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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Transfer to Petropolis

picture of the district this week

Alrighty so I have about 5 minutes. It's gonna be a quick one today. 

Big news!! I got transferred!!! Now I'm here in Petropolis which is in the state of Rio. Before I was in Minas (the center of country). It's absolutely beautiful here and I'll be sure to take pictures this week to prove it. There's a ton of history and cool buildings because here is where Kings and Queens used to live long long ago. 

My new companion is Sister Santos. She goes home after this transfer so in missionary terms, I'll be killing her. She's from the northern part of brasil and super sweet. I'm excited to work with her! 

I'll try to send some pictures to make up for the lack of email. 

Spiritual thought: READ MY FAVORITE ISAIAH CHAPTER. Its beautiful. Isaiah 55 (click *here* to read online). I know you'll love it. 

Ah so sorry for this terrible email. Next week will be more promising!! 


Sister Hawkins

this elder served in my mission and returned to visit.
turns out he's from one of the wards that Ian served in. Small world! 

180 of muriae

Monday, February 9, 2015

Baptism, Sugar Cane, Brazilian Chocolate, oh my!

Wooh! What an awesome week! Here are a few happenings of the week in pictures...

sugar cane anyone?

1. it rained (we're in a drought so rain is needed!)

2. We made donuts! (I promise I'll stop taking pictures in the morning... note the bags under my eyes)

3.Our activity at church was a questionnaire game. If you get the question wrong, you get pie in the face. Super fun... and super messy! 


baptism prep! let's do this thing.

baptism prep - tada!

5. GILMAR WAS CONFIRMED!! Also, someone gave us large sugar cane sticks. SOO yummy. You peel it with a knife then chew on it to suck the juice. Apparently it's really good for your teeth. (um...)

sugar cane! 
celebrations with brasilian chocolate.
we only bought one but my suitcase will need as much as i have here.

So lets talk about Gilmar. It's been such a crazy couple of weeks due to my friend Gilmar. 

Gilmar is an elect. One day Sister Araujo and I wanted to practice how to teach people in the streets. We were thinking of what we could do to help others really catch the importance of our message. I remembered something I learned in Georgia and something that all the missionaries were encouraged to do. As I shared it with Sister A and we practiced, I realized I hadn't used it here in Brasil since I relearned so much in Portuguese. In any case, Sister A really liked what we practiced and the next day on splits with the Sister Training Leaders, she put it into play and knocked on a door. She conversed almost word for word just like the practice and the man began to show more interest. By the end of the conversation, he accepted a return appointment and even accepted a date to prepare for baptism. 

Later that night Sister A came running to me saying, "Sister Hawkins, it worked!! I used the practice and we're going to have a baptism!!"

The next day I got to meet the famous Gilmar and he truly was prepared by the Lord. He soaked everything in a like a sponge. As the week went on and church came around, we decided to meet him at his door to walk to church. He seemed really quiet and a bit nervous. He hardly said a word and it almost seemed like we were talking to a brick wall. Church went on and there was a blatent difference from his attitude the moment he stepped into the church and the moment he walked out. He was nervous and so quiet but by the end there wasn't anyone in the world that would wipe the smile off his face. He was smiling and participating in the classes... in fact the most I'd heard him talk was the first Sunday at church. 

We went on teaching him and watching him change his attitude about many things. You could tell there was this new light about him. Every time we went to teach him, he wrote his questions on separate sheets of paper that he was studying to find in the Book of Mormon. He also read every pamphlet carefully and still carries all of them to church. 

19 days since the first day Sister Araujo met him, Gilmar was baptized. It was an awesome opportunity to watch him just fall in love with the Gospel. I love how God can really change people. I love how he can use the weak and simple- 18/21 year old kids- to help them change. It's more than just an experience of a life-time to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, it's a privilege and an honor. 

I'm so grateful for my Savior and for this Gospel. It is truly a miracle and light in my life. It IS my life! I know it's true with all of my heart.

enjoy the photos! 

Sister Hawkins

sister a almost fell in the street. she used my arm to catch her and i have battle scars to prove it! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Oh Say What is True

My week in pictures:

monday- travelled to Juiz de Fora for our zone conference. One elder got transferred so no, those are not our overnight bags... though some sisters are crazy like that.

(but her mom secretly loves that she travels with her little pillow!)

tuesday- conference! We met with 2 other zones and President Cascardi. President held a really great conference with lots of words I needed to hear.  I'm always grateful to hear from President who holds the keys to guide us in the work!

Wednesday- Back to work we go. This is in one of the bairros we work in every week. It's quite hilly.

Thursday- work day! We worked so mucht hat we forgot to take a picture. Here's our excited-for-bed faces.

Friday- We found a new fruit! Well an investigator gave us them from her backyard...which looks like a  rainforest! Sister A had never seen this fruit either so it was something new to the both of us. It's a cute little yellow fruit called Abiu that grows on trees. Its very sweet and one of my favorite fruits I've had in Brasil.. unfortunately you can't buy it in markets. It's just a fruit you find or grow. Not really sure why. The most fun part about this fruit is that it glues your lips. It's not very strong, but it's fun and you just pass butter on your lips to dissolve the stickiness. Cool, huh?

Saturday- bike ride in the park. As we talked to some families in the park we found these cool bikes. They only appear here on the weekends and they're tons of fun! If the sidewalks in New Hope were bigger, these would be perfect!

Sunday- We went on a team up with one of our young women and had lots of fun. She won lots of goodies from our apartment as there are always things to give away.

And that's that! Week filled of fun. Always doing something different.

Before I sign off I'll tell you of a revelation I had while reading the Book of Mormon this week. Well not quite revelation, but you'll see. 

I was studying the story of the prophet Abinadi who defended his belief of God until he was burned to death by a wicked king and his people. Abinadi suffered more than I imagine the scriptures express. Of all his efforts, only one man was converted- just one. His name was Alma. Abinadi maybe never knew about Alma's conversion, maybe Abinadi thought his efforts in that wicked city would never produce fruits. Later in the Book of Mormon we learn more about Alma who became one of the biggest prophets and leaders in the entire book. He ended up converting whole tribes and kingdoms and established churches in many cities. He then had a son who did the same. 

Talk about fruits! But what it comes down to is Abinadi who stood up for his faith, which converted the one soul. It reminds me of a sciptures in Doctrine and covenants "And now if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"

Abinadi brought Alma! I can imagine the joy he had with God after his death. Fun fact- in Portguese, the word "alma" means "soul"....Cool right? It's up to us to be strong like Abinadi to set the example of righteousness. In doing so, God will place one like Alma in our path. He will place that one soul which is not just any soul, but one like Alma who will lead many into the kingdom. An "alma" who will become a great leader and fisher of men. 

But first, it begins with our defense of the truth. 

Love you all! Have a good week!

Sister Hawkins