Monday, June 30, 2014

Drumroll Please!!!!

Here we go! The moment he's been waiting for--Wesley's debut on the blog! I told him all he had to do was get baptized and he'd make it on here :)
So the one and only Wesley got baptized this Saturday in Douglasville and guess what!?? Pribyl and I got to reunite in Douglasville. It was awesome! They never let missionaries go back for baptisms once they leave but somehow that guy Wesley pulled that one off just for us. 

That guy Wesley on his baptism day!! :)

In honor of Wesley, let me tell you a little story:
One mid-May evening, two little sisters parked their car outside the entrance of the nearby super Walmart. The day had neared to an end and the two sisters felt a bit discouraged after many cancelled appointments and unsuccessful contacts. Before turning the car off, they offered a humble prayer having the faith that they would find three new people to teach that day. In hopefulness they marched on in and with faith like a little child, the younger sister went straightway to talking with someone. But unfortunately she found no interest. She found another. No interest. And with a little disappointment she found one more who to her dismay was yet again uninterested. As the little sister began to lose some faith, big sis was building up the courage and seeking for inspiration. They neared the photo center of the electronics section and little sis tried to regain her faith by printing pictures of Poala's baptism for the mission office. Big sis knew it was her turn now. While lil sis loaded up the pictures, big sis approached the worker behind the check-out desk and mustered up the only visible personal connection she could by asking about the World of Warcraft game sitting on the counter. To her surprise he seemed interested. He discovered her purpose as a missionary and unloaded some questions he's had all his life on the topic of religion and God. Lil sis came over and they were both eager to get together again soon.

So that's how we found Wesley. Next thing you know, we schedule the first meeting at the church and he shows up in slacks and a shirt and tie ready to learn and willing to listen. We soon learned how intelligent and incredibly observant he was as we met more often. When teaching about the Gospel, we always ask how people are feeling because it's the feeling of peace that tells you it's true. One time when we asked Wesley, he responded "Do you hear that? You can hear the peace." That left an impression on us as we realized there are other ways to comprehend the truthfulness of the Gospel. The Spirit will manifest its' truth to the needs of each listener.
Another cool thing that Wesley did was find answers to his prayers. Originally,  he couldn't come to church due to work. As we taught him more about prayer he decided to pray about his work conflicts. He courageously approached his boss and asked for at least part of Sundays off and just like that they made it work. Now Wesley has come almost every Sunday since we first met him 2 months ago.
I've made Wesley's conversion sound so fine and dandy but it was littered with some bumpy trials. The weekend of his scheduled baptismal date it seemed as if every plan was failing. The biggest worry being that Sister Pribyl and I weren't going to be there. He knew the Gospel was true, he had a testimony of everything we'd taught but he really wanted the sisters who taught him to be there. Not only were WE called to leave Douglasville but so were the Douglasville elders who meant a lot to him as well. He was devastated. To all of our surprise we got permission to attend and boom. Back in Dtown. I guess Douglasville just didn't want to get rid of us that quickly...or maybe it's that we just couldn't let go that soon. Probably the latter.

The coolest part of the baptism was the end when Wesley got up to bear his testimony- which he insisted to have on the program. Pretty awesome, right? Well as he talked he shared beautiful scriptures that have touched him these recent weeks and his faith really showed itself. My favorite thing he brought up was something he learned when all his missionaries were called out of the area. He said that God was humbling him and he realized that if everything he ever owned and loved was taken from him at that very moment, it wouldn't change his testimony of the truth. Then he paused and went on to say, "I know that the Book of Mormon is true." Right as he said that the Spirit just crowded the room. How many times have I heard that statement-probably more than I can count. But it never ceases to amaze me the power that comes from a simple but strong string of words! I remember sitting there and getting chills as he bore his simple and powerful testimony.
It's all true. The Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Restoration, Jesus Christ, the Spirit--everything! I know it's true. The Holy Ghost witnesses the truth of it to me almost every single day and for that I feel incredibly humbled and blessed. And because of it, I get to meet people like Wesley!

I hope all is well on the home front--or across the world if you're a missionary friend keeping up! No need to worry about me! I'm right where I'm supposed to be!
Love you all!

Sister Hawkins


Lots of picture taking was in order, of course! 

Sisters on the train!

We took the train this week to see some members who live far from us.
An adventure to say the least! It was fun though! 

Pictures from sister Montgomery of Douglasville ward...the bishop's wife. This was our last day there. :(

Note from the Mom:
I did ask her how the Spanish was going this week, and if she was exhausted trying to work in a language she doesn't know all day.  Here was her response:

It's all going good. I do actually speak in lessons--at least I try my best to! I started speaking the first day I got here... I just sound kind of like an idiot. But I use english words when I don't know them in spanish and most people understand. Or often I'll turn to my companion and ask what the word is mid-sentence.

Gotta love that girl and not caring if she sounds like an idiot! :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cast Your Burdens

Me and sister Vasquez! She's totally awesome!

Hola Familia!
Where to even begin! I guess I'll start from the beginning of the week.. probably a good place to start.
So Monday we spent all day packing and seeing friends and ward family. Tuesday was round two of that honestly but 100x worse. We hardly had time to pack because we spent all this time with people in Douglasville. It was so hard to leave! I knew it would be because I have so much love for my family there. D-ville will forever hold a piece of my heart!

And then Wednesday came all too fast. I realize now that I don't have any pictures and it was probably due to the fact that it was the last thing on my mind. That and I may have looked like I'd been hit by a semi on just 3 hours of sleep. I was also so incredibly nervous and mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually tired. I remember when President called my name so I could stand to hear where I was going and who my companion was. I stood up and he called me to be a designated driver (which means I'm in charge of driving and which also never happens with visa waiters because we are only here temporarily).It totally caught me off guard and as I was already overwhelmed, I completely forgot to look for my new companion. Sister Pribyl had to point her out to me when I sat down.

As soon as I sat down I just remember letting it all go *cue Frozen (which I've never seen, but already know the song!). And then just like that everything was ok. I didn't feel stressed or worried or exhausted. I felt excited and ready!
Next thing you know I hit the ground running.

Now onto Chamblee!

I'm now serving smack dab in the middle of Atlanta. My companion is Sister Vasquez and she is a native speaker from the Dominican Republic. She's super sweet and such a help to me... in other words she's a very patient person when it comes to me speaking Spanish. Being a Spanish branch my area covers about 8 or more sub-cities and guess what??? Pribyl is in my stake!! I got to see her at stake conference yesterday and we'll have zone trainings together. She's serving right next to the temple! God knew I'd need to keep her around as long as I could...maybe just so I wouldn't go crazy. Little blessings!

Last time at temple with pribby (except not really because we'll go together for zone trainings now!)

Alright alright, enough of that, I know you're all wondering how Spanish is going. Let me just tell you how ridiculous Spanish was my first day. So I understood just about 5% of what people were saying... I got really good at smiling and nodding and laughing at all the right cues. I'd blurt out the only words I knew like "bien" or "si". Fake it till you make it right? Then in the car Sister Vasquez was on the phone and heard me making weird noises. She paused asking if I was trying to say something and I replied "I'm just practicing rolling my r's". If there's one thing I can't do it's rolling my r's. Thank goodness Portugese doesn't have any of that! If it does someone please tell me now...

Is it just me or is there an elephant on my back? Haha! Me and my snazzy new elephant friend.

But as the days went on I realized that my prayers were being answered. I prayed so hard to receive the gift of tongues and interpretation. My 0% speaking and 5% understanding I would now change to 40% and 70% understanding.  For not even knowing simple words like "you" and "us" (honestly I swear I've never seen the words "usted" and "nosotros" in my entire life) I can now say simple prayers, have small talk, comment in lessons and bear my testimony on multiple Gospel topics in Spanish. Most of the time I feel like I'm just catching words, putting them together and assuming, based on actions and expressions what people are saying. I know it's more than that though, that the Lord is working miracles.
You know there is so much that I've learned this week but I'll leave you with two of the biggest lessons I've discovered:
1. God really answers prayers. Not only has he answered my prayers with Spanish but for the longest time I've been praying that God would help me work harder. So He answers prayers... but goodness be careful what you wish for! Praying for the ability to work harder I learned, is like praying for patience...which I did in fact do and have been waiting for 7 months for my visa! So, be wise and don't pray for those things. Or you'll learn the hard way like me!
Honestly though, I couldn't be more happy for this kind of opportunity. How much harder can you work?! Well, probably a lot but at this point in my life I don't know if I've ever worked harder. And I don't know if I've ever felt more like a missionary or servant of the Lord than ever before. Which leads me to my next lesson...
2. I've been told all throughout my mission to "lose myself". Lose myself in the work. Like it says in Luke 9:24 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." You know when you've been learning something for days, months or maybe even years and suddenly in one small moment it all just seems to click? The moment in transfer meeting when I sat back down I remember thinking "Ok God, it's all You". It was then that I put everything- my cares, frustrations, worries, talents, burdens, language, abilities, doubts- all in the Lords hands. In just a matter of seconds I for once felt like I finally "lost myself".
I always wonder why it takes changes like this to really humble ourselves and grow. Why can't we do it on our own in normal circumstances? I've realized though, that it's because the Lord wants to remind us who's in charge, who makes the plays and who scores the goals. All He asks of us is to show up for the practice and be on time for the game.
The hymn "How Gentle God's Commands" expresses my testimony perfectly:

How gentle God’s commands!
How kind his precepts are!
Come, cast your burdens on the Lord
And trust his constant care.

Beneath his watchful eye,
His Saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guard his children well.

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your Heav’nly Father’s throne
And sweet refreshment find.

His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I’ll drop my burden at his feet
And bear a song away.

I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be. I've received a true witness of it. I know that God does things I don't understand but I know that they are for mine and others'  benefit and done out of pure love. I know that the Atonement is real, that when used properly and under the right authority, it strengthens us more than we'll ever realize. " I know that my Redeemer lives, what comfort this sweet sentence gives.

Thank you for all the prayers and love that I've physically felt supporting me this week. You'll never know how much it means to me! 

With Love,

Sister Hawkins

The "Dream Team" district. I love this district. All except for 3 of us transferred out of
Douglasville and one went home :( Gonna miss all of them.

Note from the Mom: Thank goodness for answered prayers!  From 0% speaking to 40% speaking? In less than a WEEK? That's my girl. I have tears streaming down my face, I'm so relieved. May she continue to cast those burdens away and work harder than she's ever worked before! Thank you for all the prayers on her behalf this week. 

P.S. I'll be posting her new address in her facebook group under the "files" tab. I'm sure she'd love some letters in her new mailbox!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

My dad and his girls!

Well. Since I talked about mothers on the week of Mother's day, to be fair I guess I'll talk on Fathers...but don't let it get to your head, dad ok?
As father's day came and went I had time to reflect on what makes a good father. Just know that these are my own opinions and thoughts...not necessarily doctrines of the Church...though they collide some. I feel like I've gathered sufficient conclusions from the variety of families I've worked with on the mission and from my own dad. Of course I'm not going to go into ALL of what I think makes a good dad, instead I'll compile them into three qualities that I think, personally, make a good father:
1. Has a sense of humor
A sense of humor is always needed... it really goes such a long way. Maybe because of how much responsibility a father has on his shoulders is the reason why. But I think we can almost all agree too, that it is every father's job to find the dumbest jokes and phrases..or at least it seems that way. Am I right?!
For instance: my dad's most popular phrases are "Money doesn't grow on trees", "Life's not fair" and "kids are just non-revenue generating cost centers". Really my dad is the biggest goofball ever. But no matter how much I want to deny this, I realize that normally when he said these growing up they were used in very applicable circumstances. I can just see dad reading this now, saying "See? See?!?"
The worst of it is when something happens on the mission where I hear my dad saying "Life's not fair" or some other ridiculous phrase in my own head. And I discover the truth behind them! It usually leads me to think "Why? Why is he right?!" But in reality I'm grateful for the lessons he's taught me...even if they come by ridiculous means. (if only you could all read our "Chronicles of Dad", haha!)
2. Loves and serves selflessly.
Now I will be very blunt. I've seen way too many families where either father or mother is too absorbed in themselves to sufficiently provide for their children/spouses. The most respectful and admirable father gives his all to his family and the most respectful and admirable man realizes that his family is not his only responsibility. There is one particular member in our ward who just exemplifies this. It seems like every day when we visit families from the church, he has just been there helping them in any way he possibly can, and that's on top of his full-time job and five kids under the age of 12. He is an example of a faithful and charitable servant of God. As we know that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God" (mosiah 2:17).
The kind of father who really is charitable is the best example out there. For not only does he influence his family, but he influences the world.
3. Honors his Priesthood.
The Priesthood is the literal power and authority God gives to man to perform miracles and ordinances in His name. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:36 it says that "the rights of the Priesthood are inseperably connected with the powers of heaven and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness." That being said, with the responsibility of this it is no wonder that the worthiness of these good men is so vital. Without the Priesthood we would not be able to enjoy the blessings of the restored Gospel...and for that I am incredibly grateful.
Now, of course, the example of my own dad has really influenced these important qualities. Why? Because he really is the best dad. Where would I be without his Priesthood blessings in my life? Including the one given in a dark parking lot on the way to the airport the day I left for the MTC. Thanks dad for everything you do for me! I love you so much!
On another note, I am being separated from P-ribble hizzle. Both of us are leaving Douglasville. So sad! We love this area. All the people we've talked and loved and served are so precious to me. Douglasville will forever hold a piece of my heart and that means that they can't get rid of me that easily. I'll be back!
On a concluding note... they're sending me to a Spanish branch. Well.... here we go! Next up, learning Spanish!
Love you all. Please pray for Douglasville! And if any of you have tips for learning Spanish... I'd appreciate any help! (like maybe send Keegan down here for the summer...?)
Sister Hawkins

Note from the Mom: Ahhhhh, my girl. She will learn Spanish if that is what is required of her!  But how about a few extra prayers on her behalf this week?  Not sure what her new address is, I will post as soon as know.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Alma 40:8 "...All is one day with God, and time is only measured unto men"

I don't even know how it's Monday again! I'm sure you get tired of me saying, "Monday....already??!" They always said that on our missions the days would seem long and the weeks would go fast. Tell me about it! Honestly the months go fast! How is it already June?! Don't mind me... just have a 1/3rd-mission crisis over here.

Time is such a weird thing. I remember in college how I could spend hours on end doing nothing and the days would drag on. And then other days would be filled to the brim with plans and there just seemed to be no time in a day! Time never does what you want it to.

I guess the changing factor in this equation has to do with WHAT you do in your day. When you fill your day doing "useless" things, your day will drag on uselessy. But when you're constantly engaged in a good cause time doesn't exist. Hence why my mission is flying by. Even still though, missionaries have long days. When I think back on those days I wonder what makes them long because every day is the same task, same goal, same purpose. I realize that the only thing that differs is me! The only thing that changes these long days is my attitude, my weaknesses, my perceptions and my doubts.

All of these seem like roadblocks but they're really just mountains to climb. When I reach the top and overcome them, I gain a bigger perspective and get that much closer to heaven...or to Christ. I know how important these "gifts" are because they're what have really changed me for the better in the long run. In the moment, they may hinder what I think my day should have been like but I know that the work of God is never frustrated only the work of man (D&C 3:3).

Yes... admittedly I was very frustrated this week. With almost every appointment falling through, people struggling to progress, more rules tacked on to our already busy schedule and a potential case of pink-eye most would justify my frustration. You know it's funny because Pribyl and I gave a training on gratitude and how to overcome murmuring just this past Tuesday. Then the Lord was like, "Oh? You want to play the gratitude game??" Needless to say we had many opportunities to practice what we preached this week. Which reminded me of this quote from conference by President Uchtdorf: 

BUT. When I reflect on this week, it's not the hours of frustation that were the most influential. In fact, it was the 10 minutes I spent watching one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen and then the 25 minutes I spent praying where I received an answer I've been needing for some time now. Isn't it always just those few moments that stand out?

I am grateful for that sunset. It just proves the scripture that "by small means the Lord can bring about great things" (1 Nephi 16:29). These small moments really do show how powerful He is and how much control He has. It's kind of ridiculous how often we like to think we're the ones with the plan. One of our investigators always says, "want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans". Quite true actually! When you really think about it, every single minute is a gift given to us! And yet we still don't give the 5 minutes to pray or 20 minutes to read or 45 minutes to study when we have a grand total of 1,440 minutes in a whole entire day! Ok... I know sleep is needed, but I know that we all spend more time awake then asleep so no, that's a pretty lame excuse...

In the end, as we know that the work of God is never frustrated, we need to understand that it doesn't give us an excuse not to use our time wisely. You know we spent so much time preparing for this life and we'll have an eternity to reflect on it. On the scale of eternity our life on Earth is just like a little hashtag...#life or #LifeonEarth! It reminds me of Gary E. Stevenson's talk "Your Four Minutes"... if you haven't read/watched it... do it! If you already have, do it again. I promise it's an efficient use of time! Mom will post the video so there are no excuses, right mom?

Anyways I apologize for this choppy email. My brain is jumpy today....I get it from my Dad. Thanks Dad. Love you though!
I hope that you all have a wonderful week! Ciao!
Sister Hawkins

Monday, June 2, 2014

Listen to Warnings and Be Grateful

Look Ma! It's like what I think the Brazilian rainforest would be like...

Hi family & friends! I swear it was yesterday that I was just here writing. Oh! Thank you for all the letters and packages!!! I got sweet envelopes from Sister Meise and the Olsons!!! So nice of them. Also of course I got a package from mom :) (Thanks Sis. Bayless for all the cute clothes!) Then lots of little letters from the family Memorial Day party! Needless to say I felt pretty loved this week and was so happy to hear from all of you! I will be responding shortly!!! 

I feel like I have nothing new to inform you of this week. We've just been doing what we normally do-- loving, serving, teaching, praying, committing and maybe stopping for a lunch break here and there. 

You know it's funny when I think about the little things that happened this week. I think God always has a way of warning us about things to come. Last week my dad wrote to me and told me not to do more than I can handle. That should've been a a sign! I didn't feel like I was overworking myself, but turns out I passed out eating ice cream the other day! No worries, mom, I was sitting down and I was out for less than a second and I'm totally fine. But that's the first time I've ever passed out before and it was so cool! I'm sad that I don't have a really cool story about it though... I was literally just eating ice cream in the car. Apparently my body can't handle it.... just can't hack it.(<---that's for my uncle Steve!)

It reminds me of the other month when I had an interview with President asking me over and over if I was safe... then later having a stalker at church! I think "Well, Heavenly Father!!! I couldn't have avoided either of these situations so what do you want me to do about it!?" Maybe it was for experience, but most always He wants us to learn something. I have taken the time to really ponder about the things that happen to me on my mission. I've learned that we're not always going to know God's intentions, but we can take what we've got and do something with it! 

We're not always going to know God's plans either. Like this week we were planning for our investigator Joe to be baptized Saturday. Everything went as planned until the very last minute on Friday night when we learned that we needed to postpone the baptism. You know at the time I thought, "Why would God not let someone get baptized??" But as we discussed postponing it, I felt the Spirit strongly. I knew what it meant- that we'd have to cancel all the plans and preparations but that it didn't even matter. What matters most is how ready and willing a person is in making these covenants with God. 

It always reminds me who is in control when things don't happen the way we plan for them. But God always has better plans anyways. Next weekend will be an amazing weekend here in the 3 wards that make up my district. Each set of missionaries will have a baptism! the plans as of now are that 14 people will be baptized next weekend- one of them being Joe. :) Now, how the Lord expects us to plan that one out...I don't know. We're gonna need His hand big time!!

So there is much to be grateful for! I'm grateful for my sight and hearing which I lost for a I take these significant gifts for granted almost every day!!! I'm grateful for God's plans which are way bigger and better than mine are. I'm grateful for this mission and all it entails; my awesome mission president, companion, ward, etc! I could go on and on with all the things that I am so grateful to have but it might be more important for YOU do make your own list. What are YOU grateful for?

Hope you all have a wonderful week!! Till we meet again, monitor-to-monitor.


Sister Hawkins

Note from the Mom: "I passed out, but don't worry mom"...ahhh! Seriously? She assured me she really is ok. Which is fine, but all you awesome families in Douglasville, keep an eye on that girl for me, will you? I know you already do!

Also, I just wanted to share something she wrote in my personal letter. I had shared with her an article from the New Era called 28 Ways to Spread Sunshine. I told her I was pretty sure she already DID all those 28 things, so challenged her to give me two more things to get to 30. This was her response:

Aww I love the 28 things!!! hmmmm 2 more things to scatter sunshine. Well, I'm trying to think of other things that I do. Maybe one is to try saying hi to all those you walk by. It's ridiculous how unexpected it is to be greeted!! But sometimes people say that it makes their day that we came over even just to say hi. Also, another thing is something I learned from trevor. We were at a drive through once and trev said thanks, and the person responded "It's my pleasure to serve you!" They said it in a sincere way though, not like the rote dialogue that McDonalds or chick-Fil-A would make you say. And I remember trev being grateful and saying, "No! It's my pleasure to be served by YOU!" It was a funny little experience but I remember how saying that it was a pleasure to be helped by someone, even for a second or upon "forced" means, really made the difference. Another one could be, if you doubt or think negatively, think of 3 positive things to rid your doubt. Don't let it sit in your mind because negativity takes a physical toll on you! It brings down your perspective and you smile less, you think of others less, you worry about things that are not important...etc! 

So there's a few.. I think I may have given you 31, but the "pleasure to serve you one" kind of goes along with saying something nice to someone. Or maybe even being kind to someone lonely. But I think the point of this experience is more so to make the most out of your situations. If you hate working, well, be extra nice to'll make it much more enjoyable!

Well said, my sunny girl.