Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hace frio‏

Hola!

Well it went from hot to freezing cold in less than a day. And the cold here is different. It is colder.. and more profound. It is super humid still so the cold goes straight through your jacket and into your soul. We were also without power for a few days so this morning I took a freezing cold shower, but we just need to walk faster to keep warm.

This week started out pretty slow and we were having a hard time and I didn´t know what more we could be doing and so I prayed for guidance and thought about what I would do if I was my leader in the mission. And I thought "I would do divisions with me to help us out, but we don´t have zone leaders any more." Then, the assistants called and told us we would be doing divisions. I went out with Elder Silva and we found a family that is super prepared and they came to the stake conference and are way excited about the gospel. He also helped me to learn a bit more about following the spirit better in lessons. It was way awesome and I was happy to be with him again for a bit. It helped us out a ton and we are excited to keep up the work here.

This Friday we had a multi-zone conference and the assistants asked us to do a practice. I was pretty nervous, but it went way well! We talked about giving real compromisos (I don´t know the word in English. It´s like when you leave something for them to do) and verifying them better so that the people understand that it is something important and not just something that we ask them to do for no reason. There was one part when we were demonstrating following up on the compromisos and we were showing what to do when they haven´t followed through with a compromiso and the Spirit was really strong and we finished our demonstration and everyone was dead silent, feeling the Spirit that was there. It went way well and afterwards Presidente LaPierre told us "muy buen hecho" (good job). I thought about it afterwards and realized that we hadn´t made or planned this practice, but the Lord had done it through us. It has been amazing to see the Lord work through me to help other missionaries improve. It is really a great blessing and opportunity to be a leader in the mission.

Then we had stake conference and the Saturday night session was 100% about missionary work. It was way good and all of the leaders are way excited to start working even harder. On Sunday after the stake conference, we were talking to Presidente LaPierre about our branch and our week and our branch president came up and started talking about how grateful he was for the good missionaries he has received (Elder Perez and Elder Silva who are both now the assistants were in the area before) and I know it made President LaPierre feel good to hear good news, because a lot of the time he just has to deal with garbage. I felt lucky to have such an awesome branch president who supports us with everything he has.

On Sunday, the branch president had rented a bus to take everyone to the conference, but it rained. In Paraguay, when it rains, no one goes to church. A lot of our investigators flaked out, but I had faith in the members. The bus got a flat tire in the morning and so we walked fast in the rain to help out and when we went into the bus, no one was there. I was kind of sad, especially after the conference to think how much blessings everyone missed out on. I also was thinking that one of the challenges as a member of the church is complacency. We think that we can do the bare minimum and squeak into the Celestial kingdom, that we go to church on Sunday, but the other meetings aren´t really important. But the gospel doesn´t work that way. We need to give all that we have. And when an obstacle comes our way, it is just an opportunity to show more faith. Our job now is to help these people gain that faith and overcome the customs that aren´t in line with the gospel. But we all need to take a moment every once in awhile and think about if we are really giving ALL that we have to the Lord. I know that I can give more.

And those are the lessons that I learned this week in an apparently random order. haha. But we are excited to keep working and improving and building the church here in Ciudad del Este. I love you all so much!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Fotos: Los saltos de monday (zone activity)





 This is a huge dam called Itaipu. (ee tie poo)






Monday, May 19, 2014

Hola!

It is crazy how much I am changing. Mom and Dad talked about how a year ago was seminary graduation and it seems like it was forever ago, but also like it wasn´t that long ago. I have learned so much and the Lord is always teaching me something. This week it was patience. It seems like a recurring lesson in my mission. This week we worked so hard. We had divisions with the members and were calling everyone to come with us to lessons and we met all of our goals and we were more than sure that two whole families would be coming to church plus a few more. We woke up early to go out and bring people to church and.. no one came. I was pretty frustrated. I didn´t understand what we were doing wrong and I just felt like right now I am doing things the right way and working with the members and that it just didn´t make sense that we weren´t having the type of success that I expected and wanted. Then the Spirit whispered to me to quit complaining and that people have their agency. Once I listened to this and started to improve my attitude I began to see the success that we truly had.

On Saturday we passed by a less active member who always receives us kind of coldly and as I was sitting there I asked Riki to bear his testimony of the blessings he has received from coming to church and living the gospel and then I looked at this woman who appeared that she didn´t even want us there and I was filled with a love that I really can´t explain. As I bore my testimony to her and explained to her why we had come and that we just want her to have happiness, she began to change. She told me not to worry about her and then began to explain the real problems that she was facing with her family and how she feels like things are bad no matter how she lives her life. Then I was able to truly help her. She came to church on Sunday with three of her kids and her grand kids. One of her sons came for the fist time in years.

I walked into the gospel principles class and I saw Gustavo Quiñones who was at church for the first time in 7 years. I felt an immense joy to see him back where he belonged. I also had a good laugh when he left on his motorcycle that is super loud and everyone stared as he drove away, but he didn´t even realize that everyone was watching him.

There were miracles everywhere, but I just needed to humble myself to see them. The Lord always blesses us when we do what he asks.

I love you all so much!

Con amor, Elder Hawk


Monday, May 12, 2014

Dessarollando la fe y la humildad‏

Hola!

Well it has been a pretty crazy week, with a lot of work and a lot of unforgettable experiences. Maybe the coolest experience has been seeing the changes in Sergio. Sergio is called the pony guy or Papa Noel (Santa Claus) because he has a pony and to make money he offers pony rides and takes pictures of people with his pony. He lives in a tiny pink shack with his two kids and is completely (and sometimes brutally) honest about himself and others and says exactly what he thinks. So a bit over a week ago, when we taught him about keeping the Sabbath day holy he told us that he simply couldn´t do it on Sunday cause that is his day that he makes the most money. He also said that it never says anywhere in the Bile that it has to be Sunday and that he can worship God on any day. So after that we basically decided we weren´t going to visit him any more. He didn´t come to church, but on Tuesday he came up to us and said "Dios me castigó" or "God chastised me" and I asked why, and he said he worked the whole day Sunday and didn´t even make one Guaraní (the money of Paraguay). He was just so much more humble and apologized to us and said that he definitely is going to church Sunday. And he came and he and his kids absolutely loved it and the branch received them like family! Then on Sunday night we went and visited him and he just released his life story to us. He talked of losing his parents and quitting school to work, but gaining a degree later and having a huge nice house with a car, but losing it all to a cocaine addiction that he still can´t beat. But he told us of the hope and faith that he has that with our help he can beat it and change his life. We made plans with him and he cried as he offered a very sincere and humble prayer to our Father in Heaven. The Atonement is already changing his life and I am excited to see the huge change that I know will continue to him.

We also had Riki come with us to the lessons yesterday. He is a member, but has some mental problems. I think he is autistic but he functions very well and has a job and loves to go with the missionaries and give his testimony. As he was sharing his experience with others and praying for them (after his prayer for Sergio, Sergio began to cry and say that those words came from somewhere else) I realized that I was with one of the most pure and innocent people that I have very met. He has no guile, no hate and is out visiting people because he loves everyone and wants to help them. When we were going our separate ways at the end of the day the phrase came into my mind "for such is the kingdom of God" and I thought that I really need to try to be more like Riki.

It was so good to talk to you guys yesterday! It was short, but so good to see you all happy and healthy and doing good things. I am probably the luckiest guy on earth to have all of you supporting me and to have this amazing opportunity to be a missionary. Les amo muchísimo!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

Fotos; This was the sunset the other day and Elder Silva took a picture of me sleeping a while back. haha




Mother's Day Skype Snipit

video

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mi Presidente es increible‏

hola!

Well it has been another crazy but awesome week here in Paraguay Ciudad del Este! Elder Acevedo has loved being out of the office into the real world of missionary work. He was a secretary for like 6 months and only has 8 months in the mission so he feels like he is finally starting his mission. He is from Colombia.

This week we had interviews with President LaPierre and he is the man! Elder Acevedo and I talked to him together for like an hour about the zone and then we talked one on one for about another hour. I asked him "Who am I to you'" and "What can I become?" and he knows me pretty well. He really cares about every one of his missionaries and takes the time to show it. He told me that I really won´t become who I am meant to be until I have my wife and kids and that they will be who really shape me into the man I need to be. He got teary eyed when he started talking about the impact that his wife has had on his life and I need to choose wisely because my wife will be the one to put up with my weaknesses and support me when I am down. At the end I thanked him for all he does and let him know that even though he has to deal with a lot of garbage that he should know that he is changing lives and has changed mine for the better. He was very appreciative. I love President LaPierre.

Also, this week I learned of the power of working with members. We brought a member to a lesson on Tuesday and he taught a lot in Guarani and on Sunday the wife of the family who was baptized when she was sixteen came to church! I was happy, but didn´t think to much about the member until he came to me after church and told me very emotionally that his prayers had been answered by her coming to church. It made me see even more the great blessings of working with the members. We also had Rogelio and his family come to church. He got out of jail a bit over a year ago and has been changing his life ever since. He was making really good comments in Gospel Principles and said that he was going to keep following with the church and become a member if he continues to feel this way. It was way awesome! And his 12 year old son also loved coming and some of the older young men were sitting with him and talking with him and he loved it. The whole branch was way excited about it and so are we!

We have also been seeing miracles with less active members. this week. We talked to Gustavo who is the brother of Renson, who gets into a lot of trouble, and has horrible friends, and he told us that he wants to change his life and come back to church. We asked him to pray at the end of our discussion but he said when he tries to pray he feels a bad presence and other things and that he hasn´t really prayed in years. We gave him a priesthood blessing and then listened to him pray for the first time in years. It was pretty incredible to see. That family is really starting to be blessed!

Life is great! I am happy and healthy and everything is going well. I am excited to talk to you all on Sunday! I love you!

Con amor, Elder Hawk