Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Christmas Letter

Happy New Year familia y amigos!!! Ah family!! It was so great to see and talk to you on Christmas!! Some, more time than others. (*Hunter!* *cough* *cough*). I'll admit a got pretty trunky afterwards, but I'm choosing to look forward! To Mother's Day, that is. Haha. Last week, we had the wedding of Cruz and Merling and Cruz's baptism!! In summation, there were a lot of complications leading up to the wedding and it almost didn't happen, but God provided a way! It was our Christmas miracle. They're super cute together and seemed really happy. This Sunday we had another baptism of a lady named Candida. Apparently, she just had some sort of emergency last Sunday and that's why she couldn't come to church, but she was already to be baptized this week! She has a ton of faith and her strong desire to follow God is obvious. When she came up out of the water, Hna. Salinas and I ran around to the door of the font so we could see her face when she walked up the steps, but right when we got there, we heard sounds of exasperated breathing. At first, it just sounded like she was crying and then it sounded like she was having trouble breathing and maybe even convulsing. Hna. Salinas and I exchanged looks of panic and almost ran into the font to help her but the Bishop's wife went to her aid. We found out later that she hadn't been having trouble breathing; she was just overcome by the spirit and could feel the presence of the Lord really strong. Phew! Gave us quite a scare. I've never heard anyone cry like that before. Anyway, it was super special to see her get baptized because I was the one who suggested we first contact her. For Christmas, we had a reunion with the whole mission at the Hilton Hotel in Managua and it was super nice. We got to watch Despicable Me 2 in Spanish and present zone cheers and zone talents and had a delicious lunch (best food I've had yet here in Nicaragua). They had some mini competitions. Hna. Salinas and I participated in the beat-boxing/rap competitions (I beat boxed and she rapped) and we won against two pairs of elders because we got the loudest cheer! Sweet! Hunter would be proud. Haha just kidding. He would laugh because it was pathetic compared to what he can do. Ha ha. But hey! They liked it! President and Hermana Collado also gave each companionship a fruit basket and two pillows with custom pillowcases that say our mission theme "Somos las manos de Cristo" We are the hand of Christ. On Christmas Eve, we had an activity with out zone and ate a ton of pizza. They also watched "Monsters Inc University" in Spanish, but my comp and I missed most of it cuz we were picking up the pizza. We participated in two gift exchanges and I got some perfume, fruit by the foot and stickers. I save my package from the Andersen's until Christmas so I'd have something to open and loved what was inside- two new shirts and candy! On Christmas Eve, Hna. Salinas and I lit sparklers and took some cool pictures waving them around. Christmas Day we ate dinner at Burger King. Haha lame, huh? But here, it's like luxury food. More expensive than the Burger King's in the U.S. though. That night, we watched "Errand of Angels" in our casa on the little dvd player we have. It was a good Christmas. Nothing compared to the amazing ones at home with the family, but good. Next Monday are transfers and we are positive Hna. Salinas will be getting transferred. She's been in Leon for about 8 months now. Also, we just realized that our recent convert, Walter is pretty much in love with her. It wasn't that way at first, but it is now. Two people have told us that and we've begun to notice it too. He would call night after night at 10:30pm sometimes up to seven times! But we wouldn't answer. Ugh, quite a problem. What's more, he told us he doesn't want to come to church anymore and thinks everything was a lie. What the heck! We witnessed his conversion! I don't know what happened. We're avoiding him until transfers because we don't want to cause more problems, but after transfers I'll keep working with him and try to get him to understand the importance of the covenant he made with God. Sorry to end this letter on a sad note, but it's the last things that came to my mind. We're pushing on in faith and trying to stay positive! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! Les quiero!!!! Hermana Hawkins

Monday, December 30, 2013


Hola! This will be super quick cuz we get less time to write today! I'll be getting online at 5pm my time on Wednesday so make sure everyone is on! I CANNOT wait to talk to you and see all your lovely faces!! This week, Cruz got baptized! My first family! (A family to complete). I'll tell you more about it when we google hangout in two days. I LOVE YOU ALL TO THE MOON AND BACK!!! FELIZ NAVIDAD!!! Hermana Hawkins

P.s. I received Brooke Andersen's package, but probably won't get yours until January when we go to Managua for another meeting. I'm waiting to open it until CHristmas. It took 20 days to get here, but they held it in the office until the Christmas mission reunion.

Feliz Navidad!

Hola familia y amigos!

Not a lot of interesting stuff happened this week. We teaching a guy named Cruz who is married to a member. They're getting married this Saturday and he's going to be baptized afterwards. It counts as a family baptized before Christmas because it's a family to complete. I hope all goes well with that!

We've been trying to get Esperanza and Francisco to come to church for the past 4 weeks and something has always come up. They promised to be there this Sunday and we even called them to remind them, but they didn't come. This week we're going to stress the importance of going to church and of not postponing their repentance. Hopefully we can get them to move up their marriage and baptismal date.

We contacted a guy named Jorge Bendito this week who is super great! He accepted the invitation to come to church in the first contact (and he indeed came on Sunday) and he said that he wanted to learn more about our church! We'll have our first lesson with him this week. I'm excited. On Sunday, we did our special musical number for Christmas. I had a solo for the second verse and received a lot of compliments afterwards.

We had another great lesson with Gloria and her family this week and she is golden! She pretty much told us that she wants to be a member, but doesn't want to give up her Virgin Mary. We explained to her that she doesn't have to. Mary was an exceptional woma and a chosen vessel, and we have a great respect for her; we just don't worship her. We only worship God. Mary can hold a special place in her heart, but we should focus on Jesus Christ. He is the center of everything. Also, her husband Armando watched the restoration video we left with them TWO TIMES! Awesome. I know God has a lot in store for this family.

Yeah, that's pretty much it for this week. Sorry for the boring letter haha.

I hope you all have a very special Christmas and remember the reason for the season. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior! I know it and am so grateful to have the opportunity to proclaim his love to the people of Nicaragua. I love you all!! FELIZ NAVIDAD!! Lots of love, Hermana Hawkins

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Christmas Season

Hola familia y amigos!
I can´t believe it´s December. It doesn´t feel like Christmas at all. I miss snow and caroling and Christmas goodies! I bought a string of Christmas lights for our casa to make it feel more like Christmas, but it really will be so different this year. I felt pretty homesick yesterday during the Christmas devotional remembering years passed when we would watch it together as a family in the Berthoud building. I couldn´t understand that much of the devotional, but I think I got the general idea of the messages and I definitely felt the spirit. 
This week was kind of uneventful. We spent a lot of time contacting, trying to find a new family to teach. We have one progressing family that we´re really hoping to get baptized before Christmas, but they have to get married first. So far, things are looking good and the baptism is set for Dec. 22nd
Dec. 8 is a huge holiday here to celebrate the Virgin Mary. I don´t understand why people think it´s right to make a bigger deal out of Christ´s mother than of Christ. Doesn´t make any sens. But anyway, the Catholics put up these big Mary scenes in front of their house and decorate them with lights. And there are also TONS of fireworks! There are no prohibitions on fireworks here. People just set them off whenever they want in the streets and it gets to be quite annoying. All day long, there are louds POP! noises that makes us jump out of our skin. As I said before, I think I might go deaf haha. 
Yesterday in church was the Primary Program. It´s amazing to see how the cultures around the world are so different, but the church remains the same- the same songs, the same spirit, the same doctrine, and most importantly, the same Savior. I administration of the church is truly miraculous to reach so many different nations around the world. 
This week we found out that the family we had asked to pray to see if Dec. 22nd was the indicated date for them to get married and baptized (Esperanza and Francisco) have decided to wait until the last week of January to get married and baptized. Bummer. It will be sad if one of us isn´t here to see it. But the good thing is that they´ve chosen a date and are moving forward. They´re great. 
Last P-day, Hna. Behan and I got to take the roof tour of the Cathedral in Leon. It was SO COOL! We could look our across all of Leon! I´m sending a bunch of pics. 
Well, that´s pretty much all for this week and I´m out of time so ta ta for now! Love you all! Enjoy the Christmas season and the wonderful spirit it brings!

Love, Hermana Hawkins

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Hola familia y amigos!
   This week I ate something that didn't sit well with my stomach and that night, at 2 o' clock in the morning, I felt like I was gonna die my stomach hurt so bad. I was literally writhing in pain for like 30 minutes or more until I was finally able to throw up and that helped. My stomach was still a little sore, but I was able to sleep and in the more, I went to the bathroom and then felt loads better. But phew, I hope I never have to experience that pain again. 
   This week we visited Walter, the one who got baptized a couple weeks ago, and before he entered the room, his mom told us that he had been crying because he thought we had had transfers and were gone. When we sat down and started talking to him, I gave him a notebook we had bought for him because he had told us he needed a new one for his scripture study.He set it on his desk and then put his face in his hands and cried. He told us we were angels and that he had wanted to bear his testimony in church last Sunday, but had been too afraid so he wanted to share it with us now. He said he knew this church was true from the moment we started teaching him. He said he knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet. He said his friends have noticed a change in him and are interested in learning about the gospel. Aw, it was so touching!! What a miracle it has been to witness his conversion. The Spirit works magic. Also, he wasn't at church last Sunday because he was working. We were super disappointed to hear that because he never works on Sundays and he knows that he should keep the sabbath day holy. But this time when we met with him, he said he's never going to work on Sunday again and that it's a promise he's made, not to us, but to God. How awesome!!! He also told us that he has 2 references for us! Super pilas! (That means "really great"). 
   Oh, the big event of the week: We were about to start a lesson with another recent convert and his wife said she was about to go to a funeral. We asked who died and she said, Oscar, the wife of Marta Salinas. Marta and Oscar are two of our recent converts!! He passed away the night before and we hadn't heard. We were so shocked! We saw him just a week ago and he seemed to be doing fine! He had an operation to get a rock of salt removed from his body a few weeks ago, but I guess some more rocks developed and caused his death. I've never heard of anything like that. I wonder what condition it is. He was only in his sixties. Anyway, he went to his funeral and spent a lot of time with his wife this week to share scriptures and bring some comfort. 
   Well, I think that's all for now. Love you all!!
Hermana Hawkins

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hooray for pictures!

 Backyard from Prez. Collado's house
 Empty room in our casa
 The outside sink where I wash my clothes
 A giant spider!
Look how big!


Hola familia y amigos!
   Transfers were today. I'm staying, thank goodness, but Hna. Howell and her comp are moving to Managua. :( It's so sad! We started an English class this week and were gonna teach together,but now it will just be me! I hope she likes it in Managua and has a really good zone. At least Hna. Behan is still here with me.
   We dropped Santos and Francisca.We visited them this week and Francisca was not happy we came. She said she doesn't like our religion and they both said they're not ready to change. So sad! BUT! We found a super awesome lady named Gloria this week! She and her family are Catholic, and when we first met her I was afraid it would go nowhere because most of the Catholics here are so stubborn about their faith, but she said she likes learning about other religions and wants to hear more of the word of God. We had another lesson with her this week and she said she had read the Restoration pamphlet that we gave her. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and explained what it is and she seemed super curious! She looked at every page in the front of the book and she said she felt good when we were telling her about it. We explained that that was the influence of the Holy Ghost. She said she would read the Book of Mormon and we left her with a specific chapter to read. She said she's been having some problems with with her husband because he drinks and that she's been hoping someone would come to help her. Now here's the really cool part: She told us that she had had two dreams in which she saw the image that's on the front of the Restoration pamphlet and had tried asking people what it meant but no one knew. She had forgotten about it, but when we gave her the pamphlet she remembered the dreams. Ah, she is chosen by God! I know she's prepared to hear our message! Her soul is hungering for the truth and we have the privelage of showing her where to find a spiritual feast. I'm so excited to see how our next lesson with her goes. I'm really starting to see the difference between a person who is ready to hear the gospel and a person who is not ready at this point in time.
   We finally met Esperanza's husband Francisco and he is great! He wants to know what his purpose is. They both have questions of the soul that we're excited to answer in our next lesson with them when we teach the Plan of Salvation. Our first lesson with them as a family went really well. Esperanza is golden. We started telling her husband about the Book of Mormon and she jumped in and started explaining it to him. She's been reading it and we invited him to read it too.  We invited Francisco to saying the closing prayer. He hesitated and then his 9 year old son said he wanted to say it. We were thrilled! He gave a tender prayer to protect his family and that he wanted to go to church this Sunday and to allow them to be able to. It was great. I'm amazed at how spiritually in-tune children often are. They were gonna come to church this Sunay, but they're son kept them up all night and they hardly got any sleep, so they slept in. But they promised to come next week. I have a lot of hope for these two families. 
   Funny story about our first lesson with Gloria's family. We were tellingthem where we from and where we lived here in Leon and Gloria asked if we were married. We said no, but that we would get married after the mission. Then she asked me if I'd like to date her 20-year-old son. He was standing there in the doorway listening to the conversation this time and he didn't even mind that his mom asked that; he just smiled! I was totally taken by surprise and didn't know what to say. Hna. Salinas was laughing. I tried to explain that during our mission our only focus is the missionary work and Hna. Salinas explained that we can't date on the mission. But then she asked me if I'd like to date he son after the mission!! I'm sure my face was probably bright red by now. Way to put me on the spot! What was I supposed to say to that? I just said,"I want to return to Nicaragua after the missionand show it to my family." Then the husband asked if I liked Nicaragua and luckily, the conversation started to take a different direction. Hahaha oh boy! Super awkward. Hna. Salinas had an even more uncomfortable experienec this week. We were contacting these middle-aged men and they asked if we were married and we said no, but then one of them said to Hna. Salinas "But I'm in love with you!" He said it a few times. Hna. Salinas tried to explain and we quickly ended the conversation and left.  
   It's really frustrating how little advanced notice we get for things here. This morning, just as we were starting our P-day we found out we HAD to go to Managua this morning so Hna. Salinas could get her visa because if we waited until another day, there was a $30 fee.I don't know WHY they couldn't let us know earlier. It really put a damper on my mood. We had to take a 2 hour bus ride to Managua and a 2 hour bus ride back. So I had to give up 4 hours of my P-day. It was super frustrating, but I understand that we have to make sacrifices sometimes and I'm willing to do so. Hopefully nothing unexpectedly comes up next P-day. Last P-day we took a ruta which is a SUPER crowded bus and it was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. They literally cram as many people as possible onto it. I standing up holding onto a bar and was pressing up against people's bodies. The drivers stop really quickly and take sharp turns so you I had to hold on to the bar really tightly to avoid falling onto the people around me. My arms were killing me by the end of the ride. Not fun. Not fun at all. My arms were super sore the next day.
   There was a bat flying around in our casa yesterday! Ah, I HATE bats!! They're worse than rats because they can fly! It finally flew out, but I was scared to sleep that night because Hna. Salinas said they bite and that she met someone here in Nicaragua who had a big bat bite on their head. Eeeeek!! We also found a cockroach in our casa and I killed it with a plastic waterbottle.  
   That's all for this week! Thank you for your love and prayers! Lots of love, Hermana Hawkins

More Pictures!

More scenery 
 A nasty flower drink I tried
 Animals in Nicaragua - People let their horses roam free

 A turtle that some other hermanas found on the street
 Mando de China
 Hna. Najarro's Birthday and frosting that turned our tongues different colors!
Hna. Joaquin, Najarro, Behan, Howell, me. (Left to right)

1 Month in Nicaragua!

Hola everybody!
  I have officially passed the 1 month mark of being here in Nicaragua! I wish I could say it's gone by quickly, but it hasn't. This week I caught a really bad head cold (called 'La Gripe'). I caught it 4 days ago and just barely am getting over it, but I've still gone out and worked every day. It started with a sore throat and then I got a really runny nose and congestion and my right ear plugged up. The second day stuff was starting to build up in my throat and it was hard to breath and I would have a bad headache every now and then. I kept coughing to try to clear my throat, but it didn't help. It was pretty miserable. I'm pretty sure I had a fever than night too, but I took some medicine and that helped. The third day I was finally able to have some productive coughs and feel like I could breath clearly. My nose continued to be super runny and went through a ton of tissues. That night I started losing my voice and the next day I could barley talk. I sounded really hoarse and when I tried to sing in church, it sounded terrible and when I tried to hit the high notes, my voice cracked out and all you could hear was breathy air. So I didn't sing that day. That night it was so bad I had to revert to a literal whisper in our final prayer of the night. BUT it's loads better today. My nose has stopped running and my voice is returning to normal. Yippee!! I hate being sick. 
   The other night, Hna. Salinas and I were walking in the street and she pointed out this creepy 15ft. doll costume thing with limp arms called a 'gigantona'. It's worn by one person- they're underneath the skirt of the doll and can see through little eye holes, and the body of the doll stands upright above the person's head. They walk around with these things in the dark  and twist to make them look like they're dancing and people follow them beating drums. It's some sort of tradition, but no one seems to know what it represents. It's creepy, but oddly fascinating. I'll try to send a picture. 
   I've discovered some delicious new snacks this week. This little bag of cherry sour type candies called 'cerezas'- each bag only costs 8 cents! This  little bag of things that taste like cheetohs and also costs 8 cents- I think they'll called 'centavitos'. I tried this fruit called mando de China, or lichi, that like this spiky red ball and inside is the part you eat. It's white and has the the flavor of a grape, but the texture of an eyeball or a slug and that's all I could think of when I ate it. Not my fave, but Hna. Behan loves them. 
   We were supposed to have a baptism for a couple named Fransisca and Santos this weekend, but when we went to their casa for the baptismal interview, Francisca said that Santos was out drinking. We were so shocked! He doesn't drink! Why now? So sad. Looks like we're gonna have to work a lot more with them before they can be baptized. Drinking is a big problem here. I'll see drunk people sprawled out sleeping on the sidewalk. None of our investigators came to church this week. We even stopped by most of their houses before church to remind them to come and one couple promised they would come at 10 o clock, but they never showed. A lot of people here are very unreliable here and don't fulfill their word. It's super frustrating. That's one of the reasons retention rates in the church are so low. We had to drop like 4 families this week. It was a real bummer. We're working on improving our finding strategies and teaching skills. One of our investigators, Esperanza, is super great though. She has a expressed a desire to be baptized and we're hoping to teach her husband as well tonight.      It's all about finding the people who are prepared and ready to listen and keep commitments. I think that's all for this week. I love you all and am so grateful for the emails! Love, Hermana Hawkins


 Walter's baptism
 Cute dog named Oso that looks like a little black bear
 Making tortillas
The scenery


 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 pole. 


Hola familia y amigos!!
   These last 10 days have felt like an eternity, but it's finally P-day! Yay! I thing I learned this week is: Don't eat hot dogs or sausages in a third world country. Every time I do, I get sick. So I'm not gonna eat those anymore. There's this Nicaraguan drink here called tiste that's made of water, ground up corn and coacoa powder and it is disgusting. Who in the world ever thought it would be good to put corn in water was crazy. I don't know how people can like it. I've had to force myself to drink it multiple times this week. Also, people put uncooked oatmeal mix in water and drink it. Yuck. Oatmeal is supposed to be cereal, not a drink. I've discovered that I like platanos. And almost any time they serve fish or chicken I like it.
   The cost of living here is so cheap! It only costs about $3 for the water for our apartment for an entire month! And the electricity for a month is only about $8! Crazy. You can buy delicious little bread treats from Panerias here for super cheap. You can get a dozen mini muffins for $1. The smoothies are super cheap too! Only about 60 cents! And they're delicious! But cereal is like $5/$6 a box and candy is a lot more expensive too. 
   There are so many flies here! Sometimes there will be like 8 flies in a persons house flying around and landing on me literally ever 5 seconds. It's awful. 
   I've had a lot of people tell me my Spanish is good, but I can definitely understand less than I can speak. It's frustrating. 
  About Walter... this guy doesn't know what year he was born, the name of his father, or even his exact full name! It's crazy! He pretty much had to make up a birthday for his baptismal record. He was baptized last Saturday, but later that week we found out his name was incorrect in the baptism so he needed to be baptized again with his exact name. When we told him that, he got offended and said he didn't understand why. We told him it would only be like 15 minutes and that it was necessary because it had to be his exact name or else it's not actually him being baptized. We explained it so many ways, but he kept saying it didn't make sense. We told him it all comes down to faith and if he's willing to follow God. Hna. Salinas told him to pray and ask God if it's what he's supposed to do, but wouldn't. He told us he knows the Book of Mormon's true and that the church is true, but that it didn't make sense that he had to be baptized again because everyone makes mistakes. We explained that God is a God of order, but he didn't want to listen. He told us he didn't want us to come back. Hna. Salinas got emotional in the closing prayer. Walter was able to give up smoking and drinking coffee in one week and he has a testimony, but he was letting Satan get to him. It was super discouraging... BUT, the next day, the elder who baptized him called him and talked to him and he said he wanted to be baptized again and said he wanted to apologize to us. We paid him a visit and he apologized and said that after we left he felt terrible and realized that by rejecting us, he had rejected God. He read his scriptures and prayed and felt peace and knew that he needed to be baptized again. It was incredible! My testimony of the power of prayer grew so much! He was re-baptized on Sunday. I'll try to send a pic. 
  This week we visited a lady and asked if we could share a message, but she said she was busy making tortillas so we offered to help. She showed us how to make them and we each got to try making one! <Although I'm sure the food-preparation circumstances never would have passed a health inspection in the U.S., It was a cool authentic cultural experience. 
The retention rate here is super low. Recent converts often go inactive in the first few years. It's sad. We're trying to help people understand the importance of attending church each Sunday.
   I'm almost out of time and that's all I can think of for this week so hasta luego! I love you all.
Count your blessing, Hermana Hawkins