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

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Pay It Forward

My fellow Palmyra resident Joseph and I recently had a one-on-one discussion about our extremely similar personalities.

“I displayed the weakness of youth, and the foilbles of human nature…I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament…in consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections.” -Joseph Smith

As you probably already know, I get excited about everything. Anything anyone tells me is extremely interesting. I don’t take many things very seriously, and I know that everything will always be okay–that He will always make everything work out. In reading Joseph’s account of his self-examination, I’ve found myself doing the same thing, and concluding the same thoughts. A woman from my last ward (Brockport) said something I’ll never forget: “A coach isn’t going to yell at someone he’s going to cut.” Same thing with God. Furthermore, I’ve started the repentance process of my “jovial” nature, and have tried to be more of a mature servant of the Lord. But it doesn’t mean I have to be boring! I just need to take things more seriously. Because this is serious business…it’s eternal life! I’m just really glad I’ve got someone of that caliber to relate to.

Brittany is all set to walk into the font on Saturday.  Aubrie (every missionary’s dream member) took Brittany to dinner on Friday night before they came to the chapel together to have another lesson. Sister Steel and I decided to pull out all of the big guns at once–Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, Sabbath Day observance, and the Law of Tithing. It was such an entertaining, but spirit-filled lesson. Anytime we ever tell her any principle of the gospel or commandment, she looks at us like we’re totally crazy. But then always says, “Well of course, that makes total sense. I have no choice but to keep it.” Last night, she told us she was so tired at church on Sunday because she stayed up all night reading the Book of Mormon. I told her, “After Saturday, all you have to do is endure to the end!” She turned around and quickly said, “No, Sister Hawkes, I’m going to dance to the end.” She takes everything with confidence and complete trust in God…even though three weeks ago she had no idea what the name “Christ” even meant. Brittany embodies the phrase, “golden investigator.” Psh, we didn’t even do anything. We just happened to be the missionaries in the area, working hard, at the time she was introduced to the gospel. No effort is wasted!

Speaking of paying, Sister Steel and I recently have had some incredible companion studies which were very much inspired. Have you heard the phrase, “pay it forward?” That is the essence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There is no way in the Universe that we could ever “pay back” our Savior for what He did. With that in mind, we have to pay everything forward. What are we doing thinking of ever going “backward” for anything? Even if you’re sitting still on the fence, maybe even with your hat over your head like Martin Harris when he told Joseph about the 116 pages, you’re considered in backwards mode. We must move forward constantly. Every little commandment we keep, every little guideline we follow are like thank-you notes to God. They aren’t restrictive in any way; they are enabling in every way. Joseph thought about this concept long before we did:

“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” -D&C 128:22

To finish up this week’s news…transfer calls came last night! It was probably the most dramatic transfer call yet…just because we could make it dramatic. It makes it that much more hilarious when all four of you sit around the phone while brushing your teeth extra hard because all you can think about is your short-lived destiny. Our ringtone for the Zone Leaders are crickets chirping, and the ringtone for President is, “GONG…GONG…” So naturally, that’s what we were waiting for. The crickets went off finally at 11 p.m., and our poor neighbors downstairs must have thought we were practicing our martial arts for a few minutes. Sister Steel is going full-proselyting out to Buffalo, and I’m getting Sister Gillespie…Sister West is going to my first area (Newark South) and Sister Noble is getting Sister Van Geenen! What a party; I can’t even wait. Except I’m really going to miss Sister Steel! After three transfers, we’re like a part of each other now. (Especially since she’s my mission daughter!) She’ll be incredible in full-proselyting.

I’m going to give everything I have for these last six weeks. It’s going to go by so fast!

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

 

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

Jesus is Better Than Dayquill

I love fast and testimony meetings. I want to add that one to the Facebook group, “Overheard at the Pulpit.”

Well, it is true. There’s nothing quite like the Savior and His ability to solve everything. However, it’s usually not in our own time. In fact, yesterday, it was a small, but key learning experience about that. I went to bed Sunday night feeling a bit (a lot) frustrated at the inability we have in our area to find people that are truly searching. We get many contacts, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve planned to teach the Restoration–and it has fallen through. I prayed so hard that I would wake up with peace, and a reassurance that what I’m doing is the right thing. Isn’t that a great thing to pray for? I thought it was, so naturally, I was confident that it was going to happen. So, I wake up Monday morning, and find that I feel the exact same way. What? I thought it was strange, especially since I had so much faith. I still said my morning prayers, got up, and threw on my workout clothes. As we were running to the field (to our ultimate Frisbee appointment with the elders) a thought came to me. It was my decision on how to act according to everything else going on around me. I knew I needed to put a smile on my face, since the day ahead already looked pretty long. I thought of all the good things that happened the day before, and all of the good things that would happen in the next few hours. After that, I felt fantastic. I learned that we always need to pray for the strength to overcome, and not for God to take us out of the situation. It’s the same thing He did with the Brother of Jared in the book of Ether. I’m just glad that I learned that lesson on a much smaller scale!

My personal study this week was pretty great…I studied a lot on charity and the pure love of Christ. Most of us take that as trying to love people that you don’t know yet, or who you have a hard time loving. But what about the people you truly love, but don’t love themselves? A recurring phrase of a scripture kept coming to me over and over again in my mind, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men…In meekness instructing that oppose themselves…” -2 Timothy 2:24-25. I think it’s almost harder to convince someone they’re loved than to start from the beginning. I grabbed a talk out of the September ’95 Ensign entitled, “To Touch A Life With Faith.” President Eyring is speaking of those who are having a hard time submitting to the will of God when he said, “That feeling of surrender is not likely to come unless they experience some feeling of being loved…If you love them because you feel God’s love for them, they will feel that.” We help them the most effectively when we draw them closer to the Savior, and help them discover their own personal relationship with Him.

We had our first Mission Leadership Council this week as STL’s. It was extremely cool. After getting the business items out of the way, President Francis started with teaching us how to properly shake hands. Remember Vince Lombardi and showing all of his players what a football looks like? We started from the ground up. If our missionaries can’t remember to do the very miniscule things, they will not be recognized as servants of Christ. Dress and grooming was stressed, along with exact obedience. I was really surprised at how small of a council we had in comparison to how big our mission is. During the meeting, especially as President was asking us our each individual thoughts on certain topics, I was thinking how insane it is that Jesus Christ trusts people our age to do this work. Hello, we are barely out of high school here…and He’s trusting us with the salvation of souls?! It really isn’t our work. It’s the work of the Lord, and the only people that can do it the correct way are those who have enough faith. Resume’s do not even hold a candle to the faith required to do this job.

We’ve been at the sites for all of about five hours this week. As for our area, it’s still progressing. We got a bunch of contacts, and have started teaching some returning member lessons. It was a “fruit of my labors” moment on Sunday when one of the women that we invited back to church got up to bear her testimony. She had been gone for quite a few years, and didn’t know how to come back until the sisters just showed up at her door. Her boyfriend had died just a couple weeks previous, and she was ready. She’s starting the temple preparation classes again, and says that she can tell a huge difference of how her life was before we came, and after we came. We never even realized the impact it would have on her when we just knocked. Isn’t Christ just always knocking?

I think that’s all for now! I absolutely love being here in New York, especially with the 70 degree weather we’ve had for the past couple weeks. It looks like it’s just good from here on out! Weather wise, and work wise. 🙂

BE HAPPY!

Hermana Hawkes

p.s. The attached photo is Sister Steel and I celebrating National Twin Day with Bob Parrott (the grove keeper!) at the Joseph Smith Farm. And if you look closely, my “Hermana” is official!

twin

Changing of the Guard

It is President Christianson’s last week in office. President Francis gets here on Monday!

While we watched the biggest zone conference of our lives on Sunday with Elder Holland conducting, we saw the camera pan over President Francis and his wife. All of us missionaries felt it–it was a rush of peace knowing that he was the man for the job. It’s been hard to watch President Christianson give his “last” everything, but the Spirit has quickly and quietly testified to all of us that President Francis will bring the Cradle of the Restoration to a whole new level. It was a small miraculous act that I’m sure the producers and directors of the meeting didn’t know they were doing.

 

Now, I can’t blow past talking about the meeting and not still be in complete awe. I don’t know if I’ve expressed this–I know I have to my family–but I’ve had a confusing time trying to figure out why I don’t cry. I mean, I do, but not nearly as much as I thought I’d be, or as other missionaries do. (It’s not just in Relief Society–our biggest criers are the elders!) I think I’ve cried five or six times on my mission, with Sunday night being one of them. With all of the spiritual stuff that’s happening to me, I expected it a lot more. Anyway, there was no expectation of what this worldwide leadership training would be, but I got out my notebook and knew it would be fabulous whatever it was. Well, to my surprise, when the choir sang “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go,” and the genius producers who put those video clips to match it, I couldn’t stop the tears running down my eyes. I’ve been pondering a lot lately about how to effectively make my home an individual MTC/mission experience for each of my kids. If any of you watched it, you know how exact my answer was. Each child in the clip had their own life, but at the beginning and end of the day, their family came together in prayer and scripture study. I was overwhelmed at the blessing of having children grow up in the gospel, and influence their friends from the first day they introduce themselves. I know they have to learn it on their own, but I’d give almost anything for them to have the same experience I’m having right now. And I don’t even know them! Right after realizing that, I was again engulfed by the love I had for my mission, so of course, I cried even more. Alright, enough admitting for me!

 

OH! I almost forgot! Guess who our new roommate is?! Sister Brianne Noble from Centerville! Seriously, the Lord has the most perfect timing. We have all the same friends, but she just got to Viewmont right when I graduated. Sarah is actually friends with Melissa–so that makes the “coming on a mission” thing a lot less weird for the both of us. We’ve instantly become soul-sisters…she’s inspired me so much. So, of course, our little quad-ship is really fun. Sister West & Noble, and Sister Steel and I. It’s always a party…well let’s be honest…serving in the NYRM is always a party. It’s also surreal for me to think I’m the old fogey of the sister missionaries, there are just two sisters older than me in the mission. Since when did I get to be on my mission for so long? This is the time I really gotta get going!

 

Out of our twenty minutes we had in our area this week (not an exaggeration) we saw a pretty big miracle happen. I’m not sure if I told you about a couple we were teaching, Ed and Barbara, but we made some good progress on them a couple nights ago. They have been “investigating” for awhile now. Clarification: they said they want to know more truth, more light and knowledge, and they believe it comes from us. However, the told us they weren’t budging from their religion. We assured them their desires were plenty to continue to learn at a fast rate. Anyway, we had a great lesson on faith, and how listening with your heart is more important than listening with your head. It was a lesson full of inspired questions, which really got them thinking. We asked them to ask Heavenly Father if we were true messengers, and if what we were saying wasn’t crazy. During the closing prayer, Barbara thanked Heavenly Father for sparing her life this week (after being hospitalized) and also asked Him to start leading her from the path she was on, into the right direction of where she should go. I haven’t heard her admit to her Heavenly Father anything of that nature yet, and we both knew it was the Spirit guiding her prayers. She was finally listening with her heart. “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.” -D&C 98:12

 

There’s also been miracle on top of miracle going on at the historical sites, too. Nothing too out of the ordinary here in New York. 🙂 My courage to stand up for what I believe in has gotten stronger every day, but I think the most important lesson I’ve learned throughout my whole mission, so far, is that each person has an individual role to play on this earth. Yeah, yeah…everyone tells you that in Primary. But REALLY. You have something inside of your spiritual DNA that is part of God’s DNA. He created plants, animals, trees–but you are His child. He didn’t create you because He was bored; He desperately needs that something you have to bless other people. But you won’t know until you ask Him, really study your gift, and acknowledge it in everyday life. Specifically ask Him to tell you how He sees you. I promise you that once you learn it, you will be a tireless worker.

 

BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes

Are you thrilled?

I’m so exhausted.
I guess when the Lord says to “wear ourselves out in the work,” He really means it. On Wednesday we had a couple of youth conference buses from Virginia, then Friday alone we had six of them come through in just a couple hours. I almost lost my voice, but thankfully the Lord even cares about that if you have enough faith.

 

The Joseph Smith Farm was on Wednesday, which means I got to take half the youth through Joseph’s stomping grounds. They split into young men and young women–and I got to take the young women. It was a powerful hour filled with testimony and the Spirit. When we got to the threshing barn, I wanted them to think of symbolism of the Atonement while I explained the threshing process. I’m not sure if you know the process, but it has a lot to do with beating, grinding, and more beating. Google it, if you don’t know what it is. Anyway, when I finished this simple explanation, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that the Spirit had slithered His way through each of the girls and they had learned a lot more about the Savior then they thought they were coming here for. After about ten seconds of silence, a quote I had read earlier in personal study popped into my head, which of course I shared. “No woman is a more vibrant instrument in the hands of the Lord than a woman of God who is thrilled to be who she is.” -Sheri DewImmediately I noticed one of the leaders in the back just about lose it. Tears were heavily flowing from her face, and I could feel the Lord literally putting words in my mouth. We spent a couple more minutes bearing testimony before we moved onto the Cooper Shop to do the same thing. Those are the moments when I really know that I can not do this on my own.

 

Going back to the “regular, every day” schedule of a missionary in the NYRM, we’ve had a few minutes (yes, I said minutes) in Irondequoit this week. On Tuesday, we decided go through the ward list to pick out a less-active that we could invite back to church. She didn’t answer, so we had a few more minutes to hand out some more invitations to the Hill Cumorah Pageant. (It’s our excuse for conversation starting when people see the name tag and run.) Across the street were two women walking their dogs. We made a b-line for them and treated the situation as if they had just been invited to opening night of Wicked. We invited them, and they were a little hesitant about attending. However, like we always do before we leave someone, we ask if we can help do their dishes or weed their garden. Carole turns to Sister Steel, puts her hand on her shoulder and yells, “You can weed?! GOD IS REAL!” Now, I’m sure that was a second-nature reaction to her fun personality that we had just now seen, but the second part of that I really wanted to emphasize with her. We both jumped on it, “YES! God is real! He listens to your prayers, and He has sent us to you to help you with whatever you need!” I really felt like Joseph Smith in the new Restoration movie, when a woman walks up to him and tells him she doesn’t like his religion, but she appreciates his service. All Joseph says is, “Well, I’d say that is our religion, ma’am.” It was a wonderful teaching opportunity, expecially when she said she had been praying for something to come help her weed her garden. Just because we have a few minutes, doesn’t mean we can’t do any work. We scraped some time, and found an hour to go on Friday. She ended up feeding us after, and we ended up teaching her the Restoration and half of the Plan of Salvation. Not too interested yet, but the key word there is: yet. 🙂

 

Exercise update: thanks to mom, P90X arrived this week! I’ve gone for a whole month without it, since Sister Johnson stayed in Brockport! However, Sister Steel and I have been waking up at 5:50 a.m. to run to one of the inner-city high school tracks. It’s nice to have a full hour each morning (well, about five days a week) to compensate how much we get fed. I don’t think it’s still enough, but I’ll worry about that later!

 

All I want to do is take a nap, but I’ll get that when I have time…like in October. It’s such a happy tired, but it’s making the time go by way too fast. I do want to mention that I’ve been studying the modern version of the “Wheat and the Tares” parable, and I’ve made a list of “Satan mimicks” that we have in our world today. Some include: fasting/anorexia, tithing/gambling, and to “get rid” of your pain, sacrament/alcohol. I’d encourage you to think of more, because it has increased my vision of how wicked Satan has made out the world to be, and on the same token, how real God is. (Thanks to Carole!) He wants to see us succeed, and He is “thrilled” to what you’ve turned out to be. Now, keep going!

 

BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes

Voice of a Trump

…that is until I lose my voice! I guess when the Lord said to “declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump,” I took it literally. (D&C 29:4)This week back at the sites has been the most I’ve ever seen myself grow. The last time I took tours at these historical sites was in my first four transfers as a missionary. Now with a year of missionary service under my belt, I can see the drastic difference it has made with just four left. Not only were my tours completely guided by the spirit, but they were backed up by scripture and testimony of prophets…regardless if I shared everything that was in my mind or not. Three different men came into the sites to specifically ask about the Bible and how it correlates to Mormonism. Let me tell you a bit about each of them:

1. Louis, a businessman, a husband, and a  dad of two daughers, walked in to the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center on my first day back. He had dropped by the VC before about a year ago, but only had time to watch the 20 minute version of the Restoration. This time, he wanted to see it all. After he was through watching the 60 minute version of Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration and the 15 minute God’s Plan for Families, he had tons of questions that had been burning in his mind. He was trying to find unity in any church, and specifically the unity between Jesus Christ and His church that He established on the earth 2,000 years ago. “I can’t figure out the gap between Jerusalem and the Americas,” Louis said. “There’s got to be something that ties the two together if you claim to have Christ as the center.” I opened up the copy of the Book of Mormon that I was holding in my hand to the title page. I asked him to read the first few paragraphs where it talks about Lehi, where he came from, and we talked about Lehi’s journey to the Americas, along with the Jaredites and the Mulekites. I then brought him over to the display, “The Restoration of the Priesthood.” (It’s extremely convienent to be at a VC.) I explained that Peter, James and John, who he agreed got their authority straight from Jesus Christ, came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and gave that same power to them. It was powerful to see it click in his mind, and for me to bear my testimony about the priesthood. It was perfect for it to come from a young girl like me, because I don’t have the priesthood. There’s no pride in it for me–I have to rely on it completely, through other men that I trust do their duty. I explained how my own father’s priesthood lineage traces back to Christ, how that power is in my home, and how it helps me even when there are hard days as a missionary. We spoke for about 45 minutes, and Louis agreed to have the missionaries in Pennsylvania teach him and his family in their home.

2. Keith, a very tall, bearded man with long gray hair and thick coke-bottle glasses came into the Book of Mormon Publication Site to ask a few legitmate questions about what the Lord revealed in the book of Revelations. Since I have had my share of persecution, I wasn’t going to go in this without backup. It wasn’t a coincidence that my two zone leaders from Brockport were there with about half an hour to spare. We all went into a seperate room with another senior couple that was working their shift at the time. So you can imagine: five missionaries surrounding this one man who said no one could ever explain to him what he was feeling. Before we even started, I asked him if he knew the Book of Mormon was true. He has read it cover to cover and said he knows it’s a book from God, but he isn’t sure about the whole thing. Keith then jumped right into his quesiton from Revelations 7:1: “What is the Lord going to do about getting these angels on the four corners of the Earth?” Immediately, 2 Nephi 28:11 popped into my head. I asked him to turn to it, and we read it together. “For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them…”I explained that was missionary work, and that exact thing was happening right now–to him–at that moment. We were clarifiying scripture from Jerusalem with the Lord’s other word that came from the Americas…with missionaries from all parts of the world. The next thing he said was, “God just told me that what you said was true.” (That still never ceases to amaze me, by the way.) We invited him to do the same thing with each verse of the Book of Mormon–to ponder and to pray about it–and to do the same thing with the First Vision. He left with the promise that He would do just that.

3. Robert, a less-active member who wasn’t too sure about his testimony, came in just for a “normal tour.” (I love it when people call it that.) I could tell he was questioning his testimony when he told me that “not very many missionaries make it out alive.” I wanted to turn around, put my fist up and say, “YA WANNA BET?!” But, I didn’t…I tried to be professional. I asked him if he was doing everything he could to serve the Lord in his best possible way, and not to worry about what anyone else thinks. He brought out some scripture with statistics of those who really do what they say. Once I felt my person on the defense, I knew it was time to turn it over completely to the Spirit. I bore a powerful testimony of what we were doing as missionaries was the right thing to do–even if only one person in the whole world had accepted the gospel. I bore my testimony about the power of the priesthood, restored by Joseph Smith, and how that power had changed people’s lives through the things I’ve taught them. It came to the point where he just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and walked off. Seriously you guys…bearing testimony is the most powerful tool for any missionary ever, it is everything talked about in Ephesians 6–the Armor of God.
Yes, that all happened within the first 48 hours back at the sites, and yes, I taught plenty of other incredible lessons at the sites in between these as well. Because of that, I haven’t had a voice in about a week! But ya know what, Alma and Amulek, Ammon, Captain Moroni, and definitely Paul probably had the same problem. It’s actually a problem at all.Teaching these three men was a symbol of the power of three to my testimony, and that the Lord really does call his weakest to confound the strongest. I’m just so dang happy. I know that’s not the most professional word, but I don’t know what else to use to describe my emotions. Hermana Steel and I comment about every five minutes about how much we love our mission. Oh yes, we had Emergency Transfers on Thursday, and I am training a new missionary! It’s a long story, but now she’s with me, and we are both Cast Training together. She was only in the field a few hours before we had these ET’s, and it’s been awesome flush training her in Irondequoit. Hermana Steel came pre-trained and is one of the best missionaries I’ve ever seen. She has already taught me way more than I could ever teach her in the time we have together. (That seems to happen a lot…) But, we live in downtown Rochester, with an hour commute to the sites four to five times a week! It’s great, we get a lot of studies done in the car, since we have SIX hours: personal, companion, 12 Week, site, language and now, pageant study. The cast gets here in six weeks and I’m trying not to make myself over-excited about that, because I’m already jumping out of my chair for being back at the sites! I do miss Brockport, but there’s something about the sites that has every single part of my heart. The sites, combined with the sisters, the senior couples, and the landscape is enough to convince me to buy a burial plot here.

 

Wow, I know that was a really long letter…I hope you didn’t get bored. I could go on for another few pages, but I’ve only got a few minutes left. The power of study is REAL–and it really does build confidence in the gospel. I encourage you all to set a specific study schedule, preferrably in the early morning hours, so you can have that time to put on your armor of God every single day. Start with Ephesians 6, and I promise that you will feel 100% ready for anything thrown your way.

 

BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes