Sunday, March 27, 2011

January 10, 2011

I have no time this week, sorry! I am trying to apply online to BYU.
MOM!!!! You need to get my transcript from NMSU sent to BYU ASAP! Deadline is February 1st. Love you and thanks : )
I got transfered is my big news of the week : ( I am going to be Training AGAIN and white-washing AGAIN in the city of Perm. This will be my fourth time training, and my second time white-washing haha. I was a little surprised, but I am actually really excited. It'll keep in top form for the end of my mission. We ended-up being so busy in Botanika, that the mission president added another companionshiop to my old area, which makes me so happy! no mor time....
Here is a little excerpt of my letter to President. That's all I got this week. Love you all

I am so sad I am leaving Botanika! However, I am so happy that there will be four sisters there! I love the people there so much, and I feel like it will forever be my Russian home. I don't think the loss of leaving yet has really settled in, but I am sure that will happen in time. I am excited to be Training again though. I wasn't expecting too, but I never have expected to yet, so thanks for keeping that tradition alive : ) I know Training and wite-washing will be difficult, but that is nothing new! I am actually really looking forward to it, because I know it will keep me as busy and focused as ever, which is what I want for my last two transfers. I've heard Perm is awesome too, so that is exciting, along with my first tain/elektrishka ride!
Vladislav's wife is still on the fence, but we are giving him the paper for her to sign on Tuesday. We think that will be a really crucial and tlling step for them. We definitely don't want any more of a wedge to exist in their relationship because of the Church.
Vladimir was taught the Plan of Salvation rather thoroughly this week, and it seemed to help! The whole thing about not receiving exaltation without baptism seemed to motivate him more than before. He agreed to think about baptism some more and so we'll see what happened.
Sasha passed the Sacrament yesterday at Church! He was pretty unsure of what he was doing, but he made it through okay. He wore a white shirt, tie, and suit, and President Solomein has already assigned him a calling. He is his quorum President. He seemed pretty happy about that. He told us that he wasn't sure Joseph Smith was a prophet yet, which really frightened us, but he did say he believed, which is most important. We're working on changing his belief into knowledge though.
Tatiana and her boyfriend came to Chuch again, and they seem to be doing rally great. She has a lot of real intent. She even brought her nonmmber friend with her, so that is exciting. She has a hard tim understanding th Book of Mormon, and that is probably her biggest obstacle right now.
We had four or five member rffrals last week, and almost all turned into new investigators, which is exciting too. Most of our investigators live in Botanika, so I was afraid the Ximash sisters wouldn't have investigators to meet with, but almost all of the investigators we found last week live in their area, so that was a tender mercy. I hope they enjoy and love the area as much as I do. I'm sure they will!
Sister Hakes

January 3, 2011

Happy Monday Morning to you all!
Well, hold on.... I'm trying to remember what happened this week... ok, now I remember:
We had New Years at home on half of Friday and all of Saturday! Yay! You all know how much af a homebody I am, so that was a nice break. However, we tried to sleep New Years evening, but the fireworks made it rather impossible. I was looking forward to maybe taking a nap and catching-up on some sleep Saturday during the day, but we were given a schedule of how to use our time at home, so we followed the schedule, which unfortunately did not include a nap. However, the blessings of obedience are real, and I have felt rather energized since New Years despite not being able to catch-up on any sleep.
Vladislav's wife has agreed to let him get baptized! I don't know what happened, but it is so awesome! However, like usual, there is another hang-up. I swear, I always think that as soon as Vladislav can get over this hurdle, then he'll be ready for baptizm. But, no. He has stopped sleeping in the evenings for some unknown reason, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but he recently got a new job, and if he's not sleeping at night, then he falls asleep at work during the day. To keep himself from falling asleep at work, he drinks tea, which is sad, because now he is saying he can't quit tea! Sigh. It'll all work out I am sure, but his baptizm for this Saturday is looking rather unlikely. Maybe he'll pull through though, we'll see! Pray for him.
Sasha is doing great, and yesterday he received the Priesthood at Church! We have very limited Priesthood in our branch, so it is very nice to have a new addition. He told us yesterday at Church though that he has been reading the Book of Mormon, and he has some really "important, and serious questions" about what he has read. He said they weren't good questions. That kind of worried us. We have a meeting scheduled with him for tonight, and I am sure everything will be okay. I told him that he just needs to believe and remember his testiomny regardless of whatever questions he may have, but to keep that fouindation of faith. He said, "Of course I believe!" And, when we asked him if he was doubting, he said "Of course not!" Haha. All will be well with him I am sure. He has a very believeing heart, which is very endearing. He is rather childlike in his faith.
Tatiana the lady we had a baptizmal date for on Christmas came to Church yesterday with her boyfriend from Norway. She is so golden! Her boyfriend is an excommunicated member, but has had a change of heart and is working with his Bishop in Norway to get re-baptized. He really wants Tatiana to get baptized too so they can be sealed in the Temple together. It is rather sweet. She really wants a happy family because both of her parents died when she was young, and she says she really feels something special at Church. So, I am sure she will be getting baptized soon. Yay for miracles!
Yana, the little girl that comes to Church on her own, set a baptizmal date in early Februray! Her mother was kind of unsure about the Church, but we've really been working with her, and she has now come to Sunday's in a row. And, she agreed to let her daughter get baptized in our Church, and not in the Russian Orthodox Church. She is a very nice lady, but is the classic example of hopelessness. She just has had trouble raising her other children, and she doubts that anyone can really keep the commandments of God successfully. She doesn't think Yana will make it. But, Yana has the desire, so that is the first step.
What else.... let me give you some fun "Russian" info.
People's car engine's freeze if they don't periodically start them. So, if you own a car in Russia, you have to wake-up every three hours at least to turn your car on and let it run for a good thirty minutes. That is at least three times during the evening! The big thing here is having an automatic timer for your car, so it can turn itself on during the night without having to get up. Crazy huh? It's like having a baby!
People have GRILLS. Meaning, I have never seen so much gold teeth in my life. In fact, people have, on numerous occasions, have stopped my companion and I on the street to comment on our "white teeth." They even say we need to be in the movies if our teeth are so white. It's really funny. They can always spot we're foreigners because we smile on the street. I don't even realize I am smiling most of the time, but I think just having my mouth open is strange, I don't know...
If you don't have a hat on outside, they will stop you and tell to cover your head, or you will catch a cold. They take this very seriously. I can understand now, when it is really freezing outside, but even in early Fall, they were stopping my companion and I to tell us to cover up, or we'll catch cold! It is also rather comical to us, but maybe there is some truth in that.
Well, that is my letter for this week. It was, again, so so nice to see all your faces on Skype. I really felt like I had come home from the mission in that I didn't feel far away from you all for a couple of days, so that was nice.
Some notes:
Mom, I haven't gotten your Mormon Tab CD yet, did you send a package beside the pumpkin one that didn't make it? I haven't seen anything yet, but I'll keep an eye out. I haven't had a chance yet to buy that Russian jacket, but I appreciate the funds and I will try to purchase it sometime soon. Thanks : ) Oh, can you check out BYU for me, PLEASE? I need to probably re-apply, but could you call them and have them look-up my status, so I know exactly what I need to do to re-apply. Thanks. I loved your weekly email, it was nice to hear updates from everyone. Love and appreciate you lots!
Meesa, I got your Christmas package! Thanks so much for the red sweater! I am wearnig it today... Deh. Say hi to Collin!
Cassi, thanks for your letter. The YW Program here is not quite the same, but they try. There are three girls in YW in my Branch, and they are sisters. I don't think they have any special activities that I know of, but they do meet asYW on Sunday like usual, so that is good. If I could say an expereice that stuck out to me, I'd say Girls Camp, lessons on dating were always my favorite (not gonna lie), and I remember doing my Personal Progress for Individual Worth and really enjoying that. On the mission, I often share the story of when I first felt the love of God, and it was doing the Individual Worth value project, when I read D&C 18:10. That is still my favorite scripture, as you know. I think it was really important for me to learn who I was as a daughter of God, and that is what helped me most growing up. You'd really be impressed by the three sisters in my Ward. They are so strong, and yet they have no one else their age that are members. Maybe you could tell your girls about them? Their names are Liza, Lena, and Anya Kaigorodova. P.S. the pic of you all + Greycoat made me laugh. I've spotted a couple Greykote look-a-likes here and Russia and have even taken pictures of them. I'll show you when I get back : )
Dad, no pressure about the cat : ) It was just a suggestion haha. Though, reading your commentary on why it is best to NOT have one, was rather hilarious. You really have put up with a lot! Thanks for the letter, even though Mom was trying to keep you off the computer. And, thanks for forwarding the letter to my ldsmail account. Yes, it does matter where it gets sent to. I can only get email at the lds account.
Anyways, love you so much!
Sister Hakes

December 27, 2010

Hi Family!

It was so amazing to see you all on Skype! It was such a blessing for me. Sorry I cried a lot... but what can be done? Really, my family is so beautiful. I have kind of been on cloud 9 since we talked. So, thanks. That was the best Christmas present I could have had. No worries Joe! I understand completely! I'll be seeing you soon enough I suppose, and yes, I did get your letter a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for thinking of me : )

Yes, Christmas was somewhat a stressful day, but good. The baptizm went beautifully! We had it in the brand new Church building in Ekat, and the building is gorgeous! It is way nicer than our building back home. They have waited so long to have their own building, and now they do! I'll send you some pics of the baptizm. Sasha was so so so nervous before the actual baptizm happened, and the font wasn't filled too high, so he had to be dunked from like knee high. But, he got in an his first try, and all is okay. After the baptizm, we got stuck in traffic for an hour and a half, and was that late (along with everyone else) getting to our Christmas dinner. So, we got to sit and eat for about an hour, and then we went to our English Club with President Allcott.

Sister Muhlestein and I have put a lot of work into making our English club special. When I first came to Botanika, we had two regulars in class. Now we have about 8-10 regulars, and others that pop in every now and then. We have met with almost every one of them and feel like we are slowly warming them up to having more interest in the Gospel. They really have come a long way. We went to a big effort to make our Christmas with them special, and gave them stockings, etc. We thought President would enjoy English Club, but he and Sister Allcott weren't too impressed, which was honestly hard to hear after all of our hard work. But, they only have our best interests at heart. We came home Christmas evening rather somber, but their advice was very wise, so we'll try and do better.

The next day (Sunday) we had a great Sabbath, and a girl we've been meeting with came to Church with her Mom, which was really cool. We had a couple other investigators show-up, and it was a really great meeting. Sasha got the gift of the Holy Ghost, and he says he feels "powerful." Haha. Too bad we didn't tell him to close his eyes during the blessing. He kept them open the whole blessing (yes, I peeked). We had the District Christmas party that evening, and Sister Muhlestein and I played a duet on the violin. It was a very well done program, and it felt a little like Christmas : ) We then went caroling to some people in the evening. The Holidays are nice because there are a lot of unique ways to serve people, like caroling for example. Too bad they usually don't know what caroling or Christmas is!

I love Christmas, and it is cool to know that you can enjoy it wherever you are in the world, because it really is all about Christ. We were encouraged as a mission to give something to Christ this year, like to give him a present for his birthday. I think I've decided what I'm going to give, and I would encourage you all to find something you too can give. Hope you all had a very special Christmas weekend! Let me know what you gave, as well as what you got!

Merry Christmas!

Sister Hakes

December 20, 2010

Hi Family!

First, those family pictures from Ruidoso look so fun! I am so glad you all got to be together for the holidays. It just struck me how big our family is. By the time I get home, I won't recognize any of the grandkids I'm sure. And, that would be way cool to have everyone there when I get home, but of course I understand that might not be possible, especially for the family in Georgia! Anyways, that is still a little ways off : ) Yay for a White Christmas morning together. So wait, is everyone going home for the actual Christmas day, or is there more festivities together in LC?

Second, The weather hasn't been that cold I don't think! I have heard minus 30 Celius, but not minus 31 Farenheit! So, while it is very cold, I would say that what they are saying is celius, might in reality be farenheit. Either way, I appreciate the concern for my warmness. I have yet to freeze too bad, and with all the layers I put on (it takes a while to get dressed), I feel pretty hot most of the time unless I am outside, then I feel slightly chilled to say the least, but not bad. Only my face gets really cold.

Third, I get to call home for Christmas using ................ (you ready?)..................................

SKYPE!! YAY!! The Mission Department just sent out an email approving skpe for missionaries calling home! I am pretty certain that most of the missionaries won't have access to a computer, but the Senior couple in my Branch has already offered to have us come to their home and use their skype account. I have never used skype before and don't really know how, but they would suggest that you call me on their account. Here is what they wrote me:

Our Skype address is “Wayne or Eva”and if your parents want to try it before Christmas to see that it works we usually have the computer on in the evening until 10:00pm our time. If they wish to sent their Skype address to us, our e-mail is:

Have a good day,

Elder and Sister Hassell

YAY!! I get to see your faces! I am pretty sure you have a camera right? I have heard you mention that you've used skype to call the grandkids before, so I'm pretty sure I'll see you lovely faces very soon! Best Christmas Ever! Ok, here is the plan:

Please call ME your Christmas Eve at 8 PM. It will be my Christmas Morning at 8 AM. I will proly only have about an hour. If it doesn't work for whatever reason and you don't get through to me, I'll just call you on Mom or Dad's cell phone later. I am so excited!!

Four, and best of all:


Last Sunday, a guy named Sasha was invited to Church by his friend. He went to the other Branch building in Ekat, but the sisters there got his info and it turns out he lives in Botanika. We called him Sunday evening, and set-up a meeting with him for Monday evening. He comes and he has the strongest belief in Christ, is a lawyer, and is very spiritual. He is golden, no other way to describe it! Anyways, I extended the baptismal committment for the 25th of December (a little less than two weeks from then) and he turned us down, saying a decision like that would take a lot of thought and time. Anyways, we were kind of sad, but we knew he would still get baptised sooner or later. As the week goes on, all of our other prospective baptismal daters didn't answer their phones, sad! They are all still doing okay (now that we've heard from them), but the week was definitely a "trial of our faith" to put it nicely. We were starting to maybe accept the fact that we wouldn't see a baptizm the 25th as a companionship after all. One investigator got a new job and is too busy, the other is still waiting for his wife's permission, and the other is backing-out on her testimony. Bah.... Agency! So, we were having a self-pity party a little this week.

Anyways, Sasha came to a Youth FHE Friday night and enjoyed it, camt to Church on Sunday and stayed all three hours. He was really listening to everything so intently, and he even decided to go back to the other Branch building for the youth Fireside that evening. Ok, so once he gets to the Fireside (we weren't there, we had a different mtg.), he walks in and says," What do I do if I have a question?" And the Senior couple there said it would, "Depend on the question." And he said:


Ahh! It was so crazy. They told him to call us of course, and we talked to him over the phone, and he said he felt the Spirit so strongly at Church, and he just knew it was all true, and he wants to get baptized on Christ's Birthday! It was such a miracle!

Our Zone has been working so hard, fasting, praying, contacting in the freezing, and just trying all we can to get a baptizm on Christmas Day. It was looking really optimistic the whole time, but last week everything fell through at the last minute. But, the Lord is so merciful, and so amazing, that he just gave us this miracle for our Zone at the last minute. We really didn't do anything. My companion and I just freaked-out when we got the phone call. It really hows that we can try all we want, make plans all we want, but it really is the Lord's will. I have grown so much from this experience. Learning to try and exercise faith and work hard to acheive goals, even when they really seem like the impossible. I feel really happy for all the missionaries in our Zone too, because I feel they all played a part in fellowshipping Sasha. So, it has been a really sweet, tender experience for us. I don't think I really, truly believed in miracles before my mission. I am not sure I really believed that God really took an active part in our lives, but now I really feel certain, beyond a doubt, that he really is there and that he knows us. I wouldn't say I ever had the most faith in the world, but now I would have to say that my faith has grown so much, and I really have seen miracles, more than I ever thought possible. It'll be a White Christmas after all!

Oh, and the Church Building that has been under construction for YEARS here in Ekat, just got signed and handed over this weekend. So Sasha will be the first person baptized in the actual Church building font in Ekat! It won't be in a spa center like usual, yay.

Well, there is more I could write, but you can just give me a call later this week : )


Sister Hakes

December 13, 2010

This past week was AMAZING! I have never seen more miracles in my life! I don't mean to get all exclamation mark crazy, but the Lord is so merciful!
I really don't know where to start. I guess the beginning would be the best.
Remember that long trek out into the snow, in the blizzard? Well, like Sister Allcott said, that definitely was the trial of our faith. As a result of much prayer, goal-setting, and fasting, Sister Muhlestein and I saw so many miracles this past week. Our Zone and mission has a goal to get a baptizm per companionship for the 25th of December. We're all dreaming of a White Christmas, meaning a lot of people in white baptizmal clothes Christmas Day. As of last week, we had no investigators scheduled with a Baptizmal Date for Christmas. But, as of today, we have three baptizmal dates for the 25th! And two of the three, were people we found and met with for the first time only last week. Crazy!
One, is a 30 year lady named Tatiana, who called the Mission Office last week herself, and wanted to hear more about the Church. That like never happens, at least never to me. So, she lives in our area, but because our area is like the size New Mexico (only slightly exaggerating), she lives like 2 hours by bus from our house. But, we head out there, and she pretty much asked us "What do I need to do to be baptized?" She is so golden and prepared. Not gonna lie, she was slightly surprised by how high our standards are. The whole tithing, word of wisdom, law of chastity thing kind of threw her for a bit. But, after promising blessings, she is wanting to really find out for herself if it is true. And, if she finds out by the 25th, she agreed to be baptized! Yay for miracles! I guess she has a boyfriend in Norway that is a member of the Church, and when she went to visit him, she went to a service there. She didn't understand anything because it was in Norwegian, but she said she felt something special, and she really liked all the activities, and the Church's emphasis on families. Not sure if her boyfriend is totally active or not, but she has a sincere desire to see if the Church is true, which is so awesome to see. I know the Lord put her in our path and that she is so prepared.
Two, Vladislav accepted a Baptismal Date for the 25th! It is totally up to his wife's consent, but we know the Lord can make all things happen. He really is wanting to get baptized, and he even fasted on Saturday to see a miracle! He says his wife is already starting to soften up and, he has already been such a miracle to me already, that I really know anything is possible. He is just a completely different person now than when I first met him this past summer. He has so much more of a testimony of our Savior, and he actually is acting and doing things in his life. He evn got a job. He calls us every morning at like 7 am just to wish us a happy day. He is such a nice man, and he is on fire with the Gospel.
Three, a man in our Ward, Uri Popov, called us early one morning, and said that he has a friend that wants to meet with us. We call the friend, and it turns out she is a frmer investigator I met with once in like May, but she really wasn't interested in May when Sister Hanks and I met with her. But, I guess her life got pretty hard since then, and she said that the biggest help for her has been the Book of Mormon. She has been reading it, and she knows it is true. She used to go to Church every Sunday a long time ago, and she says that she recognizes now the Spirit that she felt there, and that she wants that back in her life. She has problems with the Word of Wisdom, and so her getting baptized so soon is going to take a miracle, but, again, anything is possible : )
Please keep these people in your prayers, because they all have hurdles they need to overcome to be ready for the 25th.
Other miracle(s):
We found another family! On our way back from Pday Frisbee, we took a cab back to our area, and the driver was this hilarious man, that had my companion and I laughing so hard. We get into a spiritual discussion with him, and it turns out he has two sons, one of which is handicapped. He and his wife are Evangelical, which is really rare here, adn they go to Church every Sunday. He has already quit drinking and smoking, and when we asked if we could meet with him and share our message with him later, he said that "It sounds like this is something my wife and I should do together, so let me talk to her, and then we can set-up a meeting together." We were so happy, and it turns-out she agreed to meet with us too! I haven't taught anyfamilies my whole mission, and now, after fasting for them, the Lord has given us two. Such a blessing.
Lena is doing so well, and says hi to you all. She came to Church on Sunday, and was put with to other amazing, young, single sisters to do Visiting Teaching. The ward is really trying to do their part in fellowshipping her, and it is very touching to see.
Just random people in our branch keep referring us to friends and family, and Sister Muhlesteing and I just have to much work to do! Really. We ran all over town last week, and we still didn't meet with everyone we need to. It would be nice if we got another companionship here in our area. Maybe I'll pass that along to the Mission President : )
Okay, well, there is a lot more I could write, but that will do it for this week.
Thanks everyone for your support in my decision to stay on the mission 6 weeksd longer. It really helped to hear all your words of support and encouragement. Time flies and I will be home before any of us know it. Hope all is well with you, and thank-you for your prayers, obviously they work!
Love you all,
Sister Hakes

Friday, March 18, 2011

December 6, 2010

Hi family!
I can't believe the whole family is going to be together in just twelve days! Is Christmas already that soon? Dad, you are such a sweetie for going around and taking pictures of everyone at Thanksgiving and sending them to me. It was so thoughtful. Houston has a son??
Sounds like the home is all Christmas lighted and festive as usual. Remember when we lived on Horseshoe Circle, and we had extrmemly outlandish Chirstmas lights, that we forced Dad into putting-up every year? Ya I remember. Esp. when Mom forced Josh on the roof to hang-up the star, which almost costed Josh's life. Yay for loving Christmas! Speaking of which, what would be a good time for me to call you all? Let me know. It will need to be pretty early in the morning, or pretty late in the evening on either Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve.
As for my decision.........
I've decided to stay. I really hope that is okay with you all. In fact, it breaks my heart to write and say that I won't be seeing you for so long, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't feel it was right. I will be the first to admit that it would be a lot easier for me to come home than to stay, but I feel like I need to stay. I feel like Heavenly Father would be eqully pleased with me staying or going, but I know that I would always regret or wonder what might have happened had I stayed longer. I have a lot of faith that things will work out as they should. In fact, my stay has been approved by the First Presidency. There are five sisters in the same situation as me (all the sisters I was with in the MTC) and all five, without us being able to discuss with one another, decided to stay, which is truly remarkable. Even more remarkable, SLC gave us the okay to have us all stay, supposedly that is somewhat unusual? Our decision had to be approved by them I guess. I'd appreciate your support in this, because, it was a very difficult decision for me to make. And, I made it. It wasn't the Mission President or anything. Don't worry Mom, I'll still try to come home healthy, physically and mentally, and not just spiritually : ) I haven't forgotten about those things, I promise. I feel like the Lord will bless me more in every way and in every thing for my decision to stay. Plus, I really have no emergency reason for going home. No school, pending job, etc. So, my going home would only be because I wanted to, and I don't feel comfortable with that being the only reason.
I do have a request: I need to get readmitted to BYU for the upcoming Fall semester. I can't do all of that from here. Mom, could you call them for me and get that process started for me? President Allcott says I can do what I need to from here, but if you could at least let me know what I need to do to readmit, I would appreciate it. Thanks!
Miracle(s) of the week:
We decided to fast as a mission this Sunday (5th) to find more families to teach the Gospel. I've never taught a full family. Friday, at District Meeting, we talked as a zone as to how we can better find families to teach the Gospel. Friday night, we get a call from the Assistants (they're in our zone) saying they found a family that lives in our area! Crazy! Never in my mission have I been able to teach a family, then as soon as we plan and decide to fast for it, we get a family to teach. They are pretty cool and we have a planned Family Home Evening with them on Wednesday. So excited!
Brat Arkaidi is still active for the most part, and he got us a new investigator. A 17 year old kid named Sasha that is his neighbor. Arkaidi has been telling us "I vant to be an elderrr," since I first came to botanika. He finally did it! He loves missionary work, and has such a jolly, infectious attitude that, once he gets super strong, he will be such an asset to the Church here.
Eugene, an investigator we found through English club, told us that we need to start meeting more often, and he came to Church on Sunday. He translated for the Senior couple in our branch, and he is their new best friend. He loves English and enjoyed the meeting so much. It was a little miracle that we thought to invite him to Church as a trnslator, otherwise, I'm not sure he would've ever come. But, point is, he came, and he enjoyed it! He wants to start meeting with us and the Hassell's more regularly.
We found Vladimir's concern! He is the guy we always talked to over the phone, but now meet in person. He is probably the most indecisive person I have ever met, so it is very difficult to find out how he feels or thinks about anything we teach. However, our last meeting, he suddenly opened-up. He said out of nowhere "you two have everything." I was kind of taken off gaurd, and wondered where is this coming from? I know he is poor and he works shoveling snow on the streets, but I didn't think he ever resented us. He clarified, "You have everything because you have felt the Holg Ghost. I've never felt it before." He then bowed his head all distruaght-like. Sad, but so sweet! So, he is doing better now.
I contacted a guy on the bus about three weeks ago, and on the bus he had told me that we were "angels from God" because we offered a free English class. He is from Uzbekistan, but lives here to help his family back home have a better life. He rarely sees his family, but feels like if he learned English it would help him a lot career-wise. Anyways, he took a BOM at English Club Saturday, and we have a mtg set up for next week. Yay for new investigators that already believe we're messengers from God!
Funny story:
We had leadership training last week at the Mission home with all the Zone Leaders again. Because I seem to be a perpetual trainer, I got to go and it was way fun (as usual). We practiced extending commitments, and following-up. President Allcott chose the Law of Chastity as the committment we had to practice teaching, and we had a five minute time limit. To demeonstrate the point of being able to teach clearly and quickly, he randomly called Sister Muhlestein and I to the front of the group to demonstrate. The task was to teach the Law of Chastity to the MIssion President in front of all the ZLs in two minutes or less. Haha it was super awkward, and it was definitely a "learning experience." What was even more awkward, was that we were the only Sisters there, so all the Elders had to practice teaching us, and I had to play the role of an investigator that had not lived the Law of Chastity during the past week. Haha there were some definite funny moments, and it was a bonding moment. Yay for the always uncomfortable Elder-Sister relations!
Love you all and talk to you soon!
Sister Hakes
P.S. Just imagine that I am coming home in February 17th as planned, but that, last minute, I ended-up staying six weeks longer. That will make the time go more swiftly, at least I hope, because that is what I am planning on doing : )

Letter from November 29, 2010

Hi Family!
Sounds like Thanksgiving was a big hit for you all! I can't believe how much has happened, and Jenn Haught is engaged!? Wow, that was a shock to me. Thanks for the pictures. I loved seeing the three redheads on the camel. I was wondering what kind of an animal it was for a long time. Carrie, that picture of you was so stunning! All pretty with a flower in your hair : )
A lot happened this past week, including SNOW! I think we have gotten at least two feet of snow within the past five days. It has been non-stop, which makes travel rather difficult. They can't seem to clear the roads fast enough. I thought last winter really wasn't that cold, but now all the memories are coming back, and I realize that it is a nice thing that our memories aren't perfect haha. Those pictures you sent me Dad are great. I personally haven't seen anything like that, but last winter we supposedly didn't get a lot of snow. With the way the weather has been looking lately, being snowed-in doesn't seem unlikely.
The above picture is me Thanksgiving day here in Russia. Sister Muhlestein and I were late getting to an appointment because of the transport problems, and we were walking down a street I'd never been before. We had our heads down, not really looking anywhere but at our feet as we walked. For whatever reason, I look-up and see this huge Russian Orthodox Church at the end of the street. I felt like I was in a snow globe! Everything was all white everywhere, and the church just looked so mystical. So, despite the lateness, I had to snatch a picture. Speaking of Thanksgiving, we got to have a Thanksgiving lunch on Friday. Last year, we got to celebrate the day more, but that kind of created some conflicts in the mission. We didn't observe the Russian holidays, but we observed the American ones... Anyways, we did get to have a lunch, and the adorable senior couple here in Ekat got all excited and went all out and made it really special. One of the other attached pictures is our Zone at the Mission Office after we finished eating. They even assigned the Elders to make some decorations for the lunch, and it was pretty hysterical what they came up with.
Miracle of the week: We taught Lena on Monday about tithing, and she said that she receives 10,000 rubles a from work, and she uses 9,000 rubles to pay for her apartment. So, if she were to pay tithing, it would be everything she had. I was starting to get worried, like "Oh no! Here we go with the endure to the end part..." But, she is so amazing! She said that she doesn't really need money for food right now, because she could just live off of the Spirit she said, but that she did need money to get to and from work. Her anxiety wasn't over whether or not to pay, but what to do once she has paid, because she was certain that she was going to pay. Anyways, we promised her the blessings, and she said, "Yes, I know God will bless me, because he has already promised me." Her faith is so amazing. At Church on Sunday, she shows up and asks me right away, who do I gove my tithing to? She was all excited : ) The mtg was about to start, so I told her later. By the time Church had ended, she had asked me like three times, Can I pay my tithing now? Once, she paid it, she just seemed so happy! I asked her if everything was going to be okay financially, and she said, "I got paid a lot more than usual this past week at work." Miracle already! The Lord is so merciful and he just loves Lena so much. I just want her to find a good member boy to marry now...
Miracle number two: Vladislav has quit smoking! Well, this is day number three, but that is a HUGE accomplishment for him. He used to be this like, lifeless, lazy man, but he gets up every morning and goes swimming now, and just recently found a new job! The Gospel really does change lives, and he is proof of that. His wife just needs to soften her heart, and then he will get baptized. I know that will happen, and I even feel like it could happen soon!
Funny story of the week: Our Mission President told us that we are the number one baptizing mission in the Europe East Area now for like seven weeks or something! Yay! Remember when I wrote in the summer, that our mission just felt like something was about to happen here in Ekat? Well, it has. I feel like the work is getting easier in some way, and I know that it is the Lord blessing us for doing the things we should. My faith has grown a lot. Anyways, we still were falling short on our monthly baptizmal goal, and he challenged us to go out and get some more miracles. Sister Muhlestein and I took that literally, and decided that we were going to, with the Lord's help, find somebody to baptize by this Tuesday (aka tomorrow the 30th). We went home and planned a course of action for our investigators. We then fasted all day Saturday to find the miracle. Haha well Sunday, a less-active showed-up with her friend at Church on Sunday, and the friend agreed to let us come by that night and teach him a lesson. We were so excited because that like never happens. We were already super booked on Sunday, so we couldn't get there much earlier than 8. He lived WAY far away, and we had to walk for like thirty minutes in what felt like a blizzard. We then get to the right building, and we are like up to our knees in snow haha. We finally find the right number, and go inside, and it was like the creepiest hallway I've ever been in. I'm not supposed to write things home that are negative, so I'll spare you. Just know that I felt like I was in a Haunted House or something. Turns out, nobody was home anyways! Haha. Why do I tell you this? Because Sister Muhlestein and I realized that we love Heavenly Father enough to do that. And it was worth it : ) It will be a cherished memory from the mission I am sure. We even documented the event. That would be picture number three.
I love you all! Thanks for all you letters, love, and support : )

Sister Hakes

Letter from November 22, 2010

Hey Family!
This week was so amazing! Lena got baptized! It was such a special day for her, and she felt the Spirit so strongly! It was such a blessing! We had District Conference this past week (like Stake Conference), so we got to have President and Sister Allcott come, as well as a Russian member of the 70, Elder Reshetnikova to the baptizm because they were all in town. VIP baptizm! Sister Muhlestein and I stressed a lot trying to get everything put together nicely for the baptizm, and it went amazingly well. We did a really cool musical number (all translated in Russian) and we miraculously found a banya (spa) to hold the service at. We don't have our own building yet, so it has to be done at a spa place. We found a huge one, and they even gave us a huge discount. The baptizm was, honestly, one of the most spiritual meetings I've been to here in Russia! Having all of that presiding priesthood at the meeting made it so spiritual. The expereince will be so memorable for her, for the rest of her life. She told me the feelings at her baptizm were so strong, and she felt the Spirit so much, that it was a much more powerful than even when Elder Glogolev gave her a blessing. Then, after receiving the Holy Ghost at District Conference on Sunday (in front of the whole district and with a 70 and mission president in the blessing circle), she said she almost couldn't walk back to her seat because the Spirit was so strong . The blessing was beautiful. She called it "Two miraculous days" and she went home and wrote about them in her journal. Her conversion has just touched me so much, and it has increased my faith too. People are ready and being prepared by the Lord! Sister Muhlestein and I are going to have a miraculous transfer! We can just feel it. We set transfer goals, and we feel like we could get upwards of three baptizms. We have 5 or 6 progressing investigators right now, and like four of them are potential priesthood holders. They all have their specific hurdles they need to get over, but it is, of course, possible! Zone Conference was Friday, the day before the baptizm, and, as usual, perfect and so inspirtational. I really feel like my faith is stronger than it has ever been, and I really just want to bring people unto Christ more than ever before. The Church is so true and this past week was very faith building. I get to stay in Botanika again!!! Yay! I was so happy to find out! Sister Muhlestein and I will be together again! Zone Conference and District Conference was amazing and so inspirational. I have a lot of thoughts and new insights that are going to help motivate me this next coming transfer. I'd love to share some of them with you, but I don't have time... As you can tell, this past week was super crazy and amazing all at the same time!
Snow fell and stuck the same day as Lena's baptizm, the 20th. It is all white and FREEZING here now, and I pulled-out my big winter coat again. It has finally arrived and here to stay I am sure.
I love you all though! Thanks Cassi and Josh for the sweet letters,
Sister Hakes
P.S..... so the first picture is of me, Lena, and my companion. not the best picture of me, or lena, but what can you do?
the second picture is (from right to left) President Allcott, Sister Allcott, Lena, and Elder Rashetnakov (the member of the 70). YAY!
please forward these pics Mom and Dad : )

Letter From November 15, 2010

Hi Family,

We have no snow yet, hooray! When I landed in Russia this time last year, there was like 6 inches of snow on the ground and everything was frozen over. I fully approve of the warmer weather, yay for Global Warming!
( Kidding, I'm not going to start that debate with Kimball...)

Well, Carrie, I am so touched that you have not forgotten about your Bird, and that from time to time, I am even in your dreams. Deh! I can't remember exactly, but this past week or two, I had dreampt about coming home. It was awful! I was so so so happy to see you all, but I couldn't talk in English, and so I kept trying to explain myself in Russian, but nobody could understand. It was like my first couple weeks in Russia, only this time I was at home, so it was much more frustrating. You all ended-up talking on one side of the kitchen, and I was ostracized in the corner wondering why noody wanted to hear about my mission. When people came to talk to me, the family would say, "You can't talk to her, she's been in Russia." Haha it was pretty pathetic, and I am so glad the real life version will be much more joyful!

Yay for Marcus having his health back!

Botanika EXPLODED this past week! All of our potential investigators just suddenly turned into investigators, and we were super packed all week with investigator meetings, which is so fun. I love teaching! Investigator meetings are so intense and spiritual too, so it is fun to spend all you time in good lessons. I feel so spoiled here in Botanika. We have lots of progressing investigators, a baptizm or two coming-up, and a lot of potential investigators too. The Lord has truly blessed us! Really. There is no other way to explain the sudden boom. At District Meeting each week, we missionaries discuss the progress of our investigators as a District, and my companion and I realized last week that we have a lot more people to meet with than a lot of the other missionarie in our District. That's sad because they are all great missionaries. However, they are all still super positive, and they spend all day contacting or dropping-by less-actives in their branches. Sister Muhlestein and I realized how grateful we should be for the successes we see each day, because they really are little miracles.

Lena is set and ready to go for her Baptizm on Saturday! I'll send you pictures. She interviewed with our Mission President, and he said he felt so good about her prepardness. She really is prepared, and he wants to try and make it to her baptizm. I hope he can because she has gotten to know him a little, and it would be special to her if he came.

All of our investigators are doing great. Vladimir even invited us into his house. Talk about a чудо (miracle)! We have our daily "чуд" that we write in our planners every eveing and it is so amazing how things always work out. We had three people come to Church on Sunday, and Vladislav is like a totally new person. He is the one with the wife that is anti. He is still trying to keep all the commandments, and has even started somking less. He smiles, laughs, and really has come alive again. He used to sit and be rather lifeless in our lessons, but he seems so different now. He is reading every day still, and has strated reading the Gospel Essentials book on his own, to help him better understand the Book of Mormon. He is coming home early from his planned vaction this week to come see Lena's baptizm. He has real intent and I am SO glad we never gave up on him. It is never too late for people to change!

We met with Volodia, the younger guy that knows the Bible really well. Our goal was to have an actual spiritual experience with him, and not let him just get into a theological debate. We talked to him about the Spirit and how to receive answers. It was so perfect because he says he doesn't trust his feelings. We all kneeled-down with him at the end of the lesson, and he said the most sincere prayer. I didn't think he was even capable of being so sincere, because he usually seems so off-handed and funny. He asked God to know if the Book of Mormon was true, which is a huge step for him. We'll see!

All of our other investigators are doing really well. I'd write you about all of them, but it is a painstakingly long process, and I'm sure it is hard for you to follow anyways. Just know, that the work here is going really well!

Just for the record, in case you didn't know, I HATE ALCOHOL. I feel like it destroys life after life, and it has become my personal mission here in Russia to kick over as many half-empty bottles that I see lying around. I have been pretty successful too!

With Love,

Sister Hakes


1. I haven't received the Thanksgiving package yet.
2. You don't need to buy me a wool scarf, I'll be okay : )
3. I don't know what I want for Christmas. Really, you don't need to send anything! I have no needs, and I'll be coming home soon after, so I don't want you to worry about it. You're the best though, thanks for thinking of me.
4. Please don't redecorate the house too much : ( And, if anybody does buy it before I come home, can we have it written in the Agreement that I need to have my wedding reception there free of charge? I wish that were a joke, but I'm pretty serious : )

Letter from November 8th, 2010

Hi Family,

Hi from Ekat! Dad, you're right. The weather here has been super mild so far. I remember when I landed in Russia this time last year everything was already frozen solid. So, no complaints here. We've had snow, but it hasn't stuck yet. Yay!

The big story of this past week is that Babooshka Galina passed away. Do you remember her? She is the old Marxist professor that has since changed her life and spent her last years doing in-depth Church history. She has been probably one of the most influential people in my life, and she passed away Saturday morning. She had diabeties and really bad arthritis, but still insisted on doing everything herself (including making elaborate meals for us when we would visit her). She went into the hospital a couple weeks ago for a routine check-up, and while she was in the hospital, she fell and broke her hip. I guess they hadn't been caring for her like they should have been, and she shouldn't have been up and walking in the first place. Sad. She has been lying in the hospital since, and on Wednesday she was scheduled for a hip replacement. We went and visited her on Tuesday, the night before, and she seemed rather miserable, but optimistic as usual. The hospital is terrible, and I was honestly filled with anger being there. The lack of care for the people just made me so perturbed. The injustice of it all! The room was boiling hot, and she was laying there in her garments, trying to keep her covenants. She had to give herself her diabeties medicine every three hours or so, and she had to feed herself, and the casts that were on her body looked like they were straight out of a 1940s war hospital. When she saw us though, she was so happy. We sat down by her bed, and all she wanted was for us to read her from the Book of Mormon, and she requested Alma 34. We open the book and start reading, and it was probably one of the most touching scenes of my life. She could hardly hear us (bad hearing), so , despite being crippled and in pain, she kept trying to slide her head closer to us. She was like almost falling off the bed trying to hear the words of the Book of Mormon. It was so touching to see how much that book really meant to her. Because of that book, she completely changed her life, and she became a Saint, in every possible way. Sitting there, reading to her about the atonement of the Savior, I realized how equally dependant we all are on the Savior. Galina just seemed to understand that better than most.

We went back to the hospital on Thursday, the day after the surgery, and she was bad. You could just tell. She was very pale, and was spitting out her food. I guess the doctor had given her too much insulin, and so she had been throwing-up all night. There weren't monitors on her or anything, and she was still responsible for her own medicine. How could an 80 yr. old woman take care of herself after hip surgery? It was so sad. She asked us to read her from the Book of Mormon, and we did, like two scriptures, until her son came. He is not the biggest fan of the Church so we left as soon as he got there. That is the last time I saw her, and I found out at Church on Sunday that she had passed away. I got up and bore my testimony about our complete dependance upon the Savior for life and how we need the Book of Mormon to understand Him better. It was a very simple, yet spiritual experience for me. I love Galina and I feel so blessed that I got to know her. I really feel like she is more happy and free right now than she was on Earth.

We met with Volodia last night, the guy who knows the Bible really well. We had the AP's come with us because he lives in their area. It was a very interesting lesson. He still has a hard time opening-up to the idea of the Book of Mormon, and he says that he doesn't trust his feelings, so the idea of receiving an answer through the feelings of the Holy Ghost does not work for him. We've tried to explain to him that the HG speaks to everyone differently, and maybe for him it'll come more to his mind than to his heart, but he is still rather closed. We asked him why he keeps meeting with us then, and he says that he is impressed with our use of prayer. He has a firm testimony in prayer and he likes that we believe you can receive answers for yourself. Sounds like Joseph Smith to me! He really says almost all the right things all the time, and his thoughts and ideas really fall in line with the Gospel, so it's just going to get him to realize that.

I don't know if you remember Babooshka Nina, but she accepted a baptizmal date! The lesson we had with her was such a miracle. She is a rather poor old lady, and lives in a room in an apartment, and the neighbors in the other rooms are often drunk and inappropriate. We try to drop-by in the mornings (she doesn't have a phone) so they are still in bed. We dropped-by on Thursday, but we were so busy that we ended-up getting there around 3, and we were worried that her neighbors would be home. As I went to knock on her door, all of her neighbors opened it. They were all just leaving! Perfect! We get into her room, and start our meeting, when another older lady comes into her room and says that she would like to sit in on the lesson with us. Of course, we weren't against that and were thinking maybe she'd be a new investigator. Turns out, the lady was a less-active member that we have never been able to contact! She just happens to be living in the same aprtment as babooshka Nina! Crazy! They both came to Church on Sunday, and our lesson with Nina was so great. We haven't taught her a lot yet, we're moving slowly, but for a babooshka, she is very sharp and has a very child-like faith. When we asked her to be baptized, she said "Of course." We were so happy!

What else....

Vladislav's wife is legitimately anti. Sad. When he approached her to let her know that he wanted to get baptized, she told him that he can get baptized under two conditions. One, they get divorced, and two, he can wait until she dies. Yikes! We were all pretty bummed. He still came to Church on Sunday, and we told him that he needs to live like a member and keep all the commandments, and that God will see his desire and reward him for it. He agress, and has decided to try and get his life in line with the commandments so he feels like his conscience is clean. He has a problem with the word of wisdom, so we'll be working on that with him. His health has gotten better though since he has stopped drinking coffee, so there's a testimony for you.

Vladimir! How could I forget! Do your emember the guy that we talk to by phone, and we have a baptizmal date, but he has never agreed to meet with us in the flesh? Well, we slying tricked him into giving us his address, and it worked! We dropped-by last week with the excuse of "we just wanted to give you the Finding Faith in Christ video" and it was the weirdest sensation meeting the person who I have only talked with over the phone for months now. His voive sounds exactly the same in person as it does in real life. We're still trying to figure him out, and why he doesn't want to meet with us. Our excuse for dropping-by this week will be ice cream, because he has mentioned to us how much he likes it. Hope it works! He seems like a rather nice, normal guy in the flesh. Weird, I was honestly expecting himt o seem a little more strange, but he was perfectly normal.


Lena is getting baptized still! She is doing really well, and we have a lesson with her tonight. Yay for true conversion!

Those are the highlights from this side of the planet. I had no idea Marcus was sick. What with? Hope all is well now.

The pictures of Colin going to the Temple really made my day. That must have been such a special experience for him, the fam, and Elder Bair. Colin, my first time going throught the temple was maybe one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, but I was initially super taken aback by everything. So, don't feel bad if you felt some of that. It'll be very dear to you before you know it! You are doing the right things, and everything will all work out. Really.

Love you all!

Sister Hakes

P.S. Hi Sister Val! Your letter about Arthur was so miraculous! You are an awesome Sister and are doing a great work. I look up to you so much. Maybe we'll see each other sometime soon : )