter, and accidentally deleted it, I don’t have too much time. Don’t worry, it’s all in my journal. Find me later.

A huge lesson I learned this week was simply just to be absolutely positive about everything that goes wrong. It’s incredibly hard to slap a smile on your face when you just want to crawl in a hole for a couple of days and only come out when everyone else is smiling, too. But it really doesn’t work like that. The only way to actually get a smile on your face is to go to one of your “holy places,” as they call it. These experiences I share with you are literally the highlights of the week, work wise. The rest of the week was like Alma’s, “Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance. Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts, saying unto him: Behold, we know that thou art Alma…and we are not of thy church, and we do not believe in such foolish traditions.” -Alma 8:10-11 I’ve literally been on my knees more than ever, just wrestling with God that He would deliver those people from out of their bondage. It’s not like it hasn’t worked; coming home each day, I felt as if the Lord had run marathons for us in working miracles. It’s not that the miracles aren’t happening, it’s that free agency that always gets in the way. 🙂 We are working as hard as we can. I can feel the Lord is proud of the work we are accomplishing. But let me tell you–it’s a battleground!

I appreciate the prayers and support you still continue to give me.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

Pull Up A Crate

We’ve taught a lot of people this week…and a lot of first lessons.

I spent Thursday in Henrietta, and Friday in Victor on exchange. We taught some pretty neat people, including a woman who flat out told us that she had been praying to find her purpose. She happened to be there while we visited her friend…coincidences just don’t happen like that in missionary work! Which brings me to yesterday, as we were on foot going towards a less-active’s apartment, we walked past the laundry facility and saw a woman sitting on a crate, with her head down, lighting a cigarette. Sister Steel and unanimously turned around and went towards her. We had huge smiles on our faces, and introduced ourselves. She said, (very humbly, might I add) “I need you to tell me something that’s going to bless my life.” We handed her a Book of Mormon, and sat down. One by one, employees all kept coming out saying, “Whatcha doing?” One lady even said, “Oo! The Mormons are here to bless my life!” We quickly expanded our circle of crates and taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is after getting a million “I already have Jesus” comments by people of our own race, it took us two, little white blonde girls to touch the hearts of people who were truly wanting something more. After about fifteen minutes, they had to go back to work, and they told us that their whole week was made by the message that we shared. It was a missionary lesson in which every kid dreams about–sitting in the slums and teaching about Christ. On our way out, we came up on a woman smoking that said, “I’m all set. And, I’m 75 and in good health. Now you figure out that one, girls.” Hm…

As much as I love missionary work, this week has been really hard. It’s more mind control, knowing that I’ve still got to focus more than I ever have before for just a couple more months. There’s been a lot of things I’ve blamed myself, for, very stupid little things, but coming across this scripture was Heavenly Father speaking to me directly: “Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and His mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart…” -Alma 42:30 Then the next line tells me that I am “called of God to preach the word unto this people.” It’s not about me! Nothing is about me! The hardest thing is to forgive yourself, but once you do, it’s pure freedom.

I’m sorry this e-mail isn’t very long, or too terribly exciting, we just don’t have too much time on this computer! I did take Elder Jay Jensen on tour this week at the Book of Mormon Publication Site. Grandpa and Grandma, he gives you his love. Anyway, God works in mysterious ways, I am sure of that. There has been so many miracles that have happened in association with the not-so-good things. I know, surprise, surprise, that I’m the one that’s had a hard week! But it’s inevitable for the work that I’m doing out here. There’s opposition in all things, and I have no doubt that I’ll be just fine. Sheesh, I am already just fine. I’ve just got to learn to rely on God just a little bit more. 🙂

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

Go Forward And Not Backward

pwfedit1“And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel and of Raphael, and of divers angels from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope.

Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!”

-Doctrine and Covenants 128:21-22

Ask, And Ye Shall Receive

Incredible things are happen in the mission field all the time and most go unidentified. But our Father in Heaven was nice enough to give us a play-by-play this week.

The story of the week has to come from last Tuesday night, just a few hours after I wrote last week’s e-mail. Once P-day ended at 6, we had planned to go out and contact some potential investigators living on MoHawk street. (By the street name, you already know it’s going to be a success, right?) We couldn’t find parking, so we had to walk a ways in order to get to our destination. On the way, we saw two women…one that we had already talked to the day before. She told us that “prophesy has ceased” and the whole conversation felt like a scene straight out of The Restoration. I knew she would be so excited to see us again, so we gave her the pleasure one more time! However, we hadn’t talked yet to her cousin, Shawntia. We presented her with a mormon.org card and gave her a snippet of the Plan of Happiness. She looked at the card, looked back at us, and invited us on her porch to talk. We spent about 45 minutes telling her that Christ had come to America, that she can feel “this feeling she’s feeling right now” constantly, and that she’ll be able to be with her family forever. I’ve never seen any one’s face like hers; I don’t think she blinked while she looked back and forth to Sister Steel and I, and her mouth was wide enough open that we could almost see her tonsils. Once she consciously closed her mouth, she said, “Are there members of your church that live across the street right there?” There weren’t–as far as we knew. “Because I saw two boys just fifteen minutes ago. They were driving a red car…oh, and they have this tag that you’re wearing,” she said, pointing to my name tag. “I couldn’t really hear them, but I felt something when they drove up. I tried to get closer to hear what they were saying, but my step-daughter called me in, and once I came out…they were gone. But then, you show up just a few minutes later. You must be EVERYWHERE!” By the end of the conversation, she had accepted baptism, and we have another appointment set. Unfortunately, her grandfather just passed away a couple of days after we met her, so her progress has been hindered a bit. She’s one of the most humble women I’ve met in the past year, and I can’t wait to tell her all that her Heavenly Father wants her to know. More details coming soon!

Because of our new calling being STL’s, we get to go on exchanges with eight different companionships of sisters per transfer. Since we got late notice this transfer, we’ve been doubling up the past couple of weeks. I went to Webster with Sister Noble, and we taught a man named Jeff. We taught him the first lesson–The Restoration–and when we opened up the first few pages of the Book of Mormon to show him what Moroni looked like, he said, “Yeah, he looks like he’s from Rochester.” Love it. We also have a lot more exchanges coming up, which means our investigators will be really confused when a different set of sisters come every time we teach them. Oh well, we’ve got the same message, right? 🙂 I learn so much on exchanges…I realize more and more why Christ assigned this to me. It’s because I need to learn a lot more than I already do now. (Well, duh.) These sister missionaries are geniuses. I obviously need to get something from each of them. The exchanges go 24 hours, so it’s like we’re having sleepovers once a week. It even makes it better that we have four beds in a row in one room, and the other room is our study room! And oh yeah, this is funny. Last night, we were woken up at two in the morning by Sister Noble saying, “Would you like to go on a tour?” Don’t worry, two of us were dreaming that we were giving tours already. I dreamt that I gave a tour to the General Primary Presidency. Give us a break–at least our eyes are single to the glory!

We’ve just had so many things happen this week that I had to write down before we went anywhere else–definitely not out of the ordinary for a missionary. I also now know exactly what Nephi feels when he said, “For I pray continually [for my people] by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.” -2 Nephi 33:3. For the past couple weeks, it’s been beating me up that so many people are here on earth, living and breathing, but only a small amount of us truly know the way to our Heavenly Father. Thankfully, He has heard many prayers from me, begging on my knees, to soften the hearts of the people. When I ask, He listens…and it happens. I am a sure witness of that.

I was born to be a missionary. It’s so hard, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be anywhere else. We all say that if we could just see our family for a day, we could go another year and a half no problem. Thanks for all of your support. I really can feel your prayers…I wish I could say, “You have no idea,” but I’m sure some of you do. When other people pray for you, it’s like you have a back-up army that gives you a water break just in the nick of time. I love you all!

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

The Sixth Day of April, 1830

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“Most of life’s momentous hours are recorded, but what these men did on that humble occasion would not have given the world much reason to take note. What they did, however, ranks among the most important events ever to have transpired since the death of Jesus and his Apostles in the meridian of time.

These humble, ordinary men gathered because one of them, Joseph Smith Jr., a very young man, had set forth a most remarkable claim. He declared to them and all others who would listen that he had received profound and repeated heavenly communications, including an open vision of God the Father and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. As a result of these revelatory experiences, Joseph Smith had already published the Book of Mormon, a record of Christ’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of America. Furthermore, the Lord had commanded this young man, by now only twenty-four years of age, to reinstitute the Church that had existed in New Testament times and that in its restored purity should again be designated by the name of its chief cornerstone and eternal head, the Lord Jesus Christ himself.”

-Howard W. Hunter

For this full General Conference talk in April 1991, CLICK HERE.