Sunday, March 1, 2015

Last Email as a Missionary!

Hey everybody! For the last time...
    Ahhhhh I seriously can NOT believe this is my last email home!!! It feels so unreal. I remember at the beginning of my mission, this day seemed soooo far away. And now I think back to my first few transfers in the mission and it´s almost a blur, it feels so long ago. I remember wondering if I could really last a year and a half here. It´s like the scripture says in Ecclesiates 7:8 "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." AMEN! Hahaha. But really, I am amazed that I have come this far and know that it is owed to Christ´s enabling power. Here´s an excerpt from my 7th day in the mission field (October 20th, 2013): Yesterday I felt like I had the life sucked out of me and I didn´t think I could go on, but today I made the decision to stay. When I sent in my mission papers, I made a choice to serve God for 18 months and I need to follow through. This work is so much bigger than me and I know God will strengthen me." And he has. I know he has. He has made me stronger. Serving a mission is the hardest thing I have ever done. They have been some very hard times. But there have also been some very rewarding times. I have had some amazing experiences for which I will ever be grateful. I have made lasting friendships, witnessed miracles, learned so much, and my testimony has grown immensely. I think one of the coolest parts of serving a mission is seeing just how real and applicable all of the gospel principles are. Every commandment has a promised blessing and we only receive those blessings by way of obedience. 
  I want to thank everyone who has read my letters or written letters or emails in the last 18 months. The support has been greatly appreciated. Anyone who has served a mission knows how much each and every email means. Shout out to Jennis Hansen who has faithfully been my long-distance visiting teacher throughout my mission. It was so fun to get your letters and creative handouts. 
  Thanks to all who supported in various ways: spiritually, mentally, financially... everything. You all provided hope and helped propel me forward.
  I am so grateful for the support of my family who was always ready with a word of encouragement.
  This week we are anxiously anticipating the baptisms of Jonatan and Carlos. We were really worried this week because when we showed up for our appointment with Carlos, he wasn´t there and wouldn´t answer his phone. We thought he didn´t want to meet with us anymore. We were even more worried when he didn´t come to church yesterday. But after church, we found him in his house and we able to talk to him and realized it wasn´t that he didn´t like the church or didn´t want to keep learning about the gospel, but rather he had some problems going on in his life and felt discouraged. We assured him that we were there to help and that God came for the sinners and that he is ready to forgive of. He let us meet with him that night and we had a good lesson. He told us he was sorry for acting like he didn´t want to meet with us anymore and that he really likes the messages we share with him. Please pray that all goes well for his baptism this week. 
 Jonatan has also been struggling a bit because of family problems and didn´t come to church yesterday, but we´re gonna do all we can to help him. I would absolutely love to finish my mission baptizing, but I am willing to accept God´s will and timing. Still, I have the strongest feeling that at least one of these two will be baptized this week. Even though missionaries are imperfect teachers, Christ´s grace makes up for it. God has a perfect plan. 
   I want to make the most of this last week. I know that I will miss Nicaragua when I leave. I know I will be sad to take off my name tag when the time comes. What a privelage it is to be a missionary and proclaim the joyous gospel of Jesus Christ. It has blessed me in countless ways and I want others to be able to experience those blessings. I love the people of Nicaragua. They are so giving and full of love. Every now and then in contacts we´ve run into some not-so-pleasant people, but even they have been somewhat polite in showing that they don´t have interest in our message. Many of the Nicaraguans are confused by the doctrines of men (there is literally a church on every corner here) and that has been the thing that impedes them most from accepting the gospel, not an unwillingness to follow Jesus Christ. Almost all of them believe in Christ and know that our purpose in life is to serve him; they just haven´t understood the proper way to do so. But those Nicaraguans who truly seek to find and understand the truth are so ready for the gospel. I´m so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve in such a blessed land. I know I can forever continue to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and share the gospel with those around me.
   Even though I will miss Nicaragua, I know I will return one day. And who are we kidding, I am so stoked to go home!!!! I have missed my family and friends so much! I´m pretty sure it won´t feel real until the moment I´m sitting on the plane. I think that´s when I´ll have an excitement attack haha. I can´t wait to be able to hug you again and talk to you face-to-face! 
  As the apostle Paul said, "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith." YA ME VOY! See you in 8 days!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!
  -the "almost dead" Hermana Hawkins
   P.s. Please come to my mission report on Sunday, March 8th in the Berthoud church building! :)


This Week

  So some members heard about the ants in our house that have been making us itch and offered to come fumigate. We said ok and they got to our house around 3pm yesterday. They figured it would be a good idea to spread diesel gasoline all over our walls (and even mop our floor with it) to get rid of the ants. Horrible idea! Our house still reaked of gasoline when we got back to the house 5 hours later! Actually, the smell STILL hasn´t gone away. You know how much I hate the smell of gas. I´m the one who breathes into her shirt when we stop at a gas station to fill up. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant night yesterday. I think the smell is ever so slowly going away so hopefully it will be all gone soon. Now you know: gasoline doesn´t go on walls. It goes in cars.
   We found an awesome new family this week named Yerling and Luis. And they came to church on Sunday! Ah, I knew when I came to this part of my mission it would be hard: finding people and knowing I won´t be able to see them get baptized cuz I´ll already by gone. But either way, I will be happy to hear if they get baptized. I think Yerling and Luis have great potential. 
   Carlos and Jonatan are progressing well and they are our hopes for this change. Jonatan´s parents didn´t go to church on Sunday so I won´t be able to see them get baptized this month. But please keep Jonatan and Carlos in your prayers. 
  I´m sorry this is such a short, boring letter. Next week´s will be better. Especially cuz it will be my last!! Ta ta for now. Hermana Hawkins

Sunday, February 15, 2015


“decorations we made for the branch Christmas party, cool cactus tree, weird banana thing, a baby mouse that we trapped and squished and killed between a board and the wall”

“pics from P-day today in selva negra, pics from p-day last week in Esteli, christmas displays near the park, a comic I drew of our district”

“ziplining in matagalpa with my district, the amazing view, the Christmas tree the Berthoud ward sent me last year that I didn´t receive till after Christmas, a calender we made for the last transfer”

Joy in the Journey

Hey everybody!
    Woah, I just got an email with my flight itinerary for March 3rd. Things are gettin´ real now. Just 3 more weeks! Can you believe it? I´m just trying to soak in Nicaragua as much as I can so I can treasure this time. I got all my souvenir shopping done today. What a relief. It´s stressful trying to decide on souvenirs for 12 people while at the same time being wise with your money. 
  Let me tell you a story. I bought some chocolate here to try for the first time and gave a piece to my companion. She said, "I taste wine." I was like, "Yeah right. They´re not gonna put wine in chocolate. That couldn´t be legal´. It tasted just like a Snickers to me. But just to be sure, I turned it over and read the ingredients. One of them was cocoa liquor. Woops! I bought alcoholic chocolate!! Haha, I couldn´t believe they could sell something like that without it saying on the front of the wrapper. I never would have known cuz I can´t recognize the taste of alcohol. Funny stuff. Speaking of food, they sell this snack in the streets here I really like. It´s slices of green mango with salt and vinagre. It tastes almost like pickles! Maybe I can find some green mangos when I get home and let you all try it. I´ve also been eating a lot of tortillas with nutella and garlic toast. 
  So the itchyness continues. I don´t know if it´s something in our house or some sort of bug that bites us while we´re outside, but my comp and I keep getting these red, itchy spots all over our legs and feet and backs and stomachs. I´ve even been getting hives. I´ve kinda gotten used to it and it´s not nearly as bad as it was when I broke out it than big allergic reaction before, but I´ve got a lot of scabs and my skin is suffering. All I want to be taken to a good dermatologist when I get home. 
   An investigator fed us dinner this week and I ate so much rice and beans I almost puked. Needless to say, I´m never eating beans again after the mish. I hate them so much. 
 We´ve been getting up at 6am several days during the week to play soccer at the church for an hour with a group of youth and the elders in the branch. It´s super fun and we get good exercise. 
  We finally had some success this Sunday. We had 4 investigators who came, and then Jonathon´s parents also showed up so we had a family! I love this family. Jonathon´s dad, Marvin has a nice mustache that reminds me of when Dad had a mustache. Maria is super receptive and has basically already accepted the message and plans to prepare for baptism, but doesn´t know when and doesn´t want to make a decision too quick. Marvin is more skeptical, but Jonathon´s motivating them a lot. The whole family is reading the Book of Mormon. I´m just gonna hope and pray that they keep progressing and get baptized February 28th cuz they´re pretty the only family possibility we have of baptizing a family this change. Please pray for them.
   We also started teaching a member´s cousin named Carlos who´s about 20 something years old. He´s already been to church twice and went to a baptism. And yesterday he accepted a baptismal goal for the 28th of February. It´s exciting to teach him cuz he´s full of great questions. I know if he reads the Book of Mormon, he will develop a strong testimony. 
  I´m feeling hopeful. I just want to enjoy this time and focus on loving and serving people. After all, you only have 18 months or 2 years to experience a mission, and the rest of your life to look back on it. I´ve been reading through my mission journal and reflecting on the things I´ve learned on my mission and it´s making me more and more grateful every day. Much love to all! Hermana Hawkins
P.s. Only in Nicaragua do they ask you if you want ketchup on your pizza. Haha. 

What to Write?

Hey everybody!
   What to write. What to write. Well first off, today was fun cuz we got to go ziplining as a district in Matagalpa! It wasn´t super long, about 3 minutes, but it was pretty high up so I wasn´t sure if I´d get up the guts to jump, but it actually wasn´t scary at all. I would totally go on it again, and launch off faster. It was cool to zip over the trees and look out across the city of Matagalpa. I´ll send pics.
  This week we worked really hard to commit people to church and put baptismal dates and were happy that many people accepted dates and commited to church. We were sure we´d have people in church. But alas, once again, not a single investigator. It was pretty disappointing. But a silver lining was getting to hear a previously less active member that we helped reactivate bear a powerful testimony and say that she knew this was the only true church cuz it was the only church where she felt peace and felt her family being strengthened. We haven´t reached the goal of 80 for church attendance yet, but we´re getting there. We´re starting an MTC for the members. Like a workshop to help them be good member missionaries. We had the first class yesterday. We´re doing a point system where they can earn points by doing things like giving us referrals or acompanying us to a lesson or bringing someone to church and if they earn 100 points in the next 8 weeks they get to participate in an exclusive activity as a prize. I think it´ll be good and help the members to get more excited about missionary work. Even though I won´t be here for the full 8 weeks, I´ll be glad to have helped strengthen the branch in this way. 
  God never lets me go past my breaking point. But he sure does let me get awfully close. I was feeling super stressed this morning and even broke out with a cold sore for the first time in months and while we were on the bus going to Matagalpa, I realized my plaque fell off on the way to catch the bus. I thought, ¨Ugh, just my luck. Who knows where it landed? And I only have one other plaque but the name of the church is almost erased¨ But it turns out my comp saw it fell and picked it up and waited to tell me so she could see my reaction. Not funny. But I´m so glad I didn´t lose it. Then, the guy passed through the bus to collect the bus fare and I realized I only had 10 cordobas and I needed 50 and the only other money I had was a $20 but the guy didn´t have change. (My comp didn´t have any money cuz she ran out) Had another little minnie panic attack and then found a $1 in my wallet that I had taken out of a letter London gave me before the mission. With the dollar and my ten cordobas and some coins I had in my bag, we were able to cover the cost. Looks like that $1 came in very handy, London. Thank you! God always grants us little tender mercies if we look for them.
   I only have 4 Sunday left in my mission. Investigators have to go to church 3 times before they can get baptized so basically our investigators would have to go to church the next three consecutive Sunday without fail to be able to be baptized the following Saturday. Here´s hoping for a miracle. I really want to see some fruits of our labors. Isn´t that what God promises us? I´m trying not to get discouraged and focus on being grateful. The end of the race is the defining point. 
   Much love to all. Have a happy week. Attentamente, Hermana Hawkins 

The Hands of Christ

What´s new everybody!
  Welp, we had another disappointing Sunday yesterday, with no investigators at church. But I´m choosing not to get discouraged because I know that´s when Satan attacks. We found a lot of new people this week who have a lot of potential, but most new investigators don´t get to church the first week anyway so we´re gonna work hard this week and bring them this Sunday. Our whole zone has been stuggling and President has made it very clear the Lord expects more from this zone. I really hope things start to look up in February. We´re looking for things we can do better and making plans, but I´m trying not to stress too much because I´ve learn that when I self-criticize and worry too much about what I need to do better, I miss opportunities to see the needs of others and help them. So I´m just trying to trust more in the Lord.
  This week we had a special experience. Around 8:15pm one night, we came across a disabled dwarf woman hobbling super slowly up the mountain on crutches. My companion asked her where she was going and she pointed to a house about halfway up thehill. We offered to help her with the bag she was carrying and she thanked us, called us sweet, and blessed the Lord´s name. She had just come from selling tortillas so she could buy herself food. My comp carried her bag and we walked slowly up the hill with her as we presented ourselves and invited her to church. She was struggling so much to pull her heavy body up the hill with her stubby legs and crutches, it pulled at my heart strings. That image of her struggling up the hill will stay in my mind for a longtime. This whole time, she was smiling and talking about how wonderful the Lord is. As we got closer to her house, her energy started to run out and she moved slower and slower. Then suddenly, she cried aloud to God in prayer that he would give her the strength to go up the hill and said we were there like angels to speak of the beautiful things of God. It was incredible to see how much faith she had.I started to cry, seeing how humble she was and how hard of a life she had. As she was struggling more and more to keep going, I wished I could  help her, but wondered if I was strong enough to support her. Well I guess my companion had the same thought and a little more faith cuz she said, "Here, let us help you." The woman, named Pilar, resisted at first and said she was too heavy, but we assured her we could do it so she handed each of us a crutch and then we each linked an arm under one of her arms and helped pull her up the hill. She was heavy and it was hard to do, even to the point of making my back hurt a bit, but we did it. Perhaps Godgave us extra strength to be able to carry out this act of love for his daughter. The mission motto here is "We are the hands of Christ". I have never felt more like the hands of Christ than in that moment. As we got up to her door, we had to help her cross some rockier, uneven spots and she was so afraid we were gonna drop her. She said, "Don´t let me fall!" It was harder to support her as she stepped over those parts and for a minute, I thought maybe I would drop her, but we made it to the door, handed back her crutches, and she helped herself intoher house. She told us she didn´t have light. I pulled out my flashlight and she made her way over to her chair and lit a small candle.This lady lives alone in a house with no light and can barely get around! I don´t know how she survives! She definitely has the hardest living conditions of anyone I´ve met here. Pilar was so nice and invited us in and offered us her only other chair. We asked if we could sing her a hymn and she said she would love that and then said, "But let´s pray first." So she said a beautiful prayer and thanked and praised God and asked him to bless us.Then we sand "I know that My Redeemer Lives". I let some tears slip and got a bit choked up as I felt the truth of the lyrics. I think more than anything I felt my testimony of the living reality of Christ grow because I knew Pilar´sdid. She felt we were an answer to her prayers- sent on Christ´s behalf to helpher up the mountain and lift her spirit. The fact that God answers prayers means that Christ is ALIVE and because of Him, the Father continues to answer our current prayers. What a special moment it was to be able to serve Pilar and hear her exclaim how precious the sond was. My companion and I left with full hearts. It´s wonderful to find joy in service. 
I hope everyone takes a moment to serve someone today. Much love, Hermana Hawkins

Staying in Jinotega

Hey everybody,
  Alright, let´s see how fast I can type... 
  First of all, I want to thank everyone who has sent words of encourage int these last couple weeks. They were greatly appreciated and helped lift my spirits. 
  Good news! I´m staying in Jinotega for my last transfer! Yay! This is where I wanted to finish the mission! I´m determined to leave my area better than I found it. 
We had four investigators at church yesterday. We found this new family named Maricela and José who commited to going to church and when we passed by for them, Maricela and her two kids were all ready to go to church! (José got called in to work last minute). Then another investigator, a teenager named Jonathon, came to church on his own AND brought a friend! It´s a cool story how we found Jonathon. We were contacting this Catholic lady and talking to her at her door and Jonathon was on the porch buying something at the house (beans, I think) and he overheard us. Then we went to knock a door across the street and a few minutes later, Jonathon´s mom called to us and said her son was interested in hearing our message and asked when we could come to their house. Sweet! THIS is what prepared souls looks like! Ah, I´m so done with working with unprepared people who aren´t willing to act. We´re not here to beg people to come unto Christ; we´re here to invite. And those who are prepared will be ready to act and happy to accept the invitation. I just need to open my mouth to testify! I did divisions in Matagalpa this week and met an awesome lady who started reading the Book of Mormon 7 years ago when someone gave a copy to her husband, but she never got the chance to talk with Mormon missionaries until a few weeks ago. She is GOLD. The Book of Mormon already had a special place in her heart. She said she always knew there were prophets in the Holy Lands, but she always wondered, "What about here? In the Americas?" and that she has been able to learn so much from the Book of Mormon that she never knew. She said, "All this time, I´ve had a treasure and I didn´t even know it." Ah, it was so cool! It totally strengethened my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that if people will just read it with a genuine interest, and not with a critical eye, looking for faults, they will feel that it is true. Oh, and the coolest part is... this is a teacher in an Evangelical church and even used the Book of Mormon in her teaching! I was also able to meet some other elect people the sisters in Matagalpa have found and it awakened in me a great desire to go our and find, find, find! I know there are many elect people in Jinotega too. We´re gonna find them and baptize them! I´ve also been thinking about one of my favorite talks: "Being Grateful in our Circumstances" by Elder Uchtdorf. I think I still have a lot to learn about gratitude. And I think if I can focus on being more grateful this transfer, even in the hard times, I will find joy in the end of my mission. 
  Today we cleaned the house super well and re-arranged all the furniture. Ah, it feels good to have everything all clean and organized. Welp, I´m totally out of time. I love you all and looks forward to seeing you in 6 weeks! (How´s that, Russell? ;) haha)