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)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Short Letter

 Hola familia y amigos!
   Can I just say that I love the topical guide? It doesn´t exist in Spanish. But it makes it soooo much easier to find certain scriptures when I´m studying. I do love morning study time. I will miss have so much time to just study the gospel.
   Church attendance reacher 75 this week! That´s the highest it´s been since I got here to Jinotega! We´re just 5 below the branch goal. Hopefully this Sunday we can reach 80.
    We had a bunch of families commited to going to church, but none of them came. We had three individual investigators, 2 of which I was very surprised to see walk in. It´s funny how sometimes the people we least expect to show up are the only ones who come. We´re pushin´ on and hoping too see some baptisms soon. We´ve got some good possibilities, but it all depends on if they choose to act. 
   Today for P-day, we went to a place called Selva Negra, which is a tourist place just outside of Matagalpa. We were expecting to see monkeys, but apparently they don´t come out in the rain and it was raining lightly while we were there. Bummer. People say in some of the forests in this part of Nicaragua you can spot sloths too, but I didn´t see any. The only animals we saw were ducks and a deer that was fenced in. But it was a really pretty, green, lush forest so I got a few cool pictures and we also had fun taking some pics on an army tank at the entrance. There was also a cool little cabin with flags of all the different countries. Also, last week, we went to a scenic place in Esteli as a double-zone P-day and got to see some pretty views and a waterfall. 
   I´m sorry this is such a short, boring letter, but at least I´m sending pictures. This is the last week of transfers! This Sunday I´ll find out if I´m staying here for my last change. Have a great week! Con mucho amor, Hermana Hawkins
P.s. Thanks to all who sent words of support this week. They are much appreciated. 

In Humility Our Savior

Dear family and friends,
   I don´t even know where to begin. I have about a million things running through my head right now. This has been a very humbling week and a half. We had a baptism fall through, only had one investigator in church on Sunday, and learned a lot of things we can do better. We´re dropping Jessica. Her parents are putting too much opposition and she doesn´t have the courage to share her testimony with them and explain why baptism is so important to her. Maybe when she´s a little older. I was feeling pretty frustrated Sunday morning when none of the people who had commited to going to church showed up. I´ve just gotten so sick of lies. All of this sort of built up until Monday, when we got a text saying one of the sister training leaders would be coming to work with us on Monday. I looked forward to it because I knew I would learn a lot, but I also knew it would be a humbling and overwhelming experience. And it was. She did a lot of analyzing and giving suggestions. I felt like I was being judged. I suppose I was. But not all judgement is unjust. I tried to go through the day with an open mind and took lots of notes of things I can do better. The  next day was harder though. In the morning, during our personal studies, the sister training leader told me she had been thinking a lot about me and knew that I was an obedient, hard-working missionary and wondered why I wasn´t having as much success as she felt I deserved. She said she knew I put my heart into the work, but felt that I have been working too much with people who aren´t willing to make the changes necessary to follow Christ because sometimes we love investigators so much that we don't want to drop them. She made a lot of emphasis on the fact that I´m nearning the end of my mission and said that if I would just change some small, simple things, I see miracles before the end. I couldn't help but cry in feeling her love and concern. And anyone who knows me know that when I start crying, I can´t stop. And I´m such an ugly crier!
  The truth is, I have been struggling a lot in the last few months wondering the same thing: why I haven´t been baptizing if I´m putting my heart into the work. I´ve been getting so frustrated with investigators and my heart at times has felt like it´s taken a whipping. As I am nearing the end of my mission, I´ve put a lot of goals for myself, and one of my deepest desires is to not look back on my mission with resentment or bitterness. My misson has taught me a lot and made me stronger and I´m so grateful for this experience, but recently I´ve been feeling bitter for all of the disappointments. That´s not what I want. I want to find joy in my mission. I want to look back on this experience with a smile, not with resentment. I want to feel a great love for Nicaragua and the people here. The sister training leader helped me to see that if I am willing to drop the people who don´t want to make commitments and act and do more searching to find those who are truly prepared, I won´t have to experience so much disappointment. I realized she was right. I learned a lot about my weaknesses in these last couple days and discovered some ways I can improve. I regret not learning these things sooner so I´d have more time to put them into practice. But in the moments when we are filled with regret and wish we could go back and change the past, that´s where the Atonement comes into play. Change is hard. It won´t be easy to put the things I learned into practice. It´s going to take work. I won´t be able to overcome my weaknesses on my own. I trust that Christ will give me the strength to move forward, the faith to keep trying, the hope to believe that things will get better, the courage to let go of my fear of failure, and a greater sense of charity for the people of Nicaragua. I pray that this experience will bring me closer to Christ and allow me to turn my regrets into gratitude for the opportunity to understand the Atonement a little better.
   I hope everyone had a happy new year and had set some goals for this year to make this year a better one. With much love, Hermana Hawkins 
P.s. I was going to send pictures today, but I´m out of time. I´ll try to send them next week. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

And Some More Pictures!
“photos from the christmas activity. mom, thanks for the new skirt! :) i opened all the clothes gifts early”

“crazy dancer elder from Costa Rica”

“more crazy dancing”

“more dancing”

“super funny elf dancing video someone made with pics of Pres. and his wife and the mission nurse”

“This is a video of me singing "Little Baby". Unfortunately it´s not complete cause my camera´s memory got full and it the sound cuts out a bit cuz I forgot to tell the person who was recording it that when you zoom, the sound cuts out. But at least you can get the general idea of how it sounded. :)”

“This is me and my comp playing "Christmas Bells" on the harmonica. It sounded better when we practiced it. I think we got a little nervous when we performed it.”

More Pictures!

“me and Hermana Orellana, Christmas decorations, Matagalpa zone, hives/allergy, the hammock I sent myself,”


“hike to the cross, my tired face after climbing up all those steps, we found a donkey at the bottom of the mountain and decided to climb on it for some fun pics haha, cute cemetery, my t-shirt from my last zone, the bug bites on my legs, the trunky agenda I made my comp, Freydel´s baptism, monkey park, a stream we hiked up, zone bonfire activity”

Christmas Blessings

   There a few things I think I will never understand. One of them is why nutella makes it acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast. I don´t know why; it just does. Another is why Christ was willing to suffer so much for us? What caused him to have such a great love for us. I think I´ll never really know. But I sure am grateful to know that He did that for me. 
   This week was great cuz it was Christmas!! It was so good to talk to the family and hear there voices. I also accomplished my Christmas goal which was to memorize all of "The Living Christ" in Spanish.  On the night of Christmas day, we visited a potential investigator named Yamilet and found out that her husband had just abandoned her and her 9 year-old son 3 days prior and she was suffering. We were able to share some words of comfort and hope in a time when she really needed it. She said we were like angels. No better way to spend Christmas than sharing the light of Christ with someone passing through a time of darkness. Yamilet came to church on Sunday with her son and she brought 2 other investigators! her sister, who´s a single mom and her son. She also brought her other sister who we found out is a less active member! So we ended up have two families in church! Annnnnd, Luis finally went to church again! I was so suprised and excited to see him! It had been a hard morning of passing by for investigators and hearing lie after lie, but God blessed us with some miracles.
      We dropped Carolina. She didn´t even have a desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true and she thinks it doesn´t matter what church you´re in. Heck, she lives right in front of the church and has never visited on Sunday. That should have been sign enough that she wasn´t willing to act. It´s sad, really. I´ve noticed in my mission that the people who have seen some of the biggest miracles in their lives, for example God healing them from a grave illness, are the ones who are least willing to act to test the truth of this message. And the ones who have suffered some of the biggest trials are the ones who are humbled and prepared to receive the gospel. You´d think that someone who´d witnessed such a big miracle would be more willing to show their gratitude to the Lord, but just as Laman and Lemuel turned around and started murmuring just shortly after seeing an angel, there are people who take their blessings for granted. 
    On a happier note, we found a new family this week named Yasmina and Victor who has already been to church 7 times! We just need to get them married and review the lessons to prepare them for baptism! They have 3 kids who are old enough to be baptized. Please pray for them.
   We moved Jessica´s baptismal date back a week cuz we need to finish teaching her the lessons. 
  The church attendance fluctuates here so bad. Last Sunday it had gone up by 39 people, but yesterday it went down 27 people. 
  We had a zone meeting this week in which an elder shared a little about his background. He grew up in really humble circumstances and entered the military at age 10 so he could prepare a better future for himself. In the military, in order to have better food privelages, they had to run. So he ran and ran himself almost to death so he could eat. Then he visited a specialist who asked him why he was running himself to death for food if food is a combustible, not a delight and advised him to not worry about running so hard to be one of the first people to get to the place to eat, but to take his time and get there last and just eat the other food that wasn´t as delicious, but would satisfy his needs. So that´s what he did. He didn´t earn the same food privelages, but he didn´t have to run himself so hard and be compeltely wiped of energy. In this military camp he did, only 50 people pass, which is a small amount and he was able to pass because he took the advice to not run himself so hard. He applied all this to the mission and said that sometimes we work ourselves to death run out of energy, but if we work at a good pace and work efficiently and intelligently, things will come out better in the end. Anyway, it was pretty impactful to learn about all he had to go through at just 10 years old and it taught me that everyone has a story and until we really get to know them, we won´t understand why they are the way they are. 
I hope you all have a spiritually-uplifting week. Much love, Hermana Hawkins

Christmas Fun!

Hola familia y amigos!
    FELIZ NAVIDAD!!! Yesterday we had the mission Christmas activity and it was down-right AWESOME!! We took fun Christmas pictures, had a seriously DELICIOUS lunch, enjoyed a talent show, watched some musical numbers, listened to beautiful testimonies, and just had a good time. I participated in 5 acts: 2 in the fun part, and 2 in the spiritual part. My comp and I played ¨Christmas Bells¨ on the harmonicas, me and 3 other missionaries did ¨Little Drummer Boy¨ a capella version, I sang ¨Oh come oh come Immanuel¨ in a trio, sang in a chorus ¨Oh Holy Night¨in spanish, and sang ¨Little Baby¨ (a Christmas song from the New Era that I translated into Spanish) and played my guitar along to it. I´ll try to send some videos. There was also this elder who danced in the talent show (he got permission from president to dance) and it was insanely good! Apparently he´s some sort of famous in Costa Rica (where he´s from). A bunch of missionaries wrote fun mission parodies and performed them too. The MCs were super fun. The spirit was really strong towards the end of the night. I´m so grateful for President Collado and his wife and for all the time and effort they put into making that an enjoyable night for us. Please pray for Jessica´s parents´ hearts to be softened so she can get baptized this week! I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and remember what it´s all about. Christ lives and loves us and because of Him, we can one day inherit eternal life. Can´t wait to talk to the fam in two days!! Love you all!
Hermana Hawkins

Lots of Music

  I have come to the conclusion that Nica public transportation varies between 5 types of music: 80´s music, often dirty Spanish reage, American rap, some type of religious music, and rancheros (mariachi band). Needless to say, I'm am going to be in desperate need of a good music binge when I get home haha. 
   Yesterday, we went to Managua to audition numbers for the mission Christmas activity next Monday. My last comp left me with two new harmonicas that her Mom had sent her, so Hermana Orellana and I have learned the harmonica and we´re gonna do a short song together in the variety show. I'm also in a few other numbers, my favorite of which is one with another sister and two elders. The sister had the sheet music for the Pentatonix version of "Little Drummer Boy" so we learned it and it sounds AWESOME! It´s gonna be so cool. i´m pumped. Speaking of Pentatonix, Mom,  I think I´ve listened to the Pentatonix CD you sent me at least 25 times haha. #stillnotsickofit.
   Tender mercy: My comp is a really heavy sleeper so she doesn´t mind if I sleep with the Christmas lights around my bed incended and with my Christmas music playing! Makes me sooo happy! My other comps would be bothered if I listened to music as I fell asleep or had lights on. 
   My comp has an interesting accent. It kinda sounds like she´s speaking Spanish with a French accent cuz it´s very gutteral-sounding (is that a word?)
   So we were teaching this lady this week named Carmela and as I was explaining the priesthood authority to her, her 14-year-old daughter Jessica came over to my comp and asked her a question. Then my comp proceeded to teach Jessica all of Lesson 1 in a hushed voice, invited her to pray about the Book of Mormon, and put a baptismal date with her as I was teaching the Mom! We had two lessons going on at the same time haha! But it was awesome because Jessica is super prepared for the gospel. The next day when we visited her, her mom told us that Jessica told her that when she prayed about the Book of Mormon, a ray of light fell on her. Jessica said she felt peace. She got her answer! AND she went to church on Sunday and liked it and wants to go next week! Looks like she´s gonna be our Christmas miracle! 
  We´re also started teaching this lady named Carolina who lives right in front of the church. In the last lessons she told us that just 3 weeks ago, about the time we first contacted her, God cured her from an almost fatal sickness. It seems as though He spared her life for the very prupose that she could hear the restored gospel. Please pray for her. 
  We had a good ward fellowship night this week. 3 less active families came. I taught them all how to make paper snowflakes and they seemed to really like it. I also handed out the candycanes at our zone meeting and explained the spiritual meaning of them. They loved it. 
  I have had a stuffed, runny nose and congestion for the last 2 weeks and I don´t know why. I´ve taken cold medicine and anthihistamine, but it doesn´t help. Almost every night this week, I´ve woken up with a dry tongue. Yuck. Also, the big allergy break out I had went away, but there is something else that has been causing me to break out in little ithy red spots and sometimes hives on my back and legs and arms. (Mom, I´ll send some pictures of it and maybe you´ll have an idea what´s causing it.) 
Well, that´s all for now. Love you all! 
Hermana Hawkins

KIlled" my Comp

Hola familia y amigos,
   Well, this was Hermana Ewing's last week of the mission! Sadly, we weren't able to have any baptisms together. Josue needs a little more time before he gets baptized. He's struggling to go to church. Please pray for him and his family. 
   I'll admit "killing" Hermana Ewing" made me kinda trunky, ao I'm excited to now be with someone who's a little fresher in the mish. My new comp is...... drum roll please.......   Hermana Orellana from El Salvador! She seems really sweet and her trainer told me she was one of her favorite companions. She has 6 months in the mission. She has an older brother who is finishing his mission in Uruguay and a 12-year-old sister. I hear she makes great pupusas too. Heck to the YES. Maybe we'll do a pupusa activity to reactive the less actives haha. 
   We thought we would have a lot of investigators in church yesterday because Hermana Ewing was telling everyone it was her last Sunday, but we didn't have a single one. Again. We were especially disappointed that Luis and Maura didn't come. We've decided to drop them for a while. When they're ready to follow Christ, they know where to find us. However, we did have some success with some less actives who finally came to church. 
   Anyway, we've gotta do a lot of finding this week. Last week we contacted a lot of internet cafés as part of the "He is the Gift" iniciative and were able to get the addresses of some potentcial investigators. You'll have to know how big of an affect that had in the U.S. I'm interested to know. 
  So there's this big Catholic holiday here  on December 7th called "La Purísima" or " La Gritería", which is a celebration of the virgen Mary. I think it's an even bigger celebration than Christmas. It's crazy. Yesterday, we took a bus to Managua and the whole 2 and a half hour ride they played virgen Mary music with voices that sounded like they came from the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland and someone also stood up on the bus and started singing and chanting and trying to get others to join in.. Buuuut, we did get a free apple, juice box, and container full of candy and treats out of it! They started handing out all this free stuff on the bus! Haha, it was great! They must be super rich though because here, apples alone cost a dollar each! 
   So that was my week. Looking forward to getting to know my comp more and see some CHRISTMAS MIRACLES!!. Hope everyone finds a special way to serve someone this Christmas. Love you all! 
Hermana Hawkins 

Pushing Along

Hello! And in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight. 
  Welp, this week, we didn't have much success at church, but we're pushin' on and hoping to have more success this week, especially since it's Hermana Ewing's last week. It's Christmas time now and I'm filled with the Christmas spirit! We're teaching the oldest son of a family we reactivated this transfer. His name is Josue. He's the only one who hasn't been baptized in the family. He didn't have much interested before, but he does now and he's on date to get dunked this Friday. Please pray for him. His family has been a good support for him, but they weren't able to go to church on Sunday. My comp asked Josue why he would want to get baptized , and he responded, "Because I would know it was the true church." And he later accepted a baptismal date for this week, so I guess he´s received his answer! Pretty cool. I hope all goes well this week. 
  Maura and Luis are still progressing well. I don't know if I ever mentioned that Maura told us she´s seen a true change in her husband. She said before we came, she would try to get him to read the scriptures or pray and he wouldn't. He also would never listen to people from other churches who would come to the door preaching the word, but there was something different about our message and he took interest in it. He loves the church! He's been reading the Book of Mormon and the pamphlets with his wife and he read the Liahona and even read about temples and eternal marriage on the church website! He is eating it up!!! I just love it! Their biggest challenge is just making the tradition transition. But I think they´ve come along way and I serioudly feel that if Luis gets baptized, his wife and son will follow. They have three sons, but only one of them ever sits in on the lesson and his name is also Luis. He's 21 and a dentist. It's kinda hilarious because we're pretty sure he's in love with Hermana Ewing haha. And I think his heart broke yesterday when she said she was leaving in 7 days. Their family has come to two ward fellowship nights and are planning on coming this week too. Luis is soooooo close to making the decision to join the church. I think he's even been making arrangements with his work to not have to direct baseball on Sundays so he can come to church! Ah, I'm praying for a Christmas miracle. 
   The weather here has been really cold. Misty, windy weather. It's worse than rain because at least with rain you can use an umbrella and stay dry, but with the mist, it's just everywhere and you're cold and freezing. But it's ok. I'd much rather be in cold weather than the sweltering heat of my last areas. Besides, it makes it feel more like Christmas time. 
   I got electrocuted by my cheese sandwich this week. Haha. Let me explain... I was frying a cheese sandwhich and tried to pick it up and flip it over, but it made me whole hand vibrate. So I did it again and realize it was sending electricity through my hand! I guess there´s something whack with our electric stove, but I didn´t think bread could conduct electricity! Haha, learn something new every day. 
  I'm ready to hit the ground running this week and have a great last week of the transfer. I'll find out who my new comp is next Monday. Love you tons!!
Go spread some Christmas cheer! And check out the new church Christmas movie "He is the Gift". :)
Love, Hermana Hawkins


Crazy Week

Hola familia y amigos,
   Just to give you an idea of how my week went... I had a mystery allergy reaction, fell in the mud in the middle of a contact, and experienced a fair share of rejection.
  Let's start with the falling the mud story. We contacted a couple in the street and then we were like, "Here, let´s move over to the side so we´re not in the middle of the street", but as we were moving, I slipt and fell hands down in the mud. The worst part is... they acted like it didn't even happen and almost walked away, but turned back and said, "What do you want?" They didn't even laugh or ask if I was ok! I was like, "Uh, I just fell." And then saw that my comp was trying so hard not to laugh that it made me laugh, so I tried to get ahold of myself and said we were missionaries and that we wanted to invite them to church. And then they kinda just said ok, and walked away. My comp and I bust out laughing. They were so rude!! Oh well. We got a good laugh out of it.
   Now about the allergic reaction...Friday my throat started tickling and that night I felt kinda itchy. I didn't sleep well and the next morning woke up with swollen hands and swollen eyelids and my whole body itched. I took some benedryl and the swelling started to go down. I was fine for most of the day. But by that night, my legs and hands started to itch really bad and when we got to the house, I realized I was breaking out in hives. I took some more medicine, but it takes about 45 minutes to kick in. I was soooooooo itchy. I scratched my legs a bunch, but instead of the usual relief you feel after scratching an itch, my skin just stung. I smothered calomine lotion on them and then covered them in anti-itch powder, but it didn't help. I just sat there and tried not to scratch my legs raw, but I felt like scraping my skin with a knife it itched so bad! It was definitely one of the most unpleasant feeling ever. I fell asleep still scratching and stinging and felt quite a bit better in the morning, but my feet were all swollen up and still itched, as did my hands. I took some medicine and was alright the rest of the day and slept alright. This morning my feet are still kinda swollen and itch real bad, but the mission nurse told me to put some hidrocortizone cream on it and to take cepinizina, and it seems like it's been helping. My throat still tickles a lot though, and I'm sure I've been annoying my comp with my coughing fits. 
   I'm still trying to figure out what caused it. I don't think it's a food allergy because I haven't eaten anything new or out of the ordinary. I guess it could be something I touched, maybe a plant, but I don't know what. We bought some daisies to put in our house, but I don't think it was those because my throat was tickling before we bought them. Any ideas, Mom?
   And as for rejection... We decided to pass by for Alex and Catalina (the poem family) one more time to see if they'd had a change of heart and were rejected all over again. It's so sad seeing someone's heart harden over in ignorance. I just don't get it. They were so positive before! The same thing happened with Indira. She was progressing so well, and then she suddenly did a 360. Jenni and Adalberto seem to have lost all interest in the church as well. It's hard to get rejected by strangers in the street, but it's even harder to get rejected by people you have grown to love. We fasted Saturday to Sunday, yet we were unable to bring even a single investigator to church. Most of our possibilities for baptisms this month have fallen through. I try to remind myself that it's an honor to be rejected for Christ's sake. Acts 5:41 the apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 
2 Cor. 4:17-18 "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Even though we saw a lot of rejection this week, I´m trying to focus on the things that are not seen, like the success that is never known. Abinidi only had one convert and he never even met him, but look what a grand affect Abinidi´s testimony had. Alma went on to bring thousands of souls into the fold of God. I'm choosing to press foward with a hopeful heart. 
   HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!! Remember to have an attitude of gratitude. Cuz after all, attitude = apititude.
Love, Hermana Hawkins

Another Week

Hola familia y amigos!
Well, I think I pushed myself too hard last Monday hiking to the cross because the next day I woke up with terrible stomach pains and nausea and diarrhea and later had a fever, but I don't think it was something I ate because I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary. I think I just didn't keep myself sufficiently hydrated hiking to the cross. Also, when I said, "I'm gonna be sore tomorrow"... it was an understatement. I felt like I was walking around with knives plunged into my calves. It hurt sooooooo bad going up and coming down hills. I felt handicap because I was literally limping coming down some stairs on a bridge. Haha, people were probably wondering what the heck was wrong with me. My comp was sore too, but not as much. My leg muscles were tight and sore for the next three days. 
   Tuesday, we stayed inside all day because I was too sick to work. A member and his wife came over to give me a priesthood blessing and bring me some medicine. My stomach was sensitive for the next few days, but I was able to go out and work. I'm hunky dory now, so don't worry. :)
   We had three investigators at church yesterday: a lady named Juana that we taught for the first time the night before, a guy we had just invited in the street (that was a nice surprise that he came), and Luis´s wife Maura showed up! Luis is the one I mentioned a couple weeks back that we invited to the baptism last minute and he came! The next week he went to church, but yesterday the wife finally visited! Luis and Maura are AWESOME. I love their family. They've both been reading the Book of Mormon and praying and always welcome us into their home. Luis has totally felt the spirit in the lessons and knows that he's experiencing conversion, but he's having a hard time making some changes in his life, like giving up baseball on Sundays so he can go to church. His wife is Catholic so she's also struggling to change her traditions. We've tried to put baptismal dates with them a few times, but they don't want to commit. But all the commitments that they do make, they are completing. We decided to drop them for a week to see if anything changed and when we went back, Maura said Luis had been asking why we hadn't passed by. He told us he'd missed us, that he feels peace in our visits, and they were bring something extra. We told him that something extra was the Holy Spirit and that they can have it in their life as a constant companion. Luis told us, "Even if we're not members of your church, we'll always remember you because you've cahnged our lives" which made me worry he wouldn't ever get baptized, but this guy mentions baptize more than we do! Haha. I know he's thinking about it. He just needs a little encouragement to make changes in his life. We visited them last night and they fed us dinner! The mentioned that when they visited church, it seemed a little unorganized and we explained that the branch president is somewhat knew and is still learning and Luis said, "When I'm president, I'll make things more organized." Say what! Yeah, I could totally picture him as a future church leader. He loves making jokes about how we don't drink coffee too. He's definitely a jokester. Kinda reminds me of you, Dad. So I'm excited to see where things go with them.
  On a sadder note, we had to drop an investigator named Indira who was preparing for baptism. It was really sad, but we know we did our part to teach her the gospel. Hopefully one day, she'll come around. 
  Hope you all have a great week and are sharing the gospel with all your friends!

 Love, Hermana Hawkins

Eventful Week

Hola familia y amigos!
    My pictures reappeared on my camera!!! Prayers answered!!! I'm so happy and grateful. And I'm even happier because a family I was teaching in my last area got baptized this last week!! Yay!! 
   A few days ago, my comp and I were walking down the street, just minding our own business, and out of nowhere, this angry old lady threw a bundle of plants in our faces! My comp was on the direct-impact side so after hitting her in the face they kept going and brushed past my ear. We just bust out laughing. We were like, "What the heck just happened??" The old lady yelled something as she threw them, but we didn't hear very well. It was probably something like, "Why are you here!" Haha, who knows. It gave us a good laugh. 
   Later that day, we ran into a white guy from Loveland who served his mission here 10 years ago and is back volunteering as an audiologist. His names's Mark Sanders and he's from the Lakeside ward. I love those little "You're a member too?" moments. The church really is a big family wherever you go. Mom and Dad, did you get the pic Mark sent? #thatawkwardmomentwhenyousaygoodbyetosomeoneinthestreetandthenrealizeyou'rebothgoingthesamedirection
   Another funny thing: I saw 4 live chickens tied upsidedown by their feet to the handlebars of a bicycle today haha. Only in Nicaragua. 
   Today we hiked up to the cross here in Jinotega called Pena de la Cruz. It's stairs all the way up and it was tough. I kept having to take breaks and was panting like a dog. I don't know how many miles long it is (you can look it up), but we got up there in about an hour and a half and it only took us 15 minutes to get down cuz we pretty much ran the whole way. When we got to the bottom, our legs were vibrating from using our leg muscles so much. I felt like my legs were gonna fall off. I'm definitely gonna be sore tomorrow. But I think it was worth it. The view from the top was BEAUITFUL. I felt so accomplished when we got to the top but later today we felt super worn out and took a nap. We also passed through the cutest little colorful cemetery on the way up. It looked like something from Disneyland or something. 
   Last night our special family (the one in the poem) basically dropped us. I cried so hard. It's the worst when you know they have felt the spirit testifying to them that it's true and they still choose to reject it. It's seriously the most painful part of the mission. I love that family sooooo much and was willing to do everything to help them, but now the only thing we can do is pray. And pray I will. I hope that God will soften their hearts and they will realize what they're missing in their lives.I really don't know why these heart-breaks have to happen. Maybe God is just preparing us to see an even greater miracle. Or maybe he just wants me to understand the Atonement a little better. Romans 8:16-17. If we want to be glorified with Christ, we need to suffer a little as he did.
We'll pass by in a week or two to see if anything's changed.    
   On a happier note, we saw a miracle yesterday and were able to bring a family to district conference. Their names are Adalberto and Jenni and they have a cute 18 month old son. They were so patient. After the conference, the leaders had a meeting so the bus didn't leave until almost two hours later! I wish we would have known so we could have arranged other transportation for them. The conference ended at noon and luckily we brought food for the bus that we could share with them. Otherwise, they would have died of hunger! I'm actually glad none of the other families we invited could go because if it were anyone else they probably would have gotten mad, but this family was so tranquil! They adorable. They even went to ward fellowship earlier this night on their own! I look forward to seeing them progress. 
 That's all for now. Sorry I don't have time to respond to personal letters, but I hope you like the pictures! Love, Hermana Hawkins
P.s. Dad, Here's a nice tongue twister for you (courtesy of Hermana Ewing). One smart fellow. He felt smart. Two smart fellows. They both felt smart. Three smart fellows. They all felt smart. Haha!