Monday, April 27, 2015

Only True Mission

     Life is so good. It's the bomb. I'm finally really getting into the groove of things, and the days blend together like Bob Ross's paint pallet. (I'm no poet). I don't have a lot of time unfortunately, so fast updates :)
     Things are going so well for me, and the Lord is blessing me in ways I know I don't deserve. The key is to try and humble ourselves, only those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit can inherit all that the Father has. It's hard, but I pray for this humility, I truly just want to be a tool in His hands. The patterns established in our lives are so important.
     Church on Sunday was as awesome as always. The Kress's are progressing in leaps and bounds since their miraculous experience at church last week. They might as well be members already. They're getting baptized on May 9th!!! Holy cow, so excited for them. The evident light and happiness that has entered their lives already is incredible. The gospel changes weak people into strengthened children of God. We went to teach them and invite them to be baptized, and before we could even say it he was like," So can you open up that font for me next weekend?" Haha its so awesome, they're going to be great. The gospel blesses families!
     Last night I heard a huge crash in the middle of the night and my bed shook. My brain went into tornado emergency mode, but it was just my companion laying on the ground moaning hahaha. He groans and says, "Duuuude, my legs don't work!" I asked him what was wrong and he said something like, "I don't know, but I can't walk". I was a little concerned, I asked if his legs were asleep and he didn't really respond, he crawled over to his bed and hoisted himself up to a standing position as if it took all his strength. He hobbled like an old man trying to stay upright all the way to the bathroom. When he came back out, he walked totally normal and just got in bed like nothing happened. This morning I asked him what the heck was wrong with his legs last night, and he had no idea what I was talking about hahaha. He must've been totally asleep the whole time. I'm guessing his legs were asleep somehow and he just hit the floor under their weight, unaware of what was happening in his sleepy state of mind. So funny!
      This week has been great though, we did a lot of service for people. We put in a flower bed for a potential investigator who lost her husband and has a 13 year old downsyndrome daughter. She is super nice and really appreciated the work we did for her. Hopefully some great lessons come out of it, the gospel will give her everything she needs. I'll include a picture. We also were involved in an awesome community organized service project called Owasso Cares. Tons of churches volunteered to clean up parts of the city, we trimmed trees and picked up trash on one corner. We filled like 4 big truckloads of pine boughs that we trimmed off. It was a cool thing to see the community do, and it was a nice day to work outside!
      The work is progressing well. We had a mini last minute zone conference on Thursday, which was super sweet. PRESIDENT SHUMWAY IS THE MAN. Love him so much. He's the greatest president on the planet. The spirit taught us so much about our purpose as missionaries, it was a reminder I already needed. We've taught some game changing lessons this week, and set a baptismal date with another sweet lady who is so kind and spirited. Unfortunately her husband is not interested. But we pray she can keep progressing toward her date.
      Ok well I have no more time. Wish I did, there's a lifetime of experiences in a single week. I love the growth I can find in myself already, can't wait to keep moving forward. Love ya'll.
Elder Hakes

Monday, April 20, 2015

Photos :)

 Elder Durrant sewing up a storm

 Elder Durrant sewing up a storm

 This is an Oklahoman with a grenade launcher

My desk where all the magic happens!


     Hello again, already? I'm pretty sure I was on here about a day ago. Maybe two? I dunno, days slip by like minutes. Time is a measurement of man anyways, right?
     Things are great in Owasso! Unfortunately I've used up all the time I have today already so this will have to be brief. It's been raining a lot, which is awesome. We had some majorly dark, foreboding skies yesterday which excited me but only yielded a little rain haha. Elder Durrant and I have been pumping the iron everyday at the YMC, its actually kind of amazing how much every facet of our lives affects the other. As my physical strength and endurance increases, I find my emotional and spiritual capacities being boosted similarly. Spiritually yoked, you might say. We've been really busy and went on splits twice this week because we just have more appointments than we do man power. Also because sometimes we aren't the best schedulers haha.
     We've seen miracles this week. We've prayed so hard for brother Kress and his wife. Last week he told us he was done, he couldn't make it, he was too weak, too sinful in the past, he was walking away from the light. We saw him for what we thought might be the last time on Tuesday, but we took with us a recent convert couple named Harold and Sally Moore. They are some of the sweetest most genuine people around. They were baptized a few months ago, and their budding testimonies of the gospel are so simple and powerful. They're close to the same age as the Kress's. Brother and Sister Moore were angels from Jesus Christ that day. Literally, by definition they were angels. They bore powerful witness of the fruits of the gospel, and the light, joy, renewal, and purpose found within. Brother Kress could see what the gospel does for them, and it helped to drag him out of his downward spiral a bit. He said the sweetest words I heard all week: "I'm going to ignore this voice in the back of my head that is telling me these things, and just come to church and try it out." I could have leapt. Then he leans forward with an excited look and says, "On an unrelated note, I've really been wanting to do my family history, can you help me with that?" Music to a missionary's ears. It was great! So we did some family history with him on Fridaywhich he loved, and then when he came to church on Sunday it was one of the best Sabbath's of my life. After sacrament he was just beaming, I'd never seen him so happy. He was so stoked to stay for the rest of the meetings, and afterward he was like, "I'm ready for another 3 hours!". He kept telling us all the things he liked about it, there were no graven images or crosses (he said that like 4 times), he loved the genuine people, and the talks, and the teachers, and even told us he liked the crying babies and noisy kids in sacrament hahaha. It was a miraculous answer to my prayers, that this humble man could just shake of his chains and see for himself the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was skeptical because of his religious experiences in the past with Catholics and Baptists and Lutherans. But he immediately recognized the true church of Jesus Christ when he saw it. I'm excited to keep teaching him, our lessons are going to have a whole new spirit now, his fire is lit and he's hungry for more! It truly is amazing what this gospel can do for even the most downtrodden among us. In fact, especially for them. He's happier and more talkative than I've ever seen him, there's just a new light there that wasn't there before! Our Lord is so merciful.
     Well that's been the highlight of my week. We've had a lot of other good experiences, and some struggles to learn from too, but mostly we're just blessed. I love how people treat me as a missionary, all the kids somehow recognize that we're different, and not just because we wear slacks all the time. We really are the chosen messengers of our Savior Jesus Christ. And it's not a boastful thing, its a humbling and very privileged experience.
     See ya'll in a few days! Remember too look for the miracles and blessings that are truly all around us.
Elder Hakes

Monday, April 13, 2015


 Everything is so green! It looks like the sacred grove everywhere.

 Goldie the Dachshund 

Everything is so green! It looks like the sacred grove everywhere.

 That is the biggest hill I've seen out here.

 Slow children stop to play in the OK.

 Slow children stop to play in the OK.

A Jam-Packed Week

Hello everyone that I used to know!

     I love getting on here on Mondays and reading about all of your lives, the world keeps on turning. Sounds like life is great on the outside. My week flew by, and again I don't really know how to account for all of it.

     It's been storming on and off here in Owasso. On the rainy or cloudy days the humidity gets up to 98% and it's kinda gross. Sometimes it feels cozy, like you're in a sauna... then other times you feel like you're trapped in a sauna and you can't get out no matter how far you run. Luckily it's not too hot yet though, we did have one day when it randomly got up to around 90 and it was so hot, but its cooled off again. There were more tornadoes last week too, but I don't remember the day because they all blur together. It was in the night though and we had no idea haha. Apparently they weren't near us so no worries. This morning was raining really hard too. My companion and I were lifting weights on the second floor of the YMCA and we could hear it pounding the roof. It is kind of disconcerting knowing that there is so much tornado potential around here. A rainstorm never once concerned me back home, but this morning I was a little nervous that the old YMCA building would suddenly be torn apart haha. I love the rain though, it's so refreshing.

     Our two wards, Owasso and Ranch Creek, are really great thus far. Both ward mission leaders are excellent and all the members are super friendly and willing to feed us and give us goodies. Both Bishops are pretty great and aid our work. Sundays are long, but for me it went by so fast and honestly I wish I had more of it. We're there from 7am to 4pm. Sacrament meeting is probably the highlight of my week, I get to relax and worship and renew covenants and feel the spirit so strongly. And we get to do it twice which is great. We had an investigator in each meeting too which was good. Sunday school and priesthood are such a nice change of pace because its awesome to be taught rather than doing all the teaching. Last night we had dinner with a less active family... they were ridiculous. They were probably around 30 and had two young kids, but he just sat on the couch playing video games while she tried to make dinner for us in their messy kitchen. The two kids had an xbox in their room and a computer playing some show they weren't watching and smart phones just to play games on. She didn't have dinner ready so we offered to help but "the kitchen is too small so you can just sit and visit". And by visiting apparently she meant having her husband turn on Wreck it Ralph while he and the kids pulled out their phones and mesmerized themselves. We sat there for over and hour while she made dinner by herself, nobody speaking to each other. Luckily we didn't have a 7:00 appointment scheduled. I worked on my scripture memorization, which is tough while Ralph Wrecks things in the background haha. Then dinner is ready and the dude leaves the movie on and comes to sit down, and we were like "yeah can we turn this off while we eat at least?" He said "no way the kids won't like that!" But he finally paused it. Yeesh. As soon as the poor kids put their phones down they were asking to play them again not 3 minutes later. They were like 4 and 6 years old! We managed to get some nice conversation out of them while we ate, then we shared the Because He Lives video. We asked them after the video how they thought they could more purposefully find Christ in their lives. He kind of ignored us and started another Youtube video to avoid answering the question. I just asked it again halfway through his dumb video and he finally got the hint and paused it long enough to make eye contact with his wife, just waiting for her to answer. It was a sad thing to see. They were nice enough, but I've never seen cheap entertainment so fully dominate somebodies life. Those kids are going to have a hard time seeing what really matters at all! All they know is the screen life. Anyway I recited to them the scripture I was memorizing that day, it seemed so fitting. Alma 34: 32-33, do not procrastinate the day of your repentance. This life is the time to prepare to meet God! Priorities need to be adjusted from what we want, to what He knows is best. That's where joy lies, not just fleeting pleasures.

     Anyway we had some interesting situations with our two most progressing investigators this week. And they both went down on the same day. Friday we had a "train the trainer" meeting with President Shumway for all the new missionaries and their trainers. The only ones close to our area was me and another sister who is serving in Miami. President Shumway is incredible. I have never seen a man more devoted to anything in my life before. His determination is unparalleled, and the results of his missionaries show it. He has such a spirit about him its insane, especially when he is teaching you. I couldn't look away, I felt like he could sit there and teach me for the rest of my life and I would love it. Halfway through the meeting I got the distinct impression that he is the reason I was called to this mission, I knew that I was supposed to be here to be lead by and to work with him. Which is kind of sad because he is done in June. I told Elder Durrant what I was feeling and he said President Shumway has said the same thing, that if Shumway were serving in Europe, we would be there too. I couldn't help but feel that it was true. I always thought I was called here to reach out to specific people, which I'm sure I am, but it never occurred to me that the Lord could be sending me to a certain mission president as well. He knows all things. Anyway that meeting was awesome and I learned sooo much about how I can grow and develope in my studies and my teaching. We were on spirit cloud 9. Then our next appointment was going so well with the Kress's who live downstairs from us. We had a map to baptism all drawn out and we were ready to give it to them and commit to the date we had set. David and his wife are older, and he is diabetic and obese and has lost toes to amputation and can hardly move, and she is very simple and sweet and I think has a slight mental disability. Anyway he said he's glad he's been meeting with us and that it's time we came to a decision on where things should go from here, and in my mind I was singing yeeeeeeeesss we're gonna baptize ya. Then the mood changed. This man who had professed his faith in God and liked what we were teaching him, told us he was done. And not just done, but turning his back on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Acknowledging their existence and glory, and rejecting them. He said he had no more chance, he was dying, and had built his own prison cell, he could not be changed from being a bad man, and he had no hope left. It was the saddest, most untrue thing I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. There was not much we could do. We bore testimony of God's love, of His Son's infinite and perfect Atonement. We told him about Alma the younger and he said he would read Alma 36. I've been praying so hard that it will open his eyes. That was not himself thinking like that, Satan was shoving lies and doubt and fear and despair down the poor man's mind. That is what the adversary would have us think, unfortunately. Then our golden investigator Josh texts us and says he finally told his mom about his decision to be baptized, and it didn't go well. She's a drinker and a partier, and I think she's scared of the reminder that she's not doing good things. The gospel has already begun to bless Josh's life, and he has so much faith and a desire to learn, but she wants him to stop. She said they were Catholic, Josh said he hasn't been to church with her since he was 3. He is 18 and can make his own decision, but for now he feels its best to stop taking the discussions until his mom smooths over, if that ever happens. He's eventually going to have to decide what is more important. But I have seen his faith and heard his testimony, even if he isn't baptized soon, he's not done. So kind of a bummer. But on the good note, we found some new people to teach just knocking doors. One of them is soo eager to find truth, he just joined a new church, but they call it an ecclesia or something, and it actually has a ton of principles that are true, or soo close to the truth. I think the restored gospel is going to be everything that he is looking for. It's crazy how many churches there are down here. Literally every corner is within site of some giant rock concert church. There's 3 Baptist churches from our house to the chapel haha. We haven't met anyone yet who doesn't claim some sort of religion or go to church every Sunday. But these churches are so commercialized and preach easy-going soft doctrine that won't offend anyone. Believe and be saved. Come rock out on the Sabbath. The "Life Church" even has like video games and parties and movies and whatnot. 2 Nephi 28 people, Nephi was looking right at our day. But, it isn't all bad, and the people aren't all loose believers. There are a lot who have extreme faith, but just do not have the restored gospel. Good thing we're here 24/7! It's cool to be laboring so close to the gathering place of Zion, in the last days. We are trying our hardest to prepare the way for the Lord.

     I'm doing a scripture memorization program which is pretty neat, you're supposed to be able to attain a photographic memory if you do it every day for two years. So I'm gonna try it out! I've been learning a scripture a day from the list of 60 scriptures that the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission strives to memorize. There is a lot of power behind the concept, when I focus a lot of my thoughts on a verse or two, I have so many eureka moments about its meaning or context that I wouldn't get it I just read it once. And citing the words of Christ and His prophets is just so powerful. I've really enjoyed it so far. It helps your teaching too.

     I have so much to learn, but I can see my progress and I am grateful for the patterns that the Lord gives us in our lives to be healthy and happy and successful. This is His church, He stands at the head and calls all men to join Him. I want to labor hard in this life so that I can have a pleasing judgement bar in the end. Can you think of anything more rewarding? I can't. Also, patriarchal blessings are a highly personalized gift from heaven and I love that I can have these promises fulfilled.

     Hope I told you all you wanted to know, there's a lot that I just don't have time to say. Until next week, love you all!
Elder Hakes

Monday, April 6, 2015


April 6, 2015

Hey everyone,

     I hope this email finds all of you doing well and pushing forward!! I am thriving in Oklahoma with my companion, Elder Durrant. I am finally beginning to adjust to missionary life a little more fully haha! We had a pretty full week and found a lot of success and a lot of room for improvement. I can't even remember all of the things that happened this week, there are so many experiences and moments that tear by faster than I can rememer them. Owasso is a beautiful and fairly wealthy city. The people here are generally really nice and sociable! Some of the neighborhoods are sooo pretty, with huge green lawns and big brick homes with little baby steeples on top that almost make them look like castles. I need to remember to take more pictures. The members of the wards are really kind, and love to feed us, and yes I am super fat so get over it. Haha. Last night we had just a massive Easter feast at the Wilcox home and I very nearly had to crawl to the car. And they gave us an unholy amount of food to take home. AND they gave us Easter baskets. Yes, the Easter bunny is real kids. We also had another part-member family we taught after dinner give us Easter baskets too! So much candy. So little exercise. The people are really taking care of us. Friday we had a zone training meeting in Bartlesville just 30 minutes north. It was neat, and they shared good ideas for increasing our finding, especially with this new initiative of #becausehelives. If you haven't already, (which probably isn't likely because the video is everywhere) watch it! And more importantly, SHARE it! That's what it is for! Sharing it on social media is great and easy and should be the first step, but take a minute to talk to somebody about it! If they haven't seen it, show it! It's the greatest message we can be giving to people, at any stage in their lives. Be courageous and bold. Anyway after the training meeting we got some burgers at Braum's. Our awesome, retired, 76 year old ward mission leader Brother Barham drove us up to the meeting that day, and we had a little adventure on the way back. I will quote my companion's email because I couldn't say it better myself:

     "On the way back both I and Brother Barham missed seeing the exit so we went all the way to Tulsa on accident! In turning around we headed on and interchange and came curving down back onto the highway and I saw a block. We were going right at it! My 76 year old pilot obviously hadn't seen it. Right before hand I said, "Hey watch out for that box.." (THA-WHOOMP CLUNK CLUNK BANG SMASH!) I thought the poor Prius had it's batteries ripped out as we cruised over the 8x8 one foot post. I could felt the thing slam under my feet... It was not good. Elder Hakes confirmed that we had NO battery juice leakage. It was fun."
     Poor Brother Barham dented his pretty Prius. But no harm to the passengers on board, so it's all good.
     Conference/Easter weekend was pretty awesome, we ended up watching the sessions at several different investigators homes which was perfect. The last session we were at Bishop Nielson's, who lo and behold has a booming home theater and kingly armchairs. I only dozed for a couple of minutes in that session so I consider that to be a shining victory considering the comfy circumstances. The talks given were incredible though, per usual, and as I did all I could to seek after the spirit and find answers I was blessed in a big way! The counsel given was so important, and I walked away with new goals for myself that will improve my discipleship and lead to greater happiness.
     My testimony and strength in the Savior still continues to grow. Elder Holland's talk on the Atonement was amazing, as was Elder Uchtdorf's on grace. I heard so many things that I needed to hear from them. Let us all remember our Savior at all times, and in all places, becuase He will stand ready to help us at all times and in all places. It is never too late to seek His forgiveness and be cleansed through His power. The Book of Mormon stands as a witness of Christ, contains the fulness of His doctrine, and provides the foundation for all of our testimonies. It is central to our spiritual survival. If you are not studying it daily, repent. Enduring to the end has been a central theme that I noticed as well. Read 2 Nephi 32, its so important. We must excercise our faith in Christ and repent every day of our lives! Doing so will bring greater blessings than we can imagine.
     Love ya'll! (surprisingly I haven't heard that as much as I would have thought. Maybe it's becuase we're in an educated area ;) ) The southern accent is all around though. It may begin to rub off on me. Until next week! Be good.
Elder Hakes