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.