Wednesday, March 8, 2017

03/06/2017 Blessins on Blessins


Life is so good. I just had the greatest last Monday Pday of my life. We went to an abandoned water park owned by a member and played flour ball. Stockings full of flour, capture the flag rules. Honestly one of the more fun things I've done. Having free reign of this park was insane. See pics!!

This last week was great. Low on time, so here's some highlights:

-I had an incredible experience receiving revelation from Father this week. I was feeling majorly down. Depressed, even. I was worried about home, my future, my failures.. I just didn't feel like I was worth anything. Weird? It just came out of nowhere. I realize now it was a definite spiritual attack of negativity. Anyway after moping in bed for a few hours, Elder McEntire got a little worried for my sanity, so I prayed for release, answers, light. What the Lord taught me through the scriptures I opened to was incredible. He spoke to me in a way I've never known before! I couldn't write fast enough. Needless to say, the cloud of gloom overshadowing me was blasted by the eternal warmth of Christ. I've felt like a new character ever since. There is nothing better than knowing how the Father feels about you. Because you feel pretty loved.

-So after this experience I bore my testimony of our ability to receive personal revelation in sacrament meeting. It was on my mind all day. Then we went to teach our investigator Scott Taylor. He's a middle-aged unhealthy guy living alone with his animals in a trailer. A sweet guy. Seemingly an honest seeker of God. In our lesson he kept asking silly questions that we know he knows the answer too, sounded like he was just making excuses. But he kept saying he was genuinely confused. He couldn't express what he felt, ask the right questions, or find any answers. Elder McEntire suggested we stop and pray right there for some light. We can't get him to pray with us out loud. But he stopped talking and closed his eyes. We waited, assuming he was praying. I bowed my own head and plead that Scott could get whatever it was he was praying for in his head. I remembered the confusing spirits I was feeling earlier in the week, and asked the Lord to remove those from Scott too. We began reading again with him in Alma 32. Throughout the rest of the lesson, the Spirit whispered to Scott what he needed to know. He got excited. He knew his prayer was answered in a matter of minutes through humble asking and reading the Book of Mormon. I didn't even know what his prayer was, or what his answer was, but it doesn't even matter, he got it. I was reminded its just not about me. I just have to help these people learn how to talk to their Father, and know how to listen. That's it. He takes it from there.

These things can happen for all of us. Why? Because we are loved by the most powerful Being in the universe. Literally. And He's got things He wants to tell us, and show us, and help us with. But we must seek with and honest heart. That's all it takes.

Love ya. Enjoy the footage. See you soon enough.

02/27/2017 You only get this email 2 more times

This week has been another great one. We've worked hard, we've handed books to every breathing soul we've seen, we've taught some good lessons, we've biked probably a hundred miles, knocked a hundred doors, and had a hundred "NO's" haha.
My body feels better for all the exercise. I seem to have a lot more energy and sleep better too. Funny how that works.
Everything I do is layered with the thought, "this might be the last time I do this." It's not a sad thought, but a motivating and sometimes gladdening thought hahaha. Keeps me grinding.
We've had 80 degree weather, and then we've had slight snow flurries. So we wear layers.
Life is great, and I'm blessed for the things I have learned in the service of Him who created me. We had stake conference this weekend and an area authority seventy taught some wonderful principles of loving as Christ loves.
I'm so excited to see my family, some friends, and dive into the next stage of life next month.
Mostly here are some pictures of Missouri life :)
Much Love,
Elder Hakes

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

02/20/2017 Squeeze That Lemon

Hey crew!

Surprise, I'm in Webb City Missouri. The best trio last transfer ever was only meant to last two weeks I guess. President Loveland called early Wednesday morning and told me to pack my bags. I left that afternoon to go replace Elder Wilson an hour and a half north in WC. He's been way sick for like a month and unfortunately had to go home to get it figured out. So I got moved yet again! That's like 3 times in two months. But ya know, it's been okay. I've appreciated each opportunity and the lessons I can learn and influence I can have in a short time in each place. Sister Loveland likened me to a lemon being squeezed for every last drop of impact with other missionaries before.... well, before my lemon juice is gone I guess. There's plenty of Hakes Juice to go around.

It was a bummer to leave Prairie Grove with Elder Fielding and Elder Wright. I loved those guys. Tuesday (Valentine's Day) before I left we volunteered at the St. Thomas episcopal church soup kitchen. We had a great time prepping and serving food with a lot of nice people. As you can see from my pictures, I even secured myself a Valentine for the day. Age is just a number people. Karen agreed to humor me this year.

Also see attached pictures for a sad group hug right before I shipped out.

Next photo is just me and good ole President Loveland road trippin it back to Missouri. At least I got to serve two weeks in Arkansas in the Arkansas Bentonville Mission right? Missouri missed me.

Here's the thing about my new (and I'm not even convinced it will be my last) area: bikes. Yup, bikes. Like, bicycles. Apparently some people still ride those. We have no car in Webb City and I ditched my old beater bike, never once having ridden it, way back in Monett. The elder I replaced sold his to President so I'm riding it around for now. Luckily its super nice, and big enough. Doesn't change the fact that my butt is crazy sore. I haven't ridden a bike in two years haha. That being said, I actually REALLY love it. 70 degrees and sunny hasn't hurt too much either.
It's great exercise, I don't feel like a whale all the time, I can screech to a halt and talk to random people all over the place. I've set a goal to give out 78 copies of the Book of Mormon with my personal testimony in them before my lemon juice runs out. Drip drip drip. (78 is all the books we had in the apartment haha) This area has essentially no one to teach, the elders were trapped in with sickness for forever. But that's okay, gives me time to bike all over with books in my bag like Santa Clause spreading joy. We've already had some miracles, the Lord placing people in our path, and found some potential investigators who are interested. Boo ya.

My new companion Elder McEntire is sure happy to get out and do work for the first time in awhile. He's been out 8 months and is a great elder. I should've taken a picture of him, but if you look really closely he is the speck on the bike in the background of my last picture haha.

Life is good, I feel real good. Excited for the next chapter without a doubt. I have so much hope since serving a mission. The world is your oyster.

-Elder Hakes

02/13/1017 Another Legendary Week

Hey guys,

Another legendary week down. Life as a missionary can't get much better. The trio has been a huge bonus. My air mattress is holding air, my clothes are resting gently in their vacuum bags on the floor because I don't have a closet, luckily we don't run out of hot water in the shower, sometimes I get to ride in the backseat and take nap, and we always have enough people to play card games at night. Not bad!

Lots of great things happened this week, lets highlight a few.

-We set a baptismal date with our old 86 year old friend Don Anderson. We're not sure yet how determined he is about this, but he's expressed its a desire he has! He's sweet and old and really old. He likes to tell the same stories over and over. Sometimes I wonder if he hears what I'm saying. We work with what we got :)

-This transfer President Loveland called two elders as "travelling teachers" to tour to mission and help train areas that are struggling and such. One of them is none other than my former companion Elder DeGooyer. The other is Elder Wilcox and he is so rad. Unfortunately, we know what we're doing in our area so they weren't scheduled to come on exchanges with us. But another one they had lined up fell through on Friday so they called us up and spent the day with us. #party. We got work done, Elder D had served in PG before so we went out and found some people he used to teach. All 5 of us went to dinner with some members who promised us they didn't mind feeding a small army. It was awesome. Found a lot of people to teach and opportunities to serve that day. Elder D took me to meet this super old less active guy who is a wizard at chess. I beat him. He seemed a little sad, and I began to regret not letting him win on his own turf the first time. Then we get home and Elder Fielding kindly informs me that this old gentleman is legally blind and is dying of cancer. Then I felt really bad. Hahaha. He just called me today though and wants a rematch. No mercy, even for blind dying old men. He's a sweet guy.

-Zone conference in Fayetteville last Tuesday. My last zone conference. :( It was great though, got to see a lot of people I love and will miss. Probably won't see them again before I hit the skies. Every departing missionary bares their final testimony at the conference. I spent my whole mission thinking about what I wanted to say when my time came. Then, I couldn't remember any of it so I let the spirit guide. I felt good about it. Sad to leave it for the final time. Then I announced that I would be signing and distributing ALL OF MY TIES in the gym. You should've seen those elders tear into my rack of 50+ ties like piranhas in a blood frenzy. I regret not filming that. I determined to only take 7 ties home with me. I don't need more haha. One of my last companions was a little salty when he saw the tie he had traded me in the pile though hahah. I tried to tell him it will better serve other missionaries. He wasn't convinced.

-What else? We had the weirdest meeting of my life with a guy named Brother King on Sunday. He's old, wears like four fat rings on his fingers and a corduroy coat. He's a ward missionary, and a little gung-ho about it. He said "I want 15 minutes with you guys after church." We sit down and rapid-fire talk about random missionary efforts. He turns to me and says "You first, you have 5 minutes. Go. We have no time." I said, "what would you like to discuss?" "Whatever you want." So I tell him what I've seen in the area and some ideas. I takes two minutes. This is literally being timed. He says "you have 3 more minutes. talk." Uuuuuhhhh so I ask him what he's seen in the missionary work his long years of being here. He launched into a rant about negligence of leaders, lazy members, poor hometeaching. Now its Elder Fielding's turn. He takes a couple minutes and then asks Brother King, "What can we do better this transfer than last?" Brother King points to me without looking at me. "Listen to him. This is his show. He's the guy. The Lord has revealed it to me this morning." .....Silence. He says "Do you feel it?" .....More silence... "Good, I can feel it. I want you to feel it." Elder Wright is nodding his head in a slow confused way now. My eyebrows are raised but he's still not looking at me. He says more about "urgency. we have no time. This is the Lord's time. The Lords expands our time. Do you feel that? We want the ward leaders to feel that. Call them at midnight, I don't care. Tell them Brother King said to call. They'll work or I'll kick their butts." Afterward I got in the car and had no words to describe what just happened hahaha.

I'm out of time. Love ya'll!

Elder Hakes

An ocean of lollipops at the Ozark Delight candy company. Owned by a ward member.

Last zone conference with my bois and the Lovelands!

Doin service work with the crew
We earned these shakes.

Monday, February 13, 2017

02/06/2017 THE BEST 6 YET!?

Yo team!

Life is so good in PG Arkansas right now. This transfer has been a huge-normous blessing. I've loved everything about it! I like making lists, they seem to work. So let's stick with that today.

1. I missed Cheryl's baptism, that was about the only bummer. But she made it! YAY COVENANTS.
2. The transfer day was awesome. I got to see and talk with just about everyone I love, and it might be the last chance before I go home so that was really great. So many missionaries I am going to miss. Other side of that coin: so many lifelong friends.
3. My new companions are so rad, Elder Fielding and Elder Wright are both ballers. And we're all like the exact same height. I wish I had a picture demonstrating that, my bad. We get along great, life in the apartment and doing work is great. I played nice guy and let them have the queen beds, I'm spending my last month on an air mattress in the corner hahaha. Elder Wright has only been out 1 transfer, so I figured it was too early in his mission to ruin his sleep. It's kinda fun though, feels like I'm camping.
4. The area is demographically really similar to just about everywhere else I've been. Small town, kinda rural, some bigger cities nearby. Northwest Arkansas in general is really nice. Fayetteville is a nice big university town, Bentonville nearby is so rich with Walmart execs. It's a good atmosphere, I like it. Or maybe I've just lived in hickville too long.
5. The ward seems great. Sacrament was wonderful, met a lot of wonderful people. They are everywhere, right? We have a family or two to teach, so that's great. We've taught one of them, they are having a tricky time getting revelation but seem to be super sincere, that's all we can ask for :)
6. We spent the weekend basically engaged in back-breaking service opportunities for ward members. Still sore. But they love us already. We helped Jake Aldridge carry like 3 tons of wood upstairs into his new downtown studio apartment which he is remodeling. He owns the bakery beneath it. And give us cheap food. The bakery is called Fat Rolls. MERCY. Diet, RIP. We helped our ward mission leader Bro Fox move his mother in law too. Took awhile. They're great people.
7. This might be the best one: played some real, competitive, basketball today. YES. My old comp Cooper Anderson is serving in our zone in Fayettville, he called us up and you know we didn't hesitate. He and his companion are so good. My whole companionship plays, we had some others there, it was awesome. I can barely walk. And have little time to keep emailing haha.
8. The Lord's hand is apparent sometimes. I love those times. This is one of those times! I'm excited to sprint to the finish.

Here's some selfies of the crew, I know it looks like I never dress like a missionary. I promise I do, I just remember to take pictures when we're doing service haha.

Weather is nice, life is good. Love ya'll!

Elder Hakes

This is Cheryl Sheard who was baptized! We said goodbye this night.
Here is my favorite man in Missouri, Duane Sherrell, our neighbor in Mtn Grove, and his wife hiding in the back, Belle :)
These are my boys!!!! On the left, my trainee and son, Elder Buhler. On the right, Elder Buhler's trainee and my grandson who I just met, Elder Smith. I'm the shortest. What is up?
These guys. Elder Wilcox and Elder Stevens, two of our former APs. This is significant because we found out we all want to be orthodontists. We'll smile at this picture down the road no doubt.
Elder Fielding, and Elder Wright. Some of the wood we struggled up the stairs.

02/01/2017 From Grove to Grove: The Tale of an Endangered Species of Missionaries

Hey guys! Another whacky Wednesday p-day again.

It's been decided, I'll spend my last transfer on planet earth as a missionary in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Whoop! This is exciting for a number of reasons.
1. This will be my first (and last) assignment in Arkansas! Seems like an important step for an elder in the Arkansas Bentonville Mission.
2. I will have not just ONE companion with whom I go everywhere and do everything, but I will have TWO companions with which I will go everywhere and do everything. That's right, two. Elder Fielding, and Elder Wright will be my companions. Hahaha random right? Not sure why, but it will certainly be interesting. Dibs on first shower. Dibs on not sleeping on the couch. I call shotgun everyday. I'll pull seniority if I have to. "Yes, me and my two bodyguards here have come to share a special message with your family." This has a lot of daily implications, you can tell I've thought through some of them. It's gonna be hilarious.
3. New things are always fun.
4. I will be living in very close proximity to the airport from which I will depart in *cough* 44 days.
5. My zone is huge, I've never had a zone with 3 districts in it. Maybe we won't live 2 hours from each other and can actually play basketball and do other fun things on pdays.

Elder Walker, my current companion, is also leaving this area, so we are getting it tidied up and organized for two new guys to take over. Reasons we are sad to be leaving: Cheryl's baptism is this Saturday D: She's doing great and is super excited, she even wanted me to baptize her. I broke it to her softly. Second time in a row I leave the week our investigators are baptized! Oh well, we are still super happy and proud of them :)

Not a lot of time to report on other adventures, mostly just looking forward to the next transfer. I can't really express how grateful I am that the Lord has allowed me to be here on his errand and experience the things I have. It's a rich, tender mercy. He understands my flaws, He knew the mistakes I would make out here, the mini rebellions of my heart, my imperfect desires, He knew when I would fail. But He still let me come, asked me to come, so that I could be changed, and help others change. That's what I love about the gospel! It stockpiles our growth, goodness, and successes, and allows us to cut away our failures, shortcomings, and foolishness. Or even consecrates them to our gain. There just isn't a lose anywhere in this situation. The good things are good, the bad things are for your good, everything is good. It blows my mind. We don't deserve that! How merciful. How powerful.

I love you guys, and I'm grateful for you support, and teaching, and encouragement! Here's to six more weeks!

Elder Hakes

PS I wish this dinosaur library computer could get my pictures to you. It's just too hard for it. Cross your fingers that my next area will have more technology than what was available in the 20th century.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

01/23/17 What is this line for

Hey people!

Time is short. You're probably tired of hearing that. I'm definitely tired of saying it :)
This week was great. Let's seee.... what'd we doo.... I dunno more missionary stuff, like the last 100 or so weeks. I'm sure it was fun and exhausting and hard all at the same time.
OH Tuesday we ate dinner with the Linsenmann family out in the middle of nowhere Missouri and helped them milk their goats! I have never milked an animal in my life. I figured it was a fitting experience to have while living in the midwest. Let's just say I could survive on a farm if I had to.
Wednesday was a great day, we held district meeting and discussed a lot about how we can work more closely with our stake and ward leaders in conducting the work. A tricky subject, but the key to the hastening, and we all know it. We have seen so much of our training from authorities and our efforts focused on training and inspiring the members to be missionaries, and how we can align ourselves with the priesthood keys of each ward. This is how the gospel will be taken to all the earth . I can tell you I've seen benchmark improvements in the two years I've served. The work is quickening, and old ways won't get us any further. Revelation guides the ship. It's an exciting process to say the least. On that subject, we also have a worldwide missionary training broadcast coming up this Wednesday WOOOT. The one we had last year was awesome. Its basically general conference for just missionaries all over the world. The brethren help us, and teach us. This year president told us they are tweaking the missionary schedule too! You can expect to hear about that. I'm pumped to hear what's on the mind of our leaders. And to help fulfill it as a full time missionary for about 2 more months, and as a regular joe member of the church after that haha.
After our meeting Wednesday we went to lunch at McDonald's in Mtn Grove with the district (that's 6 of us elders). As is not uncommon, someone in the restaurant recognized us as Mormon missionaries. As we sat at the table near his group, he grabbed an unsuspecting victim, poor Elder Tahiliani, and started jawing off about "you believe this" and "I believe that" and who knows what else. To my friends back home you may think, "HEY! What a great missionary opportunity! This man wants to talk about the gospel!" False. This man wants to destroy your faith hahaha. It happens at random intervals, such is life in the bible belt. We try not to bash, we smile, we bear testimony, we state simple doctrines, and we bid a nice day. (Usually to some comment about the welfare of our lost souls.) For the older elders, it becomes comical, and you hardly bat an eye. To the knew guys, it can be some ground shaking stuff. But you just learn that people will be people, many of them are woefully misinformed, and many of them actually listen to about 1.33 percent of the words you say. Anyway our new McDonald's friend is chatting up Elder T. as we all open up our burgers and notice he's still standing at the next table listening to this guy. He's trying to smile politely and answer the pointed questions about how we believe you get to heaven (that's a standard starting point), and looks terribly uncomfortable. Another elder asks me if we need to go in as backup. We might. We're sitting 5 feet away and can hear everything they're saying. None of it is new. Elder T. has been out like 4 months and is handling it pretty well. After our meal (the new Grand Mac is delicious), Elder T. is still trying to extricate himself from this guy and come sit down hahaha. Elder Ashby calls over to intervene and throws out some witty, conversation disrupting comments. Elder T. escapes with all his appendages still attached and sits down to show us his new holy cross necklaces homemade with nails and superglue, and even a new secret handshake involving the holy trinity. He's pretty quiet the rest of lunch hahaha. Before we leave, my favorite guy in Missouri Duane Sherrell comes to sit with us. Duane is our next door neighbor, joined the church last May, is about 65, has lived in Mtn Grove his whole life, has a heart of gold and the best sense of humor. He says "Hey, I saw you guys talkin to ole Joey over there. Calls himself the 'cross guy'. That guy is nuts, you might as well talk to a possum." I bust up laughing, straight faced he says "No I'm serious, I've talked to that guy 'bout Jesus 'n stuff. You might as well go on out in the woods, gather y'up a possum, and talk to it." Elder T. felt better after that. A day in the life. we went on exchanges in Houston (don't ask) Missouri with our zone leader after that. It was great. They're good elders.
I've exhausted my time with my story, other great things took place also. We had a less active member call us and ask to start teaching his fiance. We meet tonight, we're happy about that. We are helping Cheryl prepare for baptism too! Stand by for that. Transfers are next week, we'll see where I spend my last one.
Much love from this very religiously opinionated part of the world.
Elder Hakes

01/17/17 The Loop, You're In It

Hey everyone, It's me again as promised. Again I apologize for poor communication lately, we've had issues with internet at the church computers and are now at the sad public library of Mtn Grove D: And here, I have a strict 1 hour limit on the computer. A tragedy. So hopefully I can share anything worthwhile with my speedy typing fingers.

I have no idea what I told you in my last email, I could check, but already this sentence has taken too much time hahah. Life is goofy sometimes in Mountain Grove. Being a district leader thus far has really had its perks, its been kind of nice. Its fun conducting district meetings again. And my zone leader has no idea what he's doing so that makes it even more exciting haha. Since our little zone has split into two districts, we lost both sets of sisters to the other district, so our district is just us and 4 other elders. We call our district meetings the Men's Lodge Meetings. (I've lived next to several masonic lodges). This is the first time I haven't had sisters in my district. It's crazy how many sisters are in the mission, probably 35-40%. It creates interesting challenges, particularly as a leader, because we are not supposed to individually counsel with them for fear of the rise of inappropriate relationships and feelings. We obviously don't conduct exchanges with the sisters, so we don't really help train them, we don't work with them, we hardly see their areas. It's been interesting in places like the Bartlesville zone where I nearly had more sisters than elders at one point. There are "sister training leaders" called to help train each other and provide sister leadership, so they help fill those needs. So this district I feel like I can more fully help train and work with because I can conduct exchanges with all of them and counsel with them about their needs and challenges. Its good.

Let's talk about the weather. It's been ridiculously foggy since I've been here! I feel like I'm living in London sometimes, its been weird. This last weekend was hilarious. I've heard rumors of these epic ice storms that rip through the midwest, coating the land in feet of ice and leaving rural areas (AKA everywhere) without power and transportation for weeks at a time. I obviously want to experience that! All last week they were forecasting this huge freezing rainstorm that was supposed to hit Thursday in the night and ruin Friday for everyone. We seriously heard about it two Saturdays ago from our ward mission leader. It was the topic of conversation all week, we'd try to set up appointments with members or people we teach for Friday and they'd laugh and say "Friday?! What about the weather!" I'd look at the blue sky and tell them we could change it later if we had to haha.
We play ball Thursday nights with a group that brings some nonmember friends and when we sent our reminder text half said they weren't coming because of the forecasted weather. Emphasis on forecasted, we hadn't seen a drop yet. Walmart was jam-packed with preppers buying all the water bottles, batteries and canned food hahaha. We thought this was getting serious! President even told the zone to have emergency gear on hand. Ironically, we had zone training meeting and interviews with President Loveland scheduled for Friday morning in West Plains about an hour away. They even cancelled all the schools Thursday night just to be ready for the storm. Can you guess what I saw outside my window Friday morning? Some puddles in the street. OH NO HOW CAN WE TRAVEL IN THESE CONDITIONS. It was such a bust, it wasn't even cold enough to freeze that morning hahaha. I seriously wonder if the weather man was contracted by local Walmart stores to warn the people that they had better come shopping. So I haven't been able to experience the fabled ice storms yet, but there's still hope.

My interview and zone training meeting with President on Friday was probably the best one I've had my entire mission. It was so fulfilling, and in my interview I gained a new love for my mission president and his understanding and compassion for me. I opened up about some struggles I've been facing as I approach the end of my service and he really helped. I've gained a new and improved testimony of the principle of endurance. It is part of the plan. A critical part, in fact. Sometimes we kind of tack in on at the end of the gospel, like oh by the way you just have to keep going. But this is where the growth happens. This is where prior decisions are tested, again and again. This is where we remain true, even when it is no longer fun, or exciting, or when it is even more challenging. This is where our characters are refined and our dross is melted from our substance. It takes time.

I gotta go, but I'm happy to report we'll be having a baptism at the end of the month :) Cheryl Sheard from Kansas has decided to be baptized here rather than back where she just moved from. It might be because she realized that the Arkansas Bentonville Missionaries are of the highest caliber in the world. ;) We are excited for her and emboldened by her sweet testimony. Thanks Kansas elders for teaching her everything and sending her our way haha.

The work is difficult, yet we press on and strive to be instruments.

Much love till next week,

Elder Hakes

PS we also had fun adventures that you'll just have to see pictures of I guess

Don't show this picture to my president

Monday, January 9, 2017

01/02/2017 This year's gonna be BIG

Hey People!

Sorry I didn't get an email out last week. This will be my Christmas/new years update :)

Christmas Eve was one for the books. We spent it with the Fulkerson family. Never met people like them in my life. They were super welcoming, live in a dome house in the woods, and might be werewolves. We had a good time playing Christmas party games and feasting! They had projector lights on their dome ceiling, it felt like a planetarium. Way cool!

Christmas was wonderful. It's definitely best to celebrate it on a Sunday. The Spirit in sacrament meeting was ultra-soothing. It was like a spiritual jacuzzi, I was just soaking it in. We had some awesome hymn performances and sang like 6 standing congregational hymns. Doesn't get much better. My family is getting pretty good at getting me gfits too! (And by family, I mean mom.) I got some great things in the mail, that always feels good too. We didn't have a white Christmas D: But it was crazy foggy soooo count it? We got to spend the day with the Duane Sherrell and family who live just across the street from us. Duane is the funniest man, he's got a heart of gold and was baptized a year or so ago. When people wonder what people in Missouri sound like, I want them to talk to Duane hahaha.

Wednesday I conducted district meeting, that was a fun change of pace. Our little zistrict is pretty solid, and we had a great meeting. Then we spent the rest of the day driving to perform two baptismal interviews in different areas across the far reaches of the zone. One was down in lil Ash Flat Arkansas. Never heard of it? Neither has anyone. We missionaries in the Arkansas Bentonville Mission cover all the nooks and crannys of God's green earth. People hide in the smallest places! The interviews went well and both candidates were baptized this weekend. New year, new life :)

Have I told you much about my companion Elder Walker? He's about 1 foot shorter than me and silent as a ghost. When he starts chuckling I know I've finally made a good joke. We get along great!

In other important news, my diet has gone splendidly and I've lost a full 10 pounds since I've been here :D My pants fit! Carbs are of the devil, people. That's why they're so appealing, because they're designed to hurt you. Haha I feel a lot healthier in general, less hungry all the time, I don't have afternoon drowziness or overwhelming food-comas anymore. Who'd have thought?

I'm genuinely excited about this new year. This year is going to be big. This year marks the beginning of the rest of my life. I'm excited to practice all the skills and lessons I've learned as I tackle the world. That being said, to celebrate the start of this year I spent the entire day of new year's eve in bed, in agony, with some atrocious sickness that wiped out half the ward. Few survivors. It was not fun. I couldn't hold anything down. But that's all over now, and 2017 is here baby.

We had transfer calls last night. Weird right? We had a mid-transfer transfer because our Oklahoma zones finally lost jurisdiction to the OKC missionaries. We are bringing all our missionaries over there to various parts of the mission tomorrow. Our zone picked up 4 new elders, and they made two districts out of us instead of one! We are helping them move into their new apartment over in Mountainless-View about an hour or so away. Just like that, our zone grew 40% overnight! RIP all my favorite areas in Oklahoma... There's no telling what those OKC missionaries will do to you.

I've been thinking a lot obviously about what this new year holds for me, and above any other emotion, I experience hope. Because of Jesus Christ, I can be who I want to be. That feels good.

Here's to a new one, see you down the road :)

Elder Hakes
1 year older and wiser too