Monday, February 1, 2010


Oh I am so glad to write to my family this week!

How is everyone? I had a really lovely batch of letters today from the family, and it pains me that I can't ever write back personally as well as I'd like, but I really want you to know how much I appreciate them, and how much they uplift me : ) спасиба! (Thank you!)

So, I have a lot I want to write today! My companion and I got called by President Allcott Friday night with word that my companion, Sister Zaharova, was getting transferred to Perm. She was really bummed becasue she has been in "Chili" (that's the nickname here) for almost six months, and she has only four weeks left to be in her new city. So, while she got news of that, I got news that my new companion will be Sister Hanson. I freaked out when I heard this becasue Sister Hanson was in the MTC with me (she came in six weeks after me), which means we are BOTH GREEN and I am going to be the SENIOR COMPANION-- AHH!!! Really, I freaked out and am still freaking out writing this. I didn't really understand President at first, I was like "What?". In a lot of ways, most ways, I'm really worried that I can do a good job, and teach the people like they deserve to be taught. And, I'm worried that the members won't trust me, that I'll get lost beyond finding, that I'll say something stupid (that will happen, already has : ) ). This is my greenie area still, so the members still view me as a baby missionary.

But, after worrying like I do, I went to Church yesterday and told the members the news, and they were so supportive of me! They all promised to come on hard appointments with me, and to teach me any Russian words that I am having problems with. I felt so relieved! And so grateful. I'm studying the map of the city like crazy, and studying the language in every free second that I can. Most importnantly though, I have felt a lot of peace about this coming transfer. When I got word, I was shocked, but at the same time, I felt like I needed this challenge, or that I wanted it in a weird way. My last two transfers I had a native companion, so I felt like I could coast a lot. I felt like I wanted and needed to do more. This pressure will be really good for me, and it will teach me to rely on the Lord more, which is something that I am always wanting to be better at.

I said a prayer Friday night and committed to the Lord that I would do my best, and that I would always try to follow the Spirit. It was very touching, and I felt a lot of reassurance. I realize now more than ever that this really is His work, and that He will be with me. I know that I WILL be able to do this, which is good to know : ) But, I can only do this with the Lords help.

My Zone Leader told me that as long as I'm obedient, work hard, and trust in the Lord, my mouth will be opened and things will be ok. I already know this, but it's good to hear. So, all in all, I'm really excited for this new challenge, and Sister Hanson is awesome! Before that all starts though, I am going on Visa Trip this week. I will go on Wed. morning to Yekat, work there all day Thurs. with the Sisters there, and then we leave early Friday morning to Finland. And....drumroll.... we have time to go to the TEMPLE! Woohoo! I feel like this Visa Trip couldn't come at a better time for me. It will be really refreshing to go to the Temple, and also, I think I get to travel with my MTC companions. So, If feel a little spoiled that I get to do this, my Russian comp never goes on Visa Trip, but I am also grateful for the little rest. We get back Sunday, Monday is P-Day, and then the real work will start Tuesday of next week. So, I'll get to even write you again before my next transfer really starts, but please keep me in your prayers this week!

Leza from the family we reactivated was baptized on Saturday. The whole family came out, and there were a little bit of tears. I was surprised when I became emotional when she got in the water to be baptized. I love the family so much, and I felt a lot of joy for them. Meesa, Carrie, and whoever else, the little girl is totally a muffin! You guys would just giggle and giggle over her. She is so cute. We went to their house Sunday night for one last lesson with Sister Z. I think they'll miss her a lot, and again, I felt a lot of responsibility for this family to stay strong, but they seem so solid right now. I'll miss teaching them with Sister Z., and I'm afraid I won't be able to help them like they deserve and need, but again, it's in the Lord's hands : ) I'm running short on time today, but I have pictures I want to send you soon from both baptizms. Love you all tons, and I'll talk to you next Monday! Thanks for all you do!

Sister Hakes

P.S. Mom, I haven't seen the garments or the Ward package. Maybe when I'm in Yekat I will see them in the Office there? I'll make sure and check. Yes, I need more meds soon, sorry you have to keep sending little things like that! I appreciate it sooooo much!

You're the best.

Zone Conference!

Greetings from Russia!
(Wow, it's still weird to think I'm in Russia, maybe because it's just so different than I imagined it?)

How is the family? Sounds like Katie is pregnant, Cassi is pregnant, Harmon is 2, Francisca is 28 (or will be Sunday, Happy Birthday!), Hawaii is lucky to have 5 Hakes's visiting this year, Hakes Brothers is selling houses (and traveling in rental cars, sounds like a long night, sorry! ), Clayton is 7(?) this week (Happy Birthday Clayton!), and EVERYONE is busy -- as usual! I hope all of you are enjoying all of your many endeavors, or at least trying to : )

This past week, we had Zone Conference -- halleluliah!! It was so nice and refreshing to see President and Sister Allcott and to be uplifted spiritually. I love both of them a lot and respect their counsel. There are only 8 missionaries in our Zone, pretty small, so we get to have a pretty intimate day together. Our Mission President gave us counsel from 2 Nephi 25:23. He talked to us for about an hour and a half. just on this scripture. He focused on the last 5 words: "after all we can do." If you read that phrase and put the emphasis on a different word each time (5 times), the phrase has different meanings. He went in depth and talked about each different meaning. I got a lot out of this discussion and I realized a lot more of what the Lord expects of me as a missionary. Basically, the purpose of his message, at least what I got out of it, was that we should all have a better desire to be better. We often hear counsel to "try your best", but then we also hear counsel to be perfect, like in Matt. 5:48 (?). Pres. Allcott went through and talked about which one it really is. He told us not to be obsessed with perfection, and to not compare ourselves to others who seem to be better than we are, but to look at what the Lord has given us and see if we at least try to give that much back to Him. We can never pay the Lord ack in full, but it is our desire to try and do so that matters. He told us that the Lord understands our situations exactly. He knows what blessings we have been given, he knows what opportunities and talents we have been given, he also knows our trials and challenges.

For me, it seems like we focus on the latter-half, the trials and the challenges part more than the blessings. We always talk about how our Saviour understands our weaknesses and problems, which is obviously true and gives me comfort a lot. But also, he also knows all that we have been given, becasue he himself is the one that gives it to us. Sometimes, I think I am guilty of comparing myself to others and thinking "I'm good enough." When, in reality, I know I have been blessed with a lot. Therefore, those with "the greater light receive a greater condemnation" or, like Spiderman says, "with great power comes great responsibility" : ) I know a lot of times I don't live up to my full potential becasue I feel like, "I'm good enough." I know I can do more and I felt inspired by the meeting to try and give back to the Lord as much as I can becasue I know he has given me so much. I felt humbled and motivated to work harder.

The шумиление family is doing awesome! The Dad has a great desire to stop smoking, and my comp and I made him little chocolates wrapped in scriptures for him to eat every time he has a desire to smoke. They all came to Church on Sunday again, and have already started to recognize the Spirit there. The Mom said that after Church, everyone was so nice and sweet to eachother, whereas before the kids were crazy and the Dad was grumpy. They are starting to recognize how the Gospel really can bless their family. The daughter Leza is getting baptized this Saturday. I love love love this family and I'll try and send you a picture of them soon.

On another note, I had the opportunity to teach someone in English this week. The guy is named женя (Jenya) and he speaks really good English, so I figured I could teach him English during the lesson. He has gone to Church for 10 years but has never been baptized. But, after our lesson, he said he felt more touched that night than he had in the last ten years. The Spirit was really strong and I feel it was a little gift from the Lord that I could teach him and bear testimony in English. Sometimes I wonder if I am helping at all on the lessons becasue I still struggle to talk, therefore, I question whether or not I helped bring the Spirit at all to the people, and maybe I'm doing something wrong to not qualify for the Spirit. After being able to powerfully testify, touch, and maybe even change Jenya's life, I've realized that I do have that power with me. It was really good to realize that, and now in Russian I feel more confident. I realize that I do have the Spirit with me, and that I have been called of God to share the Gospel. Therefore, I shouldn't doubt myself or be afraid to teach in Russian. Jenya is moving so we wont be able to teach him anymore, but we've contacted the missionaries in yekat and i think he could get baptized soon, hopefully!

This letter was long, but that's what came out today, so there you go! Anyways, I am doing really good and I am grateful for the people here, and for my companion. I love my family at home a lot and thanks, as always for your support! Mom, I haven't received that package from the Ward yet? Maybe I will soon though? Clayton, here is a Russian phrase for you to learn like you asked for: с день рождением! It means Happy Birthday!

Love you all a lot
Sister Hakes