Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Italy, Week 68 (2/24/16) - Locked Doors can Only be Opened by the Hand of God

ooooooood morning everyone! Or afternoon or evening, you all live all over the place, so choose that which applies to you :)
This was another CRAZY week. It's good though, I like being busy. Although most of the time I feel like a chicken r
unning around with its head chopped off.
Thursday we saw some wonderful people! We invited one of our
investigators,  who is 16 years old, to be baptized and she said she'd pray about it. We're going to set a date with her tomorrow! That night we saw our investigator who is originally from Brazil, but looks like she's from Ireland haha. She fed us tea from London (fruit tea. It's okay) with honey from Brazil and a cake called "Panettondoro" which is a combination of two classic Italian cakes "panettone" and "pandoro". Needless to say it was delicious.
That night we ate more horse. My companion didn't find out that she ate horse until I said something about it
last night hahaha! We were walking and talking and I mentioned how this family always feeds us horse and how they had done it when we ate with them Thursday and she just stopped in her tracks and her eyes went huge. I cracked up haha poor thing! Maybe it was better that she hadn't found out until a week later...
Friday we did a
scambio with the Brescia Sorelle and it was sooo fun! I got to be with a sister in her second transfer, Sorella Lau. She is a boss. She's already an incredible missionary. The next day was her companion, Sorella Montagnoli's birthday, so Sorella Bradshaw and I woke up a few minutes early and decorated the kitchen and put a cake in the oven and made chocolate chip pancakes. We put a candle in the pancakes and sang to her haha. For lunch later that day, we got pizzas and went to a park near our house, hiked down a little hill and went among ancient ruins to sit in a flower bed to eat our pizzas.
Needless to say it was amazing.
After we ran home, put candles in the cake, and sang to her again. It was so fun!!
And then...
They were at the station when they realized they forgot a scarf, so we ran it over to them. In our rush we forgot to unlock our door (the key is broken and we have to do funky things to get it to work) so when we came home we saw that we were locked out. We pushed, we tried to pick the lock with Bobby pins and pocket knives, we called everyone and their grandmother to see if someone had our spare key; nothing. We said a prayer in the midst of all this chaos and both of us felt very calm and knew that the door would be opened. After a while we were a little surprised, both of us thinking that the door would've been opened by then. At one point, while my comp was talking to the bishop, I went to the door and just leaned my head against it, said a tiny prayer, and barely pushed on it
Three times.
And all of a sudden it opened.
Needless to say we were stunned.
Of course we said a prayer right after to thank our Heavenly Father.
It's such a testimony builder. God loves us! He cares about even the smallest things. Miracles aren't just for splitting a sea and allowing people to walk on dry ground. They're not just for raising the dead or healing the sick. Yes, those miracles still exist today, I know that, I believe it with all of my heart. But God also works miracles for the simplest things. For his two young daughters who foolishly forgot to unlock the door. He doesn't just do it to show off or to show His powers. He performs miracles because 
He loves us. We are His children and He cares for us and even our tiny worries, which seem so meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But sometimes we have to wait. But we cannot lose faith. Never let doubts overcome faith. Continue to go forward, keep doing all you can on your part, and God will take care of you. Never forget that, never doubt that.
Monday and Tuesday were good, nothing super exciting. Tuesday morning we were doing some finding and we talked to this old man in a park. That was an exciting little lesson. He asked us about everything, kept asking what was different,
then not accepting our answers, and asking for PROOF.
Needless to say our patience was strengthened.
Anwho, that's the summary of the exciting lives of the Verona Sorelle this week. Stay tuned for next week's adventures.
voglio TANTISSIMO bene!!!!! Siete bravissimi, sono così fortunata di avervi nella mia vita. Grazie dal cuore per tutto!
(Translation? I know, I hate it when missionaries speak in another language in their emails too.
I love you all
sooooo much! You are amazing, I'm so lucky to have you all in my life. Thank you so much for everything!)
Sorella Hawks :)
 We're so Artsy!
 Birthday party at the ruins!
 Striking a pose at the birthday party at the ruins!
 We had a photo shoot....
Pizza to go at the birthday party at the ruins
 Birthday cake!
 Happy Birthday, Sorella Montagnoli

You may as well have some fun when you're locked out.

 Fun fact: if you zoom in on the moon, there's a castle underneath it. :)


The special prayer position when praying for keys...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Italy, Week 67 (2/17/16) - POLINE IS BAPTIZED AND MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!

Story time. And this time, it's a love story.
Once upon a time there was a girl. She understood the importance of marriage and made the decision that she would only marry once in her life, and no matter what would make sure that that marriage worked.  But she had to wait a while. It was hard to find that right man where she was. The Filipino men just weren't quite making the cut.  One day, she met an Italian man. They talked, they laughed, and eventually they fell in love. She made plans to go to Italy to visit him and miraculously her job paid for the trip and she was able to go.  There, she
and her fiancé spoke about each other and God. The Italian man a proposition: she could meet the missionaries of his church and learn about it and one day she could get baptized. She said yes, but on one condition: the missionaries are American. You don't find many Americans in Italy. Unless they're missionaries.
She began meeting with these two missionaries who called themselves sisters, but they had different last names. Strange, but I guess it's true that we're all children of God, she thought. At first she was
skeptical. Who is this boy Joseph Smith? What is this new book of scripture? I've never heard of it. There's no way Christ made it ALL the way over to the Americas...  But she decided to try what they were all asking her to do: simply pray to know if it was true and to read the book.  It didn't happen immediately, but slowly her questions were being answered. Her prayers answered. She felt good, she felt happy. And then one day she realized that she knew that this message, this church that she was learning about, was indeed true. She saw the hand of God taking a big role in her life. She went back to the Philippines, but continued meeting with these Americans over Skype. She asked how soon she could be baptized and they decided three days after she came back should do it. She continued to grow, but so did her trials. As the day came closer to when she came back to Italy, things seemed to keep going wrong, but in the end they were always made right. Anytime she
questioned being baptized or marrying this man, her backup plans would fall through. There was only one way that was going to work. Her flight back was long and tiring, but finally after nearly two months of being separated, she and her Italian man were reunited. Three days later, Valentine's Day, she entered the waters of baptism. And it felt wonderful. She knew this was true and that she had made the right choice, for herself. That night her father from California surprised her by arriving in Italy with her only little sister. And the following day she was married in the rolling hills of Fair Verona.
How beautiful is that?!?!?! It's a dream.
  And that's a quick summary of Poline's story told from the perspective of one of those strange sister missionaries.
Poline was baptized on Sunday and married Monday morning!  Friday we had our Zone Conference and it was so good! My comp and I prepped hardcore for our part and we feel super satisfied! People were participating and the Spirit was there, it was wonderful :) at the end of that conference, however, I had to bear what we call my "dying testimony" but President likes to call it our "commencement testimony". I got up and had no idea what to say, but it felt good. I only teared up a little. The feeling after I sat down however was the absolute strangest feeling. I can't quite put it into words, but it was strange...
Yesterday and the day before we had a scambio with the Bergamo Sorelle  and it was fun! I was in a trio and I got to be with a sister that I did a scambio with in her second transfer! It was super fun and cool to see how much she had grown.  It was a super stressful, busy week, full of meetings and preparation, but not sufficient time to prepare.... All in all I'm just grateful to
breathe now :)
I love you all
sooooo much! I hope you have a wonderful week! Know
that I love you all so much and pray for you! Vi
voglio bene!!!
Sorella Hawks :)

Dad's comment:  Lots of White for Poline - a baptism one day and a marriage the next day!  If she had just done an Elvis impersonation on Tuesday, she could have kept the streak alive...

 Sorella Bradshaw, Sorella Hawks, Poline, and her fiance (the mysterious Italian man) in front of the font.
 Poline's last few moments as a non-member prior to the glorious covenant of baptism! :)
Poline with her two favorite American Young Women...Sisters, sorry
 Poline and her Fiance/husband - not sure exactly when this shot was taken, but I'm guessing husband at this point.

And the fitting finale to two life-changing events in two days!  Wow - what a whirlwind for Poline!
 When you are almost done with your mission, you owe it to yourself to load up on the gelato!
 City Square in Verona, Italy, the city of Romeo and Juliet

A beautiful shot of Verona from across the river

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Italy, Week 66 (2/10/16) - Soaked in Rain and Smoke

It's raining! Which means spring is on the way! Yayyyyyyyyy!!!!! It's super warm in the afternoon but still cold in the evening, but we're getting there, small small.  All is well here in the wonderful land of Verona! We have an investigator with a bap date for 14 February and Thursday we did her practice bap interview and it was amazing!!!! She's so ready! When we asked her about her testimony of the prophet today, she smiled and said she believed. The. She asked us to ask when she got that testimony and she said she got it while Sorella Bradshaw was saying the opening prayer. How cool is that?!?! And her actual interview went perfectly! She gets back from the Philippines today so we'll see her tomorrow! Finally! After two months of teaching her over Skype, it'll be so good to see her in person again! Yay! 
 night we went out to do finding and we stopped this one woman. She didn't seem very happy, not like she was mean to us, but in the way that you could tell her spirit was just sad. We asked was makes her happy and she said she couldn't answer. She told us she doesn't believe in God. She prayed and prayed in the past but never saw anything to "prove"God is there. So she got angry and now feels that He must not exist. My goodness, it was so sad. My heart was just breaking and yearning for her to feel that love from God that gives ME strength. I felt such a love for this woman and wanted soooo badly for her to feel this love too. We talked to her for a while and whenever we bore our testimonies she would watch us so intently. At the end we asked if we could pray for her and she willingly accepted. My goodness, I know she felt it. It was too strong for her not to! I remember thinking afterward how good that felt. It is THE GREATEST FEELING to help someone feel loved, from you but more importantly from God. To help someone who has lost so much hope and is so sad to regain that hope, to see that light enter their eyes. I turned to my companion and said, "this is why I'm on a mission." Every person we pass by is a beloved child of God and many don't know that. But it is always the greatest feeling so see someone regain hope and a little bit of joy in their life.   And her name was Tamara! People named Tamara are great people ;) 
Sunday we had a similar experience, but with two less actives. Both of them were struggling with feeling loved and watched over by God. Also yesterday morning we taught an investigator who said up to this point in her life she hasn't felt God's love. My goodness.  How sad is that?  Do you feel God's love? Do you know that He is watching you and is fully aware of all of your heartaches, pains, and sorrows? Do you recognize that He is with you?
That is one of the greatest joys on my mission. Yes, it's so fulfilling to see someone enter the waters of baptism after teaching them and seeing the change in them. But that's not what a mission is. I just love teaching people and being the means through which the Lord can send His Spirit to testify of the truth and help change people.
I'm rambling, but I just want you to know that full-time missionaries aren't the only ones who get the wonderful opportunity to experience that kind of joy.
Anywho, back to filling you in on my week...(so boring)  Monday we had consiglio, fficially my last one. That hurt my heart.  But it was so good! The spirit was so strong and delicious! I'm excited to put all the things that President taught us into practice!
All is well. We came home last night soaked and smelling like cigarette smoke, so you know it was a good day ;) 
I'm so happy! I love being here and I love this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord and His children.
Thank you so much for everything! You are all such an amazing support!
voglio un MONDO do bene!!!!!!

Con amore,

La Sorella Hawks :)

Consiglio! My companion is third from the right... We got separated...

Cimiano Sorelle!!

And that's all. I'm running out of room on my iPad so not many pics this week. Sorry!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Italy, Week 65 (2/3/16) - Transfers!

Hello! Okay, first off, we literally have no time. My new companion got here today and we're in four until tomorrow morning when I send my companion and another sister off for home. So my apologies! This will be short and I won't really be able to write to many people specifically, so I'm sorry! But know I love you!
This week was a little rough because my comp and I both got sick. Ah!  It's sooo annoying. I've been so blessed my whole mission though to never get so sick where I can't work. But this time hit me pretty hard, then it hit my companion hard and we were both trying to survive and recover.
But! Our ward had an activity one night and we brought the investigator that's Muslim and she had a ball! She was dancing, singing and laughing and the members were so good about welcoming her.  It was amazing! This ward is incredible!!!!!! 
We learned how to make lasagna this week. Like, real itLian lasagna.  It's amazing.
What else...
Oh! Transfer calls! I'm staying STL and my new companion is Sorella Bradshaw. It's funny because she "took my spot" in Cimiano with Sorella Avila, and now she's here serving with me! It's going to be so fun and we're going to kill it! I'm stoked :) miracles are going to be happening here in Verona. Brace yourselves :)
Anywho, all is well, I'm happy, super excited for the weeks ahead and for the opportunities I'm being given. I love you all so much! Thank you for everything!!!!!

Our district! 

An Italian Outhouse

The end of a companionship!  

Chiara Hirsch from Trieste came and found me!