Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Onward and Upward


     Here I sit in my apartment office center yet again, trying to recap 178 hours of gospel adventures in one short email. The struggle.

     This week was full. We had a ton of great times!! And some frustration. But that's life, baby. I'll work backwards. Yesterday was a blast, we were invited by an awesome family in the ward to spend Memorial Day with them at their parent's ranch in Skiatook. We had a great time enjoying some pristine weather and amazing scenery. Don't worry, pictures will uphold these claims. We fed some horses and ate some burgers and played some football and shot some homemade rockets and went fishing and played cards! Can it get any better? Unfortunately, despite all of my big talk, my companion out-fished me with 5 fish to 4. But I think mine were bigger. It was so nice to get out and enjoy God's creation, I consider that about as righteous a cause as any haha. This is a beautiful state, the greenery is amazing. It's been raining buckets too! We also had the unique and random opportunity to set up for a spur of the moment wedding that morning. The Elm Creek Sisters in our district have been teaching a couple that cannot be baptized until they either stop living together or get married. So they finally decided like 2 days ago to get married. Haha they called us and needed our help clearing out this gorgeous little secluded grove where the decided to hold the ceremony. I didn't have my camera and we left before they started the wedding, but I'll get some pictures from the sisters sometime. This weekend was incredible, we baptized Marla and it was such a spiritual experience. She's been meeting with the missionaries for a year and we watched it all come together for her. We were teaching her a couple of weeks ago and she was telling us how blessed she is by God, and how this last year has been awesome for her. She's gotten her dream car, and new job and a raise, and lots of other great blessings and mercies in the last year. We found it no coincidence that all these things started coming about as she learned about the gospel and started reading and coming to church. When it suddenly hit her that these blessings were the answer she has been looking for, our lessons changed. And she was so ready to be baptized. It was a miracle! Her husband came to her baptism which was so awesome, he isn't willing to meet with us but is a pretty friendly guy. And then he came to church on Sunday for her confirmation! We could tell how it affected him, this may have been the softening he needed. More miracles. I was able to confirm Marla a member of the church on Sunday and confer upon her the Holy Ghost. It was such a sweet opportunity. We love her!

     Friday we had zone training in Barttlesville with President and Sister Shumway. It was great, they're amazing and we love em so much. Its an uplifting experience to gather with our fellow laborers in the zone and feel motivated together! It was the Shumway's last zone training and personal interviews ever :( Elder Durrant and I were the last companionship to ever to interviewed by President Shumway at zone training. We talked a lot about the 10 week goals we've been working on and the incredible miracles that are happening all over the mission. We have broken a mission record almost every week, and those records were all set with around 80 more missionaries than we have in the mission now. Thought the workforce has decreased, the Lord revealed to President Shumway that the work would only increase, and we are seeing it happen. A marvelous work and a wonder indeed! The rest of this week was ups and downs as we worked to find and teach. It's been frustrating lately to set up appointments with people, they're all too busy or preoccupied to make us a priority. But we've been striving to do what we can. Elder Durrant and I have discovered a sleeping dragon within ourselves and made the best Chinese food in the western hemisphere. I found out I am a master fried chicken artist and he made some homemade sweet and sour sauce and the result was glorious to behold. It was honestly really good haha. We cook well when we have the time for it.

     Well that's about it for the week. The Lord loves us and does all he can to help us when we let Him. Here's a scripture that struck me pretty hard this week. Alma 37:44-47:

44. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point you to a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass (being the Liahona), which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

45. And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

46. O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so it was with our fathers; for so it was prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look, we may live forever.

47. And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.

     Not only was Alma a Prophet, Warrior, High Priest, and Father, he was a blessed Poet! I know his words to be true, and I hope that we can all look to our God and live. Love you all!

Elder Hakes

Oklahoma Tulsa Mission

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Harold and Sally Moore at the temple :)

To The Mount of the Lord

Me, Elder Durrant, Sister Ogden, Bishop Ogden, Brother and Sister Moore, Brother and Sister Newbold

Oklahoma City Temple

Elder Durrant trying to pet 3 dogs simultaneously.

Weathering the Storm

     Life is good in the hood. Can't believe it's Pday again. This week was another great one! We got to go to the Oklahoma City temple on Friday!!! Woot!! The only time we are allowed to attend the temple is with recent converts who are going to perform ordinances for the first time. So we went with Harold and Sally Moore (two of the finest Oklahomans you will ever meet) to go and do baptisms for the first time. They were baptized in February and are just some of the greatest, most honest people around. We have been teaching them all of the new member lessons, which is essentially reteaching all the convert lessons and then throwing in things like the priesthood, callings, the temple, patriarchal blessings and the like. We have loved getting to teach them, Harold is a huge jokester and is always poking fun and laughing his head off. We all crammed in Bishop Ogden's suburban with another couple in the ward and drove down on Fridayevening. I think it was about two hours away. The OKC temple is so tiny! It was the smallest I've been in, it felt like a little portable temple almost haha. But of course it was beautiful and the spirit there soothes the soul. I wanted to do a session so badly... I can't even tell you! But we helped the Moore's do confirmations and watched a youth group doing baptisms and we got to explain all about it. I met a man from Jenks, OK who recognized my last name and said he had a relative from like Sweetwater New Mexico or something who was named.... shoot I forgot... something Hakes. Annett? Alissa? A-Sumthin. Anwyay I was pretty sure we were related since Grandpa is from NM. Small world. Oh! Also in the temple I found out that there is a member in our ward named Richard Torrie from Alberta Canada. He is Tyler Torrie's (my BYU roommate) great uncle! Small world? Yeesh.

      Anyway that was a sweet experience, I was dying to go the temple and I hope I get to in the future again. We didn't get home till about 1 in the morning and we almost died the next day, soo tired! Anyway President Shumway announced some huge mission news on Monday... They are changing the mission name, and moving the mission home to Bentonville, Arkansas. You're looking at the first missionary to be serving in the Arkansas Bentonville Mission! The mission boundaries itself are not changing at all, but they moved mission headquarters to Bentonville because it is way more centrally located I guess. The change will be effective July 1 when the new mission president arrives. The Oklahoma Tulsa Mission will no longer exist :( I was initially super bummed with the news (I still kind of am), I was just starting to feel like an OTM missionary. I wrote Oklahoma Tulsa Mission in my scriptures, what am I supposed to do?! Haha but at the same token it will be a sweet experience to get to open a new mission, every month we will be setting new records! And when I am an old senior missionary about to go home, I can tell all the fresh youngens about the OTM mission days. So there's some silver linings I guess. My companion has prophesied that I will see the mission split in my day too, its been growing really large (4 new stakes since President Shumway has been here) and that's why they had to move the mission home/office I suppose. So effective July I will be serving in the ABM, guess you better update the blog haha.
      Well the work this week was great, we have a sweet lady named Marla set to be baptized this Saturday! She was interviewed this last Saturday and it went well. We will be helping and praying for her to make this date! Her husband is not very supportive which makes it really tough, but her faith is so strong and I think she can pull through. I am still a huge (fat) missionary but the weights are helping convert it to a good huge and not a bad huge. Haha. OH I just remembered, in the new issue of the Ensign the Holland family is smack dab on page 40. I was flipping through and it blew my mind haha. Looks like they went to conference! Well I think that's about the majority of my update. I am doing so well and every week I am more and more the missionary that the Lord wants me to be. Sometimes it just hits me how real this all is.. the gospel, the plan of salvation, God... growing up hearing it all your life makes it culture, but it is so real. There are no doubts in my mind of the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and our Eternal Father in Heaven. Its also been dawning on me just how privileged I am to be who I am, where I am, when I am. To have been born in this dispensation of the fulness of times, not only that, but during the hastening of the work. Into a loving Christ centered home, with an incredible family to support me to new heights. Into a physical body that allows me to do everything that I enjoy doing, and to work tirelessly. I have literally been given everything in the world to do this work! I have no right do otherwise, and no right to complain or look inwardly. Anyway those are the thoughts of Elder Hakes this past week! I love you all, and read your blessed scriptures for goodness sake! Alma 33:12-14
Elder Hakes
      Oh, also I just realized why I called this letter "weathering the storm". There was a massive storm on Saturday night... I was honestly a little afraid haha all of the tornado horror stories are starting to get to me. But we went to bed while was sprinkling, and I woke up and hour later when the zone leaders called to see if we were alive. Elder Durrant had his mattress on the floor across the room because he didn't want to be right under the window. The lightening was unbelievable! It looked like a strobe light was going off in our room, that's how frequent the flashes were. The room was lit up more often than it was dark. I looked outside and I couldn't see anything, just sheets of rain and dark sky that seemed only yards away. The zone leaders said two tornadoes had touched down in Tulsa. That was kind of freaky, we are so close to Tulsa haha. I laid there and tried to ignore the fact that suddenly our apartment could be ripped to bits and we wouldn't really have anywhere to go. There may have been some praying going on too. But I was comforted and passed out an hour later and awoke to a calm Sunday morning. It was exciting to say the least!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


 This is one of the most Oklahoma scenes I could capture. We were at a members house for dinner and I figured it represents the area pretty well: storm shelters, cows and barns haha.

 Just proselyting to the locals :)
Brother Moore, Lillian and David Kress :)
Here is a grove of trees with some fake deer staring me down.

Entering in at the gate

Hey guys,
     This week has been a great one. Yet again I don't know where it went, and as I sit here I am not exactly sure what happened, though it was certainly a lot! I guess I'll work backwards, maybe that will jog my memory :)
     Yesterday was an awesome mother's day, it was so good to skype you guys! And I love you mom! I wish we had more time so I could hear all about the things you're doing! It was a great boost though just to see your faces and hear you laugh! I kept thinking of things I forget to tell you about right after the call, but oh well. We taught a great lesson last night to a less active members' two daughters who are investigating, we hope to set them a baptismal date very soon. Sacrament meetings were pretty, the children singing for mother's day almost made me lose it a couple of times haha. Saturday was the Kress's baptisms, it was awesome! Everything went really smooth and they were both very happy. Watching this journey for them has probably been the best part of my mission thus far. Brother Moore, a new member in the ward who played a big part in their conversion, was able to baptize them and I stood in for assistance. I'll include pictures! Earlier that day was a big pioneer event or something called Owasso Trails Day, and we spent a lot of time volunteering at the booth the ward had set up about emergency preparedness. Unfortunately the parade was cancelled because of the rain. It has been torrential this weekend, we've been getting flood warnings on our phones most days. But today is bright and sunny and the ponds are all overflowing! It's so green all around, I wish my pictures did it justice. The rest of the week was just lessons and work as usual! This morning we went and toured the American Airlines hangars and repair shops with a mechanical engineer from the ward. It was incredible. The docks that the giant aircraft were in blew my mind, they were so complicated. We stepped outside just as two F-16 jets roared off the pavement, I couldn't believe how loud they were. I think I might need to be a pilot.
     I've been really thinking alot lately about how importance humility is. It is essential for our relationship with our Father in Heaven and the Savior. Without it we cannot repent or exercise the Atonement or receive His strength. There are so many forms of pride that keep us from all of these things. I really have to start letting go of myself and my desires and my concerns, and let the Lord work with me. I am my own biggest barrier!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


 My strawberry birthday cake

Birthday Presents!

 Here is the luxury sauna we enjoyed.

 The District!

Birthday Breakfast

More Pictures:

A Message from the Flat Lands


     Yet another week down, time marches on so quickly. This week I was jotting things down throughout the week so I could remember what the heck I wanted to email about! The days all mush together in my brain and I forget all the cool things that happen!

     Last Monday on preparation day I finally got to play some ball with other elders. We found out there is a big group that plays in the Tulsa East building in the mornings, which was only about 15 minutes away and didn't eat up too many of our miles. It was so fun. Great exercise too, I felt way out of shape. There were probably about 13 other elders there which is less than they usually get. We also used a members infrared sauna in the afternoon haha it was pretty sweet. It got up to 140F, I was sweating bucket loads. Which I guess is the point. Pretty relaxing afternoon! Wednesday was our last district meeting before transfers, and the first one that the zone leaders actually showed up to because I guess their busy doing zone leadery stuff. So there were 6 of us there instead of 4 which was an improvement haha. We also went on exchanges that day, so I went back to Claremore with Elder Cluff (one of the zone leaders) for the day. It was great! It was a good experience to get out and see how another area is operating, and I learned a lot of good stuff from Elder Cluff. He is from Queen Creek, and his companion Elder Allen is from Mesa. Elder Allen says he knows Greg from Mesa High haha! So half our district is from the AZ, which is awesome. Anyway the exchange went well and we taught some really good lessons. I was bummed I won't be able to keep teaching some of the people, they were really cool. I spent that night in Claremore and Elder Durrant came and picked me up Thursday morning. 

     President Shumway is down to 10 weeks left in the mission, and he plans to go out with a bang. During the mini zone conferences two weeks ago he got our ideas on new goals we wanted to work on as a mission, and the result is a 10 week goal program that will reaaally stretch our limits and get the momentum going for the new mission president! For example, one of the weeks our goal is to double the standard of excellence in our area, which is 20 lessons taught, 12 with members present, 1 investigator at church, and 2 new investigators. When doubled that's obviously 40, 24, 2 and 4. But, we're in a two area assignment and so we have to double it again, which is 80 lessons taught, 48 with members present, 4 investigators at church and 8 new investigators. I think if we did that we would have higher numbers than our district combined haha. Talk about a huge goal... But it will stretch our growth whether we hit it or not so it'll be good!

     Saturday was my birthday? I guess I'm 21 now, that's weird. It was a great day though, Elder Durrant made me a tasty crepe breakfast. My birthday package was perfect!! Thanks so much, everything in there was awesome, even my nutritious tubsy wubsy diet shakes.. I loved my gifts, mom the watch is perfect! It's super classy, I definitely needed it thank you so much. The tie tack was perfect too, I was actually looking for one. Table billiards is funny haha the little pool queues are like chop sticks. In the afternoon we went to mow an investigators lawn, she and her kids made me a birthday cake and fed us wings! It was a party. Her daughter put a frosting cross on the cake because we are Christian, I just had to laugh. It was a tasty graven-image strawberry cake hahaha. So that was fun! The rest of the day went well, and the Kress's had their baptismal interview that evening. He came out happier than I have ever seen him! We also had transfer calls that night, surprise, we're not getting transferred. Chances were reeaally slim we would move, with me in training and it being Elder Durrant's last transfer.

     I also started writing down some of the miracles I see all the time. On Thursday morning I ended up studying some scriptures on the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, I don't really remember why but it seemed really interesting at the time. So I read some chapters about it in the new testament rather than continue in my Book of Mormon reading. Later that day our ward mission leader took us to meet a really interesting investigator who hadn't had the lessons in about a year. He is a youth minister at the Church of Christ. Doesn't sound like somebody who would enjoy a visit from the missionaries, right? Wrong, he was so glad we were there. He's got a young family and has been a paid minister for like 20 years. He is really humble though, and said he honestly can't claim he has all the truth that is out there, and if there is more then he needs to hear about it because the salvation of his family is at stake. He and his wife had printed out PDF copies of the Book of Mormon in huge 6 inch binders that looked almost like the golden plates haha. They ordered them so that they could study it and take notes in the huge margins. They are scriptorian wizards. Almost to their detriment honestly, they pick apart a verse until it's bereft of meaning and spiritual value haha. But they are eager to take the lessons again, he's actually read the whole Book of Mormon before. The problem is they don't know what the Holy Ghost is. They don't believe they can feel it, or that it can answer their prayers. It kind of blew my mind. They read about it in the Bible but almost believe it was just a specific gift for a few people who received it, I'm not even sure. If we can get that link between their Father in Heaven opened up they will absorb everything. Anyway, miraculously the very verses they referrenced in regards to the Holy Ghost in the new testament were the very verses I had not so randomly studied that morning. I was able to discuss it with them, and help them understand some things they just weren't seeing. Had I not read in Acts 2 or Acts 8 or John 14 I probably wouldn't have really known what they were talking about. It was neat! The Spirit told me exactly what they needed to learn before I even met them. And I didn't know it at the time. It's small things like that where I can really see the Lord's hand in His work. Anyway I'm so excited to keep teaching them. I testified of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that they could receive it and all of its blessings if they were to have faith and be baptized. He said he would commit to being baptized if he came to know the things we teach are true. Which is pretty incredible, considering that would put him out of work as a minister. I hope and pray the Lord will work it out for them!

     Well that's my week. Hope everyone is doing well! Repent and read your scriptures everyday! Alma 13:27-29 has been my favorite verse this week.
Elder Hakes