It’s Not A Competition

Brittany’s story has to be one of the most note-worthy stories I’ll ever tell about my mission.

On Thursday, we went to the sites with her…well, just the Joseph Smith Farm, the Hill Cumorah, and the Book of Mormon Publication Site. I noticed it’s a whole different thing knowing Brittany’s spiritual journey, and then applying the history at the sites to her. While in the Sacred Grove, we read Joseph Smith’s experience straight from his history, and she mentioned how much she can relate to him. However, her whole spiritual journey has magnified by a million in just the past few days. After a really rough night last night, she sent us the scripture in 2 Nephi 1:15, “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” She gets it–she really gets it. Brittany is now tearing up Irondequoit with us, teaching lessons, and even basketball tracting! (Note: basketball tracting is recruiting for our Tuesday night basketball games at the church…one of the greatest finding activities in my opinion.) She wasn’t afraid to just go up and knock on doors, even if we got a door slammed in our faces. I wish she had any idea how much she was teaching us instead of what she thinks is the other way around. By teaching with her, we’ve been able to hear more of her conversion story, which puts mine to shame. Thankfully, it’s not a competition, and all that matters is that we get the same end result.

That reminds me of a lesson I’ve learned the past year and a half–nothing ever is a competition, especially when it has to do with the Spirit. I don’t need anything big to happen to me to be truly converted; I don’t need the scriptures to shake as I read them, to hear a “voice of thunder” of confirmation as I am bearing my testimony, or that I don’t need to cry throughout the whole sacrament meeting in order for me to feel the Spirit. Elder McConkie said, “Being born again is a gradual thing, except in a few isolated instances that are so miraculous they get written up in the scriptures.”

As for the other events of this week, we had an exchange with the Victor sisters, and then two exchanges coming up this week, where I’ll be off to Henrietta and Fairport. The leaves are beginning to change, and that means more bus tours! This week we had a bus tour while Sister Tran and I were serving at the Hill Cumorah. I read on the schedule that it was a mission reunion, but lo and behold, did I ever know that it was the Mexico Monterrey Mission from the early 1970’s. Just my grandpa’s missionaries themselves! A few of them came up to me, introduced themselves, and fortunately I got to talk with all of them in the Christus room. (The painting of the Sacred Grove right behind the statue of Christ.) We talked about our missions, the thoughts the Spirit has given them throughout their lives, and what specifically their missions have done for the rest of their lives. A few of them came up to me after and told stories of how Grandpa has a lead foot, how Grandma was so patient with all of the Elders…I was just beaming with pride to be their granddaughter. We did get a picture of a few of us that I’ll have to show you later.

The last, but definitely not least, thing I want to mention was the anniversary of Joesph getting the plates on September 22, 1827. He met Moroni for the first time on September 21, and since that day fell on a Saturday this year, we decided to plan “the walk” for that morning. Most of us sisters, senior couples, and President Francis walked from the log home at the Joseph Smith Farm to the top of the Hill Cumorah, which was about four miles. (I’m proud to say that Sister Gillespie and I were the first ones to the top, after President started racing us!) What a great walk to remember Joseph Smith and the things He did for Jesus Christ.

Miracles are piling more and more on top of each other as I head towards the end of my journey here in New York, As I’ve thought about that though, I’ve noticed they’ve been happening not just my whole mission, but my whole life, and it’s great to finally realize His hand in many more things.

Keep staying strong, and remember that God always has unlimited minutes.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

190th Anniversary

As Mormons, a lot of people think we do weird things. Well, give us a break, it was prophesied in the Bible…

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” -1 Peter 2:9

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What do you get when you have over fifty missionaries walking four miles in the middle of nowhere? A celebration of the 190th anniversary of Joseph Smith meeting Moroni for the first time, of course! On September 21, 1823, Moroni (the last prophet of the 6th dispensation) showed the prophet Joseph where he could find the record in the Hill Cumorah. At 17 years old, Joseph walked Stafford Road from his home in Palmyra, NY, to the Hill Cumorah in Manchester, NY after Moroni appeared to him in the upstairs of his little log home, telling him the information. Four years later on the same anniversary, he brought back to Palmyra the plates to what is now translated in English as The Book of Mormon.

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For more information, check out:

http://josephsmith.net/josephsmith/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=91fa0fbab57f0010VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD

Be a Flashlight…Not Just a Glowstick

It’s taken me this long to figure out the best way to start off a transfer…

To see one of your sisters get baptized! Brittany has grown into our “5th companion” as she got baptized this week, and already has taught lessons with us and the Webster sisters. Apparently she told one of their investigators that he needed to back off if he wasn’t totally ready to change his life. She’s my hero.

Man, so much has happened this week. Sister Gillespie is on fire, and we are tearing up Irondequoit. Even though we have trainings to plan, exchanges to do, sites to serve at, we are finding time to talk with everyone. President likes to remind me that I don’t have much time to sprint to the end, and last week he said, “Irondequoit better be translated when you leave!” (He doesn’t leave much room for laziness.) I’m pretty sure I’m his biggest fan. I could go on forever about how much respect I have for him, but unfortunately I’ve only got so long to tell you about the rest of my week. The Francis family is perfect.

As for an introduction to our training (that trained me more than anyone else in the room):

“Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled.” -2 Nephi 7:11

We started off by giving each missionary in our zone those little glow stars that children put on their ceilings at night. We charged the stars a bit with our flashlights, then all walked into a dark room with Sister Gillespie and I holding the flashlights, with the whole goal being to find the Starbursts in the front of the room. In order for them to find them, we just shone them in every which way, but we didn’t really point them in a specific direction. The point was for us to invite them by pointing the beam of light in a specific direction in order for them to easily find the candy…a.k.a. eternal life. How hard is it for missionaries to focus and shine their light they received from Christ? Are we bold enough? Are our batteries charged? The other missionaries (investigators) had a glow star…why couldn’t they find it just from that?

The point is to be the flashlight. We are commanded to be a flashlight once we are baptized into the church. What happens if we are just a glow star? We still have a light, right? Yes, we do have a light, but it is unreachable. It is something that is only glowing, and not pointing towards a specific direction. Now, there are a million other analogies to that concept, and I hope that you think about how you can be the flashlight in the darkness. Offering a ride to a Mutual activity? Giving someone an invite to your Family Home Evening? The light of Christ you have can not only charge the other glow stars you work and live among, but so you can use Christ to literally change their state of being to a flashlight. Now, read that scripture from 2 Nephi again, and never look at a flashlight the same again.

On Thursday I had the opportunity to take a couple from Boston around the Joseph Smith Farm. Robert and Jean have been dating for quite some time, but their religious background won’t allow them to get married. After just a few minutes in the Manchester Frame Home, Robert the atheist, turns to me and says, “I’ve never seen anyone so happy…I usually can fake it on a Saturday night at the bar. But are you for real?” I explained to him the Plan of Happiness, and related it to Joseph Smith and how he wanted to know his identity so badly, so badly enough that he had a confidence in God that He would answer his prayer. I expounded on the Restoration and my personal witness of the things that happened here. After about a twenty minute conversation, he said, “So…this is why you’re happy.” I almost was in tears defending what Joseph learned in the grove, just a few hundred feet away. I mentioned to him that missionaries are throughout the world teaching the same message, and it was no coincidence that I had my best friend Rebecca’s picture of her serving in the Philippines on the back of my Book of Mormon. I showed it to Robert and Jean, and even if they don’t act on the prompting, I knew they felt it was right that what we both were doing was the absolute truth. Their faces look at her picture gave it away, and the spirit testifying to them was way too strong to deny. After sending them into the Grove, I vocally expressed thanks to my Heavenly Father on the walk back to the Welcome Center on Stafford Road.
Along with success from the less-active members of the church, potential investigators, and hilarious journal entries, this week has been one of the best on my mission. It’s also been one of the most trying…thus being the best. I’m completely convinced we don’t learn anything if we don’t feel any urgency to complete tasks ahead of us–especially those that have to do with Christ’s work on the earth. He’s not chastising us, He is giving us the opportunity to grow because He loves us that much. A coach doesn’t yell at the people he’s going to cut!
I can really feel your prayers, and letters of encouragement are completely inspired from everyone. Thank you! I can’t pay you all back, so I’ll pay Him forward.
BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes

A Witness Unto All Nations

This is my best friend, Rebecca:

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Laoag, Phillippines

We both put in our mission papers back in March 2012, and now, we’re both locals on opposite sides of the world. In fact, we’re exactly on opposite sides–she’s 12 hours ahead of me. Between the two of us, we’ve been constantly representing Christ 24/7 for over a year now. My point is, that we’re all over the world! There are 14,782,473 members in 177 publicated languages, with 74,900 missionaries in 405 different missions throughout the earth. (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics/)

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations…” -Matthew 24:14

Our purpose as missionaries is to invite you to come to Christ. We travel from “house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.” (Alma 26:28) We teach a series of lessons, and invite you to come into to the waters of baptism so you can be completely clean from all mistakes and guilt through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We don’t get paid for this, in fact, we pay to be here. We only call our families twice a year–Christmas and Mother’s Day–and e-mail them once a week. The rest of the time, we have our minds completely focused on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. What would Christ be doing if He were here? Do you think He’d wish He could personally talk to all of us, to get us ready for our own eternal lives? And that’s why He sent us.

If I didn’t have a sure witness this was true, absolutely true, I’d be on the next plane out of Rochester. But because I know it’s true, nothing will get me on that plane…until my time is up in a few weeks.

So, wherever you are in the world, chances are there are LDS missionaries in your hometown. Go to www.mormon.org/missionaries to find out. We aren’t perfect; we stumble over our words all the time. But the most important thing is to listen to the feeling you have around us. What are you feeling right now as you read this? “…It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.” (Helaman 5:30)

You lose nothing by trying!

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

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.