Monday, October 21, 2013

Hola from Nicaragua!

Wow, where to even begin? I have 12 minutes to write today. My P-day
is on Monday, but they let me send a quick email today. These past 3
days have been the longest 3 days of my life. The first day I got here
I was just excited and ready to work, but later I was not. I found out
my new companion. Her name is Hna. Salinas and she's from Costa Rica.
She is super nice and patient and speaks quite a bit of English. We
speak totally in Spanish, but if I don't know a word in Spanish I'll
say it in English and she usually knows what it is. We went to the
mission home the first day and had lunch and a spiritual thought with
a bunch of other missionaries and then we went to our areas. I'm in
Los Repartos, which is part of Leon. My casa is really empty. We don't
have a single dresser so I'm living out of a suitcase. There are lots
of bugs here. We have a shower and it's cold, but not bad cuz it's so
hot and humid here. We each have a fan by our beds so it makes it much
more pleasant and I'm able to sleep quite nicely. But I experienced
some major culture shock my first day. We got to our casa and Hna.
Salina's previous companion had left me a welcome note with candies
and little stars all over the desk and that made me cry and then we
sat down to go through the plan for the day. That's when I really
broke down. I just couldn't believe this was real life and I couldn't
understand anything people were saying and I couldn't imagine living
here for the next 17 months. Everything is so different here. The
people have nothing. I was fighting back tears the whole rest of the
day. We taught a lesson to a family living in a one-room house without
a bathroom or kitchen. The woman was wearing plastic princess shoes-
that's how poor they are. I felt guilty for all the things I have. The
Nicaraguan accent is soooo hard to understand. I can communicate
pretty well with my companion- althought I have to ask her to repeat
herself a lot- but I can't understand the Nicas at all. They are super
friendly though. I was doing a lot better the next day and didn't cry
but holy cow, I don't know how I'm gonna do this. I'm taking it one
day at a time. I'm running on pure faith. Hna. Behan and Hna. Howell
are in my zone- thank goodness. I've seen them a few times and was so
happy to be able to speak some English. Well, I'm out of time. Please
pray for me. I love you.


 1. Mexico sunrise
2. A pole that indicates how much the foundation of the temple has sunk. Ground level used to be at the top of the pool. 

Week 6

Hola familia y amigos!!
    This is my last weekly email from Mexico! On Monday, I leave for Nicaragua!! I'm excited, though I will miss all the friends I've made here. General Conference was AMAZING. It's never gone by so quickly cuz I was listening intently and seeking personal revelation. When the person saying the opening prayer prayer for the missionaries around the world, I got chills. That's me now! It's so incredible to know there are so many people supporting us in the Lord's work. There were some really great talks.
     I thought it was interesting how Carole M. Stephens said that when we take the sacrament, we renew not only our baptismal covenant, but all covenants we have enetered into. I hadn't thought about the sacrament being a renewal of my temple covenants. I liked Jeffrey R. Holland's talk. I thought of Zayden and Dustin Godnick and how joyous it will be on the day of the resurrection to see them with perfect bodies. Deiter F. Uchtdorf's talk taught me some things about how to address concerns about hypocrisy in the church. "The church would only be perfect if it were run by perfect beings." God is perfect, but he works through us, imperfect people. But even when members make mistakes, the divine truths that the church teaches will forever be true. We should remember that "Church is a hospital for sinners, not a sanctuary for saints." It's hard because we are supposed to look on sin with distaste, but we need to hate the sin and not the sinner. Henry B. Eyering's talk taught me how important it is to respect people's agency and love them even when they make wrong decisions, always hoping they will one day return to the straight and narrow path. I could benefit from learning to be less judgemental. I am striving to develop charity, first by learning how to hold my tongue when I'm about to say an uncharitable thing. I loved how bold Dallin H. Oaks' talk about the sanctity of marriage and family was. These times called for a talk like that. Those are some of my favorite things from conference.
     This week, we were playing volleyball on the sand court and the sand was freezing cold on our feet because it had rained earlier. I rotated out with an elder who wanted to join the game and thought it would be a good idea to sit on the grass so I could lift my bare feet off the cold ground. BAD IDEA. THe grass was wet and it left a big, dark wet spot on my light grey pants that made it look like I peed my pants. It was pretty embarrassing. Hermana Behan was cracking up. Well, at least I made her laugh, since my cheesy jokes don't seem to do the trick haha. Hermana Behan is hilarious. She makes me laugh all the time. During conference, I drifted off to sleep during one of the talks (not even for a full talk) and she took my notes and wrote on them: "1 Carribeans 3:5 "Thou shalt not fall asleep in conference, or thy notes shall be taken from thee," 3:7 "Thou shalt eat more bacon, and glorify in it." 3:9 " Thou shalt feed thy companion chocolate alll the days of thy life that thy happiness may wax strong in the CCM." Hahaha. I'm really glad she's my companion. I think we'll be friends for life.
     Today I went to the temple for the last time in the next 17 months. Crazy! It will make me appreciate so much more when I get back. We got to go to the Zarahemla store after and I got some coloful, woven scripture cases for like $4 each. They look cool.
Well, I think that's all for this week!! Love you all! Stay true to the faith, Hermana Hawkins

Friday, October 4, 2013


 Another pic at the airport
 Hermana Behan and I at the temple
 Hermana Finley (old CCM roommate), Hermana Behan, and I
 CCM at night
 Computer language learning program
 Cool tree with intertwined branches
 Hermanas in our district
 Finley, Behan, and I
 Hunchback! (Just kidding, it's just a blanket over my backpack) ;)
 Mexico Independence Day festival
 Mexico Independence Day dancers
 Mexico Independence Day
 Mexico City
 Disney in Mexico City!
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City
 Mexico City

 My district
 Hermanas Rogers, Howell, Behan, and I
 CCM (I think)
 Soaked from the rain
 Twin day with my comp!
Video snippet from Mexican Festival dancers

Musical Number and More!

Hola family and friends!!
   I love my district. We have grown so close in the last few weeks. This Sunday, the 5 hermanas in our district did a musical number in sacrament meeting. Hna. Graham had written a BEAUTIFUL arrangement of the "As Sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman" medley and Hna. Done is a pro at playing the flute and Hna. Romero, Hna. Done, and I added in the vocal harmonies. I was SO excited to see it all come together. I'll try to send a video. My district is so musical! It's awesome! We sometimes have little improv a capella jam sessions during study breaks and it is SO FUN!! It makes me want to be in Noteworthy so bad when I get back to BYU! We came up with our own rendition of "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" and it sounds SO COOL!! I love love love it! Music brings me so much joy. We performed our rendition for our teachers and they got quit a kick out of it.
Speaking of teachers, our morning teacher- Hermano May- is INCREDIBLE. He is seriously the most spiritual, Christ-like guy I've ever met. He's super polite and patient and friendly. We are so lucky to have him as a teacher. I feel the spirit every time he teaches. He always walks into class each day with a smile on his face and it brightens my day. Our class agrees that he is definitely going to be a general authority one day. NO JOKE. It's gonna happen. He tells us some pretty incredible stories from his mission. This week he told us about a girl he taught whose parents would never speak to her again if she joined the church and how hard it was for her because she wanted to be baptized, but she loved her family. They told her something along the lines of we need to be willing to give up everything for God. Anyway, she decided she was willing to make the sacrifice and committed to baptism. The next day her parents showed up and said that they loved her no matter what her decision was. MIRACLE.
Hna. Behan thinks I tell the cheesiest jokes in the world haha. She only laughs at them because they're so stupid. Haha, whatever. Our friend Hna. Freeman likes them. She tells me a lot of cheesy jokes too. I randomly made up a joke this week: "What do avocados do on sunny afternoons? They take a GUAC in the park!" Hee hee! Ok, so that's a pretty lame one, BUT I came up with it, so that's gotta count for something. ;) One of the elders in our district told us a funny story about Billy Murray that he'd heard. One time, Bill Murray walked into a restaurant, ate a fry off of some random guy's plate, said "No one will believe you." and walked away. Hahaha!! I would totally do that if I was famous!! So funny.
We've had some pretty embarassing misunderstandings this week. I'm learning the importance of really listening to the investigator instead of trying to think of what I'm gonna say after they're done talking. We were teaching an investigator and I had thought he'd said, "Who can be baptized?" So I answered 'someone with a desire who has repented of their sins', but Hna. Behan looked at me like I was crazy. I realized later he had asked, "Who can baptize me?" and I should have answered, 'someone who holds the priesthood and is worthy'. Haha so embarassing. During the same lesson, Hna. Behan said "Ba da bing ba da boom" and then laughed and attempted to explain what that meant in Spanish. Haha. She also said "capablahh" in a prayer this week when she was trying to think of the Spanish word for capable, but it just sounded like she was saying nonsense haha.
I got my hair trimmed today cuz they have a free haircut service here at the CCM. It didn't turn out quite how I wanted it to, but I touched it up a bit and it's fine. My blonder hair color is growing out though and it looks pretty bad. I didn't think it would be so noticeable when it started growing out, but it is. Hopefully the Nicaragua sun will lighten the roots.
Conference this weekend!! Woot woot!! Everybody watch it! Our Branch Prez. has challenged us to watch at least one session in Spanish so we're gonna do it, but my companion and I decided if we start watching and Elder Holland's speaking, we're switching over to the English one haha. He's my favorite. He kind of reminds me of dad, too. Just the way he talks or the sound of his voice or something.
I'm so grateful to be here and know it's where I'm supposed to be. I know God is watching out for me. He has a perfect plan.
Love you all,
Hermana Hawkins

Hey Hey Hey!

Hola familia y amigos!!
   This week wasn't too exciting so this won't be a very long letter, but I'm gonna try to send lots of pictures. This week, Hna. Behan and I were playing volleyball outside on a sand court during gym time and it started raining. It felt nice so we all kept playing and didn't mind getting wet. Then it started to pour and we were getting drenched. We got pretty cold and then it started to hail teeny pieces of ice so we ran back to our casa. It was fun, but we got soaked. We went to the temple again this morning and I felt like I was able to understand more than last time. Yeah, that's pretty much it for this week, other than the usual studying and teaching lessons and learning and growing and striving to improve. Love you all!
Hermana Hawkins

Week 2!!

Hola familia y amigos!
    So this last weekend was Mexican Independence Day! It's so cool that we got to be here for that. The whole week, they had different Mexican sweets at lunch to celebrate, but Mexican candy is nasty. Hermana Behan and I bought some laffy taffy things at la tienda, but it didn't taste like laffy taffy- it tasted like bubblegum toothpaste. Gross. On Saturday night, there was a fiesta for the whole CCM (MTC). WE gathered in the auditorium for a show. Mexicans sure know how to party. There was tons of cheering and it was super loud. A dance group made up of people that used to go to this school performed some Mexican dances. It was really fun to watch. The girls' dresses look so cool when they twirl them! I'll send some pics. After one of the songs, fireworks shot up from the stage. Awesome! At the end, the performers sand the "As Sisters in Zion/Army of Helaman" medley in Spanish. That was cool. Sunday night, there were fireworks and gun shots/other loud noises throughout the city in celebration.
    So I forgot to mention last week that we're in the intermediate class. It surprised me. I guess I know more Spanish than I thought I did. The stuffed I learned in high school is coming back to me. I'm amazed at how much we've learned these past two weeks. We've taught a bunch of lessons in Spanish without any notes and we're getting better at minimizing the amount of awkward pauses in lessons. We now have a second teacher named Hermana Nishigucci. She's pretty intense, but it's good that she's pushing us to work harder and learn more. The language barrier is still very frustrating. We had a first lesson with an "investigator" this week that went very poorly. We forgot so much of what we had planned to say, but we're learning how to improve our lesson preparation methods and how to use our time more effectively. People we're kidding when they said missionary work is hard. It really is. There are so many things to incorporate into a lesson. We need to be bold, but not overbearing. We need to explain things thoroughly, but not take too much time. And we need to focuz on the investigator, but also find ways to relate to them. It's tough to find a balance. I'm learning patience and stress-management.
     The elders in our district are really funny. We were talking about when we have lessons that don't go well and one of the elders said, as though he were ending a lesson, "Well that awkward and weird and uncomfortable. Can we come back tomorrow?" Hahaha, seriously, sometimes that's what it feels like. I've been playing the hymns for sacrament meeting, and even though I sometimes have to switch to only the top hand, I enjoy it. We've memorized the first vision and the missionary purpose in Spanish! Memorizing things makes me feel accomplished. Anyway, that's all for this week. Thank you all for your love and prayers!!
Count your blessing, Hermana Hawkins