Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 18

My old District (and random member) I'll miss this grouping ;'(

Well, my third transfer in the mission field started this week! Turns out I am going to be in the same area with Elder Toledano once again! The difference is that he is now our District Leader, and also we lost two Elders in our Ward, but gained one Hermana in a Trio!! So that makes 7 missionaries instead of 8, but one Hermana is leaving in 4 weeks, partway through the transfer. Overall, our Mission is losing missionaries gradually because of the huge surge of two generations of missionaries that left when the announcement was made of the age change. That surge opened up new areas and placed more missionaries in areas as well, but now we are going to be experiencing shortcomings of missionaries for a while. The lack of missionaries shocked some people because they thought the church was surging in growth still, but Presidente and Hermana Bird explained how the number of missionaries may be lowering, but the growth in the church continues. We aren't closing the areas that were opened up because of the new missionaries, just simply reassigning them. That means we just need to work harder as a whole to help keep the growth of the church going:)

A new tie for stake conference.

This week we had stake conference which was amazing! First we went to the priesthood session on Saturday which was almost entirely about missionary work and how members and missionaries need to work together to bring forth the work. It was really cool to see how motivated the stake is with missionary work and I'm excited to see the miracles their efforts will bring! Also we watched the same video that literally changed my whole mission that I think is called, "The Atonement and Missionary Work" if anyone wants to try and find it. It's excerpts from talks by President Eyring and Elder Holland, along with clips of the atonement. When I first saw this video during a training of new missionaries, it struck me hard and honestly changed my mindset and motivation. Then on Sunday we attended the general meeting where our Mission President Bird, the Temple President and the Stake President all spoke. It was a super powerful meeting and the thing I remember most about it was when the Monterrey Temple President challenged us to "piensen en Cristo en cada momento" or "think of Christ at all times." I realized that even though I think of my savior more often in the mission field than ever before in my life, there is still room for improvement. I want to try to focus more on Him and his atonement day to day because I know that it will improve the quality of the work I do. Also one of our investigators, Keren, was able to come to the conference! She is really special and I believe is coming close to being ready for baptism in the coming weeks, which is super exciting! Finally the man I baptized in the family of 6 a while ago was brought before the stake to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood!!! I love seeing their progress and how the gospel is affecting their lives. It gives me courage to continue working hard to find other families that I know can be so blessed with the gospel in their lives!!! There's a lot more exciting things going on, and I wish I could share it all, needless to say, I'm super happy to be able to have these experiences and to have the opportunity to serve:D

Oh and the weather has been normally hot, but with rainstorms every so often, the worst is to come in July and August!!!

Campechanas!!!!!! It was so beautiful I couldn't resist taking a picture haha!

More flooding in our house this week, fun!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week 17

I still have my apples, and my cold milk, so I'm happy:D

Another week down! This week was very interesting indeed because I experienced heavy rain for the first time while out working as a missionary. The first day it rained, we were walking a long distance to where our meal with a member would be and a huge storm and cold front hit us super fast. It had just been around 95 degrees and sunny, so we were wearing short sleeves and didn't have any rain gear. Within minutes the temperature dropped to around 70 and it starting pouring like crazy. I've seen tons of heavy rain throughout my life living in Oregon and everything, but the difference here is that there isn't any drainage system, so the streets literally turn into rivers. We got soaked after seconds so after that we didn't even care anymore. Although Elder Toledano stopped in a shop to ask for plastic bags to put his messenger back in. I trusted in mine since it's supposed to be waterproof, but with how heavy the rain was my stuff got a little wet, so from now on I'm going to at least put my scriptures in a little plastic bag just in case it rains super hard again. We then proceeded to "wade" through the many "rivers" along the way to get to the members house. It was actually super hilarious and fun. I wish I could have taken pictures to show you all, since literally there was one sidewalk that has stairs and the water was so heavy that it looked like rolling rapids! There were a bunch of kids playing in it too! Anyways, we finally got to their house and we had to dry off and they gave us flip flops to use since our shoes were soaked. The rest of the week it's been mostly overcast and rainy, but the hard part is that it's still been fairly hot during the rain other than that first storm. It's not fun to have to wear a rain jacket in 90 plus degree weather for sure.

Pancake Sunday!! (it's a tradition I started for myself :P)

My knee has improved a lot, but it's still been bothering me. I've been icing it every morning and night and taking ibuprofen the days it hurts more. I think it's starting to strengthen back up because it's more of a soreness now after a long day of walking rather than pain. I have faith that it will all work out and I'm willing to put up with a little pain and soreness to continue serving the Lord because I owe EVERYTHING to him. These challenges are nothing compared to the suffering Christ went through for each and every one of us. Also missionary work never has been easy as I have learned from the scriptures, but it is always worth it. 

For example in Alma 26 Ammon talks about his experiences with his brethren:
30 "And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some. "

This scripture doesn't describe all their many afflictions, which were immense, but they knew that their efforts would be worth it because even if they could bring only one soul unto God, their joy would be great. Here I am today doing the same work as these valiant Book of Mormon heroes. My efforts and long suffering will all be worth it because as I've learned on my mission, the greatest convert we have as missionaries is ourselves, then our companions, and then our investigators. If I just keep striving to press forward with faith, then I know through the Lord all things are possible; my joy will be full and I will be a successful missionary despite how many baptisms or spiritual experiences I have. That's not what matters. What matters is that I'm serving the people with all my might mind and strength.

Ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches for breakfast are the best!

The rain made our progress slow a little since we had to spend more time changing and drying and everything, but we continued pressing forward and were able to teach a lot of lessons and help our investigators progress. Right now our area is really exciting because we have around 10 investigators with baptism dates, which mostly consists of two families. The challenge has been getting them to church. One of the families had an emergency with a family member and had to leave for a few days, so they couldn't make it. The other had already made plans to leave town and visit a family member who lives alone. I'm glad that their families are so important to them, and I have faith that they will be able to make it to church this week for sure:)

It's really no fun doing laundry when you don't have a dryer and it's raining...but we make do

Today marks my first day as a "normal missionary" (meaning I finished my training)!!! Also last night we found out who all is being moved around this next transfer and to my great joy, I'm going to stay here with Elder Toledano, my trainer, for another transfer!!:) I'm super excited to continue working here with him because we have experienced so many wonderful things, and I know there will be many to come. Also we have been gettijng really close as a companionship, which makes everything run smoother, and plus we just enjoy the missionary life more when we are telling stories and laughing together (or at each other). Of course that doesn't mean we don't still work hard. In fact, I think it helps me work even harder because it helps me keep a positive attitude and share that with others. This morning I read in preach my gospel about how to have effective study, and I realized how much my desire to learn has grown. I remember how it was hard sometimes to stay awake during personal study, let alone understand the scriptures and learn principles from them. Now I truly treasure all the time I have to study the scriptures and I know that's due to the fact that my love for the gospel has grown. Daily scripture study, prayer and church attendance really are the essentials and I testify that they will grow our faith and love for the gospel, as they have been doing for me.  

This stuff is the best!! It's pretty hot though, so beware!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Week 16

It's been another wonderful week of the mission life already!! There were SOO many amazing experiences this week that I could go on and on about, but I don't want to take up too much time of all those who are following my writing, and plus there isn't much time to reflect on the week because we have another packed week ahead!

 First of all I wanted to give a little update on the big family we baptized about a month and a half ago. This week I noticed just how far the've grown as a family and in the gospel. This week in sacrament meeting the father Jorge blessed the sacrament and two of his sons passed it. That was almost half of the needed priesthood to administer the sacrament from one recent convert family! Also one of the boys named Oriel was finally able to be confirmed since he was able to make it to church this week. Also we have been visiting them every so often and they play hymns and other cool songs from the church in their home and they are truly continuing to grow as a family. The two boys Luis and Eric have been going with us to teach lessons every once in a while and it's super awesome to hear their testimonies and what they have learned in their short time as members. The oldest son Luis started attending Seminary and he talks about things he learned all the time:) Plus they didn't wait long to start missionary work as I've already brought up when they started inviting us to teach some friends down the street. That family has been progressing a ton! Turns out they will all be old enough to be baptized when the time comes because the younger daughter, also named Alma, is 9! I thought she was 6 for the longest time. I asked her "¿Tiene seis aƱos verdad?" and she gave me a really funny look, laughed and made fun of me for thinking so with her mom. Turns out she's 9! And the youngest, Raul, is 7 years old but he'll be turning 8 in July! The only problem now is that the father works so much that we can hardly ever see him, so we haven't been able to teach him much yet. I am super excited for this family though because they have been just blossoming in the gospel. Their kids always jump up with their hands raised when we ask who would like to open or close the lessons with a prayer. My heart swells when I hear such innocent and full-hearted little children talking with their Father in heaven in prayer.

To be honest this has been a little bit of a rough week, but I'm glad for all the challenges I've had because I know they are part of the Lord's plan to shape me into the missionary he wants me to become and he has been giving me the strength and comfort I need to get through it all. That isn't to say that nothing went well this week, there has been a ton of progress in our area and I know it's in large part because of the hard work and exact obedience we've been exerting and the growth of my relationship with my companion as well. We have a ton of wonderful new investigators this week including 2 or 3 families, one of which has 6 members in total! I love being able to teach families that they can become an eternal family if they accept and live the gospel and path Jesus Christ has set for them. 

The challenges were that our plans were a little disrupted with exchanges that our District Leader threw at us without warning and also some health issues that have came up. My knee started getting sore and even a little painful after walking for hours, which is weird because I've been walking vigorously like this since I started in the field, but haven't had any problems thus far. After several long hard days with the soreness, I asked for a blessing yesterday. It was a wonderful experience and helped me to feel confident that it will all work out. I think it might be because of the weather shift. It's gotten even hotter this week and more humid than normal as well. I think my knee just needs to adjust, that's all. After refocusing my attitude about the exchanges and praying for help and guidance, it turned out to be an amazing experience with Elder Burnette, my district leader, who is headed home next week. I'm very blessed with the Lords constant guidance and patience with my weaknesses as I come before him for help. I have faith that everything will work its way out if I trust in the Lord and never give up. Here's to another successful and hard working week! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Week 15

Well it's only been 4 days since my last email since we went to the temple last week, so not much has changed. The last few days have been pretty difficult because of the many disappointments we had. Almost all of our appointments fell through, and none of our investigators were able to make it to church. Luckily I have been taught better than to let moments like these deter my faith or optimism. It's a simple fact in life that there will be trials and difficulties, but without them, there would be no wonderful experiences, joy or growth!

I am determined to continue forward and work that much harder to encourage my investigators to make it next week, and also to continue searching for new people to teach. The highlight of the last few days was when my companion and I had our companionship inventory, which is were we take time to discuss what went well in the week, what we can improve, and overall thoughts and feelings about our work or each other. This week I realized just how much our relationship has grown. We have a lot of differences, but we have worked hard to be open with each other and adjust to each others likes, dislikes and habits. It has been a wonderful experience to get to know Elder Toledano and I am really grateful to have him as my trainer. Although my training is almost over, I can't believe it! I'll be a normal missionary after this week and the next!Anyways it's time to start this week fresh and get to work!

My first attempt at boiling eggs and making an egg salad sandwich, turns out I love egg salad! Don't know why I always thought it was gross:P

Friday, June 5, 2015

Week 14

My District Leader Elder Burnette and I at the temple!

This last week and a half has been crazy. Seriously, so much happened that I couldn't even begin to explain it all, so I'll just highlight a few of the high points:) First of all after a lot of hard work, planning and prayer, we were finally able to get some of our investigators to church this last Sunday!!! There was Keren (a young single mom), Yolanda (a middle aged single mom) and Alma with her 3 kids, Gaudi (10), Raul (7) and Almita (6)!!
One super fun and cool experience I had this week was a Noche de Hogar (Family Night) with Alma's family and the Villela family. This time we had visited the Villela's ahead of time and asked them if they could teach the lesson this time. We split it up into little parts and had three of them talk on the creation/fall, life on earth, and the atonement. It was one of the best feelings ever being able to see a family we had just baptized continuing to grow by learning to share the gospel with their friends:D Then after the lesson we played a few Minuto para Ganar ( games and split up into three teams of 4. The games were first to place a cookie on your forehead and try to get it into your mouth without using your hands or anything which was hilarious to watch! Next we had to keep three balloons in the air for a minute, and finally we filled foam cups with whipped cream with a little candy in the bottom and we had to break the cup and find the candy in under a minute. It was super fun and the kids all loved it:) Then for a snack Alma made some delicious tacos with meat, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, cream and lime juice. YUMMM

Another super amazing experience I had this week was a lesson I had during a exchange with my Zone Leader Elder Salls. It was the first visit with a man named Mario Rojas who is an older man living by himself. We started out by getting to know him and found out he's technically catholic, but that's just because he was baptized into it as a baby, which almost everyone here is. He told us how he doesn't follow any one religion, but believes in God and everything. Also how he doesn't agree with baptizing babies because they have no say in it. Then I brought up the principle of baptism and the way in which we believe it is to be done and invited him to be baptized. I was amazed when he responded immediately "bauticeme!" which means baptize me! That's the first time I've ever taught someone who responded with such enthusiasm and we set a date for his baptism and he accepted the invitation to prepare for that date! The crazy thing is that he lives literally down the street from our house too.

Lastly was being able to go to the temple this morning!!! This time I was able to understand even more which was great and I received a lot of comfort and counsel as well. I am super blessed to be able to go to the temple so often:)

My companion Elder Toledano and I at the temple!

The weather has been pretty normal actually which is super hot, but there was one day when we had a crazy wind storm! There were some little tiny twisters that picked up trash and stuff, but nothing dangerous or anything, so don't worry. Although I heard from a member that in a place not too far there was a tornado that picked up buses and stuff! Yikes! LOVE YOU ALL

My ham egg and cheese omelette breakfast I'm pretty proud of :P