Transfers, Studies, and More Yard Work

Waiting for transfer calls is almost the same as being in high school again, waiting to find out who is going to ask you to the dance. It’s freaky. I have no idea where I’m going to be starting tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully we get the call while I write this e-mail, because that would be highly entertaining. I guess you’re just going to have to read the rest to find out where I’m going…

 

This week has been a total roller coaster for the two of us. We have been so busy while putting emotion into everything, and with the job that we have to do–you never know what’s going to happen. Elder Bednar put it perfectly, “Do everything in your power, and expect nothing in return.” Well, that describes this week perfectly. We’ve had good days and bad days, but thankfully at the end of the day we always help each other back on track. I know (as sure as I know my favorite color is green) that Sister Johnson was sent here to be my companion. She has taught me so much about who I am and who I need to be, not only for my investigators and the people I meet, but for my future family. She has a heart of gold that no one could put a price on. I’m so grateful I got to spend two transfers together with one of my best friends.

 

I’m sorry this letter is and will be incredibly boring, as it already is. I don’t have much time, because I’ve got a lot to do today with packing and everything. We haven’t done anything of note except for going house to house, and yard work…plus more yard work. Who knew I would love doing that stuff? But once I get back to the sites, I promise to have more fun, random, interesting, incredibly spiritual stories…those always happen at the sites. 🙂 But recently in my personal study, I have been putting together a map of the kingdom of Israel, and on the back, a chart of the Book of Mormon. It’s pretty intense…seriously. The coolest thing I realized was that only the true church would be able to fit all of those things together…in order. I have no problem seeing who got their priesthood from who, and it always follows back to our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no guessing what happened when, and evidence is everywhere to prove it.

 

Yesterday in Fast and Testimony meeting, we got to hear a ton of members in the ward talk about their missionary experiences. Many shared their conversion stories, and some shared recent events that happened this past week. Again, we have been doing yard work almost every day this week, so it was a great opportunity to talk to them about their own missionary work. A woman got up and told the congregation that while we were helping her on Friday, her neighbor was watching us and wondering who these kids were just…helping. It gave her the perfect opportunity to re-tell her about who the missionaries are after she had been taking the lessons with her mom–who had passed away while they were learning. The woman in our ward asked for a Book of Mormon to give her, and then asked her neighbor if we could all come over and help her with her yard work. She burst into tears and told her that is exactly what she needed, and that she had been praying for someone to ask. It was another great “fruit of my labors” moment. All I did was follow the Spirit on when we needed to get to work, and just DID IT. I didn’t know I was following the Spirit until I looked. That always seems to happen to me…

 

Well, in two months from yesterday, the Hill Cumorah Pageant cast arrives and I seriously couldn’t be more excited. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for anything…maybe except for the morning I was going to the MTC. I think I could have ran faster to Provo than how slow we were driving! Same thing with the airplane to New York…and now I just want to stay here forever. I have so many moments I want to bottle up and keep in my pocket. Fortunately, the good times keep on coming. I’m going to do my best to continue to finish out my mission strong, and then once I return home in a few short months, I will treat my mission as a personal spiritual incubator for the rest of my life. A mission is training for the real world, and I know once the time comes, I’ll be ready to take it on and keep my steep incline towards Him. But for now, I love just living in the present. It’s the best miracle, blessing…whatever you want to call it…I was BORN to do missionary work. I have never been so in my element. Every night, I re-dedicate my whole life to Him…to do whatever He wants me to do. I follow the happiness, that’s really all you can do. There’s no other option. I love my job. (I think I should just adopt that as my new catch phrase. How many years have I been daily saying that now?)

 

As you can tell, transfer calls haven’t come yet. We got word from the AP’s that they won’t come for another half an hour, so I guess you’ll have to wait to find out next week where I’m going! Unless you’re friends with my mission facebook, then you’ll probably know asap. 🙂 Your guess is as good as mine; I think if I just throw a dart on the map of New York that’s where I’ll go. I love you all, and thanks for everything!
Oh, and Happy Birthday, Dad! You’re now 51 years young! I hope you enjoyed your fresh New York maple syrup. 🙂
BE HAPPY!
Hermana Hawkes
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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.

Follow the Prophet…He Knows the Way

I’m not lying when I say this was the best week of my life.

 
Nothing spectacular happened…just being a servant of the Lord will always be the best week of anyone’s life. I can’t even begin to type out in words the joy that comes from being a missionary. I know I say that every week.
 
Recently our Commander in Chief Monson asked us to spend some more time contacting LARCs (Less Active/Recent Convert) and working with members and their friends. They want us to do less tracting and more teaching. My personal theory on why they emphasized it: the greater the knowledge, the greater the responsibility. Father in Heaven knows something we don’t know–like when Christ is coming again. I don’t think those thoughts need to be expanded. Anyway, being exactly obedient, we have been seeing many people that haven’t come to church in a while. There’s a plethora of reasons why they choose to not have those blessings for themselves, including taking offense, being prideful, not having enough faith, etc. I’ve never been more bold in the past seven months than I have this week. And there’s been a lot seeing the fruits of my labor because of it! Three LA families at church yesterday. Oh yes.
 
We’ve been taking one of the greatest 17-year olds, Casey, around with us. Casey got baptized last year, and was a total golden referral. She can see through the investigator’s eyes…because she was one of them. I don’t know how we teach without her now! She just applied to BYU, and I am praying so hard that she gets to go. Casey is one of those girls that BYU was made for. She comes from a non-religious background, laughed at the missionaries when they showed up at her door, but gave Him a chance and found Christ at a critical time in her life–without any family support. Now, there’s nothing she’d rather do than serve the Lord. Her hard work, dilligence, and patience all combine together perfectly for an extremely mature girl who needs friends just like her. Anyway, that’s my Casey rant. I wish I could have been more like her at her age. She’s ready to tackle the world. Being with her, I’ve realized that I can change lives. (I know…you’d think a missionary would know that by now.) But it’s one of those things that just clicked. It’s not any of my power to do it with. It’s the power that was given me of the Lord to literally change the hearts of those who are seeking for the truth, even if they don’t even know it yet.
 
While hunting down those that have wandered, we’ve been so blessed with more people in our teaching pool than we can handle right now. We ask everyone for referrals and more often than not they give it to us. We were even making pancakes for a woman in our ward, and her non-member friend, Jim, walks in. (Not a coincidence.) He sees our nametags and says, “Where is wisdom found in the Bible?” Of course we shared James 1:5 with him, but he wasn’t satisfied. He kept asking us the same question over and over. “Proverbs,” he said. He told us he was a non-denominational minister, and knows a lot about the Bible. We started to tell him about the Restoration focusing more on the Apostacy. Eventually he said, “You girls know what you’re talking about. Do you have a pamphlet I can have?” (OH YEAH WE DO!) And we gave one to him. We invited him to the Christmas party the next day, he was there 30 minutes early, and had a great time. We have a lesson set for Wednesday. Jim is one of those that is humble enough to accept what feels to be true, even though he was brought up somewhere else. Miracle 1 of 100 from following the prophet.
 
Miracle 2 of 100: After a long night of plans and backup plans being cancelled, Sister Torres and I decided to visit a former investigator, Maria. We weren’t sure she was going to be home, because all of the notes in the area book told us that she is always busy and hard to get a hold of. Regardless, we tried it. As we were walking to her doorstep, she opens the door to let the cat out, and looked a little surprised to see us. Nonetheless, she let us in. We saw a bunch of wrapping paper and Christmas presents spread out, so we offered to help her with the job. We started a small conversation, which ended up to her telling us that she had prayed that someone could help her with wrapping the gifts. It was something that she hated to do, since her children were grown out of the house, and it wasn’t a “family project” anymore. It was a small task to remind her that she again lived alone. Little did we know she prayed to our Heavenly Father about this, and little did I know that it was a prompting from the spirit to visit her. She told us it was an answer to her prayers and even let us teach her while we were helping her. She wasn’t wrapping these presents alone anymore–she didn’t have to do anything alone anymore. I never knew that I would have one of “those” moments on my mission…and at the same token I couldn’t have told you it was a spiritual impression. But after pondering, I realized what we had done. We followed the still small voice to lead us to “comfort those who stand in need of comfort.” Let me tell you, that voice is really small.
 
Being on a mission teaches you the mindset of how to live the rest of your life. In high school, it was all about boys, school and work. That’s not what life is about at all. If I learn anything coming out of the mission field, it will be how to love people, and how to keep Christ centered on your thoughts. I never realized how much of a real life experience being on a mission is. I thought it was an escape from the world, but it is “real-life” training in it’s entirety. Nothing else is important. Sharing the gospel with others is the most productive thing you could ever do in your lifetime. In fact…I’ll give whoever is reading this a challenge. Because that’s what we do as missionaries–challgenge people. As Visitors’ Center sisters, we have access to send people’s contact information straight to the mission office in which they live. Will you all think of someone that you know that could seriously use the gospel? We all need it. But some may be fighting for it more than others at this point in their life. Maybe they just lost a parent, had a baby, moved to a new house, or switched into your class at school. If you feel comfortable enough, I would be more than honored to send servants of Jesus Christ over to their home to explain how they can have more peace in this life. Just send me their contact info, and a message from you, and I’ll make sure it gets to them. If you don’t have anyone in mind right now–think and ponder it, and get back with me. If you already know the missionaries in their home town, great! Give it to them. Then we can all be following the prophet.
 
Tonight we are headed to the Joseph Smith Farm to have a huge FHE with the Rochester area! Caroling, entertainment…it’s going to be so fun. Then tomorrow is our Christmas devotional and I’m doing a couple of musical numbers; one with Sister Raines and Elder Hole, and another with a few other sisters. I feel like I’m at a family reunion when I go to those meetings! Especially last night at the Rochester Mormon Choir! I’ve never felt so at home. I never ever want to leave this place. You may call me obsessed with missionary work…probably because I am! I think it’s because I’m finding more and more weaknesses in myself that I need to get fixed. Overcoming a weakness is the most fulfilling obstacle in the world.
 
I hope you are all having a great Christmas season. Spend time serving others by giving them your time to help them what they need help with. I’m also loving getting these Christmas cards from other people. and thanks Reading Ward for all of your letters! I loved them. Oh, and whoever can go see the lights on Temple Square for me this week, do it. Thanks, I appreciate it.
 
BE HAPPY!
 
Hermana Hawkes
 
 
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