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!


1 comment:

  1. She is amazing! I can't believe she is learning Spanish so quickly! She is truly getting everything she can out of her mission - what a great attitude! Glad you can relax and know she is doing great :)