My Christmas in Ecuador

My dearest Family,
Happy Holidays! I hope that you had a great Christmas and will have a happy New Year. It is crazy to think that it is already almost a new year, with lots of new goals and things to work on! I am excited for this new year and excited for the feeling of starting to renew my energy on my goals! This has been a great year and one that I will never forget! It was SOOOOO awesome to get to see you all and talk, even if it was only for a short time. I know that I truly have the very best family in the whole wide world and that Heavenly Father has blessed us all so much!
This week was truly a great week as I came to know what the true meaning of Christmas really is, more than ever in my life! It really was a special time filled with lots of fun and also work! We worked hard in the days that we had to find and commit people to church.
On Wednesday I went on an exchange with Hermana Twitchell and I really do learn so much every time I am with these awesome Hermanas. I love to see how different people teach and the different ways and stories they use to teach. While we were on our exchange, we got to visit our recent convert Glenda. She is so strong and her testimony continues to grow and strengthen. As we were talking she told us that she takes her Book of Mormon with her everywhere and that her daughter asked her why she always has it, to which she replied ¨this book is my constant companion.¨ I have truly witnessed  a miracle in her life and I am so grateful for her sweet testimony.
So on Christmas eve, I got to talk to you all, and then after that, The people whose house we were at made a super american alfredo and it was so good but I was kind of still trying to get ahold of my emotions the whole time… 🙂 after that we had a few hours to go out and teach, and tons of people invited us to eat with them, but we had to be in our house by 6. We didn´t hardly know what to do with ourselves with so much free time, but Hermana Twitchell and I read the night before Christmas and wrote Santa letters, and then at 11 we were exhausted and decided to go to bed. At midnight, our companions woke us up and had made empanadas and a cool fruit drink so we ate that, sang a christmas hymn, prayed and then went back to bed. It was kind of funny though because when my comp woke me up (I am so accustomed to waking up and praying) that I kneeled down to pray and she started laughing so hard and told me that we weren’t going to pray right then! 🙂
We had a great Christmas altogether in the house! It was fun to see the different traditions that different cultures have, and we spent the day laughing, talking, and I really feel that my relationship with Hermana Fuentes, Casimiro, and Twitchell is the strongest it has ever been and I know that they will be my friends forever! We started out the morning working out and then did an hour of studies altogether. We read the christmas story and had a really great discussion about lots of things I had never even considered. Then we made Crepes and opened the presents taht mom sent! They all loved them!! Thank you so much mom!! That day we also got to watch 2 disney movies and really just had a really relaxing day. I would look at the time and wonder what you would all be doing in this time… opening socks, eating cereal… ect and I really do hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas!!!
We also had an awesome Sunday yesterday as the Cuenca Family all attended church together! It was so special to see all 5 of them sitting there together, and later to see their interest in the classes. We went to visit them after church and they really liked it and want to keep going. We also invited them to be baptized, and they accepted. Their goal is for the 16th of January and we are excited to help them progress and continue to learn.
I am so grateful for this time that I have here to serve the Lord as a representative of Jesus Christ. I know that this gospel is true and that true happiness in this life comes through living the commandments and the things that we learn in the Gospel. I also know that the family is so important to Heavenly Father and I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be here looking for families to help them be together forever.
I hope you all have a great and safe week! I am always praying for you all and want you all do know how much I love you all individaully”!!!
Love, Hermana Hawkes

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Merry Christmas!!!

Dear Family,
Merry Christmas! Wow I can hardly believe that Christmas is this week!! How fun! I am beyond excited to talk to you all in 3 days! thank you for all your work to get Skype figured out and it will be so fun to talk to you all!! I have some fun stories that I have been saving to tell you all!! Thank you for all the emails and pictures this week! It was so fun to see snow, and especially to see you all! I love seeing pictures of you all so happy! Also, it sounds like you had quite the sacrament meeting yesterday! Wow I wish I could have been there to feel the special spirit and I am glad that so many of you were on the program!! Dad it sounds like your talk was incredible! I would love a copy of it if you have time! I will try to imagine that I am sitting there listening to it personally! I hope you are all safe and enjoying all the fun activities!
We are definitely enjoying our time here and I am truly starting to realize and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas! Everyone has been telling me that Christmas on the mission would be special and one I would never forget and I am already seeing how true that is! I am so grateful for this time that I have had to focus on the Savior and his birth, life, and atonement for us, and to be able to share this awesome message with the people here! I know it is true and I am so grateful to be here sharing this message.
This has been a good week! We don´t have a lot to show as far as numbers, but I have felt so good this week as we have tried to really stress the importance of Sabbath Day to the people here and also teach with the initiative. We have been working hard to find investigators, but we have also really been working to help our less actives, recent converts, and rescueds see the importance of Enduring to the End. The more I get to share my testimony of the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy, reading our scriptures, and praying, the more I know in all of my heart that it is true and that these simple truths are really what bring the most happiness in our lives and help us to progress spiritually as well as temporally.
With one of the families that we have rescued 2 of their kids, we were able to have a Family Home Evening and we talked about the importance of Family History. The ward historian talked at it and it was really special because the father of this family passed away a few years ago so it was really an eye opener to this family that it is so important to do their family history for their ancestors.
We also have a family that we are working with named the Cuenca Family. They didn´t come to church yesterday, but the kids are so excited to go to activities and church so we just need to work with the parents, but I truly believe that as soon as we can find a way to help them realize the importance of going to church, they will be so willing to continue to learn and progress.
We were also able to go to Guayaquil and go to the temple this week! Aw it was so beautiful and so much fun to go! We had an interesting experience on the way there… the bus was jam packed with people so my companion and I stood for over half of the time! haha but it was awesome and so neat to get to go to the temple!! the spirit was so strong and it was so peaceful!
This has truly been a great week and I have tried to focus on being happy, humble, and have charity! Wow those are things that I honestly think we can never have enough of, and can truly see blessings in our lives when we strive to develop them! I know that Christ is our ultimate example in all these things and as we strive to be more like Him each day, we will find the most happiness in our lives and become the people that He wants us to be! I hope that you can all feel the spirit of Christ so strongly during these next few days, and can keep this spirit and share it with others! I love you all so much and can´t wait to talk to you in a few days!!! Have a very Merry Christmas and I´ll see you all soon!
Love, Hermana Hawkes

Hola from Ecuador

My dear wonderful family,
It was so great to hear from each of you, and like always, I am so grateful for the updates and to hear that you are all safe!! I love reading about your weeks and the cool things you all have to tell me! I honestly receive revelation from reading your emails and am so grateful for each and every one of you!! I am soooo excited to talk to you all on Christmas Eve and hope to hear lots of fun stories and good news! I was also thinking that I would like to know each of your favorite scriptures to share with people here so if you would all be thinking of your favorite scripture that would be awesome!! Good luck in work, family things, games, and the everyday stuff and I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful time of year together! I hope that the Spirit of Christ can fill each of your homes because that is the spirit that will bring the most happiness and joy!! Also to answer a few questions: Jared I have tried peanut soup, but here they put peanut butter (and a ton of it) in the soup… and it was good but definitley not something that I would ask for as a favorite! 🙂 I do however, love the fish as well and they make these ensaladas with beets and cilantro and mmm it is super good! I am writing down all these recipes to make you all someday!!
 It is a wonderful time of year to be here serving and sharing this wonderful message of the gospel and I am so grateful to be a missionary here and now!
This has been a great week! We have been able to work with some great people and were so blessed this week in our finding.
This week I got to go to Guayaquil because Hermana Fuentes had a meeting with all the leaders (she is an Hermana leader) so I got to go out and help the sisters of that area look for their less actives! Wow Guayaquil is sooo gorgeous! It looks like the movies with all the houses stacked on top of each other all the way up the mountain! I didn`t have my camera, but the next time I go I am going to take pictures!!
Last week was a rough week with no investigators, but it really strengthened my testimony that we don`t receive a testimony of things until after the trial of our faith. We had fasted to be able to find new people, and that week we contacted and didn`t have much luck, but the week following, we kept working hard and were blessed to find 5 new investigators! I know that the Lord is watching over us and helping us to find these people, because I know we couldn`t do it without His help and without following the Spirit. Some of these investigators were a family named the Cuenca Family. We found them contacting and they were so accepting! On the first visit they invited us into their house and we were able to teach The Restoration to the mom and also found out that the dad is a less active of 20 plus years! They are really accepting of the things we have to teach and they always have lots of questions! there are 3 kids in the family and the 3 attended church yesterday. The parents need more work and really just need to be touched by the Spirit in a special way, but I know that we can find what they need and that they will progress! They are a great family and we are excited to keep working with them!
Our other investigator is Madelayne. She is an 18 year old girl that is married and has a baby. She is also really interested and always really receptive of the things we teach. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and gave her one and she read all of Joseph Smith`s testimony that night! She was also not able to attend church because she was sick, but we are going to work really hard with her this week, and also we are going to work on getting people to come to church! The members here are doing a great job of going with us to lessons and getting to know our investigators and this will help them a lot!
We were also able to have a Family Home Evening with one of the families in the ward and there ended up being 40 or more people from the ward and also 5 investigators! It was a great night and we watched a church video and then explained the importance of studying the scriptures and then ended with a fun game that really got everyone laughing and talking with each other! It was a great night and another big eye opened to how great and supportive the branch is here!
I love being here in Daule and am so grateful for the experiences I am being blessed with. I know that I am learning things here that I couldn`t learn anywhere else in the world, and that I am learning from the people here as well as Hermana Fuentes! I know I am so blessed to have so much time with a companion that has so much experience and time in the mission and I know that I am learning things from her each and everyday! I also have been studying about charity and love and I know that these are KEY in this work! I know that Heavenly Father will bless us with this love if we really strive to care for all the people around us and want the very best for them in their lives! I am so grateful to be a missionary and pray that I can be an instrument in the Lord`s hands!
 I hope you all have a great week and know that I love you all and pray for you multiple times everyday!! Have a great week and please be safe!
Love, Hermana Hawkes 🙂

Letter for the Ward

A day in the life of Hermana Hawkes

First I wake up and pray. Then I pray with my companion! That is one thing I love about being a missionary is that we pray so many times everyday! Then we exercise for 30 minutes and have an hour to get ready for the day! Then I get an hour of personal study, an hour of companion study, and an hour to study SPANISH!!!  I honestly love all the time that we get to study and my testimony is growing so much! After that, we get to go out and work for about 2 hours, and then we go to a member`s house for lunch! We always eat the biggest lunch ever with a bowl of soup and then another plate with some kind of meat and rice!! We eat a ton of rice! We also have a ton of fruits here, most of them I have never even heard of, but it is so much fun and we get to pick mangos straight off the tree to eat! I love the fruit here! Then we go out and work from about 2 until 9 at night! After that we plan for a half hour and then get ready and go to bed. Something I love here is that everyone is so friendly! Everyone always says hi to each other on the street and the first time you meet someone you kiss them on the cheek… unless it`s a man, then you just shake hands! 😉 We are almost always invited into the houses here and the people are really willing to listen! They don`t always want to progress, but they are super nice in that they always listen! Another fun fact is that we ride around in moto taxis, which is a motor cycle with a little cab on the back! We don`t have to climb any hills here and the members are so awesome and help us a ton! I love the people here!

Dear Ashton 4th ward,

I would like you all to know that I am fully convinced that we have the best ward in the world! I have been to some awesome wards in my life and in my mission, but 4th ward will always feel like home! I have heard that the missionary work is pushing forward in the ward and that is so exciting!! Members are so key in missionary work and the more that we all help the missionaries with visits or being extra kind when someone is investigating the church, the more we will be able to help our brothers and sisters to find the gospel! I know that this gospel is true! It is true in all the world and the missionary work is pushing forward!! Something that I have loved this month is that we have focused on helping people think of things that they can give to the Savior! We are all busy wondering what we are going to give our family and friend, but what is it that we can give to the Savior, who has given us so much in our lives? Maybe it is our faithful attendance at church, more service to those around us, inviting a non member to church, or reading our scriptures more faithfully! Whatever it may be, I invite each of  you to think of something that you can give to the Savior during this time of the year! This chruch is true! I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he restored the church! I also know that the Book of Mormon is true and is the keystone to our religion! It is such a treasure that we have all these truths in our lives and a knowledge of the plan that Heavenly Father has created for all of us! I pray for you all and hope you have a happy holiday and enjoy your families and friends in this wonderful time of the year! Love, Hermana Hawkes

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hello my wonderful family!! I hope you are all doing great, and from your letters and pictures, it sounds like it has been going well! Dad and mom, thank you for the updates on basketball and everyone in the family! I hope you are both doing great and enjoying the busy basketball season! Josh and Kels thanks for the updates and inspired thoughts! I will be praying for you all and I am glad that you have had some fun family time! Jared and Kels it sounds like you had a fun Thanksgiving in Utah!! and It sounds like your baby is too excited to wait for Christmas! I will be praying fo you too and hope everything goes well! Whit and Shane, how fun were your pictures from your Christmas party! London is getting so big! She looks like she LOVED Santa! 😉 Also, I think you should name the calm kitty after me… you know, because I`m so calm! Kristie, wow it sounds like you tore it up in basketball this week and had a fun overnighter!!! Keep it up! 😉 Garr it sounds like you are doing an awesome job cheering on the team! I love you all and hope you all know that I pray for you all soooo much and love you all so much!!
This week we were knocking doors and found a less active family that hasn`t been coming to church for about 6 months. They are a mom and dad, 4 boys and a little girl. They are such a sweet family and it has been fun to be able to visit them and get to know them. It was also so neat because the first lesson we had with them, we committed them all to come to church, and they were really excited! The second lesson when we went back, we taught them the Restoration and it was awesome because when we got to the part about Joseph Smith, the 16 year old boy told us the entire thing… We didn`t even hardly have a chance to talk because he was so excited to tell us all he remembered and it really strengthened my testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that once people know that, they have such a strong testimony of the gospel. We passed by for them before church and they said they were getting ready and would meet us there, but didn`t end up coming, but we are going to keep working with them and I am excited to help them!
We also found some great contacts this week! One named Ingrid has been so accepting to our message and is intrigued with the idea of eternal families! She isn`t married and she said she would talk to her partner, but it never happened but one day we happened to run into them both while they were home and had a great lesson with them on eternal marriage and they were so receptive to all we had to say, but said that they didn`t have any interest in getting married right now, so we are going to keep visiting them and are going to help them progress. Ingrid came to church with her 2 kids and the dad had to work, but they are a great family and we are excited for them!
Also this week we had an awesome Family Home Evening with a family that we just rescued one of the daughters, and some of the members of the ward came, and two nonmembers came also. We had a lesson on Christ and watched a video and then talked about Ha Nacido un Salvador and had them all write down on a little Christmas tree, something that they are going to give to the Savior this Christmas. It was a really special night and I hope that they all felt the spirit like I did!

Piano has been a hit… with the kids here! Haha last week we had 8 kids come and although it is awesome, the point is to get new investigators, so I don`t know if we will get to keep doing the classes but they have been really fun! Also, it has started to rain here and that is Fun! I say that now… haha but it is so nice and cool when it rains! Also to answer mom`s question, we take our laundry to a super nice lady in the ward and she washes it and I think she hangs it out on a line to dry but my clothes are always super clean and dry so that is a blessing! I love it here and am learning lots! My testimony of the gospel grows everyday as I have this awesome opportunity to share these truths with the people here in Daule! I love you all so much and hope you all ahve a great week! Always remember taht I love you and am praying for you all individually!!!

Love, Hermana Hawkes