Tuesday, November 26, 2013

¿¡Soy un padre!?

Well life got pretty crazy this last week. I am now a father in the mission. Hardly had any time to enjoy my youth. haha I had a feeling it was coming but the truth is it is an even harder challenge than I had thought before.

So we had a big conference call with the whole zone and the ZLs announced every change and said that Elder Peña would be training a new missionary in Ruta 2 (my last area). So I was kind of confused cause I thought that would be what I would do. Then they said that I was going to train and everyone started talking at once and Elder Peña picked me up and started yelling things in Spanish and I was kind of confused. haha Once things settled down they explained that I would be going to the Area Oberá 1 with a new missionary. White wash and training at the same time! At that moment I got more nervous, but the missionary's name was Elder Muñoz so the ZLs and Elder Peña said he was probably from South America. So I decided it wouldn´t really be all that hard.

The next day we went around and visited all the families and investigators and it was really hard to say goodbye, I love those people so much. One of our investigators who is 9 started crying and it tore me up a bit, but Elder Peña will keep working with him and I hope to go back and visit after my mission. I am going to miss those people and that area, it became like my home. I learned so much from Elder Peña and the ZLs and I was really lucky to get to be in that area in that time. And the truth is that the Lord was using them to prepare me for this new and difficult challenge. They are all great missionaries.

So, the next day we traveled to Posadas to receive our new missionaries. I was talking to all the new missionaries and met Elder Muñoz who is from California and is not a native speaker of the language. At this point I got a lot more nervous. haha But Elder Muñoz is awesome. He is struggling with the language but he is working so hard! He wants to learn it and help the people so badly. He is working really hard with me and has a good grasp on the principles of the lesson. He just needs some more practice in Spanish. But he is already a great missionary and he is going to do great things in the mission. I just hope I can do all I can to help him reach his full potential. It's a pretty big responsibility but I have the Lord´s help.

As for our area: Oberá is the second largest city in misiones and there are 3 sets of missionaries here. The address to the church is Santiago del Estero 355 and we live across the street in a house in case you are interested in checking it out on Google maps. The branch has about 70 active members and they are super supportive so that is a huge help! The city is sooo beautiful! It's really green and when you are at the top of the hill you can just see it all. The other day there was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. haha It was even better than an Arizona sunset. haha The area is so beautiful.

However, when we opened the area book we found a lot... of nothing. There aren´t any teaching records of current investigators or forms of progression. The most recent is from like April. So we are kind of starting from scratch. We have tried to ask around the members who they were teaching and there are numbers in the cell phone but basically there is no one. It was kind of frustrating, but also it's ok cause now we can just kind of play dumb and talk to everyone and clap every house. And so we have just been talking to everyone we see and going down the streets and clapping lots of houses. It has actually been pretty effective and we now have a pretty large pool of people who we are going to start working with. I figured that if we just actually had a pool to teach from we could work with them all and then see which are actually prepared for baptism and who will actually follow through with commitments. So that is what we are doing for now. I am praying really hard for direction and the Lord is guiding us to lots of amazing people. The work is hard, but we are being so blessed.

The truth is that this is the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. I am mentally exhausted constantly, because I have to speak ridiculous amounts of Spanish every day and try to figure out where we need to go and there is a lot of responsibility. It´s difficult. But this is not my work and it is not my challenge. This is the work of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am not alone! I have His help constantly and I have felt Him with me. I have felt Him lift my Spirits, guide me where I need to go, and give me the strength to continue on. I testify that this is the work of the Lord. And I testify that this gospel is true! Because if it wasn´t true, an 18 year old boy with very little experience of the world who hardly knows Spanish wouldn´t be able to do what the Lord is helping me do. Thank you for your prayers and your support! ¡Les quiero!

2 Nephi 4:20-25
     My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high;
 and angels came down and ministered unto me.
And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

New Missionaries

President, Elder Munoz, Elder Hawk, and Sister La Pierre

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marcos Bautizado


Sounds like everyone is doing really good at home. I am glad to hear that all went well with dad becoming bishop and everything. We all will receive so much blessings for his service and he will do an awesome job. That is also way cool about Tanner being involved in that girl meeting with the missionaries and everything. Tanner´s the man, still being a missionary.

The week started out with more traveling. We actually hardly had any time in our area to proselyte this week because we had to sign a contract in El Dorado on Monday and travel to Posadas on Tuesday and Elder Peña got sick and there was a crazy storm, but we were still able to get a lot of work done. The meeting in Posadas was with 3 zones and it was so awesome. We have amazing leaders in this mission. President LaPierre is the man and Sister LaPierre (who speaks only a tiny bit of Spanish) bore a powerful testimony of Christ with the Spanish that she had. Other highlights were practicing to use the Book of Mormon more with the idea that the Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul. It was way good because at times we just give people the Book of Mormon and explain what it is but we don´t always focus enough on how it can specifically help people with their lives. It was an awesome meeting and I got to see a lot of my district from the MTC which was way sweet.

Best part of the week though was that Marcos was baptized! He has been working so hard to get ready and we really have seen amazing changes in him. He was way quite and just serious at first but now he is always smiling and laughing and he is growing so much. He quit smoking to be baptized as well and it was so amazing to get to see the Atonement work in his life. Definitely the best part of missionary work: to see the amazing changes in people. And I had the opportunity to baptize him which was an amazing experience. But his confirmation was even better cause a member gave him a white shirt and dress pants and he was confirmed by a former less-active member who we have been working with. I really just felt the full joy of missionary work and it was amazing!

Other highlights of week were a crazy storm in Posadas that flooded a lot of streets. We also were in it but Elder Peña was sick so we were inside when it hit super hard. It was one of the hardest storms I have ever seen but the members say it was weak compared to a lot in the past. Also, we found a giant frog in the street. I ate pig intestines (very difficult to chew) and today we had a district activity with like 4 kilos of chorizo which was delicious! We also watched the Emma Hale movie and played ping pong. I am actually getting pretty good. We have cambios (changes or transfers) tonight so we will see what happens. Kind of anxious to figure it all out.

I´m loving life, working hard, and enjoying the journey. I really have been so blessed. Thank you all for your support, love and prayers.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Elder Hawk and Marcos

Look at those Smiles!

Elder Hawk is loving Argentina

Pig Intestine


Stirring Up Trouble

Monday, November 11, 2013

La Situación Perfecta‏


Its been a great week here in Argentina! It started out way good with a zone conference. I learned so much and we have such great leaders in this mission from top to bottom. As I was reflecting on this week and on that conference I realized how I really have been put in the perfect situation. Elder Peña really is the best trainer possible for me. He works really hard and puts me into situations that help me grow. He also doesn´t do everything for me and doesn´t always bail me out when I need help which really helps me to grow a lot. I also am in a great little city that has people who are prepared to hear the gospel and has the people who I need to meet who are helping me to grow and become better. Really, there are so many people who are here to help me and I am so grateful that I have been put here by the Lord. I truly am so blessed and so lucky and am learning so fast and becoming better everyday. And really I have my Heavenly Father to thank for that because he has put me in the exactly perfect situation for my growth as a missionary and as a person. And he also has put me here because there are people who I can help come closer to Christ. I really just feel so blessed!

 This week we traveled to Posadas which is about a 5 hour trip one way. We left the apartment at 3 in the morning and returned around 9 in the evening. Elder Peña had to sign some papers for his visa. But it was just really cool to see how much I had grown in just one month. It especially hit me when we were driving in the taxi and I thought about my first taxi ride to head out to Ruta. The contrast really is amazing! A month ago Elder Peña was talking to me and I understood close to nothing, I didn´t know what was going on or where we were going and I was really kind of nervous. But this time I could understand almost everything and could communicate so much better and I knew what was going on and was confident that I could survive. Ha ha But it really was such a huge difference and I am so grateful for how much I have grown.

 This week we were walking away from an appointment and we just had this feeling to go down a street that we always pass but never use. So we started walking and about 5 houses down we heard someone yell “Elders” and we turned and this women in a wheel chair invited us in her gate and she was crying and we started talking to her on her patio. Her name is Ambrosa and she moved to Ruta a few months ago. She is a member but hasn´t been to church for a long time because there was no building in her old city. And she told us how she had been having a really rough time with a lot of things and she prayed for help and within minutes she saw us walking down the road. It was so awesome and I was so glad we were where we needed to be at the right time. I know that God always answers a prayer said in faith and that we can help answer the prayers of others if we are doing what is right. Way cool.

 Well, that´s about it for now, other than the fact that the weather is suddenly extremely hot. Ha ha I almost passed out on Sunday because we have to wear our suits during church. But all is well and I am happy and healthy and learning way fast! Thanks for all your support and prayers!

 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things. 

Jacob 4:6-7

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, November 4, 2013

Primero Bautismo‏


It has been a pretty sweet week here in the area Ruta 2. On Tuesday President LaPierre came to our zone for interviews and it was awesome. I have heard that most mission presidents just do super fast interviews (sometimes only like 10 minutes) but President LaPierre takes more time which I think is way cool. I talked to him for like 50 minutes and I learned so much. And it was really good cause I needed a good pep talk. We talked about a lot of things and he told me to not worry about being perfect, but just try to improve a few things at a time. And I talked to him about how the way me and Elder Peña do things is kind of different, not that one way is better than the other, but I just have some different ideas of what we need to be doing. He told me to change some of the things if I could but that I needed to let some things go but to remember them because my time is coming. Hopefully it isn´t coming too soon. haha. But I have really started to realize that I can receive revelation for the work in my area. I have been called to this area for a reason and I am able to receive guidance for myself and investigators and the area if I am worthy and I ask for it. So I have really been trying to seek revelation on what we need to do and it has been really good.

So the most exciting part of the week was Lucas´s baptism and confirmation! On Saturday Elder Peña and I were preparing the church building for the baptism and the font was like a foot deep or so when the water in the building ran out. So we got a bucket and put it outside under the place where all the water was going (can´t think of the word) because it was raining really hard and we filled it another few inches with rain water. haha It was pretty sweet. Luckily we had enough to do the baptism but only just barely enough. Elder Peña baptized Lucas and I confirmed him on Sunday so he is officially a member! Pretty awesome! He is a great kid and he is already being a missionary to his friends. I can tell his parents are nervous about him just leaving the church after baptism (they aren´t members) but we told them that we are here to continue helping him. And I was thinking about it and I don´t just want to be the kind of missionary who only is trying to baptize people. I want to help others truly become converted to the Gospel and develop habits and a testimony that will help them be lifetime, active, involved members of the church. Because a really solid, committed member down here is like pure gold! It seriously makes such a huge difference to have people who are strong in the gospel and ready and willing to serve.

Now with the not good news. Because it was so rainy on Saturday it was super muddy. We had thought that we could get around 10 people to church (best case scenario) and we even went on splits with two priests to try and get everyone to come. I went to the house of Gladis who had a dream where a man came to her and said the Book of Mormon was scripture and then had another dream where she was in a white baptism dress. I know she received a strong answer that the Book of Mormon was true but she wouldn´t come to church. And another women also wouldn´t come after she had promised and planned. They had excuses about the mud and the distance and the rain and their dirty clothes etc. And I am not saying all this to bash those people and in reality it probably would have been difficult to attend, what I am saying is that it made me pretty sad. And I know it is probably pretty normal for something like this to happen but I really do love these people so much and I want so badly for them to truly change their lives and find true and lasting happiness, but at the end of the day they have the ability to choose. But it made me think a lot about how living the gospel is not easy. In reality we have to sacrifice a lot. But the truth is that the blessings and happiness that come from living the gospel are infinitely greater than any sacrifice. I have seen that in my life so many times! No matter the sacrifice, the Lord pays us back 100 fold or more. But the only thing I can do for others is to teach, testify, and invite. And hope and pray that they make the correct decision. But that has just been on my mind a lot lately.

Also, we went on splits again Sunday in the afternoon and I was a little nervous to be without Elder Peña, but I was helped by the Spirit and me and Hermano Jimenez taught the Restoration to a family and it was really good. I couldn´t understand everything or say everything, but I was able to understand enough and say enough to bring the Spirit. It is actually pretty cool not being able to speak fluently because I have to totally rely on the Spirit and be really simple and I think it brings a special Spirit to lessons. And it truly is a miracle how much I have been able to learn in less than a month in the field. I am blessed every day.

Well, I love you all and miss you. I am doing well-I´m healthy and working hard every day. Thanks for all your support and prayers and love.

"Y sè que el Señor Dios consagrará mis oraciones para el beneficio del mi pueblo. Y las palabras que he (hablado) en debilidad serán hechas fuertes para ellos"
-2 Nefi 33:4

Con amor, Elder Hawk