Charity Never Faileth

The exciting news of the week is…dun dun dun…Brittany’s getting baptized! I think I briefly mentioned her last week. We met her three weeks ago, and since then we’ve taught all the way up to lesson three, been to a baptism, and went to church. When we offered the official invitation, she said, “Well, I was going to ask you when I could get baptized, and Sister Hawkes, I was hoping it was before you leave.” (YAY!) She said she felt so calm and peaceful at church, and knew she was going to be baptized while sitting in Relief Society. Brittany even told us that she was shopping the other day with some friends while picking out “mormon” outfits that covered her shoulders and went to her knees. Oh yeah, and while she was shopping, she taught her friend the Plan of Salvation. She is what you call a “golden,” and it feels like we really didn’t do anything. We are just the lucky ones that got to teach her…it’s all done by the Spirit.

This week was Fast Sunday, and Sister Steel and I decided to do a companion fast for a family in our area. The mother, Tracey, is a less-active member, but her husband Will and children aren’t members. We stop in every once in a while to check up on them, share a spiritual thought, and invite them to church with us. They always decline, but they appreciate the thought. However, on Sunday, the last couple hours before our fast, we decided to see if they were home. This time we didn’t plan just a spiritual thought, but we planned to teach them the Plan of Salvation, or as I like to call it, the Plan of Happiness. (That’s my favorite one to teach, too!) Will and Tracey invited us right on in. The lesson started quickly, and the discussion was so incredibly focused and Spirit driven. I have no doubt that our prayers were heard way beyond this earth, because when we finished our lesson, we asked the Will, the head of the house, if we could re-teach them both the discussions. He said, “Not only would I like you to come teach Tracey and I, I’d like you to come teach our children as well. We’d love for you to invite us to pray as a family, especially so my children can see you two as role models.” I wanted to do a fist pump right there, but Sister Steel is way more classy than I am, so she respectfully accepted the offer. Miracles are happening!

Aside from so many miracles happening left and right, I’ve noticed that the Lord’s real work is in the details. Many missionaries think all we have to do is what’s in the white handbook, but the details are what determine you as a servant of the Lord. It’s how you react to something that goes completely opposite of what you expected. It’s in the thoughts in your mind as you’re driving to an appointment. It’s how you treat your companion. Anyone can spit out the missionary lessons and “convert” people, but it takes a real servant of Christ to clean up the little pieces of garbage on the highway to the Celestial Kingdom. Don’t forget, we have to be the ones waiting for the people we taught at the pearly gates!

Now how do we do that? It seems easy talking about it. But when it comes into play, it takes true character. True character all stems from confidence–the confidence you have in your God. “Confidence is generated by confronting challenges and striving for and achieving meaningful goals.” And another one, “Confidence is not the certainty of success, but rather the conclusion that failure does not determine our worth…we lose nothing by trying.” (Ensign, Sept 2013) Once we can figure out the confidence required for the Celestial Kingdom, we’ve got charity. Just ask Moroni:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” -Moroni 7:45-47

 

The sites have been great this week, nothing too exciting to report as of now. All exciting things are happening in our area, which is exactly what we’ve been praying for! It’s hard to be an hour away from your area for four days a week. But the Lord makes it work–He always makes it work!

 

Sorry that haven’t gotten any of your letters…we haven’t gotten mail for a couple weeks now. We don’t know what’s going on, but don’t worry, I’m sure it will come soon. 🙂 I think that’s all for now. Thank you for everything, you are the best family (and friends) a missionary could ever ask for.

 

BE HAPPY!

 

Hermana Hawkes
Advertisements

Our Higher Destination

bike1

“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

bike2

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

Not Merely A Feeling

I have many examples of love in my life, including my own two parents, who have stuck it out through everything. I realize very few people in this world grew up the way I did, but know this: everyone is available to the blessings of an eternal, temple marriage like this one. It just takes some work.

momdad

How do they do it?

“Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go… But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriage) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God… “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

-C.S. Lewis

The Dust of the Earth

Have you ever heard that phrase before? Have you ever felt like it?

Fortunately, I’ve caught up on my sleep (I think) so lessons are a lot more entertaining to me now. Not that they weren’t before, but you know. But lately, I’ve been humbled many times, over and over again. Wait…why did I say lately? It’s been happening my whole mission. I think I just finally pegged how I’m feeling. I’m not being humbled by people slapping me in the face and telling me that I think I’m prideful, but it’s Heavenly Father reminding me that I can’t do anything without Him. For example:

I never understood why people said, “I’m humbled to accept this call.” Wouldn’t it just be more work? Wouldn’t you just go to more meetings? I definitely found out the meaning of that this week. Sister Steel and I are now the STL’s of the Rochester zones (Sister Trainer Leaders) and to explain what that means to everyone that’s been on a mission–it’s pretty much the Sister Zone Leaders. It’s a new thing since the age change has more than half of the missionaries as sisters. No one really knows what we’re doing since this is the first time President has put them in this mission, so we’ll figure it out at Mission Leadership Council on Friday. But the first thing that popped into my mind when President called us (at 11 p.m. on Sunday night) is that Heavenly Father wants me to learn a lot more than I already have. This will teach me to rely on Him more than I ever have before. It’s not like we don’t have any time in our area…oh wait, we don’t! Sister Steel and I have to be even more creative on how to use our time wisely in the time we do have. We’ve got exchanges and more meetings that we now have to fit in. It will all work out though, I’m not even worried about it.  Just humbled, that’s all.

Speaking of being creative, we tried a new finding tool this week. When talking to people, all we could do is listen and ask questions. That’s it. It was so effective! We had to think really hard of inspired questions, and I felt that the people we talked with really thought about why we were there, instead of just thinking we’re some “Jesus girls” and ignoring us. In fact, that day, we were coming into our apartment for the night, and we saw our downstairs neighbor sitting on his porch with his head in his hands. As we were getting out of the car, there was a loose mormon.org card on the seat, so I grabbed it and had it in my hand. We said hello to Joe, and I offered him the card. He just started spilling what was going on in his head–his wife of 18 years just divorced him. To make things worse, she had said goodbye just minutes earlier. He felt lost and alone, and didn’t really know where to go to make things better. Once we testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and offered to teach him about the Plan of Happiness, he said, “In my religion, we call you two angels sent from heaven.” Well, Joe, that’s because we are.

In my personal study this week, I picked up an old Ensign from a huge stack in our apartment. It was from 2007 that had an article entitled, The Power of Laughter by K.S. Peterson. I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do to ease the situation in everything, because the work that I’m doing out here is pretty darn serious. Many people are stressed in this type of situation. This really answered my question. “When a person laughs, blood pressure decreases, heart rate and respiration increase, the body releases endorphins, and depression declines.” And then my favorite, “Play brings families together. It is a subtle tool for interaction and talk. It builds confidence because you can modify the rules to bring about success or any outcome you desire. Through play we develop relationships naturally…Children are more receptive when they are having fun. Laughter helps us remember. And we remember what we feel.” Maybe that’s why I’m a huge sports advocate…I’d rather go play catch on a date than go paint pottery! And I’ve finally figured out why.

To wrap things up, the more humility exercises Heavenly Father gives me, the more happy I seem to be. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness, I give unto men weakness that they may be humble…then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” -Ether 12:27 Let’s be honest, I am the dust of the earth…without Him. But with Him, I can become like Him.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

p.s. my Spanish nametag is in the mail as we speak. 🙂

Expect the Unexpectable

The sites here in Palmyra/Fayette are getting busier and busier.

 

Which means, we get to play the “do you know…?” game even more! I’ve met a lot of people who know family, friends, MTC buddies, and of course past missionaries…it’s been great. It feels good to have a connection again with people before we hit them with the Spirit while teaching at the sites.

 

This week, we gathered a few new investigators to our teaching pool. Jessica, a wife and mother of three from Puerto Rico has been attending church every Sunday of her life. She feels peace. She feels like she’s doing the right thing. But, she felt like there was something even more out there. She ended up on mormon.org to chat with the missionaries online there (which happens to be the sister missionaries here at the Visitors’ Centers) and she requested missionaries to come to her house to teach her more. Well, within 24 hours, we were contacted her, but she was running out the door, so she told us to come back Thursday at noon. Naturally, at 11:59 a.m. on Thursday, we knocked on her door and she invited us right in. “Oh, girls, I have so much to tell you,” she said. Of course we quickly sat down and listened intently. (I was smiling so big that my cheeks hurt just 5 minutes into the conversation.) She started to tell us that her close friends and family thought she was crazy for believing in Christ so much, and for being positive and enthusiastic about everything. Regardless of what they tell her, she still feels peace and happiness, and knows God has a bigger reason for her to be here. She knows her education from on high should not just be once a week, but should be daily, straight from Christ Himself. Yes, she did use the words, “I know God has a purpose for me.” I just wanted to hug her and cry…and tell the camera crews from The District that they needed to be there ASAP. The Spirit helped Hermana Steel and I teach the most perfect Restoration lesson which began with tears during the First Vision, and ended with her baptismal date. However, she told us she needed to learn a lot more before she made that commitment–which is every missionary’s dream comment from an investigator of the Church. We finished up the lesson with the promises God has for each of His children that follow Him, a prayer, and her own personal copy of el Libro de Mormon. Hermana Steel and I sat in the car for a few seconds, still beaming, then knew we needed to offer a prayer of gratitude. If my whole 18 months was to come to Jessica to teach her that one lesson, I would have still done it. Not even a question.

 

I wish I could tell you more stories of what happened this week. One included a less-active member who (after laying down the law of the Word of Wisdom) looked at me and said, “You’re never going to give up on me, are you?” Or even the man who has been Catholic for 84 years, prays everyday to God the Father, but never realized God was his Father. His specific question this week is if Hermana Steel and I are true messengers from our Savior. We told him that if we aren’t, you never have to see us again. But if we are…oh the happiness we could bring to your life.

 

The focus of my studies lately have been why missions have to be hard. Can’t they be fun all the time? Granted, I still find every way possible to have a blast–because hello people, this is fun! The only obligation I have right now, is to preach the gospel! However, have you ever thought that things can be hard and fun? Basketball taught me that lesson very clearly my freshman and sophomore years, and now a mission is teaching me even more of it. A mission is hard, because it’s what you don’t expect. If you expect it, it’s going to be easy. So–expect the unexpectable! The Lord teaches you what you need. Quoting Elder Holland who “quoted” Jesus Christ in his October 2012 conference talk, “What I need, Peter, are disciples…and I need them forever.” He will convert you to what He needs at His own rate. At BYU, in the MTC, and when I got out of the MTC, I was sprinting at full speed. When I got to the field, even with the Pageant, the sites, and our areas to balance, I felt as if I had been dropped on a treadmill going two times slower. My “hard” time, was and still is learning how to slow down, but to still accomplish the same amount of work. No one is going to listen to you if you live your life like the energizer bunny. However, the goal is to energize everyone around you with that same type of energy. I know my dad is laughing right now, but, “whatever, Dad.”

 

Zone Conference tomorrow is in the Sacred Grove, and unfortunately I couldn’t find a working violin fast enough to play it–so a piano arrangement of “Abide With Me, Tis Eventide,” will have to do. I’m so lucky. I’m so happy. We are working so hard, but there is still always more room for improvement. I told Hermana Steel this morning, “Every day I’m out in the mission field, I feel more and more inadequate for the work.” I’m guessing that’s a good thing. Thanks so much for your prayers, and even just putting up with reading my e-mails! I love you all, thank you!
BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes

It’s All in the Name

Something that defines us as the Mormon Missionaries are these name tags. We wear them everywhere so others will recognizes us as representatives of Jesus Christ. Hands down, the best part about wearing it is because it reminds me of the promises I made when I signed up for this whole thing, and by doing that I will get my family forever. I promised to stand as His witness and testify boldly of the truth, and to testify of what I know to be true. It’s not what my mom or dad knows, not what my mission president knows–it’s what I know.

If you notice, the name “Jesus Christ” is printed just as big as my own name. He called me with my own personality, but expected me to become a better version of myself by walking in His footsteps. In a recent devotional, Elder Bednar encouraged us to “be our own first converts,” but if that’s what we’re trying to do, we have completely failed. Our missions are all about other people. But in turn, we will grow closer to Him through the process of striving to walk, talk, and act just like Jesus Christ did. Wearing this 24/7 is easily the most humbling experience I could have asked for. Who else (literally) wears their heart this large on their sleeve?