Sunday, September 7, 2014

More Pictures!

Click link to see pictures! Below is a description of some of the pictures.

{me and my new comp at a zone activity, her first day in the mission, me with some other sisters, a love note from some random Nica (hahaha), the huge pacakge I sent Hunter}

Downer Week

Hola familia y amigos,
  Not gonna lie, this week was hard. First off, Alfredo and Mirna did not get baptized this weekend. We had zero baptisms in the month of August and the goal we had commited to achieve was to baptize 5 people, and of that 5, 2 families. Alfredo and Mirna don´t even really seem to have any real doubts. They both say they know this is the true church and have felt the spirit in the lesson and they recognize that God has blessing them since we started visiting them. But they keep saying "It´s so fast". Alfredo and Mirna were gonna go with us to see a baptism on Saturday and are reluctance to accept a new set baptismal date.It´s so hard because I feel like I´ve been doing everything I can and putting my whole heart and energy into helping Alfredo and Mirna and they still didn´t get baptized.  
    Before we thought Alfredo was the one who had doubts, but now we´re pretty positive it´s Mirna because yesterday we shared a video with them that showed events from Jesus´s life and when the video finished the first thing Alfredo said was, "Look, Jesus Christ was baptized too". I´m pretty sure he already knew that, but it was cool that THAT was the part of the movie that stood out to him. He had baptism on his mind. He basically told us he´s willing to get baptized without Mirna. Mirna says it´s a step they need to take together as husband and wife, but there´s something that´s holding her back, we´re just not sure what it is. We found out one of the thing´s that was causing doubts was that their neighbors and family members have been mocking them "What, you´re Mormon now?", but we brought some members with us to the lesson who could really relate to that because they passed through the same thing, so they shared their experience and how they moved forward and also bore their testimonies of the blessings they´ve received since baptism. So I think that helped them. 
  Anyway, we´re still working with them and have asked them to pray about the date September 14th for their baptism. Please keep praying for them. I want so much to see this family get baptized before transfers. I know they are ready for it. 
   Juan and Marta had accepted a baptismal date for September 13th and were both commited to coming to church on Sunday (it would have been Juan´s first time), but neither of them went. Juan decided to do an extra job and Marta decided to stay home cook lunch for him so that when he got home tired from working, he´d have a meal. We´re tried to convice her to make something for him and leave it and go with us to church, but she stayed. Erg, I don´t understand why they´re backtracking! We´ve already taught them about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, but we´re gonna review it with them. Also, Marta´s sons keep promising they´re gonna go to church and never do. The only one who went yesterday was Reyna. She is progressing well and has a goal to finish the Book of Mormon. She even paid a fast offering yesterday! Awesome! But she doesn´t have a baptismal date right now because she has a boyfriend who is married and separated from his wife and in the process of divorce and marry her. So she can´t get baptized while she´s dating him because he´s a married man and who knows how long it will take for him to finish his divorce. I wish she would just drop him and get baptized. But obviously we can´t even suggest that. She´s gotta decide what to do.
   Juan and Marta won´t be able to get baptized on the 13th because Juan hasn´t even been to church once yet and he has to go at least twice before his baptism. We also keep reminding them about their wedding and asking them if they´ve started making plans and have decided on a place to hold it, but they keep saying "We´re working on it. We want to make plans when it gets a little closer." It´s less than two weeks away! Or would have been. But now we have to move the baptismal date and they also seem reluctant to accept a new set date. We´ve asked them to pray about the 20th.
We had to drop one of the family we dragged to church last Sunday. Turns out their hearts really weren´t in it and they only when to church cuz we insisted so much. It´s hard to find a balance between giving your all/doing everything that´s possible to help people take the steps to come unto Christ and pressuring so much that we don´t know if the people are acting in faith or only acting because we´re insisting so much.
  Alfredo and Mirna came to church again, which was a relief because I was afraid we had pressured them so much that now they weren´t gonna keep coming to church. 
   And if this week wasn´t already stressful enough, it´s really costing me with my companion. We´re very different. Plus, with all the time we´ve been spending make plans for lessons and other things to help Alfredo and Mirna, we´ve gotten really behing on training and I don´t feel like my comp is improving very much. Maybe I´m not teaching her enough, or effectively enough. I kinda feel like I´m failing as a trainer this time around. I could use some extra prayers.
  I´m sorry this is kind of a downer letter. But the truth, a mission isn´t easy. It´s a refiner´s fire. I hope these experience help me to be a better person and grow closer to Jesus Christ. 
   This Thursday, we´re having a meeting with some general authorities- one name Elder Alonzo and the other is the Young Men´s general president. I hope I can receive some good personal revelation on how to be a better trainer. Love you all. Thank you for your support. Hermana Hawkins

Good Week

Hola familia y amigos!
    This week was great! We had a double zone conference with President and recharged our spiritual energy. I'm learning a lot of simple things I can put into practice to have more success. Small ways to better recognize when people are really prepared for the gospel. 
   Yesterday, our zone leaders sent us a message saying we needed to be really persistent to get people to come to church. We passed by for Alfredo and Mirna and they were already dressed and ready to go to church so we said we'd see them there, but our goal was to bring two families to church so we set out to bring another. A couple possibilities fell through and we were left with one other couple who had commited to come to church. We had passed by their house a little while earlier and the mom said they weren't home, but we didn't think that was true so we went back and check 15 minutes before church was about to start. As we imagined they WERE home, but had just barely gotten up and weren't ready. We told them, ´That's ok! You still have time! We'll wait here for you!" and they tried to tell us, "No, it's fine. Wait for us at the church. We'll arrive within a half hour!" But we knew that if we left them and waited for them at the church they wouldn't show up, and we were already gonne be late so we didn't want to show up late at church without investigators. We said, "No, we'll wait here while you two are getting ready. We don't like arrive at church alone. We like to walk with friends." Then a few minutes later, again, the lady tried to tell us they would just meet us there, but we weren't leaving without them. So we waited and they finally got all ready and came with us, but we were about 40 minutes late to church and they only had time to hear the last talk. But we conviced them to stay for the gospel prinicpals class. And Alfredo and Mirna came as they promised so we were able to reach our goal of having two families at church! Woo! A tender mercy from God. This week, we're hoping to break the record of two and bring 3 families to church. In my whole mission I've only been able to bring at most 2, but I'm determined to have 3! In total, we had 8 investigators at church, so it felt like a pretty successful Sunday. This week we're preparing Alfredo and Mirna for baptism. They are sooo positive and I just know they are prepared to be baptized, but please everyone pray for them and that everything goes well this week for their baptism and confirmation! 
    Juan finally got back from El Salvador yesterday and seems really excited to go to church for the first time this Sunday. We are now teaching every single person in that house. I'm not sure if I've already mentioned that we found Reyna by way of her sister-in-law Flor, who we contacted in the street. We kept showing up at their housing looking for Flor and she was never there and then finally we showed up one time and she was there, but she didn't want to receive us, so we asked Reyna if we could share a message with her. After about 3 visits with Reyna, we realized we needed to invite everyone in the house to listen to our message, so we started teaching Marta and Juan, and later Reyna's brother Pablo. Then later the other brother Mario and finally this week, Mario's wife Flor decided to sit in on a lesson so we're teaching her too! And she wants to go to church with her husband! So cool! God works in amazing ways. 
    We found this seemingly nice family this week who were super positive in the first lesson- they accepted a baptismal date, commited to praying about the Book of Mormon, and commited to coming to church this Sunday. But when we passed by this Sunday, the husband said he wasn't gonna go to church because he had a horrible headache. We tried everything to convince him to go, but he wouldn't budge. After church, we went to visit them to teach a lesson and the husband would even let us come in through the front gate. Instead he shouted at us from the patio to come back next Sunday. The wife was down the street running and errand and when she saw us, she hid from us. So we pretended like we were gonna go visit another person and turned the corner and waited a while. When the wife thought we were gonna she went back to her house. 2 minutes later we showed up and called out to her, but she completely ignored us. What on earth?? I don't understand why the suddenly don't want to receive us. I'm sure someone told them some lie about the church. But hey, it's better to realize after just the first lesson that they don't want ti progress than after many lesson, as it happened with Luis and Mercedes. Also, another investigator stopped receiving us and we found out later it was cuz her neighbor told her that Mormons give people $20 when they get baptized. It's so sad that people will so easily believe lies without even trying to find out the truth. She had never even gone to church to see how it really is. 
    We ordered zone t-shirts and they turned out awesome. They're red and on the back we have the names of each missionary in the zone. Today we played soccer as a zone. It was really fun, but it was sooooo hot outside I felt like I was respirating fire. By the time we finished playing, I think my face was pretty much the color of my t-shirt haha. 
   Well, that's all for this week. Love you all! You're always in my prayers! 
Hermana Hawkins

Another Week

Hola familia y amigos!
    First of all, I'd just like to say CONGRATULATIONS HUNTER AND JASMINE!! Sounds like you had a beautiful wedding! I'm am so looking forward to being there when you two are sealed in the temple. That will be so special. Also, I hope everyone gets a chance to listen to the awesome recording of "Some Nights" that my family did for the reception. Wow. They are the best. Yep, now you know. I have the best family in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!! Ok, enough with my trunky rant haha. 
   This week went pretty well. Sadly, we didn't have a family at church yesterday, but we had 5 other investigators. Alfredo and Mirna couldn't go because he had to work and Mirna didn't want to go alone. But we visited yesterday night and taught them about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. They had never heard of the Sabbath Day and they took it so well! It seemed like they totally understood and they commited to come to church this Sunday and to start keeping the Sabbath Day holy. The other cool part is that they had a visitor there when we arrived. It always maked me a little nervous to teach a lesson to people we've already been visiting when there's someone there who hasn't heard any of the lessons because sometimes they have a ton of doubts or questions and ruin the lesson, but this guy was awesome because he had gone to our church for like 6 months before he moved to a new house and he totally had a testimony of the Book of Mormon and was supporting us in our lesson! He said "It's true, this book contains a lot of really beautiful teachings." Sweet! 
   Also, I forgot to mention last week, but last Sunday when Alfredo and Mirna went to church, a stake leader gave a super bold talk about tithing and generous fast offerings that was totally directed at the members. I was worried because we haven't taught them about tithing yet so I didn't know what they would think, but that night when we visited them and asked them if they had any questions about church, Alfredo said, "Everything was good. I'm just not sure how I'm going to pay my tithing because I don't have a salary/set income." We explained that they didn't have to worry about that until they're members and gave a little more detail about the importance of tithing and what it's used for. Mirna said, "We like to contribute." How awesome!! They're already willing to pay tithing! They understand that the blessings we receive are greater than the small portion of money we give up to build God's kingdom. Tithing can be a hard principal for people to accept so it's pretty miraculous that they already understand the importance of it. 
   Juan hasn't come back today. Marta thinks he will come back today, but she's not sure. They were preparing for a baptismal date for this weekend, but we'll have to move it back a bit because Juan hasn't come to church yet. We had a good lesson with Marta this week in which she volunteered to give the closing prayer! Awesome! It has been so cool to see her progress. 
    Hmmm... what else? We're working on finding new families to prepare for baptism in September. God is testing my patience a bit with this second greenie just cuz she's not as fast of a learner as Hna. Garcia, but she makes up for it with her enthusiasm for the work. I hope everyone has a fantastic week! Go give a referal to your local misionaries! :)
Love, Hermana Hawkins

La Ley!

Hola familia y amigos!
    This week was awesome! Or as they say here in Nicaragua "La ley!" Wow, where do I even begin? On Tuesday, we went to the mission home to meet our greenies. Mine, Hermana Castillo, is a tall black girl from the Dominican Republic! She's the first missionary I've met here in the mission who is from there. She's a convert of just 2 years and has a lot of enthusiasm for the work. I realize it's a huge responsability to train her, being so recent to have joined the church. She likes to play baseball, cook, and dance. Also, she can braid hair, which I'm excited about because none of my other comps could and I can't do it on my own hair. Her two other sisters are members, but her brother and her parents aren't. Her mom is going to church and receiving the missionaries though. She was baptized in the Catholic church, but hadn't gone in years when the missionaries found her and started teaching her. She doesn't speak any English, but wants to learn. She is very sweet and simple. There was a total of 29 new missionaries that came this transfer and the majority were sisters.
   This week we went to visit Marta (Reyna's mom) so I could introduce her to my new comp. My plans were just to visit her every once and a while to share some scriptures to keep her faith growing while Juan's away so that when he gets back, she'll still have the desire to get baptized. When we arrived, I was happily surprised to see that Reyna had finally returned after like 3 weeks of being out of town. I greeted her with a big smile and introduced Hna. Castillo and then we said a prayer to begin the message. I started off just making small talk, asking them how they`d been and Marta mentioned that she talked with Juan and he found work. I assumed that she meant he found work in El Salvador, but then she said he came back yesterday, but then left again. Shocked, I asked, "He was here yesterday?" And she said yes, that his cousin had found him a job. Confused, I asked, "He found a job in El Salvador?2 and she replied yes, and I continued, "And he found a job here?". She replied yes again, so I asked, "Which one is he gonna choose?" and with a smile on her face, she replied, "Here". She said he's be coming back this next Saturday. I got so excited and said, "Perfect! That means you guys will still be able to prepare to get baptized on the 23rd!" And then it took a moment for everything to really sink in. My eyes welled with tears as I realized God had answered my prayers. All the prayers Hna. Garcia and I had offered for their family, even after Juan had already left, the prayers of faith that he might somehow be able to find work here and come back... were heard and answered be a loving and merciful Heavenly Father. For a minute, I sat trying to hold back my tears and compose myself, but when I realized the tears were well on their way, I said in a broken, emotion-filled voice, "Sorry... I just... I know that God answers prayers... my companion and I have been praying so much for your family," and then proceeded to bear my testimony, express my love for them, and promise blessings. As I was saying all of this, Marta's eyes also welled with tears and Reyna seemed to have a glisten in her eyes that may have been the beginnings of tears that never came to fruit (is that a phrase? "came to fruit"... I'm forgetting English). We invited Reyna to prepare to be baptized the same day as her Mom and Juan. She accepted. Also, Marta said her son Mario, who we've never taught, was reading a little in their Book of Mormon and liked it. Maybe we'll be able to baptize their entire family! Marta has 3 kids and one of them is married. Also, we just found out Reyna has a boyfriend so maybe they'll decide to get married and we can baptize that family! Ah, that would be awesome. Anyway, I can't even express how happy I felt. I was telling people the good news all day. I am so grateful God answered my prayers and renewed my hopes to see this family get baptized. Definitely a miracle.
    Also, we had a new family at church on Sunday named Alfredo y Mirna! Then that night, we had a lesson with them and my comp put a baptismal date with them which they accepted! Also, when we asked them if they were gonna go to church again next week, I was expecting them to say, "We'll see, I don't know if I have to work" or "If there's nothing else to do" like the majority of the people here in Nicaragua say, but Mirna said with a smile on her face, "Claro que sí!" which means "Of course!" Ah, SO AWESOME! They awesome know a bunch of members already so they`ll have some great fellowshipping. I`m so excited for this family. I'm so excited to see where things go this month. Keep these families in your prayers!
Mom, You're right, I'm staying in the area because there's something more to do here! It rained a lot this week. We even got a bit of hail one day. My comp had never even seen hail before. Haha crazy, huh? 
   Yohana and Marcos are moving so we have to drop them. And they still haven't found out their new address so we can't pass them to the missionaries there yet. Hopefully they'll get it to us before they move for good.  
  Anyway, this week was great. God always answers our prayers. If we are patient and don't lose faith, we will see miracles. Love you all! Thanks for all your support!
Hermana Hawkins


    Well, I`ve decided I should just stop guessing about transfers cuz it`s never what you think it will be. I think sometimes President just likes to mess with our minds in the interviews haha. He didn't put elders in our ward, so it`s still two sets of sisters. I'm staying in my area and will be training. I had to write earlier today because this afternoon, I`m going to Managua for a training meeting and tomorrow we meet our greenies. All I know is that my greenie`s name is Hermana Castillo. Hermana Garcia is getting transferred to Managua and isn`t training after all, like I thought she would be, but I have the feeling she`ll train next transfer. If I stay with my greenie the whole 12 weeks of training, I`ll have had 7 and a half months in this area and will only have 5 months left in the mission. It`s very likely I`ll only serve in a total of 3 areas my whole mission. I`m glad I`m staying here because I like this area and the members are awesome and our house is awesome, but I`ll also be very ready to experience a new area after this training. I feel like I`ve learned a lot training Hna. Garcia and hope I can be an even better trainer this second time around. I`ll tell you all about Hermana Castillo next week!
    We've been hoping Reyna and her daughter would get baptized for the last two weeks, but she's been out of town this whole time and we have no idea when she`s coming back. She won`t answer our phone calls our texts. She went to visit the dad of her daughter, so maybe they decided to get back together again. This makes things complicated. We`ll see if she decides to come back. Her mom seems to think they are always off and on, sometimes together, other times fighting and separate, so who knows. 
   As for Reyna`s mom Marta and her boyfriend Juan. We`ve been teaching them for a while now and the had a baptismal date for August 23rd and were progressing really well, BUT Juan decided to up and go to El Salvador to look for work this week and said he probably won`t be back for a few months. He had told us he was thinking about going. He hasn`t had work since February. We did everthing we could to help him stay and prepare for baptism. What 3 more weeks to wait compared to the 6 months he`s already gone without a job? He said maybe he would get baptized there in El Salvador, but we said it would be so much more special if he and Marta took that step together as a family. We did a special fast for them on Thursday and were praying so hard that he would decided to stay, but alas, when we went to visit them on Friday, Marta gave us the awful news that he decided to go. We asked her if she still wanted to prepare for baptism and she said the Juan had asked her to wait so they could get married and baptised together when they get back. We were soooo sad! I really thought they were gonna be the family we baptize this month! They are SO prepared! But at least the have the desire to do so and I hope and pray with all my heart than they follow through when he gets back. I just hope Marta doesn`t lose enthusiasm for the gospel while he`s away. 
     On a brighter note, we did find a pretty positive family name Yohana and Marcos who accepted a baptismal date and have the desire to get married. They said they want to see a wedding and a baptism in our church first though. They`ve already visited the church a bunch of times with a relative of their who is a member. In the first lesson, Yohana asked, "When are you gonna come back again?" We said, "Friday?" and she said they would be home on Friday and then said, "Tomorrow?" She was so excited for us to keep teaching her. We ended up putting the appointment for Saturday so we could share a message and then take them to see a baptism in the church and they said that was fine, but when we arrived at their house on Saturday they weren`t home, and the others in the their house said they wouldn`t be back till Monday. ;( So they couldn`t come to church either, but I have hope that they`ll come this week. 
. We only had one investigator at church yesterday even though, again we had many people commited to coming. 
  Almost every single person here in Nicaragua that I ask, "Do you have faith in Jesus Christ" replies. "Yes" or "Of course", and almost everyone here BELIEVES in Christ, but I`ve come to the conclusion that very few actually have true faith in Him. Faith is manifested by works. But most of the people here thinks it`s sufficient to believe in Christ, recognize him as our Savior, and pray daily. They don`t see that if they really had faith in Christ they`d know that he was perfect, which means he never gave a commandment in vain. He wants us to keep ALL of his commandments. If not, he wouldn`t have given them. And if we truely have faith, we will be obedient to the commandments of Jesus Christ and show him our love. I hope I can strenthen my personal relationship with Jesus Christ so much so that my love for him is so evident in my testimony that it causes a conversion in the hearts of others. That they might DEVELOP that true faith, even if they don`t have it right now. Have a great week everyone! Much love, Hermana Hawkins 

When I am Weak, Then am I Strong

Hola familia y amigos!
   I´m pretty much all better. My body is still trying to figure out how to digest food right and I´m still taking some anitbiotics, but now I´m off the pain medication and am feeling great! Ah, there´s nothing like being really sick to make you super grateful to be healthy. I hope this feeling of gratitude will carry me to work even harder in my area. No Mom, it wasn´t a parasite. It was an infection in my intestines. I don´t know what type of infection, but the nurse said it was probably caused by something I ate. We´re assuming it was some food from a fritanga (street vendor) that I had last week. Needless to say, I won´t be eating from fritangas anymore. I don´t think it´s anything permanent. I already gained back my appetite and am eating normally again. But goodbye tan. Hello pale. Haha I need to get some sun again to get my tan back.
   We were able to go back out and work in our area on Thursday night. So we only had two full days of teaching/tracting this week (Friday and Saturday). I was pretty stressed for all the time we had lost while I was sick and for not having visited our investigators all week. I worried that our numbers would be horrible this week and that we wouldn´t be able to bring anyone to church on Sunday. But God blessed us with another little miracle. Friday, we did divisions with two member so that we could split up and double the number of lessons. That helped. It was pretty exhausting jumping back into the missionary schedule of walking all day after 4 days in bed, but I did it. And the next day was easier. Also, my comp did awesome without me. I need to give her more chances to take the reigns. Then, Sunday in the morning, we did divisions with members again so that we would have time to pass by for all of our investigators and bring them to church. We ended up bringing 5 people to church and the church attendance was up by 33 people! I was so happy and relieved. I hope things continue to go well in our area and we can keep strengthening our ward. 
   I think God wanted to teach me a little something about faith. When things are beyond our control and there´s nothing more we can do, that´s when God steps in and manifests his power. 2 Corinthians 2: 9-10 "And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... for when I am weak, then am I strong." I was really weak at the beginning of this week. And a little weak in faith towards the end of the week, worry that we wouldn´t have success on Sunday, but God´s power is made perfect in weakness and he showed me that even when the odds are completely against us, God can do miracle. Anything is possible with God. We just need to have the faith look past the seemingly poor probabilities. 
   We´re teaching this awesome guy named Leonardo who is reading the Book of Mormon and praying and went to church on Sunday. He was baptized in a church called the Church of Christ and when we invited him to be baptized he said he couldn´t be baptized again because he was already baptized. Never heard that one before... not. Haha. But anyway, we explained the priesthood authority and he still didn´t seem to understand so we brought the district leader and then on Sunday, we brought the Elder´s Quorum president and he explained things really well and Leonardo accepted a baptismal date for August! It was awesome. He even said that maybe God will want him to get baptized earlier! He said, "When I get my answer, I get baptized that same day." Ah, I´m praying to much that he will be able to recognize his answer when he gets it! He was in a war earlier in life and God saved his life like two times. I know God preserved him for a purpose. He had to learn about the restored gospel! 
  I forgot to mention last week that the mission accomplished the goal of baptizing 102 families in the month of June. I wish I could say we contributed a family to that number, but we did not. We just contributed a lot of prayers for the whole mission. And we are working hard to try to baptize a family soon. I have yet to baptize an entire family in my mission. I hope I can do it before I get transferred from this area.
   My recent convert Elizabeth went to the temple in Honduras to do baptisms for the dead a couple weeks ago with the stake! How awesome is that? It brought me joy to hear that. Also, yesterday, we got to church late after leaving to fetch an investigator and missed the sacrament. I felt so incomplete and didn´t want to miss taking the sacrament even once on my mission because it has become something so much more sacred for me in the mission, so I asked the Bishop if we could still take it and he arranged for the sacrament to be blessed in the secretaries office and given to us. And guess who blessed it? Mauricio! It was so special to have one of my converts bless that sacrament especially for me and my companion. It´s like a circle. Hermana Cruz and I helped him receive the gospel and now he was helping my companion and I receive a sacred ordinance on the Sabbath. 
  I´m ready to hit the ground running this week and see some more miracles. Hope you all have a fantastic week and stay healthy! Until next week, Hermana Hawkins