Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Leadership Council in Posadas

Another picture from
Rand is there...can you see him?

La Semana Loca‏


This has officially been the craziest week of my mission. Elder Silva and I were super excited on Sunday and Monday because it was about to be our first full week of work without anything to interrupt us. Then during our studies we get a call from president that he wanted an interview with Elder Silva, not with all of the zone but only Elder Silva. Then we get a message that he needs to bring all of his luggage as well. I knew what was going to happen but Elder Silva thought he was in trouble. So after our zone meeting we go to the stake center and wait for President LaPierre who is doing other interviews. Then he walks out and takes Elder Silva with him and they put his luggage in the car and Hna Lapierre drives away. Then President LaPierre looks at Elder Silva and says "You are my new assistant." Then they came and told me, and president talked about how the mission was going to take a new direction especially in terms of leadership and that Elder Silva is the man for the job. He then told me that I would receive Elder Acevedo from the office (he was the secretary of visas and things like that) but not until Monday at the council of leaders in Posadas. Then he told us both that as leaders we just need to be ourselves because he has called us to be us and not someone else. So Elder Silva left for Posadas and I was left with the whole zone and put in a trio with the other Elders from our zone.

We worked in their area on Wednesday which was way good! At the end of the day they hadn´t planned very well, so we had no appointments and there was like no one in the street. I half wanted to just go to the apartment early with the excuse of talking about the divisions but the Spirit told me to just work. So we did and we clapped this giant red house and out came a woman who was about 65 and her two kids and one of her daughter in laws. They told us that their husband/father was a member of the church but after his death 15 years ago not one missionary had passed by their house. We taught them what their father had believed about eternal families and I told them God had sent us to their house so that they could become an eternal family and live with their father and husband again. The Spirit was powerful. They all accepted to be baptized and we went in the house and prayed together on our knees and then we left them with a powerful and sweet spirit. I felt very blessed to have been a part of that experience and to have listened to the guidance of the Spirit so that we could help this family begin to heal these wounds that had been untreated for 15 years.

Friday we worked in our area and found a whole street that was hidden on the border of the area that hasn´t had missionaries for a long time and we found some very prepared people! But for Saturday and Sunday I was scrambling like crazy to figure out how we could work in both of the areas so I organized divisions with 6 different people to pull it all off. In the afternoon and evening I was with Renson and he said we should go visit all of his family to invite them to church. So we did and I took advantage of the time to ask his family how they felt to have him preparing for a mission. His grandparents cried as they expressed how proud they were and his mother also cried as she described the example and spirit he has brought into their home. Afterwards he told me he realized how much was expected of him and I told him that he was going to be the light of the family that would help them all be strong in the gospel. It was a very incredible experience to see the blessings that one faithful member of the family can bring to everyone.

After all of these crazy divisions I went to the leadership council and it was incredible! We talked about working as one with the members and I am way excited for our zone meeting tomorrow! We have an awesome mission!

Yet again the Lord has put me in other situations to stretch my talents and abilities, but I know he has put me in the perfect place, just like always. I love being a missionary so much! I truly can´t describe the joy I experience every day. I love you and thank you for your examples!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ejemplos capos‏


Well it has been another great week here in Argentina! This week I want to talk about some of the amazing people I have had the chance to meet here in Paraguay.

First, my companion. He is a beast! He is always thinking of something new and crazy to do and isn´t afraid to do anything. We had to travel to Corrientes this week and on the way back we preached in the bus terminal in front of everyone and handed out article of faith cards. I was the one who started talking and got the attention of everyone and it was pretty intense, but amazing! And everyone actually started reading the cards and a few people came up and asked us questions after. It was pretty crazy. He also never rests. When we were in Corrientes doing papers we were waiting outside the place and he said we should go search for people and so we did and the other missionaries followed and we had like 5 lessons in this public park by the river and they were all way awesome! We taught this group of like 8 teenagers and I thought they wouldn´t even listen, but we got them all to sit quietly and listen and it was way awesome! We could have just sat around and talked, but instead we went out and did what we were called to do--bless lives.

Presidente Gonzalez, our Branch President is purete. (It means cool in Guarani) He is incredibly humble and sincerely loves everyone in the branch. He is always asking what more he can do to help us even though he already does so much. He searches for less active members in his big van every Sunday and visits them during the week. Even though he has a young family and works a lot, he is always magnifying his calling as a branch president and because of his work the branch is getting a lot stronger.

Also, we have been working with Renson who is a less active 16 year old. When we first started talking with him he was way shy and quiet and hardly smiled. But last week he received the priesthood and passed the sacrament and he has gone on divisions with us like crazy. When we first asked him he got a huge smile and ran to get his clothes. Now he is way happy and smiling and joking. He said that going on divisions with us has helped him to be less shy and talk with people, especially with girls. haha He has a very powerful and simple testimony and teaches with the Spirit. He will be a great missionary.

I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many great people who are amazing examples for me! And I am grateful for all of your amazing examples as well! I love you all!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Monday, April 14, 2014

Soy un representante de Jesucristo‏

By eh sha pa!

That is how they greet people in Guarani, more or less. haha. This has been the greatest week of my mission and one of the greatest weeks of my life. I have learned so much and we have had so many miracles. I don´t deserve what the Lord is giving me and He always blesses me 100 times more than anything I do for Him.

We have been working so hard! Talking with everyone, finding new people, working with the members. But about halfway through the week we realized that we were working hard, but based on our own strength and not the strength of the Lord. It all started when we were in a lesson and the neighbor kid walked over and sat down. The woman we were teaching told us that his mom recently had brain surgery on a cancerous tumor. The kid invited us into his house and we talked to his dad and then they invited us into the Mom´s room. She was laying on her bed, unable to move half of her body, with her head shaved and swollen without the top part of her skull. As we talked with her and her husband I saw an incredible amount of pure love and faith in the Lord. Her husband has been unable to work because he has been taking care of her and the kids and the house and we could see how exhausted he was. I told her that we were representatives of Jesus Christ. Words that I say all the time, but this time I truly felt the words. We explained that as representatives of Jesus Christ we have the ability to give blessings of health. She asked that we give her a blessing and I felt the power of the priesthood as Elder Silva pronounced a blessing of complete recovery, the ability to walk and to serve God in the way she desires. She thanked us and told us that she had no doubt that she would be healed and that she wanted to work in the hospital with sick children. I left that house with a greater understanding that I truly represent the Savior and that without Him and His power I am nothing. What we did was something greater than set a baptismal date or get someone to come to church, we gave a family more hope and more strength to continue on in a difficult situation. I am so grateful for a merciful Father in Heaven who helped me to humble myself and rely more on Him.

Sunday night we were on divisions with two priests from the branch. We had some amazing lessons. Elder Silva found a family of 8 and the dad said that if he received an answer about the Restoration of the gospel that he would be baptized tomorrow! I was with a 17 year old named Jonathon and we passed a house and heard someone preaching. He wanted to go in but I said no. Our appointment failed and we walked passed the same house and he told me again that we should clap the house. I said no, but a little ways farther I felt that we should clap. We did and a woman walked out and I asked if it was a house or a church and she said it was both and eagerly urged us to come in. We went in and sat down and listened for a moment. The preacher is from Venezuela and was teaching about the plagues of Egypt. He was super animated and loud and they were all saying "amen" and "glory to God" and we sat and listened. Afterwards he turned to us and welcomed us and started talking about baptism and Jonathon asked by what authority they baptized. The man quoted a scripture and went off on something in Acts. I asked to speak for a moment and said that I hope that my presence wasn´t a bother to him and he said that it was a pleasure to have us. I then presented myself as a representative of Jesus Christ. I said that I was a humble servant of him and that I was only 19 years old and still learning the language and then I bore my testimony of Jesus Christ. When the preacher spoke their was definitely an energy, but it wasn´t the same as the Spirit. When I spoke, I spoke with power and authority given to me by God, and everyone in the room felt the astoundingly apparent difference. It did not matter that he had years of experience and a huge amount of experience with the Bible and it did not matter that I was a young and inexperienced kid from the U.S.. The thing that truly mattered was that I have been set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ and given the authority to preach His restored gospel. I know that this is His work and His authority, not mine. I thanked them for their kindness and told them that I admired their faith in God and desire to worship Him. I invited them to visit our church and then we left with the knowledge that the authority of God is more powerful than anything else. And I needed that reminder.
 I´m not the same person I was when I arrived in the mission, but I still can´t do anything without the help of the Spirit and I will never be able to do anything worthwhile without the Spirit.

A week of miracles.

I love you all so much!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New District

Another photo of Rand thanks to

La profeta brasilera‏


Well it has been yet another crazy but very good week here in Paraguay. I am still getting used to everything cause it is way different, but I love it here.

First of all, I would also like to give a shout out to Tanner and Jamie for being mentioned in General Conference. You two have officially jumped to boss status so congratulations in that as well. haha

We are working hard, but having a blast. Even though we lost a lot of proselyting time this week to Zone meeting and conference and problems in the zone, we got a lot of work done. Before and in between sessions of conference we were running all over the place to try and round up our investigators to come to conference. It turned into a speed walking/running competition in which we both lost. haha Elder Silva is a great companion and I am learning a lot from him. His motto is to do things that others only think of doing. So naturally, we have been clapping a lot of nice big houses and the other day we stood in front of everyone while on the bus and talked about a living prophet and handed out invitations to conference. It was actually kind of cool and a bit of a rush. We are definitely keeping things exciting. With all the hard work I created a game to keep things light in which we choose a superhero or character from a movie, etc. and talk about their needs and what doctrine we would teach them. We are always laughing and joking with each other so time is going by way fast.

The working is going well here as well. We brought an investigator to conference named Andrea and she is from Brazil and lives with her two kids and Korean husband. (The children can speak Spanish, Portuguese, Guarani and a little Korean). She absolutely loved the conference and started crying during one of the talks. She is very evangelical and so afterwards when we were all going back to our area she started talking about the conference and preaching it and one of the members who is like 60 started to get in on it as well and they were both praising God the whole ride. haha It was pretty funny, especially cause Andrea starts to speak in Portuguese when she gets excited.

We also finally taught the girlfriend of a less active member named Lucia. She is always busy and never has time to talk with us, but we finally got a chance and she totally accepted the story of Joseph Smith on the spot and accepted baptism and came to conference. It was way cool to see such great faith like that!

Conference was way good! I listened to all but the last session in Spanish and understood basically everything! I was pretty excited and very grateful that the Lord has blessed me so much to learn Spanish so fast. It hit me while I was listening that 6 months ago I was in the MTC and couldn´t hardly speak any Spanish. Now I am in Paraguay and understood almost all of it. I know that the gift of tongues is real and am so grateful for all the help that our Father in Heaven has given to me. However, the last session in English made me realize how nice it is to hear the people´s real voices and listen in your own language. The Spirit is stronger in that situation. I also recognized during conference that it seemed like almost every apostle bore his special witness of Christ. President Packer´s testimony especially hit me with the Spirit! What a blessing it is to have such powerful and personal witnesses of the Savior. And in conference we were promised by Elder Ballard that we all can have those spiritual witnesses.

I love you all so much and am so grateful for you! I´m working hard and having the time of my life!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Un nuevo mundo‏


Well it has been quite a crazy, but very good week for me. On Monday I said goodbye to the few people that I could, which was pretty sad, but I was still so happy for the Ventura Family and Virginia told me that she was sad I wouldn´t be at her baptism and that she can´t wait to serve a mission, which was pretty awesome! I feel like I really did the work I was meant to do in Puerto Rico and am excited for the new challenges.

Then, the crazy traveling began. I left Puerto Rico at 4 in the morning but when we got to Posadas we figured out that there was some kind of strike or manifestations in Paraguay so we were not able to cross the bridge. So I spent the day in Tacuarí which is like a suburb of Posadas. But it was way cool because Elder Muñoz just got changed to that area so I got to be with him and his companion for a day. He is doing really well, but was sad to leave Oberá because they were starting to have even more success. He is a great missionary and really cares so much about the people and his companions. My son is all grown up. haha

After that we finally were able to cross the bridge and I entered into the magical (and slightly more dirty) world of Paraguay. It is WAY different! A lot more how I imagined South America when I first got my call. There is a lot more poverty here and where I am at is more of a city with a bunch of cars and motorcycles and buses. People are selling things EVERYWHERE at all times. The chipá (like a hard roll filled with some cheese and or meat) is delicious and the people are super friendly. Everyone speaks Guarani and for most, Spanish is a second language. There is also a lot of Portuguese. I am excited to learn some Guarani, even though it is pretty difficult. It definitely would help to be more friendly with the people and be more accepted.

Elder Silva and I had like a day and a half to work and we worked way hard. Harder than I have ever worked on the mission before. We already teach super well together without even practicing or anything which is way good! The branch here had like 25 members about 6 months ago and this Sunday we had 80 because they recently put in zone leaders and they have been working like crazy. All the members are shocked at how hard we work, so we are gaining their confidence and support like crazy. Elder Silva is really experienced and has a lot of talents. I am especially excited to learn more about how to lead from him.

After only a day in our area, we went back to Posadas for the council of leaders (which is why I am writing today and not yesterday). The bus that we thought was leaving at 5 in the evening did not exist and no one decided to let us know so we took a bus at 11:30 at night and it was tiny and the seats only kind of inclined and the roof started leaking water in the night, and one of the sisters got her camera robbed. Welcome to Paraguay. haha So we were super tired, but we had a very good meeting and today we will be working like crazy to prepare our zone meeting for tomorrow.

Life is a lot more busy now, but I know I will be learning a lot more. Every time I start to feel comfortable and adequate, the Lord puts me in a situation more difficult so that I can learn more and stay humble. I know I am where I need to be and I am excited to start getting into things for real this week. I need your prayers even more right now. I feel inadequate in this new world I have entered, but I know the Lord will support me and help me. I love you all and I miss you!

Con amor, Elder Hawk