Friday, July 17, 2015

Last email home

Words cannot describe how I'm feeling right now.  I'm excited to go home and see you all again, and I'm excited to head back to school but I feel like I'm leaving so much behind.  So much of me, and so many wonderful people who have changed my life for the better are here in El Paso.

Mom wanted me to email today so that I could share my testimony with you all, but I feel like I've been sharing it all along :).

I know that I made the right choice to go and serve a mission.  My life has been changed for the better.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and this past week I've really come to understand what it means to rely on the Atonement.  I know that I couldn't have made it through this past week without the Atoning power and just being able to rely on someone else and have Him help me through.

I know the church is true.  With or without me, God's work is going to move on and I've made the decision to be part of it.  I know that Christ established a church when he was on the earth and that through Joseph Smith that same church was restored.  I know that we have living prophets today on the earth that lead and guide us. 

I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I know that it was written by ancient prophets and that just like the bible it will help us learn the teachings of Christ to return to live with him again.  I love the Bible too.  That's something that I've really grown to love and understand as I've been on my mission.

I know that in this Church we are given opportunities to serve and to grow and learn.  I am so grateful for an organization built upon service and for the chances that I have to go out and serve others.

Before my mission I had a testimony of all these things.  But as I've been a missionary my testimony has been strengthened, and I have learned more than knowing, I have learned to do.  I have learned how to more fully keep my covenants.

I love this church.  I love this Gospel, I love being a missionary.  And while that is coming to an end, I really am excited to move on to the next part of my adventure.  It seems like life never really slows down, and that's alright with me.  I'm going to keep on doing what I learned in the mission- trust in God and follow his answers when you get one.  And the best part is that I still get to be a missionary... :) a member missionary that is....

I love you all and I'll see you this week :)


Hna Hendricks

April 7th 2015

To anyone who's been reading this, you know I've been home for 3 months now.  I'm finally getting up the ability to tackle my blog and go through my mission emails and pictures.  Sorry about the delay-

This past week was really good.  But to be honest, I don't really have the ganas to write you all.

But, I know you all want to hear from me. 

Wednesday we had several incredible experiences.  1. We helped the university ward sisters with an outdoor art show that they put on.  It was really cool being on campus and helping out while taking about art and church history!   And Jesus Christ.  I was able to teach on the maintenance men  in Spanish and ended up giving him a Book of Mormon which was super cool.

About 2 weeks ago President also asked us to start parking our cars for 2 days a week starting April 1st.  Well, last Wednesday was the first and so we got a ride down to the university and then we bused home.  And we bused up and down Mesa street.  Do you know hoe much I LOVE the bus!!!!!!  It is AWESOME.  And I regret not bussing earlier.  Yeah, it requires a little more planning, and a little more money taken off our mission cards, but it was so much fun!  And it's a great opportunity to talk to people.  On Thursday we rode again and it was so cool because at one stop the bus driver was ahead of schedule and so he stopped the bus and came back to talk to us about what we do as missionaries and what we believe.  Unfortunately we didn't have an English book of Mormon on us to give to him (we do now!!!) but the cool thing is that he lives on a street in my last area that I walked a ton a times! 

Conference was incredible.  I loved the emphasis on families and eternal marriage and just everything.  I am so excited to go back and restudy everything, especially Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf's talks because our wifi cut out when we were watching conference (they were only broadcasting in Spanish to our church building and so we set up a computer for us English speakers... us, the elders, and a couple other members).

One thing that I pondered over last week was my reaction to President Miller's counsel to park the car 2 days a week.  I read that, and didn't think it was possible.  And I told him that.  But then I got to spend all week thinking about my lack of faith and trust.  If I believe that President Miller is an inspired leader of the church (and I know he is), then  his counsel is inspired as well.  And instead of doubting, I just needed to take a leap of faith.  Which is what we ended up doing Wednesday and Thursday, and you read how it turned out.

When we listen and then heed the words of our leaders we will always be blessed.  Even if we can't see the blessings or don't understand why we need to do something, we need to trust.  And sometimes that's the hardest part is just learning to trust.  Trust in the promptings of the Spirit, trust in the counsel of the local leaders and then trust in the counsel of general leadership.

With conference this past weekend we received lots of counsel.  Some of it spoken verbally and some of it received through inspiration by the Holy Ghost.  I know that I need to go back and reflect on the guidance I received and apply it to my life and I challenge all of you to do the same thing too.  Review the conference talks, review any notes you took and write down promptings received and then remember them. 

"Ofttimes the wisdom of God appears as foolishness to men, but the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right." -President Monson

I know that we have a living prophet who guides us in these latter days.  I know that we have apostles and leaders who receive the guidance to help us.  But I also know that we have the opportunity to receive our own personal guidance to help and guide us.  This Church is true.  And nothing will ever change that.

I love you all and I'll talk to you next week!


Hna Hendricks

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31st 2015 (THE FINAL MISSION POST)

Yes, it is true! This is the last blog post from yours truly, Mary, while Emily is away! She has 14 days left until she comes home, so she will email one more time, but I will be out of town, so she will post it when she gets home! Its crazy how quickly 18 months flys by, isnt it?

Last week was a normal missionary week.  We contacted lots of referrals, we received lots of referrals, we taught lessons, we had members cancel on us, we had investigators cancel on us.  Yep, normal. 

But even normal weeks have miracles.

1. General Women's conference.  I hope you all watched it.  And if you didn't, go watch it NOW.  We are so blessed to have the opportunity twice a year to listen to the voices of leaders inspired by God to help us.  My favorite talk was that of Sister Oscarson.  She is incredible!  We were able to watch the conference session in SPANISH (it's a good thing I understand Spanish or else I would have been completely lost.) with some of our less active sisters and it was just so amazing.

2.  B set another baptismal date.  She knows that everything is true, but she's struggling to change because her brother is a pastor of another church.  So this week her recently baptized grandson came with us to a lesson, shared his testimony, told her that his mom (B's daughter) was getting baptized and B said she's going to be baptized the same day.  And then she kissed him on the head.

3. We showed up to church on sunday and I was informed I had to play the piano for sacrament meeting.  Well, I prayed throughout the whole meeting because while I'm really good a sight reading songs, playing them for the congregation is another matter.  But it worked out, the Atonement is real in helping make up your differences.

4. We found members to come with us to lessons, even if it was last minute.  That is a big miracle. 

5.  I had my departure interview with President Miller yesterday.  It's good, all is good.  We talked about how one phase ends so that another can begin.  What a blessing it has been for me to serve as a missionary.  I love it so much and I know that I have changed so much.  :)

I hope everyone is preparing for Easter and General Conference this weekend.  How special will it be to have both this weekend, because we get to be even more fed by the spirit!  Because Jesus Christ is our Savior and he lives we have the ability to do anything.  He can help us over come all our sins and weaknesses.  All because he loves us.  And because he loves us even more, he's given us living day prophets to help us and guide us and to keep us in line.  I AM SO EXCITED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!  I hope you're that excited too.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 24th 2015

So last week was good.  It seemed like we were at the church a lot, and not really doing very much, but it was packed with other things.

First of all..... F FINALLY GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!  Thank you for all prayers on our behalf. 

One thing I've noticed on my mission is that baptism are really stressful.  I don't know if it's that way for other missionaries, but when they are over my feelings are "finally.... they're baptized!" 

It always seems to happens that either the week (or the day of) before a baptism all things seem to go wrong.  Well, with F things went wrong a month ago when he cancelled on his interview.  And this week things were going really really well, until Friday night.  When we were at the church for a Relief Society activity I felt the impression to go check the key to the baptismal clothes (it's been know to stick).  So we went and checked the key to the closet we thought were the baptismal clothes. (It was the closet they got A's baptismal clothes out of).  When the key didn't work, we called the ward mission leader who told us to get the bishop to help us open the door.  Well the bishop came over, couldn't get the door unlocked, and had a member in the ward pick the lock, and then take off the lock because bishop said he was done having problems with this door.  Problem solved... we thought.

The next day at the baptism our ward mission leader is looking at the doors and says "Sisters.... you took the lock off the wrong door... that's for the other ward"  Oops. But the good think is that we got baptismal clothes (albeit from the other ward) that 2 kids used for their baptisms. 

That's why we were at the church a lot last week.  F's baptism was at 10:30 (so we were at the church at 8:30), then the elders had a baptism at 7, but were driving down from ABQ that day, so we had to fill the font/prep the room for their baptism.  And, they asked me to play the piano for the baptism (so again, at the church from 6-8:30) and then church on sunday, and there was an 8 year old getting baptized on Sunday, and I also "played" the piano for that baptism (I actually used the electric piano for that one... I didn't know the songs....).

But the week ended great because F was finally baptized. :)

And we have some amazing new investigators.  One of them is a family that we taught on Saturday after the baptism.  We didn't know quite what to teach them, because they've been taught by missionaries before, but we went in and found out the husband has a TON of questions.  Luckily we have a return missionary with us, who helped us get control of the situation and we answered a couple and then set up a return appointment.  Today we're teaching the plan of salvation to them (per-request) and I am SO EXCITED!!!!

I'm so happy that Spring is finally here.  And the weather is really warming up too!  It's just going to be so much fun to go talk to people!  Our OYMing has been really down, but we have a goal to have shorter lessons so that we can go and talk to more people. Sometimes I feel like we don't have enough time to do everything.  But everything that needs to get done, usually does. 

It's been an incredible opportunity for me to serve and I'm so excited to see what this week holds!  Love you all and have an absolutely incredible week!

Love hna Hendricks

Pictures: me and hna torres with our macarons.
at f's baptism
we played softball last week at pday.  My team creamed the other one. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 17th 2015

Last week we went on exchanges.  I and think it was the best exchanges I've ever been on (no offense to my other sister training leaders...) we just had so much fun and we learned a lot!  Sis Watkins is going to BYU next fall too, and so we just decided we're going to try to room together.  I don't think I've laughed as much or as hard as we did together.  And we saw lots of miracles too!  We were able to talk to a lot of people outside on the streets and we received and contacted several referrals!  It was awesome!

Last Friday Hna Torres woke up sick.  And then stayed sick Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  It was the worse thing ever.  For her and me.  By the middle of Saturday I had read all the church magazines in the apartment, updated our area book, cleaned the dishes and then some more.  By sunday, I had cleaned our vacuum, had finished Helaman and was memorizing my scripture for zone conference.  Luckily we had some young women that were willing to do splits with us and so I got a quick break sunday afternoon to go out and contact people.  And then the university ward sisters did splits so I could go to sacrament (M came! We haven't seen him in 2 weeks!!!!! Yet he still came to church).  And then the sister training leaders came later Sunday night so that I could go to a baptismal interview/lesson.  F passed his interview.... now please pray that nothing happens this week that will impede him getting baptized!

Monday morning Hna Torres woke up feeling a little better... and so off to zone conference we went.  She slept through most of it, but by the end (and after a blessing) she's made a remarkable recovery and we're back to business!  We had an amazing zone conference yesterday focusing on answering questions of the soul and listening to/receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives.  It just makes me want to go out there and know the scriptures better and listen to the Holy Ghost better so that I really can teach to the needs of others and help them progress in their relationship with our Heavenly Father.

And part of what we saw at zone conference was a new video by the church called "He Lives."  It's part of a new initiative that the church is doing (similar to the Christmas one but for Easter) and it's focused on how this time is more than just a time to celebrate the Easter bunny, but the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I know that my savior lives and that because he lives, my potential is endless.  I can learn, I can progress, I can be forgiven of my mistakes, I can grow from past mistakes.  And the best part is that this is available for everyone too.  Not just me, but for anyone who really wants it.  It's that amazing :)

March 10th 2015

This past week was good.  We've been struggling to find and just with talking to people, so that's our focus on this up coming week.

Sunday was interesting because of the time change.  I think we started sacrament with maybe 40 people, and no one under the age of 7.  But by the time the chapel doors opened after the sacrament had been passed, the ward was looking a little more lively :). 

I love the daylight savings because we have more light!  And more people are outside!  And people don't tell us to go home at 7 anymore :)  (we got that a lot... "sisters why are you out so late?"  "Uh... it's only 7:30."  "Well, you should go home").  So, basically we're going to be able to find more people because now we have more light!

Friday night we had an activity at the church.  It was watching 17 Miracles, which we're allowed to watch if we have an investigator.  Well, none of our investigators showed up.  And neither did the elders'.  And while we had a good turn out of members (including recent converts and less actives) the missionary activity for the ward, was missionaryless because no investigators went.  Oh well, we went to contact former investigators and I think it was just as fun.

At zone training on Friday they talked about keeping a study journal.  And that's something I've done but also struggled with.  And so since Friday I have made a goal to write down my ponderings and observations instead of just thinking them.  And I believe that my studying has increased in effectiveness.  We have been given many different resources and as we study we become more effective people.  It doesn't matter what we're studying for, but as we search the Lord will open up treasure in heaven or us.  I love studying out of brand new clean scriptures because it gives me the opportunity to find new things.

March 2nd 2015

Can you believe it's March already?  Wow, February flew by so fast. Well, transfer calls happened on Saturday and the news is..... we're both staying!  So that means I've served in El Paso my whole mission!!!! (somebody better change my plaque so that it says the Texas, El Paso mission ;))  

This past week was amazing.  It was filled with anticipation on what the new transfer might bring, and willingness to submit to what the Lord has planned.  And the Lord wants us to stay here together and work hard :)  I'm and so excited because we have an awesome transfer planned....!

In past weeks where we struggled to teach, these last couple weeks, we've struggled to find... but it's a cycle :).  We had amazing lessons with several investigators.

M was supposed to get baptized on Saturday, but she hasn't been reading in the Book of Mormon.  So we decided (along with her) that she wasn't ready and that she needs to read.  We left her a chapter and gave her a week to read it (but let her know we'd stop in periodically to see how it was going).  We saw her last night and she still hadn't read, but it's a work in progress.  She has been going to church and she does pray... it's just getting her to read and LOVE the Book of Mormon.

C is reading and praying and she wants to be baptized, her only problem is that she hasn't really kept all of her appointments and hasn't gone to church.  We had an awesome lesson with her on baptism though and the interview and how she would be baptized.  She's progressing it's just the importance of going to church. 

We had a great lesson with a recent convert and her investigator daughter.  One of the young women leaders came with us, and she and Hna Torres focused on the daughter, talking about personal progress and making it personal for her.  And I sat with the mom and answered all her questions from Gospel Principles.  It was time to more personally get to know this Hermana and help her understand some of the doctrine that she's been struggling with.

With that experience with the Hermana and several others this week, I grew in my understanding of my own baptismal covenants. 
 (Mosiah 18:8-9)
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

I've had several opportunities throughout my mission to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.  But I think that every time it happens, it takes on more meaning.  Especially this week, because I've been studying "Daughters of My Kingdom" and the personal ministry section stuck out to me.  Everyone of us has the responsibility to minister to others, and help them grow in their own testimonies.  Everything in life has a deeper meaning than just checking off a box.  We shouldn't live through life checking off boxes because then we forget the meaning of everything.  And when we make things personal for ourselves and others, that's when the meaning comes in.  And if we think and reflect on Christ's life, he ministered personally to everyone.  What a great example we have.

February 24th 2015

Time moves quickly.  Can any one imagine that this is the last week of the transfer and the last week of the month?  How crazy is that.

This was week was amazing.  Some things are describable in words, others are not.  But I will try my hardest.

We taught more lessons last week, and we did more service!  It was a busy week and it felt great.  But really, the highlight of the week happened at 6:30 sunday morning.

Weeks ago we received news that Elder Holland would be in the mission.  And Sunday morning at 6:30 we met with him and with Elder Christensen (presidency of the Seventy), Bishop Causse (general bishopric) and Elder Villarreal (area seventy).  Talk about the best way to start a sunday morning. 

There is a very special spirit when the servant of the Lord walks into the room and everyone stands.  You feel the unity and just the support.  But not only that, you know that he, an apostle of the Lord, really cares about you individually.  When Elder Holland spoke, he didn't speak from the stand.  He spoke from the floor, walking around and interacting with the missionaries.  We're not just nameless young adults that the church contracts for 18 months to 2 years to work for them, we ourselves are as important as the people we're called to teach. 

So we (my companion and I) had front row seats to Elder Holland, because our zone leaders had gotten there early.  So not only were we upfront when he talked to us, but we received a clear view of him the whole meeting.  He is so in tune to the Spirit.  You look at Elder Holland and he just radiates his calling. 

He talked about the Book of Mormon and how we need to be Book of Mormon Missionaries.  Through reading, studying and living the teachings of the Book of Mormon that is how we become converted to the Gospel and we never fall away.  He talked about how we have left all and that we are never going back. Yes, I will be coming home one day, but the Emily who left, is not coming to be the same as the one coming home.  My dreams have changed, my aspirations, my goals, how I see the world has changed, and I love it.  I love to know that I'm better.  And I'm continually becoming better, but that everything is happening that way it's supposed to. 

I think that we could all use the Book of Mormon more.  We can't just be Book of Mormon missionaries, we have to be Book of Mormon members.  We have to study daily, drinking of the knowledge we can receive and we have to share that with others. 

Later on Sunday, after that Spirit packed meeting with 4 general authorities (by the way, the first and probably only, meeting in which President Miller did not speak), we had stake conference (again) in which Bishop Causse came to speak to the Mt Franklin stake.  It was so spiritual too, as they talked about temples, family history work, being sealed as a family and just having that unity and spirit in your home.  It was beautiful to listen to for several reasons.  1. it was the first English church service I've been in for probably 8 months and 2. the spirit was just so strong and it touched the hearts of members and nonmembers.  We had 6 investigators at conference and several less actives/recent converts. 

I love this church.  I don't know if I can express that enough.  I love this gospel and the truth and clarity it brings to my life.  I have never appreciated more the little things that I've heard and I just have the biggest desire to go out and help people.  In whatever way possible. 

Life is more than good.  It's incredible.  Next week we have transfers, and while I don't necessarily want to admit it, I'll begin my last transfer.  But, we're not thinking about that now ;).  And I also finish training Hna Torres this week, so who knows what will happen next week.  I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 17th 2015

Wednesday we had a great lesson with an investigator who we haven't seen in a while.  Actually, I've never seen or taught him, but Sister Callaway and Sister Pipken had before I arrived in this area.  Well, this hermano is the husband of a member and had been going through lots of chemo treatments and so when the sisters first started teaching him he was interested, but not really.  Then about a month ago, when we had stake conference, Elder Jensen from the 6th quorum of the Seventy came and visited that family.  And last week we finally got to teach him again, and he's hungry.  He wants to know so badly the things of the Gospel.  The desire is also starting to be his own, and not one that his wife suggested, which is awesome!  It was just a miracle to see how he was so enthusiastic about reading and doing his own part. 
We also had exchanges on Thursday! and I went to the other area, which was the UTEP or university ward.  It's only the second time that I've ever gone on an exchange in English and it was really cool.  We didn't get to teach much (because all the lessons feel through), but it was just really cool being in the institute and working with my own age group.  And Hna Torres did great leading out in our own area, no worries there :)
The rest of the week went well too.  Saturday we had contacting splits with the sister training leaders and then we walked to our appointment.  Well, as we were walking our member (who was also our dinner, cancelled) but told us that she still wanted us to come to dinner.  The only problem was that we were carless, and were 50cents short of bus fare for both of us.  But we taught, and then called our member and she picked us up, took us to dinner and then dropped us off at our apartment so we could drive to our next appointment. Which was frustrating because our investigator wasn't there because she had gone to get food to feed us.  So we waited, and taught her kids and then ate quickly and taught her.
Sunday was a great day.  First of all 3 investigators came to Sacrament meeting.  M was one of them, and after the first hour of church we talked to him about the different classes he could go do, and then the hermano who sat next to him said he could take him to class and off walked M.  Really excited and saying bye to us.  It felt like your child walking off on the first day of school without you.  (not that I know how that feels, but I can imagine it....).  But that is why fellowship is so important!!!!!!!!!  Because then the missionaries don't have to worry about their investigators getting lost in the super confusing buildings that we have.
Last night we got to have family night with one of our less actives and it was awesome!  I've missed having family nights.  Basically yesterday was the restoration day, because we taught it in the family night, we had our 9 year old investigator teach the restoration to us, and then we watched the 20 minute restoration with Ma and talked about her own baptism. 
Teaching the restoration helps me remember the blessings from it.  It's something that I feel like we take for granted.  Temples, the priesthood, missionaries, baptisms, church, prophets, etc are all because of the Restoration.  What a blessing we have to know and to understand this.  And shouldn't we be so excited to go out and share it?

February 10th 2015

Last week was a mix of a rollercoaster. 
It all started Tuesday.  At 6:00pm we were waiting outside the church building for our investigator to show up for his baptismal interview.  Then we checked our phone and realized at 5 we had gotten a call from the ward mission leader, cancelling the interview and the baptism for Saturday.  They were too busy, hadn't had enough time to prepare and it wasn't going to work that week.  So in a span of 5 minutes, it felt like everything came crashing down.
I cried.  And then I cried some more.  And then when it came down to it, I got back to work.  We had things to do.  Correlation (check), lesson (cancelled), backup lesson (she was home and fed us dessert).
And then the rest of the week went like this:  contacting referrals, street contacting, having people not be home, visiting a lot of less actives.  But we saw miracles.
-M- he's been progressing and he went to church!  YAY!  What he has that makes it such a pleasure to teach him is real intent and really wanting to find the answers.  And he's seeking.
-The Ma family- they were a referral from the English elders.  They had knocked into the family and we ended up teaching them (because the mom prefers Spanish).  When we went to have the pass off lesson with the elders, the 13 year old daughter ended up not being there, but we found out that the mom was actually a less active member who had been baptized in Casas Grandes.  Well, the daughter is so prepared for the Gospel and progressing so well (we've only taught her twice though).  When we met her the first time we asked her why she wanted to meet with the missionaries and she told us "Soy Catolica.  Pero querio ser Mormona"  (I'm Catholic.  But I want to be Mormon).  And when we assigned her a chapter to read, she asked if she had to stop reading when she finished the chapter.  They came to church Sunday and we met with them again yesterday and the daughter told us that after going to church she now wants to be baptized.  And now she's set for the 28th of February.
-Mar is coming back to church.  And apparently she still thinks she's getting baptized.  But we've heard that news 2nd hand so we're still trying to figure out where she stands on the whole issue (especially since a month ago she told us she was never going to church and we haven't taught her since).
And then my birthday was on Saturday, and Hna Torres' on Friday and we had a great time!  N and J made dinner for us Saturday and we ate green enchiladas, cheese cake, had a piƱata and then we taught about home and visiting teaching and "role played" teaching the lessons.  They role playing part didn't really happen because N's brother was making up extreme situations in which they might end up.  But it ended up being good.
On Sunday a lot of investigators and less actives came to church.  It was a good day.  And then yesterday we had interviews with President.  He's a good man and his wife is wonderful too.  I'm so blessed to have them here helping me.
One thing that has helped me recently is the "Living Christ" the testimony of the Apostles.  In the October conference of 2014 Sister Marriott shared her experience with the living Christ and her goal to memorize it.  And I've seen the example in my life of Mary memorizing it as well, and so last October I made the goal to memorize the Living Christ.  And then I procrastinated.   And so with the new year of 2015 I tried again, and this time it's working.  So I'm trying to memorize the living Christ in Spanish and it's helping me find myself in him.  This week we had ups and downs, but as I reflect on the words I'm memorizing, the ups and downs take a different meaning.  It helps me realize that I'm not doing this one my own, because Christ already has.  Step by step, day by day, things happen.  And He's the only know who understands and knows exactly what I'm going through.  What a blessing that is. 
I love you all, and I hope you have an amazing week.  Take time to ponder the Living Christ and how you can effectively make it part of your live! 

February 3rd 2015

I can't believe that it's already February.  I'm turning sooooooo old this week.  I can't believe that either.  I never dreamed that I'd actually be turning 21 on my mission... I thought that it would be me turning 21 and then possibly going on a mission.  But the Lord definitely knows best, because the mission is the best thing I could have done for me.  I'm being selfish when I say that, but it's true.  My vision for myself, as I've served, has changed and while I sometimes have no idea what I'm actually going to do with my life in 2 1/2 months, that's alright.
Our week last week was slow.  Like really slow.  People didn't keep their appointments, potentials we met who said we could come back, were never home and didn't answer their phones, members canceled on coming out with us and that pretty much happened all week.  It's frustrating because I feel like we're trying everything, yet we're still lacking and so I don't know what to do. 
Miracles still exist though.
-we got in contact with investigators we haven't seen in a while and set up a return appointment
-F is all set for his baptism this week!!!!
-our recent convert came to the relief society activity (actually several of them were there!)
-the relief society is focusing on assigning visiting teachers (yay!)
-we were invited and actually went to ward council!  And it was very productive (for the first half... but still productivity was there)
-we had an awesome lesson with M and his fellowshippers
-met some really cool people (that we're still trying to get in contact with... but at least we met them :) )
This week is going to be a great week.  The weather is nicer, F is getting baptized and we have 2 birthdays to celebrate!  We're also getting a new phone which will make it easier to communicate with people.  Our current phone broke... oops.  (I promise it was nothing we did...)  While things aren't going the way we exactly planned them, it's still a great opportunity to learn and to grow.  And to keep trying.  And that's what I'm planning on doing! 

January 27th 2015

To start off, last Thursday it snowed.  And not just like little flakes, but big gusts of wind, snow all over the place, sticking to the ground kinda storm.  It was 32 degrees.  And windy, and nobody was home for their appointments (including dinner which canceled twice...)  but that's okay because we found things to do, people to see and food to eat (I'm kidding about that last one, we wouldn't have starved... don't worry :)).  One of the elderly sisters in the ward fell last week and we visited her a couple times this week to make sure she was okay and had company.  She's doing great (besides the fact that she broke 3 ribs) and really just wants someone to talk to.  A lovely nice old lady who is from Puerto Rico and so I understand about 1/2 (if that) of what she says.  
Friday night we had family come out to visit an investigator with us.  She wasn't home and neither were our other 2 backups that lived in the area.  So we took a chance to visit one more family that we hadn't been able to see all week and they were home!  And we taught F about family history and it was perfect because the member who was with us, helped F draw out her family tree and her line of descendants.  And yesterday when we went back with F, we had a pamphlet on the temples and went through with her and taught about the purpose of the temple and what goes one and eternal families.  She was really touched and as we taught about the temples we ended the lesson and she said "I want to go, I'm going there."  There's been a lot going on in her life right now and so she hasn't been able to come to church and we need to push her baptismal date but she still felt the spirit and knows that this is something she wants for her and her family.
Have I told you about M?  He was a referral from the university sister missionaries a couple weeks ago and while he hasn't come to church, he's progressing slowly.  He's awesome and I just love teaching him because you can see his desire and his real intent grow.  When we first started teaching him he just wanted to be taught to know, but not to learn and then act.  But he was willing to do his part and has been reading in the Book of Mormon.  And last week when we taught him (or answered his questions, cause he always has a lot) we invited him to pray about authority and baptism again.  And he said that he'd actually do it, and that he really really wanted to come to church this sunday!  So we're hoping it actually happens!!!!
Have I ever told you how much I love the war chapters in the Book of Mormon (specifically the ones in Alma)?  I've been reading through them in my studies and I've just been super excited to see what happens.  And I love comparing it to what is happening today in our lives.  Sure we aren't fighting a physical battle, but we are fighting spiritually.  We had ward conference last sunday and they talked about how we need to be prepared to go out and fight in this battle.  And just like we won't send family members or friends out to fight without weapons or armor, it's the same spiritually.  I'm glad the elders gave you the challenge to read daily, and even if they don't follow up, I will :).  Just as Captain Moroni prepared his people to go to battle and just as he protected his cities, we have the same responsibility to do so today!  So read, put on your armor of God and be prepared!

January 21st 2015

This week was slow, but it wasn't bad.  And then on Monday I feel like everything hit us.
Saturday the V family cancelled their appointment because they were going to Juarez for the weekend.  Monday we called to set an appointment (we were doing weekly planning) and they dropped us.  (Emily elaborated here, but for the privacy of her investigators and the members in El Paso, it doesn't need to be shared) 
So Monday I was frustrated and sad, and yesterday I was mad because the ward mission leader seemed like he didn't really care that our most progressing investigator just dropped us.  And this morning while driving I listened to President Uchtdorf's talk, "Come Join with Us."  The Lord works in mysterious ways, and that was the answer to my frustration.  We are a perfect gospel run by imperfect people who make mistakes.  And being truly converted to the Gospel means being able to look past the mistakes of others, especially if they're leaders.  We can't expect ourselves to be perfect all of the time, so why are we sometimes holding people to a higher standard?
So since coming to this ward, something I've really been trying to develop and strengthen is my support and respect for leaders even when I think they make really poor decisions.  When I studied charity a couple weeks ago, I learned that having charity is learning to see things from the other person's point of view.  And that has helped me a lot as I focus on what others might be thinking and why they did what they did. 
We're focusing a lot right now on finding.  And I'm hoping our diligence will pay off!  I hope you all have a wonderful week and that you love the Northwest and the Seahawk crazy!  Go hawks :) 

January 13th 2015

We saw miracles last week.  And so it was a good week.
D is getting baptized the 31 of January still.  We are going to push to get her lessons in, but she's excited and ready.
F is getting baptized the 7th of February (such a special day ;) ).  We were hoping to help him get his dream come true and be baptized as soon as possible but he's super busy with wrestling so he has to wait until February (he wanted to be baptized today... or whenever you ask him when, he says.... "Tomorrow?").
We got back in contact with the C family.  They weren't able to make it to Stake Conference on Sunday but three of them are on date for the 7th of February.  And we went and visited them last night and when we got there, F was excitedly explaining to her friend that she was going to get baptized.  We then asked her if she was reading in the Book of Mormon and she told us no.  When we asked why, she said her grandchildren had taken her book so she couldn't read.  When we explained she needed to develop a habit of reading before she could be baptized, she looked at him and said "So, when are you going to give me my book?"  Trust me, she got it :).
We dropped M this week.  It was a hard decision because we've been teaching her for a while, and she has so much potential.  But when we followed up if she was going to stake conference she told us no.  She didn't want to go to church because the members there say one thing and then do another.  So we dropped her.  She loves having us come over, but never took anything seriously and we'll just seek what happens now that we won't be focusing on her as much but more on her children and helping them further their testimonies.  (side note... she showed up to the evening session of stake conference and I translated as best as I could to her, because the headsets were all gone.... but we're still not teaching her....).
But what she said, and what some other people throughout the week said, really stuck with me this week.  At least three people mentioned how the words and actions of others affected them.  Now, throughout life we need to understand how people aren't perfect and how only God can judge.  But I think we too often put the blame on other people saying things like, "oh they shouldn't be offended," "why are they judging me?" "we're not perfect..."  Instead, we should take a greater responsibility to realize that our actions really do affect others.  A returning less active member this week, informed us that she heard someone in a leadership position at church, get into an argument and say mean things to another sister, M shared how members had promised to do things and then never followed through with their promises, and another member recalled how she stopped going to church because a leader was rude to her.  Now these aren't reasons to let one's testimony be shaken, but the truth of the matter is that if someone isn't truly converted to the Gospel, the negative choices of members will drive them away.  When we are baptized we convent to be Witnesses of Christ.  We're not going to be perfect, just because we're human, but we need to realize that our actions do affect others. 
In stake conference this weekend, Elder Robbins of the presidency of the seventy spoke on creating traditions of Love.  We as human beings can do this whether or not we are members of the church.  As we create these feelings of love, contention and negative actions will cease.   

January 6th 2015

Last week my black out year came to a end.... One whole complete year of being a missionary.... how did it go by so quickly?  And, I've spent the whole year in El Paso.... I don't know if I'll ever be able to go anywhere without that 915 area code, haha. 
As with every week, this past week had it's ups and downs.  But I think there were more ups than downs :)  Remember that Sister I told you about last week?  The less active member?  Well, she came to church this week!!!!  And loved it!  And then went to the single adult activity.  And loved it.  And then went to a "healing through Christ" class that one of our members teaches (I think she loved that too... :)).  And her daughter came to church, and LOVED it.  And she's on a baptismal date of the 31 of January.  (and I am praying SOOOOOOOO hard, that she progresses to make that date).
But honestly, the rest of our week we continued to spend trying to find less active members. And knocking doors.  I've been in the mission for this long, and I've just started knocking doors.  And nothing really came out of it, unfortunately (that's why member referrals are the best!!! People are more willing to listen, hint hint ;) ).
I love it so much because it talks about the Book of Mormon and the importance, but also why it makes since to have the Book of Mormon.  This week we were teaching a less active member about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the beginning she was telling us the answers that most people give us; "we don't need prophets," and "we already have the bible."  But since she already believed in the bible, we taught to her understanding, with a pattern from the bible.  To me, the Bible is evidence that God continually talks to prophets to guide us in our own era.  Moses taught his people they things they needed to know, in a way that they would understand. Isaiah did the same thing.  Then Christ came and organized his church on the earth.  But, he was killed and so could no longer guide it in earthly form.  So he called Peter, James and John as the first presidency.  And that's why we have the new testament and all the epistles from the apostles- correction of misunderstandings of doctrine of the early members of the church, but also teaching to that era and understanding.  So according to this pattern established in the very beginning of time, it only makes since to have prophets called again in this day and age.  At least it makes since to me?  Why would God change his ways?  And as we taught it, it made since to our less active too. 
I love this gospel.  I love the fact that we have a living prophet today to lead and guide us.  It makes me sad to meet people that won't even listen to a little bit of our message (like a 2 minute chunk) just because of other things they've heard or just because they don't want to.  I think we can always learn from one another. But I love knowing that no matter what others do, I can still always be happy because of the choices I've made in my life.  :)   Lasting happiness like that, doesn't just come.  But I'm glad I've been able to find it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

December 30th

It was so nice talking to you :).  I think that's probably what made Christmas Christmas because nothing else felt like it.  But that's okay, being a missionary during the Christmas season is the best.  It makes up for everything else.  We had wonderful Mexican style spaghetti, chicken and tuna salad for dinner, scattered with tamales throughout the day and scrumptious pina empanadas. I'll make those for you one day.
The next day felt maybe a little more like Christmas because it SNOWED!!!!  Seriously, it snowed in El Paso!!!  And it dusted everything and then melted, but it was still beautiful :)
Most of our week was spent tracking down people.  We have a huge ward list and so to help clear it out, we went around visiting everyone we didn't know and as a result we found a lot of people who no longer live in their houses/apartments.  So a lot of MIA members.  We have #s for some of them, so hopefully with the help of the ward missionaries, we can track down some of these members and send their records to the right place. 
We had one miracle visit as we were tracking down members.  Since most of them had moved, we were getting an opportunity to teach the less active members and help them come back, but we found one sister who was baptized 3 years ago.  Her story started when the elders found her.  She had been going through some hard times, a rough divorce and financial problems and the elders found her and brought some peace into her life.  And then after about a year of activity, she stopped going to church.  Her problems have gotten worse and she has felt over and over again that God has forgotten her.  Not completely forgotten, but mostly. And everything she went through, she said that she had to go through herself, because all her family lives far away.
Two thoughts came to mind as we talked with her (and she agreed that we could come back!).  1. Maybe with this point I'm being overly optimistic, but I believe that if this sister had been given visiting teachers 3 years ago she would still be active today.  And not the visiting teachers that barely call or make a visit, but the ones that actually care.  That's one thing that I've seen wards struggle with here, and maybe they struggle with it everywhere, but I've just been blind to the problem.  The visiting and home teaching programs are so inspired and should be followed and loved.  President Hinkley said that every new convert needs "a friend, a responsibility and nurturing with the good word of God."  Through the visiting and home teaching programs everybody gets these, and everybody needs these.  Imagine if 3 years ago this sister was given visiting teachers and a visiting teaching assignment.  Right there, she would have 2 or 3 more sisters who would love her and care for her.  They would have helped her testimony grown and they would have been able to stand by her and help her through the trials she was going to face.  If the programs weren't inspired from God, we wouldn't have them, but they are, so we need to do them.  I have seen so many families in the wards where I've served where maybe having a home or visiting teacher would have made a difference in their activity level.  And as President Uchtdorf said in the October conference we "need to be faithful in making [our] monthly visits, all without missing the most important why behind this commandment: to love God and fellowmen."  These programs are not just check boxes to do every month.  They are requirements for us that we need to do, so that we our selves can be perfected in Christ, but also so that our brothers and sisters can be perfected in Christ.  In my studies this week, I came across the purposes of Relief Society; 1. to increase faith and personal righteousness, 2. to strengthen families and homes and 3. to help those in need.  Not only is that the purpose of relief society, but it's the purpose of the church.  And it's the purpose of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.  And since we're not perfect, God has given us ways to develop our discipleship, and through visiting and home teaching we can do that.  So, if you get anything out of it.... it's to do and learn to love those inspired programs in the church.  And to reach out to help others.
And the second thing that caught my attention while talking to this sister was 2. why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do the righteous need to go through so many trials?  Now, I've studied this all out before and I've gotten my answers before, but while studying this morning, I found new reasons (amazing how that happens :) ).  I wrote a couple weeks ago about the attribute activity that President Miller invited us to do, focusing on one Christ-like attribute a week.  Well, this week was patience and one of the scriptures that Preach My Gospel recommended we read was Mosiah 23:21-22.  As background to the story, these were righteous people who had just fled from a wicked King and they were in the process of building up their city.  They had made covenants with their God and they were trying to improve everyday.  But we can read in Mosiah that "nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.  Nevertheless- whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.  Yea, and thus it was with this people."  After doing everything right, the were once again put under bondage, made slaves to wicked people, YET their faith and their patience did not fail.  We can see the result of this in the next chapter of Mosiah- chapter 24:9-16. Their faith and patience didn't not fail because they had their trust in the Lord, and in turn, they were delivered through divine guidance.  Elder Jorg Klebingat shared something similar in this last conference. He stated: "millions of your brothers and sisters have been or are being thus tested, so why would you be exempt? Some trials come through your own disobedience or negligence. Other trials come because of the negligence of others or simply because this is a fallen world. When these trials come, the adversary’s minions begin broadcasting that you did something wrong,that this is a punishment, a sign that Heavenly Father does not love you. Ignore that!Instead, try to force a smile, gaze heavenward, and say, “I understand, Lord. I know what this is. A time to prove myself, isn’t it?” Then partner with Him to endure well to the end. Spiritual confidence increases when you accept that “often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into [your life] because of what [you] are doing right.”  I love that he said we should partner with the Lord.  We are put through trials and tests so that we can grown and be strengthened.  God knows and understands our full potentials and he wants to help us grow.  We can't do that without having these trials. And we're not going to reach our potential if we don't do anything.  We are not here to struggle by ourselves but instead to learn to use divine guidance and help because He is always there waiting to give it.  
I love you all and I hope you have a great week!  I hope that as trials come your way you can more fully rely on the Lord to help you.  Embrace the trials and the changes and look forward to knowing that one day they helped you reach your full potential!  Have an absolutely wonderful New Year and I can't wait to hear what some of your goals are!

December 23rd

The week before Christmas and all through the city
the only creature we can find is a little black kitty
Everyone to Juarez has fled
and so to a caroling and a knocking we head-
through the wind and the rain
we sang and we sang
in hopes that someone would open the door
someone who was prepared to learn more!
Though the week wasn't easy
and this rhyme is super cheesy
the week before Christmas was Great!
Chapter Martes: In which a Vision was Interpreted
The week before we had received a referral from a member to visit her neighbor and go carol to her.  Well, we had an appointment cancel and so we went a caroling.  And we had already tried this lady once, but she didn't answer the door.  But when we were out this day, she answered the door crying saying that we were her answer from God.  She had been dealing with herself having cancer and her husband having Alzheimer's.  She wasn't interested in us coming back and teaching her more, but she felt the Spirit and it helped relieve some of her burden in life.  This lady had been praying for help and guidance one night and it came to her in form of a vision.  A white figure appeared to her and touched her heart giving her peace.  Well, we handed her a plan of salvation pamphlet and that was the figure she had seen!  And we testified about Jesus and his plan for her, but she still didn't want us coming back.
Chapter Miercoles: In which we go a caroling
Our appointments all canceled and so we spent about an hour and a half, caroling to people.  Again, no one was interested in us coming back and teaching more, but people for the most part are really nice when they open the door and see you singing. 
Chapter Jueves:  A Christmas without Christmas Cookies
Okay so before you feel bad because of this chapter heading, I really have had Christmas cookies (not as good as Grandma's though...) but Thursday I had the opportunity to help serve a sister in the ward as she made bunuelos for the ward Christmas party.  Guess what I'm making for ya'll next Christmas!  Cookies.  Haha, just kidding, I'll make bunuelos, but probably slightly smaller than the ones made.  And, since they're basically made in the same way as tortillas, I have become an expect tortilla/bunuelo maker.

Chapter Viernes: In which I watch the Music Man
Friday started off like any other day... with district meeting.  And then we did service helping a member with his family history.  And then we asked EVERYBODY in the ward (okay probably not everybody but it felt like it), for a ride to the hospital because F was in the hospital with a kidney infection and we felt like we needed to visit her, we had gotten permission to visit her and all we needed was a ride.  Well, our recent converts N and J took us to the hospital (in the El Centro part of El Paso) and then left us there... because they had other things to do.  And then forgot about us there.... oops.  We had a very lovely lesson with F on Christmas and we read the Luke 2 Christmas story and the 3 Nephi 1 Christmas story.  And then we waited an hour for our ride to come pick us up as we tried to contact them.  We had forgotten our hymnbook or else we would have caroled at the hospital.... double oops.
We made it back in time to go to the ward Christmas party which, started an hour late.  And the party started off with a performance by some of the relief society sisters.  Here's where the Music Man part comes in.  In the music man, think of the Women's dance society when they're doing their performance "one Grecian urn..... two Grecian urns..."...etc. But instead of the whole Grecian urn, speed up the music, put them in Christmas colored church clothes and them have them dancing.  I don't know why it reminded me of the music man, but it could have been because they were up on stage during their thang and everyone else was watching wondering what in the world was going on.  Just like in the movie.  It also could just mean I've been a missionary too long... and I think you really had to be there.  The ward Christmas party food was really good, pozole and bunuelos (which I helped make!!!)

(for those of you who are not familiar with the grecian urn scene in the music man, i found a video on youtube. its only about the first 20 seconds of the video, but that is what emily was referring to.)

Chapter Sabado:  In which we went to 2 baptisms
The 8 year old daughter of a part member family was getting baptized and we were asked to speaking on the holy Ghost.  So we went, and none of our investigators came.  And then later the elders had a baptism and we went, and played the piano, and again, none of our investigators came. But that's alright, I guess.  It's really nice being able to see someone enter the covenant of baptism and start the next step towards eternal life.
Chapter Domingo: The Piano Guys playing in Sacrament
Okay, so not really the Piano Guys, but it was the best musical number I've heard in sacrament meeting.  The primary sang, while I played, and the bishop and a recently returned missionary spoke and then these two brothers played, Ven O' Emmanuel or O Come, Emmanuel.  (basically it sounded like this I think the meeting should have ended after with a prayer... but it didn't. 
Chapter Lunes: Christmas Set to Music
The best zone conference I've been to my entire mission was yesterday. It was our Christmas conference and it focused on Christ, our purpose as missionaries and Christmas.  And it was just so fulfilling Spiritually and emotionally because of the trainings we had, because of the Christmas music preformed and just being around other sister missionaries (we're the only sisters in the zone, so we don't see other sisters very often). 
I love this Gospel more than anything.  I know that it has brought me so many blessings in my life and even though people have their agency I know that it can bless theirs.  I love how my purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, not to force, but to invite, and create an environment where the Spirit can teach and testify.  I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for everything he as done more me, but more importantly, everything he has done for everyone else out there in the world.  He truly is our gift from God.