Monday, January 27, 2014

Blessings...Oh So Many!

We had an exchange this week which means that I got to go to the other ward's area with another sister.
You basically trade companions for a day and sleepover...
Then you go back to your area after.
It was fun!!! I loved teaching new people and being in a new place for a day.

Hey there fam and friends!
I thought I'd kind of take you through my schedule this week since you may not know what it looks like. This is basically what my everyday life looks like.
The alarm goes off at 6:30 and sluggishly "work out". It's more like throwing a few kicks and punches until we decide to stretch... which to others might look like napping on the floor. This is why I had my mom send us insanity. We will pick up the pace.... maybe next week. Since our DVD player mysteriously broke.... ANYWAYS we then shower and get ready and whatnot. Then comes the studying. We study for a lonnnnnggg time. First hour is a personal study, second hour is a companionship study, third hour is my language study and then finally we do an hour of training since I'm a new missionary. SO MUCH STUDYING. But I love it. I have lots of cool epiphanies and learning experiences throughout my many studies and I always love sharing them with Sister Pribyl.
Then we head out! We go to appointments and make lots of phone calls. There's lots of finding by going to stores or the mall or neighborhoods. We'll visit all of our investigators or inactive members and then some other members too. We'll go to dinner almost every night (on good weeks) to a members house and get a nice meal. And Finally we'll go home at 9:00-30. So we're out of the apartment from about 12:30 to 9:30 every day! You really feel like you get so much done in a day since we go go go all the time. Seriously, I never realized you could do so many things in a day before coming on a mission. And I've been to college!
A little bit more about this week: it's been quite miraculous. From being led to certain people who need our help to finding a few extra bucks when we had no leftover money for groceries, the Lord completely blessed us this week! We really were so surprised at how well the Lord cared for us and His kingdom on Earth. This week Sister Pribyl and I were led to two inactive members of the church that are not in our records. The way we found them was so cool. One, we picked a number and the first house we saw with that number was the door we'd knock on. Turns out that this man had been an active member at a point in his life but hasn't been back in ages. The other lady we found was through a contact that we were looking for. We actually found this house and it was empty and for sale. Sister Pribyl and I decided to go ask the neighbors about it and came to find that she had been married in the temple and is now inactive. BOTH were not on the records here in Douglasville and it's so incredibly rare to find even just one person who isn't on our records! It's crazy how the Lord just completely leads you to the people you need to see and the places you need to be. We have been so blessed to find so many that are looking for our help!

As for those few extra bucks... this week was crazy! We were running out of money because with the week that we had a trio and with our messed up finances since I'm a visa waiter... we hardly had any money for the rest of this month. BUT. Heavenly Father really takes care of His missionaries!!!! First, I got a card from Dede (THANK YOU!!!)who sent me $30 which we used to buy some more food. So nice of her! Also, our RS president just absolutely spoils me and Sister Pribyl. She keeps trying to take us shopping hahahaha. She's older and lives with her non-member husband. All of her kids are out of the house so I guess she likes to mother us. She is making me go out and buy a warmer coat with the $50 she gave me. We're not even supposed to take money from other people. But seriously, no matter how many times we try to refuse money from Sister Prillaman (our RS pres) she insists and will even give us more...sometimes, it's better to just take it than to fight it. Either way, the Lord blessed us incredibly this week!
I'm sorry that this email is cut so short... unfortunately I've run out of time! Catch you all next week!! :)
Sister Hawkins

Sister Prillaman likes to overstuff us and buy us fast food.... unfortunately she orders all the unhealthy things for us since SHE can't eat them. I think she lives vicariously through us (even tho I never even eat this at home!) haha still, I love Sister Prillaman and she spoils us rotten!

Note from the Mom: So, so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who watches over His missionaries!  And for amazing friends (Dede!) and members He utilizes to make sure they're cared for. She told me to share anything from the personal letter she sent me.  I thought this was cute: "OH MY GOSH I FOUND MY FAMILY AWAY FROM HOME HERE. MOM. Last night we went to a members house for dinner and they are so incredibly funny. They're probably just as old as you and Dad but maybe a little younger. They have 3 boys and the oldest is a little younger than keeg. Actually he might be a sophomore. Either way they're AWESOME. THEY WATCH ALL OF OUR MOVIES. We quoted So I Married an Axe Murderer, Better off Dead and The Three Amigos for hours. Seriously. The older boy was like, "I need to drop something off at Beth's house" and Brother Evans (the dad) was like, "every time you say beth I just think of Better off Dead" AND I FLIPPED OUT. We started pulling out quotes all over the place. Oh gosh I love them, you guys would love them. They understand our humor. And they think you both are good parents."

*Glad the definition of a "good parent" is simply to make sure your kids go out into the world equipped with quotes from 80's (and early 90's) movies. Haha!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Laughter; the Better Choice

Me and my nifty desk!

Not much is new down here in Georgia. Gosh is it really time for a new letter? I swear it was yesterday that I sat here trying to think of what to do and say. Do you all ( I mean y'all) still read these?? I feel as though I say the same thing every week... I apologize for any boredom I may be causing! 

This week was a big learning week for me. Almost every single night I wrote down in my journal an epiphany I had that day. A few of them I want to share with you since I really don't have funny South stories to share. Originally I wanted to share all my revelations... but then this would be like 15 pages long and that's just too much. Ain't nobody got time for dat.
One experience was on Friday which was a rough day for me and Sister Pribyl. We were excited to go out and do some "finding" (what we call tracting). Finding is probably the scariest part of missionary work. I mean, it's talking to complete strangers... and not just talking but discussing personal beliefs in God! It is often helpful though and when appointments fall through, you've gotta find a way to continue the work. So finding it is. Anyways, in Douglasville you have really really poor areas and then some disgustingly rich neighborhoods. On this particular day we were finding in a neighborhood with houses the size of Cinderella's castle. Every single house we knocked on turned us away. From that day I specifically remember one lady. We chatted at her doorstep and then introduced ourselves when suddenly, in her southern bell accent, she said, "Let me just stop you right there..." She continued to sort of tell us off to which we complimented her apron and left. Silently, Sister Pribyl and I walked back to the car. We got in and buckled up. All of a sudden, and out of the blue, I just busted up laughing. And I got Sister Pribyl laughing even more. And for no particular reason... we were just laughing!

That night, I wrote in my journal what I learned from this. I learned that on these trying days or in the midst of trial, we have 2 options: whether to laugh or to cry. I think I will always choose to laugh. In fact I think I've always chosen to laugh . It always makes me feel better. As soon as Sister Pribyl and I stopped laughing, we drove on further and knocked on more doors. Instantly our mood was lightened and we could press forward with confidence. All in all, always choose to laugh. Crying is ugly anyways.
Another thing I learned was something that I understood after the course of this week. We've had a lot of opportunities this week for finding. The biggest rule for finding is letting the Spirit guide. All week, I've been waiting and expecting the Spirit to tell me to talk to a person or to knock on this door or to turn on this road. What happened is that we didn't get anything done. We hardly met anyone and made just about zero progress. What I learned is that you really can't expect anything. We can't expect miracles and promptings to happen. For heaven's sake they wouldn't be miraculous if we expected them right? If we spend all our time waiting for an answer or prompting or miracle, where is our faith? After all, we "receive no witness until after a trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6). Many times that witness comes only after we decide to go up to that random person, after we work hard to find answers, and after we just try reading the Book of Mormon to know that it's true. It is after these faithful actions that the Spirit manifests His presence and guidance. And that manifestation is worth whatever it takes!
I hope you have all learned just as much as I have this week! If not... what are you waiting for? Oh, and don't forget to LAUGH! :)
Sister Hawkins

Since I didn't take pictures this week, here's a tour of my apartment:

This picture is of all the cards that people have sent me!!
I love reading them and seeing them!! When I get them from people
I always hang them up! So if you've sent one it's probably up there.
If not, no worries... I haven't finished it yet!

What's a missionary apartment without Mom's inspiration quotes...

Here's sister Pribyl in her corner by her desk! We both usually just work on the floor
and spread out our work all over. This is a sad example of that but a start!


...more kitchen
Haha sis pribyl and I share a closet but it's funny seeing how much
stuff she has verses's mine.

...and hers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Be Good, Make a Difference

We found a new mission vehicle!

Might have to do a few touch ups but I think it works!
Look how ridiculous this is!!! I couldn't believe there was just a random boat in a field. The pond was disgusting by the way.

Oi Familia! Tudo Bem??
This week went well, mostly because I had a chance to go to the Atlanta Temple!! Thank goodness!! Every transfer we have zone meetings in Atlanta and go to the temple. AH I love it! It gives me a chance to rejuvenate and focus. I didn't grab a picture because I didn't have time! But I'll most likely be going again within the next 6 weeks so I'll be sure to get a picture then.
For those who don't know what zone meetings are, they're awesome. It's where about 50ish missionaries in my area get together and meet with the mission president. To put this into perspective, there are about 250 missionaries in the Atlanta mission; which makes about 5 zones. What we do in these meetings is train for like 5 hours. We'll have meetings and classes that inspire and improve our missionary skills.
Now that I've broken into this number theme, I'd like to confuse you some more with numbers so you can understand a bit more about my mission. In Douglasville, we have 5 sets of missionaries. One set of sisters and one set of elders for each ward except for the spanish branch. In this mission, the most amount of missionaries I've heard in ONE ward is 18 (so 9 sets). How crazy is that? Those poor members, how do they feed them all??
I might as well throw in a few more numbers. Everyday I study for about 4 hours-- which is actually more than usual. I have extra for training since I'm a new missionary and also extra time for language study. My companion and I always try to make 40 calls a day and somehow end up traveling around 40 miles a day too. We make goals to talk to at least 20 new people and we tract for about 2 hours a day. SO MANY NUMBERS. I'll stop boring you with all these numbers... but let me tell you, this isn't even the half of it!
Though numbers are so prevalent in everyday life as a missionary, they are the least of my worries. Missionaries prayerfully set number goals every night to achieve for the next day. How often do we meet all of our expectations? Well, let's just say that only once have we ever been close to accomplishing all of our goals for that day. It's good though because our goals push us past our comfort level all the time. What really matters is that we did as much as we could that day and even tried for more. What matters is that we tried our best to be the greatest instruments for the Lord to proclaim His word through. And in the end, what's most fulfilling is that we brought at least one person closer to Christ--even if that one person was myself.
At night when I look at the goals I accomplished, I know I'm not looking at exact numbers. There's no way for me to know exactly how many people I possibly helped or influenced that day! Something that really stood out to me this week during my scripture study was the first page of the Book of Mormon. It talks in the 4th verse about the Prophets that went out and cried repentance to the Jews because Jerusalem was to be destroyed. The cool part about this is that those Prophets were incredibly great missionaries. They probably got out of bed many mornings not wanting to preach to a city that wouldn't listen. In fact, they probably died in the destruction of Jerusalem just trying to save the people. Even though they were sorely rejected, they preached until the end and guess what? They probably didn't know that a single person listened to them.They probably didn't know that Lehi prayed upon their words and received revelation to leave Jerusalem.  And I'm pretty sure that they never knew that the journey of the Book of Mormon had begun due to their diligence, persistence and great faith. While they lived, they would not have even known that their efforts led to the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ today. If that doesn't tell you how to be a good missionary, I don't know what will!
There is absolutely no way that we can count all of the people that we affect day after day. I may not be a prophetess, but I am doing the work of the Lord and I've discovered that there is no sense in feeling weak because you can't accomplish a few daily goals. When your goals are aligned with God's, then you might have even achieved some of them already without knowing it.
The Lord works amazing wonders. I've witnessed enough in just these two weeks to know that He puts us in the places we need to be. Just keep being good and trying to make a difference, and you most likely WILL!
I love you all! Until next week!
Sister Hawkins

More Pics...

Just an example of what it looks like around here. It's not very different from PA but just not as beautiful. I might be biased.
Uh, our newest investigators?  Well at least they listened....
Mini bananas!  They exist!

Haha so we got a flat tire this week and our office elder was giving us directions of where to go... he led us to a Chuck E Cheese's on accident.
We found a turtle in the road!

He was a little scared of us.

Note from the Mom:In case you're wondering, there has still been NO progress on her visa. We check it every week and it still only shows that it's been "received". It needs to advance 3 more steps before she's actually issued a visa. It's just a tad frustrating! But we're glad she's happy where she is for the time being.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oh Georgia....


Oh Georgia.
I'm not really sure where to begin! There's just so much to say! I guess I'll start with my first day (since I know mom will ask about it anyway).

Made it!

As soon as I got off the flight, I met the mission president and his wife. Of course we got pictures (which I'm aware that you've seen by now), picked up our bags... yada yada and then separated into cars to go to our new areas. My first area is called Douglasville. *Cue Dad's dorky laugh. Yes, Dad, it must have been named after you... and yes Dad, good thing you refrained from naming me Dougina. That would have been odd. And was about a 40 minute drive until I met my trainer and companion at a church building. To make things more clear, I'm in a trio companionship with Sister Pribyl (from Utah-my trainer) and Sister Walsh (from Eastbourne England). Sister Walsh is actually a missionary at Temple Square in Utah but for 4.5 months they serve somewhere else in the states. She leaves this Wednesday and then it'll just be me and Sister Pribyl. Anyways, we then made a stop at Walmart and dropped off my bags at the apartment. Finally, we were off to a dinner appointment with a less active church member.
And what an interesting first impression it was! First off, let me explain that I never quite expected Georgia to be so um..... southern. Yeah duh, I know it's in the South but I didn't realize that it's the BUCKLE TO THE BIBLE BELT. This past week has been quite the culture shock to say the least...
Anyways back to my first impression. First, I've realized that Southerners talk. Like really talk. They talk a lot. Our appointments for dinner should only be an hour, but at most of our appointments we are there for 2.5 hours. Most of the time we're trying to leave for at least 2 of those hours. Don't get me wrong, I love going to these appointments. Maybe Heavenly Father is trying to teach me how to be more bold or how to manage my time. I don't know.
Second, the food. My first thoughts were "This would  be better if there wasn't so much butter all over it. Can't even cut this,  it's so slippery!" and "Why? Why is this fried? Do we all own deep fryers??? What's the point of this?" It's interesting because that first meal we had on my first day was almost completely home-grown and home-made. I think they had the intent of being healthy, but honestly they could have just fed us fried butter. I don't mean to be rude about people here. Not all of them are this way! I'm just not used to a lot of butter.  And fried food. But I can't exactly complain in any case since the food is a good step up from the MTC!
Over these past few days I've come to know that Georgia is a pretty religious place. I guess it was then that I realized I was in the middle of the Bible belt haha I'm so dumb. Most people are Baptist but there are a lot of Methodists, Pentecostalists, Non-Denominationalists, Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics. You could say that the word "God" is a lot less feared here in public as opposed to up north in PA. Religion is part of normal conversation and practically everyone has a church they go to. It makes life as a missionary quite interesting!
For example, the other day, my companions and I went knocking on doors. We walked up to one house and as Sister Pribyl went to ring the doorbell, it opened swiftly. It just about scared the living daylights out of Sister Pribyl! We introduced ourselves and began to get to know the small, middle-aged woman in the doorframe. When she told us her name, she said with a booming voice, "I'm Prophetess Lucas" She continued to say that she could hear, smell and sense things that others cannot. At this point, my companions and I were a little baffled. We continued to talk and finally she had to go as she was on her way to the movies with her husband. As we turned and walked back to the driveway, she insisted to pray for us. Before we could respond, she plunged her hands in ours and stood in a circle in the middle of her front yard. She nearly roared the prayer as she cried, "Lord God, Oh bless these sisters! Lord God bless them from the tops of deya heads, to da souls of deya feet. Lord God, cuvah dem wit da blood of Jesus!" And so, friends and family, this marks my very first encounter with a prophetess! To sum my feelings up, I would say that it was quite an unforgettable experience.
All in all, it has been great getting accustomed to missionary life. Keeping up with my Portuguese will be a little difficult as I only have an hour of study time a day. Luckily some of the members in my ward served in Brazil and will speak with me on Sundays! It's way different in the mission field compared to the MTC. In the MTC, they schedule everything for you but now, we have to schedule things from 6:30am to 10:30pm. Some times it's challenging. I usually feel like there aren't enough hours in a day. Then again, I also feel that there aren't enough hours in the night! Still, life is great and I can't help but be happy every single day. Thanks for the prayers!

Sister Hawkins

New Year's Eve arrivals! (snagged from the Atlanta mission fb page)