Monday, January 11, 2016

1/11/16 Cleveland, Round 3


That's all I need to say. I've learned and grown more in this area than in my last two areas combined. I cannot wait to keep serving all these people who are ready to come unto Christ.

I have no time, so highlights!
-My companion Elder McArthur is being transferred to Gore, OK. Sad to see him go, but excited to get a new companion as well. Elder Henderson is his name, he's been out 3 months and that's all I know! They love to stick me with the greenies around here.

-This week was bomb, wish I could tell you all about it.

-We took recent converts and investigators to the temple for the first time last Tuesday. Sarah Ballard did her first baptisms as well as Richard and very pregnant Anna. They all loved it and the spirit was tangible. GET RECENT COVERTS TO THE TEMPLE WITHIN A MONTH. It will change their lives and solidify conversion.

-Last week we picked up a whole new family to teach! Bishop met them while trying to contact their neighbors. They came to church, loved it, and we taught them the first 3 discussions last week! Haha! Their names are John and Andrea Dobbs, and they have two kids who live with them, Natalie and Ethan who are in 8th and 5th grade. I've never really taught a complete family like this and it is the greatest thing to ever happen to missionary work. They are HUNGRY for the gospel and they've loved every second of our teaching. I prophesy they'll be baptized in a month. So pumped!

-Some less active members also brought their neighbors to church for the second and third week and we started teaching them. Cheryl is older and her son Jackie are both excited to have found the fulness of the gospel and can't drink it in fast enough. Life changing, SO FAST. Their baptismal date is the 23rd this month!

-Add this to all the people we're already teaching and it's a whirlwind of miracles and blessings over here. It's awesome to behold. Bishop Southward's love and dedication to his calling have created a fire and its sucking in air faster than we can keep up. In ward council we discussed last years goal in the ward to have 12 baptisms (they had 23) and this year they set a goal for 40! Haha it can honestly happen, we have about 32 people who have attended church and are investigating on some degree. Yeesh.

I went over time, hope I had nothing else important. Also today is my 10 month mark in this crazy mission! Love it can't wait for more.

Elder T. Hakes
PS Anna is about to have her baby and second now, cool stuff :)

Zone Bowling!

Temple Gang!

Country boys doin country work with Brother Cox

Here is our second hour investigator class on Sundays. Bigger than ever!

1/4/16 Mercies

Guys, life's good. Wish I had a go-pro strapped to my forehead so you could just watch and be jealous of all the things I do every day. Aaaahh well... Guess I'll have to sum it up in a 10 minute email.

Richard and Anna Lawson were baptized Saturday! It was wonderful. They're suuper pumped to continue in the gospel. Lemme give you a bullet list of all the ridiculous miracles that have happened to them in the last two months since we met them:
-randomly met them at a member's house, a member whom they just met that day and started hanging out. (they are essentially homeless and staying with a cousin)
-taught follow up lesson, still not sure if they're into it.
-Bishop counsels them to be married.
-We teach full restoration, spirit overwhelms, they want to be bapitzed.
-Bishop marries them.
-Strong lessons leading to baptism, they're happier than ever.
-Two days before baptism they find a small house for sale in Cleveland, call owner, make a deal, they literally move in that night.
-Baptized Saturday (First baptism that I have performed on the mission!)
-Confirmed Sunday
-Job interview for him today
-Going to temple with us tomorrow.

I don't know why, but God REALLY has his hand on this couple. Anna is pregnant and I've gotten the impression that the path is being laid for this new child to enter into a solid life in the gospel.

The work carries on at a rapid pace here in the promise land. Bishop Southward is an inspiration to everyone around him. Investigators continue to show up at sacrament meeting with friends or family, feel and spirit, and determine to keep coming for the rest of their lives hahaha we have so many new investigators at our fingertips every week. If I could spend the rest of my life here doing this I might just do it. Transfer calls is this Saturday.. PLEASE pray that I'll stay here... I need these people as much as they need me haha. Neverless, thy will, not mine, be done. I guess.

This Sabbath was a spiritual feast, i enjoy the opportunity to fast and hunger and thirst after righteousness. I feel the Spirit so powerfully when I do. It's real life. I have to go :( I can't believe my family is growing up... Brent marriage is gross so stop it. Weston, wait for me so we can party and date girls together.

God is merciful.

Elder T. Hakes

Oh by the way Bishop married more investigators in the church haha.

The things you find in peoples freezers around here.....

Richard and Anna's big day!!

Balling with the crew

12/22/15 Do You Feel What I Feel?

I wish I had a way of expressing my thoughts and emotions that didn't get lost in translation. Words never seem to come out right, and even when they do they don't seem to be strong enough. That's what I love about music, and art. They stir emotions that words sometimes can't reach. They open a channel to your heart that sometimes you don't even understand. You feel things as they are, not as they are described. I would love to type out pages on pages about how I feel. It wouldn't reach you. My words wouldn't plumb the depths of emotion. They can't. But good news: there is something that can :) Christ's words. His are Perfect. His are Truth. His are Life. His words will provide the medium of understanding that only comes from one source.. His Spirit. In order for you to know how much I love each of you, you have to feel the Spirit. If you want to know what is in my mind this Christmas season, you have to feel His Spirit. It is through the Heavenly Messenger of spiritual communication that we feel Christ's infinite love. If I could give you a single thing, I would send you His Spirit. So here is my Christmas gift to you :) A challenge, no, a plead! Please seek His Spirit. Crave it more than food. Hunger more than ever. Seek in ways you haven't before. You can feast upon the Spirit of the pure love of Christ this Christmas. There is nothing sweeter. Nothing more filling. Nothing more sure. I feel it as I study the scriptures. It enters me, opens me, lightens me. I feel it as I pray. He is there! I feel it as I serve. It flows through you to others. I feel it as I keep the commandments, and show my love for Him. I feel it as I surround myself with what matters in life: family. I don't have any relatives with me in Oklahoma this Christmas season, but I do have family. Brothers. And Sisters. My beloved brothers and sisters that are here on earth for the same reason I am; striving and hoping and fighting for the same. I feel it as I ponder, as I am quiet and still. I want you to feel it, so badly. Is this real? Is it a figment of my imagination? Am I pretending? Am I lying? No, it is real. I can't deny that. You can't either. In fact, there is nothing more real.. because He is real. I testify to you that Jesus Christ lives. Today. Right now. He is there. Right there. Please feel Him. As you feel Him, come to know Him. Learn of Him. Be changed by Him, and become like Him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the Sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

I had a fun time at our mission Christmas conference yesterday! We all gathered in Bentonville and felt the Spirit, and grew in love and relationship and purpose. Here are some pictures :) Love you all, and can't wait to skype the family on Friday.

Elder Hakes

12/14/15 Time is Short

Love you guys!

I wish I had time to dwell on details miracles and laughs this week, but I don't :) I have to be at a wedding in 30 minutes. Richard and Anna two of our new investigators are being married in the church by Bishop. You can bet it's going to be hick! They will be baptized Jan 2 :) We have sooo many people we are teaching, and 14 scheduled for baptism in the coming weeks. Madness. We're busy and tired but full of love and life. I love this season! I love these people. Zone Conference with Elder Foster was pretty incredible, I was actually really impressed by his insights and spiritual discernment and depth. What else should I have expected I guess? This week is going to be FULL. Christmas is fast approaching and life is merry. The miracles of Christ and His Light and Life are literally all around us. Enjoy some pics!!

Elder T. Hakes
Arkansas Bentonville Soldier of God

Presents around the tree!

Taught a lesson through a visitation window in jail this week haha

Putting up lights for the elderly

Climbed a massive water tower to watch the sunrise. Honestly one of the scariest things I've ever done.... SO WINDY ON TOP

12/7/15 Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.

Holiday Greetings!!

I have a firm testimony that the Lord recognizes our efforts. More effort, more blessings and more heavenly aid. What can you do to SHOW the Lord that you need his help? Asking is easy. Prove it. Faith without works is dead! He doesn't expect perfection in order to answer your prayers and bless you with aid. He expects effort, and faith and repentance. I've felt His power flood my life in a way this week that I have not quite experienced before. I've come to a point where I need to let go of myself in every little way and think more of Him and His purposes. As I did that with aid of the purification challenge I sank into depths of peace and felt a fuel burning in me that carried me beyond my expectations for myself. I'm only on day 10 of the challenge, I can't wait to see where day 40 takes me.

We saw so many miracles and successes this week, I could write a book. Maybe several books. Transfers came and went and I said goodbye to my cowboy buddy Elder Thurgood and welcomed Elder McArthur to the best area in the mission. He just finished training and has been out about 3 months. He's from Paradise California and is here to work! Which is good, because we've got a lot in store for us. Bishop Southwards wife and kids were out of town this weekend. How does he choose to spend it? By utilizing his extra time to advance the work of salvation. I probably would have watched Netflix or gone to a football game. He spent it teaching 15 lessons with us and ministering in a way that inspires. His priesthood power and keys have created a tidal wave in this ward. We found 9 new investigators, (I say "found" but I should say "were handed to us on a silver miracle platter by Bishop"), set 5 more baptismal dates, drove investigators to stake conference and truly impacted the course of these peoples' lives. We have 10 baptismal dates scheduled for the next 3 weeks! Talk about a Christmas miracle people. There are so many people prepared to receive the gospel and yoke themselves with Christ. What better holiday gift is there? I am blessed to be involved in this work, right here, right now. Of all the thousands of missionaries on this entire planet, the Lord put Elder Hakes right here. I testify he knows best how to lead us along. He knows and endeavors with success to provide us the path that will lead to our individual growth, progression and salvation. He knows me. What a cool thing. That knowledge alone makes me feel really good.

Exciting things coming up: we have a zone conference with Elder Bradley Foster of the seventy this Friday, so that will be sweet! We have an all-mission conference (the first in years) on Dec 21 in Bentonville! That is going to be righteous. I get to Skype my momma in a couple weeks! That will be a treasure. Elder Southward, our area authority who happens to live in our ward, set us up a gym membership because its dang cold in bishops storage garage at 6 in the morning. I'm pumped. Literally! I don't expect all 10 baptisms will happen this month, but I pray and labor that they will.

Love you, remember the reason for this light-filled season.

Elder T. Hakes

11/30/15 Tis the Season

I love ya'll!

I loved seeing the fun Thanksgiving pictures frrom the dunes, glad you guys had a blast. Wish I could've been there to show ya how its done!

My week went by too quickly. We had a great Holiday and spent Thursday with the gracious Cox family. Jesse Cox is a cowboy through and through and we got to go help him with his chores on the ranch in the morning feeding cows. Fun stuff! The landscape was gorgeous, the trees are brilliant orange and red and the oaks are so thick you can't even walk through them. Deer hunting season is in full force around here and we see guys with guns and orange vests almost everywhere we go haha. Thanksgiving dinner was awesome and you bet your sweet bottom that I ate way too much. Highlights had to have been the fried turkey, marshmallow sweet potatoes of course, and the cherry pie! We ate and napped and played some card games. Everyone was astonished when I conquered them at Pit. Felt like I was playing with the family just like Thanksgivings in the past. 

We had a slower week in terms of lessons with the holiday in our way, but we set two more baptismal dates with investigators which is awesome. We have 3 people lined up to be baptized the 12th and 2 more in the 19th. It's going to be the best Christmas season! We have several more who are getting really close as well. I pray earnestly that they can put in the effort and receive a testimony and make the necessary changes to live the commandments.

I am starting what's called the "purification challenge" for the next 40 days.(check out this website to learn about it Essentially I am fasting from habits and choices that inhibit my reception of the Spirit. Let's just say I've got a big list. It's going to be tough, but the Spirit has already begun to teach me what I can do to draw closer unto Him. That's all that really matters in this life, how close are we in line with our Heavenly Father and His will for us? What weapons of rebellion do we need to bury in order to bring our hearts in One with his? Such sacrifices bring me confidence in the Lord and peace in my soul. For example, I've become a huge chess player on my mission. I love playing it with members and investigators alike, and I like playing it with my companions at night. But I know that it takes too much of my thought away from my work, so I'm fasting from it! I do so in faith because I know that greater blesses than stomping my companion in a game of wit are in store for me.

I love this Christmas season and can't wait to share the joy of my Savior with those whom I meet. We got transfer calls Saturday and I'm staying here in Cleveland :) My companion Elder Thurgood is going to serve in Branson 2nd ward (which is in my last zone in Missouri). My new companion will be Elder MacArthur, no idea who he is! Excited for new things, new challenges, new memories.

Elder T. Hakes