Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Own Christmas Miracle

So this week was quite the unusual week. I think it was yesterday that we all chatted so that means I don't have to write this week, right? Just kidding, I have a few little Christmas miracles to share-don't you worry! 

First I want to say that I LOVE MY FAMILY! Goodness I miss you all so dang much. It was awesome to see and talk to you on Christmas day. OF course it was too short--but don't worry, so is my time I have left!

I had an awesome Christmas!! We witnessed so many miracles and honestly I don't think I have time to write them all. So, I'll share my favorite that happened the day of Christmas Eve. 

The day started off on the wrong side of the bed. Our alarm didn't go off and unfortunately Sister Oliveira and I slept in an extra 30 minutes. AH. How terribly we felt! Who knew that 30 minutes more would kill you. The whole morning was a struggle after that. I almost fell asleep in personal study and during our companion study we both expressed how there was no excitement for the day ahead. Both of us were in the lows and as we set out it was obvious that we were struggling to find motivation. I remember even worrying that I'd fall asleep as I walked. 

About 2 in the afternoon, hot, sweaty, thirsty, hungry and even more discouraged due to the mountain we were about to climb, we decided to take a break to catch our breath. We found a spot on some steps in the shade and we plopped right on down. I sat with my head in my hands due to the sun-provoked headache I had while Sister Oliveira pulled out the phone. She started to scroll through some pictures we'd taken and in the midst she found a story of a Christmas miracles someone had sent to her. It read of a missionary in Russia who succeeded in uplifting hundreds of people in a train station, even with the terrible weather conditions and depressing times. 

We sat in silence for a few minutes until Sister Oliveira turned to me and said, "I want a Christmas miracle". I couldn't deny that I wanted just the same. The slump we were in wasn't helping the fact that I was miles and miles away from those I so desperately wanted to spend Christmas with. We needed something and quick as it was already the day of Christmas eve. Thinking of what I love most at Christmas I thought of the Christmas hymns I had in my pocket sized hymn book. I mentioned the idea to Sister Oliveira and we decided then that we would sing a Christmas hymn for as many that would allow us. 

Excited, and full of renewed energy, we practically ran up the mountain to find someone to sing and uplift. We found two women outside and approached them. They first told us that they already belonged to another church and when we asked if we could sing, they looked at each other and made funny faces. You have to know that Brasil, they don't do caroling. At least it's not a normal thing. We decided to sing anyway. As we sung I concentrated so much on the words and singing correctly that when we finished and I looked up, I realized both of these women had tears running down their cheeks. It hit me too as I bore testimony of what we do and of the message of Christ we share. Tears were welling within my own eyes from the Spirit that so peacefully testified of truth. These women then accepted the invitation we had to come back and teach them more.

We went on from person to person, door to door, singing and watching the Spirit fill their hearts... and eyes with tears! We sang in restaurants and ice cream shops that were opened late on Christmas Eve. We visited hospitals with patients and families that had to spend the holidays in a hospital bed. We sang and testified until we ran out of the stacks of pamphlets, pass-along cards and Books of Mormon in our bags. 

Our hearts grew 3 sizes that day, just like the Grinch!

We left each happy and uplifted and to our surprise, WE were even more happy and uplifted. The drastic change from morning to the time we returned home was as different as night and day. Heavenly Father, He knew what we needed to inspire us so that we could go inspire others. Maybe we didn't inspire hundreds all at one time- but as we kept track of those we taught and sang too, we found that in about 4 days, we talked to well over 200 people and taught more lessons than we've ever taught in an entire week since I've been here in Muriae. 

And just like that, the Lord provided us with our own Christmas miracle... and a Christmas I will never forget! 


Sister Hawkins


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Feliz Natal Everyone!!!!

MTC companions!!! Sister Menasco. Ahhh. such a fun reunion!

Is it really Christmas? It's 85 degrees and sunny.... where's the snow?? Where are the coats and sweaters and woolen socks?? I'm really missing the cold. Honestly I didn't even know that I liked the cold until I realized it wasn't going to get cooler here. Yay for summer in Brasil! 

What a week! Yesterday we had our Christmas conference in Juiz De Fora and it was awesome! I got to see Sister Menasco and it was such a sweet reunion... holy cow it's only been a whole year since I've seen her! We also had a little conference with a few talks and musical numbers. We ate food and took pictures and ate more food... goodness our Mission President's wife, Sister Cascardi really went through a lot to pull it all together. I'll post pics! It was a great get together as a mission family!

I've been thinking a lot about what I wanted to share with you this Christmas season. I've felt it appropriate to simply bare to you my love and appreciation for Christ. I invite you to share your testimony of Christ with someone or record it on paper. I promise it will help resolve the "How can I really remember what Christmas is about" concern. 

Yesterday in our President's talk he included the video, "He is the Gift" (posted on blog sidebar). I can't tell you how many times I've watched that clip and how many times it has touched me but this time it seemed to hit me the most. What is more important in this life than the ultimate goal to live with God again. Alone we are incredibly incapable, immeasurable and doomed to a death with no hope of life to follow. What a miserable thought! Death and nothing more. The scriptures call it the "sting" of death. It's no wonder the world mourns deeply at the lose of a loved one-too many lack faith in the gift we've been given.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son." Imagine! God let his son, Jesus Christ, come into the world, knowing what he would do. He let Him pass through incredible trials which we as humans have no capacity of comprehending the kind of suffering He undertook. God watched His Son suffer, bleed and die for one reason only- because He loves us. What immense love the Father has... goodness it pains me to watch a child fall and scrape his knee! But Christ was and is our only hope, our only chance we have to live with our Father in Heaven. God gave us Christ, a symbol and manifestation of the love and sacrifice He is willing to make to bring us home. Through Christ we have hope, we have love, we have life! What greater gifts are there than these?

I love the Lord. I know He came here to redeem us. How one can redeem billions, how that is physically and spiritually possible I can't explain. But I can say that I know He did it and I know it through the witness I've received of the Holy Ghost. I believe in His all-powerful and mighty gift. I believe in His love- the love of Christ and of the Father. I know these things are true.

Merry Christmas friends and family! Don't forget to share your testimony this Christmas!

Oh,and Happy New Year!!!!


Sister Hawkins

Pics with Sister Oliveira!

Merry Christmas from us to you!

Birthday Celebration...still in denial. I'm not 21!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Twenty-One Reasons

Birthday girl, then and now!

What a week! I've been in denial though due to some happenings this past Saturday. As some of you knew, it was my birthday. My 21st! Yay for birhday's... nay for being 21. This year is particularly difficult... why? Well let me just give you 21 reasons why I don't want to be 21:

1. I'm still a kid, how unfair! You can't put an age limit on that! I'll always be a kid at heart. #disneyismybestfriend


3. If I'm 21 it means others are getting older; my family, friends, dog..etc. No one likes getting older and my mom particularly doesn't like that I'm getting older. So let's just all go back together.

4. Section 21 of D&C is all about the first baptisms in the church. It obviously is a sign that I should not be going home this year... but that I should be on the mission, baptizing. 

5. The phrase, "completion of my mission" is 21 letters long. How insensitive! 

6. Taylor Swift doesn't have a song for 21

7. Trevor doesn't even have a song for 21 (for more info, request the "teenager song" from Trevor)

8. My mission will end while I'm 21 and my tag will be ripped off my chest and I will be forever sad 

9. 21 is not as cool as it looks. When I was younger I thought, "Oh those kids are so cool. I want to be like them." It's a myth. They only made it look fun!

10. Mormons don't really care about being 21 anyway

11. You make big decisions in your 20s that I don't want to make! 21 in my opinion, is already way too far into the 20s. So either I should just go back or skip to the 30s.

12. My mission will die and I will cry

13. If I live to be 99 I only have 78 years left.... only! 

14. Eating 21 veggies off your plate is really tough

15. I have to return to real life at 21. No one wants real life. A mission is like a vacation from your worldly\personal life. Like anyone, who actually likes returning from vacation?

16. It's too big of a number. This list seems it will never end. 

17. Who even uses the number 21? Honestly, you'll never see a 21 dollar bill or SPF 21 or instructions to cook something for 21 minutes. How ridiculous! 

18. It's an odd number

19. The 21st page of my Portugeuse dictionary contains the word "arbĂ­trio" which means agency. The only relation with agency and 21 is that being 21 is against my own free agency.

20. I used to think that you were supposed to be somewhat grown up at 21-- I still don't even know what I want to be when I grow up!

21. Did I mention that my mission will end while I'm 21? I don't want to be 21 :(

So there's my petition. I hope you enjoyed it. I remember thinking before my mission, "Wow! I'll be 21 when I finish my mission." Now it's actually happening and my mission is on a downward slope. Everyone is already telling me I'm "dying"  as a missionary. Goodness, who knew at 21 you'd have one foot in the grave. 

Off I go to another week. Until next Tuesday! Thanks for all the birthday wishes! 

Love you all!

Sister Hawkins

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quick Update

My wonderful friends and family. I do apologize but today my time is cut short due to some traveling we have to do for interviews with the mission President tomorrow

Quick update-- things are picking up! Were teaching a lot more and the Lord is providing us with miracles. I've learned so much this past week!

I just have one favor to ask of you all. Go to and watch "He is the Gift" then share it with everyone you know! 


Sister Hawkins

Note from the Mom: Two things that made Sis H super happy this week (aside from the work FINALLY picking up in her sector!): 

1. She's lost 10lbs since she's been in Brazil. (I'm not sure this is such a good thing...even though she assures me it's the "butter" weight she gained in Atlanta, haha!)

2. Her friend Dalia from Atlanta got BAPTIZED this week! That totally made her entire week. Woohoo!

I have a special request from all you blog readers....this Saturday, Dec 13th, is my girl's Birthday. How about we FLOOD her inbox with Birthday greetings? Doesn't have to be a big long letter, just a quick Happy B-day! You can find her email address (and address of the mission home!) by clicking on the "write to me" tab at the top of the blog page.  THANKS EVERYONE!!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Some Must Push and Some Must Pull

This week has been a long one. We're not seeing a whole lot of success in the area but no reason to be discouraged! Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to pull a train... I can just picture a cartoon of a little guy trying to pull this train. At first he tried from the front and runs a hole in the mud... then he runs to the back and pushes with his hands... and then his back, but the darn train just won't budge. I'm sure someone has made this cartoon. Mom, you got this! See what you can find... if not why don't you just draw it haha you're the one with talent here! 

(The Mom: actually, SHE'S the talented one! Didn't find a train pic, but thought this was relevant!)

Anywho I think it's really just been unsuccessful this week because we've had a TON of rain. Funny because the First Presidency asked all members in Brazil to fast for all those who have a shortage of water. Those prayers are being answered here... I think we're getting plenty, thank you! So yay for blessings! Nay for wet skirts and wet shoes. When it comes down to it though, I'd take wet shoes over thirsty friends any day.

And so it goes on! I'm pretty accustomed to Brazil I think. My feet are a lot stronger now thank goodness! My knees on the other hand are a different situation but overall, it's good to be here! I go to bed at night thinking I'm never going to wake up and I wake up ready to conquer the world. My companion thinks I'm crazy due to the energy I have to work out in the mornings. She sits and stretches while I'm like a 90s Tae-Bo DVD. 

Portuguese as of late is coming along. I really can say and witness that the gift of tongues is real. Just because it's real though doesn't mean it's all that easy to learn another language. I felt like I was finally getting to be a good teacher in Spanish when God sent me here and now I'm back to square one. BUT God taught me something really cool this week as I was studying my scriptures.

I was reading in John chapter 4 about the Samaritan woman. Jesus and this woman conversed for a while by the side of a well for what may have been the longest recorded conversation that we have of Jesus. But the whole time, this Samaritan woman just was not getting what Christ was saying. It seemed to have gone in one ear and out the other as the conversation continued. From their whole discussion, she only seems to gather that Christ has got to be some kind of prophet due to the prophecies he made of her life. In short, she leaves to tell the whole city that this man sitting on a well may be a prophet. What ends up happening is this:

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

41 And many more believed because of his own word;

42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

And so... the story of a woman without much understanding was just what these Samaritans needed to find out the truth for themselves. Maybe I don't know Portuguese very well, maybe I don't know all the references and scripture stories to answer every question thrown at me, maybe I can't quite express the Gospel in the manner I'd like to, but I do know one thing. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that He has called ME to be an instrument in bringing others to the well of the living waters. We may never live up to our own expectations, but we are who the Lord has chosen and WE are all He needs, inadequacies included. 

If "many more believed" through one, why not through one more.

Sister Hawkins

P.S. Sorry no pics! It was too rainy to take my camera out. 

The Mom: This week I told her we had our Christmas decorating going full swing and that I miss her every time I hear a certain song that makes us laugh together after a frustrating evening of getting lost one time trying to find a Messiah sing-along practice and this song playing on repeat. I loved her response: 

"I miss the Christmas decorations and things so I drew a Christmas tree and we're cutting out snowflakes to tape on it. haha oh missionary life. 

And I sometimes sing that Michael Bublé song when things go unplanned here... like if an appointment falls through... bu da da da bum bum bum ba dum. haha it makes things a little bit lighter."

So in her honor....