Hello!!!! First things first–HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my beautiful Maddie. I hope this message somehow gets to you but I think about you every day and pray for you everyday and hope you are celebrating sufficiently in Latvia!!! Dad, hiking Mount Baldy reminds me of our freeeeeeezing hike of Saddleback, remember that? I don’t think I have ever been more cold but I know soon I will be!! RUSSSIIIAAAA!! I can’t wait. But that sounds like so much fun and mom that’s so sweet you were able to be there for Andrew-what an incredible experience. I’m excited to see him today!
Dad–about the language, things are making more sense and my listening comprehension is improving but I still have so far to go as far as vocabulary goes– but Aaron Jessee told me to focus on grammar instead of vocab in the MTC because vocab comes so fast in the field so I’ve been doing that and I think it helps. We do have a native “language coordinator” (I think that’s what her title is) and she is AMAZING! She’s a convert from the Samara area and I love her so much and we had an amazing opportunity last week called “Planned Study Teach Cycle” where one day out of the week, each of us sisters got to be Sister Kuznetsova’s companion for the day and we did as it implies: planned, studied, and taught our progressing investigator together–other sisters expressed that it was wonderful until they got into the lesson and couldn’t keep up/contribute with the rapid conversation between she and Anton but I think because I was last, I was anticipating that and trying to prepare so that wouldn’t happen with me and so I made sure that when Anton asked a question, that I answered instead of just relying on Sister Kuznetsova and the gift of tongues is amazing because we were able to work together and feed off of each other and I was miraculously able to keep up.
And on Monday sister Prows and I spiced things up and instead of a regular “lesson” with Anton–we brought him to FHE! It was a MOnday evening, after all…And it was the best–he was so surprised! And we just “picked him up” from his room and walked him over to our classroom and the entire district participated and we played Book of Mormon/Bible charades and sang a song and shared a spiritual thought. And we wrote reference verses below the names on the slips of paper for the Book of Mormon stories so Anton wouldn’t feel left out if he didn’t know the story–it was SO fun and went so well! Even though Anton might think I was crazy after I tried to act out Daniel and the Lion’s den! We made up for it because Sister Prows and I bought cookies from the vendy machines and unwrapped them and told everyone we made them from scratch–what’s FHE without FHE treats?
But this last week I had several thoughts I wanted to share–at our workshop last week we focused on the sacredness of the baptismal covenant and we watched this clip from the Bible movies from lds.org (amazing!) anyways, it showed Christ and He said something straight from the New Testament…when He’s talking to the old man and he’s confused about what it means to be “born again”…Christ says: “if a man be born again, he shall see the kingdom of God” and the old man asks if he’s going so somehow come out of his mother’s womb again or something like that, and Christ clarifies: “except a man be born of water, (and He might say “and of fire”) he shall in no way enter the kingdom of God” or something like that. (Sorry I don’t have my scriptures with me in the computer lab so I could have butchered it). But after the clip, the man leading the workshop asked what some blessings are in our lives from having been baptized and something from the movie clip stood out to me: I always thought of that story and remembered Christ saying baptism allowed us to enter into the kingdom of God–but I love how it first says that we will SEE the kingdom of God. (And I looked it up and He says that a few other places, too). But I love that! And I realized that THAT’s one of the greatest blessings of baptism for me–perspective. I am not blinded by the worries of the world…because of my baptismal covenants and the gift of the Holy Ghost and the opportunity to renew those covenants, I’m able to have an eternal perspective and look forward to the kingdom of God in Heaven and understand the importance of living worthy to be a part of the kingdom of God on the earth (this church). But I thought about that and about those that I teach—who are scared that they’ll relapse after baptism or they might fall away–and I’m so grateful that I can promise them that if they keep theire covenants after baptism and keep God’s commandments and always remember Christ’s sacrifice, that their desires will change, their perspective with change, they’ll be able to SEE! And yes, they’ll make mistakes, I make mistakes every day, but that newfound perspective allows us to SEE the reality of repentance.
In my lesson with Sister Kuznetsova, we taught Anton the second half of the Plan of Salvation and when we talked about judgment, we read in Alma 5 (one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon). And I love the way it’s framed–it’s a serious of thought-provoking questions that help us analyze how we’re doing and how the gospel makes us feel and how our decisions make us feel, etc. and I read with Anton when Alma asks how we’re going to feel when we stand before God. And the last verse we read was about whether or not we will have His image engraved in our countenances. I love that imagery! And it reminded me of, probably my favorite scripture if I had to pick one (the one on my plaque, i think)…1 Nephi 21:16 where it says that Christ has graven us upon the palms of His hands, our walls are continually before Him. and I thought about that word that these two beautiful verses have in common (en)graven. I thought about the permanence of that word! And the connection between the two—BECAUSE Christ atoned for us and symbolically engraved us upon the palms of His hands (because the scars on his hands represent His suffering for us), we are able to have a change of heart, like Alma teaches about, and we are able to engrave His image in our countenances–we are able to radiate the Light of Christ when we are made clean through Him. And this is contingent upon the first. and if we can understand simply the power of those two verses alone, it will change our lives forever! It will empower us to do anything! Geez the Book of Mormon is so beautiful and teaches me so much every day!
Jessica–this always happens to me–I sent you a letter right before I received yours with the pictures and Siena’s coloring-THANK YOU SO MUCH! I show everyone I see all the pictures and brag about you all. I love you so much!
And Carley–thanks for sending the 4th Missionary and the chapstick and letter—I’m making my whole district read the 4th Missionary and family, all of you should, too!
I hope you have a great week! I love you all!!

-CECTPA Hawkins!