“He died. He is not dead.”

That’s the “sum up” quote from Elder Bednar yesterday at Stake Conference. Am I on a spiritual high? Yes. As you can imagine, the whole eighteen months for a missionary is a spiritual high. But then when you get days like yesterday, with an Apostle, you don’t go just to the moon–you go straight to Kolob.
It was an incredibly eventful week, to say the least. I’ll start you out at the beginning. On Tuesday, we helped Crystal again with her home. We organized a lot of her bills, and helped her get rid of things she really needed. I wanted to give you an update on her closing prayer, because last week’s was just as good. This time, it was, “Please bless Sister Hawkes and Sister Johnson to get someone extra special, with a beautiful ring, and a beautiful home. And thank you to their families who love them enough to share them with me.” How cute is that? She keeps asking if she can adopt us–simply because of the feeling that she has when we are around her. We told her about Stake Conference, and was so excited to come. She got to hear and understand an apostle of the Lord speak to her personally for the first time. I have no doubt that if she was the only reason I was sent to Brockport, I’d still have been sent here. 
Wednesday was Specialized Training with President and Sister Christianson. We had an incredible discussion on Preach My Gospel Chapter Four–Recognizing the Spirit. It really came in handy for Sunday’s events. I recorded it on my little device, so Mom, I’ll be sending it your way soon. It’s pretty incredible. That’s really all I have time to say about that.
Thursday was the first day of Spring. It was a blizzard…of course. What do you expect? We visited a few less-actives and our investigator, Maria. (The one we helped wrap Christmas gifts with.) She’s come to church a couple of times since then, but something hasn’t clicked yet in her to actually get in the water. She knows that; she told us. At church, I even told her that she needs to be baptized already before I leave the area, simply because it’s going to be a real hassle for me to come back from anywhere else! She laughed–she’s got a great sense of humor. It also doesn’t hurt that her laugh is contageous…she’s probably one of the funniest people I’ve met on my mission. So random, and so…New York. 🙂 Anyway, we stopped in and taught her about living prophets and apostles, and the importance of Elder Bednar coming on Sunday. It was a wonderful, spiritual lesson, until the end when she asked me where I was going to school:
Me: “I’m going to BYU.”
Maria: “BYOB…bring your own booze?”
Me: “No! Brigham Young University!”
Maria: “Oh…bring ’em young? Wow, you just get going as fast as you can!”
Me: “NO! It’s a college! In Utah!”
Now…to the weekend. We had prepared more spiritually for this conference than I think I ever have in my life. We had companion studies around it, personal studies around it, and Sister Johnson and I helped each other think of questions for the Lord to answer through Elder Bednar. Sunday rolled around, and we arrived at the Westfall chapel at 7:30. We got 2nd row seats…front row was available, but it was just a little too close! We needed to see the whites of his eyes, people. But when he walked in at 10 a.m., a brick wall of Spirit just hit everyone. It was completely obvious to everyone (member or non-member) that this man was sent straight from Christ Himself. In his talk, Elder Bednar taught the first discussion. Yes, he taught the first discussion. Do you know how many times I hear/speak/listen to that? Out of everything he could have talked about…all of the doctrine, knowledge, apostolic insights he could have given…he taught the Restoration–in the most simple terms I’ve ever heard. I realized that our investigators get the best of the best when they hear the first lesson being taught. I also recorded that, too, Mom. As expected, all of our questions were addressed and answered.
After the conference was when I actually saw firsthand what Elder Bednar was talking about. I was introduced to a man who was so put together, clean cut, and obviously had the light of Christ. I didn’t know until he told me, that two weeks prior to that, he had long hair, earrings, and didn’t really care about anything spiritual at all. But something in what the sister missionary said one night at a member’s home, after many missionaries coming through, just clicked. He took his earrings out, cut his hair, and prepared for the coming Sabbath day. I couldn’t help but notice the two empty holes in his ears, and realized the two holes that Christ had in His hands saved every single one of us. He wouldn’t have done any less if it were just for that one man. The holes in his ears will eventually go away, but the way he used the Atonement will forever change his life. It was a huge eye-opener for me to realize there are unique, individual ways every person uses what has been given to all of us. As long as we use it, it will clear anything and everything.
There is so much more that has happened this week that I wish I could write in this email, but I’m afraid if it’s too long, you will get bored. I’d totally love to go through my mission journal with whoever wants to when I get home, though. I write anything and everything in that book–it’s one of the greatest resources a missionary has. A journal is the best counselor and teacher, because it allows the Spirit to teach you things while you’re thinking it out in your head. I’m a huge fan of journal writing.
Thank you all for the support–oh, and transfer calls came last night. I shockingly get to keep Sister Johnson another transfer in Brockport! President always keeps us guessing on these things. I am so relieved. I know I would have been fine with anyone anywhere, but her and I really have a strong companionship and I love being with her. Have a great week!
Hermana Hawkes