It's good to be 22 :) It's weird, and old-ish, but good! I'm grateful for my physical body that I was given 22 years ago, for a lot of health and strength, and especially for my mom for developing it and carrying it around with her for awhile! Oh and I guess for my dad too, he played a part. Life's neat!
This last week was great, we went to St. Louis on Saturday and that was perfect! It's like 2 hours from St. Rob and definitely out of the mission, but we got permission to go with our recent covert Tyler and another recent convert from December named Angelica! They both did baptisms for the first time and had a wonderful temple experience. On the drive there, well-intentioned Sister Gines typed in "temple St Louis" in her phone gps and it took us to some really sketchy neighborhood with boarded up buildings and the scent of crime in the air haha. We rolled up to street called "temple place" and saw nothing but what looked like the scariest elementary school with barbed fences and concrete playgrounds haha! So we took her phone and got us to the right place. I had such a good feeling wash over me as we drove up to the temple, I just felt at home. And really safe. And happy! Maybe because we had just left a street with signs everywhere that said "we have to stop killing each other", or maybe because the temple is a special place and I feel love for everyone I meet there. Or maybe a little bit of both :) The temple was perfect and a great relief from the world, per the usual. Then the Gines took us to see the St. Louis Gateway Arch which was waaaaaayy cool! I didn't even know it existed! I didn't even know St. Louis sat on the Mississippi River! Haha so I played tourist and oogled and aaaahd at everything, it was nice. Unfortunately rides to the top of the arch were sold out :( Or I woulda been all up in there. We also saw Busch Stadium where the Cardinals were playing and an old Catholic Cathedral that was really interesting. A day can't get better than that! Unless of course I wasn't wearing a suit and could go to the Cardinals game haha. Tyler also blessed the Sacrament for the first time Sunday and did really great, Horsley and I were like proud parents. We had some new investigators come to sacrament that we had met that week so that was awesome!!! Best birthday present right there.
Well, I need to go party. I'm Elder Hakes and I like to party.
I know what you're all saying from the other side of the internet, "Speech! speech! birthday speech!" Okay fine, stop begging :)
I want you to know my testimony of who I am, to commemorate my entry into this mortal world and my second estate. I know that I am of the race of God Himself. I know that He is my Father! That makes me His son. I knew Him and loved Him and wanted to be like Him before I came here. I was willing to make hard decisions and sacrifices and do whatever was required for me to love Him, serve Him, and be like Him. I adored Him. I admired Him. I rejoiced at the presentation of His Plan, and fought for it when others sought to destroy it. I trusted my Elder Brother Jesus Christ with every depth of my soul. I knew He could save me when I got lost. I knew I would get lost. I knew He could do it. I hoped He could do it. I wanted to be like Him too, the noblest and greatest of all of Father's children. I wanted to be as loving as He was. As strong as He was. And so I came here :) I set out on the most difficult journey any of us would ever make: the journey through mortality. I came to the world on May 2nd, almost two thousand years after my Brother and King, Jesus Christ. I was watching Him intently from the other side while he was performing our Father's work. I was cheering for Him when he was tempted, I was praying for Him when He was weak, I was weeping with Him as He suffered... for me. I rejoiced when it was over. I gloried in the triumph over death! I was eager to follow in His path, to try and be like Him, to help Him in His great work. I anticipated May 2nd, 1994, for a very long time. But it finally came! I came through a mighty line of priesthood holders and saints. I came with a foundation centered on The Christ I had always known and loved and fought for. I came blessed with gifts and abilities and strengths for the purpose of continuing the good fight, for waging for the souls of men. I came with many, many weaknesses. Weaknesses given to me to humble me, to cause me to remember Him, to cause me to continue to trust in Him, just as I had in the beginning. I am God's son! I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I will place my trust in Him forever. His grace is sufficient for me.
Twenty two years in the world and I'm still trying to do the things He asks. His mercy allows me to try every day, over and over, and grow line upon line, precept upon precept. Here's to many more years to come! Much more service to render. Many more battles to fight. I couldn't ask for a better team than the Hakes.
Elder Taylor Hakes
Arkansas Bentonville Mission
St. Robert 2nd Ward and Ft. Leonard Wood Branch