Thursday, January 26, 2017

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

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