Monday, August 25, 2014

"Entró por otro camino"‏


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.


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

Monday, August 18, 2014

El poder del espíritu‏


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

 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

Monday, August 11, 2014


Well this week had its ups and downs. We had a way good zone conference. We did a training on teaching skills and so we had one missionary choose a super hero and the other missionaries had to start a lesson with him and use inspired questions, how to begin teaching, and listening skills to figure out who the super hero was. It was way fun and everyone enjoyed it and learned a lot. We also created these little cards for everyone that have questions that we talk about after every lesson to see if we had a successful lesson or not. It is working way good and the missionaries all enjoy doing it because even if someone rejects the message, we can see that we still have success because we did our part. I love having a big zone.

Also, this week we worked like crazy with all the members. We had divisions just about every day and all of the soon to be missionaries are way excited. The members are amazing here and always super excited to help us out. We also did divisions in Hernandarias which is the city north of Ciudad del Este with two of the companionships from over there. It was way cool and they all left more excited and we learned a lot. One of the missionaries was in my first zone and he was kind of a trouble maker, but he has totally changed and is working way hard and helping out his companion who has lots of problems. It was cool to see how the mission can change people when they really give their all.

This week we were not even able to talk with Teresa. Her leader from her other church showed up last Sunday wondering where she has been and despite the fact that she recently told us that reading the Book of Mormon and learning more makes her "feel like she is flying" she does not want to participate more in the church with us. Her daughter also never wanted anything to do with us or the church or anything. We are going to still try to meet with her, but it was pretty hard to see and experience, because even though she is a great person and tries her best to follow Christ. I know that it is only through the gospel that she can have true joy for this life and the next. But we did all we could and she felt the Spirit, so I know that we did our part. And we are going to keep trying to work with her.

But this week, despite the difficulties, we had one huge miracle, that at first didn´t seem like a miracle. Lourdes is the daughter of an awesome member who has two daughters who are baptized, but who has not been able to be baptized herself for over 10 years because she is married to a man who refuses to divorce her and lives with a different man. Her son Gaby is 7 and is preparing to be baptized in September. But about 3 weeks ago, we had a fast with her in which we asked that she could have the opportunity to get baptized. I thought it would take a lot of time, but I promised her that if she was living the gospel that the Lord would provide the way. Well about a week ago the man who is living with her left with another woman. It was very sad and definitely difficult for her and her family, but this was the answer of the Lord. This guy she was with had always had problems with her and he obviously wasn´t that great of a guy, so she was able to leave from a bad relationship and can now be baptized. She didn´t realize it until her mom started telling her that she could be baptized, but Lourdes thought she had to get divorced still. We told her that she could now be baptized and gave her the challenge to ask God if it is what she should do. I think she already knows, but we are anxiously waiting for the answer. The Lord blesses us when we ask in faith, though it is not always in the way that we think, but I know that it is always what is best for us. We are praying that Lourdes can finally fulfill the desire that she has had for over 10 years and receive the Spirit to comfort her in her time of difficulty and give her the strength she needs to carry on.

This scripture in D&C 138 has helped me out this week.

25 I marveled, for I understood that the Savior spent about three years in his ministry among the Jews and those of the house of Israel, endeavoring to teach them the everlasting gospel and call them unto repentance;
 26 And yet, notwithstanding his mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to his voice, and rejoiced in his presence, and received salvation at his hands.

He wrought might works and miracles with "great power and authority" and still they rejected Him. Just because the people rejected Him did not change the fact that He was the Son of God. And His success did not depend on if those accepted the message He brought. All I can do is teach with power and authority and that is the real success.

I love you all so much and am so grateful for your emails of support and all of your prayers and love.

Con amor, Elder Hawk

 Elder Rusque and Elder Hawk --- yo, gangster style

                                                        La Gran Zona Porá

Monday, August 4, 2014


Well it was a crazy and unexpected week. I am staying here in this area for my 4th change and Elder Rusque, a Chilean, is my new companion. He dies at the end of this change so I will be here most likely for these next two changes. Almost everyone I see in the street I have taught before. haha But I am way excited to work with him and he has a lot of experience and we get along really well and teach great together. I am excited for this change. We also joined together two zones and so now my zone is WAY bigger, so it is cool to have a different challenge with the larger zone and be able to work with more missionaries. The Lord is helping me to learn a lot about leading and helping others to reach their potential.

Also, we received a new missionary from Idaho... whose name is Elder Preece. The son of Dad´s companion in the mission like 25 years ago!! I recognized the name and then I asked him if his dad served a mission and he said East Lansing Michigan and it was way crazy. Attached is a poorly taken photo of us. haha

Also, we had a sweet zone activity today where we played Volleyball and then ate pizza. It was way fun and everyone enjoyed it a lot. It was nice to get to know the other missionaries a little better and build our unity.

This week we were teaching Teresa who had told us that she wasn´t going to come to church because her daughter wanted to go to the other church, but we read her a scripture in D & C 31:2 and talked about how she could have more family unity. then she said she was reading in the gospel principles manual and was learning so much more in depth about principles of the gospel and asked us about fasting. We taught her more about it and invited her to fast for her family so that they all can receive the gospel and also to attend the testimony meeting. She accepted and did it all and church was way good this Sunday with a lot of powerful testimonies. She and José her son loved it! It was cool to see how the elect keep the commandments in the moment that they know about them. Even before we met her she always closed her little store on Sundays and she said that the Book of Mormon and everything we teach is opening her eyes even more. We are excited for her and her family.

On Sunday evening we were in divisions and I went to a part-member family and the dad was outside and we sat down and started talking to him for a bit. At first he wouldn´t even talk to us or shake our hands (which is super rare for a Paraguayan) and later we had really only been able to talk a little bit about his work but he always went inside and left us with the others in the family. But today we were sitting and I asked if he knew Ricki who was the member with me and he said that he went to the same catholic church before. Then I asked if he knew the story of Ricki and he said no, so we said a prayer and Ricki shared the story of how he quit drugs and later joined the church. Then, I told my conversion story of reading the Book of Mormon and asking if it was true and I asked his son Renson to share the same. At the end we gave him a Book of Mormon and he said he would read it. I was way pumped afterwards and the Spirit was way strong. Right after, we went and visited the aunt of the family and we told her what happened and she burst into tears and said that in the 22 years of being married to her sister, Gernardo had never sat down and listened to the missionaries. It was really a miracle and we were led by the Lord.

This week we also had a hilarious experience when a woman was telling us about how she was healed after praying and she was being super dramatic about it and also talking in Guarani so we didn´t understand it too much, but we have made a game out of guessing what they are saying and she was putting her hands on her stomach and I said " El Señor puso las manos en su pancho" but what I wanted to say was "El Señor puso las manos en su panza." We laughed for literally like 5 minutes and couldn´t stop. The lady was also laughing with us so it wasn´t bad. Elder Rusque couldn´t even stop after we had left the house. I wanted to say that the Lord put his hands on your stomach, but what I really said was that the Lord put his hands on your hot dog... hahaha Probably the funniest moment of my mission.

I love you all and am so grateful for your examples and all that you do!

Con amor, Elder Hawk

 Pizza with the Zone
 With Elder Preece
 Classic Elder Hawk
With My New Companion---Elder Rusque

Sunday, August 3, 2014

El amor y la tristeza‏


Well it has been another great week here in Paraguay. One of the coolest experiences that I had this week was when we went to visit this family that we had talked with in the street and who had told us where they lived. The wife had mentioned that the sister of her husband had been killed and he was having a very difficult time with what had happened. We showed up in the morning and the mom was helping her son with math and looked a bit frustrated and told us to come back later. I told her we could help out her son with his math and for about an half hour we taught this boy math using pass-along cards and games to help him learn addition while the mom cooked lunch and cared for the younger son. We didn´t talk with them about Christ or have an official a lesson and a prayer, but I think that what we did was something more pure in teaching people about Christ through service. I left that house with a feeling of happiness that I hadn´t had in the whole week, even with very spiritual lessons. As we try to do what Christ would do we become true disciples of him.

I also was reflected on all of the experiences that I have had here and the many people I have met and loved in such a short time. It is truly amazing to see how much love I have for these people, some of which we only taught a handful of times. I know that this love does not come from me, but from God. But on Sunday night we went to visit the Toledo Family who is coming back to church and starting to reactivate over the course of my time here and they didn´t come to church because they planned a celebration for the parents for their 41st wedding anniversary because they weren´t able to do anything on the 40th anniversary. It probably wasn´t a huge deal, but I felt sad when one of the told me that this is a very important day for our family and so we couldn´t come to church. But I felt more sad when I saw some of the inactive and non members of the family drinking and my heart ached when I say 9-year-old Sergio who was baptized the week before I came into this area sip beer from the cup that his older cousin passed to him. As I reflected on this experience I thought of all of the other heart-wrenching experiences that I have had here. I thought of how many times I had felt the Spirit very strong with someone, had listened to their sorrows and troubles, and consoled them as they cried, but how despite the fact that they had felt the Spirit, they turned away. I thought of Gustavo with whom we taught and felt a powerful spirit as he decided to prepare for baptism and search for an answer, but who now ignores our calls. I thought of Jessica who felt the truth who read the Book of Mormon and new it was true, but listened more to the lying voices of the world than to God. I thought of Rogelio who bore a powerful testimony in the Gospel Principles class of how he wanted to follow Christ and learn more, but who only hours after rejected everything we had taught him and coldly asked us to stop visiting him. I thought of Sergio who had been chastised by the Lord and not earned a single peso when he worked on Sunday who had begun to quit smoking and drugs, but who turned to pride and rejected us as servants of the Lord in the very moment in which we were trying to help him. And I thought of many more people who could have been so blessed and received so much help with their difficulties if they had just shown their faith. Last night I prayed as hard as I could for all of those people asking that they can one day be converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I thought upon these things I thought of our Father in Heaven. If I, an imperfect mortal, feel an intense sadness and sorrow for these people who are hardly even know, how does God, an infinitely perfect and all loving being and Creator of their spirits feel? I don´t know how he handles it. But what I do know is that I will continue working as hard as I can for all of these people here and do my part to help them feel the Spirit and come unto Christ. I am sad for these people, but I know that I am doing all that I can and I know that I am working for a just cause and that is what gives me the strength to keep going and keep loving with all that I am. I love this work and I know it is the work of the Lord. So how can I not work and love with all that I am?

Con amor, Elder Hawk

foto: las tres fronteras de brasil, paraguay y argentina