Monday, June 24, 2013

Earthly Father, Heavenly Father

I love this Mormon message, partially because it was the last thing I watched with my family before I left to start my mission, and partially because I just really love my Dad :) Mortal life and family come in a package deal - no one is born on this earth without a family to come along with it! And though families range in their religion, functionality, and closeness, we should all strive to love and to serve one another, and to recognize family for the gift that it is! Our Heavenly Father thought it so special that He made it impossible for any of His children to enter this world without being immediately connected to someone :)  

With that in mind, go hug your Mom! And while you're at it, hug mine as well -

Love Hna Hillbill

Week #17 - MRE's and ME!

Hello family!! 

An MRE that Dallas gave Hna Smith and me- we tried it!
Verdict? - I will never go into the army, for that reason alone :)

This week has been a week of MIRACLES!! For background, Dallas Holmes is the boyfriend of Tasha, the daughter of the Anderson family next door (who, in case you haven't guessed yet, we LOVE :). While Dallas has been at Boot camp, Tasha was talking with him about the gospel over the phone, and when he came back, we were anxious to meet with him (partially because I wanted to see how much I liked Tasha's boyfriend :). In the first lesson, we asked him what he thought about all that Tasha had been discussing with him, he looked us in the eye and said "I have so much faith. I know this book is true, I know this is what God wants me to do, and I am ready to be baptized". We just smiled and said "yes, you are" :) July 6th is the day, and we are so excited for him! Keep both him and Tasha in your prayers, as they're going through some trials to make it to his baptism.  

These types of trees are everywhere! These trees get hit by lightening during one of the many southern thunderstorms and eventually ivy grows all over the dead tree.
So cool looking!!

Though I'm short on time, I've just GOT to throw in some fun facts of the week :)  

1) We were are the Hobbs home this past week, when Eli (the son) leaned over to his Mom and whispered "do the missionaries have any kids?" She answered "No, of course not - they're not even married!" Eli looked very surprised at this tidbit of news and said "What? I thought they were married to the Elder missionaries?" To use a Demars term, Hna Smith and I "busted a gut" laughing :) I didn't even dare ask who they thought each of us were paired with. Though wonderful Elders, they're much too short for both Hna Smith and me! :)  
2) This week has been the full moon (hopefully, you are all aware of this - I started going in to more detail, than realized you all have the same moon as I do here in TN. My bad :), and we've learned that things go craaaaazy when the moon is full in the south! Walking around that night, we saw a range of craziness: giant beetles, a guy playing chicken with the cars on Highway 55 (we're pretty sure he was high :), crazy fireflies that dive-bombed us, giant slugs, and people croaking like frogs at us from their porch. If that wasn't strange enough, we ended the nonsense night carrying bug spray like a weapon to shoot at any more craziness that came across our path. By the time we got home, Hna Smith and I just had to look back and laugh :)  

3) We had a mysterious miracle! Randomly, someone came and started mowing our lawn for us - I looked out the window to see two random men, one armed with a lawn mower, and the other with a weed whacker. We're still not entirely sure how that happened - we're guessing that either:

a) Dallas paid someone to come do our lawn for us, since he is super sweet and wants to serve us in some way, or

b) They were originally paid to do someone else's lawn, and got the address mixed up.  

Not sure which one is actually true, but we appreciate the random blessings anyway! :)  

Love you all!!!  

Hna Hillbill

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week #16 - Happy "Bonaroo" - to you, and you!

Well hey y'all :)  

Alright. I'm afraid my expectations for Bonaroo week were a tad anticlimactic. Nothing too crazy happened, besides the occasional trip to Walmart - I did see someone doing yoga in the parking lot. Overall, the Bonaroo people were super nice! Kind of crazy and rough looking, but nice all the same :) We had a conversation with a Walmart employee about it, and she said she actually prefers the Bonaroo crowd to the normal customers, because they're nicer to her. Pretty sad, if you ask me. The only downside of Bonarroo? We've been forewarned to avoid buying deodorant for the next few weeks, because apparently the Bonaroonians have a nasty habit of pulling deodorant off the shelf, layering it on, then returning to the shelf.  

Delicious, right? Yeah, we'll avoid that for sure :)  

Fun moments of the week:

1) Trying to leave the Vaughns house after FHE on Wednesday, but Paisley has thrown herself against the front door and wouldn't let us out. She demanded to know what the password was - luckily, Hna Smith remembered it from Sis Vaughn telling us this story earlier that week: "snot" :) After we both yelled "Snot" in our best door-opening voice, she let us out.  

2) ANT INVASION! Okay, this was fairly traumatizing at the time, but everyone else will appreciate it under the "funny moments" :) I was minding my own business, loving on my Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal, when I looked down and saw little dead ants floating in my milk. Not happy. I opened the cereal cupboard to find that ants had invaded ALL our cereals! Again, not happy, and I felt like gagging for the rest of the day each I wondered whether I had accidentally eaten a dead ant. Truthfully, there are so many in our kitchen, I've probably eaten a couple of those little buggers by now - the trick is to just not think about it :) Ah, the joys of a rainy summer in TN.

3) This Wednesday, the AWESOME YW made all the missionaries a dinner at the church - TACO SALAD! I was in heaven, and went to town on the homemade salsa :) The dinner was wonderful, the company was fun, and the best part was actually during clean up. There was leftover whipped cream from the angel food cake dessert, and I decided to show the Lynn's and Davenport's the nifty whipped cream launching trick that Carissa and I always did. After spraying a good amount on my wrist, I popped my arm up and launched that sucker into my mouth. Oh boy! It all went nuts after that :) Hna Smith and I ended up both trying to do it for about 20 min, while all the ward members almost wet themselves as they watched us launch whipped cream all over our hair, faces, and even the ceiling :) It was a good night indeed, and they still tease us about it. 

4) We also had the chance to help the Garcia family to build an extra room onto their home. Their little boy, Ricardo (12 yrs old), has leukemia, and they don't have enough room to keep him at home. So, we're helping the neighbors build on an extra part of the house! It's so fun to get to work around these amazing Mexicans, especially since they feed us delicious food afterwards (Riss! I'm talking a huge bowl of Queso Fresco! I was in heaven :) 

As awesome as all these parts of the week were, yesterday was probably the BEST day, since it was a double dynamic day! Happy Father's/Birthin' Day to my parents! Yesterday was Fathers Day (hopefully that's not a surprise to anyone - if it is, go buy an apology hallmark card quick!) and Mom's birthday was the same day! (She finally turned 38! Ha ha :) Mom, Dad, I hope you know I was thinking about the both of you ALL day yesterday - in a very undistracted-mission appropriate way :) I wish I could give you both a huge hug, do all sorts of things to show you how much I love you - make you breakfast in bed, help Justin sneak a dog into the house, the whole nine yards :) If I didn't say it enough in my letters to you, I LOVE YOU BOTH super, uber much :) (There was a ridiculous amount of smiley faces in that last paragraph, so if anything, that should give you a hint)  

This week has also been wonderful, as I have been working on reading through the General Conference Ensign that my rockstar Mom sent me. General Conference is an annual meeting held twice a year, where the worldwide LDS congregation gathers together for a weekend of listening to the modern day prophets and apostles counsel us concerning what the Lord would have us know, work on, and be reminded of. I have had the opportunity to attend General Conference in person on Temple Square, and have always walked away feeling marvel at the power that our modern, restored prophet and apostles carry. What a marvelous work this is! For those who would be interested in seeing or learning more about General Conference, check out this link:  It never hurts to at least look into it, right? I promise you - see what the modern prophets have to say, I know you will find things that resonate within your soul, and you may find that Mormon beliefs are more similar to your opinions than you previously realized :)  

One such talk that I was reading is titled "What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?" by Elder Robert C. Gay of the Quorum of the Seventy. I LOVED a specific quote: 

"The question before us is not whether we are doing things that need correcting, because we always are. Rather, the question is, will we shrink or finish the call upon our souls to do the will of the Father? (D&C 19:18-19) 

This is the exchange the Savior is asking of us: we are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Fathers reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalization, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way. We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness and take upon us the image of God in our countenances (Alma 5:14-19).

Brothers and Sisters, remember that this charge is more than just not doing bad things. With an engaged enemy, we must also act and not sit in thoughtless stupor (Alma 60:7). Taking upon the countenance of God means serving each other. There are sins of commission and sins of omission, and we are to rise above both" 

 I loved this quote, for it reminds me of what it truly means to STAND as a witness of Christ. When we are baptized and enter into that first and ever-so-sacred covenant, we are promising a lifetime of effort to try and love His children around us, and to find our way back to Him. How grateful I am to be called as a literal representative of Christ in this, His holy work! I love being a missionary, for I know that it is the best way we can learn to love others as He did :)  

On that note, I love you all TOO! What a coincidence :) Loves, hugs, and someone make my Mom a pan of 7-layer bean dip for her birthday, please. And then mail me some to.  

Love, Hna Lake

 ps - Mom and Dad,

I literally have about 2 min, but I wanted to email you and tell you HAPPY BIRTHDAY/FATHERS DAY!! I love you both SUPER much, and am grateful to have you as my parents. You have been such a support and love to me through my life, and it is so easy to feel your love and prayers while I've been on my mission. You are both such good examples to me, and I appreciate all you do for me and our family. 

I feel like with all that lovey-dovey, I need to break things up with a joke or something. I've got nothing though, and times up! Just insert an Avatar quote in here, to keep things real :)  


Monday, June 10, 2013

Week #15 - I hope they call me on a mission ... to Chuck E Cheese?

Hello all!!  

Alright, in case you couldn't gather from the 27 million pictures (alright, slight exaggeration - but tons, all the same) email this week is going to be pretty short! Life in Manchester is getting super crazy, since BONAROO is starting this Wednesday :) For those who don't know what Bonaroo (aka, anyone who isn't from Tennessee or on drugs) it's a giant music festival they have in Manchester every year that is comparable to Woodstock. Basically, they pull tons of bands in, and have 80,000-100,000 people who come to hear 3 days of nonstop concerts. We've already started to see some of the Bonaroo people coming into town, usually pretty distinguishable by the dreadlocks or "Mystery Machine" vans. One thing is for sure - this next week is going to be super exciting :) Stay tuned for some sure to be crazy stories! 

As awesome as this next week is going to be, we already had a few goodies for this week:

1) Sister Anderson's - our neighbor/TN mom - house got hit by LIGHTNING during another southern storm this last Wednesday. It took out basically any electronic that was plugged it, and recharged some batteries in the garage that had been dead for 5 years :) My personally favorite part - there were some light up Christmas cards in their den, and the electricity made the lights go crazy, and they were flashing all over the room, freaking Brother Anderson out :)  

2) Attack of the killer ants. Seriously. Our kitchen has been swarmed by ants these last few weeks, and it's gotten really bad lately - they keep on coming, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it. Ah well. When all else fails, look at your kitchen being overwhelmed by little critters and make some gospel analogy about perseverance and "small and simple things". Sheesh. As funny as the mental image of our house getting swarmed by ants is, I'm not even telling you what they call these little ants here in the south. Let's just say I'd have to start a swear jar if I did :) Use your imagination on that one. 

The activity was pin the name tag on the missionary!

3) This week, we had a fun primary missionary activity with all the kids! While we were there, I asked all the different kids where they wanted to go on their mission if they could pick anywhere. Julio replied "the park", but Adela topped him with "Chuck E. Cheese". If they ever start calling missionaries to serve in Chuck E. Cheese, you know who will be first in line! 
Hermana Hillbillary Lake - I love this beautiful, wonderful girl!!!
It's been a good week :) Love you all, and wish me luck for Bonaroo!  

Hna Hillbill

Monday, June 3, 2013

Week #14 - Happy Birthday to my T-Swizzle, Karis Jae!

Hey y'all!! 

For starters, I am glad to announce that I finally was able to clarify the correct way to spell "y'all". One would think that such a feat may not be entirely important for a missionary, but when you're using hick language, apostrophe placement makes such a difference :)
First and most importantly, I got to give a HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout out to the BEST Karis Jae I know :) And you'd be surprised how many Karis Jae's I know, I'm telling you. Back here in the south, people are naming their babies after my sister just left and right. Probably because she's got hair kind of like Taylor Swift. And by kind of, it really only does if it's curled and you kind of squint and tilt your head to the left. And, tada! T-swizzle, in my very own family. So proud.  

This week was a crazy one, though I'm going to start it off with a question for all those who grew up reading the "Tin-Tin" books, and I truthfully don't know if that applies to anyone outside of the Lake family. So, puddles, clue in on this one - is the Captain Sidekick in those books named "Captain D"? I can't remember his actual name, but it became highly important this last week when we drove past a fast food seafood restaurant named "Captain D's" and I've been trying to rack my brain all week to see if he really does have the same name as the drunk crazy sailor sidekick off of Tin Tin. Help me out here puddles - yeah or nay? (answer: Captain Haddock - thanks for Brandt Demars!) 

Fun Facts of the week:

1) For those who haven't guessed from the number of times I joke about the huge road kill problem down here in Tennessee, there are TONS of random cats and dogs running around here. Hna Smith and I ran into one such cat the other day while trying to find a referral in a trailer park. We started approaching the porch, and saw a really mangy looking cat licking himself in the middle of the steps. We kept walking towards it, hoping he would hop off the porch when we approached. I stepped on a little stick as we got closer which startled the cat, he whipped his head around at us: 

Eyes. Of. Satan. 

No kidding! I felt like my soul melted as this creepy cat fixed his slightly slanted yellow eyes at us. Both Hna Smith and I got freaked out by the devil cat and decided to try an entrance on the other side. Thankfully, there was another door, because there was no way I would have picked a fight with that devil cat. I already know who would have won, and it definitely wouldn't have been me, despite these sister missionary clomper shoes.  
Magnolia Trees

2) Summer has started in Tennessee, which means 2 things - a) the Magnolia trees are blooming!! I'll add pictures of that later - they're super pretty! b) Lightning bugs are coming out! Every night, around 6 or 7pm, nature cues the little creatures with their radioactive hineys, and it looks SO pretty! They're fun to walk among - though I have to admit, whenever they start glowing, I immediately have the song by Ray the Firefly off of Princess and the Frog pop into my head. This might sound funny to some of you, but I assure you, it's not. Mainly because the ONLY part of that song I remember is: 

Going down the Bayou.
Going down the Bayou.
Going down the Bayou,
We're going alllll the way. 

Imagine having that stuck in your head every night for about an hour. 

Like I said, not funny. 

3) Another side effect of summer rolling in: southern summer thunderstorms! Let me tell you, they are something else! I woke up on Saturday morning around 6 am, with our entire house rattling every time thunder boomed (and I mean BOOMED) across the morning sky, and the trees in our backyard were almost bent to the ground with all the wind blowing. It was pretty neat - I just stayed awake until 6:30 when we were scheduled to get up, and watched the storm. It's pretty amazing to me - the Lord works in a range of ways, from the soft still voice of the Holy Ghost, to the powerful storms after Christ's death. It's amazing to see.  Truly, EVERYTHING denotes the power of our God.  

4) I got my first round of chiggers! For those who don't know what chiggers are, consider yourself lucky. Think of bugs the size of needle heads. Then make them red. Then imagine them possessed with a devil, sprinkle some vinegar on top, and voila! Not pleasant. We finally talked to Sister Anderson who figured out what they were and gave me the cure - clear nail polish, painted on my leg. Yum.  I would include a picture of the fun effect of chiggers, but decided not to for 2 reasons: 1) it's kind of nasty, and I don't want to freak anyone out, and 2) despite walking so much in the sun, I'd be afraid to even take a picture of my white legs for fear of blinding any one's retina who sees the picture.

 Another few good events of the week: Frankie's baptism was on Saturday! For those who remember, she was a non-member wife of Juan Sanchez who we visited during our time in Winchester. When we taught Frankie the first lesson, we quickly realized that she was the one teaching us, and she practically set a baptismal date for herself before we left that night. I sure do love this lady, and was excited to be able to be at her baptism. She literally glowed :)  

For the lack of time, I'm going to close off with a thought for the week: I've been thinking a lot about the Lord's timing, especially since both of the other visa waiters in my district received their visas and left this past week (though they were both to Denmark, so that really says nothing about my own visa. Don't worry :). I think of a couple scriptures on this topic:

Ecclesiastes 3:1

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens 

Psalm 62:8

Trust in the Lord at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us

Isaiah 49:8

Thus saith the Lord, in an acceptable time have I heard thee and in a day of salvation have I helped thee. 

We learn a couple things from the combination of these verses - there is a time to every purpose, which means a time it begins, and an time it ends - an allotted time to every purpose. Trials will end, and you will someday move to the next purpose. However, during each of these allotted times, we are commanded to trust in God. Each time is known, measured and given by God, and we need to always pour out our heart in prayer - meaning during the good times, and the bad :) Lastly, despite how powerless we may feel during some of these allotted times, if we continue and remain faithful in our prayers, the Lord will someday answer and fulfill our plea - but not until the acceptable time. 

I remember and echo the powerful words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf from the Young Women broadcast - “No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you, with an infinite love.”
And in the words of Elder Holland,“Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come.” 

I love you. The Lord loves you. And it will all work out :)  


Hna Hillbillary Lake 

P.S. Did I mention Happy Birthday to my Karis? Never hurts to say it twice :) And congrats to my Jay Jay for making ASB officer! Next step - President of the United States! :)

Me and my main village man, Whitten.
(Side note: he's not sitting in my lap - which is against the mission rules, for those wondering)