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

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.

The Sacred Grove

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“While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

-The Prophet Joseph Smith

Click Here to read what happened to next.

The Hill Cumorah

What’s the big deal about the Hill Cumorah, Joseph Smith, and the gold plates?

Let me tell you.

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Getting ready for companion study on top of the Hill Cumorah.

He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants. Joseph Smith History 1:34

Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box.  Joseph Smith History 1:51.

The messenger . . . told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates. Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days. Joseph Smith History 1:53–54.

At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.  Joseph Smith History 1:59.

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The top of the Hill Cumorah.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.  Moroni 10:4-5

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Don’t worry, these aren’t the original plates. It’s the replica we have in the Book of Mormon publication site. But they’re now back in the hands of Moroni, where they belong!

Celebrity Sightings…Part II

I now realize the phrase, “I’m humbled to meet you.”

On Wednesday for our weekly site meeting, we had Joseph Smith’s great-great granddaughter, Kim Smith, and 3rd great grandson, Brian Davis, come to the Hill Cumorah. They told us of their conversion stories, how they came to realize the importance of their grandfather, and what they had heard of him throughout their lives. They sang a couple of songs they wrote, one called “Willow,” based on a tree Emma used to pray near, and another one, “Serenity Blue,” describing the prophet Joseph’s eyes, and what was seen through them.  I’m pretty sure no one’s eyes were dry the whole hour.

The next day, we had shift number two at the Joseph Smith Farm…since I have come back to the sites. We all couldn’t wait to talk about what we learned the night before! As we were talking, a car pulled up, and lo and behold…it was Kim and Brian! Guess who’s turn it was to take a tour. MINE. However, I quickly realized that I wasn’t the one who would be giving the tour.  Ha. Anyway, we greeted them at the door–more excitedly than we did last week with the lead singer of The Killers might I add–and I re-introduced myself to them. She remembered I was from Centerville, and immediately asked about me, how my mission was going, and what I had planned after. Hello, I didn’t want to talk about me, I wanted to talk about them! So I quickly answered the questions and jumped into shooting my questions in the opposite direction. As they were talking, I noticed the pictures of Joseph and Emma so perfectly framed right next to their faces in the background, and couldn’t help but see Joseph’s blue eyes and wavy blonde hair in Brian. We are talking exact DNA people. So, “their” tour started by going into the humble log home, and her telling me what she knew from what was passed down from her fathers. Kim and Brian were two of 80 direct descendants of Joseph Smith that are actually baptized into the church, and 200 in-direct…with marriages and everything. Horror stories have been told more times than she’s wanted to hear, and she knew there had to be something positive about her grandfather. As we were standing in the same space where Joseph formulated the million-dollar question, little old me got to be the one who got to hear them the behind-the-scenes of the consequences of abuse in his posterity.

We eventually made our way to the Frame Home, expecting to spend just a couple of minutes there for them to take a few pictures. We walked in and Kim said, “How much time do you have, Sister Hawkes?” “You tell me,” I said. “Sit down, let’s talk.” I asked her question after question of the character of Joseph, the moment she became truly converted, and how they’ve been missionaries to her family. From growing up, she heard horrific stories all about the “Utah Mormons” and the “Brighamites,” and was basically forbidden to go to Utah. Kim knew they weren’t true by the power of the Holy Ghost, that had come into her life at an early age. She was always taught from her mother, “the Holy Ghost trumps everything.” So, she decided to always follow Him, and never listen to what anyone else says. Since then, she’s always poured out her heart to the Savior, and she’s never said no to a prompting–because she knows exactly where it comes from. After half an hour of an uninterrupted quizzing session, we took a slow walk back to the parking lot on Stafford Road. I walked right in between the two as they continued to tell me stories…including how the missionary discussions they took at Meryl Osmond’s home went. (I couldn’t help but think how intimidated those poor sister missionaries were.) On the third discussion she knew she needed to be baptized. About the members of the church, she said, “there was something in those people that I couldn’t deny, and that was the Holy Ghost.” Kim was baptized June 7, 1998, and her son, Brian was baptized a year later. Right at the end of our visit, she said they would love to come do a fireside in Centerville when I return home. I gave her my e-mail address, and planned to set it up! (Mom, I think I’m going to turn that over to you for now.) We’ll make sure you all know when that’s going to happen!

Basically, that’s been the highlight of my week so far…if not my whole mission! Luckily I’ve had many highlights, and many experiences that turn me closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Every experience that I have as a servant of the Lord gets me closer to Him. It doesn’t matter how “famous” these people are. If I meet them on the streets of Rochester, and I put a smile on their face–that’s really all I care about. All of those combined make up the “highlights” of my mission. More often that not, it’s entertaining to see how that smile actually got there in the first place, but regardless, it’s a blessing. Anyway, we found three more investigators this week, and we’re teaching two tonight and another one on Thursday. They look promising, and I’m really excited!

It’s been another beautiful, rainy week in Upstate New York, and I’m so happy to still be wearing this nametag.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes