Monday, April 13, 2015

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

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