Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last MTC Letter!

This is officially my last email from the MTC. Next time ya'll hear from me, I'll be in Italy! AHHHH!!! Oh, by the way, I've gotten into the habit of saying Ya'll now because we're not allowed to refer to each other as "you guys" or dude or anything casual like that. But English is stupid and doesn't have a "you plural" form like every other language, so we use "ya'll" all the time now. I'm already becoming an Italian snoot, it's going to be interesting to see what I'm like when I get home haha. I'll try to suppress it. Anywho, news from the MTC!
Last Wednesday we did
sealings and it was so cool! I love doing sealings, it's such a special environment. When we walked out, one temple worker told us that this is the whole reason we come to the temple as well as serve missions: to bring families together in the gospel so they can be sealed for time and all eternity. What a beautiful thing. It's such a great reminder.
Thursday we had TRC (Teaching Resource Center) where we just go in and teach members lessons to help bring them closer to Christ and pretty much just lift them up. But this week we spoke to people in Italy over Skype! Ah! We taught a very kind woman named Daniela (
heehee) and I think I understood her pretty well. It's exciting to hear a native speak and notice words that we've learned because it comforts me to know that we're actually learning what people use out there, what with all the dialects and whatnot. Anywho, not sure if that made any sense... 
Sunday we had a devotional by Chad Lewis. Yeah, be jealous. We got to hear from Vai Sikahema AND Chad Lewis. And they were both in my top five favorite Devotionals that I've had while being here. But he was really passionate about the gospel and about the work.  It really got me excited to go serve the people in Italy. For Sacrament meeting, I accompanied the musical number again. Did I mention I did that last week for Sorella Bray and Sora Trebas? They sang Come Thou Fount, so beautiful. This week I accompanied for Sorella Hogan on A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. It's a beautiful arrangement. I love accompanying! When we took our temple walk earlier that day, there were a bunch of families with their little kids out and about and when we were all leaving, one little boy yelled "Hi missionaries!" And we all got really excited and practically yelled Hi back... It made me feel so special to be that missionary that I always looked up to when I was that age. It's so awesome! GAH!
Monday it was just
Sorella Snow and I in Fratello Knutson's class again and this time we taught him a lesson. Not as Antoine, actually as Fratello Knutson. It's amazing how the Lord teaches you by having you teach somebody else. The three of us all have something very much in common, so we talked about that and talked about how we can help and what we can do and it was just a great reminder to me. I love how the Lord does that.
Tuesday Elder Godoy of the Seventy spoke to us at Devotional, who happens to be the father of one of the
Anziani in my zone. SO COOL. He is super funny. He was acting out stuff while he was speaking and he was super animated. So fun!
Alright, now some fun fact and other things that I either forgot what day they happened, or they're something that I forgot to mention my first week
So first of all, two of my roommates were in my ward at BYU! Sorella Fuller and Sorella Bray! I'm not sure if I mentioned that before... Also, one funny thing that I'm sure I forgot to mention is that Elder Lee (from home) had told me before I left that there was a Sorella Fuller that was entering the MTC on the same day as me and was going to Italy Rome and that I should look out for her. He said that she was in the ward that he had just come from in Connecticut before he came back to our ward. Turns out it's the very same Sorella Fuller who I had already known AND is my roommate. How funny is that?!
So today for our temple session,
Sorella Snow's mom sent her six family names of ancestors from Italy. So all six of us roommates are going to perform the work for those six women from Sorella Snow's family! I'm super stoked! It's going to be so amazing. Also, afterward, we decided that we're going to eat in the cafeteria in the temple because any food is better than the MTC cafeteria food... 
This week we taught Antoine and he was having a really difficult time understanding why he had to make so many sacrifices to follow Christ. He said it made him happy, but it was hard because he had to sacrifice his friends, who had become his family since his family is in France. So I shared my story about how my friends had started doing bad stuff in school and I had to stop hanging out with them so much since most of the time they were just partying and drinking for fun. I shared how hard it was, but I knew that it was the right thing to do and I gained peace and comfort from that. Jesus Christ sacrificed His life so that we might be able to come return to Him. In order to do that, however, we also need to sacrifice much of our lives. Not necessarily our life in terms of dying for the church, but we definitely need to sacrifice many of the pleasures of the world, our time, and a ton of other things. But when we sacrifice those things, we come closer to Christ. We feel His love and we feel His help in everything. When we sacrifice, He is right there beside us saying He knows how you're feeling. He knows how hard it is. "But Thank you. Thank you for doing this so that you might be able to come back to me" And He is there, with His loving arms around us. He is the shoulder to cry on whenever we have to say goodbye to people who aren't good for us. Or whenever we feel alone. Because we are never alone and He knows us perfectly and loves us perfectly and wants all the happiness He can offer for us. It was such a beautiful lesson, and a beautiful reminder. The MTC truly is for us missionaries. Through teaching these fake investigators, we are teaching ourselves how true this gospel really is.
Anywho, I could just go on and on about all this, but I'm running out of time. I love you all so much. This week has been hard, I've felt myself plateauing, but not anymore. I've learned a lot of great things and this last week is going to be so fabulous. I love you all so much. Thank you for all your love and support throughout the years and your continued love and support. Vi voglio un mondo di bene!

Sorella Hawks :) 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Well friends and family, this is my second to last P-day here in the MTC. Can you believe it? I'm so excited to go to Italy!!! Okay, so let's see, what happened this week....
Thursday I wore a shirt as a skirt... It was modest! And it really wasn't that awful looking, surprisingly... Let me explain. So the Italian/Romanian Zone before us had picked this mint green, picnic table checkered button up collared shirt. And all of them took turns wearing it and taking a picture. So they passed it on to us with a note explain it and saying we can wear it anyway we want and to get as creative as we could. So I'm thinking everyone will be wearing it as a scarf or a belt or whatever. Sorella Hogan had actually turned it into a scarf that looked really cute, but she didn't wear it that way officially. All of the sisters were being boring and just wearing it as a shirt. But of course, when I put it on as a shirt, I was drowning in it. So I was just messing around Wednesday night, trying to find a good way to wear it and I jokingly put it on around my waste and lo and behold, it looked better than wearing it as a shirt for me. So with a little tweaking, ironing and pinning, I got it to look like a decent skirt, with a big belt of course. I have pictures but I accidentally took them on my camera and not my SD card (aka the SD card wasn't in my camera when I took the picture) and these computers won't let me download them. UGH. So hopefully I can figure something out someday, because it was fabulous. So yes, that was the most exciting thing not spiritual-wise that happened this week. My teacher asked me if I made it, so I said no and he agreed with me that it was a very different skirt. I had quite a few comments. It was a pretty interesting day, but it was super fun.
I cannot remember what happened Friday, I'm sure something did.....
On Sunday I was called to be a Sister Training Leader. I swear, no matter where I am I end up holding a leadership position or playing piano. But I'm super excited for this opportunity. It allows me to get to know the sisters in my zone way better and I'm super stoked for that.
Monday the Milano Anziani had to host for the Senior couples coming in that day so it was just Sorella Snow and I with Fratello Knutson (our teacher) that morning, which was actually pretty fun. After teaching our lesson with our simpatizzante Antoine, we combined with the other class that just had two sisters and we talked about how serving a mission also helps us become great mothers and the affect it has on our posterity. It was so awesome! I talked about how everyone talks about how missions aren't for us, they're for the people that we are teaching, but for us it's also for our children and grandchildren, etc. because they see our examples, just like the 200 stripling warriors who had the courage they needed because of the words and faith and prayers of their mothers. We are those mothers! Preparing our children to go into the world and arming them with the armor of God. What greater calling is there? Anywho, it was super uplifting and awesome. I know for me hearing all of my dad's stories growing up definitely had an effect. It made me want those experiences and joys and then when my brother Boomer went on his mission, I love hearing his stories. Even greater was meeting the people whose lives he had touched. I saw the impact he had made and it motivated me and fed my desire to serve a mission and serve people even more. 
Last night we had a great devotional about how Satan works and the different tactics he uses to drag us down and to make us miserable. It was soooo awesome! I wish we could print out the talks they give at the MTC, they're so powerful. Oh! Also, for my New York people, in December you have to go to Times Square. On Sunday night our devotional was given by the guy who's head of or something and he was showing us some sneak peaks for what's coming up in December. Super exciting stuff. So go to Times Square in December and take pictures!!!!! I want to see the for real thing! AHHH!!!

Alright, other fun stuff, our simpatizzante Keyla has committed to be baptized!! She told us that she talked to her mom about it and her mom was really happy! Her mom is Evangelical, but she still was content that Keyla was being baptized. so we invited Keyla to bring her mom to lessons and to read the Book of Mormon with her mom. Yay!! I know they're not real investigators, but it's still super exciting to see them progress and grow and it makes me even more excited to go to Italy and see that for real!
Sorella Snow and I taught Antoine about the Word of Wisdom this week, which was a little scary. We had already talked about not drinking alcohol, but he hadn't gotten to coffee yet, and coffee is the scary part, especially with Italians. Ah! As soon as we mentioned coffee he just went "CHE?! NO CAFE!?" And he was trying to convince us that we needed to try some. He asked us how we got any energy and Sorella Snow said we got our energy from God. It's funny to say it that way, but it's true! So we read 1 Corinthians 3:16 (I think) which talks about how our bodies are temples and gifts from God. So he asked us what a temple was and we explained about how beautiful and sacred they were. He asked if he could go there and we told him he could go a year after he was baptized. He said the temple sounds so beautiful and he really wanted to go. Then we said how our bodies are temples, just like what we had been talking about. That they are beautiful and sacred and the Spirit dwells in us. That seemed to really hit him when we said that. He said he never thought of his body being a gift or being sacred. So he committed to stop drinking coffee! Along with continuing to try to stop drinking alcohol. He only drank a little bit on Friday which is a huge improvement!!! It's so exciting! Anywho, Not much else has happened other than the usual. It's going to be so hard to say goodbye to all of these wonderful people in two weeks. We've gotten so close and everyone is so wonderful and they've all helped me so much to grow and become better. but I know that we all need change and we all need to say goodbye, it's just life. But hopefully we'll see each other again! Luckily most people are going to BYU after or will at least be pretty close by.
Anywho. I love you all! I love hearing from you! I love this work and being on a mission. It's amazing how much I've changed in just one month. Like, of course I'm still me, but I can see myself becoming the person God sees that I can become. I'm still so far, but I've gotten closer to that mark in such a short amount of time while I've been here. You are all the best! Thank you for your prayers, love, and support! In Bocca al lupo in tutti!! Vi voglio un MONDO di bene :)

Sorella Hawks :) 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Letter #3

HELLO!!! I'm officially halfway done with my MTC training!! HOW CRAZY IS THAT!!! MAMMA MIA!!! So I just want to start off saying that I love my zone. It's like being home. We're all so loud and we always greet each with with "CIAO!!!!!" Like we haven't seen each other for years. It's so great. Anywho, Just wanted to say that. So let's see, what happened this week? 
Thursday we had TRC which is where we just teach a member of the church a lesson once a week and it's not the same person. Sometimes they're not members, but this time they were. My companion and I actually got to teach two women from Italy! THEY TALK SO FAST. But I was able to understand them pretty well! But I felt super stupid talking after them because I had to talk so slow. Haha but it was super neat. They're so fun and warm.
Friday my companion and I taught our simpatizzante Antoine and it was the most spiritual lesson we had this entire time here. We had planned to teach him about the Restoration but that went out the window. We started talking about happiness and about how this gospel brings us happiness and he said he wanted that. He said that he likes drinking because it makes him forget all his problems. So we asked him to pray and he started to cry and he asked for happiness in his prayer. It was so touching and so spiritual. At the end we invited him, to be baptized and he asked if baptism would bring him happiness and we said yes! yes it does! So he has committed to be baptized on October 22nd! THAT WAS OUR SECOND LESSON WITH HIM!! It was so amazing and sooooo spiritual. Saturday and Sunday were obviously General Conference. General Conference as a missionary is such a different experience but it is so incredible. The talks were so great and I wish all of my investigators could watch a General Conference. Fun fact, Elder Godoy, the member of the Seventy that spoke in Portuguese at the Sunday afternoon session, his son is in our zone! So that was pretty neat having that kind of connection to one of the speakers at Conference.
Sunday night for Devotional, Vai Sikahima (I think that's his last name) spoke. Anyway, he used to play football for BYU and then he played for the Packers. Now he's a sports caster. He was super funny. He's from Pennsylvania. He gave a great talk about missionary work and it made me want to go out and talk to everyone. I'm sure you can look him up. He was the first Tongan to receive a full ride scholarship to BYU to play on the football team or something like that. He's kinda a big deal. Anywho, it was an awesome talk. I loved that he was able to be super funny and animated yet invited the spirit so strongly. 
I can't remember what happened on Monday, which means it was nothing exciting... We cleaned our room. I guess that's pretty exciting...
Tuesday we invited Antoine to stop drinking. AHH!! That was pretty tough. He said he drinking makes him forget so we tried to explain, in our very broken Italian, that God can help him forget forever, not just for a moment. But he needs to stop drinking in order for that to happen. So he said he would try. Fingers crossed!! Our other simpatizzante, Keyla, is doing really well! We're just reading the Book of Mormon with her and trying to help her understand the importance of the BoM and be able to apply it to herself. At the end of the lesson she asked US if she could come to church on Sunday! Whaaaat?! She's awesome. Did I say she's only 16? Well, she's only 16. What a rock star. 
Alright, so we heard of some classic foreign language speaking missionary moments that I have to share. First off, the first week, an Anziano in our district kept trying to say "we are children of God" which is "Siamo i figli di Dio" But he kept saying "siamo i figilio di Dio" (Something like that) and Figilio (not sure how to spell it) means green beans in Italian. So our teacher was laughing pretty hard when he said that we're the green beans of God.
Next, our roommates Sorella Hogan and Sorella Yonk taught a lesson to an investigator, or maybe they were role playing. I can't remember. Either way, Sorella Yonk was trying to say "Jesus suffered for our sins" Which would be "Gesu sofferto per i nostri pecati". Instead she said "Gesu sofrito per i nostri pecati" which means "Jesus deep fried for our sins". Classic missionary moment.
The last classic missionary moment happened to Sorella Bray and Sorella Fuller while they were teaching an investigator. Sorella Bray was trying to talk about forming a relationship with God and the word for relationship is Rapporto. But often times Italian words are very similar to English words, so you can kind of guess when trying to think  of a word, so she used the word relazione for relationship, which literally translated mean a romantic or adulterous relationship. So their teacher had to explain to them to make sure they use the word rapporto.
Anywho, those were just some fun things that happened this week that are too classic not to share. Learning a new language and trying to teach in it certainly brings about some fun stories.
So the language is coming along pretty well. It's definitely getting easier to just form sentences instead of having to form a sentence in English and translate it. I can just do it straight up in Italian! And I've been thinking in Italian a lot more, which is fun. I love this language. It's such a fun language.
The food isn't as bad. Either that or I'm just getting used to it. I can't wait to go to Italy and eat real food haha. THREE WEEKS! AHHH! Last night after devotional at our district meeting, our Branch President was answering questions about Italy for us and he was talking about the people there and how they're all so fun and warm. Oh man, it made me want to just go there right now. I want to meet these people. I want to put a name and face to these people who I already feel such a love for. I just want to meet them so bad! GAH! But I am super excited to go to Italy and create those relationships. I already feel like I'll never want to leave haha.
Anywho, life is great, the MTC is great, this church is great, serving a mission is the best decision I could have made in my entire life. I mean, other than getting married, but I was going to do that anyway... I know that serving a mission will bring blessings beyond measure. It already has!!
I love you all so much, I hope you're all doing well. I love receiving messages from you all to hear how everything is going. I am surrounded by the best people ever!! I love you all so much!!! Stay well, make good choices, know that I love you. Also pictures, I love pictures :)

Sorella Hawks

P.S. I'll send you some pictures too!!
1. Me and my collega Sorella Snow in front of the temple
2. Sorella Snow, Sorella Hoga, Sorella Yonk, Me!

Danielle and Companion at MTC

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Danielle, MTC, Week 2, October 1
Hello dear family and friends! Happy October!
I've survived my second week! Did I start my last letter with that? Sorry... But it's exciting! Things are starting to pick up a little more here. This week didn't feel nearly as long as last week, but I look back and think "Has it really only been 2 weeks??" But it's great. The food is starting to take it's toll on me, but don't worry, I won't pull what I pulled at school with the Cannon Center.
Let's see, what happened this week.... Hmmm things just kind of blur together here at the MTC when you're doing pretty much the same thing everyday....
The Sunday Devotional was really good. Stephen B. Allen spoke and he's the managing director of the mission department. So cool! He talked about the First Vision and how it was the Marvelous Work and Wonder that is mentioned in the scriptures. He told us how we are not partially invested in this work, but we are fully invested in spreading forth the great news of this Marvelous Work. We need to give our entire heart, all of our strength, our whole mind, and all our might in performing this work. He also talked about when Satan tries to bring us down and put us in a dark place, we need to follow the example of Joseph Smith and use all of our strength to call upon God and never give up. It was a really great talk. I almost wish that they published the talks that are given at the MTC so you could look them up and see how great they are. But oh well...
The Tuesday night devotional was also really good. Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer of the Seventy spoke about the importance of the 10 Commandments and how we need to teach people about them in a way that our investigators will come to know why and how they are important for themselves. It was really nice. Afterward our district had a great discussion on the devotional and we talked about the importance of the 10 Commandments and repentance and being there for our investigators as they struggle to change their lives to live in harmony with God. It was really Spiritual and really touching.
The rest of the week was pretty typical MTC. OH! The funny thing that happened this week was watching the movie "Legacy" after the Devotional Sundaynight. I've seen that movie before, but it was not as funny as it was this time. I think because we don't have any TV or internet as missionaries, we try to find as much entertainment in anything that comes close to it as we can. There's one scene where this guy kisses the main character and as soon as he went in for the kiss, we hear one Elder behind us go "BLECH" like a gagging noise and everyone was freaking out. It's only be two weeks for some of us and we're already freaking out about PDA and whatnot. Oh the MTC. The powers it has. Anyway, I know that if I every watch it after coming home it won't be funny at all... But hey, it was good entertainment for a group of missionaries.
So our old investigator Claudio became our new teacher, Fratello Knutson. He is SO GOOD. Oh my gosh!! He's really fun and he keeps our lessons really active and interesting. But he's so spiritual too. He helps us to see the importance of all the we do and why we do it. It's so awesome.
Yesterday he had us teach our companion a lesson based on their needs by asking questions and making them think. It was so awesome. I felt so much closer to Sorella Snow. It reminded me why we were put together and that it was truly inspired.
Each week I improve on something. This week I've begun to improve on loving everyone and being able to see people through God's eyes. It is absolutely amazing to be able to see people the way God sees them and to know that we are all His children. Even though I may not know someone well, when I teach them, I just feel an immense amount of love for them because I am able to see a bit of how much God loves them and I can truly see them as a child of God. It's truly amazing and I invite everyone to try that. Your heart opens so much and it has brought me so much joy to love people in this way.
I've also begun to learn how to hear and feel the promptings of the Spirit and have the faith to follow them. Miracles come from following the Spirit when teaching.
Let's see.... I can't really think of anything else. I'm feeling better! I had a rough patch with my cold, but I think I'm finally getting over it. The air is getting chillier, but it's so nice. I love fall.
Well I can't really think of anything else to say... Oh! Our new investigators are Antione and Keyla. Antione is 21 and he likes to party and drink. So it'll be interesting as we continue to teach him... Keyla is 16 and not very religious, but she does pray. She's committed to praying, so that's exciting! Antoine also committed to start praying to create a relationship with God. So good stuff! Hopefully it will continue to go well.
Anywho, I love you all so much! Thank you so much for all your love and support (and milk) Did I thank you Mom and Dad for the milk?? It made my day. Plus I loved telling people that I got a package of milk and one was a mystery flavor. It was great. I love hearing from all of you! I love hearing how everyone is doing, and pictures!! Pictures are so great! Which reminds me, I have pictures! I should upload them... Well I can't figure it out right now... I'll probably send another email in a bit with some pictures.... Love you all!!

Sorella Hawks :)