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