Monday, May 26, 2014

El Paso is Heating Up (may 20th)

Can you all believe it's the middle of May already!  How crazy is that?  Things down in El Paso are going great!  It's been getting toasty :) but not bad.  The best time to be outside is probably after 7, when it's only in the 70s or 80s.  More people are outside and so contacting and talking to people is easier.  It's still getting dark around 8-8:30 though, so once it starts getting dark later, evenings will be fantastic!
Awesome week! 
Monday- we had p-day and then had a couple noches de hogar with different families in the ward.  One was with an active family and a part member family and they fed us.  And then another was with a less active family and some members who lived down the street.  They also fed us.  We watched 17 Miracles with the second family and it was great!  There were so many points in that movie that could apply to so many things!   It's such a great movie!
Tuesday- I woke up sick, and then went back to bed and woke up again at noon.  We had planning, so we planned and then went out and taught.  We were able to have a great lesson with Victoria, one of our investigators who we haven't been able to contact recently.  She lives near our dinner appointment and so we swung by before dinner and her gate was unlocked so we were able to go in a teach a short lesson.  She's an older who lady who just loves the Bible, and quotes it to us throughout the lesson.  She's so excited for the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Tuesday we also had our first language assessment.  Basically it was an interview to see how we are in the language.  I guess it went well :).... it's good to know where you can improve right? A little disheartening, since I thought I was doing well, but it's never bad to be humbled, and then refocused and where you should improve.  Knowing what to work on helped my language study this week. 
Wednesday- we were in the middle of language study, when we get a call from a member asking if we were busy.  He had a friend he wanted us to me, so we went and met A, the Lowe's Hotdog stand man, friend of Hno V (with him really... everyone is a friend).  And then we had a lesson, and a free lunch in the little exit, headed out of Lowe's.  A was awesome, so eager to learn... just a couple problems.  1) he's Italian, not Mexican, so English was a preferred language over Spanish (though he told us, Spanish would be fine...)  and he lived way south of our area, so we set up a return appointment, but then also scheduled the right missionaries to be there.  Then after eating with Hno V, and A, we had a second lunch with the English sister missionaries.  They had a less active with a wife who only speaks Spanish.  And so they wanted us there to talk to her about the church.  And for lunch we had brats.... yes, I was hotdogged out by the end of lunch.  One of our appointments fell through, and we found out that C, our investigator, was headed back to Mexico. She had come to visit her family (they're members) and we had begun teaching her.  She wasn't supposed to head home until August, but something came up.  We got to say goodbye, but didn't take any pictures unfortunately :(.   We then had a great lesson with our investigator Au, the older one with dementia, and we invited 2 older hermanos in the ward, and it was great!
Thursday-Crazy day, lots of appointments.  E is one of our investigators who really wants to be baptized but has word of wisdom problems, so we met with him, and then the M family.  Hno M was able to share his experience about quitting drinking and how la palabra de sabiduria blessed his life, and it meant a lot to E.  Later in the day we had an awesome lesson with Ma!  We found her by just contacting her neighbor who wasn't home.  Ma hadn't read yet, but we read the introduction together and she had a TON of questions!  And they were really good questions too.  Luckily the member our with us, was Hna P, the seminary teacher (seminary this year is Book of Mormon) and one of her students, F.  So between the 4 of us, we were able to answer all the questions, and bear testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. 
Friday-  Headed home from district meeting, and on the way to correlation, we got a phone call from E.  He told us that he was moving to Midland/Odessa to work in the oilfields.  And that he was leaving in 30 minutes.  So we swung by his house and said good bye and that we'd miss him, and he found find the missionaries out there.  Then later we get another phone call from him, saying that he's not leaving until Monday and wanted a ride to the baptism on Saturday.  And in that second phone call, he called us to talk about scriptures and then we talked about the Word of wisdom and how the Lord will provide a way to overcome his addictions (1 Nefi 3:7).  We prayed, decided it was a lesson over the phone.  All our other appointments cancelled that night and so we went finding and had some wonderful miracles!  Mar attended church with her aunt when she was younger and seemed interested in coming again.  We have an appointment with them later this week.  And then we met G and talked about the great apostasy and the restoration and he was really interested.  Everything he was telling us about how he's studied other church and just how things don't fit together was perfect and fit perfectly with the apostasy.  We're also meeting with him this week.
Saturday- well we started our day off with a lesson with the R family, who we hadn't seen in a month.  But they're doing good.  We planned to teach the Restoration, and did, but ended up talking a lot about the Book of Mormon.  They're a good family, and hopefully we can see them more than once a month.  Then they'll start making progress...  The elders had another baptism Saturday, and E came again.  He really likes the baptisms and really felt the spirit in this one, so before the service started he got up and shared his testimony with everyone about how he wants to be baptized and clean to live with God again.  It was very nice, a little long, but everything worked out.  E told us Saturday that he probably wasn't going to move to Midland anymore because his baptism was more important.  We met B contacting, and he was awesome!  Ex-marine, hippy.  That about sums it up.  We knocked his door and this is what we hear "Honey... there are two beautiful women standing at my front door!"  "Two?!?"  "I sure hope their not here to kidnap me!"  He was willing to meet with the missionaries, but again, was English, so we gave his information to the sisters.
Sunday- Great day.  We had some awesome lessons.  But the miracle of all miracles was church itself.  We started Sacrament meeting with 2 investigators at church.  E and O (who comes to church, but won't keep appointments...).  And then the V family came!  And then the N's came!  And then J came!  So we had 7 investigators at church!  And the miracle of miracles is that we really hadn't seen any of them all week!  Throughout the week we had tried contacting a less active member.  Well during Church on sunday, she called and left us a message telling us that she didn't want us coming back, she didn't want to be part of the church anymore and to stop trying to contact her.  Well, we weren't going to go against her wishes, so we made a mental note, not to visit her.  Well, after dinner she called again (I think to make sure we got her message) and she just kept going on and on about how getting baptized was a mistake, she did it to save her job (she was working for a member) and how she doesn't want her husband to think she's with the Mormons and now he does.  And she kept saying that the Catholics don't go around knocking on people's doors to check on then, so why were we.  Since she had called again, we were able to get her bishop's number and she was able to work everything out.  It was just a sad experience though, because we were trying to find less active members, and she didn't want to be contacted.  But that's something we do as missionaries, but as members too.  Everyone of us are brothers and sisters and we need to take care of each other.
Monday- President and Sister Miller were in town, and they came to a lesson with us!  We went to visit A and the spirit in the lesson was so strong.  Au doesn't really speak English and President doesn't really speak Spanish, but they were able to understand each other.  And it was just incredible to be with the Millers in a lesson.  And President was able to give Au a blessing.  Au's daughter doesn't want him coming to church, and so we've just decided to give it time.  We're keep visiting and teaching him, but won't try to push church.  We also had a lesson with the Ns.  Last Tuesday when I was sick/sleeping they called and cancelled our appointment, and said we could come Monday, but without any members.  So we fretted all week that something bad was going to happen.  And then they showed up to church, but we still didn't know what was going to happen.  Well it turns out they just had some questions for us, and they didn't want the members there, because they though they were our supervisors and didn't want us to feel bad because of their questions.  It was a great lesson, and gave us the opportunity to explain why the members come out with us.  We had another phone call from E, and it turns out he might actually be leaving for Midland today.  Luckily, on Saturday we were able to get him the information for the church out there in Midland.  So even if he does end up leaving (we're calling later today to see if he left) he can go to church! Then we had a great dinner/lesson with a less active family and spent the rest of the evening finding.  We contacted into a less active family, and had a lesson with the grandchildren, but are sending the English missionaries, because the kids don't speak Spanish.
Things are amazing down here in El Paso!  I know that I am here for a reason, and I love teaching these amazing people.  I know that God is my Heavenly Father, and that he loves me and gives me little pushes each day to get through.  I know that Jesus Christ is my elder brother and savior and that because of him, I can return to live with him and my family someday.  What a glorious message to share!  How grateful I am to share it.  Have a fantastic week!  And enjoy the Northwest spring!
"May God take a liking to you!"  -Bob, quoting Roy Roger

And some addition Information:
In El Paso/Las Cruces area there are three missionary zones and each zone probably ranges from 10 to 15ish companionships.  The biggest zone is the El Paso zone (the one I was in before) and it might have closer to 20 companionships.  Most companionships have two missionaries, though some have three, so in the El Paso/Las Cruces area there are probably between 80-100 missionaries.  Of the two zones I've served in, at least half (maybe more) of the companionships are Spanish speaking.  Because we have so many missionaries in this area, the Mission President and his wife now have an apartment and will be visiting more often.  That's great because President & Sister are amazing.  In the total mission there are 250 missionaries, so nearly half are in this area.  I believe most of the Spanish speaking missionaries are also in this area.
We're in a great ward and everyone is amazing.  The area has lots of neighborhoods, middle income or less.  There is a mix of neighborhoods, a lot of apartments, trailer parks and government housing.  There are some newer developed areas, but demographics are not Spanish, so we tend to stay out of them, unless we're visiting specific people.  There are a ton of churches in the area and most people we meet are either Catholic or some other Christian denomination.  There is a military base close.  Most military families are in English speaking wards, so we don't interact a lot, but we've met a lot of people contacting.  There are some big military neighborhoods, but they're not in our area (they're in the elder's).  
We shop at the Dollar Store and Walmart.  Our area has lots of parks, a couple pools, and some people have them in their backyard.  Education varies... a lot of the sisters in our ward are in English classes, and we've met several people in school, but it just depends.  There are a lot of schools in the area, and lots of GED programs too.
We've talked about starting an ESL class during the summer, for women who were in the English class (which ended for summer) to give them another opportunity to practice and learn.  It's a great way to serve the community regardless of church membership.
When we went to the Alburquerque Temple, a couple from our ward drove us.  They were so awesome.  The Sister took off work - such a sacrifice.  And an additional sacrifice considering they generally attend the Juarez Temple, less than an hour from their house.  The drive took us 4 hours (7 hours on the way back due to complications) and the Temple was wonderful.  It was called Missionary Monday - only open on Monday for missionaries.  That's why we typically only get to attend twice a year.
A bilingual couple from an English speaking ward recently evaluated my Spanish speaking skills.  I need to work on different grammar aspects like past tense and stuff like that.  The good news is that I've had 3 companions who like to talk, and talk a lot.  The flip side is I don't always get to talk that much, so I just need to get comfortable talking.  Sometimes I'm unsure of word endings, but it's alright.  Improvement poco a poquito (bit by bit).
Our entire church service is in Spanish, although many people are bilingual and all of the children attend public school where classes are taught in English.  A lot of families communicate in both Spanish and English, sometimes using both languages in the same sentence. 

 (Apparently they helped make another cake)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tranfers! (may 7th-12th)

The past week was an amazing week!  Not without trials or challenges, but amazing all the same.  It's weird to think that one transfer is already over in Trans Mt, but I'm so excited for another transfer here!
So some amazing experiences/people:
M- We met her probably a week ago and she's just amazing.  We were trying to contact her neighbor but ended up talking to her for a long time.  And this week we were able to have a second lesson.  I sat there, occasionally interjecting things into the lesson, but mostly sat at the table, playing with the 4 year old daughter keeping her occupied so that M could focus.  But it was just a beautiful lesson!  Muy Hermosa :).  We started talking about el Libro de Mormon and how it's a record of the people who lived her in the Americas and how Christ came to visit them.  And she was SO excited!  She told us that she always knew that people lived here, and excited to learn and read about the Book of Mormon.  And we asked her to be baptized after she finds out it's true (so after she studies, prays and comes to church) and she was just so cute!  Her response "que Hermosa!  Pero necesito mas tiempo"  (how beautiful, but I need more time.  Which is good... we don't want people rushing into baptism).  But she's amazing, and I'm so excited to teach her more!   
E- He was an old investigator of the elders and so we stopped by one day to meet him and see if he was interested.  We've had a couple lessons and through he didn't make it to church this week, he was able to come to the baptism this week (the elders in the ward had one :) ).  We had a lesson this week and invited him to be baptized and he responded with "Como no!"  which is basically, "why not."  And we're like "uhhhhhhhhhhh, that's not the response we normally get...."  happy that he said yes, but wanting baptism to be taken a little more seriously because it is making a covenant with the Lord. 
A- He was our miracle from last Monday night.  And teaching him again is amazing!  He progresses really slowly because of his dementia, but he's progressing.  We had several lessons with him, and one of them was teaching him how to pray.  And then next time we came back he was able to pray!  He also made it to church on Sunday.  A member picked him up and took him home.  We're going to try and meet with his daughter this week to see how we can better help him. 
Familia S-  They were also former investigators from the last elders.  But we hadn't been able to contact them, and so Saturday, before the baptism we stopped by to see if they were home and if we could teach a quick lesson/ set up a return appointment.  Well, Hna S opened the door and she told us "tengo prisa.... pero pasales" (i'm in a hurry, but come in).  And we were able to teach an amazing lesson.  The poor family has been going through a lot recently and she really just needed someone to come listen and tell her that everything would be alright.  That God loves her and that he knows she's a strong woman.  The Lord works in amazing ways! 
One of the big things we're trying to teach is about the temples.  It's been a couple weeks since we went to the Albuquerque temple, but the experience still resonates.  I just want everyone the opportunity to go to the temple, and feel of the Spirit of the Lord and to make sacred covenants with the Lord.  This past week I recently got the special edition Temples Ensign, and it's just been great showing people the temple pictures and help them gain/regain or put more emphasis on going to the temple.  And then I found this really cool article and video today about temples- The video gives some really good insight to building temples, but has some really pretty shots of different rooms in the temple. 
And with my Temple Ensign, I also happened to get my copy of the April Conference Ensign!  Can I just remind everyone how amazing conference was?  It's incredible that we have modern day prophets who can teach to our needs individually.  I invite everyone to go back and read/study a conference talk.  I've been studying Pres Uchtdorf's "Are you sleeping through the Restoration" and Elder Teh's "Where your treasure is."

Picture: My district from last transfer.  All the elders are Spanish Speaking (expect for the Zone leaders who were in the picture) and the other sisters are English speaking. 

Transfers Again! (may 6th)

I don't know how things like this happen.  How do 6 weeks fly by so quickly?  I feel like I was just transferred to the North East and now, it's been 6 weeks later.  Crazy huh, :)
So this week.... was great! And long, and crazy.  Last week I think I told you about a new investigator, O.  Well, this past week we had several other lessons with O and they were really interesting.  He was more interested in proving to us that the bible was the only word of God, and not interested in listening to what we had to say.  We had a lesson with them Tuesday and then Wednesday and during the Wednesday lesson, he told us that he wasn't interested in learning any more.  And then he said the closing prayer, in it asking that someday we would be guided to the knowledge that there are no "prophets, scriptures or bibles after Christ."  It was a really awkward situation because I didn't agree with what he was saying in the prayer, so I didn't know if I was supposed to say amen or not.... in a sense it just got mumbled and then we left the house, and went to find people who are ready to learn about the Book of Mormon and Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Ef and Es are two of our amazing investigators right now, theyre on date for May 24th and we're trying to help them prepare.  They're not quite sure they're ready, but it's amazing seeing how much a person can chance in a month or two!  We had several lessons with them this past week and they just keep getting better and better.  Yesterday we taught about prophets and following the prophets and we asked Ef if he's prayed about if the Book of Mormon is true.  Well, he told us he hadn't, but it gave us the opportunity to ask why, and learn that he didn't really know how to ask/receive questions through prayer.  Our member who was out with us, shared one of her prayer stories and it was an amazing experience.  The ward is having a baptism this weekend and we invited them to come.  Hopefully they'll make it, because it will be such a spiritual experience!
And then we had a lot of time finding this week.  One of the amazing ladies we met is M and she's so sweet.  We were trying to contact her neighbor, who was a referral, and she wasn't home, so we stopped by to ask her what time her neighbor usually is home.  Well, she just started talking to us and it was fantastic!  We have an appointment with her later tonight and it's going to be great.  We saw her last night (contacting the referral next door) and she was so excited to see us and excited for the lesson tonight!
And because of the Tuesday night lesson with O, we missed another lesson (O wouldn't stop talking/discussion/quoting bible scriptures at us).  Well, we stopped by R's and had the chance to actually teach him later the week and it was amazing!  He's just so prepared to hear the gospel and with so many things that have happened in his life, he's just been so humbled.  We had problems finding a member to visit him with us, and finally called an older lady in the ward, but it was just perfect!  She was able to share her testimony on how she was Christian before and how her daughter was baptized but she didn't want anything to do with the church.  But she read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it and got her answer!  It was just an amazing lesson!
And then the miracle of all miracles probably happened last night :).  A couple weeks ago, one of our investigators moved.  And we had been calling his daughter and him, trying to get his new address, but we had just about given up hope.  A has dementia, so we weren't figuring he'd remember to call us, but is daughter wasn't really interested in us, so she wasn't returning our calls or sending the address.  But last night, we got a call from an unknown number and it was a friend of A's!  Apparently, A has been asking for us, and wants us to come by his new place and keep teaching him!  HE REMEMBER US!  How amazing is that, and he just wants to get baptized so badly, so it's a miracle that we found him again! 
So lessons learned this week!  The Book of Mormon is true, prepared people will listen, prepared people will come back to you and missionary work is AMAZING!

Never Ending Adventure (april 23rd-29th)

So many amazing things happened this past week.  No flash floods through so you don't have to worry :)
Thursday we had interviews with President and Sister Miller.  They are so amazing and inspired.  Visiting with them and talking to them about different things is always so uplifting and inspiring.  And the great news is that, they now have an apartment down in El Paso!  So we will get the chance to see them more often :).  One of the things Sister Miller talked about was our patriarchal blessings- how amazing it is to have this chance to know some of the promised blessings if we live righteously and do everything we can.  I just love my blessing so much and how it's guided me throughout my life.  Life is a grand adventure, why would we not use all the help we can get to guide us through?  Even through I received my blessing a couple years ago, every time I read it I still can feel the love that God has for me as my Heavenly Father.  I know that he knows me individually and that he has a glorious plan for me.  And from my family members who have received their blessings, I want to hear from you how it has blessed your lives :)
Friday we had an impromptu zone conference with President Miller (remember how I said he's living down south now too... that means they could stay longer after interviews!)  He talked about how when a dentist is working he uses sharp, precise tools to do his job.  If one of his tools was to bend, it wouldn't be as effective.  In our lives and our missions, the Lord is the dentist and we are his tools.  We need to be sharp and precise through obedience so that the Spirit can work through us to touch the lives of others.  I love how he talked about perception too.  How do we perceive people, how they perceive us and how different perceptions might negatively or positively affect how we work with investigators and members.  But most importantly, what are our own perceptions of ourselves.  If we see ourselves negatively, then that's how it's going to become.  But if we see ourselves in a positive manner, than life just goes easier, we'll have more confidence in ourselves and we'll just be happier.  It reminds me of a quote from Elder Richard G. Scott "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day."
Saturday we woke up to the news that the mother of one of the sisters in the ward had passed away earlier that morning.  This sister is a recent convert of the church and has been super busy with the death of her father a couple weeks ago and just figuring out everything surrounding that (he was exmilitary and living in the Phillippines), and so we stopped by to drop off flowers and see if she needed anything.  And so we were there, Hermana talking to this sister, and I entertained the kids, trying to take their minds off of things.  There was a primary activity later, which also happened to be our dinner, and so we went, and one of our investigator families showed it!  It was great to be at the activity for them, and just to talk and know some of the other ward members a little better.  We had a church tour planned for 8 that night, and our 7 appointment cancelled so we went to the house a little early, and it's a good thing we did because it took us roughly 30 minutes to get the family awake, shoes on and out the door for the tour.  But it was an amazing experience and wonderful.  The Spirit was strong and we were sure they were going to come to church (spoiler... they didn't :( )
Sunday, normal missionary sunday.  But the V family came to church!  They weren't able to stay for all 3 hours because of a family thing, but they came!  Yay!  The weather around here hasn't been the greatest, no flash floods this week, but a lot of wind and dust, aire y tierra.  So contacting people was interesting, but we found a great new investigator.  We have a return appointment today, so hopefully he'll be home :)

Monday was TEMPLE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  YAY.  We met with the Va's at 5:30 and they drove us and the elders in our ward up to the temple.  And it was amazing, the spirit was so strong and it was just incredible being there with so many missionaries.  We had our session, and then afterwards we had a devotional with president about how the spirit of the temple can bless the lives of our investigators even before they're baptized.  President also challenged us, after our missions, to go to the temple weekly, and that we'd see miracles in our lives and families if we could take the time to worship and feel the spirit in the temple.  It was just amazing.

  Afterwards we took pictures and then headed back south around 4.  It's normally a 4 hourish drive, and we had already gotten a little lost, so we were on track to be home at 9 and so around 8 last night, we were near Las Cruces and we passed 2 white cars that were full of missionaries on the side of the road.  We turned around to check and as we pulled up in from of them and got out, we realized that our car had a flat tire too.  The other car  had run over something and we don't know if we had done of the same, or if it was punctured in the process of stopping and heading back to see if they were okay.  Well, it was a long process involving border control who kept checking on if we were okay.  The first car quickly got the tire changed, but we couldn't get the bolts off.  So the border patrol ran to a gas station and brought back slime tire fixer and they filled the tire and had them drive to the gas station.  Well, at the gas station the tire wasn't keeping air, and so we had to wait for roadside assistance to come help us and finally they were able to get the bolts off and change the tire (they had been stripped, so none of the wrenches were talking of the lug nuts). We got on the road again at 10 and were home by 11ish, in bed by 11:30 and trust we, we slept really well :)