The things you can do in seven days.

…And she’s baptized! This is the best. TWO in one week?!
 
Anne got baptized yesterday…she invited some of her family that she thought would never come–and they came. They’re self-proclaimed “die-hard baptists,” but they came to support her in her decision. This was a huge step for her and them, because like I just mentioned, she grew up in the Baptist church. Everything she knows is the Baptist church. But when we started to teach her, she said there were holes being filled in that she didn’t even know were there. Anyway, the whole thing went extremely smooth. Compared to last week! Anne even asked me to sing and play something on the piano, so I sang “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” It went a lot better than I had planned, I think just because the Spirit was so strong. However, the moment that topped everything yesterday, was when her new Visiting Teacher was speaking about the ordinance of baptism. At the moment she told Anne that this decision would continue to change her life, I had my arm around her, and she just put her head down and squoze her little fingers into her eyes and just cried. She was so happy. She IS so happy. She got up to bear her testimony after everything was done, and sounded more eloquent than I’ve ever heard her talk before. She was the calmest I’ve ever seen her, the happiest I’ve ever seen her, and the most powerful I’ve ever seen her. I can’t begin to even comprehend the things that I’m witnessing right now. I can’t believe I just assisted Heavenly Father to bring Him two of his most precious daughters.

We also had Mission President interviews this week. It was really good to just sit down and talk to President Christianson. He is the most kind and powerful, calm and enthusiastic man I’ve ever met. I haven’t ever seen anyone so engulfed in the work that he has to do. He puts his absolute heart and soul into everything. He is what I think of when I think of keeping an “eye single to the glory.” He has turned down extremely presitious job offers, sacrificed his health, and has even missed his own father’s funeral to be here serving Him with us. He is what a Mission President is supposed to be. We do get a new one in June, and all of us are pretty nervous, because we don’t know how this new guy will top President Christianson! But President Christianson affirms and re-affirms us that whoever has the duty to take over the Cradle of the Restoration after he leaves will take it to a whole new level. I trust him. We just want to know who it is! That’s another thing that missionaries are always talking about: who the new mission president is going to be, and especially what is going to happen at transfers. Ha! Like I said, it was good to sit and talk to President..because he gave me some of the details about what’s going to happen. Seriously, if you ask him, he will tell you anything. I told him that I would give anything to stay in Brockport as long as I can. He said, “I know, I know. I would give anything for you to stay in Brockport for the rest of your mission. That ward is going to kill me if I take you out of there. But I have to close two sisters’ areas, and bring in 20 new missionaries and their trainers, so it’s not looking good.” NOOOO. So don’t be surprised in a few weeks when I (might) get transferred. Again. I hate that. But for more of an explaination, he needs to close two sisters areas, because we’ve got 10 new sisters coming next transfer, and he needs me to train again…and I have to train at the sites. Plus, being a cast trainer I have to be within 15 minutes of Palmyra to prepare for Pageant 2013. It’s complicated–I don’t even know half the stuff that goes on at transfers–but I know it’s all up to the Lord. You should expect it though, because when President Monson announced the age change, this is the after-effects! In total, we are opening up 17 new areas this next transfer alone, and our mission is expected to double by the end of this year. Prepare yourselves, people of New York, the missionaries are coming!

Anyway, now it’s back to square one. Right now we’ve got like half of an investigator. Ha. After focusing so much on these two baptisms, we haven’t had as much time as we’d like to find people. So, now is the time to do it! Finding people is always interesting, especially since tracting is now discouraged. We visit a lot of less-actives and a lot of the time, and somehow, their friends are there who want to learn. Imagine that! We’re going to keep trying that, street contacting, and especially getting involved in the community is a great way to find. The phrase, “Teach when you find, and find when you teach,” always goes through my mind when we are walking down streets. (Obviously it’s been in the teens, so it’s been too cold to walk for long hours everyday.) We have to always have our armor of God put on correctly so we can constantly be doing what Christ would do.
 
January has gone by extremely slow, so I’m hoping February will move a lot faster. My mind plays a lot of tricks on me, sometimes I feel like I’m in a dream, and then the next moment I feel like my previous high school/college life was a dream. It’s so weird. I don’t even have time to think about myself, so I think that’s why everything is just moving under me. I feel like I’m on a treadmill that I can’t get off. I don’t realize the importance of things until they are either in the moment or past–so that’s something I’m working on. Realizing. Comprehending. Understanding. I honestly don’t think I will until I grow up a little bit more. I found a set of scriptures from D&C 123 that I think describes perfectly what I’m trying to accomplish: 
 11 And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—
 12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
 13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
He’s right. We OWE this work to everyone. Everyone needs what we have, even though they don’t realize it. We have to work harder than we’ve ever worked in our lives…there is no “going home at the end of the day.” We take our work home with us. This is 24/7, giving 100%, for 18 months to 2 years. That’s why it says, “waste and wear out our lives.” Believe me, I’m going to throw myself on my couch the second I walk into my house in October…I’m going to be exahusted. However, now is the time for me to work, and to work cheerfully. We have to make this happy, or else it’s completely pointless. There is no reason in doing this unless someone gets joy out of it.
 
What a great week, and what a great time to be in the mission field! I LOVE being a missionary, and I love you all!
 

BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

Heaven on Earth

“You guys are more than missionaries. You guys are truly great friends, and thank you so much for being here for me…I’ve never felt so much love in a friendship. :)” -Steph…text message on Sunday night!
 
Whatever else I say, this week has to top it all. Steph got BAPTIZED! And you wouldn’t believe how much Satan did not want it to happen. I would tell you all of the stories that happened within 2 hours that Sunday morning, but I’ll save you. If you really want to know you can ask me later. Let’s just say we get a text from Steph right when Sacrament Meeting starts: “I’m on my way to the emergency room…” HA. Doesn’t stop there…Corey the one who was baptizing Steph, was out in the hall with his head up against a wall in so much pain from his wrestling tournament the day before. Then we got news from the ward mission leader that she couldn’t be confirmed that day, it had to wait two weeks…it was crazy. However, after praying the hardest I’ve ever prayed in my life, everything came through. Perfectly. Steph had an infection from getting her wisdom teeth out three days previous, and apparently she told the doctor that there was nothing he would do to stop her from being at the church to get baptized that afternoon. Ahh, the sweet smell of chlorine has never smelled so good to me before. The actual moment she got dunked, I knew I wouldn’t forget that picture in my mind for the rest of my life. The smile on her face had absolutely no words to describe, and I’ll be honest…I was practically in tears from smiling so big. We ran back to the dressing room and gave her a huge hug–I’ve never been so happy to have my Sunday clothes soaked.
 
I think that’s my biggest news of the week. Let me check…yep. We had a specialized training with President last week in Batavia which was awesome as always; Sister Torres and I taught a training on the Holy Ghost. Today, we got to change our P-day to Tuesday this week to go to Niagra Falls with a less-active member in our ward…and her non-member husband. It was six degrees! Then finally it went up to ten, and stayed at ten. But it was SO NEAT! There was pretty much no one there, because there were ice chunks flying into our faces from the falls. But hey, when you’re a missionary, you only have so much time to do these things. It was so worth it. Mostly, it was great to have that kind of time with people who truly needed the Savior in their lives.
 
We also had a funeral of a ward member this week. We had been visiting their family for awhile, so it was sad to see them in that capacity. However, it was a good time to reflect on the Plan of Salvation and how much of an influence those who have already passed on are in our mortal lives. It made me think a lot of my Grandma and Grandpa Hawkes. They devoted their lives to this service, and I have no doubt that they are working harder than I am right now. I know for a fact that they are right here with me and encouraging me to talk to everyone that I can. I hope that all of you, sometime this week, think of the Plan of Happiness and how it can bless your life. You’ve all had close people pass through, and I can’t imagine anything more tough than having to attend a father or a mother’s funeral. But the only reason that happens, is because Heavenly Father sees the big picture. There’s a puzzle that we don’t have all of the pieces to yet, and we are only seeing it piece by piece…because it’s as much as we can handle as human beings. No matter how hard it may be, try to reflect on the memories and build them into something, so that the Lord can use them however He needs to use them.
 
There’s a picture attatched of us at Niagra Falls, and of course, me and Steph. This would be the caption to that picture: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” -Doctrine and Covenants 18:15.
 
Just another great week in the life of Sister Hawkes, and hopefully we’ll have the same good news next week for Anne’s baptism! It’s looking great!
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

J.O.Y.

Jesus
Others
Yourself
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!
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

Down (up?) the Erie to Brockport!

I never fully understood the meaning of “bittersweet” until yesterday. I am getting transferred out of Newark and going to full-proselyting Brockport!

Brockport is about 20 minutes west of Rochester, but too far away to go to the sites. In the NYRM, there are about 36 sisters that serve as “site sisters,” and six at a time that get shipped out to either Brockport, Buffalo, or Dansville. And I’m lucky enough to be going! I seriously screamed when I found out! Every sister that has been there just raves about it. And that’s not even the coolest thing. At Zone Conference, Hermana Torres and I were joking around with President, telling him that we’ve had dreams that we were supposed to go full-proselying together for her last two transfers on her mission. Apparently he wanted to give us an early Christmas present…because it actually worked! HA!

However, leaving the Lyons ward is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Leaving Sister Graham, Sister Butters, Sister Adams, and especially the Lyons elders in our district is absolutely horrible. We called ourselves the “celestial district” because we had so much fun together. We got so much work done, and everyone got along so well…even us with the ward. I felt like it was my home ward. We figured we’d get transferred soon enough…Sister Adams is going to Seneca Falls, and she’s living at the Peter Whitmer Farm, right where the Church was organized. Sister Graham is getting Sister Park from South Korea. They are going to have so much fun together–Sister Park is hysterical! Then Sister Butters is getting Sister Fetuli from Tonga. And my new companion is from Nicaragua. Talk about the gathering of Israel!

Instead of wallowing that I’m leaving Newark right after I fell in love with it, I am going to think of a million other reasons why I will absolutely LOVE Brockport. First, Hermana Torres. I’m making her speak Spanish to me all day every day. We have 12 weeks together–don’t you think I could get pretty good? Second, we are the only missionaries in our ward. President just closed Brockport elders area and gave it to us, so we now have double the area, which means double the work! YES! Hermana Torres and I are the only missionaries in the small Brockport ward, so it will be such a great challenge. I’ll have to work super hard and super long, but that’s the only way I can grow. However, without the sacred grove 2-3 times a week…I don’t know what we’ll do! Oh well, I’ll be back to the sites in time to start training for the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

So that’s the update for what’s happening to me–I CAN’T EVEN WAIT! Oh my goodness. It’s easier to just remember the good times, and put trust in the Lord that the good things keep on coming. That’s what I had to learn when I graduated from high school, left BYU Athletics, BYUtv, my best friends back at home…and now it’s happening in the mission field. Mom and Dad, I seriously don’t know how you’re going to drag me out of this place when the time comes. We won’t talk about it…

I’ll leave you all with a great experience–my last at the Joseph Smith Farm until I come back in the Spring/Summer. I had the privilege of taking a 19-year old member named Brittany, and her 20-year-old non-member best friend Alyssa on tour. Brittany brought Alyssa to the sites because she’s been talking to her about the church for a long time. In fact, Brittany wears the Church on her sleeve, and talks about it with everyone. I am so impressed with her–she opens her mouth to absolutely everyone that comes in contact with her. And, she doesn’t even wear a name tag yet! Anyway, we went into the log home and I explained the First Vision to the two girls. Brittany turns to Alyssa and said, “I know, it’s a lot to take in. But I know it’s true.” Alyssa kinda laughed and said, “psh, yeah!” We then went up the narrow stairs to Joseph’s bedroom where the Angel Moroni appeared to him when he was just 17 years old. I emphasized the Book of Mormon, however, we got into a fantastic discussion about “being a Mormon” is a way of life. Alyssa told the both of us that she was so impressed that girls our same age would give their lives to something that means so much. She also said that we obviously are happy, and it’s a happiness that comes from within. Brittany and I both bore our testimony about the things that happened here in Palmyra and what it’s done personally for our lives. I ended up getting her contact information very easily and gave it to the elders that are in her area. They already contacted her, and are starting the discussions in the next two weeks. The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to share the gospel with anyone, even your best friends. If 19 and 20 year-olds can do it, you can. Sometimes people want to know how happy you are, but honestly have no clue what to ask. People don’t realize it’s the gospel that makes us happy. If they turn you down, don’t worry about it! Just resume the friendship. But–think of what can happen if they accept. When President Eyring says, “thousands will call your name blessed,” he really means it. However, that can only happen if you ACT. You don’t have to be awkward about it. In fact, please don’t be awkward about it. We want these people to think we’re normal. You could say, “My family and I are having a Family Home Evening on Monday night. Would you like to join us?” or “Do you want to come with me to the YSA activity on ______?” Then explain to them that Christ is the reason for everything. If you say it with confidence, they won’t even question you. Don’t think about it! Just do it.

It’s time to go to transfer meeting, so I’ll give you the update when I can! I’m glad we got to e-mail l because we didn’t know if we had time…but we figured it out! I’m really sad about leaving the sites and Sister Graham, but being with Hermana Torres will be a huge adventure. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures soon! I love you all! I love being a missionary.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

p.s. MERRY CHRISTMAS! How is everyone doing on talking about mormon.org/Christmas?