Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hi Family!
Today the SUN is out! I wasn't expecting it. Yes, it definitely has felt warmer this week, and yes, I even saw snow MELTING! It was a real treat for me Dad, but I think you might have enjoyed it even more : ) Last week was still "chilly" here in Chili (thought I'd get that joke in one more time) becasue of high winds. It reminded me of Cruces in the spring, though not as hard core. No complaints here though. I didn't wear my big, brown, furry coat all week, so I am very happy!
I found out yesterday that we'll be having Zone Conference this Wednesday. So, not much time to prepare, but I'm super excited! I love our Zone Conferences and being able to talk with my Mission President. It's also good to just see the other missionaries together and be reminded of why we're all out here. We also found out that President Perry will be coming here in June for a Mission Conference along with Elder Rasband of the Seventy and President Powell who is over the missions in our area. Ahh! I can't wait.
We had a really interesting experience this past week. That guy Dima we found on the street was able to meet with us as planned. He also said he was going to bring a friend on the meeting with us. My companions and I tried really hard to find a girl to come on the meeting with us, but there aren't many to choose from and we had exhausted all of our resources. By the time the mtg came around, we decided to just drop by, give him a Liahona and tell him that we couldn't stay for the meeting without a girl, especially becasue we weren't sure if this guy was a little shady or not. Anyways, we go to his aprtment and his building is really nice and new, which is rare. When we get to his door, we see that he is a very nice, not sleazy guy, and his friend that he brought was married and his wife was also there. All were very nice looking and we were happily surprised we didn't have to cancel. We sit down and started to ask questions to get to know each other, but they immediately jumped into questions. They are all Seventh-day Adventists and they knew exactly the questions they wanted to ask. Why don't we celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday? Why do we have more revelation if the book of Revelation said there wouldn't be any more revealed scripture beyond the Bible? Why don't we use wine in our sacrament service? Etc. So, I didn't realize it until the end of our meeting, but my heart was pounding the whole time and I was feeling very nervous. I kept trying to bring things back and to really teach, not just Bible bash, but they weren't really listening. They were very good people, but I don't understand why people would take the time just to argue. They didn't want to talk about their faith, just tear ours down. It wasn't a horrible meeting, but it wasn't a Spiritual-make you cry-I want to be converted meeting either. I just don't get the point of meeting to just argue, and we tried to bring the Spirit, but it didn't happen. They all came to Church on Sunday though, and the same thing happened in the Gospel Principles class. The teacher is an awesome babyshka named Cveta. She's a convert of 19 years and I love having here teach the class. Anyways, they did the same thing with her, and I know it frustrated her too. They asked the same questions they asked us, as if we had never even explained anything to them. So, it became clear that they don't want to listen. As they left Church, they invited us to their service on Saturday. Umm... pretty sure that won't happen. I think it would be cool to go and see their service, but not as a missionary. That would be weird and there are better ways to spend our time. All in all, it was a really interesting experience to me. They did listen somewhat I suppose, but it is so sad to me that people can let little things, the letter of the law things, be such a "stumbling block" to them. I am so gratedul we have the restored truth, really. It would be such a pain to follow all of the little oddities of the Bible, like wearing your scriptures on your forehead kind of a thing. I respect the people of other religions that follow these things, becasue it really shows their dedication to the Lord, but at the same time, their missing the mark. It's sad becasue they are very good people and they study the Bible diligently. I kept trying to get them to understand, that if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then the way in which we worship in our Church today is the way God wants us to. Because of a modern prophet, we don't have to worry about misinterpretating the Bible. I personaly don't want to wear the scriptures on my forehead, of course I would if that is what I really thought God wanted me to do, but I don't have to worry about any of that becasue we have a prphet on the Earth today that teaches us the will of the Father. Cool huh? I don't think I ever appreciated some things about the Church as much until now, on my mission. It's really true, all of it. Cool!
Anyways, love you all! That is my highlight from the week. Tghanks for all of your highlights. Mom, thanks for the talk on Motherhood, and for telling me to not worry so much. You're right, it is nice to hear that every now and then. I'll check into that package, and I got the one this week with the Valentine's candy in it. You're the best! Reece's has never tasted so good! Bear, I'll pray for you this week with all of your oral exams, yikes! Sounds like you're extremely busy, good luck. Chris, you're 30!!!!! Happy Bday. Hope it was a good one and that you ate lots of cake and ice cream. Sad I missed the Bluths at home, sounds like it was fun as usual. Cassi, I don't think you're hips could ever look big. And, I'm still waiting for preganancy pictures! Mees, I still can't believe you're moving home. Now I don't know where I'm going to go after my mission. I could room with some comps, but I just assumed you'd be there with me too.... This is best for you though. Melissa Robin thanks so much for writing! I hope the kids get better soon and that you and Josh stay healthy! Kimball, I hope Moab was as fun as it sounds. Joe and Katie, enjoy those thunderstorms! I miss them. Dad, you're weekly highlights are the highlight of my week. Thanks for doing that. Hope you're staying sane with your busy schedule.
Love you all, again!
Sister Hakes

Some Pictures!!!

Ok, maybe this is lame, but I haven't sent pictures in a while, so I thought I'd go ahead and send new pictures this week instead of a really long email. Not too much happened this past week I feel like. Of course things happened that I could write about, but it's just an extension of the previous weeks. Lev is potentially getting baptized this Saturday, he still needs to be interviewed this week : ) The Chinese guy has a baptizmal date for the next Saturday, and I hope he'll be ready. He is just really hard to meet with becasue of his work schedule, which makes me think he doesn't understand the big committment he is about to make. Work still seems to be the priority in his life. Our other investigators are some progressing, some... I don't know how to describe. Some just seem unwilling to let go of their concerns and pray, have more faith, and just accept the Gospel. That is the most frustrating part!
We hada good lesson with a less-active. She was a very strong member for almost 10 years, and then something happened. We had planned to teach her the Restoration, but before we started the lesson, she mentioned her son died two years ago, and her sister died this year. Obviously, we then taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she cried a lot. It was SO spiritual, and she actually came to Church on Sunday. We told her that her grief has already been atoned for by our Savior, and that she is rejecting the one part of her life that can actually help her, the Gospel. So, we told her she needs to get active, go to the temple, and do the work for her family. I hope she can! She came to Church and it was a big reunion for her with all of her former friends in the Branch. Enduring to the End is everything.........
Sister Hansen and I made a list of some Former Investigators from our Area Book that we wanted to drop by-- we'll feel again that it's time to start finding some new people to teach. Anyways, we dropped by a house that we thought was young lady named Tanya, but it turned out to be her parent's house. I actually know this family. I met with the Mom at the Branch like my second day in Chili, her name is Galina. Her husband is named Nikolai. About last December, he called sister Z and I very drunk and said he didn'twant the missionaries messing with his family anymore. So, for safety's sake, President Allcott said we couldn't meet with the family w/o the husband's approval. So, we were sad b/c both the parents had been baptized (obviously not active) and the daughter was investigating. Anyways, a lady at Church two weeks ago told me that Nikolai want the missionaries to come by again. The lady told me I should try and get permission again. We hadn't really come to an agreement yet if we should meet with them or not yet, but anyways, we went to drop by Tanya, and it turned out that her parents are the Nikolai and Galina we weren't allowed to meet with. Nikolai answered and let us in, he was so happy to see us. He said his wife is really addicted to alcohol, and he can't stop smoking, and he wants the missionaries back in his house. The family is really messed up in all honesty, but Sister Hansen and I have already met with them twice, and for some strange reason, we love them! Haha. They kind of feel like our Russian family already and they text us all the time. They have tons of problems, but they are wanting to change.... so we'll see. The Dad plays the guitar and he loves the Beatles and CCR. He loves that I know all the lyrics in English too, so I guess I wasn't wasting all my time listening to the Beatles in high school. Everything has a purpose haha : )
Sister Hakes : )

this is in Finland. All the sister made tacos becasue they actually have tortillas in finland, it was so fun! I'm sending this becasue I forgot to tell you that I am getting a new companion-- another one! As in, I will be in a three-some this transfer with Sister Hansen and Sister Spjute. Sister Spjute was also in the MTC and came into Russia the same time as me, so I already know her pretty well and love her. They are both awesome girls and great missionaries. We all get along great. Well, sister spjute isn't here yet, but I know we will get along really well : ) She is the one in the gray and white shirt withthe diamonds on it. She's tall and skinny and really athletic.

And this is just another cold picture. I like it becasue the wall around the door to the outisde was just frozen over with snow. Cool huh? This was probably January too, it's not that cold now.

We got heart-attacked by some ward members. That is Sister Z and I with a former Sister missionary who served in Chili that came back to visit, and two other members of the Branch here. It was very sweet of them becasue I was really exhausted that night... really : )

ok, i know this isn't the most flattering, but just so you could see how cold I really was. This is me all bundled. I usually have my hair down (this day it was pulled back obviously) and all of it turns white from my breath, which then freezes around my face and turns my hair white. You can only see that a little here. I think this was actually New Years Eve

This is the шумиление family at Leza'a baptizm! I love them. They are a lot nicer than they look, most Russians don't smile in their pictures. Russians just don't smile in general really, but I think it's funny.

"я люблю тебя" is what is written on a well by our house, it means "I love you". There is graffitti (sp?) everywhere here and a lot of it makes me laugh, especially when it says like Jay-Z for life and 50 Cent Forever, or other American things. This one I thought was just pretty.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Golden Investigator

Hello there,

Hope all is well in the good US of A. Things are going great here in Russia. We had Zone Conference again this past Saturday, and I just love it every time. I never know what to tell my Mission President when he interviews me though, I feel like I should have more problems or something, but I usually just say I'm doing good and he gives me really great advice. I love my Mission President and his wife. They are really great leaders and they remind me a lot of Mom and Dad, and it makes me want Mom and Dad to go on a mission and be such a good example to all the young missionaries. You guys would be so adored and awesome : ) Of course.

Anywho, things are picking up in Chili. Sunday is kind of "game day", and we prep all week to find people to bring to Church. When you have people show up to Church, it is such a great feeling. Our litttle Branch wasn't so little this past Sunday, the whole building seemed full! I don't know why all the less-actives decided to show up on the same Sunday, but I am sure glad they did. There were a lot of little reunions between less-actives and actives who hadn't seen each other in years. We had a really special experience with a guy named Sergei. We found his name on the Ward List, and his page in the Area Book, which was completely blank except for his name and address. Sister Hansen and I dropped by last week or so, and we set-up an appointment for after the Russian holiday (two weeks ago was Men's Day to honor those who have served in the military, and today is actually Woman's Day, and it's just a day to honor all women. There's lots of guys buying flowers on the streets and it's all kind of cute : ) ). Anyways, we met with him Wednesday of last week, and we were actually super impressed with him. He wore a suit and was very professional, quality guy. He was the Sunday School President 10 years ago, but soon after joining the Church, he felt it wasn't good enough. The Church wasn't the best way to perfect oneself, but that the Church and the members were selling themselves short. He seemed kind of arrogant to me to be honest, but he made some good arguments, but of course, we didn't argue back but just tried to testify. Even though he seemed kind of hard, Sister Hansen and I could tell that he was listening, so we kept talking. We ended the lesson on a really good note and he agreed to meet with him again. We gave him Alma 32 to read for homework, and he called us that very night at 10 pm. We were so shocked becasue he only called to say thank you, and that Alma 32 was exactly what he needed to hear. We were SO surprised! I'm not sure if I wrote you about him already, but he is the guy that personally asked to have his recdords removed from the Church, and he even got up in testimony meeting his last Sunday and talked about how the Church wasn't true. He said the members believed in a fairytale, and that it was equivalent to magic. So, the Branch President was needless to say very shocked that we were able to meet him, and he challenged us to get him to Church. So, Saturday, we called him to remind him about Church on Sunday, and he actually came! It was so amazing. I could tell that the Branch President was just in shock, and all of the members were so happy to see him. It just so happened that there were a lot of other inactives that he knew who showed up on Sunday with him. So, I know he enjoyed the expereince. Our Mission President very wisely cautioned me and Sister Hansen though. He doesn't want us to meet with him again until the Branch President has met with him, becasue there is obviously some bigger issues. And, for someone to get up intestimony meeting and say those things is pretty serious. He may be very proud, but it was a big step for him to show back up at Church after all these years.

Also on Sunday, Lev, the guy we found on the transport came to Church and the night before, Saturday, we got a baptizmal date from him! He doesn't live in our Area, so the Elders were on the meeting with us and are going to take over from here. But, he is so impressive! He is so golden! I can't get over him. We taught him the second lesson a week ago, and to be honest it was the hardest lesson in terms of language for Sister Hansen and I. The words just weren't coming for some reason, and we were kind of disappointed because we really knew he was an important lesson/investigator. But, at our lesson Saturday night, we asked him how the reading went over the Plan of Salvation that we had given him. We gave him a lot. The crazy thing was that he started explaining what he understood, and it was perfect. He just understood the whole Plan of Salvation beginning to end, even though I know Sister Hansen and I didn't explain it that well. So, it was really a testament to us that it's the Spirit that teaches, not us. Anyways, the Elders and us were both shocked at his understanding, and we proceeded to teach the 3rd lesson and he was so easily to commit to baptizm. He was like "of course" I want to be baptized. His date is for March 20th, only two weeks, and he wishes it was sooner. He told us a really sad story about growing up here in Russia, and how the government totally suppressed any form of religion. He is about 30 and saw a little bit of Communism. When he was little, he found a bible at his grandma's house and just strated reading. He was so excited about what he read that he went to school the next day and started talking about how there is a God to his friends. The school director found out about it and gave him a really long lecture, and ripped some sort of Chirstian pin he had found at his Grandma's off of his shirt. So, he was never allowed to talk about religion, but he said he remembered feeling something inside himself when he read the Bible. So, once religion was allowed again, he started reading the Bible fervently, and he definitely knows his Bible well, which is what makes him so easy to teach. He is just one of those investigators that as you teach, he seems to be hearing things he already knows, even though he has never been taught them. His soul just already understands and is prepared. The Elders are very happy to be teaching him now, and I am glad they will be too. He deserves to really understand the Gospel, and I know Sister Hansen and I are a little limited with our speech, so it is better all around I suppose. One of the Elders said they can just invision him being a leader here in Russia, so we're a little excited here : )

I love you and hope all is well! I'm sorry I feel like I write a novel about myself, and then I don't have much time to write personally to everyone. I'm horrible! Just know that I love you and that I really do appreciate any news that I get from you. I promise to write more personal letters next week. Please forgive me! Say hi to Grandpa for me! And I am so jealous of all the rain you're having, it just started snowing outside again I hear. But it has been so warm I can't complain. HB!!! What the heck!!! Sounds like you are killing it back home! Make sure to give Mom a good bonus, if she hasn't already asked for one haha : ) Gosh, I miss those conversations! Dad, sounds like you are a full time missionary almost there in Cruces. You're whole time seems to be either work or Church. You are such a great leader. Chelyabinsk could use 100 more of you. Meesa! wHAT THE HECK! You're really gonna make the move home? I need to write you a letter to discuss, I'm happy for you though and whatever you choose. Mom, I got the thermals last week! Thanks a billion and the recipes are going to save my life! You really don't need to send me anything, but if you really WANT to : ), we don't have peanut butter, maple syrup, or brown sugar here in Russia, and most of the recipes I have require these things. No worries or hurries though : ) Just if you want to... You're the best and I love your emails so much. Thanks for helping me remember the reasons I'm here, sometimes I can't remember why haha, but I just keep working. It's good that you remind what all of this is for. Thanks everyone for everything : ) I have the best family on the planet, really, it's true.

Sister Hakes

Letter from 3/1/10

Happy Monday Morning!
I hope you all are having a good start to your new week, it's March already! I seriously can't believe how fast the times is flying. I have officially been on my mission for over six months, but I still feel like I just started, and that I have so much I want to do in ONLY a year! I seemed to think that if I went on a Mission I would come home a perfected, angelic being like everyone else seems to. So, please don't get your hopes up! I still feel pretty much about the same, which I don't know if that is good or bad. I was happy with myself before, so I guess this'll have to do. I really have gained a testimony of goal setting, hard work, a positive attitude, relying on the Lord, and so much more. I've been able to understand more personally how all of these things are so important, but I'm still not perfect at any of them yet. I think that is the point though. We have to learn that we can't do anything without the Lord's help- we reach up to Him and he reaches down to us. We have to do everything we can, and THEN it is by his grace that we are saved after all that we can do. So, if any of you get frustrated with yourself, (wow, this just got cheesy) just remember that the Lord is there to help you. My companion and I have thought a lot about this during this past week. For some reason, we got jaked alot this week (jake means like cancelled on). I think I scheduled over thirty meetings this week, which is just about everyone in our Area Book that could meet with us, and then we received only 16 meetings. Our mission goal is to get 20 meetings each week. However, my companion and I worked so hard this week that we both started feeling really down with all the cancellations, like, do they not like meeting with us? Are we a burden? Blah blah blah... So, we just kept working though and used up the extra time to contact this week and call people out of the Area Book. Sunday comes, and we called a less-active I have been working with here in Chili for two transfers now, Alla. Every week she promises to come to Church, and every week she doesn't show up. So, my companion and I call her and tell her we will be there at 12, we've called like this before and she always says she is sick, busy, etc. But, this time we tell her, not ask her. So, we go pick her up and she's ready to go! I couldn't believe she was actually at Church, neither could a lot of the members. Then, an investigator we contacted on the streen, Natalia, shows up and brings her friend who is also interested! Then, another investigator I contacted on transport comes, and loves it! So, we had four people at Church yesterday! I feel so lame for being so excited about four people, becasue I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but for us it was pretty much a miracle. I know we can get even more coming too. The members were so impressed, and I could tell they were excited by having four new people at the branch. And, I could tell they started to trust me and Sister Hansen more, which is so important. I'm sure they think me and Sister Hansen are just two really young, inexperienced, American missionaries. They're always nice and come on meetings when we ask them to, but I'm sure they which we were more experienced or Russian. Anyways, about five or ix different people came up to us after Church and thanked us for all of our hard work and service, and that they were so proud of us for having four new people at Church. Sunday, yesterday, was such a little blessing for me and Sister Hanson after a long week of rejection. So, I think that is why I wrote the things I did at the beginning of my letter. When you start getting down on yourself, look for the other opportunities around you. I know the Lord had another plan for us last week, he wanted us to find people. So, like they say, when one door closes, another one opens! So anyways, we have two new investigators this week, prospects of more next week, and one baptizmal date with the Chinese guy again. He wasn't ready for his last date becasue of the language barrier. He believes and follows all the commandments, but sometimes we get the impression that he has no idea what we are talking about. So, he should get baptized soon, but we want him to have all the scriptures in Mandarin before then. Just so we can know he knows things for sure. The investigator I contacted on transport is named Lev. He is GOLDEN. He believes everything we say, and is so prepared, he doesn't even drink! That's a big deal here. He's about 28, successful, and searching for truth, which is key. The members befreinded him so well at Church yesterday, and I know he just loved the experience. The day we found him on transport was a day we got three jakes. We were so bumbed! But, lo and behold, we found him. If we hadn't been jaked, we would have gotten on a different bus that day. So, like Kimball said, I'm starting to really see the little "entanglings of the Spirit". Such sweet spiritual experiences every day : ) Ok, gotta go! Love you tons. I'm doing well and am SOOO EXCITED for the warm weather! Hope all is well back home.
Dad, the story of Mom just made my cry from laughing! I can just picture it happening. Mom, thank you for being you haha! I can't believe I missed HB's record month of sales and Meesa's Phil concert weekend. Sounds like everything is going well. Carrie, don'e get sick! And, thanks for the Olympic updates. The Russians all seem pretty disappointed around here, especially becasue Pluwenko (sp?) didn't get the Gold. He's on the cover of all the tabloid magazines and seems to be a pretty big national icon here. He's on billboards for Nivea too, I can tell you that : ) That's the extent to my Russian current culture though, tabloid covers and billboards. Dad, I hope all is well with you and you're busy calling! Mom, I'm sure the models look gorgeous and I really do want to see pictures if/when you get a chance. Cassi, A girl! I rote you a letter that expresses all my excitememnt for you and Kelly. Kimball, you're awesome, hang in there.
Could some one give me Victoria's email address, home address, or SOMETHING? Mom, what you said about a testimony of the BOM is so true. It really is the keystone of our religion.
Love you all,
Sister Hakes

Letter from 2/22/10

i Family!

I am writing you from a new internet cafe today! One of the Elders in our Zone found this AMAZING store, like a big store with a parking lot! Anyways, there are rows of check-out lines like Wal-Mart and even an electronics section, etc. It's amazing! I feel like I'm in America again, or even Finland! Ok, well, that really made my day, so I thought I'd pass that on to you. So, yes, today is a rather chilli day in "Chili". We woke up and it said -35 C, which was such a surprise because all last week it was only like -9... so we both put on our big furry coats again. I must say, I'm not a fan of my big furry coat, but it is so warm that I feel grateful to have it. Just in case any of you have wondered why my coat is so ugly : ), there wasn't a lot of time and it was cheap... pretty much what you'd expect for a missionary! Anyways, it is so warm. Russians do know how to stay warm. Ok, Mom, I've been wanting to write this to our family for a while now, but I keep forgetting becasue of everything else I want to write. Anyways, yes, Chelyabinsk is thekind of a radioactive city. I heard all sorts of stories in the MTC and since I've been here that you're hair falls out here and that all sorts of scary growths can start growing on your body....... yeah for me! HAha but no, I haven't had any of those problems. I think they're just rumors, but there are a lot of Babyshka with strange growths... so maybe it is true? Haha I think Josh knows what I'm talking about? But yeah, to answer your question, I guess it is some sort of nuclear waste place or something. I don't know for sure, it's kind of hard to ask the locals and be like, "Did you know your city is radioactive???" So, I don't usually steer the conversation that way. It is really polluted though, I can tell you that. I don't know what else to say though, it's just Chili and I love it. It's my Russian home : )

So, this week has been amazing. I've just been able to really FEEL like a missionary lately. I'm not sure what the difference has been exactly, but I've just really realized how important your companion is. We are just both very committed to the work, and we feel the Spirit very strong in our Companionship when we teach. Teaching has been so good too. I was SO worried about how I was going to be able to teach these people in Russian this transfer, but my companion and I were talking just this morning about how we have both felt so surprised about how that worry has never been manifest. Like, I don't know how it happens. All I know is that when I go into an appointment, I'm usually kind of scared becasue I can only do small talk in Russian for so long, but then, the worries go away. I realize that I'm talking to these people and actually talking to them in Russian! It's the weirdest feeling, like, did that conversation just happen? I honestly don't understand everything they're saying AT ALL, but somehow we also understand what they're talking about JUST enough to know how to respond, and even crazier, we always seem to know what we need to teach them. We have had some very spiritual lessons where I feel like we were able to find the needs of the people we're teaching, and then to address them and commit them to change. I have the biggest testimony now that the Lord really is with His missionaries. It's not like I've heard a voice or felt really strong promptings in our meetings or anything amazing like that, but we don't need that. I feel like when we prepare and study in the mornings and be obediant throughout our day, the Spirit is just with us and all we have to do is open our mouths. It's really cool. I feel kind of ashamed now that I was so worried about this transfer. I really didn't trust the Lord enough. I think sometimes in life I sell myself short, like I don't trust that I am capable of doing certain things. So, so far this transfer, I've learned that I should trust the Lord more. I guess that's a good thing to learn on a mission, right? : )

We found two new investigators again this week : ) One seems very interested, his name is Lev. We taught him the First lesson and he was SO excited about the gospel. Our Elders have a joke though becasue we keep getting male new investigators : ) I think they're worried about the Sisters a little haha... We got two phone calls last week from two different guys we had contacted on transport, and I think they were both drunk, but one confessed his love for us! Haha, so now it's kind of become a joke to see how many new male investigators the Sisters can contact. No worries though about safety though or anything. We're ALWAYS on busy busy streets, and I've never felt not safe. And no, we don't meet with any male investigators without sometone with us. So no worries Mom! The other is a young Muslim girl. She is a Former investigator, and I am not sure how interested she is, but she at least agreed to meet with us again, so we're going to try, but her heart seems pretty set on her other faith. Our less-actives are progressing, and the less-active family we reactivated is doing well. The Dad committed on Saturday to prepare to receive the Priesthood by the end of this month. He is the one we are most worried about, but he is still trying. The Mom gave an amazing talk on Sunday too about the Word of Wisdom, which is what her husband struggles with, so she feels the talk was to help her understand her husband better. She wants him to be so converted, that I'm afraid she'll just push him away. So, she recognized with her talk that she needs to support him better and show love first. They are great : )

Anyways, that's all I have time for. Best of luck with everything to all of you! Love you tons and hope you have a good week :) Cami, thanks for the letter about the Russian girl you met in Carlsbad, I can totally relate to her. And yes, Russians say everything very strong like she said. It kind of makes them seem scarier or like they're upset, but it's just the way they talk! Oh, and I realized why Russians don't smile on the street! It's because you're teeth freeze! I've been trying to smile more like I said, but my teeth really do freeze, like when you eat too much ice creamall at once. Haha, just my theory anyways...

Mees, good luck with your concert! I hope all you girls have fun in Provo together! Mom, congrats on finishing the Model, I bet you're exhausted! Joe!!! You finished! Way to be. You're a stud. I hope you guys enjoyed your little break/vacation, and best of luck with everything. It was so good to hear from you. Cassi, you need to send me a picture of your new house! Colin, I loved your letter. You're such a great guy and I only hear the best things about how you're doing. You keep my faith alive : )

Love you all!


New Transfer as Senior Companion Letter from 2/15/10

Hola Familia!

It's good to hear from all of you, and it sounds like everyone had a fun, chocolate-filled Valentine's Day. Poor Mom though, I hope you're feeling better soon! For some reason I've always loved Valentine's Day, so my companion and I were determined to do something semi-festive. We didn't have any food, but we found enough ingredients in our apartment to make Snickerdoodles. And, lo and behold, we located pink sprinkles in one of our cabinets. So, even here in Russia, we had a good time celebrating yesterday. We gave most of the cookies to some less-actives we dropped-by last night, but we had some too : ) I think it was my first American-type cookie since I've been here. Anyways haha, I'm back in Chili, which means bye bye Finland. We had all sorts of craziness coming back into Russia, but that wasn't totally unexpected. One of the sisters found out her Visa didn't activate Tuesday like the rest of ours did, and her old Visa expired in four hours. Unfortunately, she realized this on the flight from Helisinki into St. Petersburg, so it was crazy trying to find her a way back out of St. Petersburg in four hours. Poor thing, but all is well, or so they say. Sister Hansen and I arrived Wednesday night, and started working Thursday. Everything is going so well already. As you know, I felt a little scared about this transfer, but I've been surprised how well eveything has gone so far. Sister Hansen is awesome, and being with her puts a lot of my worries at rest. We have the same ideas about what we need to do here in Chili, and how we need to work. I am so grateful for that. She is from Idaho and her family has a potato farm : ) Haha. She has three brothers and three sisters, and her Dad is an Archaeologist in Guatemala part of the year, crazy huh. So, she grew up a lot of her life in the jungle, living in a tent. So, Russia is no big deal to her at all haha. She's also really cute and fun too. She's an Art Major at BYU and we have a lot of the same interests. Her Russian is already pretty solid too, thank goodness!

Towards the end of my second transfer with Sister Zakharova, both of us felt like the people we had been meeting with here in Chili were not progressing like we would have liked. We both felt that whoever served in Chili this transfer would need to locate a new pool of people to teach. I don't think we are going to stop meeting with any of the old people I've told you about, but we do want to find some people who are progressing better. Sister Hansen and I have been working with the Area Book a lot, which is really needed. We're trying to contact Former Investigators and Less-Actives to teach, and she's putting together a map of our area with all of the people and where they lived marked on it. So, if we ever have a cancelled appointment or something, we can see who lives close by and try to visit them. Her doing this really helps becasue we have two large areas that are kind of spread out. We've also set some really good goals to talk with everyone -- on the busses, street, etc. We've already seem some success in this too! We had a lady we contacted on the street show-up to Church yesterday, and we met with a Former Investigator who is going to be our new investigator. And we received a referral at Church yesterday from one of the Branch members. That is hopefully three new people to teach already! We have two Former Investigators who agreed to meet with us tomorrow (Tues) too, so we'll see how that goes, so maybe five. I've only been here in Chili for four days, but the last four days have been so intense. We've seen a lot of little miracles already, and I know that you reap what you sow. The work here probably sounds really slow here to most of you, like three new people isn't very much. But things are just different here in Russia, so we're really happy with our little successes!

It's a lot different to be in charge and responsible for finding meetings, etc., but Sister Hansen and I want to make our companionship really equal, and to share all the responsibilities, be unified. Because we're both newer missionaries, everything takes a little longer still, but we're trying our best. We both feel like we haven't worked harder or felt better on our missions yet. It just feels so good at the end of the day to relax and know you did everything you could, ya know? Our Russian is probably the biggest obstacle, but in the meetings we've taught already, we've been able to communicate what we have wanted and to bring the Spirit. While it would be nice to understand everything, I know I need to be patient... I do feel like I'm already understanding and talking better since this transfer started, which I know is the Lord helping me. We really couldn't do this without him, and it is kind of nice to realize that, because then I really know he is on our side.

Our little family, шумиление, the one that recently re-activated and the daughter gt baptized, is doing good. The Mom opened up to me that her husband is not as excited about being active as she is. I hope this doesn't cause a rift between them. He was doing so well, but quitting somking, paying tithing, etc. (basically keeping the commandments) is still hard for him. I totally understand that. I don't want him to resent the Church. And, I want him to be keeping the commandments because he wants to, not becasue his wife wants him to. So, they are a little fragile right now, and we need to keep working with him. Hard to see, and hard to know what to teach them, but everyone has their free agency. I think they'll be okay though.

All is well here and I love you all so much. Thanks for all of your letters, and Mom, I felt your extra prayers this week so much. The Lord really has helped me a lot : )

Sister Hakes or птица (bird)

FINLAND! Letter from February 8th, 2010

Happy Monday Morning Family!

I am writing you from the Finland Temple hostel, which is where we have been staying since Friday afternoon when we arrived. So, yes, that means I am still in Finland! We were supposed to originally leave Sunday, then we got a call saying our Visas wouldnät activate until Monday, then we got another call saying they wouldnät activate until Tuesday... so we will be in Finland until tomorrow (Tues) evening. I probably wonät be in Chili again until Wed. night, crazy! Iäm (the keyboard is part finnish and it wonät let me do apostrapheäs just this= ä ) getting anxious to get back to work, but in all honesty, my time here in Finland has been such a blessing. I donät really know what to say except that Finland is AMAZING! When we got on the airplane from Saint Petersburg to Helsinki, the change was already apparent. The people on the airplane were smiling and happy, I hadnät realized how much I missed that! The Russian people are very different. I donät know how to describe it. I feel they are very closed and hesitant to trust other people, so they never smile or make small talk with people on buses, etc. I didnät realize how adjusted I had become to that culture until the Finnish people were smiling and laughing and it made me feel so good, and I remembered how much I miss that! It made me want to be a happy person in Russia, and not to embrace that aspect of their culture. I understand why the Russian people are the way they are, they have a tough history, and it makes me feel sad for them. So, I need to smile at them and try and make them more happy if that makes any sense, so I want to do that from now on. Anyways, Finland really is an amazing place. The people here all speak English, they all are very fashionable and freindly, every building is beautiful, everything works, I feel like I äm in a five star hotel, the food is healthy and clean, and the Ward here is AMAZING!! Really, I kind of feel bad writing this becasue I have never written anything like this about Russia. I love Russia though, itäs just different. The lifestyle there I am coming to realize is very bare and cold in a lot of ways, and then in other ways, once you know someone, they would do anything for you. Being here in Finland though has made me realize how much Russia needs the Gospel though, how much Russia really needs the missionaries, how much Russia really needs me even. Itäs kind of a sad place, and I know the Gospel is exactly what it needs. The Church is such a baby in Russia. I figured that outside the U.S. the Church was small everywhere, but here in Finland it is so strong! Seeing how strong the members are here made me realize that it WILL be like this in Russia someday too. Russia just needs time. I was just so amazed at Church yesterday, the building was new and clean, the people wore shirts and ties, the Relief Society had activities planned, the testimony meeting was so spiritual, etc. The Church was established here in Finland in 1947, Russia has only had the Gospel since 1991 really, or when the Berlin wall fell, and my mission has only been opened since 1998 I think. Anyways, it was good to be here in Finland! It has been so good to see that the Church is true, wherever you are! And, that there are faithful Saints all over the world. I also felt really certain that Russia will someday be like Finland, and then someday like the U.S., but it takes time. So, I need to not get too frustrated when things donät seem to be functioning like they should at Church, but to be patient and to recognize how much the members in Russia really are pioneers for their country.

Anyways, we got to go to the Temple half day Friday and all day Saturday! So cool! Iäve never had the opportunity to just be in the Temple all day before. It was so spiritually uplifting, I canät even describe it. It made me really want all the people in Russia to go to the Temple, and to have a temple of their own someday. The rumor is that Moscow is on track to get a temple first, becasue that is where the Church is the strongest. However, it needs two stakes to be ready for a temple. Right now there is one, and it was almost ready for two, but they redivided Moscow into two different Missions (East and West), so now they donät have enough members for two stakes. Hopefully soon though. The Russian people travel all the way to Finland or Germany to go to the temple, and the Finnish people say that Russians make up a large majority of the people who come to the Temple. It is soo costly for them to make the long trek to Finland, but they are so dedicated that they make whatever sacrifices they need to get here. Really, the Russian members have to be so strong, its unreal. I feel I have a whole new perspective on the Gospel in Russia since I came here to Finland.

I am also with Sister Rogers and Sister Valgardson right now too, my MTC Companions! Woohoo! It felt like a mini-homecoming when we saw eachother. It is such a blessing to have them in my life, really we have such an amazing bond. And, we get to see eachother every three months on my mission haha. I feel kind of spoiled! Weäve talked a lot and realized that we have gone through a lot of the same experiences. Itäs nice to have people that understand and can relate. So, our time here together has been so amazing and uplifting. I was afraid I would feel distracted from the work, but really, i just feel more fired up to get to work and preach the Gospel when I get back to Chili.

So, in case you canät tell, I am really happy right now! Finland is my new favorite place on earth haha... Today, we have 18 other missionaries coming in from Yekat to renew their visas, including our mission president. There wasnt supposed to be that many of us, but there always seems to be some mix up on visa trips. So, about half of our entire mission will be in finland today and tomorrow. I feel bad that all of these missionaries arenät out in the field doing the work! It is amazing that the Lord wants missionaries in Russia, despite all of the craziness. The people there are that important to him. So, I need to make every moment I have there worth it. The Church is spending a lot of money and time on us Russia missionaries, so I need to give it my all (of course)!

I donät have any stories from missionary work this week, because I havenät done any missionary work this week. I am itching to get back in there though, and to get this crazy third transfer started. I feel more at peace with being the Senior companion, and now I just want to get things started. Love you all!

Sister Hakes

Grandpa- Thanks Grandpa for your email this week. You are so nice to write, and I really appreciate your words of support. You are such a great example to me and I tell your story of how you and Grandma quit drinking and smoking a lot here in the field. Thanks so much for your example.
Dad- Sounds like your calling is keeping you as busy as possible! Thanks so much for your weekly Hakes Headlines. I can just picture you typing them up at home. I really appreciate them. Just remember to take advantage of your time as the Hakes tennis champ, because that will all change in a year when I am home...
Mom- YEs! I got the package from the Ward when I was in yekat last week! Tell them tank you SO MUCH from me. Really, everything was so nice and thoughtful and I felt so lucky! Dad told me how my room is now covered in decorations for hakes Brothers... haha the madness of it all! I am kind of glad I donät have to witness it all first hand. You are so awesome, and I am sure the model will be gorgeous, as usual! You are so talented and HB is lucky! Oh, I got your two DearElder letters in Yekat too. You are so faithful in writing, I am so lucky. And, no, your journal entries are awesome, not boring at all. Keep em coming. Love you tons.
Kimball- Larengitis for two weeks! And I bet you didnät even take one sick day from work... You are so awesome. Take care of yourself though too. My MTC companions need someone to date when they come home! Haha. Good luck with all the house plans, I canät believe HB is wanting 15 sales for Feb and March. Things just must be exploding!
Joe-Katie- I canät believe you are goingt o have three kids when I come home, already! You guys are such a super family. Hang in there Joe, I bet youäre so stressed with work, Katie too. Say hi to the kiddos for me
Chris-Francisca- Francisca I am so glad to hear you are doing better! Thanks so much for your letters, really you are so awesome to write! Thanks for your experiences, and I am so glad you can relate to what I am doing here in Russia, and how intimidated I feel with my next transfer. I loved the red and pink email for Valentines day, haha so cute!Chris, thanks for your letter last week or the week before. Dad says it is the most amazing sight to see you prop one twin on each knee and bottle feed them. You are seriously superhuman haha... Thanks for your great example!
Cami-Marcus- Cami, your kids are cuter and cuter! I canät believe how big Lucas is looking. He looks so much like Marcus. What a proud Mom and dad. Thanks for the update from your blog, looks like you all had a fun time in Cloudcroft together. You are so pretty, just thought Iäd say that. I canät believe youäve had four kids, you look so great!
Josh-Melissa- Hailey is turning three!! Oh my gosh time flies. She is going to be breaking hearts before you know it! Josh, I love your emails. You are so sweet and I am sure you are doing an awesome job as EQ President... Kimball says so in his letters. I am glad you are loving work and family. You and Melissa are such great parents.
Bear- I got your package too! You are so sweet! You are so thoughtful to send me something, really, I loved it. And, the Reeces were so much appreciated. Russia doesnät have ANY peanut butter at all, so any candy with peanut butter is nonexistent. Way to be Bear! Your Bird was so happy.
Cassi-Kelly- Kelly, thank you so much for your letter last week. I can totally relate to your stories from your mission. Cassi, I hear the morning sickness is still going strong for you! I hope it eases up soon. Do you have a belly yet_ I canät imagine you with a belly haha... I need pictures!
Meesa- Congrats on moving up a chair in orchestra! You kind of make me sick at how talented you are haha. Way to conquer it. Thanks for your letter about apartment finding last week. Haha I loved it! Everything you said was so true, and yes, everything is scarier when youäre in an unfamiliar place! I am so glad Jen is coming to live with you. You are so lucky to have eachother, esp. right now. best of luck with your concert, and I am so glad Mom will getr to be there for it.
Megan McCutcheon- Megan! I got your DearElder last week when I was in Yekat. You are so nice and dont worry, you will always be the most importnant Megan in my life. And, yes, you can tell Michael that I have used the Priesthood already haha. You have absolutely no reason to worry about being a nurse, you will kill it! And, I canät imagine someone who wouldnt want you to be their nurse. You are so good at taking care of people. Speaking of which, I dont know what I want in a package! Haha... and your eally dont need to, sorry had to say it! haha, if you do want to though, you can send it to the mission home address i hjave on facebook. Donät use pouch and pretty much any sort of box-envelope works. You are so sweet and dont feel obligated to send anything
Cody Sowards- Thanks so much for the blog updates and for your little emails of support. You are so thoughtful to do that, seriously. Your family is so adorable and I am so glad everything is going well for you all. Say hi for me!
Sean Escalante- Oh my gosh, thank you so much for your letter! Haha, it was so funny with the story about that lady in Florida. You really were the luckiest Elder in your mission! Itäs so true too, sometimes you think youre going through something really hard, and then you can look back and laugh and see how everything is ok. Thanks!

Oh, happy valentines day to all!!