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

Advertisements

The Sacred Grove

grove1

“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.

Because we believe in Jesus Christ…

For President Christianson’s last Zone Conference on Wednesday, we held it in the Sacred Grove. Remember how I told you last week I wasn’t going to play the violin because I couldn’t get one in time? Well, I got a call at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning telling me I now had a violin…which gave me 15 minutes to practice something! I chose “How Great Thou Art.” It actually went really well. I can’t believe after ten years of not playing, my Father in Heaven helped me out to 1) play the thing, and 2) play it in tune. I now know why my family had to endure many years of noise coming from the living room. It was because I had to perform in the Sacred Grove on my mission! It doesn’t end there…after we got back to the Palmyra chapel for the last half of the conference, President asked me to play another musical number to quickly get the spirit there. I had played around with “Abide With Me, ‘Tis Eventide,” a few times previous, and that was really my only option. Because that night, they had pre-asked me to do yet another musical number at site meeting, and I couldn’t play that twice in one day. At site meeting, I sang and play, “A Child’s Prayer.” That also went really well. However, I know people want a change-up…but this is what happens when no one else says yes! Moral of the story: say yes when people ask you do to do something, or else you’re going to have to hear from the same people over and over again. Regardless, it was really fun. I forgot how much music was and is such a huge part of my life.

 

Anyway, at Zone Conference for the main portion of the meeting, President just asked us to ask him any question in the book. Any doctrinal, spiritual…any question, and he would answer it. We started asking him some pretty tough questions that we’ve been asked, but he started every question with the phrase, “Because we believe in Jesus Christ, we…” It was amazing. We quizzed him about the Apocrypha, what Transfiguration does, the difference between sanctification and justification…you name it, he answered it using that phrase. President helped us realize that no matter what comes our way, we always start with Christ. If we make Him the focal point of anything, He will teach the righteous and confound the wicked. He’s kinda like a meteorologist–He can see the storms coming, but doesn’t cause them. He tells us exactly what we need to know, only if we watch Him.

 

Now for one of my favorite “deep doctrinal” thoughts that President had us think about:

 

“If God and Jesus Christ traveled at the speed of light, they would’ve had to leave the place near Kolob when Lehi left Jerusalem to get here in time for Joseph Smith…and they wouldn’t even be back Home yet. If you ARE the light, you don’t have to travel anywhere. You’re already there.” -President

 

Give that some thought about the importance of light and Christ! Study John 14. Needless to say, the Zone Conference in the Grove was life-changing.

 

Anyway, considering the two or three hours Sister Steel and I have had in Irondequoit this week, we’ve gotten a lot of things done! We taught Jessica the importance of the Plan of Happiness, and we’re going back tonight to talk to her and her family about the importance and blessing of eternal families. We brought a member, Ivie, with us, and she’s also from Puerto Rico. It was a perfect member-missionary lesson; they bonded and Jessica was more comfortable with the situation. It’s scary to meet with two girls you’ve never met, about a subject that can be very dear to your heart. Bringing people who won’t be changing as quickly as missionaries get transferred is key. Ivie was great, the lesson was great–the Spirit taught her everything she needed to know that day.

 

I got a pretty funny letter from my mom this week–which actually made me realize some success I have as a missionary. Whoo hoo! She said, “So let me ask you a serious question…tell me when/if you feel down, and for how long? When was the last time? If you do feel down occasionally, that’s normal…” I just laughed. All of you returned missionaries know that being a missionary can be the greatest calling in the world about 5% of your time, and then the other 95%…you’re dragging your heels. If my own mother has to ask me that question, I know I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping happy! So, to answer your question, let me share with you all a little bit of my journal last week:

 

It’s been a rough day. You’d think since we had a tour of the Sacred Grove this morning, and had a baptism, that it would have been awesome! Yes, it has. But spiritually and mentally, it’s been rough. I’m just going to say it: I feel like a horrible missionary right now. It’s hard trying to figure out what I need to bring back to the sites, and if I actually changed for the better going full-proselyting. Being a site sister is extremely different than anything–and it’s a different mission call than full-proselyting missionaries. It’s reminding me of my adjustment to that false expectation when I first got here, too. I usually don’t, but I’ve been beating myself up about it. I know the Atonement can overcome whatever I’m feeling right now…I really can’t even put it into words. Either I’ve been doing something right and Satan is pushing my buttons to get me to fall, or the Lord is slowly loosening His grip, and now is my turn to really prove myself. I just don’t feel on top of it as I used to be. I really hate these, but I’ve been asking for opportunities to grow closer to Christ. Well, bring it on! As much rejection as we face, my happiness comes from the peace that I have no regrets. We work hard. “A prophet hath no honor in his own country.” Well, guess where Joseph Smith was raised? I wish people would be more prepared…or at least I could start finding the ones who are prepared! Whatever, it’s not about me!

 

There you go…that takes a lot of humility to put that out there. I’m working on that, too. 🙂 But, I hope that answers your question, Mom. I do have horrible days. In fact, the last time I felt down was just last night! My philosophy is, why tell people that your life is horrible, when God has put you in a situation to succeed? That’s kinda rude. My “feeling bad time” is only a short–I let myself feel bad for about an hour (sometimes I give myself a couple of days–longer about the situation) and then it’s back to being the person I was called to be. I can’t have a bad day, at least not in public. We’re the face of the Church. We fight for the truth, and that’s the happiest thing you can get.

Thanks for all the support–we’ll especially need prayers since the Hill Cumorah Pageant starts in just one month! I love you all!

BE HAPPY! (More meaning now, eh?)

Hermana Hawkes

p.s. This picture is the day I wrote that entry in my journal. Rachel was baptized, by the help of all of these sister missionaries, plus a few others who already went home! Sister Madsen on the far right is from my home stake in Centerville…she was the missionary that knocked on her door, and I got to be the one who “baptzied her!” (For lack of a better word…) We’ve got 4 Viewmont/Centerville sisters in the NYRM starting next week!

Mountains of Service

Everyone really needs to try the whole “having a birthday on a mission” thing. Especially serving in this mission–I’m a fan. Why this mission, you ask?

District Meetings are usually on Thursdays, and my birthday just happened to fall on that day this year. We decided to have our “meeting” that day at the Palmyra temple, and then, one of the elders had the genius idea to go across the street into the Sacred Grove right after. I really don’t know how anyone could get a better birthday than that, with so many people I love surrounding me. That seems to always happen on my birthday, being surrounded by people I love, but this year–it was different. I had people around me who worked hard to love God more than they loved me or anyone else…and that’s what made the change. As you can imagine, I got some personal one-on-one time with my Father in the Celestial room that day. I had some pretty incredible realizations about what I’m doing here, and what else I need to do before my time is up in Rochester. You know, when you ask, and seriously want an answer…He will answer you. You just have to “go to a mountain,” just like Nephi and other prophets have done, and just ask. Whether that mountain be in your closet or your kitchen, just try it. I promise that His will in fact will be revealed to you eventually if you are on His side and listening. That mountain you’ve worked really hard to get on will, in turn, help you realize what you need to be doing. It will tweek your life just a bit to be perfectly aligned with God’s Plan.
Anyway, I also attached a picture of me and my lovely birthday cake at our lunch at Sister Trimm’s right after; she knows how to make some pretty great Mexican food! She threw a great party for me…even though it was totally not necessary. All I wanted to do was to be with everyone! It doesn’t stop there–that night, we had a “Mormon Mythbusters” presentation at the SUNY at Brockport with the Elders. It went really well, considering we had a bunch of college students asking us every question in the book. We did, at first, present the basic overview of our beliefs, and then like I said, had a great question and answer session. The whole goal of the night was to get them to think Mormon missionaries aren’t weird, and I think we did a pretty good job getting the point across.
Before I get into the rest of my e-mail, CONGRATS TO SISTER HAWKES THE SECOND! My sister, Nicole, got her mission call to the Washington D.C. South mission, leaving June 26th. Since my mission president is the man, he let me call in to hear her open the letter. I can’t believe how huge of a moment that was for my family. I’ll serve with her for four months, until I return home. She’ll carry the mantle for us until Sarah gets her call!
In other news, Sister Johnson has really been sick. Like I told you before, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and we’re working on repairing all the damage done now from the gluten she ate–before we found out. It will take awhile, which means we won’t be able to eat at member’s homes until she’s back on her feet. It’s okay though, because we are still eating super darn healthy! The members of our ward have been incredible in supporting us, while we can’t really do our job to support them right now. It’s incredible how the gospel goes both ways. I’m extremely impressed at how the members respond in helping anyone in crisis–even if they don’t know her too well right now.
One thing we have gotten to do this week was to help Crystal get ready for her upcoming cleaning checks in her apartment. (Remember her–the one I gave a makeover to in my first week here in Brockport?) She’s been coming to church each week since then, and her testimony has been multiplied by infinity. We’ve gone over almost every week for a couple hours to pick up things that she really can’t, and to get in those little corners that no one wants to do. After our last cleaning escapade at her house, she conversed with our Heavenly Father in a prayer that I’ve never heard said so realistically before. To Him, she said, “I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church…because of what these girls are doing to my home. They are actually doing something, instead of just telling other people what they want to hear.” That’s a huge thing we do as missionaries–simply just serving people. We don’t care if they are members or non-members…all we care about is inviting other people to come closer to Jesus Christ. All we do to accomplish that is do exactly what He would do at every step of the way.
The last random thing: we re-strung the mission violin, and I had an incredible time playing around on it last night! I am absolutely in shock at how quickly songs and fingerings came back to me. Hopefully I’ll get to perform something soon. I really want to do “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” in our May Zone Conference…in the Grove. (Yeah…I know!) I think the Zone Leaders might be sick of me performing, but we’ll see if I can talk them into it.
Thanks to each and every one of you for your support. Even just reading this e-mail helps me, because it (hopefully) helps you to get closer to Christ. That’s the goal! Think of something you can do each day to further your belief and someone else’s belief in Him. I promise it will give you more strength to go throughout each day. Look for them, and He will help you see them. I love you all, and have a great week!
BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes
Birthday cake done by Sister Trimm!

Birthday cake done by Sister Trimm!

My trainer, Sister Correia, celebrated my birthday for me in Hawaii!

My trainer, Sister Correia, celebrated my birthday for me in Hawaii!

And the front view...

And the front view…

On our way to Palmyra

On our way to Palmyra.

It All Pays Off

Quotes of the week:
 
“Look at me. I’m 53, and finally getting it right.” -Anne
“I felt something…like this happiness I can’t even explain. I want that all the time.”- Steph
 
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…the Lord’s got not one, but TWO baptisms before January ends! Brockport is the Promised Land! Steph and Anne are getting baptized on the 20th and 27th, respectively.
 
Which reminds me…have I completely failed to tell you about Steph? That is a huge mistake on my part, because she is one of the smartest 18-year-olds I’ve ever seen in my life. She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and get this–a wrestler. And a super good one too. She has been friends with a girl in our ward, Monica, (great name!) and Monica has brought her to church for about 10 years…girls camp, the whole deal. Now, Steph is not only friends with Monica, but is best friends with the oldest priest in our ward, Corey. (Mom and Dad, you met Steph on Christmas. She let me use her iPad to call you guys!) Anyway, as of about three weeks ago, she hadn’t taken the discussions yet because she made sure she wanted to investigate for the right reasons. Which is the best sign to a missionary…we can always put our money on the Spirit. So we gave her time, and didn’t push a thing. We just made sure she knew we were normal people.
 
One day, we get a text from Corey saying that Steph is ready to take the discussions. The second week we started teaching her, she told us of a few spiritual experiences she’s had in the past, including one she had with Corey and his family. They were just simply driving in the car on the way to a movie, all joking and laughing with each other. She said, “I felt something…like this happines I can’t even explain. I want that all the time.” We offered to set a date for baptism, but wasn’t sure she was ready yet. She wanted to know it was true before she committed to something like this, because it is a huge commitment. The third week (last week), we again offered for a goal for baptism. We shot for late February, early March…but much to our surprise, she wants to get baptized before the semester starts! We had a lengthy talk about how big of a commitment this is, and in her own words she replied with this, “If anyone gets in my way [of baptism], I’m taking them down.” Well alrighty then! She chose January 20th, complete with who she wants to bring treats. We’re teaching her again tonight!
 
On to Anne. Yesterday, we got the greatest opportunity to teach her at the historical sites. We drove out with a woman in our ward, Sister Arrington, who apparently has known Anne for quite a few years. They told us that they spent an hour talking about the gospel just last week! Anne’s aunt is even one of our Relief Society teachers. That makes my job so much easier. Anyway, Anne came to church, announced in Relief Socitey her baptismal date, we took off to the sites after, and then another couple in our ward invited all three of us over for dinner. It was a long day for Anne, but a pretty nice spiritual one. We took her to the Joseph Smith Farm first where we showed her where Moroni appeared to Joseph, where he hid the plates, and most importantly, where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ themselves appeared to him as a 14-year-old boy. We then went on to the Hill Cumorah to show her that, and of course the new Restoration video. During the video, Anne was sitting in between Sister Torres and I, and had her arms around both of us. At the end of the film, she wiped away tears and said, “Look at me. I’m 53, and finally getting it right.” I don’t think it’s fair that I’m getting taught way more than I could ever teach.
 
Both of these situations prove that member support and fellowshipping have everything to do with everything. And that the Spirit has everything to do with everything. And the Lord has everything to do with everything. How in the world am I at the perfect spot at the right time? The spirit prepares these people. It’s up to us to find them, teach them, and baptize them. We help them realize this happiness they have inside. Pre-mission, when I thought of missionaries “getting” baptisms, I thought it depended on how hard you worked and how much you put into them. As I’ve had friends serve, and especially myself getting the chance to serve, I’ve realized it’s just being at the right place at the right time. Of course we have to work hard, but nothing is about the missionary. We are simply the guides in bringing this kind of life to them.
 
Let me explain with a perfect quote from President Spencer W. Kimball: “Now is the moment in the timebale of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried before. Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, ‘Come over and help us.’ He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, ‘And now, Lord…grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.’ (Acts 4:29)”
 
That’s all I have for this week…but it is probably the biggest news of my mission yet. I have helped two of God’s children come to the knowledge of Him. But that doesn’t mean we get to kick our feet up and watch the show. The baptisms haven’t happened yet, and Satan is still working harder than ever to stop that from happening. We need to work harder than ever to make sure that Steph and Anne are both on the right track to becoming missionaries for themselves. I love being a full-time missionary myself, even though I do find myself counting the days until P-day sometimes! It is the best work to ever be involved in, and also the hardest. I’ll be the first to tell you that choosing to go on a mission will be the most challenging decision you’ll ever make in your life, but it will also be the very best. It’s not “the best two years” in the moment–it’s the best two years for your life. Even coming to New York, I feel as if I’ve hitched my wagon of luggage and have ran the opposite way my ancestors did…back into the battleground of the Restoration. I’m doing this to prove that the work they did almost 200 years ago was worth it, and I know they are the ones guiding me through this journey of ups and downs. That right there motivates me to work hard every single day.
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes

Duct Tape it to Full Throttle

This week has been one of the best weeks of my life.

Mission President interviews were on Wednesday, with some extremely exciting news!! Mom and Dad (Grandma and Grandpa too) get ready to send me some Spanish materials, because…I’M STUDYING SPANISH!! That was one of the first things he brought up. I told him in one of my letters that I take Spanish tours sometimes at the sites…and I only say about half in Spanish because I don’t know the rest. He encouraged me to start studying the language so I can communicate with more people and help them feel the spirit! It is wonderful. So, if anyone has good Spanish materials I can study, they would be much appreciated. I’ve almost got the First Vision memorized.

We planned to take our investigator, Sandee, to the Relief Society Broadcast with us. We called her a couple hours before it started, and unfortunately said she couldn’t make it. We’ve also been having a hard time finding her a ride to church. (Our area is about the size of South Salt Lake.) Sister Graham and I were so bummed, and immediately went into one of the rooms in the chapel to ask our Heavenly Father what to do. (It’s very nice to be able to go straight to the source.) I offered one of the most sincere prayers of my life, asking Him to help us know how to get her to Church, how to teach her, and how to let her know that this is important. After I was done, we just sat there, hoping to think of anything we could do. We thought of some ideas, and then opened the door to walk out. And lo and behold…our bishop is standing right there! Sister Graham and I both just look up and smile. He was probably caught way off guard because we were ecstatic to see him. We told him the situation, and all three of us thought of some great ideas to get Sandee to church. As of yesterday, we found a solution for her to come and feel the spirit. If I learned nothing else, it was teaching me how much one person means to God. The same amount of work is placed one one person, as if it were a hundred. Exactly like the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

And I haven’t even gotten to how the Broadcast was impacted on my personal goals. Remember my “prove me now moments?” I decided to take a brand-new notebook, and write a question on the top of each page. At first, I thought, “this might be too much for Heavenly Father, these are a lot of questions.” Then I thought about my own question. Too much for Heavenly Father? Wow, that was stupid. I kept on writing more questions down. I had about six or seven different questions that I had been thinking about. And guess what? Each one was answered. But that’s not the coolest part. They are still being answered during my personal study and other meetings and conferences. So I’ve dated each question, and also dated each answer. It’s really neat to have my own little Doctrine and Covenants. Anyway, after this experiment, I found myself explaining it to a family in a tour at the Smith Farm. (Well, it was actually two families. One was a part-member family, and the other was a family who’s son was about to serve a mission.) I explained how helpful it had been, and encouraged them to do the same thing. When I finished, the mom of the future missionary said, “I don’t believe it, what you just said was an answer to my question.” She is a seminary teacher and has been wondering for so long how to prepare her students for upcoming General Conference. When I explained it, she realized that that was exactly what she needed to do. I then looked over to the non-member in our tour, and I swear I saw her wipe a tear away! She even promised that she would write down a few questions this weekend. Another lady said, “I’m going to text all of my friends and tell them to do that!” You see, it was a small and simple thing, with great things brought to pass. By being an empty vessel for the Lord, I was able to just blurt out something I had never even thought about, bless the lives of the people present, bless the mother’s seminary class, and bless all of that woman’s friends. I’ve learned over and over again that the Lord never wastes His time with His missionaries.

Right after I finished this incredible tour, who else comes out of the Frame Home other than Shawn Stringham! Oh my goodness it was so good to see her. I got to take her and her family through the Threshing Barn and the Cooper Shop, and then the best part–walk with them through the Sacred Grove. Like I said, it was an incredible day. We even went to go see a referral, who Sister Graham and I immediately adored. Her name is Amanda, and she’s a cancer survivor. We can’t wait to go teach her again.

I should probably explain the subject of this e-mail before I finish. In the broadcast, President Eyring spoke about working hard in any capacity that you have. He quoted President Hinckley saying “I’ll duct tape this to full throttle until someone else is called.” What a good visual to know how hard you should work. The Lord won’t give you anything you can’t handle. Check out 1 Nephi 3:7 for more information. It’s made me even more motivated to do all that I can to make sure none of the Lord’s time is wasted. It’s been on my mind all week, and has affected each of the experiences I told you about.

Time to go, but just know that I love you, and I love the Lord so very very much. We are so blessed.

BE HAPPY!

Sister Hawkes

Conquer This Place or Die

And it just keeps getting better! This week we were blessed with four new investigators.

But…sorry to burst your bubble…none of them showed up to Church. HA. It’s okay–we’ll get them soon. One of them we are taking to the Sacred Grove tomorrow. How cool is it that we get to say, “hey, you wanna go to the Sacred Grove? Okay great. Wednesday? Awesome.”

I LOVE MY MISSION.

This week I was studying in Alma 56 about Helaman’s state of war with the Lamanites. That guy is never going to give up. When I read v. 16–I thought of missionary work. 🙂 “Yea, and they were depressed in body as well as in spirit, for they had fought valiantly by day and toiled by night to maintain their cities; and thus they had suffered great afflictions of every kind.” Then in v. 17, “And now they were determined to conquer in this place or die…” Helaman was so proud of his strong warriors. They were young and had huge hearts. That’s exactly what we need to do. We can’t give up because the Lord is counting on us. Wherever He places us in life, it’s the most opportunity for missionary work. So your job is to conquer in [that] place or die, whether you’re serving a full-time mission or not.

I get to fight and conquer with 35 of my closest sisters, 20 sets of grandparents, a mom and a dad, and my huge support system back home. We had a Site BBQ last week for site meeting and President just told us to look out over the grove. It was sunset, and he told us to take a huge mental landscape picture so we would never forget it. I was squished up with all of my sisters, just looking out over the most sacred place in the United States. (According to President Hinckley!) I am so lucky to have this place to conquer, just like Moroni did. We have the exact same mission location! I think of the characters in the Book of Mormon a lot. The things they did, the things they saw, and especially the things they wrote were key to having the fullness of the gospel in the Latter days. We would not be in this place if it wasn’t for the bravery and courage of each one of those men. But wait! In v. 47 and 48–it was all because of their mothers. If they didn’t have their mothers by their side, they wouldn’t have had that bravery. In the margins next to that, I wrote “Parenting 101.” This is exactly how I need to raise each of my children. As weird as it seems–as much as I think about the Book of Mormon characters, I think of the kids I’m going to be stuck with! Just kidding, not stuck with. I’ll be stuck with them if I don’t do my job. I NEED to do my job as a mother to teach them all how to be servants of the Lord. I can’t force them to believe. But I can show them by example. I keep remembering the quote by President Hinckley that I shared a few letters back. It’s really the job of mothers now to raise the Priesthood army. Especially the women who have been called to serve missions. Not that we are above the rest, I just don’t know where I would be with even these three months of a mission under my belt. I think a lot about how I’m going to raise those kids and realize how much it will be in the Lord–all due to my mission so far. It’s a long journey ahead of me, but with all the instruction and blessings I’ve been given, it’s the only thing I can do.

I’ve had lots of neat experiences this week, but none that stick out of the ordinary amazing mission life. Saturday we went tracting for a few hours in Clifton Springs and we got rejected each and every time. However, on the way home, we were singing at the top of our lungs in the car with the windows down because we were so happy. Did we just get dumped? Yes! But we knew that we worked our hardest and the Lord, in His own due time, would bring to remembrance what we had said to those people.

Personal study this week has been through the roof. I’ve studied just basic doctrines from PMG, but then it ends up being a deep doctrinal study and I understand it on a level I’ve never experienced before. I thought I had a strong testimony before. But whatever it was, it wasn’t this! Every single day I am building a relationship with my Heavenly Father and with Jesus Christ. I know that the windows of my mind are open to my understanding while I’m set apart on this mission, so I’m trying to write everything down that I learn in my study journal so I don’t forget anything.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and your letters–they mean a lot. It’s so fun to see at least one person I know each week at one of the sites. It makes me feel like I’m not in a dream, and that I’ll make it more a reality throughout the rest of my life. I really can’t imagine what I would have done if I didn’t decide to come here. Now we are off to the lighthouse at Sodus Point to have a picnic with our Nima’s Calzones. 🙂 Google the place, you’ll be jealous!

BE HAPPY!

Sister Hawkes