Liken The Scriptures

You know you’re doing the right thing when you can substitute your name for Ammon’s in the 18th chapter of Alma.

“Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee. And the king answered him, and said: Yea, I will believe all thy words…And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And he answered, and said unto him: I do not know what that meaneth. And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: This is God…” -Alma 18:22-28

Yesterday, as we were teaching John (a former investigator we found in our Area Book) I felt a deja vu, however it wasn’t from my own experience. I think I realized it when John said, “Well, girls, I believe there is something, but I really don’t know what that something is.” We had the exact same Ammon/King Lamoni conversation sitting in his library, yes library, and I felt as if his wife brought tea and crumpets it would fit right in with the ambiance. John had his legs crossed, his big three-inch glasses down on his nose, thumbing through the Book of Mormon as we were expounding the meaning of “Father.” When I say we were bold, I really mean we were bold. The longer I’ve been out on my mission, the more bold I am, because the more I realize that I’m a servant of Jesus Christ. It’s got nothing to do with me, and has everything to do with Him. What do I have to lose?

Another bold experience I will lightly touch on…on Saturday, I took a Catholic Priest from Syracuse and his Mormon friend through the Book of Mormon Publication site. Within the first few seconds of the tour he told me who he was, but that he was very interested in what the Book of Mormon taught, and had always thirsted for more information regarding God. With that crack of a door, I swung it wide open. Throughout the hour, I related everything to the gates of baptism, and how those gates (with the right authority) will give him more information than he had been looking for previously. He was an incredibly nice fellow who grew to be a friend very quickly. At the end of the tour as he was walking out the door, I shook his hand and said, “See you at your baptism!” #YOMO right? (You’re Only a Missionary Once…a current catchphrase of the NYRM.)

Specialized Training was on Thursday, and Sister Gillespie trained both Rochester Zones on effective planner use. The title of our powerpoint was “The Great Planner of Happiness.” Subtitled, “Where did you come from? Why are you here? Where are you going?” The idea was to get missionaries to answer each of these questions at any point of the day using their planner. We did a True/False section, including statements like, “The sole purpose of the Notes/To Do page is to write notes to whoever’s planner you are decorating,” and my personal favorite, “You don’t really need to write anything down, because that’s only for people who don’t know how to follow the Spirit.” It was an entertaining half an hour…but I think we got the point across. I know I needed to hear it more than anyone, so that’s why we were assigned to teach it. It has made my planning a lot more effective…I definitely could have used that at the beginning of my mission…oh well.

We had a couple more exchanges this week, and have a couple more next week. We decided to keep my last week (hopefully) free from anything that would keep us away from our area, so we can do the most work then. It’s been such a hard working week, as usual, but I’ve never felt more on top of my game than I do right now. “Sprinting to the end” does not mean that I need to tract every door in my area before I leave. It means to plan effectively, and have my whole mind in the work at all times like 1 Peter 1:13, “Gird up the loins of your mind.” It’s a challenge, but not optional. I promise Heavenly Father every morning that I will work with my “heart, might, mind and strength, that [I will] stand blameless at the last day.” I can’t break that promise.

Thanks for the continued support. It is incredible to me the things that the Lord gives to His missionaries. Way more than I could ever ask for, and the saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it all,” has come into my mind multiple times this week because of all of your prayers.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

Earned Not Given

…said the Nike slogan right above President’s head projected at Zone Conference. I knew I came to the right mission.

We had to earn absolutely everything this week. (Nothing new, really.) Who knew that filling up our car meant we had to earn things, too? As we were coming home from an appointment on Saturday night, we stopped at the usual place to get some gasoline. To our surprise, it said, “Please see attendant for cashier,” which to the both of us, meant “someone in there needs you.” We walked into the store armed with our Book of Mormon, when immediately a man yelled, “You’ve got to be KIDDING me!” He proceeded to tell us he knew all about our church, and that we had no idea what we were talking about. Obviously, the conversation was pointless, so we ended professionally. Not much time later, the cashier announced to the rest of the convenience store, “These girls have a really cool church, and it’s all about families!” We immediately had three different women with their children come up to us. One, Joy, said that she had been talking to her sister just the day before about how she needed to join a new church that actually had something for her two little girls. I think we pulled up to the right gas station, don’t you?

Most of the week was filled with exchanges, baptisms, and both Rochester Zone Conferences. Sister Steel and I had to present trainings about online proselyting, and it went really well. We took a couple of our investigators, Brittany and Mandy, to the baptism at the singles branch in Rochester. Both Sister Steel and I were independently praying so hard through the whole thing that they’d feel just something. Not to our surprise, right after the closing prayer, Mandy turns to me and says, “Everytime I come to one of these things, I want to be a better person.” Whoo! They are coming closer and closer to their Savior everyday, and progressing so well. I wish I had more time to expound on them, but seeing as I typed more than half of this letter, and accidentally deleted it, I don’t have too much time. Don’t worry, it’s all in my journal. Find me later.

A huge lesson I learned this week was simply just to be absolutely positive about everything that goes wrong. It’s incredibly hard to slap a smile on your face when you just want to crawl in a hole for a couple of days and only come out when everyone else is smiling, too. But it really doesn’t work like that. The only way to actually get a smile on your face is to go to one of your “holy places,” as they call it. These experiences I share with you are literally the highlights of the week, work wise. The rest of the week was like Alma’s, “Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance. Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts, saying unto him: Behold, we know that thou art Alma…and we are not of thy church, and we do not believe in such foolish traditions.” -Alma 8:10-11 I’ve literally been on my knees more than ever, just wrestling with God that He would deliver those people from out of their bondage. It’s not like it hasn’t worked; coming home each day, I felt as if the Lord had run marathons for us in working miracles. It’s not that the miracles aren’t happening, it’s that free agency that always gets in the way. 🙂 We are working as hard as we can. I can feel the Lord is proud of the work we are accomplishing. But let me tell you–it’s a battleground!

I appreciate the prayers and support you still continue to give me.

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

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. 🙂

Healthy or Not…Here We Come

As a missionary and as a member of the Church, I eat really healthy.

My trainer and I (Sister Correia) in Naples, New York!

Well…at least I try to.

There are some things you just can’t resist! But overall, we have something called the “Word of Wisdom.” It’s a health code.  Jesus Christ set it up in order to keep our bodies consistently healthy so we can submit everything to our Father’s will at any given time. It makes sure that we aren’t addicted to anything–that we don’t need anything in our bodies in order to function. Because in reality, the only thing that we really need to function is Him. Then think about it, when we get to meet Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again and present our bodies to them(that They gave us by the way), are They going to be disappointed if They see it all torn up?

Basically, we stay away from any addictive substances–alcoholic drinks, tobacco, coffee, tea , illegal drugs and the misuse of perscription drugs. We don’t just not consume those things, but we do consume the good stuff: wheat, rice, oats, fruit, vegetables, and meat sparingly. read more about exactly what this all entails, check out: http://www.lds.org/topics/word-of-wisdom?lang=eng

I am a huge fan of this, not only because it keeps me feeling good all the time, but because I promised my Heavenly Father I’d do it. When I gave Him that promise, He gave me one too:

“And [ye] shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures…and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” -Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

Last but not least…something that my companion said the other day that is SO TRUE that I just really want to include:

“It’s better to work out for an hour than to be fat all day.” -Sister Johnson

What would you do for the truth?

For some reason, when I get to a doorstep, I picture myself as a 5’4,” 40-year-old woman dressed in black, trying to shove Jesus down their throat. From our Specialized Training this morning on “Teach People, Not Lessons,” and “Use Time Wisely,” I had a huge revelatory experience. THAT’S NOT ME. First of all, right now I’m wearing pink and green. Second, I’m not trying to earn money, fame, glory…etc. (Well, I guess Glory–ha!) But, the only reason I’m putting myself out there is because I love Heavenly Father so much. I love Him enough to tell His children this is the truth. And if it’s stuttering over my words the first time I meet people that think I’m nuts, so be it. I thought there was a way that I could do it without being weird…nope. Not even close. I just get used to it.Pinned Image

Stand Tall–No Matter What

Well, Sister Johnson officially has Celiac Disease. So of course, our diet ROCKS. I’m dead serious. All we eat is protein, vegetables, and water. We do have the occasional grains, but for the most part it’s pure fuel. I feel absolutely amazing. Sister Johnson is majoring in nutrition and has my same body type, so she is teaching me a lot. I can’t even tell you how big of a blessing being her companion is–on top of all this. So naturally, these past couple of weeks have made me realize of one of the biggest blessings I’ll share with you that Heavenly Father has given me for serving in His army.
 
Before my mission, it would make me nauseated to workout before 10 a.m. I don’t know if it was a mind game from the horrible two-a-days during basketball season, or what, but I’d almost be blacked out within the first ten minutes. Naturally, I was really nervous about this missionary schedule that the only time we could (and had to) exercise was from 6:30 to 7 in the morning. I prayed and prayed it wouldn’t affect my work. Long story short, I am now able to workout harder and faster at those early morning hours than I ever did in the afternoon, and I think I know now why the Lord allowed me such a thing. It’s not just because “that’s what the rules are.” It’s because I had to ask for it, and especially because that half an hour in the morning gives me more confidence and spirituality than I ever had before. It gives me the ability to focus during personal and companion study, and it makes me forget about myself and do His work. Yeah, I know, He’s a genius.

Most of the week, full-proselyting wise, we have been taking it pretty easy. From what I can see, Celiacs get hit hard the first few weeks they are diagnosed. But the work we can do, is super effective. For example, on Saturday we worked an hour on, and hour off in Hilton. On the off hours, Sister Johnson crashed on Sister Trimm’s couch and she gave us pep talks to go out and do work for what we actually can accomplish. Side note: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned her before, but this woman was hand-picked for Rochester to specifically “fix” all of the missionaries and get us back to work. She is a convert of about three years and all of us call her mom–because her whole life is revolved around the missionaries. Anyway, after getting re-charged, we went to visit some potential investigators that the Elders found two years ago, and we had planned to go see a woman named Emma. We walked up to her door, and a woman answered. “Is Emma home?” we asked. Almost in tears, the woman said, “I’m sorry, she died two weeks ago. We’re actually writing thank-you notes from it right now.” Rushing up from behind her was another woman who shouted, “Ooo, you’re the cute Mormon kids that she loved! She talked about you all the time, in fact she was just reading your little Mormon book before she passed away. She really thought the world of you.” Sister Johnson kinda looked at each other and we wondered what to say. After grieving with them, I asked if we could share something out of this book she had been reading. They agreed, and I pulled out Alma 11:43. “The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in it’s perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time…” It was so picture-perfect, we could all feel the love from Emma that was obviously there, and especially the Spirit bearing witness of the truth. Even though they didn’t want any help at the moment, they accepted their own copy of the Book of Mormon and profusely thanked us for being there for her, and for them. We gave them our numbers, and we went on our way realizing the magnitude that must have been for two of Emma’s very best friends.

The interesting thing about this story is that Sister Johnson nor I had absolutely any pull to go to her home. As a missionary, those are the kind of stories you hear all the time. “We just felt we needed to go stop by that house,” or the classic, “I knew we just needed to knock one last door.” Nope, we just went right to work. We were in the right place at the right time, because the spirit guides us everywhere we go. Not just to certain places. It is absolutely everywhere, especially with the missionary badge. The Lord will never waste His time.
 
I’ve learned a lot of things this past week. It’s amazing what the Lord can do when His disciples actually love Him, and it’s amazing what little things He knows we need to keep us motivated to be obedient. I will never doubt the reach, power and magnitude of the Atonement. All of you keep studying hard and praying hard. I really love you all, and all that you do to support me!
 
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