Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Familia de oro‏

As you can tell by the subject of this email, it was a pretty amazing week, though it ended a bit strangely. Elder Olsen is the new secretary of materials and so he is in Posadas. Right now I am with Elder Ortiz from El Salvador but he will be leaving to Paraguay in a day or two. So I will receive a different companion soon. Pretty crazy. But Elder Olsen is going to be so good at that job! I just need to work a bit harder now to learn the area better, but I actually already know it pretty well which is a blessing.

This was a week full of divisions! I went to Montecarlo on Tuesday after the district meeting. (By the way I am the district Leader. Didn´t think it was super important but apparently for all of you it is. haha) The district meeting went pretty well. I talked about how the biggest obstacle to people going to church is actually the missionaries because we don´t help them see the importance in the right way and don´t verify with it enough and other things. It went well. Then I went to Montecarlo for divisions and a baptismal interview, but the investigator was not at her house. However, we decided to go visit some less active members. While we were waiting on the porch I saw a teenager inside and asked Elder Cross who he was. He said it was the son of the less active woman, but that he hadn´t talked to him before. So I started talking to him and he came outside and we talked to him about coming back to church and serving a mission and it was a way powerful experience. Miracles happen on divisions!

Meanwhile, Elder Olsen and Elder Smith were busy finding one of the most prepared families ever. Elder Olsen only has 2 transfers and Elder Smith has like 1 week in the mission so I thought it would be good to put them together for the day to help Elder Olsen learn more about leading a companionship. We had been praying like crazy to find a family and Wednesday morning they were walking to an appointment and they both felt like they needed to stop and talk to this couple who was sitting in front of the house, but they just kept going to the appointment. The appointment canceled and so they both talked and said they had both felt they needed to talk to the family. So they did. Flash forward to Sunday in the afternoon. I am confused about why they didn´t come to church because I heard of how awesome they were. We stop by (I have not actually even met them yet) and the first thing they do is apologize for not coming. They woke up an hour and a half early to come but were reading through the pamphlet and it talked about clothing and he didn´t have a shirt and tie so they didn´t come.... However, they have read the two pamphlets that the other missionaries gave them entirely and started answering the questions in the back (which no one EVER does). Also, they have read a good 10 chapters in the Book of Mormon and she has been marking the things she likes. There is a scripture about prayer that she showed us and she told us that after reading it they started to pray a lot more before everything that they did. Elder Ortiz and I just sat there with huge smiles and answered their questions. It was an amazing experience! I know that if we have faith and work our hardest, then the Lord will put prepared people in our path! I am so excited to continue working with them!

So basically it was a week of miracles. I am so grateful that I get to be here on a mission. I love it so much and know that the Lord is always putting me right where I need to be. I love you all so much and am so grateful for your support, prayers, and examples. Keep up the good work!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, February 17, 2014

Puerto Rico!‏

¡Hola familia y amigos!

Well it has been a crazy week! It is strange how your whole life changes in just one day in the mission. I said goodbye to everyone on Monday and Tuesday which was pretty hard. Lili and Marcelo should be getting baptized soon and we talked about the temple and put a goal for them to go in a year. It would be so sweet if they could do that! I also said goodbye to the family Rivero who went to the temple as a family right before I left Oberá! It is so exciting for them because the dad starting getting active again about 8 months ago and we have kept working with them and now they are sealed as a family. Way exciting!

And now I am here in Puerto Rico with Elder Olsen. to be honest, Puerto Rico is kind of dead. There are 4 missionaries here in total and in the last year there have been like 3 baptisms or something like that. Which is kind of weird because the branch is super awesome and supportive and the district president lives here and everything. So really this place is set up for success. We do have one awesome investigator named Antonio and also his wife Elsa who should be baptized pretty soon. About a month and a half ago the Elders were walking by and kept going and then felt they should turn around. He had been searching for a church but after like 50 years of his life searching and studying the Bible, he had decided that it didn´t exist. And then the missionaries showed up and he has accepted everything! It is way awesome to talk to him just cause of how prepared he is. However, he doesn´t have a lot of money and can´t walk well, so it is difficult to get to church on Sundays. So we will be working with the branch to help him out there.

Elder Olsen is my new companion. He is from "la Fabrica" Utah and this is his 3rd change in the mission. He is a great missionary who has a lot of love for the people and understands his purpose as a missionary. He has a really dry sense of humor which is hilarious and just says exactly what he is thinking. His Spanish is really good and I am really excited to work and learn with him.We are going to get along really well and I am certain we will have success here in Puerto Rico!

We have the best apartment that I have ever seen with an amazing view of the jungle and city! Puerto Rico is beautiful and really close to el Rio Paraná which is the border with Paraguay. And that is my life for the next 6 weeks at least.

But this half week that we had for proselyting went very well. We have been praying and had a special fast to find a strong family to baptize. We are working as hard as we can and I know that the Lord will bless us and the lives of the people here in Puerto Rico. But I know he will do it in His time. And to be honest, I was a little bumbed that I didn´t get to enjoy in the experience that Oberá will be having this transfer with the baptisms, but the truth is that I know that I helped those people and it doesn´t matter what part I play in someone´s conversion. It only matters that I am doing what the Lord has called me to do. And I know that right now he has called me here to Puerto Rico to bring this place back to life! And with a lot of work and A LOT of His help I know that I will do just that.

I love you all and miss you! Thank you for your examples, prayers, and support.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, February 10, 2014

El casamiento‏


Well, another awesome, but very very crazy week here in Oberá! On Monday we finished all the preparations for the wedding and everything was good to go for Friday at 5. Then Thursday morning we get a text from Sister Rivero who lives nearby the Amarilla Family and said that Lili had her baby early that morning! So we passed by to talk to Marcelo and he was with the other 3 crazy kids and he told us that in the morning at 4:30 Lili had the baby...in their house!!! He delivered it with his mom´s help and said he was just praying the whole time for help. Then the ambulance came and took her to the hospital and he went and then came back to the house with the other 3 kids. So we started thinking about the wedding and we were going to postpone it but then realized that their blood test would expire, so we talked to Marcelo and he convinced the doctors to let her leave for awhile for the wedding. So, they got married and will be baptized in a week! They were so happy! Then, on Saturday we had a little ceremony for them at the church and attached is the picture of the cake that Elder Lumpkin and a member made.. haha  But it was really awesome to see how happy they were to be married and have the ability to continue in the gospel and be baptized.

This week I also had one of the most powerful priesthood experiences of my life. We were talking to Matias who was baptized like 5 months or so ago and he just was feeling way down and having a lot of bad thoughts. He felt alone and like his parents had abandoned him and that he just had no future. To be honest I had no idea what to tell him and everything I could think of sounded wrong. So we listened and then I stood up and we all went into the house and I gave him a priesthood blessing. I was just praying that my words would be led by the Spirit. In the instance that I put my hands on his head I literally felt the power of the priesthood run through my arms. I started to give him a blessing and we both were crying and I just knew exactly what to say. After, he told me that he could feel God´s love and that it was like Heavenly Father was talking directly to him. It was a very powerful experience. Then afterwards, we sat down again and Elder Muñoz shared a powerful experience of his life when he felt down and went to the scriptures for guidance. Afterwards, Matias was totally changed and just felt happier and more hopeful.

Also, we just got the changes and I will be going to El Dorado! I am going to miss Oberá a lot. It has become like my home and I have learned so much here. But I know that the Lord will always put me in the perfect situation for me and for those who I will come in contact with. I am excited for the future and I have full confidence in Elder Muñoz to continue the work that we started. I am so proud of him and know he will continue to be a great missionary.

I love this work and I love being a missionary! And I love all of you. Thank you for your unwavering support and prayers.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, February 3, 2014

El Rescate de Oberá‏


It has been so awesome to hear everyone´s experiences about the temple open house. I am so proud of all of you for being good examples to people and helping them to have a good experience with all of that. It really is way awesome and I am mad I am missing it! haha But for now I am going to work hard so one day Oberá has a temple. haha

It has been a pretty great week! Marcelo and Lily are getting married this week so they can get baptized this next week! We have been working with them and talking with them and they prayed about it and today we have been running around to do all the paper work and such and they are way excited and way happy! They are going to be awesome members of the ward and I am especially happy for their kids who will be able to grow up with the gospel. She is way pregnant and should have the baby like the week after the baptism so this will be a crazy but amazing month for them!

On Tuesday Elder Muñoz and I were wondering if we should try to go to an area that we haven't really worked in a lot, called San Miguel. It is kind of far and pretty poor and we have heard it was kind of dangerous so we weren´t sure, but we prayed and thought and decided we would test it out the next morning. And when we got there the first like 5 people we tried to talk to said we were spies from the U.S. or had bad things to say about the church or just wouldn´t even listen, which is pretty rare for here in Oberá. At this point I was about to just abandon this area and go somewhere else, but we kept walking and went down this dirt street. We saw an old man working on the side of the rode and he smiled at us and we shook his hand and invited to sit down in the shade with him. As we were walking over he said "es un milagro que usted están" or "its a miracle that you are here." I asked him why and he began to tell us his story. His name is José and he is like 70 years old and was baptized in the church 38 years ago. He has a super powerful testimony of the church and was super involved in missionary work in his area a long time ago. They even had little meetings at his house about 18 years ago where more than 20 active members of the church would meet. But he told us that about a year ago the missionaries stopped working in that area and none of the members had visited anyone in San Miguel since then (there are no active members in San Miguel right now but a bunch of inactive members). The night before he prayed that God would send his messengers to him and the very next morning we showed up. He told us he knew it was a miracle and I know it was a miracle as well. He is sick and so we gave him a blessing and set an appointment to return. It was so incredible and I am so grateful we followed the Spirit in order to arrive to help this man of faith.

But this story doesn´t end there. About a week ago I was weighed down with a lot of the problems that the branch was having and prayed that the Lord could send someone to help fix things. As I prayed this the thought came into my mind "I sent you." We talked to José Benitez again on Saturday and he told us the history of the branch of Oberá from his very enlightening perspective of 38 years. The branch was created 40 years ago but still only has about 70 really active members. There have been lots of baptisms but few retentions. From hearing his story I know what we need to do in order to help this branch grow. Because the Lord will not trust this area with more baptisms if we are not caring for those who have already been baptizing. So Elder Muñoz and I are beginning the rescue of San Miguel and as well as all of the other less active members who really just need to be shown that they are needed and to feel the love of the branch. I truly feel this is why I was sent here and I am excited to do all I can to help build the church here in Oberá.

Anyways, sorry that this letter got really long. But I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support!

Con amor, Elder Hawk