Saturday, March 22, 2014

Better Week

Hola familia y amigos!
Only in Nicaragua do they use a drunk guy sprwaled out on the sidewalk as a point of reference... someone in the street was asking for directions and the other person replied something like, "It's three house above the drunk guy on the sidewalk." Hahaha. It makes me laugh. There really are a ton of drunks here. We've had some pretty uncomfortable encounters with a few. Oftentimes they'll walk up to us and ask for a pamphlet so we give them the pamphlet of the Word of Wisdom. I wonder if any of them actually read it and started to put it in practice.
Some random interesting things: I tried beet juice lemonade this week... Yuck. It was pretty much lemonade with an aftertaste of beets. Some guessed my age this week and said... wait for it.... 35. Seriously????? Sad day. Haha, make up really does make a difference. But sometimes I don't even both because it just melts right off.
We're coming up on the hottest month here in Nicaragua and I feel like I'm walking through fire. I often make references to the Wizard of Oz and say, "I'm melting! I'm melllllting!" Sometimes people guess where I'm from and generally they guess the U.S. because I'm so incredibly white, but a couple people have guessed Spain and Chile. Maybe I'm finally starting to get tan after all!
This week we met with Engel and he pulled out some papers he printed off the internet that have a bunch of anti-Mormon stuff. Ughhh.... we should have known that would be a very likely possibility because he owns an internet cafe. We tried to explain and answer his questions, but he kept jumping to different subjects and ranting about the stuff in the papers, most of which was false or scriptures taken out of context. It was so frustrating. We tried to visit them every day this week, but they were never available and they didn't come to church again, for like the 5th week. They are really trying my patience, but I'm gonna fight for them because I know how much this gospel will bless their life. Judi says she reading and praying and that she has some questions for us. I hope those questions stem from pure curiosity and not from the internet junk Engel is feeding her.
This weekend we had stake conference and got to see a broadcast and hear talks from 2 apostles. We were eating lunch at a member's house after the conference on Sunday and this old guy, Francisco kept saying how much he loved the talks. He had a huge toothy grin on his face and said, "How crazy! So beautiful the message by Richard G. Scott. I cried. How crazy! I'm happy. I'm SUPER happy." Haha it made me smile and laugh.
This week we started teaching the grandparents of some members and we set a baptismal date in the first lesson! The situation is funny. The husband is Catholic and the wife used to be Catholic but later left the church and joined another Christian church. She kept saying things she didn't like about the Catholic church and it made us wonder how the husband is so firm in the religion. But the husband went to the conference and loved it and said he wants to learn more. We extended the baptismal invitation and the husband, Manuel, was hesitant while the wife was eager to accept. He said, "YOU get baptized then!" and the wife, Ana Maria, said, "No, we're a couple! We have to do it together!" She's funny. She LOVES to talk. But she is so smart! She already accepted that her baptism in the Christian church isn't valid because it wasn't done with the proper authority from God. I'm excited to see where things go with them.
We also found a family to complete this week (the wife is a less active and the husband isn't a member). He accompanied us to the conference on Sunday and had lots of questions. We're hoping to set a baptismal date with him this week.
Things are picking up. I hope we can keep working hard and see more success. Hope you all have a wonderful week and are sharing your testimonies with all your friends! Much love, Hermana Hawkins

Some Pictures

Lesson Learned

Hola familia y amigos,
This week we finished teaching all the lessons to a 12 year-old girl named Aryeris. She is great and totally ready for baptism. After each lesson, she always explained her understanding of the theme in her own words. Her grandma is a member, but her parents aren't. Well, she was going to be baptized yesterday and we had already talked with her dad and he said he wanted to support his daughter and that he would sign to give permission for her to get baptized and Saturday Aryeris had her baptismal interview and passed. But yesterday, we talked to him again to see if he had signed the papers we dropped off at his house and he said that his wife wasn't in agreement and that it was a decision of both so we needed to persuade her. So we went to talk to her and tried to explain the importance of a baptism with the proper authority and what a blessing the gift of the Holy Ghost will be in the life of Aryeris because she's in her adolescence. But she insisted that Aryeris is too young to be baptized and doesn't understand the difference between right and wrong or how serious baptism is because it's a covenant with God. It was so sad. We learned our lesson that you talk to the parents and ask permission right off the bat instead of waiting till after you've taught all the lessons... But the mom say she will permit Aryeris to keep visiting the church so I really hope she does. I know it wasn't effort wasted and that the things we taught her will bless her in her life.
This week we had some great lesson with Judi and Engel. (The both drink and Judi smokes). Normally, when we pass by their house on the weekends, one of them is gone or drunk, but when we passed by on Friday, they were both home so we had a lesson with them and set a baptismal date for April 6th. Then on Saturday when we arrived, they were sitting playing cards together!! It was so good to see them together and happy because they fight a lot. Yesterday, again, we found them in the house together and had a lesson. They're both reading the Book of Mormon and drinking less and Judi is smoking much less! It's so great to see their progress! Engel still struggles with praying and has some doubts about Joseph Smith that we did our best to clear up yesterday. He prayed for the first time in the end of the lesson yesterday too! We've invited them to church so many times, but they still haven't come. However, yesterday the commited to coming this Sunday so I really hope they hold true! I think what they really lack is maturity. They like to goof off in the lessons sometimes and start laughing when we try begin singing a hymn with them. But we know that they have desires to change and that slowly, but surely they will experience a true conversion. A cool thing with Judi: In one of the lessons this week, she shared a scripture with us (2 Nephi 2,:4) that she'd found and it was the exact one that we'd been planning to share with her!
We're teaching a guy named Jaime who the missionaries were teaching 2 years ago but had to drop because he went to Costa Rica and he has a baptismal date for March 23rd. We had a lesson with him yesterday afternoon and he kept saying, "Es correcto" (it's true) to the things we were teaching. He also said he knows the Book of Mormon is true. Awesome! It seems too good to be true! Maybe it's just because we're had to work so hard with our other investigators to help them overcome their challenges, but it felt easy. Who knows what will happen, but I have great hopes for him.
We haven't had a single investigator at church for weeks now and it's a real bummer. Our goal for this week is to have 2 families at church!
Welllll, I'm out of time and I can't remember what else I was planning on writing because I lost my agenda. Boo hoo :( Hope you all have a good week. Everybody send congratulations to my brother Weston who is a daddy as of this last week! :)
Con mucho amor, Hermana Hawkins

6 Months!!!

Hola familia y amigos,
Today marks 6 months in the missiont! I can't believe I've been here for half a year! I'm a third of the way through! The time is going faster little by little.
Today we ate lunch at a French Bakery and I tried goat cheese! It's really good! This week, we visited Cruz and Merling and Merling shared her testimony with us. Did I tell you she's pregnant? I'm so exited for them! Cruz is gonna be a dad! It's so great that the child will be born in the covenant. So anyway, Merling was really upset in church last Sunday because she couldn't feel her baby, which usually means your baby is dead so she thought she lost it, but she ask the bishop for a blessing and the next day when she went to the doctors, all was well with her baby. She told us she made a covenant with God that she would bear her testimony in church this Sunday (even though it makes her super nervous) if he would protect her baby. She started crying and it made me cry. She bore her testimony about the power of the priesthood and and about prayer and also about tithing. She said that they always pay their tithing and that they're building a house and had to take out a loan and didn't know it they'd be able to pay for it, but they've always had enough and she knows that is a blessing of paying tithing. She also said that since they've been married and are keeping the Law of Chastity, they don't fight. That's so awesome! It was really special for me to hear all that and to see her bear her testimony in church yesterday. When we contacted Merling she hadn't been going to church for a while and I never knew she had such a strong testimony. She also always says "Mi Cristo" instead of just "Cristo". I love that about her. I can tell she really has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
This week we had a meeting with Pres. in Managua because our Zone isn't having much success so he challenged us to start waking up at 5:30am and leaving the house an hour early to have more proselyting time. So that's what we're doing, and boy, am I tired. But I know it will be worth it. I've covenanted with God that I'm going to accept that challenge and work even harder in these coming weeks. My comp and I planned for and extra hour and a half yesterday so that we could come up with a great plan for this week. We're determined to baptize a family this month.
I have really grown to love reading the scriptures. I could sit and study them all day long. Same with Spanish. I love how simple the Spanish language is. In English, there are so many extra words and phrases that mean the same thing. I'm start to pick up on more and more new phrases in Spanish.
This week this was an earthquake at 3am. I woke up to the floor and bed and well, the whole house shaking and it freaked me out. But I realized right away what it was and waited for it to pass. It only lasted about a minute. I was worried that it would start shaking hard and things would start falling from the walls, but nothing did. First earthquake I've ever experienced. They say they're quite common here because of the volcanoes.
I added a few more pics to dropbox. The first picture is me and Hermana Cruz (my "grandma" in the mission- the trainer of my trainer). The other is of my comp, and Hna. Comb (another North American- Hna. Tarax was her trainer).
Well, that's all for this week. I love you all and hope you are praying for missionary opportunities!!
Con amor, Hermana Hawkins


Hola familia y amigos,
Well, it was another rough week. We only had one investigator at church yesterday and it was the12-year-old granddaughter of a member even though a lot more people said they would come. We've been doing a lot of studying on subjet of keeping the Sabbath Day holy so that we can help people understand how important it is.
We're teaching a family named Judi and Angel. The first lesson with them was good. We watched the Restoration video and they said it was beautiful. Then in the second visit we found out that they both drink and smoke and have a lot of problems in their relationship (they're not married either) so we've been trying to help them overcome their addictions. We brought them pictures of Jesus to put in their house to remind them of their decision to change and also little boxes of gum with empowering phrases and scriptures on them so that any time they have the desire to drink or smoke, they can chew gum instead. We passed by their house a couple times this week and caught Judi smoking and the other time, we caught her drinking. That second time, she came to the door and we disappointedly told her the drinking is not the solution to her problems. She started crying and said, "I know. I just want to die." It broke my heart. It was sooooo sad to see someone with such little hope for a better life. We tried to encourage her and testified that through Christ we can overcome our weaknesses and we can be forgiven of all our sins. She said that we were angels sent to help her. We asked her if we could do anything to help her like clean her house our wash dishes and she said no. But then said, "There is one thing... You can give me a hug" and started bawling as we embraced her. It made me cry. In my mind I was thinking, "We HAVE to help this woman. I'm not giving up on her." We told her we'd be praying for her and then left. She said she would try to come to church on Sunday and we passed by in the morning before sacrament meeting, but no one was home. We still aren't having success, although we're doing everything we can think of and are trusting in the promises of the mission president and our other leaders. But we've also come to realize that we have some things we need to change. It was a very humbling week and one that involved repentanve. My comp and I have had to work out some misunderstandings, but now we are growing in unity and improving. I'm discovering a lot of my weakenesses, but I always keep in mind Ether 12:27 and look forward with the hope that in Christ, they can become strengths.
More and more lately, we're having really great first lessons with people, but we visit them a second time and they're completely different people and don't want to listen. It's discouraging. But, we know that this is a trial of our patience and faith and that there's something God wants us to learn.
I ate cow liver yesterday and it was disgusting. The only reason I even finished it was because I didn't know it was cow liver until afterwards. I had just thought it was bad-tasting beef. Yuck.
I had to create a new dropbox because my other one was full and I sent a bunch of pictures. As you can tell, my comp loves animals. I bought a painting of a parrot for $4 from a old investigator in our area who is a painter.
Well, I'm completely out of time, so more to come next week. I love you all!! Thanks for the letter! Find a way to serve someone this week.
Love, Hermana Hawkins

And The Work Continues

Hola familia y amigos!!
I wish I could say we had more success this week, but we really didn't. We had lessons with 9 new families, most of which seemed positive, but not a single one came to church. I think that's our biggest challenge- getting people to come to church. We did have one investigator at church on Sunday. Her name is Carolina. She had promised us she would come, but we wanted to pass by her house before church to make sure, and just as we'd thought, she wasn't really going to come. She made the excuse that she had to wash her laundry to we told her we'd help and then she could get ready for church. She agreed and we hand washed her laundry in the outdoor washbin while she showered and got ready. If we had trusted her word and hadn't passed by and insisted, she wouldn't have come. I've been telling myself this week: I trust God. But less and less do I trust the people. It's hard when you've been deceived so many times. I know that people will continue to let us down, but that doesn't diminish my faith in God. I know he has a perfect plan. I'm not sure how to distinguish between the people who really mean what they say and those who don't. I guess it's a learning process.
I received the Christmas package from the ward this week!! Thank you all so much!! (It arrived in Managua on December 31st, but they didn't pass out the mail until now... I have no idea why they wait so long.) I loved reading each one of the ornaments! You all are the best! I will save it and hang it up this Christmas since I'll still be here in the mission.
There's a lady in the ward here who sells these delicious Savadorean things called papusas. The only way I can think of to describe it is that it's sort of like a cheesy pancake. Super delicious. I also learned this week that here in Nicaragua, you have to specially order your pizza "without ketchup" haha. My comp bought a slice of pizza and they brought her a slice covered in ketchup. Nicans LOVE ketchup.
We visited this less active member who is recovering from a foot infection. He started telling us about what happened to his foot. He got a terrible infection that caused him to lose all his toes except his big toe. He had his son bring out his Ipad and shoes us all these nasty pictures of his foot infection. It shoed how his toes had been removed and the infection was all different colors and what's worse, the son kept zooming in on the pictures to show us the details!!!! IT WAS DISGUSTING! Nastiest pictures I think I've ever seen! The less active guy said, "Isn't it beautiful?" We were both thinking, "No! It's disgusting!". He then went on for 45 minutes to tell us the story of how the infection began and how one night he saw a light apear in his room and the next day his foot was sewn up and healing and he realized than an angel had come in the night and tended his wound and that when he visited the doctor's they didn't understand what had happened. Cool story (definitely a miracle) but also extremely graphic. We thought we were gonna puke. I kept watching my comp's disturbed face and it was so hard to keep from laughing. Let's just say we walked away from the lesson gagging. So there's the horror story for the week. I hope you aren't all throwing up now.
We're still pushing along and hoping to start seeing success. Transfers were today and thankfully, we're both staying here. We're determined to make this transfer better. The goal is to baptize a family and we're gonna do everything we can to reach that goal. I know that if we continue to put our faith in God and give it our all, we will see miracles. Luke 1:37.
Con mucho amor, Hermana Hawkins