Monday, April 27, 2015

One Week

I love being His representative. I don't ever want to take my tag off.
But i  know that He has more plans for me. I know that He will continue to use me where I'm needed.

Holy cow this week was so amazing. If there was one word to describe this week it would be the word spiritual. Why? Because my friend Rogerio was baptized!!!!!!! But his story is so dear to my heart that I think I'll have to wait to share. With his conversion I really wouldn't even know where to begin. Luckily for the majority of you I'll be home shortly to tell. (I won't be posting pics of the baptism because he doesn't want them on the internet. Sorry!)

I've been thinking a lot about what I wanted to write for my last post and you know what came to my mind? Nothing but to share my testimony with you. Anything else would have made it seem that I still didn't have a whole week left. Do you know how important and significant one week can be? 

Just think, in the entire 3 years of Christ's ministry, what was the most important week? The very last. In one week He instituted the sacrament, suffered for the pains, afflictions, and sufferings for every being who has ever lived, is living and will yet live, and THEN died on the cross to fulfill righteousness... and THEN He was resurrected! Imagine! All that within just one week! 

What an incredible Savior we have. What a loving, humble, obedient, meek and patient man He was to do all of that for the weak- for us! He showed no resistance doing what no man could do, walking a path no man could walk. He never gave up, even at His death on the cross He persisted in the purpose of our Father pleading for our souls instead of His. His only resistance was at His final breath as He gave up His Spirit only so that 3 days later He could overcome what no man could overcome. The morning of His rise still resonates today though it happened over 2000 years ago! 

He lives! I know He lives. Just like I know the sea is always there even if I can't see it. Many believe He lives but to me His existence isn't a belief, it's a fact. I've come to realize this on my mission. In many instances, I have felt His literal presence beside me, I have felt the touch of His hand push me as I often wanted to lay down and rest. No matter where you go in the world, His presence is the same and His love is a feeling that never fades.

What humility He showed to have done all this, only asking for one thing in return. He asked that we come to Him through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and endurance to the last breath. His contract is simple. If we do these things correctly, He will bless us with eternal life and eternal happiness. 

I am a witness of Him. He has changed me in ways I cannot express and has been there every step of my mission. I love His work on this Earth. I love that I can wear His name on my tag even if I fall so short of being the kind of person He is. I know that He guides this church, that it is His only true church. I know and have seen His words given through prophets of old and new change lives of those searching for truth. I know that whoever searches with a contrite Spirit and broken heart, no matter what nation, kindred or tongue, the Lord will find a way to present His path- whether it be through 80,000 missionaries or a friendly neighbor.

I love my Savior Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven. I pray that we all can continue to grow in the testimony of their love and sacrifice for us. That the Spirit may forever dwell with us. 

I leave this testimony with you all, my family and friends, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Sister Hawkins


Monday, April 20, 2015

Oh the Things I've Learned

Ola familia!

Oops... tried to start typing in Portuguese...

This week was great! A bit of zombie-ness still, but not too much so that was helpful. I'm really trying not to think about the fact that this is my 2nd to last Pday (my last monday I'll be at President Cascardi's house). I'm in complete denial. Even my brain is in denial. I've already had ¨nightmares¨ about being home. I love you and miss you my family.... but I'll be with you for an eternity... my full-time mission as a 19-21 year old ends here and won't ever return. UGH. Alrighty, I'll stop on this subject before I start crying. 

You know my mission has just been one big humbling experience for me. To witness so many miracles, to receive answers to prayers, to help someone in need. They say that the biggest convert on your mission should be yourself. I really have witnessed the truth of that statement. I have learned how to trust in God, how to follow His whisperings and I've even learned who He really is. 

But one of the biggest lessons I've learned is how to change through the Atonement of Christ. I've discovered that without repentance, it's as if we're seated in a chair our whole lives, unable to move forward. But maybe more importantly I've learned that it's through repentance that God really speaks to us.

A missionary friend of mine told me of an insignificant experience that taught him just that. He told of how he was writing in his journal one night while his companion prayed in the bedroom. My friend had been in a bright room and his companion in the dark for some time so when he turned off the lights and tried closing the door, he was useless at finding it. His companion laughed at him as he tried finding the wall and said, ¨can you really not see the door?¨ My friend replied and said, ¨no my eyes haven't adjusted yet¨.

I think too often in life we look for the voice of the Lord through questions like, ¨Why, Heavenly Father?¨, ¨Why did this have to happen?¨. When in reality the answer to those questions aren't what the Lord will respond to. When we question like this, we are like my friend who became lost in the darkness. We grab at the dark and search for whatever wall to lean on, or whatever answer we can get. Unfortunately, it's not in this way that we receive divine guidance from our Heavenly Father.

What we need is to let our eyes adjust. We need to give our spiritual eyes time to adjust so we can be prepared to receive answers. How do we do that? Humble ourselves.... repent!

After sincere repentance we're in a state to receive heavenly revelation. Many times we pray on our own without first pleading for forgiveness for our shortcomings and failures. My friend made the comment, ¨we might as well take a baseball bat to Taco Bell, shatter all the windows and stroll inside to order a burrito like nothing ever happened.¨ (sorry about the destruction of Taco Bell  visual, dad!)

I believe that it's when we understand the importance of repentance in our lives that we truly have the key to always be guided by the Spirit and receive direction from God. To talk with Heavenly Father and be blessed with His help, strength and love.

FAMILY, I could share everything I've learned on my mission but I would have to sit at a computer for hours, maybe days. Better yet in person, right? Sit tight for just a little longer!

I love you all and really felt your prayers this week! Thanks for all you do!

Sister Hawkins

Note from the Mom: Please consider taking time to send a little note to our sweet missionary girl in the next couple of weeks. I'd love it if her inbox could be flooded with notes from friends and family one last time! Click on the "write to me" tab at the top of this blog post for her email address.

Pics: (she just forwarded these pics on without descriptions, so, your guess is as good as mine! Goofy girl.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Small and Simple Lessons

Monday again? Geez! It's been well over a year... you've all got to be sick of me by now! 

Speaking of sick, I'll share a little experience that happened this weekend. It's not super exciting.. .but hey, I learned something new! I woke up on Saturday morning congested and with a sore throat. After waking up I continued with the morning routine of exercises, breakfast, shower and studies. Unfortunately, it was enough sickness to completely dristract me from my studies. I remember thinking, "today's going to be interesting"

I ended up calling the wife of our President (who is also the mission nurse). To take any type of medicine you have to get permission from her. SO. She suggested I take something called Benegrippe. I thought that it must be some kind of Benedryl due to the name and rememberd that Benedryl makes you drowsy. She assured me I'd be fine and off I went to take my Benegrippe.

To say that I was a little drowsy would be an understatement. My companion told me I looked and walked like a drunk. My mind had completely shut off and I think I walked onto the set of the Walking Dead. 

It frustrated me to no end to be in this condition. It doesn't help to be a zombie AND a representative of Christ. We had had such an awesome week and I knew I needed to work hard that day so that others could make it to church the next day. It became hard to even walk very far without needing to stop for a few minutes to rest. 

When I got home I was upset at how the day went. I was upset that my body wasn't functioning the way I wanted it to and that God let this day happen after such a good week of work. You may be wondering why I'm sharing this experience... but as I wrote in my journal that night I pondered on why the day played out this way. I learned quite a valuable lesson.

You know how you have these weeks or periods of life where things are just going well? Maybe not so smoothly, but at least where you're feeling happy and pretty content with your situation? That was me this week before Saturday. Everyday I returned home exhausted but excited for the next day and happy with my efforts. These are the types of peaks where naturally, we start to gain more confidence, where we feel like we know how to handle life and what it has to offer. Where we start to get a little more prideful maybe and even forget where happiness really comes from. 

It's like all those times where the people in the Bible and Book of Mormon are blessed with prosperity and peace and slowly they forget about God and become greedy or prideful. It's then that the Lord throws an obstacle our way to almost put us back in our place. Why? To let us know that we are weak and are nothing without the help of our God. To remind us to be humble and turn to Him, not ourselves. 

As we reach these peaks in our life, pride is something we need to be aware of. Pride creates more trip-ups, falls and hard-learned lessons. Eventually, one way or another we'll learn our wrong-doings.. but it's wiser to submit yourself to the Lord and trust in Him. 

This sounds a lot like repentance but repentance is needed to cleanse sin. Pride is only a sin when we choose to be prideful. Otherwise it's considered a weakness. We can't repent of being weak because weakness is natural. We do not need forgiveness for our weakness, we need the Atonement. We need grace, which is power that comes from Christ's Atonement to do what we cannot do on our own.

How grateful I am for my crummy Saturday and the lesson I learned. What good it is to know that we are weak, but that the Lord makes us strong. I felt truly humbled at the end of the day. There are things to be learned from any small situation! 

Love you all!

Sister Hawkins

P.S. I'm still a little sick, but don't worry Mom, I'll be better shortly! (and will only take Benegrippe before bed, haha.)



The loot

I'm a little sick on chocolate

Monday, April 6, 2015

Choose to Believe

Conference weekend!

Wasn't conference so awesome!? Goodness I wrote just about all of the talks down to study later. I think of conference as I do holidays. It's like when Christmas passes and you think, "dang... now I have to wait a whole other year". Luckily conference is every 6 months!! 

Wow, there's so much goodness to this conference that it doesn't seem fair to write something so short and brief. There seemed to be a lot of talks about love, being alert, caring for our lost brothers, marriage and faith. Well good! I got a lot from the love, faith, alertness, and caring for lost brothers part but the marriage part made me feel uncomfortable... that's gonna have to wait!

As my companion and I went to bed we discussed lots of talks and shared what stood out to us. She reminded me of a quote by L. Whitney Clayton that kept playing in my head as I fell asleep. (feel free to listen to his whole talk here...)


He said that we have to choose to believe. That God doesn't force us to believe, He invites us.

(for more conference quotes to print, click ----> here!)

How does he invite us? His invitations are countless! How many scriptures tell us to "come unto Christ" and "delight in the Gospel"? If you even take a minute to look around you the mountains, the sky, the stars, and the sea are open invitations to believe in something greater than any of us. The love of a neighbor, the help of a friend, the unconditional support of parent and child. The 85,000 missionaries, 144 temples and millions of members stand as witnesses and invitors for others to believe. 

But why believe? Why does it even matter? L Whitney Clayton spoke of the darnkess that fills this world. When we choose to believe we let the spiritual light in. When we sacrifice and defend this belief, we choose to live above the world and not in it. The darnkess that the world offers can be dimmed as we nourish this light within ourselves and within the walls of our own homes. There is peace. There is rest from our trials. There is sincere and unconditional love. But it starts with a belief.

"Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in Earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth, believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend"Mosiah 4:9

I don't just believe in a God, I know there is a God. A God who is loving, who is waiting for us, wanting to bless us with that light. 

The choice is up to us! What will you choose?

Love you all!
Sister Hawkins


The mom: not sure about the soccer photobomber....

All these sweet pics and then....


Monday, March 30, 2015


I tried to leave the house like this.... take note of my feet.

From the picture above, you can get a glimpse at the kind of day I'm having. I can just hear Trev's commentary: oooooh my goshhhh, I'm so confused, I'm wearing flip-flops with socks. Haha! Oh Tebs. But it's ok. I just laugh at myself on days like this! 

I have to apologize yet again for my horrible post. I feel like I never have enough time to write what I want to and then my time is up. I don't even have time to share with you my favorite scripture this week! But I will share with you my favorite video. Watch it. Share it. He lives! He is here!

#BecauseHeLives I get to be here in this beautiful country. #BecauseHeLives I wear His name on my tag and in my heart, always. #BecauseHeLives I get to teach people about Him, and share His gospel. #BecauseHeLives I have seen lives change. #BecauseHeLives I will get my real shoes on, put a smile on my face and do the work I was sent here to do! 

#BecauseHeLives I get to live with Him again. 

I encourage you all to find Him this Easter season. He is here! 

Love you all,
Sister Hawkins

More group selfies with Ana!

P.S. Check out for a day by day break down of the week leading up to Easter. It's awesome! Click here ---> Easter Week. Also, can't wait for conference! Tune in next weekend!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Availability, Dependability, Capability

just doin' a little service!

So yesterday I was walking the streets just stopping others and talking with them about the Gospel, of course! It had been raining so not many were in the streets. At least it was fairly easy to talk to everyone that passed by. Normally, as you talk to people in the streets, a little beforehand you think to yourself ok, I'm going to stop this man when he gets a little closer. You don't want to startle them, you know?

I had done exactly that when a man passed in front of me. I approached him and greeted him with a smile. As I introduced myself he stopped me and said "I speak no Portuguese" It then occurred to me that he was speaking English!! Well great! Hey, I speak English too!!!

Wrong. It was an absolute trainwreck. I couldn't hardly introduce myself and the church. The most I could do was mutter the church's name without stuttering. But the rest was a disaster. Broken sentences with Portugeuse expressions. He left me saying that I should study more... I think he actually thought I  couldn't speak English at all.

How is it that I can write in English, think in English, and yet the language can't leave my mouth coherently?? What has the mission done to me!? I was completely shocked at the lack of English skills. Maybe he just caught me off guard. But heck! I've been an English speaking missionary too!

You know lots of people ask us American missionaries how we learn the language so fast. Honestly I have no answer. It really is a miracle how the language just comes. Of course you try to do your part by listening and stuyding but on my own I feel almost hopeless. 

There's a quote by my friend Neal A Maxwell that I found in the beginning of my mission which helped me with how I took on learning another language... or doing hard things in general. He said:

"God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability."

Too often we think we don't have the ability to do all the Lord has asked of us. But it's not our ability we really need to show, it's our availability. Availability doesn't just mean our free time or willingness, neither should it be us waiting for the ability to come. It means actively putting ourselves out there. Active effort, proof that the Lord can truly depend on us!

The miracles that come are innumerable. I've seen them all throughout my mission and the ability to speak Portuguese doesn't even compare to other miracles I've witnessed.

I love this work! I love this Gospel and the fact that God is a God of miracles. I know he works through us and I know He leads and guides us. He lives and there's proof today through our living prophet and the witnesses of saints like you and me. 

Thanks for the support and love. Until next week!

Sister Hawkins

The Mom: Just some cute pics of my girl I found on Ana's IG account this week.
She keeps posting more for me too.  Love it!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Petropolis

This is a member who took fotos of us..
or should i say we take fotos of ourselves
to leave as the background of her phone haha

hello there friends and fam!! 

So sorry that this such a horrible email. BUT it just so happens to be the birthday of Petropolis and everything is closed. I'm currently using the tablet of a member but am hardly managing to type correctly on its keyboard. 

This week went great! Just more climbing mountains and preaching the gospel! I think I wrote basically the same thing last week didn't I? Thanks for the prayers! I'm feeling them more and more in this area so thank you!

Until next week! Hopefully there won't be any surprise holidays...

love you!

Sister Hawkins 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Climb Every Mountain

climb everyyyyyyyy mountain!

Hellllllooooo family!!! 

What an awesome day it is today! I love waking up to the rain. On the mission, rain normally kinda sucks... your shoes get soaked, it's cold and not a whole lot of people are in the streets. Your umbrella most likely is broken because you bought the cheapest one. Days like this at home were perfect for napping, watching movies and drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace. BUT it just so happens that today is Pday! At least I CAN nap, watch the Restoration in 15 different languages AND heat up my chocolate milk. Gotta love pdays. 

Other than the rain this week not much is new. Just trying to get used to this new area. Have I told you already how mountainous it is?? Remember how in Muriae I wrote that I wanted to run through the hills singing, "the hills are alive with the sound of music"? Well.... now I should be singing, "climb every mountain"! I'm in the middle of gorgeous mountains. Everyone lives in the mountains and to get to them you either have to hike or climb lots of stairs. This week I've come to notice that most of our members live on the tops of the mountains. I'm also starting to hear the phrase that all the elects live on the tops of mountains.... Maria from 2 weeks back is proof of that!

Despite the hiking trips everyday and the aching knees, I really enjoy climbing these mountains. To me if feels like a little test... How far am I willing to go to help my neighbor? How many stairs am I willing to climb to spread the glad tidings of the help the Lord in His cause? 

In the end (or at the top!) it doesn't really seem like much of a sacrifice to climb. First, you have this amazing scenery of God's creation. Second, you can publish peace on the tops of mountains. It keeps reminding me of the scriptures which say, 

"Now what do we hear in the Gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things and say unto zion: Behold, they God reigneth!"

What an amazing message I get to share- and God, no matter how much I falter, continues to bless me immensely for being willing to share it. Goodness, with a happy and healthy family at home to the family I serve here, it's easy to count my many blessings. 

Have a good week! Sending lots of prayers 

Sister Hawkins

Note from the Mom: This was actually the song playing in my head the whole time I was posting, so I had to share!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Turn to the Word

How can it really be Monday again?! This week was incredibly rushed and I feel like I don't have much to say.... at least last week you got to hear a good story.

This week was a little tough... lots of things fell through and left us a bit discouraged. But we had stake conference and President and Sister Cascardi came to speak. At least there was something awesome to look forward too. Luckily by the time the conference came around, the week turned a little better with answered prayers, Maria's confirmation, chocolate cake (thanks to Sister Hekking and her birthday!), learning how to samba (hahaha) and more! 

You'll have to forgive me for the lack of good emails. I'll tell you a secret.... my creativity at this point in my mission has escaped me. I'm not sure where it went, but if you can find it for me I'd gladly take it back! Unfortunately, to add to the dullness of my emails, photos will be harder to send. Both of my SD cards for my camera have viruses and won't let me upload pictures. I'm quite afraid to even plug my camera in and try again. I can take pictures, just not upload them. I will see if a member can help me out. In the meantime I'll send the pictures my companion sends home... if she sends any.

Goodness lots of little stresses this week. But hey, what's life without a little stress? It's easy to get caught up in all the downs of missionary life...and life in general. What we have to remember are the things that really matter. In the end it doesn't really matter if one person rudely spoke to us or if my camera won't upload pictures or whatever else it might be. All that's really important is right here at my side. I've learned on my mission that when life gets really stressful and you feel incredibly discouraged or maybe even annoyed, the scriptures are a good source to go to. This week I had one of those moments and rediscovered one of my favorite chapters of the Book of Mormon...3 Nephi 17. If it's been a while, go back at read that chapter keeping in mind how much the Lord truly loves us. (click *here* to read online)

I best be going. Thanks for the prayers and the updates! I hope all is well! Love you all! 

Sister Hawkins

P.S. Mom, you should be getting my travel arrangements soon. Goodness, already?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Never Too Old

Wow my family. I think it's been a whole month since I last wrote... which doesn't make sense because it was really just last Tuesday. But holy cow do I have a story for you! Ready?

It started Tuesday night, my first night out working in Petropolis. We made plans the night before to visit a member that Sister Santos previously started working with. It took a bit of time to get there and just before the entrance to her neighborhood, we found a monster staircase. There's only one entrance to that neighborhood and it's straight up! We climbed the stairs and sat down with our member, Cristiani and her mother-in-law Maria. We got to know her and Maria a little bit more. In the middle of our meeting, Cristiani turned to us and said, ¨Maria wants to be baptized.. is it possible for her to be baptized this Sunday?¨ I turned, looked at Sister Santos, and replied, ¨I believe it's possible¨. Sister Santos and I left surprised. We knew it would be possible as others have been baptized in shorter amounts of time. Frankly, it wasn't the time frame or the preparation that worried us... it was the fact that she's a 98 year old lady!

With determination we shrugged off the doubt. Everyday this week we climbed those monster stairs, prepped with the most simplified lesson plans. Maria is a very intelligent idosa (elderly woman). But she has cataracts in both eyes and can only hear slightly out of one ear. Everything we taught, we taught shouting into her left ear. And here I was thinking the Spirit only works through quietness. But Maria learned fast and even though she couldn't read the Book of Mormon or pamphlets, her testimony grew as we read to her. She passed some difficulties and challenges this week, but amidst the adversity she pulled through.

The day before her baptism was particularly hard. Maria had some troubling dreams and almost backed out. It most definitely had to do with the heavy side affects of giving up coffee which I imagine has been part of her life for a good number of years. As we sat comforting her with Cristiani, there wasn't much that seemed to be helping. We prayed, sang a hymn, shared thoughts and scriptures and held her hands but she still seemed to be frightened by the dreams that only could have come from a terrible source. 

As we sat in silence, hopeless and a bit discouraged, I desperately searched my mind for one last solution. It seemed that nothing came so I turned to Cristiani and asked if there was one last thing she would like to say. Cristiani knelt in front of Maria and took her hands. She said, ¨Maria, you have to fight. Don't let the devil win. Are you going to let him win?¨ 

Maria bowed her head and said a prayer quietly to herself. She looked up at each one of us and said with tears in her eyes, ¨Vou me batizar¨

The next day she was baptized by her son after the church services. All went really well and Maria didn't even have terrible dreams that night. The actual baptism part was a little tough. An elder had to step in the font with his clothes to help- but she succeeded and after there was the best light spread across her face! She was so happy and as we got up to sing for her in the baptismal service, she couldn't resist giving me and Sister Santos the biggest hugs. 

When bishop welcomed her into the ward, he mentioned that Maria was the newest and oldest member of the stake. I would also add the strongest! She has quite the spiritual force! And her physical force always seems to catch me by surprise as well. She always gives tight hugs and her pats on the back are more like slaps. For the record, she also cooks, cleans and bathes and dresses all by herself. She really impresses me this woman. But the way she fought off adversity will always impress me the most!

How incredibly grateful I am for this miracle. First week in Petropolis wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it. The Lord placed us where we needed to be at the right moment. All it required was a few sore calves and a couple of tears. But that's just a small price compared to the blessings in return.


Sister Hawkins