Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Italy, Week 60 (12/30/15) - Buone Feste!!!!

Hi! I only have a few minutes left! Sorry, I spent most of my email time writing personal emails.
But! I had a great Christmas full of food, presents, love, and above all Christ. The members treated us better than well and we felt an immense outpouring of love.
Now as we come to the end of the year, it's definitely a time of reflecting. 2015 was my full year as a missionary. I have worn this tag everyday of 2015 and each of those days have been a blessing of its own. I am honored for this privilege to serve the Lord in such a way. This new year will certainly be filled with its own joys and challenges. Who knows where I'll be and what I'll be doing be this time next year. But I can say that I will be better. I will be
stronger and closer to the Lord.
Thank you for all of your love and support. Have a wonderful new year, stay safe but have a good time :)

vi voglio un mondo di bene :)
Sorella Hawks :)

They should make Christmas stockings wearable.

Here is a collection of almost all the food that we received this Christmas season. #fatandhappy
Annnnd I was lame and didn't take pictures during the feste. I regret it!

Love you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Italy, Week 59 (12/23/15) - Christmas is Approaching...

So slowly! Just kidding, this time of the year is the BEST time of the year, so nothing is too slow :)
Well my dears (that doesn't work as well in English...), I'm alive! I was overreacting about biking last week, I just felt like I had never ridden a bike before so I was freaking out. But it's okay now!  Guys, Verona is beautiful. And the people are wonderful. I love it here
Thursday we had our Christmas conference and it was so fun! At the end we built "ginger bread" houses, but seeing as there is no ginger bread here, we had to get creative... So we just used Italian cookies and clementines to make houses. Some people got super creative, like one coppia made a nativity set, one made a home setting  "because we want to teach families", and then we made a prison. Aka ours was awful. But it was fun!
Story time: one night we had some time so we went out to go do some finding. As we were walking all of a sudden we hear TONS of honking and these cop motorcycles go by and following behind were at least a THOUSAND Santas on motorcycles. They just kept coming! It was awesome!   I'll try to send a video in another email. It was sooo funny!
else happened this week... Just talking to people, teaching them the blessed word of God, helping people smile. I love it when you leave people smiling, it is such a fulfilling feeling. One woman was just sitting on the bench and when I walked by she just seemed kind of down. Not super sad, but just a little lonely. I didn't have much time because I had to catch up to my comp, but I just stopped and gave her a card that had the address for the Christmas video this year and at the end she had a genuine smile on her face. Not a pity smile or polite smile, but a smile that comes when you feel a tinge of God's love for you.
I just want to help everyone feel that love! And more than a tinge of it! It's so abundant! It's so full! It's so beautiful!
This email is super short, but I want you all to know that you are doing a good thing. God is smiling upon you and he loves you. As I write this I promise I am thinking about each one of you individually.  And I mean it for each one of you personally. Seek the love God has for you, accept it, and give it back. What gifts can we give to God this year? What does He need from us in this moment?
I love all of you so much! And I wish you the MERRIEST of Christmases!
Vi voglio bene! Buon Natale!
Con tanto affetto,
Sorella Hawks :)

 The Verona zone!

We ride over this bridge almost every day to get to church. 

There's a giant star shooting out of the colosseum!

Up in the hills :)

It was super foggy so the pictures aren't that great... But it was gorgeous nonetheless!

Buone feste! 

Italy, Week 58 (12/16/15) - New Experiences

Welcome to Verona! Sadly I haven't been able to take pictures of the city itself yet, but just think back to my pictures of Trieste, Como, Lugano, a little bit of Venice... It's in that category :) aka it's gorgeous.  I didn't realize how ugly Milano was until I got here haha. But I will be taking lots of pictures this week and sending them next week, don't you worry :)
Verona has given me some fun new experiences these past few days. I'll share a few...
Riding a bike: it's been over a year since I've ridden a bike. It's weird.
Riding a bike in a skirt: let's just say Verona is seeing a lot of leg. It's a struggle. I'm learning to ride with one hand on
 the handles and one hand holding my skirt down. Luckily I have tights.
Riding a bike with a bag: balance is key.
Riding a bike in the winter: your legs are numb but your torso is hot. Your face is freezing but your head and neck are sweaty. So strange.
Riding a bike on busy streets: it's slightly terrifying and I'm honestly afraid that I'm going to be hit by a car. It happens very frequently in this mission.
Speriamo bene.
Helmet hair
Getting made fun of for wearing a helmet
Covering two wards: there's a set of
Anziani for each ward, but just us for Sorelle in Verona, so we get to go to all the activities and try to go to both wards for sacrament at least. It's hard remembering names in the first place. Now we have to remember what ward they're in.
And so many more! But I absolutely love it! I'm still getting used to riding a bike and it's causing some stress
 whenever we're on busy streets, but I'm learning and it's getting better!
We have some wonderful people here! There's one woman who has a baptismal date for January ninth and we're so excited for her! Her husband is still in Ghana and he calls while we're teaching her and will talk to us and tell us his
 counting on us to help her to see the truth and be baptized. It's awesome!
Also, my companion,
Sorella Griffin, is the bomb digiddy. We get along we too well haha. Some fun facts: she's from Utah. Her uncle was my Book of Mormon teacher my second semester at BYU. Her family is similar to mine: girl, boy, boy, girl, she's the youngest, and our siblings are pretty much the same ages. She does however have an adopted little sister which threw off our matching pattern, but that's okay. And she's just great :)
We taught some incredible people the past few days! It's been fun being able to talk about happiness a lot. I love talking about happiness. I have heard way too many times that happiness is not achievable in this life. There's no such thing, it's just a dream. Yes, we can have serenity and tranquility, but happiness? No, we have to wait for that.
Well I'm here to tell you that that's not true! In our lesson with a new investigator yesterday, we were talking about just this, and I said "Jesus wants us to be happy in this life. We don't have to wait until after this life or after a trial to be happy. We can be happy 
now." And she just smiled so big and joy and light just filled her eyes. It was clear that she had opened up her heart to let the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of that statement. And I felt it so strongly as well! "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have JOY."- 2 Nephi 2:25 (emphasis added). We are created in such a way that when we are doing what is right, when we are following Christ's example, we are happy! Pure, righteous, true happiness fills our lives. A happiness that cannot be found through any other means. A happiness that only comes through making sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father and living in accordance with those promises we made to Him. Aren't we lucky? But what's better is that that joy that we feel having it for ourselves is doubled, tripled, quadrupled, when we help others find it as well. Don't you love making another person's day brighter by helping them or making them laugh? Or even just making them smile? That feeling comes from God. We're feeling a taste of God's joy when His children are brought closer to Him. Every smile that results from the actions of a disciple of of Christ helping a brother or sister brings that person, as well as the disciple, all the more closer to Christ. How beautiful is that?!?!?! Spread that Christmas joy! And don't let it just last through Christmas! People need it even more after the holidays are over and people go back home and to work and the weather is a little more gloomy. Reach out, smile, and do the world of the Savior in every moment.
I love you all so much! Thank you for your love and support! Make these next few days wonderful and remember why they are so wonderful. A child is born, a Son is given. And His name is Wonderful.
voglio un mondo di bene! Buone feste!
Sorella Hawks :)

 This is my Italian family back in Milano :)


Sorella Hogan and Sorella Avila! I may or may not be photobombing in this picture...

The train ride home was really squished. So crowded in fact that Sorella Griffin was able to take a nap in the man's backpack standing up. Not really, but she could have!

Italy, Week 57 (12/09/15) - Cimiano

Well, beloved friends and family, I'm going to tell a story
Once upon a time There was a Sister missionary serving in a magical land. One day she soared into a strange land, far, far away from whence she had come. This land was hot as Hades. So hot, in fact, that the  pavement moved while you were walking on it. So hot that at night, because there was no air conditioning, she would shower in cold water in all her clothes and try to sleep with the fan blowing hot air onto her. Time passed, miracles were wrought, and people were brought to know the truth. Changes happened and the air turn chill. Leaves changed and Fall was upon them.  The environment and atmosphere changed, but her love grew deeper still for this land of business and funny smells.  More changes happened and the air became colder but her heart became all the warmer. Her heart, just like the Grinch, grew and grew and grew, fitting in more and more people. And as her heart grew, so did she. This land became home, these people her family. But she knew that a change was coming, but not like the changes in the past. A big change was coming. And so she waited, working hard with her brava companion, talking to strangers and trying the spread Christmas joy.  And then the fatal day came. A distant call from another land sounded,  "We need you!" It called. And so it was. This missionary had to pack her things and perform one of the hardest works: saying goodbye.   But as she said goodbye, it wasn't so hard, because it was a temporary good bye. A "see you later". She had made friends, and as she has learned, nothing is temporary. All things are spiritual and eternal.  And although we may not have the opportunity to be with every person we care about in this life, we can be comforted to know that that is not the end. It is just the beginning. And the day when we can see our loved ones again, in Heaven with our Heavenly Father, is a glorious day, a day to which I look forward.  This story is true.
I have been called to leave my beautiful mixed family of Italians, South Americans, and Filippini here In Cimiano Milano to go serve in the land of the silliest story in the world.   Romeo and Juliet.
There you have it folks. IM GOING TO VERONA!!! I'm pretty excited :)  it's weird to think that this is probably my last city though... I'm killing my companion this transfer and then I die, which means I'm probably staying for my last two transfers. Speriamo. My new companion is Sorella Griffin, which is super fun because I was her STL for about three transfers and now we're serving as STLs together! It will be great
: the miracle family. We saw the, again and extended a baptismal date. They declined, saying they weren't ready, but they wanted to continue learning and following the lessons. At the end it was clear that they knew it was true, they just need time :) and they came to our FHE last night and loved it!!! I love them so much and will miss them so much!
The miracle couple. A sister that I was doing a scambio with and I found this couple on Halloween, I'm not sure if it rings a bell.  Either way, they're atheist, but have a daughter living with an LDS family in Utah, so they're curious  about the church. We were able to see them again! And we were able to give them a Book of Mormon! And they were super excited to read it :) 
investigator with a bap date is doing this thing again where she won't answer us. It's fine. She'll come around, it's like a little roller coaster with her.
Last night they threw a huge party for FHE to say goodbye to us three missionaries leaving. It was amazing! Our New Zealand Anziano did another Haka to salute us, then I played the duet with the professional violinist. They also had made a slideshow for us and it was the sweetest thing In the world. It's funny, you never really see the impact you have on the areas your in until the end most of the time. I don't want to leave.  THEN they gave me TWO pairs of boots!! TWO PAIRS OF BOOTS.  I cried a little, it was so tender. Gosh dang it, this ward is amazing.  And that's that. I leave tonight for Verona and then I'm officially
out of the Fashion Capitol of the World and in the City of Romeo and Juliet. I love Italy :)
I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week :) take care and eat yummy food :) it's the most wonderful time of the year!
Vi voglio bene,
Sorella Hawks :)

The Repoyo girls!!

Lunch with Bolivians (and an El Salvedorian)

So dericious!

Introducing: La Famiglia Jaramillo! The miracle family! The boy on the very end is the son of our WML

More photos to come :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Italy, Week 56 (12/02/15) - Miracles Happen Once In A While

If you belieeeeveeeee :)

I believe.

This week was AMAZING.
We'll start with our Thanksgiving celebration. The tiny chicken was delicious. We made mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing and green beans. We were by ourselves, but that meant more for us! And it was super fun :)
On Friday we had a zone conference and it was good! I can't say it was the greatest one I've experienced on the mission but it was good! I learned a lot, from President
Dibb as well as the Spirit. We talked a lot about the Church's new initiative with the "A Savior is Born" and Sorella Avila and I instantly put it into practice and started giving out bigliettini like candy. And it was awesome! We even set up an appointment with a woman and her son and husband. 
Which brings us to the miracle part.... Which I'm just going to copy and paste from my email to President :)
We had an incredible miracle this week, and it is an extension to the miracle from last week with the woman Julia and the "A Savior is Born" biglietto. But first, I want to give some background. Before my mission my mom turned to me one day and told me that she had had the impression that there was a family waiting for me and they had dark hair. Later she informed me that she felt impressed that it was through the father, who needed to know the truth of the Restoration, that the family would come into the church. I myself had the feeling that this family was a family of three, a husband, wife, and a younger child.
As I had said last week we had set up an appointment with a woman named Julia and her son named Alessandro for Sunday afternoon. When we got there we began talking to the husband and he was more engaged during the lesson. Very quickly into the lesson, I felt strongly that this was the family that I was looking for. We are so excited for them!
It was like, a The District worthy lesson. It was beautiful. (This is me talking again, not copying and pasting) 
Anywho, so that was one miracle from this week. Oh also we finally got to do an FHE with two of our favorite Italian families here in Cimiano and it was so fun! Of course we got home late because well you never get home on time when you have four Italians in one room for dinner and especially when three of them are from the South.
But it was really fun and the food was delicious :)
On Monday we did a scambio and I was with my wonderful French friend Sorella. Visconti. She is so dang cute and fun and I absolutely love her! And we saw SO many miracles together. One woman we found at night before going home and she started crying a bit and her little girl said "mamma, why are you crying? Don't cry! It's Christmas! " I started talking to the little girl and she told me that her mom cries all the time and is really sad. We were able to pray with her and she said she was going to come to church! The next day we talked to a woman from Nigeria and showed her the new Christmas video and she also said she was coming to church. As we were walking away we heard her turn to her friend and say "I'm going to call them!" It was so fun!
Guys, I just love the mission. I love the feeling of bringing joy and hope to people's lives, even just through a simple video, or a short prayer. I love seeing the difference between when we first start talking to them to after we pray with them and they're so much happier. This is the most wonderful time of year. I wish it could always be Christmas. People are happier and there's just such a beautiful feeling every where you go. Make the best of this time! Make December the month of love, joy and sharing, and keep it going! Don't let the feelings of Christmas die once all the presents are open! Keep it going until next Christmas! I just love Christmas and having a companion who loves it too! CHRISTMAS!!!!! 
Kay basta. I love you all :) have a wonderful week :)
Vi voglio bene!

Sorella Hawks :)
 Thanksgiving Dinner in Italy

Thanksgiving Zone Conference
Sister Hawks and Sister Visconti