Oh my goodness, where do I begin to tell you about all the things that has been going on this past week! I can for sure tell you that I am super tired and very much warn out!
Jesse Gonzales was baptized this last Thursday! Sister Tanner and her companion Sister Salisbury came back to Baytown to attend his baptism since Sister Tanner had started teaching him while she was serving here. It was just a wonderful baptism! I just love watching the people I get to teach enter into the waters of baptism! Jesse has changed so much even since I began teaching him and he is just an amazing guy! He is going to do so many wonderful things in the ward and he is just going to keep growing so much stronger and closer to the Lord! It's so neat to know Jesse and to keep watching him grow! He is just glowing so bright and he is just so excited to get a calling in the church and to keep growing closer to the Lord! He was truly prepared for the Sisters when they first met him! So it's been so cool to be a part of his journey to come unto Jesus Christ and to our Heavenly Father!
Well I remember telling you in my last letter that I was going to hear from Elder Jeffrey R Holland! Can I just say how AMAZING it was!!!!! The Spirit was so awesome and what was even cooler … I GOT TO SHAKE HIS HAND!!!!!! :) Super awesome! It was so neat to meet him and then to listen to his talk was just so powerful! But the neat thing was I looked into his eyes and he did that with me too! And at the beginning of his talk he told how he looked into all of our eyes and he could see in couple of us that we are struggling right now and that we are trying to do our best for the Lord and to do his work! And mom I truly believe that was towards me and to other missionaries that are struggling right now! It was just so neat and he told us that he loves us dearly as do the First Presidency and all the members in the world along with our family and friends. He told us they all love us and are here to support us! It was just neat to hear him tell us that we can get through this and that it is helping us become closer to our Savior!
At the beginning of his talk he congratulated us all for looking so sharp and as missionaries for acting so well and being prepared for his coming and wanting to learn and be taught by him. I thought that was pretty neat! And then you know how Elder Holland has such a strong testimony on missionary work … well he talked about how our mission comes once in a lifetime unless we are called as senior couples when we are older with our loved one and then he said, " This is only Going to Come Once". I truly thought about that and it’s so true; my mission is going to only come once and I need to work so hard and just enjoy every minute and love every second of it, even when it seems so hard to bear sometimes! Elder Holland shared with us how in three weeks it will have been 49 years since he served his mission and told us that there is not one day that has gone by that he hasn’t thought about his mission! And I was thinking, Holy Texas! He was on a mission 49 years ago! That is super cool. Then he talked about how much missionary work has improved for us and how we have all these wonderful tools to help us become better missionaries like Preach My Gospel! Mom do you know how many years it took to make that book? It took 7 years to make! How amazing is that! And I just love to study from it and it doesn't matter what I have studied before, when I restudy I keep learning new things that I haven't caught before! It's like reading the Book of Mormon; you keep rereading it and you keep finding new things that teach you so much! It helps you improve your life and it's just so amazing!
Elder Holland also talked about not having regrets on our mission. Well, I look back and yes, I do wish I could have changed stuff but I know it all happened for a reason and it has totally changed me for the better! I know in life we make mistakes and do wrong things and we hold onto this regret and we wish we could change it … well, we can't go back and change things in the past and so we have to accept it and learn from it and apply it to our lives and continue to move forward and go on! The next cool thing he shared with us towards the end of his talk was why mission life is so hard and why we have to go through so much pain and suffering and not be happy sometimes. He shared this amazing quote with us and it is so true! “Salvation is not a cheap experience." That is why things are so hard sometimes because salvation is not cheap; Christ paid for our sins and sorrows and He died for us to come back to live with our Heavenly Father and with Him again, and it wasn't easy for Him. So why does our life have to be easy … if it was easy then what is the point in life. We are here to learn and grow. I remember this one sister in a ward I served in and her name is Sister Wallace. When she would bear her testimony she would always add how she loves trials in her life and I thought about it and I was like, “Wow that is interesting.” But she said that is how it made her stronger in life and how she becomes closer to her Heavenly Father and our older brother Jesus Christ! Interesting thought uh! So like in every trial I am in, it’s tough yes, but I think of Sister Wallace and her strong testimony and it just helps me out so much!
Well my time is running short and I wish I could tell you more but I just don't have time today because it's zone p-day! But things are still tough in this new area and I am still trying to push forward but I know all I have to do is keep having faith and moving forward. Listening to Elder Holland words and advice has helped me and so I am going to keep my chin up like Wade said in a letter to me and I am going to keep pressing forward!
Well I love you mom and I’m sorry for this short letter but I have a lot of e-mails today to read! I love you and thanks for all the love and the support that you give me!
Love Sister Hawkins!
Love Sister Tanner ... she is goofy like me!