Monday, August 25, 2014

Be Celestial Now

a cool pc of my "Haz lo Justo" ring! Pretty snazzy huh?

What a week it's been! I kinda feel like this week was a month long because we've been so busy! So much to do!!

Another week of teaching, finding, teaching, serving and more teaching. The work is going well. Slowly it's been picking up so we're excited about that. We're teaching lots of new people and the members of our branch are helping more too. You know, this work moves so much faster when it's not just the two of us!

As I'm thinking about all those we're teaching, I realize that so many of these people will be baptized. Whether it's in my time in Atlanta or later--I know not. But I'm ok with that! Being part of the process is exciting and just as rewarding! I love teaching and I love helping others learn and understand what I've come to know. 

We had interviews with our mission president this week- President Harding. Before our interview he gave us a little questionnaire that he call a C-T scan. Like a CAT scan but it's called the "Celestial-Telestial" scan.

Basically it was a check-up scan to see where you think you'd go if you died today. You would think that missionaries would all say celestial since we're following the Lord's will and dedicating all of our time to His work. But it's interesting how inadequate we sometimes feel. Really the root of the problem is that we're just not perfect like the Savior. I've seen this problem more in sisters too since we're usually harder on ourselves when we don't meet our expectations. But when you think about it, imperfect people is all the Lord has ever had to work with. 

If there's one thing that I took away from my interview and President Harding's council, it's to "be celestial now".

Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel is one of my favorite chapters. It's basically a "how-to" guide to being celestial. Developing Christlike Attributes is a lifelong quest that requires patience, repentance, humility, diligence and prayer. But it's the key to moving forward, to relying on the Savior and changing your habits to refine yourself as the person God has designed you to be. And of course all is solely for preparation to stand before God at the last day. As my buddy Neal A Maxwell says, "Each of us will find that what we made from the ore of our experience is character, and that character, unlike so many other earthly things acquired, is portable."

Choosing to be celestial now is living a celestial life. That is a hard task to undertake. But we must live celestial lives to be endowed with celestial power.

Sorry I don't have much more for you this week! I just thought I'd share a few of my random thoughts with you! I wanted to thank all for your prayers and support. I truly can recognize it at the moment I really need it! Thank you!

oh! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! don't you dare edit this out, mom!

*** Don't forget to wish my mom a happy birthday and tell her how amazing she is! :)

Hermana Hawkins

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Mission Coaster

Guess what!? It's my birthday! Well in 2 days. In missionary time, I'll be 9 years old. It's comparable to dog years-- each month is equivalent to a year. I will have served half my mission by this Wednesday! HALF OF MY MISSION. I swear I only blinked and found myself here... how did this happen??
I went back and read my first journal entry here in GA and also the MTC and I can remember every entry like it was only yesterday! The reason behind that is because still, at this point in my mission, I feel like a new missionary. Even though I'm halfway through, I feel like it was yesterday that I said goodbye to my family at the Philadelphia airport.
I've been thinking about why I still feel like a new missionary and I think I've come to a conclusion. It's not because the time flies but more so that there isn't a way to really get "the hang" of being a missionary. You can't really get into a rote pattern of doing missionary work... and if you do, I don't think you're doing it right!
You can get the hang of some things. For example you can get in the hang of working out every morning or writing in your journal at night. I guess you can even get in the hang of waking up at 6:30 every day....but I don't think God has blessed me with that strength still. I think most would assume that it'd be easier to wake up after 9 months of doing it But no. I swear it's just as hard as it was when I started in the MTC. The reason being not because I don't want to get up and work, but that I don't want to get up and work OUT. Working out that early in the morning will never motivate me to get out of bed. Goodness gracious.

BUT what I call "the meat", (the teaching, finding, humbling, learning, praying, etc) of missionary work is a practice that you can't swing. You constantly change, constantly push yourself until you sometimes feel you're at your breaking point- mentally, spiritually, or physically. It's a roller coaster ride which never stops.

Of course my family knows I LOVE roller coasters but let me tell you a little bit about the Mission Coaster. The Mission coaster is so fun- it's one of the fastest in the world! It has amazing peaks where you feel like you're practically flying to the moon and you can almost see the entire world. At the top you feel like nothing can bring you down. Really, it's these peaks on the mission where you feel like God has just called you to enjoy every second of the ride. 

Then there are parts of the mission coaster that often feel like you're the one pushing the cart up the incline and trying to catch up with it on the way down. Parts of it haven't been updated so it's made of wood and rickety. You know, those roller coasters that are super bumpy and jerk your head side-to-side until you get a headache? Yeah I hate those too. Even at that point of the mission coaster, and in all those rickety old roller coasters, you get to the tippy top of the hill and the cart just sort of coasts for a second. Your head stops spinning,  you enjoy the scenery, you see how far you've come and think, "Wow how did I get up here?" And you realize then that you weren't alone. 

Of course the mission coaster is pretty comparable to Space Mountain at Disney world. It's all in the dark since you never know what's ahead. But even in Space Mountain there are these little lights that look like stars in the sky. Those little lights are just gifts from God along the way-comfort in times of need and guidance to light bits of the track. And even though you can't see, at least you know the stars are always there and they're nothing but beautiful!

Boy do I love the Mission Coaster. Lots of ups, downs and loop-Dee-loops and never have I once wanted to get off. I look at the things I've achieved, the friends I've made and the knowledge and testimony I've gained thus far and wouldn't trade it for the world.
I'm excited and ready for round 2. Thanks for pushing through with me this far! Fasten your seat we go!
Love you all!
Hermana Hawkins

This is me cutting my massive watermelon with my tiny knife. luckily watermelon is fairly easy to cut!

Sorry it was so humid that my camera couldn't take the picture well.
But this was us at the temple!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blessed are the Meek

Georgia peach tree! Thought I should get a classic Georgia pic.

HI family and friends!

Well this week was a pretty bumpy week. Lots of little trials that Sister Vasquez and I had to push through with our investigators. The Lord is just testing their faith and the Adversary is working hard...really it's the same old same old!
Language update (for the curious): I can almost understand everything. Certain people are harder to understand- like Dominicans because they talk really really fast and shorten all their words. What I'm lacking is my vocabulary and grammar. That will come with more time and study. Really, the past tense is the bane of my existence. It's so easy on paper but in the moment I stumble a lot. Practice practice practice.
My letter will be a little short today... sorry :/. I have a few things to do on the computer that need to all happen within the hour I have while here at the library. But before I go I'll share a little spiritual message that I've been pondering over recently. It's on the topic of "meekness". I think I have a lot more to learn about it but as I think of the tests that we found this week combined with any tests I've had on my mission, this word always plays on my mind.

For those that may not know, meekness is the ability to "endure injury with patience and without resentment." Well goodness! That's gonna take a lifetime! I think the Lord will forever test me on that one.
I've come to understand more about meekness as I've come across others who've endured their trials much better than I could. Like for example someone going to jail for 10 years in a foreign country because they only looked exactly like a most-wanted murderer. Or coming to the US by yourself at the age of 15 to work and send money to your family back home. Or maybe even having your whole family reject you when you follow your heart and the things you know and love to be true.

I guess the Lord has different ways of giving His gift of meekness. Those people who I look up to are the ones who have courageously endured their trials with patience....with meekness.
I love this quote from Neal A Maxwell which says,

"Human suffering does not automatically produce sweetness or character unless meekness is present. Meekness is the mulch that must go in the soil of adversity in order for empathy to grow and in order for character to grow. Jesus could not have become the most empathetic person had we not been the most meek person."

(right-click on the image to save and print!)

I love the example of the Savior. The list I made earlier should really include the Savior and His suffering which is the most extreme above them all. How important it is to be meek like the Savior in order to grow and help others along the way. My favorite lines in the Battle Hymn of the Republic is in the last verse, "as He died to make men holy let us live to make men free". Let us live with patience our afflictions to free others from burden and bondage just as the Savior did in His meekness. 

Live meekly and let free! Also, march on in truth.

Ok, sorry for the lame-o post. I promise I'll do better next time haha. Thanks for keeping up with me on my mission! I hope all is well!

Hermana Hawkins

Me and elder williams from my MTC district outside the library!
Such a happy reunion! 

Monday, August 4, 2014


Susan Taylor!

Wow what a week! If I could sum up this week in one word it would be: change.
It started off on Wednesday with transfers. Two of the missionaries in my district finished their mission and went home! Our district leader was also called as a Zone Leader in my last area so to replace all of them we got 3 new missionaries AND another set of Spanish elders. So now, there are 6 missionaries (including myself) serving in our Branch. That's what it's supposed to be actually since it's such a huge area. Once there were 4 sets of missionaries but it's back to 3. AND GUESS WHAT???? Elder Williams who was in my MTC district is serving in my branch!!! Everything about the MTC makes me happy so it's awesome to see him again! Maybe eventually we'll go to Brazil together. We did, in fact, sit next to each other on the way to Atlanta so we're really just trying to keep tradition.

Me and elder williams and his new comp. Can't believe we're serving together!!!

So out of the 6 missionaries in my branch, 1 is a brand new missionary from the Mexico MTC (I told him he was lucky and not to worry because he probably knew more Spanish than I did). And 3 others are visa waiters for Brazil. Oh Brazil. 

I think there's a written rule somewhere that change always brings surprises. At least it seems like that to me. Here are a few surprises that happened this week

Surprise #1
I lost my planner. So sad. A missionary's planner is about as important as getting dressed in the morning. I've been so lost for a while but luckily a new transfer has started and I'll start a whole new planner, phew!
Surprise #2
Our zone leaders called us the other day asking us to train the youth at a "mini MTC" youth conference for the stake. Just a few other missionaries went but they called us the night before and asked us to prepare lesson plans for 120 minutes. We spent all night and morning preparing and when we got there they told us just to listen in and make comments when we feel inspired. haha. It happens to missionaries all the time for some reason. We just have to constantly be prepared for anything.

Hug from my mom via Susan! Thanks mom!

Surprise #3
Susan and Fred Taylor came to say hi!! It was the best surprise ever and so fun to catch up with my homies... you know since they're from home haha :) We went for a little breakfast as we were traveling on the way to this mini mtc. I didn't want to leave them! Don't worry mom, she gave me many hugs and a kiss from you! I also got a huge hand delivered package from the family so thank you thank you thank you!

Mama Hawk cookies!!! We are savoring them...

Surprise #4
Our car got hit. Don't worry, Sister Vasquez and I weren't even there. We were in a lesson with a member from church and our car was nicely parked outside the parking lot. We finished and drove to our next appointment where I noticed the mirror was turned in. I told Sister Vasquez that it was really odd but we really thought nothing of it. Then later as we were walking out to another appointment we noticed dents and scratched on the side of the car. Ridiculous! A total hit and run. It was the worst surprise. All I can do is report it to the church and they'll take care of it. Still, we wish there was something we could've done.

Really people?

Surprise #5
Luckily the same day our car was hit we had 4 of our friends we've been teaching come to church. It's always the best to see them come and enjoy the Spirit in the house of the Lord! That made our day all the better.

All of these surprises made for change. Whether big or small they still affected me or something in my life. According to Merriam-Webster change means to make or become different and maybe that should also be under the definition for "mission". Specifically "LDS mission"... which needs to be added too. Someone please submit that.
Missions are all about change. Anything that looks like change, acts like change, feels like change. Big changes, small changes. Whatever change-we got it! But with every change I've had on my mission I've been the thing that has become different. Anything from my heart, to talents, skills, abilities, qualities, actions or influence-- these changes have all affected one or two at a time for the better. Though I'll never be perfect, I'll always be grateful for the opportunity I have to define myself through the eyes of the Lord.

I best be off now! Stay safe, have a good week and remember not to hit and run into your neighbors cars...they'll appreciate it greatly I can assure you! hah love you!
Hermana Hawkins (or as Elder Hawkins calls me, "Hermione Hawkins")

That's me making chile relleno. so cool.