Voice of a Trump

…that is until I lose my voice! I guess when the Lord said to “declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump,” I took it literally. (D&C 29:4)This week back at the sites has been the most I’ve ever seen myself grow. The last time I took tours at these historical sites was in my first four transfers as a missionary. Now with a year of missionary service under my belt, I can see the drastic difference it has made with just four left. Not only were my tours completely guided by the spirit, but they were backed up by scripture and testimony of prophets…regardless if I shared everything that was in my mind or not. Three different men came into the sites to specifically ask about the Bible and how it correlates to Mormonism. Let me tell you a bit about each of them:

1. Louis, a businessman, a husband, and a  dad of two daughers, walked in to the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center on my first day back. He had dropped by the VC before about a year ago, but only had time to watch the 20 minute version of the Restoration. This time, he wanted to see it all. After he was through watching the 60 minute version of Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration and the 15 minute God’s Plan for Families, he had tons of questions that had been burning in his mind. He was trying to find unity in any church, and specifically the unity between Jesus Christ and His church that He established on the earth 2,000 years ago. “I can’t figure out the gap between Jerusalem and the Americas,” Louis said. “There’s got to be something that ties the two together if you claim to have Christ as the center.” I opened up the copy of the Book of Mormon that I was holding in my hand to the title page. I asked him to read the first few paragraphs where it talks about Lehi, where he came from, and we talked about Lehi’s journey to the Americas, along with the Jaredites and the Mulekites. I then brought him over to the display, “The Restoration of the Priesthood.” (It’s extremely convienent to be at a VC.) I explained that Peter, James and John, who he agreed got their authority straight from Jesus Christ, came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and gave that same power to them. It was powerful to see it click in his mind, and for me to bear my testimony about the priesthood. It was perfect for it to come from a young girl like me, because I don’t have the priesthood. There’s no pride in it for me–I have to rely on it completely, through other men that I trust do their duty. I explained how my own father’s priesthood lineage traces back to Christ, how that power is in my home, and how it helps me even when there are hard days as a missionary. We spoke for about 45 minutes, and Louis agreed to have the missionaries in Pennsylvania teach him and his family in their home.

2. Keith, a very tall, bearded man with long gray hair and thick coke-bottle glasses came into the Book of Mormon Publication Site to ask a few legitmate questions about what the Lord revealed in the book of Revelations. Since I have had my share of persecution, I wasn’t going to go in this without backup. It wasn’t a coincidence that my two zone leaders from Brockport were there with about half an hour to spare. We all went into a seperate room with another senior couple that was working their shift at the time. So you can imagine: five missionaries surrounding this one man who said no one could ever explain to him what he was feeling. Before we even started, I asked him if he knew the Book of Mormon was true. He has read it cover to cover and said he knows it’s a book from God, but he isn’t sure about the whole thing. Keith then jumped right into his quesiton from Revelations 7:1: “What is the Lord going to do about getting these angels on the four corners of the Earth?” Immediately, 2 Nephi 28:11 popped into my head. I asked him to turn to it, and we read it together. “For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them…”I explained that was missionary work, and that exact thing was happening right now–to him–at that moment. We were clarifiying scripture from Jerusalem with the Lord’s other word that came from the Americas…with missionaries from all parts of the world. The next thing he said was, “God just told me that what you said was true.” (That still never ceases to amaze me, by the way.) We invited him to do the same thing with each verse of the Book of Mormon–to ponder and to pray about it–and to do the same thing with the First Vision. He left with the promise that He would do just that.

3. Robert, a less-active member who wasn’t too sure about his testimony, came in just for a “normal tour.” (I love it when people call it that.) I could tell he was questioning his testimony when he told me that “not very many missionaries make it out alive.” I wanted to turn around, put my fist up and say, “YA WANNA BET?!” But, I didn’t…I tried to be professional. I asked him if he was doing everything he could to serve the Lord in his best possible way, and not to worry about what anyone else thinks. He brought out some scripture with statistics of those who really do what they say. Once I felt my person on the defense, I knew it was time to turn it over completely to the Spirit. I bore a powerful testimony of what we were doing as missionaries was the right thing to do–even if only one person in the whole world had accepted the gospel. I bore my testimony about the power of the priesthood, restored by Joseph Smith, and how that power had changed people’s lives through the things I’ve taught them. It came to the point where he just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and walked off. Seriously you guys…bearing testimony is the most powerful tool for any missionary ever, it is everything talked about in Ephesians 6–the Armor of God.
Yes, that all happened within the first 48 hours back at the sites, and yes, I taught plenty of other incredible lessons at the sites in between these as well. Because of that, I haven’t had a voice in about a week! But ya know what, Alma and Amulek, Ammon, Captain Moroni, and definitely Paul probably had the same problem. It’s actually a problem at all.Teaching these three men was a symbol of the power of three to my testimony, and that the Lord really does call his weakest to confound the strongest. I’m just so dang happy. I know that’s not the most professional word, but I don’t know what else to use to describe my emotions. Hermana Steel and I comment about every five minutes about how much we love our mission. Oh yes, we had Emergency Transfers on Thursday, and I am training a new missionary! It’s a long story, but now she’s with me, and we are both Cast Training together. She was only in the field a few hours before we had these ET’s, and it’s been awesome flush training her in Irondequoit. Hermana Steel came pre-trained and is one of the best missionaries I’ve ever seen. She has already taught me way more than I could ever teach her in the time we have together. (That seems to happen a lot…) But, we live in downtown Rochester, with an hour commute to the sites four to five times a week! It’s great, we get a lot of studies done in the car, since we have SIX hours: personal, companion, 12 Week, site, language and now, pageant study. The cast gets here in six weeks and I’m trying not to make myself over-excited about that, because I’m already jumping out of my chair for being back at the sites! I do miss Brockport, but there’s something about the sites that has every single part of my heart. The sites, combined with the sisters, the senior couples, and the landscape is enough to convince me to buy a burial plot here.

 

Wow, I know that was a really long letter…I hope you didn’t get bored. I could go on for another few pages, but I’ve only got a few minutes left. The power of study is REAL–and it really does build confidence in the gospel. I encourage you all to set a specific study schedule, preferrably in the early morning hours, so you can have that time to put on your armor of God every single day. Start with Ephesians 6, and I promise that you will feel 100% ready for anything thrown your way.

 

BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes
Advertisements

SPEC TRAINING 0900 HOURS: Gathering of Israel

“You will be the ones who they build the foundation of missionary work from now on.” -President Christianson

On Thursday we had an all day Specialized Training on the House of Israel and our continued plan of action to get it together even faster. I attatched a picture of the chalkboard when President was through…the next thing he said was, “Does this make sense?” It was funny. But it actually did make sense! Thankfully I’ve been studying up on my Old Testament, so he was just filling in the gaps. I wish I could just tell you everything I learned. I felt like I was in Fort Rochester in a briefing. He explained that the missionary force had climbed 471% in the past three weeks, and we will see about 100 new missionaries in 2013. What does that mean for the US mission with the most snow? (That’s right: Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester.) Instead of 91% of us getting cars, only 70% will. Our areas will be smaller with about fifty new apartments to distribute our force more evenly, but the most important thing is the quote I started with. We can’t slack off now. We’ve got plenty of work to do, and we have to be prepared.

The past few days, my spirit has been on overload. I feel like the veil is a little bit thinner; I’m realizing that I actually have a body now, and I’m actually doing what I came to earth to do. Sometimes I feel like a fly on the wall, and I would give anything for you all to see what I see through my eyes. Even though I may make it seem fun and games–this is less than glamorous. This is real life. I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s going so fast, and I want to soak up everything I possibly can. The only way to do that is to immerse myself in the work. This next story is just one of the many things that happened to me this week.

On Saturday, I went on exchanges again with Sister Madsen. (Yes, Mary Madsen…we graduated from Viewmont together!) We were working at the Book of Mormon Publication site and in walks (storms) an agnostic named Phil. He stood about 6’3″, dark long black coat, and no less than 230 pounds. Before we could even get out a “Welcome” he said, “Who in the world is this Romney guy, and what are his core beliefs.” Well of course Sister Madsen and I suited up, grabbed our Book of Mormons and went to shake his hand. We pulled out the Articles of Faith, and suggested he would take a look at those. We started talking about the Restoration…and asked every question in the book about that. Our discussion got even further, and we showed him the living prophet on the earth today. “What’s his name? Can I take his blood pressure? Did you know that by that age, it’s 40% likely to have schizophrenia? Are those age spots? What’s his cell number? I need to call this guy.” We just simply explained that his name was Thomas S. Monson, and he in fact receives revelation for the world, and for the Church today. He kept staring at his picture on the screen, and said, “You mean to tell me, that we have a living prophet on the earth today, and no one has told me about it? I can’t even wrap my head around this.” He had even more questions about the Spirit World, the moving planets, and what faith even means. It’s a great thing our good friend Alma had exact answers to all of those questions, and I could pull out Alma 11, 30, and 32, respectively. (Don’t’ worry I’m working on branching out of Alma…he just has some great stuff in there.) We answered every single one of Phil’s questions with the Book of Mormon. However, during the entirety of our hour-long conversation, he kept saying the words, “Prove it,” over and over. We had to explain that he needed to act for himself, and then it could be proven from within. His exact words were, “So you’re saying I need to experiment?” I got the biggest smile on my face and turned back to Alma 32, where we just were, and read it to him. “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” -Alma 32:27. That verse stopped him dead in his tracks, because he knew we had just given him the right answer. The next thing out of his mouth was, “How old are you two?” “Twenty-one,” we said. “You two are good eggs. I better get to work, but here’s my phone number. Give it to the missionaries in my area and we’re going to talk about this.” We waited until Phil walked out and then Sister Madsen and I just threw our arms around each other. We struggled to get into our chairs, and the senior couples came up to us and were giving us high-fives. Haha–it was hard! But it felt so-o good. The spirit, through us, had changed an agnostic’s heart within one hour. The amazing things missionaries are set apart to do. This has nothing to do with me or Sister Madsen. It’s all about the Lord’s work, and about what He needs accomplished.

I wish I could tell more stories, but we have been grounded to our apartments the next two days. This is the last trip we will have out until Wednesday morning. Three big storms are supposed to hit Rochester, so we get to do tons of work from our little apartment! We’ve got good stuff planned, though. Don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. I’m just hoping that this will bring in the snow. I really need some!

Thanks for all of your prayers and support, I know I say that almost every week, but I’m serious. Getting letters in the mail and feeling prayers is the best thing in the world. It’s really nice to know that people don’t think you’re dead! So I appreciate it. I love you all, and have a great week.

BE HAPPY!

Sister Hawkes

 

 

Just Take a Moment to Realize It

It was an incredible, but challenging week! I guess that’s how missionary work always is, right? 🙂

To start off the week, we took a trip to Rochester to visit the doctor. Sister Correia got diagnosed with bronchitis! She (we) were bed ridden for a few days. I got lots of studying and planning in, which was good, but especially after the hectic schedule of Pageant, we wanted to get going! I didn’t realize how much of a desire I had to work, and work hard! It took lots of patience on both of us to finally get her better and out of the house.
So then…the last 3 days were powerful. We had a bunch of lessons at the sites that were exactly what I had studied while she was recovering. It’s amazing how much the Lord is aware of what’s going on and uses absolutely everything to your advantage. I got to go on an exchange with a trio of sisters. We taught a lesson to a girl that just got baptized on Sunday (!!) at Sodus Point on the shores of Lake Ontario. When we drove up to the park where we were going to meet her, I gasped because no one told me that this lake was going to look like an ocean! It was green farmland everywhere, then once we got over the hill, BAM, there it was. Complete with a white sailboat. 🙂 That was Heavenly Father’s way of telling me I was on the right track. We taught her the lesson, prepared her baptism program and then off we were again to the next appointment!
The absolute highlight of my week, however, was on Sunday at the BOMPS. (Book of Mormon Publication Site.) We didn’t really have any visitors for the first hour, but sure enough a man walked in the front door. He was about in his 60’s, and had cute little Ben Franklin spectacles on. I was the first one to jump up to take him on tour! He introduced himself as “Bob from Minnesota” and said that he only had time for a quick 10 minute tour because he was heading down the Erie on a houseboat. On the way upstairs, I asked him if he had ever heard of the Book of Mormon. He said briefly, but he loves history and religion so much that he felt he needed to come in, even if it was just for a second. Once we got upstairs, I gave him the Restoration in 2 minutes flat. He turned to me and said, “Psh, I kinda feel like Joseph Smith! I have NO idea what church is true!” He explained to me that he was Catholic only because his mother had pretty much hounded him since the day he was born. We went over to the print shop and I showed him how the Smith Patented Press worked, and he was amazed at how much “coincidence” there was in having it here in Palmyra, how fast it took, etc. We then went downstairs to the bindery, and then to the Book of Mormon room. In that room, there are 9 original paintings of the stories in the Book of Mormon…Christ in the Americas, Mormon abridging the plates, Moroni burying them, etc, and I explained to him just a few of them. When we got to Christ in the Americas, I said, “Why wouldn’t Christ appear to more nations than one?” He again turned to me and just said, “You know Sister Hawkes, this just all makes sense. I agree with everything that you’re saying.” Right after he said that I offered him a Book of Mormon to take with him on his trip. He looked at me like, “Are you serious? Free?” He just kinda studdered and said, “oh definitely, I’ll definitely read it and study it. For sure.” Then I turn him around to the poster that read Moroni’s Promise on it. I asked him to read it, and he was absolutely fascinated. He said everything made sense and he was willing to take the challenge. So we head downstairs back to the first floor, and I showed him the office of E.B. Grandin, and of course, the bookstore where the first Book of Mormon was sold for $1.25. (Back then, that was about two-days worth of work for an adult male.) But I got to hand him a copy of the Book of Mormon, right in the Grandin Bookstore on the original floor, for free. He was very taken back and asked if he could make any sort of a donation. I told him no, that all I wanted him to do was to read and ponder it. He kept flipping through the pages and saying, “I love this…I love this. Thank you so much.”
What a cool experience to have as my first time ever handing out a Book of Mormon. Most everyone in Palmyra has one, so we don’t do much of that. And if we do have visitors, we rarely give them out because we want the missionaries in their hometown to personally deliver it to them. But I felt like I needed to give this one to him. I explained the gospel to him in ten minutes…The coolest thing however…is that the Spirit will prompt him and remind him of the experience he had at the Bookstore that will last a lot longer than ten minutes. I hope I see Bob from Minnesota again. I don’t think he realized how much that motivated me.
Experiences like that are everywhere. We just have to look for them! Not only do we have to look for them, but we have to reflect back. If I never reflected back, I would have never realized the magnitude it had on me, and hopefully on my new friend Bob. Heavenly Father is sitting up there just waiting for you to ask Him for blessings so He can pour them upon you. Another very neat lesson I learned in my studies this week, is that laws actually make you free. If you keep His commandments, in turn, they are actually teaching you freedom. I knew that, but I never realized that. I seem do be doing that a lot on my mission…realizing. 🙂 There is a law (a commandment) to pray. When you pray, it’s the law that He will answer your prayers. Heavenly Father is all about freedom. Just read in Alma about Captain Moroni! He does everything for the freedom of His people. Then of course, when you pray, ask Him to help you understand everything that He’s pouring out upon you. Because it’s happening. It’s just a matter of if we realize it or not.
The time has come for yet another fun-filled P-day. Did I say another? I meant the second P-day of my mission. 🙂 We are going hiking in Naples to Hi Tour! I hear it’s beautiful…don’t worry–I’ll take pictures! Love you all!
BE HAPPY!
Sister Hawkes