Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thank You Everyone!

So this first picture is a miracle. One night last week I was feeling a bit more sad than usual... just lonely. Hard week. And I come home to three letters and a package! A letter from Sister Murphy, a letter and a "mutual masterpiece" from an elder from my district (Elder Barrio) in the CCM (a mutual masterpiece is when he randomly doodled on a piece of paper, I embelish and send it back, and so forth till the whole thing is covered! He's hilarious), a DANCING and SINGING card from Elder Lund (CCM) that said "Happy Birthday, Party your Grass Off" due to the dancing hula girl, and a Valentine's/Easter package from Grandma Sherry! Just felt really good. Thank you every one!

Elder Benites with the Molloy's snake. Prior to this he said "I am all Griffindor, and I am in no way going to touch a snake." But I talked him into it. Haha he's crazy.

The Sequoia of Burgers

Sunday was Elder Aiken's birthday, one of my zone leaders. So we went out Saturday to his favorite burger place called Lillie's Burgers. THEY WERE HUGE. AND FANTASTIC.

Sequoia pictures from King's Canyon

From our King's Canyon visit with the HUGE SEQUOIAS.

Large fallen sequoia... used as a STABLE for HORSES. Very strange. Elder Benites is a total mythology nerd, so we geek out a lot and I said "Elder, do you know what this is?" "What Hermana?" "This is the Whomping Willow and the tunnel to the Skrieking Shack!" "By the Beard of Zeus it IS Hermana!" "We're coming RON!!!!!"

It's a great day to be a Mormon Missionary!

From my letter to President Gelwix:

It's a great day to be a Mormon Missionary! First off, I really appreciated our interview. Thank you so much for the time you took to talk with me as one missionary out of 300 some! It felt really good to have time with you and to listen to your counsel and advice. I am doing the daily affirmations and I am already noticing a difference in how I feel about myself! It's great! Last night it was hard to think of even one or two at first and I thought "Yep... I need to improve a LOT", so I just kept thinking and eventually got about 5 and I thought "Wow! I actually did do some good stuff today!" So thanks so much to both you and Sister Gelwix for putting me on the right track with that!

This last week was pretty challenging. As you will notice, we didn't do as well in meeting our goals as usual. This really bothers me. I don't like not finishing things, or reaching what we set. We never reach all our goals, but usually we get a lot of them and the rest are close. Well I guess it depends on how you look at the last week.... we were about 1 away from reaching all our goals. So I guess that just proves I need to continue to work on positive thinking. The point is we are just really struggling to find people to teach. And the people we have found are either not progressing or are at a VERY slow pace. I'm struggling a bit to find the excitement to push on, but I'm focusing on just taking it one day at a time, and I'm definitely expecting miracles! So I'm not really worried. It's just hard to be on a lower point than I'm used to. It makes me appreciate the rest of my mission more. I'm almost a third of the way done already... tomorrow is 5 months. I can't believe it.

As far as cool stories... this week there is one that's pretty cool. We met a man named Jose Luis about a week or so ago, we just tracted right into him. And it turned out that he already had a Book of Mormon and had been taught by missionaries before and loved it and then moved and just lost connection. So while I was gone on Exchange, Sister Organista and Sister Peters took him on a church tour with Brother and Sister Nunez! It went great from what I heard! And without any prompts from us Brother Nunez called him on Saturday to invite him to church! And he came and Brother Nunez took care of him, he is so amazing! So he'll probably get baptized soon. And both Brother Nunez and Claudia Herbert bore their testimonies on Sunday. Brother Nunez has every Fast Sunday since his first one. And this was Claudia's first time. It was so amazing, the Spirit was so strong! President, our little group is growing fast, we'll have a branch very soon if the work in Kerman continues to progress the way it has!

Sister Organista and I are doing great! We are really good about resolving conflicts and forgetting about them. I'm really going to miss her when she leaves. We are a well oiled machine when we work together. It's going to be hard without her.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I love being a missionary AGAIN THIS WEEK!

Here is an excerpt from my letter to the  Mission President:

So this week was a bit of a struggle for me. I highly doubt that any one has had quite the mission experience I have had. I came in here to Kerman and there have been tons of prepared people. I have had the privilege to baptize 8 or 9 people in my first 2 and a half transfers. We have been busy busy busy. Suddenly, after we baptized Jimmy, I felt a "Well now what?" kind of feeling. Well now we go out and tract, that's what! Well we did... and we had about two days of absolutely nothing. Just no prepared people. And I got pretty down on that one night. It was really frustrating. Not only were we not finding new people, but people like Doralicia and Cecilia who I was really excited about were suddenly backing off... not only were we not moving forwards, we were moving backwards! By Friday, we had one new investigator with a goal of 5 for that week. I was pretty bummed. But, I just prayed and asked Heavenly Father to give me faith and be excited to work. Saturday we found 3 new investigators, all of them with a lot of potential. It was a miracle. That night I was much happier, but still sad because we haven't generally found new people to teach on Sundays, so I wasn't really counting on it, especially because we were helping out at a baptism after church. We weren't going to have much time at all to find anyone. Well that last night we went over to a part member family's house. Just the wife is a member, their newly married without any kids. He's a firefighter and not home much. She had been wanting us to come over and ease him into discussions, he'd had bad experiences with elders before, or at least not what he needed, and she thought maybe as sisters we could have the right approach. So we've visited her many times and he's always been at work. Well last night we went, he was home! My dad is also a firefighter, so we were able to have a more personal conversation because I grew up hearing about and living around the same unique lifestyle, it was great! We had a great conversation about what she learned in church that day, and we committed them to both pray individually and as a couple every night! I suggested that they do as my family does when my dad was at work during his 24 hour shifts. We always called him so that even though he wasn't home, our family could be united in family prayer every night. We challenged them to do the same thing, to always pray together, whether they're both at home, or he's at the station over night. They agreed to try, which wasn't a for sure yes, but definitely a step in the right direction! We're going over for dinner in about a week to follow up with them! AND HE WAS THE LAST INVESTIGATOR TO FILL OUR GOAL.

I know that if you live worthily and leave everything out on the field, God will help you to fulfill his goals. We try really hard to listen to the Spirit during our weekly planning, and we pray for each of our key indicators specifically. I know that that works. Even though we worked hard all week, God was just testing our faith and diligence by showing us 80% of our new investigators the last two days of the week. I believe in miracles!

That's actually the second family I talked to about praying on the phone! Because Claudia works nights and will never be home for prayers, so we told them about it too! And yeah, as I was writing that it really hit me... you really taught us how important family prayer is! And I've been able to share the experience with my District Leader who said he'd never thought of that, so it will be able to spread!

My patriarchal blessing says that I have been prepared for a life of service, and I'm just realizing now what that means. Little things like piano lessons are a big deal here. I play for everything. And our experiences as a busy family doing our best to pray, read, and go to church have really helped. There are so many things.... and yeah. It's been great. I really feel like I'm making a difference here. I'm able to connect specially with a lot of people. Especially kids! Every time I go to Lupe's, all the girls grab on to me and hold me, and I have to literally pull them off in order to get into the car. Every time. Which is like twice a week for a month. Haha. Lupe was really sweet this past Sunday. We were in Relief society, talking about families. She just offered a comment and said how grateful she was for the gospel in her life, how much it has changed her family, how she doesn't yell anymore at her kids and how grateful she was for the missionaries... she was crying and everything. I started to tear up too. She is part of my family, and it just makes me so happy. I wish you could see these people and the changes they go through.

It is amazing. And I am changing so much! We have a new elder in our district. He's so awesome, but when he talks he's so new. He refers to so many things of his old life and it just helps me to see how much I have changed since I have been here. I still have a realllllly long way to go, but it's really great to see the progress! We as missionaries are sooooo underqualified for pretty much every thing we do, but somehow it all works out and the Church grows! Like my sister training leader.... she has an investigator that calls THEM when she's close to committing suicide, and THEY try to talk her down in order to get help. Sister Organista and I are pretty much teaching the fatherless.... it's crazy.

I am so grateful for everything you and Dad have done for me. I have seen horrifying lifestyles, and I don't deserve the life I have/had.

I feel like being a missionary is preparing me to be a mom on so many levels.... like, knowing how many blessings are waiting for my investigators if they will just trust me and do what I say and read and pray and go to church.... and then they don't do it and I get frustrated because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH AND THEY ARENT LISTENING...... and yeah. I think it's going to help. Or at least prepare me for the feeling...

hey we also went to King's Canyon today with the Molloy family! We saw the giant sacoyas!!!!!! SO COOL! I have pictures....but I can't find my chord! So they'll be here next week. So fun!

Also! We're down to once a week physical therapy finally! Super exciting. He said that on a scale of 1-10, our whiplash was in the 6-8 range. Pretty severe. He said he'd seen people in less of a wreck than us with broken necks. We're super lucky. Also I get an interview with President on Thursday! Our once a quarter deal.

Other than that, not much new to report! Jimmy was confirmed and has the Aaronic priesthood now! Our investigators are all preparing to go to the temple to do baptisms, and both Jimmy and Brother Nunez each want to be baptized for their dads. So cool. I love being a missionary!

I love being a missionary!

Ok, here's the low down from this week:


I love being a missionary!!!! This week was just amazing. We are finding a lot of new people these days with a lot of potential. This past week or so I've noticed that almost every time we go out finding, the first door we knock has let us in! That is crazy! As far as miracles this week:

Jimmy H. got baptized yesterday. President, I thought I would never see that day, or at least have to work my butt off to see that day. But luckily God knows who is prepared and how to prepare them, not me. I really have never been happier than on my mission. His whole family played a part in the program. Claudia and George gave prayers and Elizabeth gave a talk. What a beautiful thing. It was just perfect. The ward is embracing him so well, and that family is going to progress. He's getting his interview for the Aaronic Priesthood this coming Sunday, after he gets confirmed. And a temple recommend interview. So he and Claudia can go do baptisms any time after this coming Sunday! With Elizabeth! So amazing.

Speaking of the priesthood! Brother N blessed the sacrament this Sunday!!!! Oh my goodness. I know pride is bad, but I really felt like a proud momma watching him bless the sacrament and hand it to the other priesthood holders to pass it. I was so happy. They are so amazing. We have a lot of callings coming up here. It's been pretty impossible for the ward to keep up with home teaching and visiting teaching when we've already have had 6 baptisms in our ward since the first of the year, along with about 10 or so from the end of last year. It's amazing President.

Kerman is changing. Our ward is changing. The spirit of missionary work is catching fire. We are struggling to fill our other lesson goals because we are exceeding our member present goals! What a great problem to have! Our quality lessons have also greatly increased this year.... somehow last week we had 6 more quality lessons than we planned! The work is progressing steadily here. Also, our ward is really trusting us. When I first came here, we were fed about half the week. These days, many members are coming up to us during church and telling us that they are upset because our dinner calendar is so full they can't have us over! We actually had a family skip a family birthday party last week in order to feed us because they had been waiting for 2 months! They also have been asking us to help them teach a lot more during church. You can just feel the trust they have for us and they are more and more willing to come out with us. It is so amazing. I conducted the music at Jimmy's baptism, which was pretty full, and as I looked out at the members, I just realized how much I loved them and how much each of them was part of my new family. They all would smile at me, and I was just so grateful to think about how blessed I have been to build relationships with these wonderful people. Kerman is the best!

As for new investigators, my favorite story of the week is Doralicia! She is an amazing woman, probably about 60 years old. She has had a LOT of struggles in life, but she is the sweetest woman. She doesn't really speak any English. Well we were progressing pretty well with her by the second lesson, so we had a church tour with her! It happened to be during exchange, so I was working with the wonderful Sister Peters. We just had the most amazing church tour. It was my first real one. The Spirit was so strong, and I know she felt it. She told us that she really liked it, and that she believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet. She even brought up that one doubt was about tithing (we'd never brought that up ever before) because she had been to a church she really liked that paid it and she never remembered the name and somehow lost connection with it. We said that was us, and she said basically oh good, and she didn't have any problem with it at all! She's hoping to bring her husband with soon. She couldn't come to church this past Sunday because she was helping her son out of town, but she told us she wants to come all other Sundays! Her baptismal date is the 23rd of this month! She's amazing.

So pretty much I'm feeling great about life. Sister O got her results back and good news is she does not have a torn rotator's cuff, which means no surgery! Super good. So we're going to ANOTHER doctor tomorrow to get a cordizone shot in her shoulder... if that takes away the pain, then we know it's her shoulder, if it doesn't it means it's coming from her neck and we start all over.... so that's good. She's a champ. I'm getting better all the time, this past week it was just bursts of pain here and there, and the pain is lower... so definitely improving. And my Spanish is pretty darn awesome. Lots of natives complement me on it even! Not just white people! haha.... So that's awesome. I believe in the gift of tongues! I just hope I don't lose it after my mission....

Well I love you! Live long and prosper!


Monday, February 3, 2014

This was the week of Katniss

This week Sister Organista and I had the opportunity to work with the two new Spanish sisters, Sister Gomez and Sister De la Cruz. I took Sister De la Cruz out for Open Your Mouth all by myself because Sister Organista's ankle was hurting. Wow... that was an amazing experience! If nothing else, I learned what a huge responsibility it is to train! I was so nervous, and I just really really wanted to be the best example I could and I know I didn't do a stellar job (didn't do a bad job either, it was just my first one) but I think she had the experiences she needed to start her mission out confidently. That was great! And then we took Sister Gomez with us Friday while Sister Poston was at a leadership meeting. Sister Organista had me do most of the training for that day so I could practice... what an interesting chain! Sister Organista training me to train a new missionary! But it was great! Again, it was really scary to have that responsibility! It was her first day of a whole day working like a missionary in the field. She did great though. I remembered clearly being in her shoes, and I was very impressed with her performance. She was completely exhausted and pretty nervous because every thing was so new, but because of that she had to rely on the Spirit so much more, and you could tell the difference! I think that's one thing I learned from her, is that just because I have a little more experience doesn't mean I should lean so much on what I already know and what I have seen. I need to rely on the Spirit just as much as she does. Every time she bore her testimony it was just so humble and brought the Spirit so powerfully... she's going to be so great! She is so great. It was sad for me to give her back to Sister Poston at the end of the day, because she is so amazing, but it was a relief at the same time that Sister Poston wouldn't mess up like I'm afraid I would have! It was just a really good experience for me to learn quickly how to train. It humbled me a lot.

What happened is the first day you go out on Open Your Mouth.... like get off the plane, grab a sandwich and hit the streets with a companionship of experienced missionaries. Well Sis O couldn't walk much, so I just Sis Del la Cruz by herself! She's from Peru, speaks almost no English. So I translated all day for her as well... I'm getting good at that... it's so hard not to repeat what you hear! haha! Sometimes I can't tell if someone's speaking English or Spanish because I understand both.... it's tricky! Anyways, we actually ended up walking into an AA and drug rehab place.... I just saw a building with some old men outside and we talk with everyone, so I just went over and they are all recovering drug addicts... three of them. two of them were really nice, one was hitting on me hard core and made me feel really nervous because there are other nefarious addictions that come with drugs and alcohol.... he asked me what I was doing for dinner and kept interrupting me talking about the BOM and saying I was really pretty. That I shouldn't be religious yet and get into some trouble first... well poor Sis De la Cruz didn't understand and she was talking to one of the them in Spanish which was important for her, so I tried to just feel safe long enough for her to have a good experience and then I got us out of there.... but it was good all in all. She's so sweet! and then Sister Gomez just needed a day comp on Friday, so I practiced training her. They both are with their trainers in different areas now.

Well President, Brother N got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday, and sometime this week he and his wife and possibly his son are all going to the temple to do baptisms for the first time. Just amazing. I love it so much. He was pretty nervous before he got the priesthood, because he feels the great responsibility he has. But he is so ready for it. He fellowships so well, we are all using him to strengthen all of our Spanish speaking investigators. He is so great!

And J is just moving along really well. We had a very sweet experience with him the other night. We talked about obedience and how that every commandment is connected with a blessing. Sister Organista asked him what blessings he has seen since he has been coming to church, praying, and reading the scriptures. He said that he felt a bit more patient, and a bit more calm! It was so great, because we had just been talking about that the other day, how we can see the change in his face, the new light and life in his eyes! It's amazing what the gospel does. You can really tell when people are being converted, it shows in their body and you can't hide it! He's going to be baptized this Sunday, we're so excited!

Yeah so that's pretty cool.... I love your emails. I love hearing all the stories about the kids! Oh they just crack me up!!! Sister O I'm pretty sure gets annoyed while I read them cuz I just laugh really loud, and then interrupt her music to read her parts of them hahaha.... what are companions for?

Health wise.... pretty much Thursday and Friday were miserable. My whole left shoulder and neck were in immense pain and I can't take any pain killers anymore... my doctor told me to try Alleve because you take it less than ibuprofen and tylonol.... still killed my stomach. So.... I dunno. I'm going to talk to him about it tomorrow when we go back. I don't know. 

FUN NEWS!!! Guess what?! Sister Hurley is serving in not only the same mission but THE SAME WARD WITH SISTER MORGAN SKIDMORE!!!! WHAT THE WEIRD?!?!?! So that's pretty awesome. They're getting to be pals!

Oh other fun news.... this week was the week of Katniss for me. During studies on Friday, Sister Gomez just looked up at me and said "Do you know the actress that plays Katniss?" And I was like "Yep. Get that a lot." Well then Sunday after being in the ward for 3 months a member of the bishopric told me I looked like her too, and the new elder, Elder Benites, was there and he freaked out and says all he sees is Katniss now when he looks at me. Apparently his sister is a huge fan of her, so he wrote home today and told her that he met Katniss. Haha.

pues necisito irme, te amo!!!!!