No More Neutral Ground

“When we joined this church, we enlisted to serve God. When we did that, we left…neutral ground, and we never can get back onto it.” -Joseph Smith

Well, this is it. I can’t believe it. An incredibly fast year and a half has passed, and I have memories stored up in my head that I could never be able to describe to anyone. Just like Joseph has said, I’ll never be able to go back to neutral ground, and I certainly won’t allow myself to even try to get there. I just need to keep doing what I’ve told every single person I’ve taught to do: read, pray, go to church, and keep my temple covenants. I’m just going as an undercover agent. With a badge, that’s hard to do!

This has been the best week of my mission so far. I’ve seen absolutely incredible miracles take place in such a short amount of time, and I want to share one experience from Friday. It was my last shift at the historical sites, and Sister Gillespie and I were at the Joseph Smith Farm. Within the first hour, we had a huge BYU tour bus group come through, and I got to take them. So many comments going back and forth…it was fantastic. Once I finished that one, no other tours had come through in a while, so I was getting worried that could have been my last one! At five minutes to six (we close at seven) the Wirthlin family walked in. Yes, the grandson of the former Apostle. I introduced myself, had them sit down, and gave them a little background about the Smith family. Before we walked out to the property, I asked them specifically what they wanted to hear about the place. Brother Wirthlin said that he thought the historical facts were interesting, however, they had come here to have a real spiritual experience with his wife and two daughters. None of them had been to the Farm yet, and they had waited their whole lives to be here. I immediately felt humbled that I got to be the missionary to take them through, and I appreciated so much that they realized the nature of the experience. We had a fantastic discussion through the log home about God really knowing who we are, in the frame home about the protection He gives us, and it just continued through the threshing barn and onto the cooper shop. Once I sent them on their way to walk into the Sacred Grove, a huge wave of gratitude swept over me as I started down Stafford Road for the last time. That’s my usual (only) place to really pray out loud, and tears just wouldn’t stop the whole way back. (See, I do have emotion!) On the drive home, through my tears, I told Sister Gillespie that was hands down the best tour I’ve ever been a part of, just because of how prepared they were to receive the message the Lord had in store for them. She got the biggest smile on her face–she told me that it had been a matter of her personal prayers to see that I got the best tour of my mission for my last one. (She really is the best companion…yes boys, she comes home in just one transfer! That’s a good catch!) I just cried even more out of gratitude that my Heavenly Father allowed me to come to such a place. Poor Sister Gillespie.

I still can’t comprehend the magnitude of the things that happened here, or the things that I’ve accomplished here. I hope to one day see all of the fruit of my labors, and rest with them in the Celestial Kingdom. As President Packer said this last general conference, “When I look at the future, I am overwhelmed with the feeling of positive optimism.” I’ve had a year and half to become friends with Joseph, a year and a half to realize my purpose in life, and a year and a half to get to know my Father. What have I learned?

I could go on forever with the list, but I hope I learned everything that I needed to. I feel great about the work that I’ve put in, and I know that I’ve put in my whole heart, might mind and strength. If Jesus Christ asked me to turn around next week and go again, my next question would be, “How long do You need me?” I guess that’s how I can know how I’m doing on the conversion scale. I have experienced a “mighty change of heart,” and my heart issinging “the song of redeeming love.” I will be eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to serve Him for just a short amount of time. For this, I owe the rest of my life to Him.

“Now, Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:62

BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes
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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

Earthly Father, Heavenly Father

How can we even describe the divine role of a father? Personally, I think it’s by looking at exactly Who our Heavenly Father is, and what He really does for us. Having the priesthood in my home from the day I was born is a direct result of my conversion to Jesus Christ. Thanks, Dad!

“The consummate power of the priesthood has been given to protect the home and its inhabitants. The father has the authority and responsibility to teach his children and to bless and to provide for them the ordinances of the gospel and every other priesthood protection necessary. He is to demonstrate love and fidelity and honor to the mother so that their children can see that love.”

—Boyd K. Packer

[Eternal] Life is Precious

“Yes, life is precious! No one can cuddle a cherished newborn baby, look into those beautiful eyes, feel the little fingers, and caress that miraculous creation without deepening reverence for life and for our Creator. Life comes from life. It is a gift from our Heavenly Father. It is eternal, as he is eternal.”

—Elder Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I Have my Family Forever

“Continue building lasting, loving relationships for all family members. Listen to one another, be unified, work together, play together, study together. Live celestial principles together, serve the Lord together. Find those precious teaching moments with one another. Don’t let them slip through your fingers, but feed and nurture these special occasions. Never let golden opportunities go by in your relationships with your family members that will help build eternal principles.”

—L. Tom Perry

Becoming as a Child

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” -Mosiah 3:19, The Book of Mormon

Momma and her girls in 1997

From the beginning, my parents taught us about submitting our will completely to Heavenly Father’s will. Once we learn how we can become exactly how a child would act in all times and in all situations, is when we have perfected the art of “living life.” It’s true…we don’t know how great of a life we could have unless we let God take the reigns. We take what we want out of everything, and give it all to Him. Because once we do that, everything seems to fall into place. We see the scary lions, tigers and bears at the end of the road, and want to turn around. But all our Heavenly Father sees is…

Momma and her girls in 2009

“Look to your Mother”

“My dear young women, with all my heart I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors. Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective. Look to your mother. Learn from her strengths, her courage, and her faithfulness. Listen to her. She may not be a whiz at texting; she may not even have a Facebook page. But when it comes to matters of the heart and the things of the Lord, she has a wealth of knowledge. As you approach the time for marriage and young motherhood, she will be your greatest source of wisdom. No other person on earth loves you in the same way or is willing to sacrifice as much to encourage you and help you find happiness—in this life and forever.” -Elder M. Russell Ballard

Underground of the Salt Lake Temple, ready to receive my endowment. April 19, 2012

 

As a matter of fact…both my mothers have a facebook page and can text! But that’s beside the point. My mom and her mom are two women that have already figured out how to conquer the world. Not only did my grandmother raise three children that weren’t her own, (along with the four that were hers) she took on a complete life change when she met my grandfather and raised them all in South America. That example helped my mother know that there was no such thing as “impossible,” when it came time to take on children of her own, and keep her job at ESPN. I couldn’t have asked for two better role-models to help me figure out my own life map and letting me know it’s okay get through the mundane things of life with a great attitude. But most importantly, they kept Jesus Christ throughout every decision made along the way. And that is something I will never forget.