Monday, March 30, 2015

A Story of Tornado's and the Gospel 3/30/15


     I have just an incredible amount of things to share. SO much has happened already, crazy to think that a week ago I was still in the MTC like a noob. I'll just start by giving you the day by day I guess! Monday and Tuesday we our last days in the MTC, it was kinda sad to say bye bye to everyone but I already forgot about them! haha I'm just so busy. We got up so early Wednesday morning for our flight. We flew to Detroit for some silly reason and had a layover to Tulsa. I gave out some pass along cards and met an awesome lady named Sonya on my flight to OK. She was a black Baptist from Lousiana and so kind and motivated, working on getting her doctorate. Anyway I was able to share my testimony of the gospel and the restoration with her. I was reading in my little personal BoM in 2 Nephi like chapters 26-29 when something hit me so hard that I had to give her my book haha. So I wrote a little testimony in there and gave it to her as we got off the flight and encouraged here to read and pray. It was neat. As we landed in Tulsa it was sooo humid and the winds were picking up and it started to sprinkle. President Shumway and his assistants are awesome. We spent that night in the mission home with the president and his wife doing orientation and stuff. The storm got nuts and the sirens started to go off!! They had just explained to us like 10 minutes ago what to do if a tornado threat was issued: get into the bathroom or closet with close walls and put your bike helmet on and put a mattress over your head hahaha. We were writing letters home when the sirens went off and nobody seemed to concerned so we just sat there and kept writing. It was pretty exciting though. Welcome to Oklahoma!! The sky turned kind of a weird green on the horizon and the clouds were zooming by faster than I've seen in my life. But it touched down way north of us I guess, so kind of a bummer ;) We had BBQ Brisket and rolls and beans that night, absolutely delicious. They gave us our area assignments, I'm in Owasso OK which is just barely north of Tulsa. We have a two area assignment (we cover two wards) Owasso and Ranch Creek, and we're shotgunning the areas as well (we've both never been there before and are replacing both of the current elders). Its been kinda tough! But so rewarding! My companion Elder Durrant is the coolest dude, he's from Buffalo WY and been out for 21 months. He's never trained before but he's doing great. His doctrinal knowledge is incredible, and he's an amazing teacher. I can learn so much from him! I spent transfer day in the mission office getting to know some other elders as we waited for our companions to arrive from their other areas. We did a bunch of office work, and I was soooo tired because I had slept like 8 hours total in the last two nights. We played ball in the gym in our shirts and slacks it was hilarious. We went tracting because we got bored, and the first door I knocked on with a guy named Elder Hawkins had some Mexican family living there. Hawkins just yammered to them in Spanish (his assigned language) for awhile and I stood there smiling like a dummy haha. The next door was a shirtless hick name Chris who apparently has seen some hard stuff in the area and had a handgun drawn on us from behind the door. But he saw who we were and was really friendly haha. Great first experiences! I met Elder Durrant around 4 when he got into town and we loaded up our stuff to go to the apartment, which is big and clean and stocked with sooo much food, I probably won't even have to buy groceries. We went out to meet the bishop and teach some lessons the previous elders had scheduled for us. Both of our Bishops are awesome and super missionary oriented and have been a huge help already. It's hard getting adjusted to the missionary inner workings and fineries while at the same time figuring out who the heck we're supposed to be teaching and contacting because we're both new here. Dinner that night was mayhem, we got to the apartment at like 630 and a ward member called us and was like uuuhhhh are you coming to dinner? We apologized because we had just arrived and had no idea what our apointments were yet. So we rushed over there and our gps died on the way, we had to call them and get turn by turn because we had no idea where we were. Then we got out and knocked on the wrong door and weirded some little kid out hahah. We finally made it to their house but they had already eaten so they just sat and watched us eat hahha it was so awkward. Plus they were kind of a quiet family. But they were very kind and it was okay. The whole sequence was like the movie the Hometeachers haha. We went out with the bishop that night who was visiting people of his own accord, my companion was so happy, apparently not everyone is so hard working in other areas. The next day we studied and made more visits, we taught a kid named Josh who is awesome and we already set a baptismal date for him, he's so stoked about the church. Someone took us out to dinner and I got the best bleu cheese burger of my life. We taught another couple downstairs from us and it went okay, they're old and just like to talk about the Navy and their son. Saturday we did service for some emergency infant services organization collecting donations of baby supplies outside a local grocery store. We killed it, people donated so many diapers and wipes we ran out of bags in two hours. We owe it to the missionary charisma and charm. We visited more people that night and met a family in the ward who was bbqing a hog they just shot AND making pizza in a brick oven in the back yard. This state rules. It's really pretty here, and apparently its gonna start getting really green. I havn't noticed the humidity since day one, and its sooo flat everywhere you look, I miss my mountains! Sunday was pretty great, we attended both wards and were at the church for about 8 hours. We had no idea it was fast Sunday so whoops. But we introduced ourselves and bore our testimonies and the meeting was great. I felt the spirit so strongly in that first meeting, I have been praying so hard to be blessed with the spirit and have it teach me and comfort me in this new place. My prayers were answered Sundayand His spirit wrapped me up like warm blanket for hours. I felt like I could conquer the world. My goal is to live with that spirit at all times, and I can do literally anything He asks of me with the spirit as my guide and teacher! We introduced the new initiative #becausehelives in the second ward. If you havn't seen the video already watch it and then share it with everyone in the world because its great!! We taught the old couple downstairs again last night and invited them to be baptized. They'll think about it, we think they're ready and it'll be great to keep teaching them! Today is preparation day and mostly I just want to sit here and email all day haha. I miss you guys! Thanks for the letters emails and love.

     I know I'm supposed to write "small plates" in my emails, meaning focus on the spiritual experiences and progress, but I want you to know about all the cool things that are happening too! So here's my small plates: I, Elder Hakes, having been born of goodly parents... am doing great in the great state of OK! The mission here is one of the highest yielding in results in terms of all the key indicators we report weekly, like lessons taught and people contacted and baptism dates and so forth. Its been said we're leading in the US and Canada. And its because these people work hard and take it seriously. President Shumway tells us to be fanatically obedient, and the missionaries listen to him and it produces results. The mission has been shrinking rapidly from 250 missionaries now to 190 and our numbers have yet to decrease. President Shumway Iis pushing us to do just as much with even less. It's a privilege to be here! My testimony of the Savior specifically has been strengthened so much. I know He lives, and I know He is the only way to achieve salvation in this life. Our loving Heavenly Father has given us all that we need to succeed in this life, including HIs only Begotten Son. Don't be a fool and throw away the precious knowledge of the gospel that you have. It the greatest blessing anyone on the planet can receive. Consitently exercise faith in the Savior, do what you know he has taught, be obedient and follow His commandments with all your energy of heart. Therein lies salvation. Because of Him we can change who we are, which is why we are here. Because of Him, he will HELP us change who we are if we will trust Him and let Him into our lives. The enabling power of the atonement is a great gift and mercy from a loving Redeemer. He is the light, the truth and the life! He is joy, he is peace, he is comfort and salvation! He has prepared me for this work, and blessed me incredibly as I give what I have to Him. I need to learn how to better rely on my Savior, and not on my own understanding or power. As I do that, my life takes on great purpose and joy. I'm glad I can be here to share His message with these people. If I can take myself out of the equation, forget my selfish wants and desires, He can and will turn me into his tool and His mouthpiece to harvest souls. Much to learn! I love you all, be good and be strong. Talk to you next week :)

Elder Hakes

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