This week has been maybe the best of my mission. I’ve never been happier and practically skip around the streets because I feel like im on main street at disneyland and i wanted to send pictures this week but we’re on a time crunch because we’re going to constantinova today!!! YAY!! i went there the end of summer if you remember and i told you i could live there forever. today we’re going sledding there and the zone leaders are in town and it’s going to be a party! so i’ll send pictures next week.

 
but we saw so many miracles this week, it didn’t even seem real. We’d walk out of every lesson with our jaws to the floor–stunned by what had just happened. i’ve been in ryazan my whole life (on the mission) and have been working so hard and finally things are rolling along! more than rolling along–they’re exploding! like the marina hills ward!! We taught the restoration several times and it’s so interesting that all of the lessons were so different! we taught a 17 year old who just had a baby in her tiny room in her apt and i just almost started crying as i was sharing my testimony about how the gospel blesses families and i looked right into the baby’s eyes and thought about how different her life will be if her mom accepts this incredible message (plus she’s the cutest baby ever and i’m going to try to get permission from president sorenson to hold her because paulina needs a break and the baby wants me to hold her!) we also taught this 60ish year old lady who i’ve talked about before…Natalya…and during the restoration video she was pretty much shouting the amens and hallelujahs and after the film she just threw her arms around us and told us how much she loves us and she knows meeting us was a blessing from God. And yesterday was a dream come true!!! I’ve mentioned our BFF Irina. She’s literally in our phone and only referred by us as “Irina BFF”. Partly because no one knows each other’s last names and everyone has the same name so it’s hard to differentiate…but mostly because she is our best friend forever. We are soul sisters. and i mean that in the most profound way. She’s been coming to English Club for awhile and more and more started to come to FHE etc. and always asks questions and we’ve “casually” talked to her about 75% of the things we believe….and we’ve tried to have lessons with her but we weren’t very clear about what it was/what to expect and she kinda brushed it off…And then I don’t know what was wrong with me because every week I would say–okay that’s it!! I can’t stand it a minute longer!! I must just come out and say it and ask because I love Irina SO much and it kills me that I”m holding back something so sacred and wonderful. But every time a cat got my tongue. literally. not literally–that’s disgusting. but anyways, finally we were just bold and yesterday was our first real lesson and it was the best feeling in the world to look at my best friend and feel so much love for her and tell her that i wanted to share with her the best thing that has ever happened to me. everything was super open and honest and we all cried haha and sister carver and i forsook our “lesson plans” and just spoke with the Spirit and testified our brains out (and teaching with your best friend–sister carver—makes everything a lot better, too) and Irina is just special. She feels the Spirit so strongly and recognizes it in a special way. and she has no idea how beautiful and amazing she is. and she’s so funny! and she said she still thinks that all religions are just a way people get closer to God and this is one of them. And I’ve done this so many times on my mission and am so grateful I can say that that is true. all religions are wonderful and there’s so much truth and light and goodness that help people grow closer to God. But also, God is not the author of confusion. And He gave His Son so that we would know the way. The simple, straight and narrow path that doesn’t just help us grow closer to God, but brings us back to Him. And that way has been restored in its fulness, with the proper authority, by a prophet. And I know that that’s true. I don’t know it because someone told me and I said, “that sounds nice.” I don’t know it because I have incredible parents who taught me these things my whole life. I know it because I live it. Because I have fasted and prayed and studied. I have seen the blessings of the Gospel in my life and in the lives of everyone around me. And the Spirit has taught me through time, experiences, feelings, thoughts, impressions, and epiphanies, that this is the truth. And I will do anything I can for as long as I can to help others know that for themselves. I know Irina will pray about the things that we taught her. And I know that she will feel the Spirit. And I know that if she wants to, if she lets us, we can help her understand those feelings and come to know for herself. Sister Carver said it the best–she told Irina, “We wouldn’t be good friends if we didn’t share this with you” and that’s true. I don’t know what’s been holding us back for so long and I don’t know what scared me from being more open/bold with all my friends in high school but I really want to be a better friend. And help those around me find the joy that has no end!
 
I wish I could somehow explain to you how happy I am. Sometimes I have these realizations and i remember, “hey! I’m a missionary! I wanted it for so long… thought about it, dreamed about it…and it’s so much better than I ever imagined.” I can’t describe it–it’s so sacred and such an honor and I truly am awed by the trust the Lord has put in me–a silly girl from California. And He’s letting me by His hands here in Ryazan. And this opportunity is precious to me. 
 
I hope you all have a great week! A special shout out to my sister Carley!!!!!!! you’re engaged!!!! WHAT?! I’m so beyond thrilled for you and ecstatic for you!!! I took a picture of your email and will read it soon and write you back! I love you so much and think about you everyday. I wish I could give you the biggest hug ever–know that I’m thinking of you!

Sister Hawkins

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