A New Self-Discovery

I’ve recently discovered that going completely out of the comfort zone…is my comfort zone.

This weekend alone, I took five full buses on tour at the respective sites I was working at. Two came at one time, and that was even after a long day of running and praying little kids wouldn’t break anything in the print shop, and that’s exhausting in itself. Well, let me back up. When each tour bus comes in, we have to brief them (Mom that’s a shout-out to you) on what’s going to happen. It seems that I am always picked to do the “briefing.” I explain who is in which group, what floor they are going to first, any announcements, and most important bring the Spirit…with a loud enough voice so everyone can hear me. I also seem to have really random questions asked that make it that more fun to try and make them have a great experience. So as I was teaching each of the groups, I noticed that I have this big push of energy that seems to come from out of nowhere. Of course I know Who provides it, and He always seems to energize me when I get in front of large crowds. Even on the drive home, we were totally exhausted, but I feel like I could have gone six hours of talking to people. That was easily one of the highest moments of my life. I was so extremely happy, because I could actually feel the Lord proud of me for what I had done.  Especially when I’m conversing with adults or old people. Oh man–I love old people. (Sorry–wrong term?) They have so much knowledge and want to learn even more, and the group conversations we get into are always fantastic. They really are interested in what me, a 21-year-old has to say, and that makes everything that much better.

Speaking of seniors, the senior couples here are absolutely incredible. I figured out why they are all so hilarious. It’s because they are retired, they are on a mission with their spouse and no one else, and the only argument they have is what is considered “dusk” to close up the sites. I’ve learned that even though they’ve gone through more trials than I even want to imagine, I look at them and they are so happy. They are so happy. They know what’s important in life and it’s not bills that need to be paid, someone at work causing you to be late, wondering how good they look in the mirror, but it’s doing everything that’s in their your power, and then trusting in the Lord. I have fifteen sets of grandparents that think their job is to care for the sisters. They would do absolutely anything for me. And vice versa–I would do anything for them! Sister Graham and I were commenting how we couldn’t imagine a mission without them. They complete the New York Rochester Mission.

Another comfort zone discovery is that I actually like to stick it to people. For example, today at TJ Maxx after this guy is almost done ringing up my purchase:

Cashier (26-ish year old guy): “So, are you like…a nun?”
Me (trying not to laugh hysterically): “No. I’m a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! Have you heard of it before?”
Cashier: “Nope. I don’t believe in God.”
Me: “YOU DON’T?! WHY??”
Tyler (I looked at his name tag) : “Whoa, um…I just don’t…”
Me: “Well, Tyler, I can promise you that there is one. Here’s a mormon.org card for you to go check it out! This is one of the coolest websites, and I can again promise you that you’ll relate to someone on there!”
Tyler: “No, I don’t believe in Mormons.”
Me: “Well, can you just take this card? I really know that you’re going to love it.”
Tyler: “Please don’t give me that card.”
Me: “Okay, well I know there’s a God! I hope you’re having a great day!”

Who knows if that was the correct approach. Maybe I should have been more loving and understanding on why Tyler didn’t believe in God. Actually…nah. How can I understand that? I can’t. So when people tell me they aren’t Mormon, or they don’t like the Mormons, you just shock them out of their pants and tell them what they’re missing out on something that could change their lives forever. That might ring a bell for them the next time they talk to a missionary. Then at the sites on Sunday, I came across a 19-year-old girl who was on the fence about turning in her mission papers. After the tour, her family was just wandering around and we started talking one-on-one. I told her how much this could change her life and was pretty insistent on her just going. Just about five minutes into our conversation, she sincerely thanked me for what I said, and told me that she was now seriously considering it. So you see, in just a short amount of time, you can change the way people think about themselves, the way people feel about themselves, and show them the way God feels about them. That’s what being a missionary is all about. That’s our comfort zone.

I better wrap this up, but one of the greatest compliments I ever received was, “I’m like my mom on steroids.” Well, I have to be! I only have a year left! Today was transfers, and the sister that came on my transfer but a year earlier, just went home. It’s really strange to think I’m already a third done. I don’t want to be a third done. I just got here. I need to do everything I can, and seriously duct tape this thing to full throttle. I love being a missionary, and even if I do no more than convince others to go on missions–it was worth it. Congrats to Nicole and Hannah for their decisions! Along with the anchors close behind in Sarah and Maddy. I know I’m missing MANY more others, but really, the decision to go is a decision of a lifetime. There’s absolutely nothing you will regret other than not going. “The Lord is getting ready to send His Priesthood army to the earth, and who better to send them to mothers who have served missions?” -President Hinckley (paraphrasing)

Thank you all for the support and prayers. It’s felt all the way here to New York. Harmers, thank you for the Jelly Bellies, stamps and letters…it made my whole week! I love you all…even if I am a nun. 🙂

BE HAPPY!

Sister Hawkes

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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