Monday, December 29, 2014

Humildes comienzos‏

Feliz Año Nuevo

Well it was a great week here in Paraguay. It was awesome to be able to talk to all of you and see you. Sorry for my accent. haha After talking to you we went to the beach and I took some pretty sweet fotos that are in dropbox.

The coolest thing that happened this week is that we opened up a new little group in Campo Verde and Azotea.  It was the first time in a long time that a lot of those people were able to go to church and take the sacrament and it was very humbling to see how grateful and happy these people were to be able to take the sacrament again and have a church meeting. The spirit was very strong and we are very excited for the future. It was cool to be a part of the start of something like that. And I hope that it can begin to grow and help even more people receive the blessings of the gospel like these people were able to experience yesterday. We are going to be working like crazy there searching for members and working with some we have already found. It is quite a job trying to create a new group. We had to bring a bunch of chairs and help Hermano Gimenez organize his house and then go around to help people find his house. It was way fun. we will see what the future holds.

We also had a cool experience this week when we helped some missionaries who were having some problems getting along. While one of them called us the other threw water on him, which was kind of funny, but also ridiculous. haha So we went over there and talked to them for a long time and nothing was really working and then I asked them to think of something good about the other. They sat there for like  minutes and couldn´t think of anything. Then they came up with some lame ideas. So I read a part in Moses where God cries because He taught His children to love one another and they hate their own flesh and fight, etc. We told them that the real problem is that they don´t love each other. So we invited them to give it a try. They called last night and they are both a lot more excited and getting along a lot better and having more success. But it made me realize that really any time that we don´t like someone or we fight is really just a lack of love. It makes it a lot more important when you think about it that way.

Well i talked to you like  days ago so that´s about all I got for now, but I love you all so mucha and I am so grateful for your support and prayers. I´m living the dream.

Con amor, Elder Hawk









Monday, December 22, 2014

Presidente Papa Noel‏

Feliz Navidad!

It is crazy how fast Christmas came this year. Seems like just yesterday I was in Oberá making empanadas and talking to everyone in the church. Crazy. I am way excited because we are going to chill with the members on Navidad and go caroling a little bit. haha. We are also planning on taking some gifts to the members and some of the kids as well. And I will get to talk with you all! So that is gonna be sweet. But you might want to find someone who can translate Spanish cause my English is horrible. haha My comp asks me how to say things sometimes and I don´t know how to say it. My accent is gonna be bad. haha But it will be good anyways.

This week was full of awesome stuff. The best part of the week has been Mariola and Scott. Like three weeks ago we challenged Hermana Benitez who has 5 kids in our area who are all inactive to fast the first Sunday of the month. She did it and on Sunday she invited us to eat at her house and so we were going to go, but her son Scott talked to her about it and said that he would cook us un asado. So we were pretty pumped and we went over and started taking while he cooked. After lunch his wife who is not a member started talking to us and I was going to share a scripture that I had in mind but I felt to ask her if she had any questions for us. She started crying and told us how a few days ago she broke down just feeling like a horrible mother and person, etc. and she just didn´t understand the meaning of life. When she said all this I was pumped. Cause we have the answers!! So we taught her about the plan of salvation and she loved it and they have now come to church twice. We talked with her I think on Wednesday and talked about baptism and she said that for 7 years she has talked to missionaries and every time they mention baptism she gets very defensive but this time she accepted! And she even added that she knew that all of her family would ridicule her for it but that she would do it anyways. Later she talked about how she wants to share with her parents because they have the same questions. Yesterday we visited her and Scott and they had friends over and we talked with them a bit and I asked Mariola to talk about how she has felt in these last few weeks and she gave a powerful testimony about how the pain she has had was replaced with a joy and peace and a surety that God exists. It was incredible! She is way excited for baptism and her and Scott are going to help the church here like crazy!

This week we also had some pretty sweet parties. We grilled with the members in Itá Paso and it was delicious. There were about 50 people! It was way good and 2 of Hermana benitez´s kids came with their whole families! And they were helping with everything and talking with everyone and it was awesome! Like 4 investigators were there. Then on Friday we had our Christmas conference with all the missionaries in Encarnación. It was way good! We played a bunch of games and ate a super delicious dinner and then we watched a video where the Grinch stole Christmas presents from missionaries that the office missionaries made and it was hilarious. But the best part was that when the movie ended President LaPierre came in from the back dressed up as Santa Clause and his wife as Mrs. Claus and the assistants were dressed like elves. haha It was way awesome! And president gave us all a stocking with a journal in it and some candy. It was hilarious. There are pictures of it in dropbox.

Also, one of the best things that happened to Itá Paso in a long time is that Elder Fernando Goncalvez arrived on Wednesday! He is a stud. He is helping us out a lot and already has given us like 10 references. He is excited to work and help the church grow here. I worked with him on Sunday and it was awesome. We are excited to keep working with him and helping the people here.

Well I will see you on Christmas! I am way excited to talk to you all and see you! I Love you!

Con amor, Elder Hawk






Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Entendí‏

Hola!

Sorry for not writing on Monday. I had to got to Corrientes to do some visa papers  yesterday. We slept in the super chuchi (nice and rich) mission house and it was glorious. I also had the chance to talk with President and he helped me out with some things. It has been a week of getting my head on straight.

On Monday we traveled to Pilar and I was frustrated with our travels cause we had to take two different buses and the first one dropped us off late and we had to walk backwards and then wait for another bus two hours later. We got to Pilar at midnight in a bus that had no seats left. haha But then in the morning Elder Bogardus made me these amazing pancakes with coconut syrup and it was glorious. haha So good.

Then before our zone meeting in Pilar i went with two new missionaries to get things ready for the church and they were asking me questions and making me feel old haha. But I took the opportunity to sit down and talk with them both and share some of the things that I thought would help them. It was way awesome to just take some time to help missionaries in a more personal way. They were both really happy and excited afterward and are great missionaries. After we had our zone meeting and it went really well. To explain the relationship between the numbers and just working by the spirit we brought a brick and a pen and a screwdriver and a hammer. We explained that when we rely on our own power even if we work hard we can´t achieve what we need to have success. So we got the strongest missionary who tried to break the brick with his pen. He couldn´t do it. (obviously.) Then at the end it was easy to break it with them hammer and we explained that that is what it is like when we have the Spirit with us and use our strength the do what the Lord wants us to do. But its also true in our lives. Sometimes we have problems and we try to solve them in other ways, but the only real way is through the spirit. It was cool and fun to break a brick. haha And I think everyone understood the point.

Then we had divisions with Pilar and the next day went to San Ignacio for divisions again. I went with an Elder that was in my zone before and it was cool to see how he has matured and is really trying to be better. he also told me that I had changed for the better. He said that before he called me Robo-hawk. ahaha I thought that was pretty funny and I have definitely learned to relax a bit more. Then we got a call from the Elders in San Pedro who were having problems so early the next morning we headed over there and I came back to Ita Paso with one elder and we had a long talk that helped me just as much as it helped him. He felt like his efforts weren´t having results and so we talked about Abinadi. No one listened to him except for 1 person. A less active member. But he taught with power and did what God wanted him to do and from that one person he helped, thousands were saved.

Finally we entered Friday dead tired from so much traveling and were able to work. Then the assistants came on Saturday for divisions and i went with Elder Silva. It was good to see him again and we talked about a lot of things and he helped me out a lot to get more excited again. We had an awesome day. Probably the coolest thing that got me the most excited is when we found an inactive member. She is amazing and hasn´t ever stopped reading her scriptures. She just hasn´t been able to go to church because it is so far away. But i was amazed by her great faith and we are going to keep helping her and her niece who cried in her prayer when she asked that her parents would stop drinking. That girl needs this gospel and her aunt is so supportive. It was a humbling experience.

Then with Elder Blanco we realized that we need to just seek God´s will and do it. It sounds obvious, but we talked about it a lot.

Then I went to do tramites and we were in the mission home and I talked with President and he helped me a lot to. Then i talked more with elder Silva in our traveling to and from Corrientes. I am back in the right frame of mind and with more excitement. I just need to do what God wants me to do, forget myself and remember what Abinadi said. "No improta a dónde vaya, con tal de que sea salva" (Mosiah 13:9) That is how we teach in power.

I love this work and I love being a missionary. I am way excited for Tanner and Jamie this week! I got the tie and all of your letters! Thank you all so much! I love you!

Con amor, Elder Hawk


Saturday, December 13, 2014

La fe

Hola,

Well I don´t have a whole lot of time to write cause I was watching my little brother destroy somebody in a wrestling match. haha But I´ll write what I can with the adrenaline that watching that gave me. haha I haven´t felt that in a long time and it was nice. haha

Well it was a bit of a difficult week for me. Me and Elder Blanco (Formally known as Elder Faroñay. He is now using his mom´s last name) are working way hard in Itá Paso. He is an awesome missionary and way excited to learn. And the best part is that he has one less transfer than me so he is full of life! We are going to work hard together and we are learning a lot. I wanted to train a new zone leader.

This week I was really humbled by the Lord when I saw the great faith of so many wonderful people. I really realized it when I was talking with Hermana Barbosa. She was baptized six months ago and her husband has fallen back into alcohol. She is struggling a lot and hasn´t been to church in two weeks now, which is very rare for her. So we started talking and during the lesson something amazing happened. I was just feeling so much love for her family and suddenly it was like my mind was opened up and I truly understood everything that she was feeling. She didn´t tell me, but I realized that this amazing woman has been going to church almost a half hour early every week, praying with her family, and struggling to learn to read so that she can study the scriptures all with the hope that her husband will change and her family will come closer together. The missionaries always promise that if she does those things then things will improve.. and things are getting worse. In this moment I truly understood how that must feel. And I realized that it is the same thing that is happening to me in a way. So I told her how much I admired her faith and perseverance. We taught her about patience and how the Lord always blesses us, just in His time. We told her that some blessings take longer, but during the struggle He will, always bless her with peace and strength. She went to church and received that peace she needed.

But I was truly humbled in that moment because I saw that she has so much faith and if I was in that same situation I don´t know if I could do it- My life has been incredibly easy. And when I don´t have immediate success, when I work hard and it appears that nothing good is happening, I get discouraged and lose hope. But I need to remember what I taught Hermana Barbosa--that the Lord always blesses us, but in His time and in His way. I don´t know if Itá Paso will have huge success while I am here, the truth is that right now it looks like things are getting worse. I feel responsible. But all I can do is keep working and trust in the promises of the Lord. I just need patience and hope. Maybe I will never see the blessings of my work here. But that´s ok. the Lord will bless me with peace and strength.

The other huge example of faith this week was Hermana Estefana. She is like 60+ years old and was living with a man who was a lot younger than her and they weren´t married. She was mostly doing it because she needed someone to help provide for her and for her disabled son. A few weeks ago my heart hurt when I knew that I had to tell her to repent while knowing how difficult it would be. I did all I could to help her make the right decision and believed that she wouldn´t do it, but I knew that I had done my all. We passed by on Friday and she told us that she kicked him out of the house. This woman did not know how she would even eat! But she took a step of faith and did what she knew the Lord required. I had the opportunity to give her a priesthood blessing and listen to her talk about how she finally felt peace and how no matter how hard it gets she will never go back to what she was doing. That is faith!

I couldn´t help but ask myself if I had that same kind of faith. Could I do what they are doing? I don´t think so. But I know I can get there. Right now the trial of my faith is to work as hard as I can even if it looks like I am fighting a losing battle. I admire these people so much. I am so humbled to have the chance to know them and to help them overcome the trials they are facing with faith and hope. I can´t do it on my own, but I know that even though I am weak, with God I can do all things (Alma 26:12). that was a lesson that I needed to remember.

I love you all and am so excited for our family! Everyone is doing amazing things and I am so proud of all of you! Keep being awesome!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, December 1, 2014

Maté mi compañero‏

Hola,

     Well it seems like this week flew by. I didn´t even realize it was thanksgiving until the night! haha  But it was also kind of a tough week cause it was the last week of Elder Sanchez and I have a nasty cold that doesn´t want to leave me. And it doesn´t help a whole lot that I haven't been able to sleep well with our traveling. But I am feeling a lot better now and I am way excited for this next change. I am staying in Itá Paso with my big zone and Elder Farroñay from Peru will be my companion. I am going to train him as a zone leader, which is what I wanted to do this change so I am way excited about that. I have a lot of plans for this change.

Yesterday Elder Sanchez was saying goodbye to everyone and we were leaving the house of a family of investigators and the mom was shaking his hand for like 2 minutes and then she gave him a big hug and a kiss on each cheek. I had to turn around and bite my lip to stop myself from laughing. It was so hilarious and he was so uncomfortable! Afterwards I couldn´t control my laughter and he just kept saying "I feel violated.." hahaha It wasn´t her fault though cause she didn´t know any better. Funny stuff.

This week we also took some of the youth of our group to an activity in the district. They played volleyball and soccer and President LaPierre came and talked to all of them. It was way cool. I felt like the young men´s president. haha Here in Itá Paso we have to play a lot of roles, but it is really rewarding. I am going to step my game up this next change and fulfill all of the roles better. The district and President LaPierre are really pushing to try and make this group a branch but we are lacking a little bit still. I need to start training the members better to be able to run like a branch should. But it is going to be a struggle. Luckily we are working with two priesthood holders who both look like they have a good chance of coming back, so that will be a great help. And we are going to receive a returned missionary here in like 2 weeks, so that is going to be a huge help.

Well it was a rather uneventful week, but I love you all and I am so grateful for you!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, November 24, 2014

El oro en Azotea

Hola,

Well it was a good week! We had two divisions this week. We went to San Pedro and did some baptismal interviews and on the way back I decided to clap this super huge two story house and they let us in. It was probably the nicest house I have ever gotten into my whole mission. We taught a little bit about the Restoration and they want the missionaries from there to keep visiting them. So that was pretty cool. The little group there is growing a lot and the Elders are working really hard so it was cool to see. It is a lot like the situation in Ita Paso and we talked about how sometimes we feel like pastors of a little church. haha especially since we live right behind the church. It really is amazing how much I have grown to love the people here and how responsible I feel for their livelihood and progression. I know that love doesn´t come from me.

And although we love Itá Paso, we decided to go visit another area called Azotea that I have wanted to visit for a long time, but it is really far and there isn´t a lot of time. So on Saturday we finally were able to go out there and we struck gold. First we met Hermano Gonzalez and his family. He was the branch President before, but the branch got closed down and we aren´t sure exactly how it all happened, but he went inactive with just about everyone from this neighborhood cause they would have had to go to church way far away and it is a pretty poor place. But we started to just talk to him and listen to him and hear about his life and then he asked us why we had come. We said that we came to get to know him and listen to him and then Elder Sanchez said that we needed his help. He looked really thoughtful and then he said "I give you my word that I will go to church tomorrow with my family." And they went! He sat in a church building for the first time in 7+ years. His two sons are 11 and 9 and haven´t been baptized yet so we are going to start teaching them as well. Hermano Alfonso and the district president were there when he walked in and they both went over and gave him a huge hug. Afterwards we talked with Hno. Alfonzo and he started crying when he talked about how he had done his best to visit that man for 10 years and he finally came. It was way cool to see and we are way excited. In this area there are at least 3 other part-member families that we are going to work with.

One of the members we found over there came out and said "tanto tiempo!" and was so happy to see missionaries again. She is like 70+ years old and has read her scriptures and prayed every day even though she has been unable to go to church. We asked her if she was going to a different church nearby and she said "never!" and bore her testimony to us. The only problem is that we couldn´t organize a way for her to come to church and she wanted to try to walk all the way there, but we told her we were going to find a way for her to go the next week. It was so humbling to see someone so excited to see the missionaries and so willing to try to go to church. We can really see how these people have a huge desire and hunger to feel the Spirit and be a part of the church again. We had a similar situation with a woman who is 8 and a half months pregnant and who also wanted to go to church so bad. We are going to try to see if Hno. Gonzalez will be able to take them in his van next week. But I am more excited than ever to work and build the church in the neighborhoods around Itá Paso. Every house in Ita Paso has been clapped probably  times in the last few months so its time to check out some other options.

Life is good. Today we went and visited some Jesuit ruins in a place called Trinidad. They were way awesome. I sent a lot of pictures to dropbox. I wore my Team Nigeria shirt with wrestling season coming up and cause I promised Coach bishop I would send some. haha I´m a white guy wearing a Team Nigeria shirt in Paraguay. hahaha

Con amor, Elder Hawk


Ready to Wrestle

Monday, November 17, 2014

La esperanza‏

Hola,

Well it has been a very busy week, with a lot of traveling. On Monday we went to Pilar which is like 6 hours away and we had to take two different buses in the middle of the night. In the second bus there were no seats lefts, so we stood. haha. But it was cool cause we were with like 4 other missionaries and we had a good time. Then we all slept in one tiny apartment and I met Elder Acevedo´s new son! haha His name is Elder Johnson and he is way awesome. We had our zone meeting 2.0 which turned out really well, but not quite as awesome as the first one. But after I did divisions with Elder Johnson, and they were some of the best that I have ever had. He is a brand new missionary that plays piano like a boss. Pilar has a reputation of being a rough area, so instead of clapping all of the houses close to the street, I started searching for houses hidden behind other houses and such. We found some way cool people who were way excited to talk to us and had some really spiritual lessons. We found one kid who speaks way good English and he defiantly wouldn´t have talked to us if we didn´t also speak English, but he was way interested and went to church this week! At the end and throughout the splits I had a good talk with Elder Johnson and just let him know that he was doing awesome and that he needs to just be himself and use his many talents. He left very excited and I felt like I was able to inspire him. He is going to be an awesome missionary and he gave me a lot of hope for the future of our mission. I love helping other missionaries. It is very rewarding and I left Pilar way excited.

Then we had a long bus ride to Encarnación. We got home late and then on Friday had our combined zone meeting with President LaPierre and the assistants. We talked a lot about the first vision and the Spirit was really strong when we practiced it in small groups. We also talked about not following into a routine and doing things in different ways to help the Spirit. It was cool to hear everyone´s ideas. We gave a training on having a vision and plan for your area instead of just going out and working. We had Elder Johnson play the top hand of a simple hymn and talked about how that is how it sounds when we just go out and work without a plan and without a vision. Then we talked about the specifics of a plan and toward the end I talked about how the Alfonzo family got sealed and how that is the vision for our mission--making families eternal. Then I felt impressed to share about Jace, which I had not planned. I talked about how that experience created a vision for our family of being together with him forever. I said that focusing on that vision and striving to achieve it is what has helped me to progress and has kept us together as a family. Then we said that if we have that vision and plan, than our areas will be like this. And Elder Johnson started playing this beautiful combination of Jesus once of humble birth and I stand all amazed with a few other songs. It was so amazing! The Spirit was way strong. Elder Johnson was way excited to be able to play again and pretty emotional too.

Then we headed back to the area and had a lesson with Lilian and Ivan. I am pretty sad about them because they are way awesome and believe what we say, but are just not willing to put aside other things to go to church and do the other commitments. She was talking about having an eternal family and how when we taught that, she just felt whole. I told her that it wouldn´t be possible to have that if they didn´t do what was necessary. I don´t think they understood, because they didn´t come to church again. I just want these people to be happy, but I can´t force them to do it. It just is hard to love people so much and see them not progress. I just have to have hope that one day they will have the faith necessary. But right now is not their time. I´m telling myself to have hope, but it is getting a bit difficult. I still need to figure things out. It´s easy to say that its all just gravy, but I need to truly believe it. Something that is going to take some time to figure out.

But all in all it was a pretty good week. I am excited for this week cause we are going to be able to focus more in our area! Thank you all so much! Les amo!

Con amor, Elder Hawk


Monday, November 10, 2014

Familias Eternas‏

Hola,

Well this was probably the best week of my mission, but I thought it was going to be the worst week of my mission at the beginning. There was A LOT of problems in our zone and missionaries making dumb decisions. I asked the Lord to increase my capabilities so that I could help solve the problems and help the missionaries in my zone. He answered my prayer.

We had the leadership council where we were able to learn a lot of good stuff. The best part for me was when Presidente LaPierre talked about having a vision and how he had this project to design a part of a jet engine and it was going to be a project of 6 years and on the way to a meeting about the project he begin to write and planned what he would do for the next six years. Some things changed, but the vision stayed the same and that is what guided him to be able to finish this project. He said that it is the Spirit that gives us the vision.

So as I was thinking of all of this after the meeting and planning our zone meeting an idea came to my mind and we planned it all out and did it with half the zone on Friday (we have to have a zone meetings with only half of the zone cause we can´t all come together for the distance) and it was one of the most powerful experiences I have had on the mission. What we did is take everyone into the chapel and sit in the first two rows. We talked about President LaPierre´s experience and then said how each one of us is the engine and Christ is the engineer and we need to know His vision for us and work to achieve it. We talked about our divine potential and the ability we have to progress and grow especially in these 2 years. Then, when the Spirit was strong we gave everyone a piece of paper, told them to find their own spot, say a prayer and then write what came to mind, promising them that the Spirit would guide them to know what to write. We all considered three questions: Who do I want to become before finishing my mission? Am I doing what I need to do now in order to achieve this vision? What will I do to achieve this vision? As I personally wrote I begin to think of things that I hadn´t even considered. One of them was to just let myself be happy and to radiate happiness. I realized that God doesn´t want me to change what I do, rather, He wants me to change my nature. As we were finishing we quietly went to each missionary and invited them to come back to the front of the chapel. The Spirit that was present there in that moment is difficult to describe, but it was something similar to what I feel in the temple. It was a sacred experience for everyone and it was very rewarding to hear everyone share some of the things that they had learned. One Elder who has had some problems said that as he wrote he realized that before, he believed he knew everything but now he sees that he still has a long way to go and a lot to learn. Another Elder afterwards said it was one of the experiences he would treasure and take with him home from the mission. Probably one of the coolest and most powerful experiences of my mission and it solved all of the problems we had in our zone. But I know it wasn´t me and Elder Sanchez. It was the Lord increasing our capabilities and sending us the vision of what we needed to do.

Then we had one of the most joyful experiences of my mission. The Familia Alfonzo who has been fighting hard to go to the temple for 7 years finally went and were sealed as a family, even though he was making very little money and even though his motorcycle got robbed. We focused sacrament meeting on eternal families. I talked first and had planned to just talk about the basics of the temple so our investigators understood, but after explaining a little bit I felt impressed to talk about Jace. I talked about how in that moment the promise of an eternal family was what kept us going and gave us hope and the thing that keeps us striving to be our best. Sister Alfonzo started crying and I just about started crying too. At the end I said something like ``this is what we do in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-- we use the power and authority given from our Father in heaven to unite families together for eternity. That´s what its all about´´. Then we sang ´´Las families pueden ser eternas´´ and the Alfonzo family all talked a bit about how they felt in the temple and the experience they had. I almost cried again listening to Sister Alfonzo. I can´t describe the joy I felt to see this family united. Their home has a different feeling now and I have never seen them more happy and excited. And this is what it`s all about.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

In other news we had two less active members come to church for the first time. For her it was the first time in years and her grandson was so excited on the way to church, It was so awesome. And Hno. Morel came and is going to ask for every Sunday off of work. Also, Hno. Barbosa got a new job where he won´t drink anymore cause his boss doesn´t allow it. And many other amazing things.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Mba´eichapa,

Well this was a pretty crazy and a little bit rough week. We went on divisions to Ayolas this week which is a little fishing town. I went out with Elder Ah Quin who is a new missionary from St. George, Utah. He knows the Laubs and went to Washington elementary at the same time as me. So that was pretty crazy. But before the divisions started we headed out on a bus and it went way slow and we got off in this tiny town that was like one square block and the other bus took forever to get there and then almost at the end it broke down.. so we got there a little late, but it was still cool to be with a new missionary and remember what that was like. He kept saying how 14 months is such a long time and it made me realize how long I have been out here. Everything went well and then the next morning we woke up early to take the bus that was supposed to pass at 5:30. But it never passed. I sent a picture of us sitting on chairs in the giant rain waiting for the bus to come. haha Next time we are just going to ride donkeys there. more reliable than Paraguayan travel. haha

Then we got home and the rain started way strong and we were in the church doing our planning and it was the hardest rain storm I have seen in my whole mission. I started taking a video and then there was this huge bang and in the video you can see the shingles of the roof fly to the ground. The church got struck by lightning -exclamation point doesn´t work-. It was the craziest thing ever. And then the whole church started leaking water cause there were no shingles to stop it. We put up some buckets and stuff, but it was impossible to stop it all. So after the storm ended we just pushed all the water out. Then we went to help some members whose house got pretty messed up and on the way we saw a bunch of trees knocked over and power lines destroyed. It was pretty crazy. The wind was so strong. One sister was in her house and this giant tree right next to her house started moving like crazy and she prayed and the tree fell the other way. We saw the tree and it was like on the side of this mini cliff and I can´t believe it didn´t fall on her house because it logically should of. That was a pretty cool miracle this week. We didn´t do near as much proselyting but a lot of the time when i am serving I feel even more like a missionary.

We are also way excited cause our group leader here is going to be sealed to his family this Friday. They are way excited and we are so happy for them. I think it is going to get everyone here way excited. We have a lot of plans to help the group here progress. I have never had so much stuff to do with an area and a group and a zone that is giant, but it is a fun challenge. I am excited to see the work here progress.

Con amor, Elder Hawk





Our Branch
Farewell to Elder Ollerton
Splits with the tall missionaries
The Infamous Rubik's Cube 
Is that the way to spell "John"? haha
 Waiting for the Bus
 The hole in the roof of the church

Candlelight in our Apartment
Another Beautiful Sunset

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rompecabezas‏



Hola,

Well it was quite the week, but we had several wins. We are finally going to change our apartment and we signed the contract for the church building so we aren´t going to get kicked out! I learned how to solve a Rubix cube and can do it in under 4 minutes now. The Velasquez family came to church for the first time since their baptism like 3 months ago! Also, Lilian and Ivan came to church!

The bad news is that I learned how to do the Rubix cube cause I got way sick. I had bad allergies on Friday and then on Saturday my stomach started killing me. I woke up at like 3 on Sunday morning and puked. Then we spent Sunday sleeping and learning the Rubix cube. it was the first day I haven´t been able to work from being sick, but I was afraid I would pass out if I went out into the furnace that is now Paraguay. I really have been amazingly blessed with health my whole mission. I should have probably been more grateful before and I wouldn´t have needed to be reminded.. haha

This week was a bit different with a new comp and learning the area and all that, but it was good. The coolest lesson of the week is when we started talking to a kind of rough looking guy on his porch and he invited us to sit down and we just started talking. He went inside and came out with a tiny baby and said that they adopted her cause the mom couldn't take care of her. Later he introduced us to another one of his daughters who he had adopted with his wife. I don´t remember how it happened but I asked him a question about how his life was before he started going to the church he goes to and he just totally opened up and told us how he was in jail with his wife and he just really realized how badly his life had turned and started studying the Bible in prison and then got out and started going to a baptist church and how much it helped him. He was a drug addict but has been clean for like 2 years and it was way cool to see his story. They were having a lot of issues cause the baby girl was sick and needs and operation so we talked a lot about trials families and he loved it. The Spirit was really strong and I could see how asking that first question and following the Spirit is what led us to help that man.

The other challenge of the week is having a giant zone, with the farthest companionship 6 hours away and the closest like 40 minutes away (if the bus passes by). Our zone is from Pilar all the way to Encarnacion. We had to plan everyone´s buses and get new missionaries to their areas and we are trying to figure out how to do divisions with hem without losing an entire week of work. haha It is a challenge, but it is fun to try and figure everything out. I am really excited for this change!

Thank you all so much for always supporting me and giving me the help and confidence that I need. Your letters and prayers really do make a huge difference! I love you!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ya gané‏

¡Hola!,

Well it was a very good week. We had divisions with the missionaries who were emergency transferred here and I went with Elder Gallini who is a 7 foot tall Texan with a month in the mission. It was way awesome but the weather was so hot. i think it was probably the hottest day of my mission and the humidity was unreal. It was fun to be with a new missionary and not only focus on the people we are teaching but also help the missionary. it made me want to train again. But the coolest part was when President La Pierre called about a problem in one of the areas and we had just started talking to this lady, but I had to answer it so i left him there and he looked at me like I was  crazy, but by the time I finished the call he had gotten to known her and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and set a return appointment, so that was cool to see.

Then, we went to Posadas to do some visa stuff for Elder Ollerton and we had to walk all the way across the bridge which doesn´t look that long, but it is. Luckily I got the classic Argentina Posadas mission foto of these buses that say orgulloso ser misionero and on the back servicio international. Perfect for missionaries here. haha We also got to talk to president a little about stuff that is going on in our zone and also our little group in Ita Paso. He told us that we just need to focus on helping individuals more and less on just trying to raise attendance and all that. He talked about how when the church started not everyone was a Brigham young and there were a lot of crazies but look at what came out of it all. That is what can happen here even if it is just a couple of youth we help who later on build it all up.

But when we got back to the area I was just feeling kind of down and I couldn´t shake myself out of it and that night I prayed hard and received some help but I was just so tired that I didn´t understand it until the next morning when I started talking to Elder Ollerton at the end of our weekly planning. I just started talking out about how sometimes I just am not very content and I don´t feel like I have had a whole lot of success especially recently and then he said that the important thing is that he respects me and he knows the zone respects me and lots of other stuff that helped me out a lot and that I have done a lot of great things on my mission and then I said " i think i´ve already won. I´m already a better person. The rest is just gravy." And it may sound crazy, but that helped me feel a lot happier and it is now going to be the theme of the rest of my mission. I have the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am trying my best to live it. I am trying so hard to help others people have it and if I work as hard as I can and try my best than I have already won. if the people accept it then that is just gravy. I had never thought about it like that but it is way true. The Doctrine and Covenants talks about how great our joy will be with those we bring unto Christ in heaven, but that is just added to the infinite joy of being there in the first place. I have already helped so many people and even if they don´t all accept completely what I teach i know i have helped them and will continue to diligently do so. So if I just keep doing that then I have already won. The rest is just gravy. So me and Elder Ollerton use that as our catch phrase. I say " Ya ganamos" and then we do jamongaru which is when you put your fingers together and then do this snapping thing. (impossible to explain I will have to show you one day) and then he says "Gravy, baby!" haha It is pretty sweet.

This week Cirpriano told us his real doubt. he has some kind of strange belief of who Jehovah is. We tried a bit to explain to him, but he was just blinded by his own logic and trust in his own intelligence. And it may have been a bit direct but I read him 1 Nephi 13:24-29 and explained how the Bible has had parts plain and precious taken from it and told him we need to depend on the spirit and that he has tripped from the problems with the Bible. Then, I bore my testimony to him of prophets and the Spirit and how we need to trust in those things and not ourselves, but he didn´t want to listen. It was interesting to see how I totally logically understood what he was trying to explain, but did not feel the Spirit testify of the truth of what he said because it was not true. But when i bore my testimony I could feel the truth and I hope he could feel it too.

Things are progressing here slowly, but steadily, but the most progress has come from me. I just decided that I am going to be happy no matter what people choose to do. Wish i would have learned that one earlier, but I´ve got my whole life to try and keep the attitude of just seeing the positive and realizing that no matter what happens with other people´s decisions I have the gospel and I am doing my best and if we are doing that than we have already won.

Changes this week. Crazy how fast this change went. Elder Ollerton is going to La Paloma to be ZL 1 and I am staying here and Elder Sanchez who is dying this transfer will come with me. He is way cool and I am way excited to learn from him and get work done here! Also, my zone just ate another zone so we are way bigger and we are going to have to do divisions this transfer with a companionship 6 hours away, so that will be an adventure. Excited for new challenges!

I love you all so much!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Ya gané

Ozuna Family

orgulloso ser misionero
(proud to be a missionary)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Playa Paraguaya‏

Hola,
I never thought I would be on a beach in Paraguay, but there I was. On the beach. In Paraguay. I love this place. (the pictures are in drop box). We played volleyball with the two zones in Encarnacion and the Gringos won. So that was sweet.

This started out as one of the most frustrating weeks of my mission. We had leadership council on Tuesday and then on Wednesday we had emergency transfers in our zone so we were stuck in centro until like 7 o' clock and then once we finally got on a colectivo (after a very drunk man threatened to kill us) we arrived to find the church full of giant ants. Also, our air conditioning broke and it was quite hot and humid. Then we had our zone meeting on Thursday (which was actually way cool. We had a testimony meeting and it was very powerful) and at Thursday after lunch we had 0 lessons and 0 time in our area. But on Friday we just decided to go out and have ourselves a day. So we did.

We had a few good lessons and then we went back to the street where our apartment is (which is this tiny crappy house that we are finally going to change next week!) and the lady who lives right in front of us said hello so we decided to talk to her. She lives in the house that I have seen every day leaving our house for a month, but  a house that I have never contacted. So we start talking to her and she just starts telling us about how hard her life is with her husband in prison and her 8 kids and working two jobs, etc. She said she just sees us smiling all the time and she wants to be a person like that who just smiles and laughs. It was maybe the saddest thing I ever heard. But the happiest thing she ever heard is when we told her about the power that the Spirit can have in her life to be a constant friend and to guide her and direct her in all she needs. (This was when I began to remember that without the Spirit I am nothing) We gave her a book of Mormon and she said she was excited to read it. She was way happier and more full of hope after we left.

Then we went to teach a family we found with a recently reactivated single mother who has a very difficult life. The husband of the investigator wasn´t home, but we sat down and the wife just started talking with the member and Lilian (the investigator) just started to completely open up and the Sister Barrios gave her way good advice and said that the feelings she gets with the missionaries is the Spirit and invited her to church and everything. We didn´t even do anything, but Lilian said she had only told her parents some of the stuff she told to us. Then on Sunday after a difficult morning we went to visit her and her husband again in the evening. We taught them about eternal families and the Spirit was so powerful. We asked them how they felt and Lilian said that her husband almost never lets people in and doesn´t like talking a lot but with us he just feels a serenity. They said that we seem wiser beyond our years and that we just have experienced so many things and I told them that it is not because of us, but it is because God helps us and supports us and helps us to be more than we are. Something I needed to be reminded of. Then at the end they said that they understand it all very well and I just looked at them and realized that it is because they are not learning but remembering. I had only felt like someone was remembering what I was teaching one other time in my mission. Then they said that when we talk they feel like it is Christ teaching them. That felt really good because that is our whole purpose. But more than anything I have realized again that I am nothing. The Lord does it all and all I can do is try to be His instrument.

I am way excited for the progress here in our zone and in Ita Paso. I am so grateful to be a missionary.

Con amor, Elder Hawk









Monday, October 6, 2014

El que no sirve, no sirve‏

Hola,

The title of this email was my favorite quote in conference. It doesn`t really translate as well in English, but it basically means that if someone doesn`t serve others they aren`t worth anything. But not that harshly. It is hard to explain. haha

Conference was probably the best of my life. My questions were very thoroughly answered. We set up a room for all of the gringos to listen to it in English which was really good. The message is more powerful in your own language and by the voice of the person really giving the talk. So we were all listening in there and every time a Latin guy would talk we would run into the other room to listen in Spanish and then run back to the English room when he finished. haha. I especially enjoyed the MTC priesthood quire and an awesome priesthood session, but it did make me miss Dad, Parker, Tanner, and Grandpa thinking of how we would always watch priesthood session together. My favorite talk was by Eyring in priesthood session. One of my questions was "How can I help others to achieve their potential?" and he hit it on the head. I was thinking of all of the amazing men who have helped me to improve and strive to reach my potential. I am grateful that the Bishop was inspired to make me home teaching companions first with Dad and then with the high priest group leaders. Three amazing men right there. I think now in the mission, and as a leader especially, it is my turn to help others to reach their potential. I have been trying to do it the whole mission, but I really want it to be my focus now.

This week I was in a division for two days with a brand new missionary and it was way good to be able to try and help him and the people at the same time. The new generation of missionaries coming into our mission is awesome. It is cool to be able to work with them and try to help them learn from some of my experiences. But I learn more from the new missionaries than they learn from me.

This week we had a crazy experience when I was in divisions and we finished our lesson early and there is this other neighborhood that is farther from our tiny area, but there are some recent converts that live there and we hadn`t planned to go and it is a bit dangerous and creepy to go there at night cause they don`t have power and so there is no light, but I felt like we should go and so we went. Right as we turned the corner we see a young couple. We had taught the woman but the man wasn`t home so we went to talk to him and I was sure that was why I felt we should go, but then our recent convert comes around the corner at the same time and is way angry and yelling and his son is trying to stop him. So we go over to him and he is saying something about how he is going to fight with his neighbor because he lied and said he stole something. So we calm him down and take him back to his house and sing a song and pray and read the scriptures and he totally calmed down and even prayed at the end that he could forgive his neighbor and that they could settle their differences. I was grateful we got there just in time cause it would have been big trouble if they had started fighting. I am grateful I followed the Spirit to prevent anything bad from happening and also that it helped to calm down our recent convert.

Also, in conference they talked a lot about receiving revelation and on Sunday after conference we took our zone`s numbers for the week and they are all just having a lot of difficulties and we haven`t been able to totally help them yet. So we started talking and then said a fervent prayer together asking for guidance, and right after we realized that the problem wasn`t asking for references or working with members or inviting people to be baptized. Those are only symptoms of the deeper problems that we have which is really just a lack of faith. A lot of missionaries, myself included sometimes, loose faith that they can have success. But we need to have faith that we can work miracles even when all the odds and problems and even the history of the area are against us. We are making good plans for this month and the leadership council is tomorrow so we are really excited for that. I am very grateful that I can receive personal revelation to help myself and others because I definitely would have no idea what to do without it and things would never turn out very well. All that has gone well in my mission is because I sought revelation and received it and followed it. All that has gone bad is because I have not done that. The Lord is so willing to give us the revelation we need. We just have to ask.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, September 29, 2014

Una semana purete


 Hola,

Well this was one of the greatest weeks of my mission. It seemed like every door we clapped on was just a miracle. We clapped on Cirpriano´s house and his sister had been baptized a few months ago and he said he was way excited to talk to us cause he always wanted to check out the church and talk with the missionaries, but he thought he had to be invited by us first. I almost did a fist pump mid-lesson. He is way excited to learn more and way pumped for general conference.

We also met Romina. We talked a bit about her life and she said that she was single when she was 7 months pregnant with her child who now is like 8 months old and I was just trying hard to listen to her and feel the Spirit and the question came: How did you feel when you were pregnant with your child? After that she just completely opened up and told us about how she had considered aborting her child and her first husband with whom she had already separated was not letting her see her first child and how she made the incredibly difficult decision to move away with her new child and another man to try to make a better life for her new child. She cried when she talked about how much she regretted considering taking the life of her child and how horrible she felt for being with a man that she wasn´t married to and how she has no hope and is afraid of God and doesn´t want to pray to him. And then the words came and we told her how she is a child of God and He always wants to help her and the second time we visited she was a lot better and at the end of the lesson she offered one of the most heartfelt prayers I have ever heard. My eyes started watering when I heard it and after I was just thinking about how if everyone felt the same way when they sinned that there would be a lot less sin in this world. It is always amazing to see how I learn more from these people than they learn from me.

We also had a baptism on Saturday: that was a baptism of the branch's but because we are basically the church leaders here we were responsible for organizing it all. One of the churches had a broken water system so we had to change it last minute and then we couldn´t find the key for the baptismal font.. So we entered in from the back door where the people go in to be baptized and started trying to break it open... Which did not work. There is a pretty sweet video which I will show when I get back. But finally the branch president from the other branch came and opened it for us cause he found the key. Crisis averted. We almost were gonna do it in the river which would have been sweet, but the important thing is that she got baptized. She is so tiny.

Elder Ollerton got sick this week so we were stuck in the apartment for the day, so I made a new map for the area using the google map print out that someone else had made. I had to use my math skills to make an exact copy only 3 times bigger. Also, I made Elder Ollerton soup but we had nothing to measure the water, so instead of eye balling it I took measurements of the container and poured it in until it reached the point of 1 liter. Needless to say I was pretty pumped about that. haha.

Today we gave a training in our zone meeting and we drew in 20 bricks on the wall each one for 4 years of life and drew in a half brick to represent the mission to show how we need to take advantage of every minute. We also talked about how if we lose time in little things every day that it adds up to a lot. Everyone left more excited to work so we were pretty happy. The Lord helped inspire us with that one. It is crazy that I have less than 11 months left. I don´t want to think about it, but I am so grateful for this time I have to dedicate everything to the Lord. I love being a missionary.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

More pictures of the well

                         
The Bricks of our Life

Baptism Day

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mi presidente es un jefe‏

Hola!

Well it was an awesome week yet again. We started out in divisions with the Elders in this tiny little unit of like 10 people that is falling apart cause one family is doing crazy things and offending everyone. So that was interesting. But they called yesterday and settled their differences with the family; and a super inactive member came to church who will probably end up being branch president cause he is excited to start working and helping the church grow. So that was way exciting!

This was also the week of President LaPierre because I think I spent more time with him in this week than in like all of my mission combined. He showed up to San Pedro on Tuesday and talked about the problems they were having and later talked with the crazy member; which helped out a lot. Then we had interviews with him on Friday. We were talking with him about some of the struggles in our area and the problems with some of the members and he said: " You are not meant to be just a couple of young men knocking on a few doors. You are the defenders of the faith.. and the faithful. You are fully commissioned. Do what you need to do. I trust you completely." It was powerful and we asked him if we could write it down after he said it. ha ha In my personal interview we were talking about the mission and he asked me to talk about how the mission is compared with the vision that he has because he knows he doesn´t see all that really goes on, so he asked me a lot about that. We talked about a few other things, but at the end he asked if there was anything else and I said "Just thank you." And he looked at me and said; "It´s not me." And began to describe how he has been sustained and supported in his time as mission president like he has never felt before. He talked about how ideas come to his mind that he knows could never possibly come from him. And then he said that when things start to go good and he starts to feel a little bit prideful that the Spirit whispers to him
 "It´s not you." I didn´t know what else to say to him, but I saw humility in its truest form. He wasn´t saying it to try to look humble, but because he truly believes it and he lives it. I realized that while I have improved that I also need to recognize that it´s not me. It´s always the Lord.

Later, he gave a talk in district conference and talked about how life is a trial and sometimes the greatest trial is the church itself, especially the members which I thought was very interesting. And he always talks using cool stories and is very expressive and at one part when he was talking about how being a member of the church can be a trial he looked at everyone with big eyes and his hands stretched out to the side and said "Welcome to the university of eternity: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints" and then talked about how it isn´t easy but it is where we learn and prepare for eternity.

Then on Sunday he came to our little group and talked about how we need to see the different clashing personalities that we have as opportunities to improve and learn about ourselves. Everyone was just like mesmerized listening to him. Afterwards he hung around awhile longer and we got to talk to him a bit more just casually. As they were about to live Sister LaPierre asked him what he did with the keys and he said that he had given them to her and she said she didn´t have them and they had a tiny argument and it was pretty funny. I don´t say all of this to try and praise him or anything, because the biggest thing I learned is that him and Hermana LaPierre are just so real. In the interview, in front of a congregation, with a group of missionaries, casually talking one on one they are always the same. They are constant. They don´t try to seem like more than they are or puff themselves up, but they just are who they are.

I am so grateful that the Lord sent me into the best situation for me with the mission president I need. He is a great man.

In other news we dug a well this week. I am still a bit sore. I think Elder Ollerton will be sending pictures for me to Mom and Dad so you can forward them to everyone else. I love you all and am so grateful for all of your support!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Elders Hawk and Ollerton with Jorge after digging a well! 
"We ended up at 21 feet down so far!!"

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ita Paso no "Un tipaso"‏

Ba´e la porte chera´a (Not sure if it is spelled right but it means what´s up in Guarani)

Well it has been a pretty sweet week getting to know the area and my new companion. We have to walk a lot in this area cause there is one big neighborhood and then a few smaller ones far away. The Elders before have contacted every house here like 5 times, so we are trying out some of the other neighborhoods. It is weird to have an American companion after over 6 months of Latinos. It is fun to be with someone who has had a lot more similar experiences and we have a good time together. Today in our zone meeting we were super pumped cause we planned one of the coolest meetings of my mission. Here the church is super small in some places. Two areas have less than 20 members that go to church and ours has like 30. The topic of the meeting was helping strengthen our groups or branches. So we played the newlywed game with the missionaries to get to know us better and then talked about how our relationship has a strong effect on the members. Then we had a discussion about the challenges and ideas to strengthen the church here and at the end we did a practice where a superhero member moved into the ward because of our fervent prayers and we had to ask him about his conversion experience and got to know him to figure out who he was and then asked for a reference with his conversion experience fresh in his mind. It was way funny because when we did the demonstration and the beginning the Elder was Spiderman and when I figured it out I said "I have always said that with much power comes much responsibility" and everyone started laughing and we used it to receive the reference of his friend whose father had recently died in a terrible accident. It was fun and I think it will really help the missionaries to realize how to better involve the members in the work by using the Spirit.

The area is beautiful. It is like 45 minutes away from the city part and there are some way pretty views. (But I forgot my connector to download photos. Sorry..) The missionaries before were working way hard so there are several recent converts we are working with, though some of them have some pretty serious problems. The Velasquez family was way prepared to get baptized and President LaPierre had done their baptismal interview and was way excited about them and they got baptized, but haven´t come to church in two months. We went to their house and Elder Ollerton doesn´t know them super well either so the thought came into my mind to just start to share with them about my life and gain their confidence. I talked about a few of my funny experiences before the mission and we were all laughing and then I talked about my family and shared about Jace. I got choked up a little bit when i told them that as a five year old I always wished that he would get better when we crossed the cattle guards. But we talked about eternal families and the huge blessing they have to have found the gospel. They opened up more and we are going to help him dig his well on Saturday. I hope they come back.

We also had a sweet experience when we showed up at a house and the daughter of a member who doesn´t want anything to do with the church and who I had never met was sitting with some kids doing a school project. We shared them about the cool story where you fold a paper and then rip it and a cross comes out. I´m not sure how to explain it, but she loved it and is another step closer to accepting the gospel. Bu the coolest thing we did is have a meeting with the active members and we were going to just talk about all the problems and say what we needed from them, but right before I felt impressed to just introduce topics/problems and let them talk about it and come up with their own solutions. They left a lot more excited and we had way better ideas than what we could have thought of. If the members really follow through there is going to be a huge amount of success here.

I´m loving life down here and I am way happy! I love you all!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, September 8, 2014

No lo esperé‏

Hola!

Well, the week went pretty well and we had some way cool divisions with the elders from Hernandarias. I was with Elder Taylor first who is really quiet but plays the piano like a boss and we worked really hard and at the end of the day he said that what he learned is that he can do more than he thought. It made me feel really good that I helped him to gain more confidence and see his potential. He is now señor companion in his area.

I also had divisions with Elder Mendoza who is our district leader. He used to be my zone leader and is way awesome. We were working and it was all pretty normal but then we went to visit Ana Toledo and she started talking about how she wanted to change because she feels like she has a hard heart and wants to change some things in her life. A few weeks ago she was telling us about how she has epilepsy and was really down about it and I gave her una receta (what the doctors give to people) of reading the scriptures and saying prayers and she started to do it and you can really feel the difference in her house and in her life. But as she was talking about this I shared a scripture in Mosiah about repentance and we taught her very simply about how to repent. It was just the true doctrine for her circumstance. We told her she had already recognized her sins and we challenged her to take a moment that night and think of the pain her sins have caused in her life and for others and for Christ and then pray asking for forgiveness and making plans to not do it again. The Spirit was so strong even though we were just teaching a simple concept. I talked with Elder Mendoza after and he said when we were teaching her he felt the desire to change and realized things he needed to change. I also felt the same way. But as I reflected on this I realized that after a year in my mission I am finally beginning to grasp the basic principles of the gospel. I think the majority of the problems in Paraguay (and there are a lot of problems) is that the members of the church don´t know how to truly repent. Someone drops the cane on them and they change for two days and then go back to how they were before, but Elder Bednar is a lot smarter than us and taught the people about repentance in the multi-stake conference. Teaching the true doctrine is what really changes people. It was awesome to see the Spirit guiding my words in the lesson and to see that I learned more than she did. That is when we know we are teaching by the Spirit.

Then on Saturday night I got a call at like 10 o clock and they said that I needed to take all of my things with me to Encarnación with my companion and that I would also be leaving, but they didn´t tell me anything else. So I packed my bags and we went to church on Sunday and told the bishop and ward mission leader. I bore my testimony and told them if they are going to remember anything about me I hope they remember that I loved the people and had a strong testimony of this work. It was sad to say goodbye. That place became like my home. I was there for almost 6 months. But we took a bus to Encarnación and I was thinking the whole time of where I would go, and then they called me and I will be serving in Ita Paso as the zone leader of Encarnación with Elder Ollerton. I haven´t gone to my area yet, but they say it is a tiny little town. I am way excited for a change and the zone needs a lot of help so I am excited to get to work. I didn´t see this coming but I am way excited! I will send pictures of the members in my last area and some of my new area next week.

I love you all and am so grateful for your support and prayers!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Edificar mi iglesia

Hola,

Well I have officially completed one year as a missionary. I feel like even in another year more, I will never see or fully understand the impact of the service I have given, in my own life, and in the lives of others. Yesterday we were in the council of leaders and the missionaries in Oberá informed me that the daughter of Ramona who was my investigator was recently baptized, that her daughter is preparing to be baptized and she is progressing a lot more. She was healed of here heart problem because of the blessing we gave her and she said she is going to write us a letter because she wants to tell us her testimony again because she knows we didn´t really fully understand her when she told us. Her family still talks about me and Elder Muñoz. I will never really see the fruits of my labor.

However, the fruits that are a bit more apparent to me are the changes in my own life. I was reading my journal entries from the beginning of my mission and I realized how much I have learned and how much I have changed. At the beginning of my mission I didn´t have very much faith that I could do all that the Lord asks of me, but after seeing the words that He sends to me by His Spirit and the strength that He sends to me in times of trial I know that I can meet any challenge that He sends to me. And I can´t help but feel that more challenges are coming to test my faith.

This week I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. It rained and only 31 people were at church and during the class the people started talking a lot about how when the rain comes everyone loses their faith, but I felt like they were kind of acting like they were a bit better than those who did not come. So  talked about Peter and Christ. Peter started out with very little faith, but Christ used His faith to grow Peter´s faith. When Peter walked on water but then sank, Christ didn´t tell Him "Too bad, it is your fault for not having faith. Save yourself." Instead He stretched out His hand and gave Peter a chance to show his faith again. Later, just before He is about to suffer for the sins of the world and take upon himself an agony indescribably infinite, he tells Peter that He is pleading that the faith of Peter will not fail and then tells him to strengthen others with his faith. Later Christ tells him three times to "feed my sheep." I think that sometimes as members of the church we think we are better than others for doing right things. But if we spend all of our time thinking we are better than other people we will not have time to help them to strengthen their faith as Christ did with Peter. So I asked the question: What are we doing to help these people grow their faith so that they too can have faith strong enough to come to church in any circumstance?

This is related to what we discussed in our leadership council: What does it mean to build the church? To me it means to help individuals and families develop faith in Jesus Christ and make and keep covenants. If this does not happen, then the church will never grow. What are we doing to help others grow in their faith? Do we expect them to just do it all on their own or are we extending them a hand as Christ did with Peter? I think I have been expecting the members to just start working. To just do it. but I have not been doing my part to help them grow their faith to the point in which they can do it. We need to start truly building the church.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Entró por otro camino"‏

Hola,

The work rolls on. This week was way good cause we were able to have divisions again. In the first division we were able to help out two Elders who were struggling a bit and this Sunday an awesome family came to church so they are super excited now and working way hard. It was rewarding to see their success. Then I was with Elder Preece who is a brand new missionary who speaks better Spanish than the majority of those who have been here for 6 months. He is the man and we had a great division. It was weird to think that 25 years ago our dads were together in the mission on the other side of the world.

We also had stake conference this week. Elder Bednar spoke on a transmission to Uruguay and Paraguay and it was way awesome. He was talking about how he talked with the leaders of the church and was asking what the members needing and they started listing all of the things like home teaching and sharing the gospel and magnifying their callings, etc. But instead of talking about all of these things he shared the true doctrine of repentance in a powerful way that left everyone wanting to be better. It reminded me of a talk he gave that we watched in the MTC where he talks about always teaching doctrines because that is what truly changes people. It was good to hear the difference between him and some of the other leaders who at times just drop the cane on everyone.

The miracle that happened this week was after the conference when I was thinking about what true progression really is. Something I have been thinking about all week. There are a lot of missionaries and a lot of branches and a lot of people who think that they are progressing when they are really not progressing a whole lot. It is like the rocking horse philosophy. That movement doesn´t equal progression. And I was thinking about how a missionary can go into an area and baptize 10 people by himself or he can go into an area and train 20 members to share the gospel whose efforts later bring 50 people into the church. Which is better? Which creates true progress? In my time here, I think I have clapped just about every house and I have talked to just about everyone in the street and have had a lot of people come to church, but there hasn´t been a whole lot of progress for the work, here in the branch.

Thinking of all of this, I read Alma 8. Alma is baptizing like crazy and then he goes to another city and is rejected and spit on. I felt the Spirit powerfully as I read the following verses:

 14 And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:

 15 Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivest thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you.

I felt like it was my Heavenly Father´s way of telling me that I am doing my part and that He is proud of me for my efforts. It was really exactly what I needed.

But then I received the key for what I needed to do here in the area---The angel tells him to go back and then "he entered the city by another way" and finds Amulek who is an inactive member of the church. They eat and spend time in his house preparing and then they go out and teach, but their power is described in the followng verses:

 30 And Alma went forth, and also Amulek, among the people, to declare the words of God unto them; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.

 31 And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them.

Now that the member and the missionary have united they have much more power than what Alma had alone. In  the following chapters it is clear to see that power, and that this time they had a lot more success. So we dedicated our Sunday to visiting all of the members, sharing this story and inviting them to hast for the missionary effort in the branch, pray for spiritual experiences, invite a friend to an activity, make a visit to a less active member, and have a family home evening where they make a plan on how they will share the gospel. We felt the Spirit strongly in the houses of the members and they are all excited to try and share the gospel more. Hermano Beltran said he was going to visit all of his friends and family and set up appointments with them to visit with us. We are very excited to see true progress here in the branch.

Why I didn´t think of this before, I do not know. Maybe I was to busy being frustrated, or maybe it just wasn´t the right time before. But what I do know is that I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who gives us the direction that we need to help his work move along. I also invite all of you to do the same thing that we invited the members to do here. I promise that as you do these things that the Lord will give you the revelation that you need to hasten His work in your circle of influence. God´s work cannot be stopped. That is already decided. What is not decided is what role we will play in the work. Will we be on the sidelines or on the field? Let´s get in the game.

Con amor, Elder Hawk



A few of the pictures of the cow´s head. It was pretty good, except for the brain.






Fotos:

Elder Hawk and Elder Preece
Hernandarias in exchanges
We caught a lizard




Monday, August 18, 2014

El poder del espíritu‏

hola!

I would like to first state that I have not completed a year as a missionary and will not complete a year until the 28th of August. I will be sending a picture of the shirt burning in two weeks time.

This week I learned a lot about the Spirit. On Tuesday we talked with Genaro, Renso´s dad, and we were talking to him casually and then he started to talk about how his mom and brother both died a long time ago and then other brothers and 3 months ago a different brother. They started out as 10 brothers and sisters and are now down to 5. Then, Elder Rusque shared about how his aunt passed away and what helped his family was the gospel. The Spirit was very strong and then he asked me if I had ever lost a family member and I shared about Jace and how the thing that kept us all going and our motivation now to live good lives is so that we can live with him again. The tears welled up in this man, who in 22 years of married to his member wife, has only started even speaking with the missionaries 3 months ago. He said that it is amazing that there is an American and a Chileano at his house and he thanked us for being there and for speaking with them. Then I asked him if he believed we were sent by God and with a surety that I have rarely heard in my mission he said yes, absolutely. We all felt the Spirit even stronger and his wife began to cry. I told him that what he was feeling was the Spirit and we said a prayer and left them feeling that powerful feeling. It was probably the most spiritual lesson of my mission. Then, yesterday we went with a member and he shared his conversion story and they set up a time to drink terere together to talk. We are also going to their house tonight for family home evening and they are going to cook us a cow´s head so I am pretty pumped for that as well. But more pumped that he has finally accepted the gospel, because at the end of the lesson yesterday the missionary who was with us in divisions asked Genaro if he was a member and he said "No.. Todavia. Vamos a hablar" or "No. Not yet. We´ll talk." I was pretty pumped.

Also, Ana Toledo was less active but started coming back when her husband got baptized, but she has this huge Virgin Mary statue and we have tried for 4 month to pull it down with every trick and argument we can think of. Elder Silva almost got it when he asked for it as a going away gift, but she wouldn´t budge. Then, last Monday I told Elder Rusque that I would give him my best tie if he could get her to pull it down, and he tried to get it as a gift and even offered cash, but it didn´t work. Then an idea came to my mind. I asked Ana what she would do if her daughter had a pack of cigarettes and she said she would take them away. I asked her why, and she said because it can harm her. Then I explained to her that the statue can cause spiritual harm to her daughter which is even worse because it can concentrate her faith in something that is not Jesus Christ. I asked her to pray about it and we left with her still thinking, deeply thinking. Yesterday we went over and the Virgin statue was gone. She gave it away. Not because we convinced her, but because she felt the Spirit testify to her that that is what she needed to do. She said she felt a lot better after giving it away and I realized that we as missionaries cannot do anything without the Spirit. And even if we had convinced her with tricks or logic, it wouldn´t have helped her to truly repent and change, but when she felt the Spirit she was able to truly repent. The Spirit does all the work.

Finally, yesterday we went to a less active members house who had been coming back, but then went inactive again. It was late and we almost didn´t pass by, but I felt we should. So we went over and started talking and asking her how she has been and what happened and then she burst out crying and told us about something horrible that had happened to her a few weeks ago that no one knew except her mom. I never was trained in how to deal with such a serious situation and I never had any experience, yet the perfect words came to both me and my companion. We gave her a priesthood blessing and she said she felt relieved. I was grateful for the Spirit that guided us exactly to what she needed at that critical time.

I am nothing more than an instrument in the hands of the Lord. He does all the work through His Spirit. I am grateful that the Lord does not depend on just my own personal knowledge or abilities because if I was left to myself I could not do anything. Our part is only to become a more effective and powerful instrument in the hands of the Lord through obedience, diligence and love. If we do that then he will do the rest.

I love you all so much!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Fotos:
 1) The top of our apartment
 2) We made a funny video that is too big to send, but I will show you in a year...
 3) vampire missionaries