Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I live in Missouri, and I'm a Mormon.

Aaaayyyyyy loved ones!!!

Super sorry I didn't get to send out an email last week, I was crazy busy (mostly playing basketball and trying to get stuff done) and really didn't have time. But don't worry I'll fill you in :)
I feel like I've become rather poor at emailing and telling you all about the weird mission experiences and stories that I have. I think it's because they've almost become common place and so I forget about them fairly quickly and just keep plugging along! But, that doesn't mean I'm not having an exciting time, I just get overwhelmed trying to type out my life and remember exactly what happened to me in the last 7 days. And today I have to remember the last 14 days to make up for last week. Pray for me!
Mission life is super weird. It's super good, and super rewarding and fun and trying and all that, but mostly it's just weird. Nobody else in the world lives a life like we do! Nobody else can have the most odd experiences and meet the craziest people and eat dinner at someone's home everyone night, and get rejected and ignored and avoided and stared at, but at the same time be so loved and cared for and admired by members of the ward, AND at the same time be called of God and set apart to do his marvelous work and a wonder and receive all the blessings of a loving Deity parent. WEIRD. But priceless. An experience that transcends language. Or at least my own language. The challenge I face in trying to share these with you in about an hour each week is one of the hardest things I have to do on my mission haha.
This week's been a little off kilter. Tuesday was zone conference with President Loveland which was fantastic. He stands in striking contrast to President Shumway, but fulfills his calling all the same. It was the first real zone conference we've had in like 4 months since P. Shumway left. So it was great and we felt the spirit together and were edified in a big way. It was the most fun conference I've been to because I finally know a good chunk of people in the mission and it's fun to catch up with them and see how're they're doing and talk about old times. I was talking to Elder Murdock the other day who is still in my homeland of Owasso OK and it really made me miss that area!!!!! I miss those people so much. Can't even tell you. But I have no time to think about them which probably keeps me sane. Everyone I left is doing so good though :) I'll be back one day. Wednesday we went on exchanges with Southern Hills area, ZL Elder Watkins and his companion Elder Burch. I went to their area with Burch and Watkins went to my area with my son Elder Davidson (son because I'm his trainer/father in the mission, I clarify for you mom ;) ). It was really fun because theirs is a bike area and I got to ride a bike for the first time in the mission!! I felt like a real genuine missionary :) Having a car is a necessity in these huge rural areas, but it takes something away from the stereotypical missionary image in everyone's mind. So I strapped on my helmet and felt genuine all day :) It was SUCH nice change of pace being on a bike and using my muscles and getting some fresh air. We biked around to find some less actives and returning members and it was great. I felt so much more capable of approaching people on the street and in neighborhoods too, because when you roll up in a car and roll down your window and yell at people it freaks them out haha. But an unassuming dude on a bike wearing a tie is much more subtle ;) I gave a guy standing on the side of the road eating a bag of chips a fist bump as we sped downhill and almost punched his arm of hahah. We had dinner with a fairly recent convert couple, brother and sister Ussery (she was baptized about 2 years ago and he's been inactive his whole life) and they were really cool. Turns out they knew and love my trainer Elder Durrant because he served in this area like a year ago. We spent a lot of time talking to them about the gospel and their conversions and testimonies and it was neat. Thursday I went back to my area and we volunteered at the bishops storehouse food handout at the church and helped Brother Taylor move a delivery of 3 pallets of pellet-stove pellets (say that five times fast) into his shed. I physically hefted like 4 tons of pellets. Then we had to go back to Springfield to get our car fixed because a belt or something has been squeaking for 3 weeks. We also told them our power window on the drivers door had been making weird creaking noises when we roll it up. So they looked at it and we walked around the mall for awhile until they called us. We went back and they said it was all in ship shape and all they did was change the oil for us. I was like "well what about the squeaking we brought it in for?!" The dude said he didn't hear any squeaking so we went outside and started it up and it was whisper quiet. Odd. As we drive away it starts squeaking again like a kid on a rusty swing so we turned around and took it back and parked it without turning it off and went and got the guy and proved to him that there was indeed a squeak. So they inspect it and say its likely a belt tensioner and they need to order the part to fix it. So we schedule to come back the next morning and get it repaired. About halfway home Elder Davidson rolls up the driver window and it creaks and groans and cracks and just falls back into the door. Are you serious?! They literally looked at nothing we told them to haha. So luckily it doesn't rain in our open window that night and we take it back to the shop Friday morning after we help Brother Taylor unload a trailer of wood at the dump (so smelly). We drop the car off at the shop and go to wander the mall again, they call us back and say the broken window motor and the belt tensioner are both under factory warranty since the car is still new. So we take it instead to the Chevy dealership to get it repaired for free (it's a 2014 Chevy Cruz). It took about 4 or 5 hours for them to fix it and luckily they had a free shuttle that we took to the Southern Hills elders apartment while we waited. So that took up most of our Thursday and Friday which was annoying. But the thing is finally fixed hallelujah. Saturday I felt terribly ill and we spent most of the day cooped up in the apartment. I got a phone call from Sister Park in our ward who said that she had just talked to Sister Ussery (the lady I had dinner with on exchanges in Southern Hills ward) and she told her she had really been struggling with the church lately and having kind of a hard time and was a little disappointed with the missionaries in her ward, but that somehow she had really felt the spirit for the first time in a long time while I was there and was so grateful! She said that I was something special and thanked me over and over. The weird part is I have no idea what I did, I don't even remember what message I shared haha. So I certainly have a testimony that the Lord uses us in ways we aren't even aware of sometimes. Whatever I said, she needed, unbeknownst to me! We finished strong yesterday with a great Sabbath. Our ward moved to a new building that they just finished constructing this week! It's been long anticipated, I guess they were supposed to have it done in July. So our ward building is now east of us in Ozark rather than southern Springfield. It's a little closer to our apartment which is nice. The building itself is really small and has one of those baby gyms where the 3-point arcs essentially touch in the middle. So I'm gonna be draining half-court shots all day. Our first sacrament meeting in the building was awesome because everyone was excited and we had several less actives show up to see it! The only two restrooms in the building though were "out of order" and they had a plumber coming to look at them, so both wards had to use the spare handicap/family restroom, leaving a single toilet for about 400 people hahaha. The line was worse than Disneyland. So funny!
Well that's the majority update. A super nice spunky old lady in our ward named Sister Taylor wrote me a poem the other week! She's always writing little poems so I asked her to write one for me and this is what she gave me!

We met a young man whom we call "Elder Hakes"
And what a fine impression he makes!
He's friendly and smart and talkative too
(Can't get in a word until he gets through)

He comes from Arizona and misses his state
But the good things at home will just have to wait.
He's involved in church service and helps folks each day
To learn how to walk in the straight narrow way.

He is living his life in the way he feels best,
And somehow we know he is passing the test.
In a couple of years he'll be going back home-
Get a job, find a wife and nevermore roam.

He looks forward to children and grandchildren too.
Such an honorable man! Most too good to be true!
It's been our pleasure to have him for a friend.
Our memories of him will never end. 

Joy Taylor

I promise I didn't write that about myself haha :) She is so sweet, she's like a grandma away from home and always gives us treats.
Anyway, I love you all a ton and miss you each day! Can't believe I'm approaching 7 months out here, it's crazy. Also I CANNOT wait for conference this weekend, I've been craving it since the last session. Stay true!

Elder Hakes

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

9/14/15 pics

Thrift Shopping

 Solving life's great mysteries on the throne.

Service project!

Mercies and Miracles 9/14/15

Hey People!

This week has been another fantastic one. Last Sunday Elder Davidson and I were able to stand in on a baby blessing in Sacrament meeting and I ordained a convert of last year to the office of a priest! I love participating in priesthood blessings, ordinations and ordinances. I feel part of something greater than myself. This week was bitter sweet since about half of our district was transferred. We got lunch together on Wednesday and said our goodbyes. It stings how fast everything goes by. There's almost no time to stop and take it all in. Our week went about as normal with all our work. Saturday we went to a really cool service project with the Missouri State YSA Elders on campus. There was a giant food packaging drive and we went to help package and seal meals to be shipped all around the world. They played some pump-up music the whole time which was the best part! Any chance that I'm "forced" to listen to music is a tender mercy ;) Last night was awesome because we got a new investigator! We stopped by the house of a man named Charles because we saw that missionaries had tracted into him in March and talked to him for a little bit. We went to follow up and he was a really nice older man who's wife passed and he now lives alone. We gave him a BoM and he said we could come back and talk to him about it! So last night we went back by and he said, "wait here, I made you boys something." So he went inside and came back out with two gospel music CDs that he had put together for us haha! He eventually invited us in and we were able to teach him about the restoration. He's had a long religious history and has basically given up because there are too many unanswered questions. We're excited to answer them for him. He wonders about things concerning the nature of God and the plan of salvation, and we can tell him all about it! So that is a major answer to prayers. I feel a little bad for Elder Davidson, he really hasn't had a lot of new teaching experiences because all we do is work with less actives and try to find new people to teach in this area! But we slowly seem to be finding some which is great. It's hard in such a religiously saturated area, everyone thinks they're content and we're just another random christian church (either that or they think we're some non-christian cult and they won't have anything to do with us.) We get doors slammed and rude remarks everyday, but hey its fun! This ward has been a little frustrating as well. There is no missionary effort whatsoever and no one really helps us.. especially our ward mission leader who has no idea what his calling entails. They're nice enough people though and once they see us finding people on our own and bringing them to church I think it will spark the fire we need. In other news my ankle is healing pretty quick still which is miraculous.. but I'm starting to get reeaally bad shin splints on both shins. So that's annoying. One thing after another! Guess I'll have to take it easy on the court for awhile. Being district leader is fun and a nice little dose of added responsibility which is nice and will keep me focused. The weather cooled off this last week which was glorious with a cool breeze, but apparently it was just a teaser and will heat back up again this week :(
If there is one thing I treasure on this earth more than anything it is the Book of Mormon. If only I understood even the hundredth part of the miracles, mercies, prophecies, blood, and lessons contained within it. I love reading it every day! It's what gives me the power I need.

Elder Hakes

Another transfer down 9/7/15

Greeting from misery (that's what most people call Missouri).

Life's good! Transfer calls came in, and Elder Davidson and I are both staying in this area! But I'll be the new district leader so that's pretty neat. About half of our district got transferred out so we'll have a bunch of new people coming in! It'll be fun, we'll miss a lot of these cats though, they're all great elders. This week's been a blur, highlights are that my ankle is almost fully healed (miracle) and I can walk normal again, and we taught Travis two more times with a member of the elders quorum named Peter Upton-Rowley who is a great guy. Peter's wife came for the second lesson and invited Travis and his wife and kid over for dinner, so they're fellowshipping really well and we're excited to keep teaching them. He is progressing slowly... but we'll work with it. He needs to be sincere in his prayer and read more of the Book, but he'll get there :) Well that's about all the update I can muster, Elder Davidson and I are excited to spend another transfer in Nixa! I have no idea where the time went, seems like I barely even know any of the ward yet. We've fasted and prayed that we can do even more work and really pick this place up this transfer! Remember, the Book is blue and the church is true, so let it change you! (I made most of that up). Till next week <3