Monday, September 29, 2014

Live Joyfully

Hello hello family!!

Another week in the saddle. First off, I wanted to ask if anyone has any questions for me? Maybe about Georgia, my area, yada yada... If not then I guess I'm doing a good job with the blog? But please.. if you have any, comment on the FB page and I'll respond! Sometimes I forget things that may be interesting for you to know...

So this week was super fast. Honestly I don't feel like we did much. Yesterday we came home from church early because Sister Vasquez is sick. She's got a bad cold and an on and off fever of 100. Poor thing. So I've been making tons of calls and teaching lessons over the phone. I've made fairly good progress! You wouldn't believe how much just a phone call can do. I think yesterday I made 71 calls! Oh missionary work. It's  pretty boring from inside the apartment. I ended up baking a cake and studying just to take a break. I decided I'd use the ancient phonebook if Sister Vasquez still isn't better by tomorrow.

Hmm what else. Oh! Women's conference. That was pretty neat... except I couldn't concentrate much. It was pretty late to watch it at 8. Yeah I know I sound like an old lady, but we didn't get home until 10:30 and that's super late for missionaries!! (we had permission to be out past curfew for it!) The lateness wasn't as much of a problem as the translator though! We watched it in Spanish which was fine but it was a translator from Spain translating most of it. That was super distracting because the accent is incredibly odd to me. They sound like they're chewing on something while they talk. BUT amidst the distractions I caught the general message- go to the temple and discover what it truly means to be a daughter of God. If you didn't see President Uchtdorf's talk go look it up! It was awesome!! (click *here* for an excerpt of his talk, it's not in written form yet, or watch the entire conference below!)

I don't have much more time today. Lots that I need to do on the computer for this week. But I will leave you with a thought that's been playing on my mind. I have a paper on my wall that Sister Vasquez hung up for me before I got to Chamblee. It quotes a hymn which says, "and never stand still till the master appear."

I think back to before my mission and wonder what the heck I did all day. It seems like I was so unproductive. Until my mission I didn't know you could do so much in a day. The only time we really stand still as missionaries is when we wait for someone to  open a door.

That is one of the reasons I love the mission so much. I love being so productive in a purpose much greater than my own. Being a part of this work is never standing still. Even for you who may not be on the battle front. All those mom's who put every minute of their day caring for their kids or Dad's who may not see much of their family because they work hard to support them. They care for their families first, and then I see them care for every other family! What amazing examples. We all need each other and there's so much work to be done!

"I have fought my way thru;
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do.
Oh that each from his Lord may receive the glad word,
Well and faithfully done,
enter into my joy and sit down on my throne;"
(come let us anew, Hymn 217)

Love you all! 

Hermana Hawkins

PS. hey that visa thing pulled itself through! One more month and Brazil, HERE WE GO!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Note from the Mom: So I asked her the question I'm sure we all have...WHY does she have to wait another whole month to go to Brazil? Hasn't she waited enough???  Here was her response:

"I have to wait until the end of October, the end of this transfer. They do that to all the visa waiters. It's ok! I had 7 months in english, 5 in spanish and will have 6 in portuguese. It'll be fairly even! I like that! Oh and just so you know, I'll go to the mtc in Sao Paolo for 2 weeks before I go to Juiz De Fora. Crash course portch. :)CAN'T BELIEVE MY VISA IS REALLY HERE!!!!!! AHHH. I'm really happy I have a month to prepare for it because there's a lot I still need to do here." 

That's my girl! Did we expect anything less? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

It is True

The moment has come!!!! Drum roll please!!! EVA WAS BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll start with how we met Eva. Around my first or second week here in Chamblee, Sister Vasquez and I went to go visit with a less active member. We had lesson plans to discuss the temple but we should have known that God had other plans. When we got there, we gathered the family around and met Eva, the mother of this less active member. Sister Vasquez and I sort of looked at each other thinking the same thing. From the moment we met her, we knew it would only be a short matter of time teaching her. As we talked with her, we found she had met briefly with elders before. So we dug out her teaching record and went to work!! Within two months she was more than willing to take that first step!

Now I'd be lying to you if I said it was as easy as that. Unfortunately, Eva hit a few roadblocks along the way. Some non-supportive family and a coffee addiction made the trip to baptism a whirlwind. But let me just tell you how much of a rock Eva is!! I've never seen such a strong woman so willing to submit to the Lord's will. She is one of the greatest examples to me of the way we should all rely and depend on the Savior.

Her baptism was amazing. It was early Sunday morning before church. Sister Vasquez and I put together a beautiful program and hardly any of it went as planned. Of course, the alarm of the member who drove her didn't go off so the baptism started a half hour late!  With determination, we sang an opening hymn, had a prayer, then the Branch president said a few words and off she went, stepping into the font to start more than just a new life, but a full one at that. As we stood beside the font we waited with open arms. It didn't matter how wet her clothes were I gave her a tight squeeze as soon as we stepped into the changing room.

Just a few moments later we ended the service and sacrament meeting began. Eva went up and was confirmed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. I find the confirming part of baptism to be the most powerful. Even just as Eva was walking to the front of the chapel I felt the Spirit fill my chest!

The chapel was incredibly full and I was squished on the pew between families. It wasn't just full of people but of course the Spirit was there. I felt so small, like I really had no part in helping Eva receive two of the greatest gifts we can receive in this life:remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. In fact it felt like the only part I played was that I was just there, witnessing it all. Really, I believe that too! Eva was incredibly prepared. All we did was show up to say, "hey, there's a paved trail right next to the gravel one you're traveling on." 

It was an incredible honor to teach Eva, to watch her change her life and set her eyes completely on the Savior. She's an inspiration to me in her willingness to do what she knows is right and true... no matter what forces are against her. She has a light that is so bright and she's fierce and bold in her commitment to let it shine. Because of her, some family members in Honduras are now taking missionary discussions!

Just to close, I'll repeat again Eva's own words:

"I used to go to a Christian church, but now I've found the true church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"

If I could tell you, family and friends, with all the conviction and power in the world, I would, but it's maybe just as powerful to say simply that I know this church is true! Without a doubt in my heart, it is the true restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.

John 4:14
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Love you all!! 

Hermana Hawkins

Monday, September 15, 2014

Truly Blessed

Finally have all my tags! Officially an Hermana! 

Goodness I think it's been 3 months since I wrote! I can't believe it was only 7 days ago. There is just so much in between that it doesn't seem possible to have been just a single week! 

It's been a pretty stressful week. I felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Maybe it's just because I'm trying to get the hang of being a Sister Training Leader. Actually it's definitely that!  Just a little bit of pressure. I think I need more inspiration than I can give to these sisters but hey, the Lord's on my side! 

Ok let me hit on a few highlights for this week:

1 Women's conference:

How incredible was that! The General Relief Society president, Sister Burton, came to speak to the women. There were 10 stakes there and it was so awesome! Also, Elder Keith Giddens, an area 70 spoke. It was so full of inspiration and the Spirit. Sister Burton shared some amazing inspirational stories of women throughout the world and then gave some time for the women in the room to share their stories. It was a good reminder to be grateful for what we have! I've been stressing out lately about some things and it was just what I needed to put my head back on and get to work. One thing that Elder Giddens said that really stuck with me was, 

"You're doing better than you think you are."

Ahh. I just felt this wave of relief when I heard that. Too often I don't give myself much time to see how far I've come and I'm 100% positive that I'm not the only one who does that. Take a deep breath with me, ready go! See? Look we're doing better than we think we are. At least we're breathing! 

2. Answered Prayers

Man I guess this week was pretty stressful because I realize this highlight is also about something that gave me comfort this week. One afternoon we stopped back home for lunch and I was feeling super inadequate- as you often do as missionaries. Of course, that's only a tool of the devil. But anyways I was having a rough time. Looking for comfort I opened my scriptures and prayed. I thought of all my favorite comfort scriptures- John 14:18, John 16:33, Proverbs 3:5-7, D&C 6:36... but as I read them, it just wasn't cutting it. I wasn't getting what I felt like I needed. Then quickly I felt something urge me to read my Patriarchal Blessing. For those that don't know what this is, click *here* to find out more. As I read the words on that page for what may have been the 100th time I found a distinct promise that was a direct answer to all of my worries as of late. It was so specific and one of the most profound and unbelievable answers to a prayer I have ever received before. My friends, the church is true! Members of the church go read your blessings this week, I promise you won't regret it! 

3. Church Miracles

One of the hardest things in missionary work is getting investigators to church. It's a little challenging here in Chamblee too because the chapel is so far away. I think I've mentioned before that the boundary for the Chamblee branch here is the largest boundary for any ward or branch in all of Georgia! Crazy right? A lot of people we teach don't have cars and a lot of members don't have cars.. it's a pretty tricky task needless to say. Of course anything is doable in the work of the Lord. And He was so on our side this week as we were incredibly blessed to see 7 of our investigators sitting on those wooden pews, soaking in the good word of God. It was amazing.  And each one of them stayed for all 3 hours. Hallelujah!! I wanted to do a happy dance right there in sacrament meeting but of course maybe that would've been a little inappropriate.

The hand of the Lord was so present this week! I think He's always present in our lives we just need to give Him more credit and glory. It's such an incredible opportunity to see more clearly the hand of the Lord in my life and to watch His hand work for others. He's all around us and He's looking out for us everyday! Something I'm really starting to understand is that even with your eyes wide open you can miss seeing the small miracles done by the Lord. More often than not it takes closing our eyes and getting on our knees to recognize how the Lord has truly blessed us.

Thanks for keeping up on my adventures! Life is well here for me. I feel the support of your prayers and cannot thank you enough! Love you all!

Hermana Hawkins

We had a Dia de Naciones activity with the ward which was AWESOME.

Lots of yummy food and dancing and music and fun! Funny brother/sister moment.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Everything Happens for a Reason

 sister training leaders!

Well Hola familia!! You're all family to me :)
Good news! Our car is back! Hurrah! It was back the beginning of this week and it's so beautiful now. Life and the car.
Other news! No I didn't get my visa... but an elder in my district did and he leaves tomorrow!! Crazy! 2 other visa waiters got their visas in my mission and are leaving tomorrow. I've been out longer than 2 of them but one of them has been out for over a year! SO excited that they're all going! On the case of my visa I have no news. Apparently they are moving faster with the visas, but that's what I heard 3 months ago haha. We'll see! 

Chamblee missionaries (elder saunders in the middle is heading off to brazil!!)

Goodness I just have so much news! More news is that I have a new calling. Sister Vasquez and I just got called to be Sister Training Leaders. For those of you who don't know what that means, basically we're zone leaders for the sisters in my zone. We'll do exchanges with them, give trainings in zone conferences and travel to other areas. I thought that I would be on the down-low for this kind of position since I'm not a permanent Georgia Atlanta missionary but c'est la vie! It's a little, well maybe more than a little bit of pressure so a few extra prayers would be appreciated! :)

So I guess the Lord does have more in store for me here in Atlanta. And apparently He thinks I'm prepared for this calling too so here we go!

Wanna hear a cool little miracle? Eva, our investigator, is really really excited to be baptized soon. She's getting over a few challenges but she should be ready in a few weeks! The other day, Sister Vasquez and I were worried about her and weren't sure how well she was progressing to her baptism. So we went over to have a lesson with her just this past week. As we read from the scriptures and shared the things that we had planned, she stopped us and told us she had something to tell us. Sister Vasquez and I looked at each other and immediately were worried-that's never a promising statement! Eva then pulled out her phone and told us of a friend she had been texting the other day who complimented her on her faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He went on to ask her what church she goes to. Her response was this, "Well I used to go to a Christian church. But now I've found the real church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
Doesn't that just make your heart happy? Testimonies are so strong and hearing them from your investigators is probably the best feeling in the world. The beauty of one born testimony simply adds a link to another.
So we're pretty excited about Eva. She'll be baptized and we have the faith for it to be in this next transfer. She's working so hard and desperately wants to be a part of this Gospel. It's been amazing to see her testimony grow and watch it all click for her. Fun fact, she calls us "mis hermanitas misioneras" (my little sister missionaries) and "mis angelitas" (my little angels). She's the sweetest!

I'm a bit short on time today but I'll leave you with a little thought that I have learned this past week. Lately I've been trying to read all of the Book of Mormon in Spanish. But we had exchanges this past week with our Sister Training Leaders and I forgot mine at my apartment. The sisters ended up having a French Book of Mormon so I figured why not?  Incredibly I could understand it well enough even as I read in the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. As I studied, referencing back and forth between my English and French copies, I discovered something very interesting! I found much more meaning and a better understanding of the verses. Some words translated to different words like "bind" in English turned into "envelop" in French. I felt as though I was really gaining a new understanding of the Book of Mormon. I'm slowly starting to realize one reason why God put me here to learn these languages. I think He knows I need it and finally I'm beginning to catch on. It's helped me understand that learning a language isn't just the ability to speak different or converse with different people. It's not just adding knowledge but a deeper understanding to what you may already know.

Everything happens for a reason. And I'll tell you that even though we don't often know those reasons, God does. And I trust God more than I trust myself... so I'll just go right ahead and stick to His plan.

Thanks for the support, prayers, loves, emails, letters... everything!! Every little thing has helped me in the toughest of times on my mission and I can't thank you enough for all the help! Love you!!

Hermana Hawkins

 Crazy Georgia and the rain. Half the sky was completely sunny and
blue and the other was imminent storm clouds.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

We Walked and Walked and Walked and Walked....

So.. I didn't tell you last week that this past week Sister Vasquez and I have been... wait for it... wait.... WALKING!
Yep. We had to turn in our car for repairs... we were told 3 days we'd be walking! I know I know... it's nothing really. That's basically what most missionaries all over the world do. But listen, here's my theory, ready? This is just a "practice run" for Brazil. That means it's gotta be close right?! Haha, one can dream!

In any case, I was unable to document the first day we had walking... but I documented the other days for proof that we were actually walking everyday...
Day 2
Our first full walking day started early Tuesday. We headed out, ready and excited to go. 

I found it a perfect opportunity to test out my walking shoes!! But they weren't as fitting as I thought. 

Who would have thought that in GA we'd run into some strange problems. Like cool hidden trails between apartment complexes that don't quite connect...

We planned our day accordingly and to our benefit, there are about 5 complexes nearby all in walking distance. All we had to do was 
climb over sticks...

...walk across a ton of grass...

...and a few streets...

...and a highway! 

Just kidding... we went under the highway. There was a really nice breeze the whole day and we were super happy to be out teaching. We found lots of people to talk to and then when it came time we returned home back across the grass, highway and complex trails and into our beds where we slept oh so well. 

Day 3:

Happy and ready, off we went, out for round 2 My test trial shoes went poorly the day before with a few blisters and sore ankles. And after learning of the trail problems, I came prepared this time...

Again the same thing as the day before but this time we had a few appointments. We went traveling from person to person until the end of the day when we could barely take a selfie. 

Day 4
With smiles and the knowledge that we'd get our car back that night, we set out again.

Ready to roll. It turned out to be as hot as Africa (haha oh trev) and I got a little bit sunburned :(. But we took break in the shade often for recovery and also to attend to my bandaids... which I've been using tape since I sweat bandaids off too fast and they're expensive.. gross I know. 

But also we stop in the shade to figure out where to go...

...and to take a few ridiculous selfies of course...

And we went on our merry way. Though the heat slowed us down incredibly. As the day went on, in what seemed like a matter of seconds, the clouds turned dark, and BOOM. POURING rain. We had to wait for it to settle before walking but nothing stopped us!

...except for maybe my shoes... 

But to our dismay the storm was only a foreshadow of events to come. When we went to pick up the car, they told us it wasn't ready. We were pretty bummed. Lots of hopeful appointments and plans were cancelled. And we really didn't know if we had enough food to feed ourselves for 3 more days...BUT we hiked up our pants (uhh, skirts?), rolled up our sleeves and went to work- trusting that God would make it work.

Day 5
And we were back, walking again. 

Maybe a little less excited than the first day but happy to be on the Lord's errand. We sort of dropped off this picture craze because believe me, you wouldn't have appreciated those. It was so hot and we were just a mess. Honestly I'm not sure why anyone let us in.. But the work is all about DOING, so onward we went.
Oh thank goodness we found a ride to church! Church is only a half hour in the car but on foot?? Oh man. But sadly after church Sister Vasquez wasn't feeling well. So I made lots of calls and appointments while she tried to rest. Could have been the rain/weather... who knows.
Day 7 Labor for the Lord day!
This day our mission made it a goal to go out and bless as many people as we can. Which means that we were to offer kneeling prayers with as many people in their homes as possible so we could bless their family, friends and pray for any of their needs. At times it was difficult to get to houses we were inspired to go to..

But we travelled on and though it seemed even hotter than the days before we pushed through. Until the floods came...again. And by the end of the day, we looked something like this (pic of our feet up on the table).

You know it has been a pretty interesting experience to say the least. I really felt like I got to see Georgia! You miss so much when you're in the car... especially when you're the driver. There's just so much around! We found fun things every day... an elephant to go with my elephant shirt...

A big bottle of disgusting soda (gross soda... actually a member came and dropped it off),

 ...a cool road mirror...  

...and an empty,scary apartment. Lastly, of course, what's a journey without cokes to share with your BFF.

So we still don't have a car... but I think so far I'm passing the "Brazil Test."  We'll see what God thinks when I get the car back?
From the last few days though, I think my favorite part was just standing out a little bit more. Have you ever seen missionaries walking around in the streets before? I don't know about you but I LOVE seeing that. Back home I once saw missionaries walking in Lambertville, NJ and it was the coolest thing. It's just so neat to know that even when we don't feel like we're being noticed, we are. I think there's an old saying something like it takes 7 touches to really be influenced by someone. And maybe just seeing us in the streets is a touch! One of the first things I love asking people is if they've seen missionaries like us before and to all those that saw us this week they can say they have!
You never know the kind of effect you have on people... especially missionaries. We just feel like we're dumb 19 or 20 year old kids. But it's us the Lord has trusted to do this calling... to fulfill His purpose to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39) And well, since that's the case, we will go and do it!
Thanks for keeping up with my adventures! Many more to come! Love you all!
Sister Hawkins

Guess someone didn't like this breakup song!

Note from the Mom: Sister Evans from the Douglasville area sent me some FABULOUS photos of Sister Hawkins and Sister Pribyl. Here's a link to the pics if you want to see more photos of my squiggly-browed girl! Click *HERE* THANK YOU SISTER EVANS!!!