Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12/19/16 Mountain-less Grove

Hey Team,

I made it to Mountain-less Grove Missouri! There are other cities named Mountain View, and Mountain Home in this stake. I'm not sure why, I haven't seen anything resembling a geographical feature in years. Silly rednecks ;)

I'm here with Elder Walker, and things are good. We definitely had an interesting weekend to kick things off. Lots of weather, which I love. It's cold cold cold and we've had a lot of ice on everything, and even some snow yesterday morning. Church was all but canceled due to weather, we didn't even make it out. Roads were crazy icy, and we had a tiny baby donut spare tire on our car because we got a flat the night before. We were literally 40 minutes from home at a dinner appointment, just leaving in the dark and freezing wind, when we got a text from the mission telling us to head in and bunker down for the night, weather was moving in. At about the same time our tire pressure light came on and I realized we were rolling on a rim. Perfect timing :) We were next to someones house in the woods so we pulled into their driveway and knocked on their door to borrow a flashlight. We should probably put one of those in the car... Luckily they were incredibly nice and let us in out of the cold, and sent their teenage son to open their shop so we could pull in and fix it indoors. She even made us some hot cocoa. Hallelujah. It seemed a little too coincidental, we'll definitely go back with some cookies and a Book of Mormon :) That's about the only way to find new investigators in the bible belt, blow a tire in their yard.

Other great news: played some ball Thursday night when I got here. It's been months since I've played. Felt good. We've got an incredibly nice, new building here for some reason. It even has an atrium courtyard in the middle. Its lovely. So the court was nice and we had fun. Hope to get the games rolling to find new people to teach. Ball is life.

We also had the ward Christmas breakfast/party Saturday morning, got here just in time for that. I was really impressed with the ward in a lot of ways. It's much bigger than I thought, people were friendly and having a good time. They were grabbing my arm and introducing me to nonmember friends they had brought, and pointing out ward members who need extra love and support. I got to meet a lot of people and introduce myself, which was really good because I didn't get to do that at church on Sunday haha. Remember how my last ward had a huge family that accounted for a big part of the membership? Well, this ward is like that, time 4. The Richardsons have 30 children. 30. Children. 20 something of them are adopted. I haven't met them yet but I hear through the grapevine that they are incredible people. Their kid's ages look something like this on the ward roster: 20, 20, 19, 19, 19, 18, 18, 17, 17, 17, 16... it's madness haha. Our ward mission leader Brother Whipple is fired up and knows everything about everyone which is really helpful. We literally have no one to teach right now, but there is so much potential here. I think I've been sent here to help tap into it, I've been blessed to serve in a couple of wards (*cough* *cough* Cleveland) that really know how to pick the low hanging fruit. Hopefully we can make that happen here. Did I mention that I'm a district leader now too? That was weird and surprising, I've been zone leader for so long I forgot what district leaders do. It might be a nice break for awhile... haha.

Well Christmas is somehow upon us again. Rather than blast your ears (or rather eyes via email) with cliche Christmas wishes, I will write you a Haiku. First, let me google how to write a Haiku.


Ice blankets our world
Hearts and minds find new vistas
Light pierces our lives

Happy Christmas to everyone! 🎅

Elder Hakes

Midwest Gospel Specialist 
This is Sister Skye. We helped her quit smoking!
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Ben Leavitt family. I'll miss them a ton.
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The Barnes! They treated us so good
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The legendary Elder Walker in Mtn Grove
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

12/12/2016 Oh Dear...

Hey Crew,
Sorry I had zero time last week. And today is a weird Wednesday pday again. A lot has happened since I've last updated you. I found out last night that I am being transferred to the Mountain Grove ward in the West Plains Missouri Stake. (My address: 1101 Long St. Apt B7, Mountain Grove, Missouri 65711) Not what I was hoping would happen! Let's say I was on my knees for awhile last night haha. I'll miss Kandie's baptism on Christmas Eve :( And Christmas day with the Leavitt clan.. and another transfer with the coolest companion.. and the best district.. BUT hey at least I had an epic last transfer here. Who knows what's in store?
Monday we had a zone conference in Bentonville with Elder Gay of the seventy. It was solid. He is definitely an influential man and has quite the repertoire of spiritual knowledge and experiences. He shared a lot for us to adjust to in the mission. Then President smacked us with some dizzying news: The 3 stakes of our mission in Oklahoma, Bartlesville (where I've served more than a year of my mission), Tulsa, and Tulsa East are being swallowed into the Oklahoma City Mission. Their mission only had 5 stakes, we have 13 stakes. And we have the same amount of missionaries serving as they do. So they are finally taking some responsibility and picking up more stakes to work with haha. Now we essentially have none of Oklahoma in our mission. The Oklahoma Tulsa Mission is truly dead. RIP. I've seen some wild changes while I've been out here. It wrenched my heart to think that pretty much all of my favorite families, converts, and friends are no longer within our mission boundaries. No chance of seeing them again till I get home. Ouch! So that will increase our missionary workforce since we have less area to cover with the same amount of people. There will be no more two-area assignments, we'll have enough missionaries for every ward now. Should be a good thing.
The last week leading up to these difficult changes was pretty awesome though, can't complain about that. We had a zone Christmas Sweater party last Monday (check out them pics). Did a lot of good work. Kandie Steelman is progressing like a determined bullet train toward her baptismal date. She has so much faith. She suffers basically every physical affliction you can name, and therefore lives in a nursing home/care facility. But we go teach her literally every day, and she grows every time. She has a hunger for the gospel and healing of Christ that I've rarely seen in many others. She smoked heavily for 43 years and was even more addicted to coffee than she was to cigarettes. She gritted her teeth and batted them aside, eyes fixed on the goal. She's been clean for several weeks. That's the power of worthy goals, they surge you through the battles we face. Her baptism will be sweet. Can't wait to see pictures of it :( haha. She's not the only one who's overcome; Sister Skye Ames is a sweet lady who has an apartment in a little town called Purdy. She's got two little doggies, Cocoa the weenie dog and Buster Brown. We helped her to quit smoking too and she's gained a new light and life in her life! There is nothing more fulfilling than helping others conquer the natural man within them. No greater feeling of success and achievement than that which comes from gaining control of yourself. And I can tell you its certainly impossible without the merits, mercy and grace of Christ.
Wishing you all the merriest of Christmas seasons.
Elder Hakes
Monett Zone Christmas Party '16
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This cute lil guy jumped in our car and just didn't want to leave. Wonder who's he was...
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Exchanges with APs in Rogers AR
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Full truckload of crap we dumped from our apartment. #purge
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David Silvers (returning less active) and Kandie Steelman, our golden girl at the ward Christmas social
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

11/28/16 Gobble till you Wobble

Hey People,

So. Much. To. Report. On. Wish me luck.

This last week was rather eventful. The days preceding the Thanksgiving holiday were pretty great. We actually succeeded in finding several new investigators last Tuesday, despite the holiday rush and family gatherings. They're all pretty promising! To help us reach more people, we had the idea to grab some rakes and start hitting random people's yards as an act of kindness. There are approximately 930 billion leaves on the ground in Monett right now. Give or take several billion. So we strategically targeted smaller yards haha. We actually ended up only doing one yard that day for a part member family that we offered to help. Partially because we had an appointment to get to, and partially because were slightly distracted by the thrill of doing flips into our monster leaf pile. We don't get much exercise, okay? Lucky for you, I always carry a GoPro for just such an occasion. Hey mom, remember when I tried to do a backflip at school off a little rock wall like sophomore year? I landed on my back, people laughed, made a good video. Well don't worry, this time I only landed on my neck. It was only sore for 2 or 3 days, nothing major. I can still look to the left, but not the right. Only minor numbness and tingling in my extremities. JK:) I did land on my neck though. But there were some leaves under me. I'll try to attach some vids.

Thanksgiving day was really awesome haha. We had breakfast with the Aurora ward elders who are way cool, then we suited up to go play some turkey bowl football at Monett stadium with the ward. We had a pretty decent turnout! The stadium is incredibly nice for a small town football program (which, by the way, they just won the state championship on Saturday. Downtown was literally shut down when the bus came back and the town celebrated with them lol) I dove out and caught a pass. Elder DeGooyer also dove out to catch a pass. (He played wide receiver in high school, his team was tearing us apart.) Unfortunately he landed on his shoulder and it exploded. I saw him limp to the bench. Stake President Leavitt, a doctor, checked him out. We finished the game, by this time Elder DeGooyer had tears in his eyes and a visibly slumping right shoulder. Brother Barnes the ward mission leader offered a medical water-pump ice-wrap from his house. We picked it up, went home to ice him down, and decided immediately to take him to the hospital when we got his shirt off and saw the damage. The ER x-rayed him and determined a sever AC joint separation. Different than a dislocation, google it. Recommended him to a surgeon for further eval :/ All were closed for the holidays. He left in a sling and a bunch of pain, on some strong narcotics. But that didn't stop the man from missing our lunch appointment. He said he could handle it! He got a little glassed over while we were eating, so we skipped out and got him on ice and a nap. After a little bit we were ready for round two! We went out to the Preston's with a bunch of family and ward members. They're the ones we just helped move who have a full-sized sport court dug into their backyard. You bet we hit that up. DeGooyer watched. Ate more food, then went down the road to the Leavitt clan for desert. They all live on farmville, the Mormon-cult-zion-like-community-family of righteousness. They've all lost the desire to sin. Played some games. Ended the night with the Aurora boys on a romantic drive through the light festival in Monett park. We all wished we could trade each other for girls. I've gotten used to hanging out with 2-4 dudes all the time. Not sure I like that too much haha.

The next day we tried to contact surgeon's offices, all still closed. We finally got an appointment set up today for tomorrow morning in Springfield. His right arm is still hanging uselessly from his body. The kid is a work horse, it didn't really slow us down one bit. We taught a ton of lessons this week. He's not even on his painkillers since that first day. The Lord is upholding him, we have no doubt.

Saturday we spent like 4 hours trying to help set up a 27 foot tall Christmas tree in downtown Pierce City that a member cut and donated. It was a sketchy operation haha we barely got that thing standing in a big ole trash can stand that we rigged. Pics to follow. DeGooyer played camera man and was otherwise useless :) 

Umm let's see... sorry I didn't email last week. More good things happened, can't remember what they might have been. Went on another Pday hike with the district. Set up a full-sized fake tree in our apartment. Decked the halls with boughs of holly. What does that even mean? I'll try to include pics chronologically!

Things looking forward are shaping up to be the best December in missionary Christmas history. The church's Christmas initiative #LighttheWorld is a beauty, go look it up and light the world this season! We can be just like Christ. There is no better gift to Him, I think! We have a general authority, Elder Gay coming to the mission for a conference on Dec 12. Then we have a Christmas zone conference the next week. Then our beloved investigator Kandie Steelman is up for baptism on Christmas eve. She's quitting 40 sumthin years of smoking this week, prayers accepted! Then, of course, Christmas. And I GET TO SKYPE MY MOMMA. For the last time.

I love the Spirit that seems to transform hearts and environments this time of year. Let it into you!

Much Love,

Elder Hakes

More Roaring Rive State Park Adventures
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Friday, November 11, 2016

11/9/2016 14 down, 3 to go

Hey guys,

So today is a weird Wednesday transfer-week pday again. Still not a huge fan! Elder Radford and I wrapped up the transfer real good with some fun on Halloween with members, a farewell district meeting which included potluck cafe rio pork burritos, and a great exchange with the Elders in Carthage. Unfortunately Elder Radford will be shipped off to Calremore OK tomorrow (long live the Bartlesville zone). I'll miss the guy! I'll miss making diabetes jokes and driving home as fast as possible because he frequently forgets his insulin. Good times! I'm staying here, my new companion is one Elder DeGooyer (Deh-GOY-er). I know him just a little bit, he's was previously the neighboring Joplin zone leader. It'll be good! He'll be a zone leader with me so I'm finally not flying solo, that will be kind of nice. But solo also has its perks.

This Monday I took Elder Hansen, its his first transfer in the mission, on exchanges in my area to help rain him and hopefully provide some new experiences. Well, we certainly got new experiences. After unsuccessful attempts and unanswered doors at every home we wanted to visit, we made our way to a returning less-active's apartment. This guy had come to church on Sunday and bore a really great testimony about falling away but having prayers answered recently and the Spirit uplifting him more than ever! Elder Radford and I had met him a few weeks earlier when he came into the clerk's office at the church while we were emailing and asked to talk to the bishop. We dialed him up on the clerks phone and handed it to him. He proceeded with "Hi bishop, my names ----, yes I'm a baptized brother. I'm calling because I need to tell you something important. It's about the seven seals. Yes, they've been opened. I thought you would want to know. I'm the sanest man you've ever met!" Radford and I looked at each other like "oooooohhh boyyy" hahaha. He left right afterward. I felt like I was in Harry Potter 2, with the Chamber of Secrets being opened. Anyways this is the man Elder Hansen and I were going to visit, to see how we could help him progress back into the gospel. He was napping and let us in, went to splash some water on his face while we just sat on his couch and looked around in silence. He came back, sat down, and immediately launched into the most interesting monologue I have heard to date. Vision after vision of who knows what, Jehovah told me this, Satan told me that, I've battled demons, Monett is the New Jerusalem, the millennium has started, angels have four arms, and no, no he is not crazy. :D Poor young Elder Hansen sat there stiff as a board and just stared at him, at total loss for words. I had no idea had to get handle on the conversation hahaha we sat a listened and wowed and really?'d for an hour before we shared a scripture and bolted. It was a little creepy some of the things he told us haha. Luckily I had my gopro clipped to my belt and plenty of memory card room to capture the bulk of the action. Which is great, because he needs us to relay these things to the church right away so they can gather in Zion in Monett Missouri and begin the millennial work ;) Oh, the things you experience in the service of the Lord. As if our night wasn't weird enough, Elder Hansen emergency puked in someones yard after dinner hahaha. Luckily it was dark. I hope I was able to teach Elder Hansen some good new things! Haha.

Also, last week for Halloween (hallelujah on a pday) we went golfing with our WML Brother Barnes. It was literally the most perfect weather you can imagine. Loved it! Except they didn't have any lefty clubs to rent. So there's some big dirt chunks out of the greens on that course now. Don't know who did that. Some noob. I'll include some pictures, wish I could attach all the videos in a timely manner.

Well, the area's hit a little stand still with the work, it's been hard to connect with our investigators and find time to teach and help progress. Seems to come and go in waves. Ideally, we can find many new people to teach this transfer!

Much Love,

Elder Hakes

The Raddog

A lil Halloween golf

The bois, Elder Millet, Elder Bayles, Elder Radford, Yours Truly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

10/31/2016 St. Louis Temple

Yo Crew,

Made it to the St Louis temple again this week with a couple zone from the mission! We were supposed to be able to go to the Kansas City temple last Wednesday, but Elder Radford came down really sick Tuesday night and we had to skip out. Luckily we caught the other trip! It's great to travel and get to know the other missionaries.

Wishing everyone a Happy Halloween, can't believe this time last year I was just getting to Cleveland OK. Home's just around the corner! Can't wait to see everyone I love.

Not many words, but pictures are worth a thousand!

Elder Hakes

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Dinner on the Andersons magical patio
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10/24/2016 This is dedicated to YOU

Brilliant people,

This email today is dedicated to you. "Who me?", you might ask... yes you, the reader of this email. Chances are pretty high, if you're reading this right now, that we have a good relationship. Chances are high that you've been one who has helped me out. Maybe it was a simple thing, you bought my lunch, you spent time getting to know me, you gave me a compliment, you asked for my advice. Maybe you trusted me, and I trusted you. Maybe you've known me for years! Maybe you've supported me that whole time, thought about me, prayed for me, cheered for me, defended me, lead me, strengthened me. Or maybe I only got to know you for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Maybe I met you on my mission and spent time in your home, where you provided for me, sheltered me, cared for me, fed me, listened to me, ministered to me. Maybe you went out of your way to spend time teaching with me, or just giving me a ride, or giving me dinner over and over and over, even asking me for my favorite foods. Maybe you've been a friend to me. Or an ally, or a foundation, or an example, or a companion, a mentor, or a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a family member, a bishop, a leader, a fellow saint. Maybe you've loved me enough to straighten me out! To shake my shoulders and slap my cheeks and yell, "Wake up! Where are you headed?!". Or maybe enough to let me go my own way. I am the result of all of that. I am who I am, because you are who you are, and you've done for me what you've done. I want to tell you that I recognize that, and that I appreciate it. A lot.

People ask me all the time how I know God is really there. Quite simply, because I have seen his hand many, many times. I've seen it in the way you've treated me, and loved me. Some of the greatest miracles God has worked in my life has been through you. I mean that literally, it's not just a mushy saying! There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who have been the hands of the Lord, for me. They have been his hands as they have loved, or have been good, even as he loves, or has been good. And it has lifted me up! Again and again. So thank you.

I want to be those hands. Hands for doing good, for creating, for upholding. I want to bless, as I have been blessed.

The attitude of gratitude is perhaps one of the healthiest of human emotions.

That's all I wanted to say! Things are well in Monett, the future is absolutely bright, no matter what happened in the eternity of misused yesterdays.

Elder Hakes

Here's some random pictures of my life, as usual!

10/17/2016 Live It

Weekly Gang!

What's goin on? Only good things for me to report from Missouri this week. We had interviews with President and Sister Loveland, it was good. They are great leaders. Also had stake conference for the Monett stake with Elder Greer of the seventy there, he was awesome, and an AZ native! We taught the daughter of an investigator, Samantha, that we found tracting, and after the restoration video she says, "Mom, I still haven't been baptized. When can I?" We beamed like dummies :) Love finding the prepared, they are everywhere! Set a date for Nov 5. Our zone is doing great things and starting to pick up the pace, we have 9 dates set for the transfer, which for our tiny zone is great!

I forgot to relate a funny experience last week. There I was, standing at the pulpit on Sunday the 9th of October, my first sacrament meeting in the Monett ward, just bearing your average testimony, when a big lightbulb from high in ceiling somehow dislodged and exploded on the ground right behind me! I looked around, saw the glass on the ground, looked up, saw the empty bulb socket above. The room was dead silent, I looked at bishop, he just shrugged, so I laughed and said, "well, that's a first!" and just plowed ahead with that testimony! It was crazy random.

Unfortunately we didn't get to golf last week like we were hoping, they were maintaining the course, so we hiked roaring river state park just south of us and it was SO GORGEOUS. The fall weather was perfect, I was in heaven. I'll add some pics!

Love it, Live it! Till next week

Elder Hakes

Devil's Kitchen Trail, Roaring River State Park

Had some huge rainstorms, biffed it in a flood!

Missouri farm land

Monett stake center!